Thursday, November 27, 2014

Reach Lode Bridge to be closed for repairs

Sorry – been busy coding, sometimes late into the night.  The trouble is it is quite a while since I have written much software and it is a new language. So whilst my brain says there must be some way of doing something, it doesn’t supply the code and I have to keep looking up the syntax. I am enjoying it though.

Even my cycling has dropped in priority.  However as the bridge is shortly going to be closed I thought I’d better respond to the comment. Sorry for the delay. Just a shade under 6,000 miles cycled so far this year – so overall it has been a good year. I am hoping to get a few more miles in during December.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A mid-mid week ride

Tuesday, 19th August 2014: At the beginning of the year I set myself a target for my cycling.  Why? Well certainly not in a some uber-athletic attempt to shave a few seconds of my time-trialling, because I don’t time-trial, or indeed race or cycle that quickly. What I do know is that if I cycle regularly it makes all my day-to-day cycling so much more pleasurable. I also know that I feel better generally and whilst I could do with losing a few pounds (in weight) the cycling does help in the battle.  So by having a target it encourages me to cycle even when I have no other reason to do so, in fact even when I feel like being lazy it helps me get. The result is that I always end up thinking how enjoyable that was – even when it is windy and sometimes even when it is wet, windy, colder and dark.

When you are cycling and it is raining you have to resign yourself to getting wet and once you do it really isn’t that bad – it can be exhilarating.

Mind you with my new 29er I am still in the phase where I need to tell myself not to just go out for a quick spin, because my rides tend to meander. Just like this ride. Here is the Bike Route Toaster link, it follows a loop, Lode, Bottisham, Exning, Burwell, Wicken Fen, Upware and then back to Lode. I cycled up Harrison’s Drove to Upware and then back down the other Harrison’s Drove to the Lodes Way.  Although I did loop around Wicken Fen.

The route is just over 40Km/30miles with a reasonable  mix of byways, bridleways, cycleways and country lanes. Some of off-road tracks can get soggy and/or overgrown depending upon the time of year. The byway alongside the A14 gets encroached by brambles and I do get the odd scratch from time to time. I didn’t plan this route I just followed my front wheel – that kept insisting on going off-road.

After setting off from Lode I headed along the Lodes Way to Bottisham and then onto the A1303 briefly. It is an “A” road, but not that bad, sometimes I use it when I want to remind myself what it is like cycling up a short hill. The bottom is at 13m and the top at 52m, which is just long enough for me.

This time I wasn’t looking for roads I was looking for tracks. There is a track that heads across the fields off the A1303 that does a bit of climbing and can sometimes the going can be a bit soft for me on my hybrid (Maisie – 25mm tyres). With my 2.3” tyres on my 29er it was a breeze bit better. To be fair the ride was a lot better, only there was still a hill to climb, which the tyres don’t help with.   Although according to the map it only gets to 34m on the track. This picture was taken from the track, across towards the Swaffhams. It always surprises me how much woodland there is on this particular horizon.

A view from the bridleway – between the A1303 and Heath Road

A view of  the bridleway

Just past a farm track towards Chalk Farm was a planting of Lacy Phacelia (at least that is what it looks like), used as a cover crop. As you can see that is quite a chunk of field to give up for crop growing.

Lacy Phacelia near Chalk Farm

After a short ride along Swaffham Heath Road and just before you come to a bridge (over the A14) you turn down what likes like a private drive past some cottages and then take a right angle bend along a byway which runs alongside the A14. It is pretty noisy and out of sight does not equate to out of mind in this case.

The track is quite narrow and rutted, but a lot easier to cycle along on wider tyres. There are brambles and sludgy bits as well. So you have to keep your wits about you.  As I cycled along I did wonder whether I ought to wear my cycling helmet.

Byway to Exning – along the A14

In places it gets very narrow.

Byway to Exning – along the A14

The byway carries alongside the A14 for around 2Km and then joins a Heath Road (a common name around here). It also happens to be the NCN51 Cambridge to Ipswich route. The after cycling through Exning the route follows North End, a no-through road to a bridleway called Haycroft Lane.

This track also varies depending upon the time of year. It is less easy to cycle on when it has a lot of growth or when it has been wet and the horses have been through. Having said that my 29er made it a lot easier.

Fittingly there were stacks of hay in the fields.

Fields of freshly stacked bales – Haycroft Lane

Although the farmer wasn’t hanging around the hay was being taken off by lorry.

Fields of freshly stacked bales – Haycroft Lane

Fields of freshly stacked bales – Haycroft Lane

The last few pictures were all taken at roughly the same spot, but in different directions.  A fair few hay bales must have been carted off.

