Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why do it–cycle? that is

Thursday, 27th March 2014: I cycle for a variety of reasons, when I was a kid it was freedom, a way of roaming the Somerset countryside, it was also how I got to school, rain or shine. (Which saved on bus fair.)

There were patches in my life when cycling was less important – but cycling was always there. In my first proper job I’d cycle to the pub to meet friends, 20-30miles on a bicycle seems less than driving the same distance after a day stuck in an office.

When I got married my wife and I went camping for our honeymoon in Holland, we took out bikes on the car and then would camp somewhere for a while and cycle around and about. There was no real plan apart from trying to visit interesting parts of Holland and to use the car as little as possible.

Later on again and I would drive to work on a Sunday, I would leave a week’s worth of clothes in the office and my car and cycle home. Then I would cycle to work each day, shower and set to work. If I had to travel somewhere on business I had my car available.  If I had to go for dinner with customers then I would go back to the office and enjoy a ride home late at night through the countryside. One of the effects was to help create separation between home and work – the ride helped me to plan my day’s work on the way in and forget about the day’s work on the way home.

As the kids got older I would cycle with them – we have a tandem to prove it!

Later I got enthused reading about various cyclists’ travel adventures – such as Josie Dew.  I have since cycled Land’s End to John O’ Groats and in places such as Vietnam and Cambodia and India and Canada. (I was slightly envious, in a good way, when I read this “Pedal power is a winner for Debbie in her marathon bike ride around Vietnam.”)

Mind you I am not a fanatic (well I don’t think so) but I do recognise a certain peace when after a good old cycle ride, whether from exploring in the countryside or coming back from meetings around Cambridge, you get home and know you have provided the energy for the journey. You feel it in your bones – or probably more accurately, in your muscles.

I reckon that the two months I spent not cycling last year was the longest time in the last 10 – 15 years that I have not cycled for.  (I was off for 6 weeks after getting knocked off my bike a few years ago.) This year as I slowly get back into the saddle, so to speak, I can feel my fitness re-build – very gradually and it feels good.

So when I read this Guardian article  - “10 reasons hopping on your bike is the best thing ever” it resonated strongly. In fact to read it is uplifting because it is true. I might not quite agree with the order, which for me changes depending on what I am doing – but every one of those 10 reasons works and works well for me.

Co-incidentally I read this Post – “The joy of cycling in the Netherlands” – phew how marvellous – it was marvellous 20-odd years ago, it is even more marvellous now.  That is something to strive for. I also emailed my County Councillor yesterday afternoon as part of the CTC Space for Cycling Campaign (just do it). I feel that we have tricked my generation into a massive car dependency and imprisoned the older and younger generations by frightening, intimidating road structures. I also got a reply at 10pm.

Motor vehicles aren’t benign chariots of the gods – they have negative impacts as well as positive impacts. Apparently the Public Health England air pollution research attributes 250 deaths per year in Cambridgeshire due to long-term exposure to air pollution. (The story has been somewhat simplified in the report but hey what can you expect in a local newspaper.)

Parking (or on-street car storage)  has Neighbours of a Cambridge mosque ‘at the end of their tether’ apparently. There is a Europe-wide crackdown on speeding with undercover police out in force in Cambridgeshire – apparently speeding is know as one of the ‘fatal four’ offences.   (Thanks to CCyC for the term car storage instead of parking.)

Yet we still seem to be “investing” in bigger roads – “Eight months of roadworks disruption looms on A14”.  Roads which attract more motor vehicles. I reckon there will come a time when Road Planners are reviled as much as Bankers for their negative contributions to society.

I really do feel that there is a lack of a strategic view when it comes to the long-term well-being of our society.  The proxy used by our Politicians is GDP – what a p*ss-poor measure of “success”. Are we a country turning tricks?

Even when steps are taken to address the issues – “£400k cycle route for Trumpington Road in Cambridge would replace 35 car parking bays and force closure of Bateman Street Junction” it seems that our local press try to sit on the fence – whilst smiling at the car lobby. It is a no-brainer that cycling can be salvation of Cambridge – but only if we make it safe for all not just old cycling farts like me.  Be bold you County Councillors – make a real difference – Space 4 Cycling 4 All. It is our fault that today’s kids have a shorter life expectancy…


As is often the case when I have only a few pictures form a ride I tend to write more – sorry. Mind you it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the ride any the less – This was another rain-dodger around the Fens along Lodes Way.  (Notice how the wind direction flipped!)

I also took my long lens with me – which means remembering to take certain sorts of pictures well before I get there, or using my phone to get a wider angle.  Well I dodged the rain – at one point sheltering under the culverts on Reach Lode Bridge.

Mind you a little further along Lodes Way on Headlake Drove some kind soul have supplied bathing facilities, with a convenient shower head for those hard-to-reach bits.

Fly-Tipping on Headlake Drove - again

I reckon there should be some clues as to where the rubbish came from here – I will look forward to reading about the perps getting caught.

Now a cyclist wouldn’t have done this – not because cyclists are better than drivers – they aren’t. No, because a naughty – cyclists wouldn’t have been assed to cart the rubbish this far before illegally dumping it. It does surprise me the lengths some people go to dump their rubbish.

Fly-Tipping on Headlake Drove - again

As I cycled back towards Lode (the village) the lode (waterway – Bottisham Lode) alongside the road had gone from clear to muddy in the space of one shower of rain.  There must have been a fair bit of run-off.  Although not enough to overload the Lode. Although the paragraph was a bit of a lode overload.)

Bottisham Lode – it was clear an hour beforehand – now it is muddy

The view from Fen Road to Stow-cum Quy Fen – remember Nudism can cause a fence.

Stow cum Quy Fen  - in the distance

That Post was brought to you by Categories 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 (although not as much as usual) and 10 of the Guardian’s 10 reason hopping on you bike is the best thing ever.


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