Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sun, serenity, cycling and The Archers

Saturday, 25th May 2013: My trusty old Nokia E66 has finally been replaced. It got to the point where the multi-day capable battery was barely able to keep the phone going overnight. Yes it was practically as bad as a Smartphone, so I relented and replaced it. I go the E66 because I lost my previous phone, an Ericsson P800 in a taxi in Edinburgh, a few days before I was heading off to cycle from Bangkok to Saigon (Nov 1998) so I needed a replacement and that is what they suggested/had in the shop. It was a great phone, particularly when I almost ended up in no-man’s land between Cambodia and Vietnam.

I chose my new phone on the basis of its photographic capability, odd I know, but some experiments will appear on the Blog soon. It is a Samsung Galaxy 4 and so far I am pleased with it, although it certainly can eat through a battery with all the bells and whistles turned on.

Why I am saying this, well I measured the noise levels on the shared use cycle path between Swaffham Prior and Swaffham Bulbeck using a free app on the phone. It was so noisy that I wasn’t really able to listen to a podcast on my MP3 player.  The levels were around 83db which is at a level where it gets unpleasant. According to this website there is possible hearing damage at 8 hours exposure above 80db. Which sounds long enough not to care, but I certainly find it unpleasantly noisy.  It is even worse when cycling on the road the 2m separation makes quite a lot of difference.

Whilst I think that the right to cycle on the roads should remain (with the exception of Motorways) I do think that traffic is anti-social full stop. So safety concerns aside roads can be unpleasant. The trouble is the focus on getting people cycling seems to forget that roads aren’t pleasant. Even when we do get cycle routes they weave in and out of roads. I was watching a young family cycle past  this week and nodded and said hello. They were on the road, and there was Mum, Dad and two children, quite young but happily cycling away. Then the route switched back onto a shared use path and one of the kids came a cropper.

Even small kerbs can be dangerous when you switch from road to path and yet many routes are riddled with them.  Yet we expect people to be grateful for such cycling provision.  With some drivers vociferously encouraging cyclists to get of the bl**dy road. We need more proper cycling routes – people don’t want to cycle with traffic.

So when I  saw the report in the DM about the change in the fines for motoring offences it made me think. The report – “Roadhogs to face £100 fines: Crackdown on motorway drivers who clog up middle lane” talks about anti-social motorists. The trouble is that is seems to indicate that anything that impedes the highway is by definition anti-social. Even worse anti-boils down to other road users that are annoying.  So to class tail-gating  in the same category as “lane-hogging” seems wrong. Someone who tail-gates risks being the cause of a serious accident – which has the potential to cause death and destruction. Someone who drives a little slowly on a motorway – that is mildly annoying – and probably safer with all the tail-gaters around.

The changes do seem to give mixed-messages to drivers though. So it was good to see that in order to persuade people that cycling is a reasonable way to get about on a regular basis Cambridge City Council has recognised the importance of making cycle routes through Cambridge more direct and segregated. Land has been protected for the ‘Chisholm trail’ cycle route.  Here is what it means on the Cambridge Cycling Campaign website.

For all you disgruntled driver, just remember, getting all more people cycling will actually help those of you that just can’t give up motoring. Getting people to switch to cycling will free up our congested roads.

Finally the e-petition to promote cycling seems to be slowing down at 66,110 signatures, so click the link and sign up.

So no surprise on this Saturday cycle ride it was an oft cycled off-road route. I seem to remember wearing sandals (Keen cycling sandals) without socks for the first time as well. Mine have been great, a good balance of aeration and protection.  It was a mainly sunny day, but not that warm, around 14oC, which made it quite pleasant for cycling, especially as it wasn’t too windy either.

The route was around Low Fen Driveway from High Ditch Road to Horningsea and then across the fields to Lode and the Lodes Way. Well there might have been some variations. This is a field of oil seed rape, between High Ditch Road and the A14. The flowers are well out and certainly add colour to the landscape.