Freshly Combined Fields  – Haycroft Lane

Haycroft Lane – fairly muddy, fairly grassy

Now I might usually head through Burwell and back, but after cycling along Howlem Balk another track, but with a crushed stone surface and quite a few potholes and puddles) I turned off to Wicken Fen. I did a circuit of the fen and the as I was heading back along Lodes Way I turned up Harrison’s Drove. This starts as a “road” made of concrete slabs – somewhat broken up, but ends as a track that can sometimes be a quagmire.  Fortunately it wasn’t.

The route then follows alongside Wicken Lode on the bank. This was repaired a while back and re-seeded. Just after seeding it was a very soft surface, not is it just uneven.  It isn’t that nice to cycle on – but 29er = good.

Looking Across Wicken Lode

The track alongside Wicken Lode

it isn’t that bad, it isn’t that good (for cycling)

The Bridge over Wicken Lode – nice bike

Then again on a whim I cycled down the other Harrison’s Drove.  They were harvesting beetroot.

Beetroot Harvest – Harrison’s Drove

Beetroot Harvest – Harrison’s Drove

Same picture after the Google+ auto-awesome treatment.

Beetroot Harvest – Harrison’s Drove

Not all the fields had been combined and the hay baled though.

I wasn’t the only cyclist who couldn’t resist a mid-mid-week ride. These two where heading down Split Drove towards Wicken Fen.

Cyclists on Lodes Way

More evidence of the recent gales, tree damage on Little Fen Drove

As I headed back along through White Fen – someone else having a mid-mid-week ride.

Taking the dog for a walk – White Fen

Monday, November 10, 2014

Almost a week of pictures in the Fens

After being away for a few days specially when travelling under someone else’s steam  it feels go to get out and push a few pedals, er two actually. The trouble is when I have been away there is stuff to catch up on.

Here is the weeks rides – not that I rode every day but I did get out most days, Mainly in the Fens – variations on the Lodes Way theme.

Wednesday, 13th August 2014: However Wednesday was an exception – I have to be in the middle of Cambridge so naturally I took a great circle route, back I think, through the Wilbrahams and then NCN51. It was either a ride to take pictures, but not enough time to do both so I stopped once. on the bridge over the A14, near Little Wilbraham.

Combining – the farmers are still busy

Look how close cars drive behind one another. There doesn’t seem to be much observance of the two second “rule”. There seems to be a whole gaggle of cars heading towards the bridge.

One thing I really hate is when the car/van behind me drives far to close. Highway Code Rule 126 – “allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster traffic”…”doubled on wet roads and increased still further on icy roads”. (More for large vehicles and motorcycles…

A14 – What is the safe distance between motor vehicles?

It seems to me that the norm is for a high percentage of cars to leave an insufficient gap. I wonder if anyone has ever done any measurements. It would be quite easy to do a study I would have though.


Thursday, 14th August 2014: The trouble with owning a new bike is that you want to ride it. So I had to pop out on my 29er and cycle along the byways and bridleways around the Lodes Way. It’ll certainly need a wash.

My Muddy 29er – Commissioners’ Drain – Lodes Way

Friday, 15th August 2014: This was more of a Poet’s day ride – what struck me was how much maize there was growing in the fields along the Lodes Way.

Maize – near White Fen

Lots of Berries around as well – White Fen

More Maize – Lodes Way

More Maize – Lodes Way

More Maize – Lodes Way

More Maize – Lodes Way

More Maize – Lodes Way

More Maize – Lodes Way

More Maize – Lodes Way

Phew – as far as I can remember they are all pictures of different fields, some was cover crop grown around the edges, but more was fields of the stuff. Is there some sort of agricultural fashion approach to cropping.

More Maize – Lodes Way

Saturday, 16th August 2014:  When I want to catch up on the week’s Archers I quite often cycle around Low Fen Drove Way and across the fields to Lode and then Lodes Way. Traffic is so noisy I can’t here myself think sometimes. I know some people go on about how cyclists shouldn’t listen to their MP3 players – but they don’t seem to care about the sheer level of noise that cyclists suffer from when cycling along busy roads.

Flipping motorists forget just how much sound insulation cars have nowadays – cyclists apparently here more ambient noise when listening to an MP3 player than motorists in their cars listening to nothing.

As I turned off High Ditch Road I stopped to see what this planning application was all about. Apparently there is going to be the introduction of a 40mph speed limit, not all the way along the road, but just out of Fen Ditton where there is a 30mph limit and over the old railway line, but well before the Low Fen Drove Way turn. The remainder will then presumably be 60mph? This seems crazy given that NCN51 crosses High Ditch Road – they should have made the whole lot 40mph and saved in signage.

