Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy New Year

Tuesday, 7th January 2014: It seems we spend quite a lot of time anticipating Christmas and then the new year rolls in before there is time to blink.

There seems to be stuff that has to get done for Christmas and then stuff that needs doing after Christmas. The good news is that after deciding to rest my back for a month or so, I have been cycling again. When it happened (mega-back twinge) I decided to resume cycling in the new year (2014) and once the new year was here after a few trips to pick up my paper I made my first longer ride yesterday – to have lunch with a friend at the Dyke’s End, Reach. (The windy weather we have been struggling with also made it easier to stop cycling.) A quick aside – I read The Times – ‘cos when I was commuting to London it was the most convenient in terms of size and content, it would have been the Guardian, but they missed out on the convenience. I was shocked to find that there has been a 20% rise in the cost of the paper from £1 to £1.20. Although I do a lot of work on my computer/tablet/phone I do still rather like being able to read the paper in paper form. But I will look into subscribing as that is only 60p?  As long as I can still get the paper paper.  I would also prefer to support my local shop as well.

Now one of the things I decided was to introduce a little more brevity into my Posts, the trouble is so much has happened in the cycling world, my world and the real world that I almost don’t know where to start and it will be a struggle to be brief.

So some of those tales will have to be left for other posts. However when selecting which pictures to post of my ride to Reach one thing stood out.

I have switched my ISP from a small company to … BT.  The details can wait, however what I have noticed is that uploading my pictures onto my Picasa account (which is where these pictures come from) was oodles times faster – well around 4x, which is not to be sniffed at. Also sticking the pictures in this post has also been noticeably faster.  The program I use to produce HDR pictures has also been updated – Photomatix and offers more flexibility.

Still enough of that IT stuff – the ride. Well if you look at the weather from about 7am onwards we had rain – quite a lot in three bursts. As I watched it I was on tenterhooks hoping it would stop so that I could at least cycle some of the way in the dry.  It did – just.

Now as I set of the theme I was thinking of was the rural economy. Regular readers will probably get the idea that I believe in supporting rural pubs.   I reckon that the Internet could be a good thing for the rural economy and help to mitigate some of the problems that non-city dwellers have. If only the Internet was plumbed in. Despite me being happy with my faster Internet the speed is still pretty pathetic.  According to this report the UK is in 9th place in the world, with the average user getting 8.4Mbps.  You often can’t get what is advertised and according to the report urban speeds are on average 3 times faster than rural speeds.

But my plans changed as I cycled, at a sedate pace to Reach.  I headed out along NCN51 and even stuck to the shared-use paths that are woefully narrow. This was because there was a lot of standing water at the edges of the roads.

As I cycled on the shared-use path between Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck I realised the error of my ways. I was obeying the law, the path is shared-use despite the ambiguous signage in the village. Two pedestrians can barely pass by  let alone a cyclist and a pedestrian. However if you cycle along the road you encounter drivers who seem to think that cyclists have no right on the roads when there are “cycle paths”.

The problem - there was a lot of water on side of the road adjacent to the shared-use path – with no separation. Now when I was taught to drive, I was told that it was an offence to splash people on the pavement.  (I guess it comes under General advice – (144-158) – 144.

Well as I cycled up the shared use path to Swaffham Bulbeck it was clear that not all drivers paid any attention whatsoever to the large puddles at the side of the road. I hate to typecast – but it was a White Van driver that threw up a huge amount of spray as he passed me. I don’t think he did it deliberately – I do think he was driving without due care and attention though. I reckon is that same same ignorance that leads to close overtaking,  or cutting in on cyclists  as you approach junctions, speed bumps or parked cars. The ignorance that can kill, yet seems to earn drivers barely a slap on the wrist.  Yet a cyclist could well face jail for hitting a pedestrian on a pavement. It seems highly imbalanced. Especially considering the fact that more cyclists get killed by cars than pedestrians killed by cyclists.

Some drivers avoided the puddles as they passed me only one driver slowed right down – clearly aware of the problem – an older female driver – she’d probably suffered the same problem when a pedestrian.

I was wearing a waterproof coat and shorts though, so fortunately I was dry by the time I reached Reach.

There was a treat in store for me – they had Steak and Kidney Pudding on the menu – it was delicious.  Whilst my wife will happily east liver (in a liver and bacon casserole) or black pudding. she is not keen on kidney so it is a treat I rarely get to enjoy. This time is was scrummy.  It was on the specials list so might not be there all the time. They also do a delicious Liver and Bacon dish as well (as a special).  It also turned out they do a Saturday Brunch type menu – I will have to think of a reason to cycle out one Saturday.

Well fortified after my lunch I set off home – this time I decided to head home via White Fen. The weather was glorious after the morning rain and there was less chance of being splashed – it is easier to take the “lane” on a country road – which is single track.

The fields actually look quite green – the weather has been pretty mild on the good days. We seems to get alternate gale days and sun days. The temperature is around 10oC at the mo.

In this instance I decided not to take Black Droveway – partly because I am unfit and partly because there has been way too much rain.

Field alongside Black Droveway

Swan Lake Grain Store – Little Fen Drove

White Fen

This field lies between White Fen Droveway and Sandy Road, although one no longer appears on the OSM map, I could have sworn it did once? A quick look back at a snapshot of the OSM map shows that it did once exist, but has been removed? How strange?

Flooding in the fields near White Fen

When I woke up this morning I could feel the ride in my muscles. It is rather sobering to realise how quickly you I can go from being able to cycle 10s of miles without a twinge to feeling a short trip to the pub and back. At least my back was OK, touch wood.



  1. The track is still there in OSM but not rendered on the map. This change is fairly recent. It's tagged as highway=byway which was deprecated sometime ago in favour of a tagging the physical and legal attributes separately. It should now be highway=track, designation=public_byway. You [kinda] asked! :-)

    1. Thanks for explaining the change. I have always felt that there was a degree of randomness about the way byways and bridleways (with rights of way) and tracks were denoted on the OSM. It seems more logical to have two attributes. Although I still cannot see the byway on the OSM map, will it take a little time to propagate into the database?

      The amber colour chosen for some byways used to disappear on the OSM cycle map.

      I modify my attitude when cycling on tracks without a clear right of way :-)