Thursday, October 9, 2014

A week of Cycling around Wicken (not every day)

Saturday, 12th July 2014: I don’t plan my cycling – I just try to keep cycling regularly. When I used to cycle to work it was much easier to cover a steady distance each work. When working from home it isn’t so easy.   I do it because I enjoy it cycling on a regular makes cycling easier. Cycling is a use it or lose it type of activity and it can take a while to find it again once you have lost it.  Working from home means I can go off an explore when the fancy takes me (sort-of).  I still plan on cycling in Japan – maybe next year. (I have cycled in various countries and you can’t beat getting out along  tracks through villages to get a better feel for a place.)

I always take a camera with me when cycling, although sometimes it might just be my Samsung Galaxy S4. I don’t take pictures every single time – but probably 99% of the time. There is always something to see. The world around us is constantly changing, whether it is urban development or the changing of the seasons.  My pictures are mostly of the countryside. I got into the habit of writing a post about each ride, but this year in particular I seem to have gotten a bit behind. This post is three months late.

So I have started combining posts – as it turns out this one combines 6 different days of cycling, all around the Wicken Fen area. In the space of a week or two the wheat has ripened and gone brown – I would guess that the wheat yields should be good for the farmers this year. Although since it is a global commodity that might not translate into a good price if there is a glut.

This Saturday ride was a radio podcast catch-up ride around Low Fen Drove Way and across to Upware and Wicken and back via Lodes Way.

Ripening Wheat alongside Hundred Acre Road

Ripening Wheat alongside Hundred Acre Road

And that is all I took.

Tuesday, 15th July 2014: A couple of days later and I cycled up through Lodes to White Fen. After crossing Swaffham Bulbeck Lode instead of following Lodes Way I cycled alongside the Lode. The recent winds have blown a branch down.

Branch down on the bank of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode – near White Fen

Onion harvesting – behind Slade’s Farm
It smells like you are cycling through a salad

Ragwort on Headlake Drove

Filming in Wicken Fen

Water Lilies – Reach Lode, looking South from the Bridge

Looks like the potatoes are doing well alongside White Fen

Thursday, 17th July 2014:The weather has been good this year, apparently Oil Seed Rape was 4 weeks ahead of last year and wheat two weeks ahead.

Oil Seed Rape being Combined alongside Barston Drove, Reach

Reach Lode underbank – Reach Lode Bridge ahead

Wheat and Daisies – Harrison’s Drove

For a change I cycled along a farm track to Foodderfen Drove – technically it is a footpath, but since it is also used by farm vehicles I don’t think they are going to notice my tyre tracks. I don’t venture on footpaths often. However I reckon Fodderfen Drove must have gone somewhere rather than just ended in a field.

Fodderfen Drove

This is where the drove meets the A1123. The signpost omits the name but does call it a Public Byway and quotes distances to Upware 11/2 and Cambridge 11. It would not be too unreasonable to assume that at the very least the byway would hold through to Upware.

Fodderfen drove (Fen Rivers Way) to Upware

For a change I cycle past Dimmock’s Cote Quarry to the Kingfishers Bridge nature reserve. there is a bridleway.  The first bit is still called Fodderfen Drove on the OSM map. this bridge over a stream has been re-built since the last time I visited. it crosses New Cut. The farm has a grass landing strip.

Foddderfen Drove crossing New Cut

New Cut

I am never quite sure where the bridleway goes when you reach the end of Fodderfen Drove – you seem to have the choice of a grass lane or a tarmac lane. I think that that grass “lane” is technically the bridleway. On you way out of the nature reserve you pass a car park for visitors, before reaching High Fen Road. It is called a track on the OS map but looks like a road. I turned left along Shaw’s Drove – which really is a track – muddy and overgrown in places.

Shaw’s Drove

The other end of Shaw’s Drove

When I got home it turned out that I had a message, which my wife had texted to me, but unless I am taking a picture which my phone I don’t always look at when cycling. My new bicycle was ready for me at Ben Hayward Cycles. If I hurried I could just get there before 6 and pick it up. So my wife drove me over to Horningsea.