It seems as if the council think that their 30mph limit has been extended – which isn’t quite the case. This seems to be a missed opportunity. in my experience High Ditch Road is not a good road – the road margins undulate and it is used by cyclists  - which makes 60mph seem to be a crazy speed limit. Especially since the speed limit along the Newmarket road from Quy is 50mph.  I can’t see much planning in this application. unfortunately the consultation has closed.

The Planning Application above is for up to 1,300 homes. The urbanisation continues.

High Ditch road getting a little bit of a 40mph limit

G-JANI – Robinson R-44 Coming into Cambridge Airport

Horse-riders – off Low Fen Drove Way

Linaria vulgaris – Wild Snapdragon

When I saw this – in my mind I call it “snake-in-the-grass” which doesn’t appear on the list of common names on Wikipedia. The proper name is Arum Maculatum – which does list common names that includes snakeshead and adder’s root. Maybe my memory is dodgy -

Arum maculatum

Combine in the field

There were some strong winds around when I was up in Scotland – it seems to have caused some tree damage in Cambridgeshire. This tree sits on a crossroads along the Lodes Way.

Tree Damage – Lodes Way

Google+ auto-awesome’d it so here it is again.

Tree Damage – Lodes Way

More Wind-damaged Trees – Rail Drove

More Wind-damaged Trees – Rail Drove

Sunday, 17th August 2014: By the end of the week the weather had picked up, once more there were blue skies. Lots more fields had been combined.

The view from Church Hill – Reach (Green Lane)

Green Lane– Reach

Lodes Way – looking toward Burwell Fen Farm

Headlake Drove – leeks

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Long Weekend in Scotland– Heading back

Mid-August 2014: Out flying visit to Scotland had come to and end although we did have breakfast with our daughter before leaving.  We met in St Andrews, because that was where we were staying and went to a nearby cafe (or should I say deli) Mitchell’s Deli. The breakfast was delicious, I’d certainly recommend the place. The seats appear to be made out of old coats and the Lammas Fair was in action outside.

Looking out from Mitchell’s Deli – St Andrews

We then headed back to the hotel to check out and wend our way to Edinburgh Airport. There was time for one last picture.

St Andrews – view from The Scores

After checking out we had one last stroll around the the town, the fair takes over two or three streets. When I had originally seen the signs pointing out the Lammas Fair I had imagined something a little less fairground like and the are things other than fairground rides – but there are quite a few fairground rides as well.

Apparently there is some disgruntlement amongst the local traders about the disruption. Although it is cited as Europe's oldest street fair

“You Looking at Me?” – Fairground Ride Decoration – St Andrews Lammas Fair

St Andrews – Lammas Fair

St Andrews – Lammas Fair

Although we had a late flight and didn’t need to leave for the airport so early we had planned on returning our car, leaving our luggage at the airport and then trying out the new tram into Edinburgh.  There was re-surfacing on the Guardbridge Bridge taking place – but we were heading in the opposite direction to much of the traffic fortunately.

I am stingy when it comes to car rental and had chosen a pretty basic car. Now I have gotten quite used to having Satnav when driving and it was interesting having to think about navigating as well as driving. Having been to this part of the world a few times over the last couple of years it wasn’t a problem though.

The one issue we did have was finding a Petrol Station to fill up the car before returning it. We did find one quite close to the airport, but it involved driving up the dual-carriageway (Glasgow Road). Although looking at the map it is apparent we could have been a bit more efficient.  However I wanted to avoid paying Car Rental Prices for topping the car up.

The good thing about relatively small airports is that finding the car rental drop-off points is also pretty easy and despite all my paranoia about getting stung for extra charges they Europcar handover was quick and easy – no surcharges. 

We were hoping to check out luggage in – no such luck, there are time limits so we had to pay to leave our luggage.

The weather was pretty miserable, but we headed out the Tram.well it works, but doesn’t seem to be one thing or the other. It basically stops pretty frequently along the way and so isn’t that fast, but is quite expensive.  Apparently it takes longer than the bus and costs more than the bus service.  You aren’t allowed to take bikes on board unless they are folding bicycles that are folded and in bags.

We had a walk around when we got to the city centre and saw what’s afoot – The Manuscript of Monte Cassino – aka “Big Foot”

Manuscript of Monte Cassino – St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral – Edinburgh

As often happens when you fly at the end of the day there are delays – ours was, along with four or five others. We got on ours some seemed to be cancelled altogether.

EasyJet Plane – is it ours? – Edinburgh Airport

The one in the picture wasn’t ours. When we arrived at Stansted the luggage was off the plane almost as quickly as we were – it was amazingly fast, or maybe we walked very, very slowly through the airport.