A field of oil seed rape, between High Ditch Road and the A14

We have had some rain the day before, so there were puddles around. Mind you as it has been dry for a while the mud tracks of the byways were still pretty solid.

View along Lo Fen Drove Way – bridge over the A14

Here is a c.1800 map of Horningsea with the old route names. The field in the picture is called Middle Field according to the map.

A view of Horningsea from what used to be called Biggin Road

The oil seed rape is all growing in different fields from last year – good old crop rotation. Not long after taking this picture I passed a couple and their dog. It wasn’t on a lead. They called it to them and it went across, then just after I passed it there were the slightly panicked “here boy” cry. The dog had decided to run after me. At this point I had a decision, speed up and outrun it – ( a large Labrador), carry on without a care in the world or stop.

Now in this case I wasn’t too concerned about being bitten, it seemed more playful than aggressive. I was worried that they didn’t really seem to have it under control, so I carried on at the same moderate pace ready to stop before it got tangled up in my back wheel. It must have decided I was no fun as it didn’t catch up with me and went of to investigate something more interesting.

Close encounters that might lead to me getting hurt are really too common on a bicycle.

Hundred Acres Road – near Horningsea

Ah now I remember, to  allow the dog and walkers to clear along the path I even took a slight detour North-ish from the concrete apron,  I cycled along a track alongside the field to yet another field of rape, perhaps this is Hundred Acre field.

Yellow Oil Seed rape, Blue Skies and pylons

What caught my eye was the neat lines of the crops in the field, what I hadn’t realised is that the clouds were moving pretty quickly in the sky so that the HDR merged image is a bit tricky to look at – well the cloud part.

Neat lines in the field

This a spud field along White Fen Drove, well that is what I am guessing anyway.

Potatoes? – White Fen Drove

Further along, on Headway Drove a field had recently been harvested for turf, it looks like they got the turf just in time.  I am not sure of turf growing compacts the soil or flooding is just more noticeable where there is turf.

Recently harvested turf field – Headlake Drove

I turned of towards Upware – these are either leeks or onions I reckon. I am not paying enough attention to keeping my camera still when taking multiple exposures there are two lines of pylons in the background.

There also also signs of moles in the foreground.

Leeks on Great Drove

As I was cycling up Great Drove I could hear a car tearing along an so pulled, heaven forbid I should exhibit any anti-social behaviour. The car was closely followed by a speeding Police car that then lit up with blues and twos.

The driver must have been pretty alert because he pulled in pretty sharpish, followed by the Police Car. By the time I went passed the stopped car had been set on its way and the Police car went back in the direction it had come from.

Just to show I don’t moan all the time pretty much all the tractor drivers that use all this road are very polite to cyclists and either pull across or wave to say thank you if I pull in.

Police Stop Car on Great Drove

After an uneventful ride to Upware and Wicken I stopped for a rest to take some pictures on the footbridge over Burwell Lode. Two young cyclists behind me struggled a bit to haul their bikes over the bridge.

Struggling with a bicycle over Burwell Lode Footbridge

I also took pictures of the Lode, look how still it was, and at the blue sky.

Burwell Lode

Looking South, it seems that one of the two longboats recently wild-moored here has moved on.

Burwell Lode

As I cycled back along Lodes Way it seems that Burwell Fen, recently retuned back to wet grassland is doing what was expected. Here are a couple of swans enjoying the water.

Two Swans on Burwell Fen

There were plenty of cyclists also enjoying Lodes Way. This is one of the few reasonable scenic cycle paths in the Cambridge area. The other is the Cycleway alongside the guided busway.

Cyclists on Lodes Way

A slightly wider view of the two swans. It all looks very scenic.

Swans on Burwell Fen

The fleeced fields near Highbridge Farm were showing some signs of the wind – but were looking ok.

Fleeced fields along Lodes Way

And finally do you like butter?  Buttercups (Ranunculus) are starting to appear in reasonable numbers.


Apparently the Guided Busway was targeted by arsonists according to the Cambridge News, between King’s Hedges and Histon.

By the way although I didn’t mention it I also caught up with The Archers on my ride.

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