Thursday, September 9, 2010

11 is a magic number

September 5: This Post was originally entitled Wicken Fen - wet and windy. It was a basic ride - no thinking, just popping out and cycling around Wicken Fen, along parts of the Lodes Way but, missing the barbed wire bit where Lodes Way reaches Burwell Lode. Although I had looked at the weather and knew that it was suggesting rain in the later afternoon I could not change my plans - basically I had to get stuff done and then I would be able to pop out for a breath of fresh air. It certainly turned out to be wet and windy - in fact once it starts raining hard I tend not to take pictures unless I see something that can't be missed - a quadruple rainbow perhaps. It is partly I don't want to get my camera wet and partly the misery of stopping and having cold rain water running down my neck.

So I will not bother with a map for this ride - I did manage to get in a few decent kilometres - but as you can see from the pictures at best it was a grey day. As usual when heading out to Wicken Fen I normally cycle through Lode and along White Fen. This time around I just cycled out of Cambridge along Sustrans 51 and then up the "main" road from Quy to Lode. It is not the best of roads and Quy has more than its fair share of half-blocked roads. If you follow the Streetview link you will see that they do have a bicycle bypass. Although as a cyclist you have to beware being "pinched" by vehicles trying to nip around the obstruction and back onto "their" side of the road before oncoming traffic gets there - which means they can be so obsessed with the oncoming traffic they don't realise there is a cyclist on the left of them. (Quy has three of these speed-calming devices in total.)

Essentially the car no longer offers the "promise of freedom" - the roads are too busy and efficient traffic flow is all about managing the herd and minimising turbulent flow. This means our motoring controls have to consider the lowest common denominator and set the laws accordingly. The report also suggested that cycling casualties cost less (£54,000) versus pedestrian casualties (£85,000) - so get more people cycling - even when there are accidents it is cheaper!

Whilst mentioning road safety I am in favour of speed cameras, particularly the average speed type cameras. when they are used on Motorway road works they really do work. In the past when they were using "flash camera" type "speed traps" many vehicles would speed through the roadworks and then break heavily just before the camera and then speed up again. Nowadays the traffic flow is more uniform which means it is safer and less stressful (in my opinion). A recent news piece recently suggested that "A14 speed cameras save lives".

It was good to see that the LodeStar festival was a success. I am sure that it has taken (and will take) a lot of hard work from Doug Durrant the farmer who has organised the festival. One of the routes into the festival was through the village of Lode - I had no problems with the traffic though. This is through Lode just before the right turn down to White Fen.


As I made my way to Upware it gradually dawned on me that this previously "anonymous to Sustrans" road (Headlake Drove) seems to have acquired some Sustrans signage. This appears to be the fourth Sustrans 11 leg to appear. I know I shouldn't knock it - getting these routes sorted must be like pushing a pea uphill with your nose. Perhaps the numbering system will need to be revamped a little to deal with the concept of multiple routes. Not that I am complaining the more routes the better - it gives cyclists more choice.


Just a bit further up the road - more signage - the official Lodes Way. Judging from the signs which point to Bottisham (5miles) and Wicken (4 miles) and Burwell (3 miles) the challenge of getting a route through to and over the Cam has been to great for the moment. This Sustrans link suggested that a bridge might be built over the Cam at Upware. The original Connect2 (pdf) plan also suggested a link via Baits Bite Lock. I guess that this is the practical answer for the time being. It is good to see that cyclists and walkers are being treated to proper signage as well - destinations and mileages - can't be bad. I detoured from the Lodes Way and headed to Upware and Wicken before heading back down through Wicken Fen.


The Wicken Fen turning in the village also has a new proper sign - this Lodes Way route is being taken seriously with attention to detail - I am impressed.


The entrance to the "free" bit of Wicken Fen - has been re-surfaced (and given a little Sustrans 11 sign for the post on the right.) The new surface is much better - but at the moment a little soggy - whilst it is easy to be critical I would have though that this could have been built to the same standard as the route through Wicken Fen - 5/10 - could do better, it is a bit "soggy" for cycling along. Still it is only a short distance and is much better than previously.


The Lodes Way also runs from Lode to Bottisham along a shared-used pavement where it meets the long-established Sustrans 51 route into Cambridge. (Well quite long established). As a result the path has been upgraded using one of the many pots of money that seems to exist. Essentially they have taken the path and added a strip on - I guess my expectations were higher - it is perfectly reasonable just not as good as many other shared-use paths, for instance the Fen Ditton to Horningsea route.


At the moment things are happening along the Lodes Way on a daily basis, I wonder how they are getting on the bit between the Reach Lode Bridge and Wicken Fen? (None of these pictures do justice to the rain that was falling during the ride - I was pretty wet when I got back to Cambridge.)

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