Here it is a Trek Stache 8 29er.  It would have been very rude to have taken it home in the car and rude to have just ridden it on the roads so I headed out of Horningsea and along Hindered Acre Road.  Three months later and it is still making me smile when I ride it. the only hassles I have had are that five flipping punctures. I have changed the tyres and will probably go tubeless when the current tyres have given their best.

My n+1 bike – Trek Stache 8

They say 29ers really roll, well I can vouch for that it was a fast run homeSmile


Friday, 18th July 2014: I couldn’t resist a ride on my new bike (Tillie) the next day and being POET’s day I headed out as soon as I decently could. My route took me long NCN51 to Swaffham Prior and along Black Droveway/Blackberry Droveway/Straight Droveway and Harrison’s Droveway to get the feel of my new bike.

I was probably still in the honeymoon period – but it seemed to float along. It was brilliant, to say I was very pleased was an understatement. The only hassle was the front brake was squeaky and juddered. This is my first experience of disk brakes on a bicycle so rather than sweat it I took it back to Ben Hayward Cycles, who sorted it for me. They stuck on some new front pads and used a bit of disk paste on the disk. So far so good, I am sold on disk brakes – they are so much better – even than V-brakes. Although to be fair I haven’t had to do any mid-ride repairs – so I might not be so complementary if I have to fix then mid-ride. (I am not even sure if they can be bodged.)

I don’t normally wear a cycle helmet on these tracks, when riding my hybrid Marin (Maisie). Look back a few pictures to see it. However I found myself cycling much fast on the tracks and wonder whether I ought to wear a helmet.

Harrison’s Drove – My Trek Stache made short work of this

My new Bike on the Burwell Lode Footbridge on Lodes Way


Saturday, 19th July 2014: I couldn’t wait to get out on my new bike, despite the usual Saturday chores (we do a supermarket shop on a Saturday). I went out more or less the same way as the day before but with two exceptions.  After following NCN51 round the back of Swaffham Bulbeck and enjoying the way the bike climbed up the short hill (Quarry Lane) I headed down though Commercial End to a track alongside Swaffham Bulbeck Lode. It starts at Cow Bridge

I quite enjoy the route, but not riding along the track, it can get overgrown and tedious to cycle along on my 25mm (around 1”) tyres on my hybrid.  The 29*2.3” tyres on Tillie made short work of the undulations.

Wheat ripening – from alongside the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode

After passing along Headlake Drove i stead of Harrison’s Drove went along Rand Drove which runs parallel to Harrison’s Drove.  This track runs along the edge of a field and has a very soft peat soil. On 25mm tyres it is hard work. Once again I sailed along the track. At one point I did drop into a hole but the suspension forks soaked it up. It did make me think again that maybe I ought to wear a helmet…

Rand Drove

A Bird Scarer – a dead rook hanging amongst the wheat

I then cycled from Upware down alongside Reach Lode and then Wicken Lode.

On the Cock Up Bridge over Wicken Lode

Wicken Lode

Cycling along Wicken Lode bank was fine as well. The grin factor was definitely growing.

Wicken Lode
after Google+ auto-awesomed the picture

There are two Harrison’s Droves, one in Wicken Fen and one outside. This is the one inside – it can get pretty mushy and rutted – although the NT have been working to improve it. Once again – ney problem.

Harrison’s Drove

Harrison’s Drove – the concrete bit

What can I say, I for one am very pleased with my 29er. It makes cycling the tracks a real joy.

Sunday, 20th July 2014: Sunday saw me out on my new bike yet again. This time I went out along NCN51 and then around the back of Reach on Green Lane. The track isn’t that bad, although heading down it towards Spring Hall can be problematic. The track is a down hill so you want to go fast, but the track has some moderately sized loose stones. I have had a snakebite puncture on Maisie with 25mm tyres. The Stache soaked it up. IN case you are wondering, no I wasn’t wearing a helmet – but that thought crossed my me heading down Church hill.

The View from Green Lane, Church Hill, Reach

I reckon Google are trying to tell me something – my pictures aren’t good enough perhaps?

The View from Green Lane, Church Hill, Reach
After Google+ auto-awesomed the picture

The View from Church Hill (Barley)

The View from Church Hill (Wheat)

What can I say – you can never have enough bikes – just when you think you might have another one comes along and brings back a smile.

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