Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cycling–the treat you can indulge in without ruining your appetite

Sunday, 18th May 2014: One of the upsides of getting older is that I have a bit more money to indulge my hobbies. One of the downsides is that inexorably I am becoming less fit. So my strategy is to use one to deal with the other. Let’s face it exercise is good and regular cycling provides good exercise. So I do everything I can to make cycling my obvious transport/leisure choice.

When I was commuting to London (a couple of days per week) I acquired a Brompton, the ideal machine to cycle to the station and then cycle from King’s Cross to the office in London. even on two days a week I saved on petrol and car parking at one end and tube fares at the other.

At current prices the railway station car parking is £9/day.  Wow, I hadn’t realised it was so expensive. The tube far for a Zone 1 trip works out at £4.40 (£2.2 x 2 assuming an Oyster card).So that is £13.40 per day which works out at £26.80 for my two days a week. Which over say 40 weeks in a year comes to £1,072.  Which is enough to buy a Brompton. For someone commuting 5 days a week it is more than enough. Now this is just a back of the envelope calculation.  It doesn’t account for other means of transport at the Cambridge end – a bus to the station for instance or the running costs of the bicycle. However it was enough for me to justify buying one. Eight years later, fortunately no longer commute, but I do have a Brompton (kind of for free) and use it when I have to drive somewhere, but really want a bicycle with me for exploring when I get there!

When my kids were younger we used to holiday regularly in the Lake District and we would take out MTBs on top of the car and cycle on the mountains. We would also visit Thetford forest and cycle on the MTB tracks there – although in my experience young teenage boys can be too dare-devil for their own good, well my good anyway. Now my MTB is a Diamondback which I bought in a sale at Phil Corley Cycles.  At the time I had less money, but I reckon it was a pretty reasonable bike and a good deal. That was probably twenty plus years ago.

I still occasionally use it but my goodness how bike technology has moved along. The major issue is that of the brakes, they work but just don’t have the stopping power of V-brakes, especially in the wet.  Now MTB’ing adds a new dimension to cycling – balance is important, it is a more physical activity and probably requires a bit more upper body strength. So after sowing the seeds I have gotten myself a new MTB from my LBS – Ben Hayward Cycles. All I will say for now is that it cost a wee bit more than my first MTB, is a 29er and has disk brakes – it is flipping brilliant. More will follow. The justification – well as I get older I need to focus on my balance skills.


Don’t worry the old MTB is going to a good home – I am giving it to my son.

Now for some pictures. This was a ride around Low Fen Drove Way, then across the fields to Lode, off the Lodes Way to Upware. Then the back way through Wicken Fen and over some more tracks to Soham. After that a short track down Larkhall Road and Cockpen Road to Tollgate Farm. I then re-joined Lodes Way at the footbridge over Burwell Lode. Finally it was back along Lodes Way to Bottisham and NCN51 to High Ditch Road. (Which is where I show the loop from.)

Here is the Bike Route Toaster map link. The distance is around 57Km/36 miles and flat.

I took several pictures of this flow, it looked familiar, but I couldn’t recall the name. After a bit of searching in my wildflower book and on the web I asked my wife. It is a garden flower – although in this case  on the Low Fen Drove Way by the bridge. It looked familiar because we have it in our garden, but my flower knowledge tends to favour wildflowers. Aquilegia covers a wide range of species domesticated and wild.


I took a picture of the leaves to aid identification – although in my case it didn’t help.


Motons at play. It must be lonely out on the road, look how they congregate together, despite tailgating being against the law. In this clip from Essex police I reckon the van driver was lucky to get a fixed penalty notice – I view that as dangerous driving.

Now there is a study – the flocking behaviour of motor vehicles, bring on driverless motor vehicles.

Transport of a feather flocks together

Half-way around Low Fen Drove Way.  The byway is to the right in this picture – it is not so nice when wet.

Low Fen Drove Way

There is an off-road route Between Wicken and Soham where it starts as a byway (Drove Lane), becomes a bridleway and then a byway for the final bit into Soham (Bracks Drove). The byway bits have recently been cut right back, which is part of the long and under-funded plan to put in a cycle/riding/walking route between the two villages. It gets a reference on Page 8 of the July 2014 Soham Villager Magazine.Apparently to do it to the standard of the Lodes Way is prohibitive! The “next stage is for road planings to be laid the length of the route to provide a less muddy surface for cyclists”.  Given how much Soham is growing I would have thought it made sense to open up a decent cycle route through Wicken Fen and onto Lodes Way.

Stage 1 of the Soham – Wicken Cycle Route – cutting Drove Lane back

I usually cycle through Soham on the road, I find the shared-use cycle provision and traffic-calming  pretty appalling.  Imagine trying to get through this with a trailer bike.

This is a byway opposite Orchard RowAlthough the OSM seems to have the byway in a slightly different position compared with the OS map. I can’t find a name for it. It seems to have been a continuation of Orchard Road or rather the track that is now called Orchard Road. The area looked a bit different without the bypass but with the Cambridge to Mildenhall line.

Byway to Larkhall Road, Soham

The View from the Byway – across the Fordham Bypass

A little way down the byway was a burnt out scooter. I wonder if it was nicked for a ride and then burnt to obliterate any evidence.

Burnt out Scooter parking

Or maybe it was over-fuelled and accidentally caught alight during a mid-air refuelling incident.  I assumed this was a KC-135 Stratotanker, although there isn’t the usual fuel “probe” coming out of the tail. It is also in different “colours”.  The Mildenhall planes also have a “Square D” badge as used by the unit on the Second World War. This one seems to have either a “DF” of OF”. Which matches this picture taken at Mildenhall of an RC-135S – which is a large reconnaissance aircraft built by Boeing. It looks like this one. Which suggests that it is out of Offutt Air Force Base. The OF signifies it is part of the 55th Operations Group. It might not be the “S” type apparently there are 16 variants or the RC135!

RC-135 Reconnaissance Aircraft

And now for something completely different – daisies.

Bellis perennis – Common Daisy

Trifolium pratense – red clover

As I turned up past Toll gate Farm I heard a siren. So I decided to practise my panning.(Where you try to follow the moving object so that it looks sharp and the rest of the picture looks blurred.) It wasn’t too bad.

Police Car responding to an emergency

Apart from the fact I have got a bl**dy great pole in the picture this shows a sharp police car and blurry everything else. He is clearly focused on driving.

Police Car responding to an emergency

Why did I take a picture of a Sewage Farm you might ask – well it was pretty smelly that’s why. Wikipedia has another interpretation of the term Sewage Farm – that’s the one I have also know a treatment works by.

Smelly Sewage Farm near Burwell

Something I didn’t know – there is a Police Impound on the outskirts of Burwell. With number plate recognition technology.

Police Impound, Burwell

It was a day made for cycling.

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