Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Loop from Cambridge to Ely Part 1

September 22: with all the kerfuffle I caused myself by accidentally deleting stuff (some of my Bike Route Toaster (BRT) maps) I have only myself to blame. The old carpenter's saying "measure twice and cut once" comes to mind. (More proverbs here - although not that many of the quotes have their origins/explanations.) It seems there are two issues one was my fault, I should know better than to try to do something quickly when I don't really have the time to spare - "more haste less speed". In my haste to re-draw the map you see below I deleted the map data from BRT and a few others to boot. So trying to make use of a spare five minutes cost me an hour of fixing.

The other challenge is related to a bigger discussion taking place about Web-based applications along the lines of who owns the data? Indeed the value of a social network to the organisation that created it, lies in the amalgamation of all those personal details and the interactions between them. Get it right and you have a multi-billion dollar company, look at Mark Zuckerberg, currently 35 in the Forbes billionaire rankings. Get it wrong and you can see a company you bought for £175m sell for £25M four years later - Friends Reunited.

When it comes to looking after my own data I am fairly careful, I run weekly backups, store data in multiple places on multiple drives and on the "Web". Although there is more I could do - I ought to check that I can actually do a complete recovery but there are limits, I am the only Admin person on our home network and there are limits to how much nagging I am allowed to do. However the world has definitely gone digital for me. Since the advent of digital photography it has completely re-awakened my ability to practise my hobby. (I used to do my own developing and printing but the pressure of work side-lined that.) I now spend far more on my hobby than I used to. The same is true for music - now that I can rip my CDs and store them on my computer and listen them in my study or in the living room I once again buy more music. I am a bit old-fashioned in that I prefer to buy the CD and rip it rather than buy the digital download. The CD is the back up after all. This means I have around 300Gb of pictures and 40Gb of music stored on my system. In fact I will have to reconsider how I structure my data within 12 months as it will exceed the capacity of the main storage I have.

But what about my stuff on the web. I can copy my Blog, I can copy my Picasaweb pictures (actually that is a backup store of the data on my disk) and I rate Google's chances of keeping the data "secure". Although I have started looking at "Website copying" software. As I want to be able to maintain the structure and if necessary deal with the photographs being stored elsewhere. (Which reminds me to create a back up of the Template and Blog whilst doing this - done.) The challenge is that the photographs are not stored in the same place as the blog and whilst the back up stores the text and links to the picture it does not store the pictures. I have created my blog from Zoundry and in theory could re-publish everything since it refers to the pictures on my disk, but because of various foibles the picture-publishing mechanism has not always worked and I have had to find bodges work-arounds.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that I need to think of how to back up my BRT routes. Currently they exist as pictures on my disk and data stored on the BRT site. I could download them as various types of file (mbcrs gpx tcx) but not en-masse and how would I re-enter them? A bit of experimenting is required I think.

Enough techno-babble for now - what it means is I have split this post into two parts, that way if I have to go in and fiddle with the XHTML, hopefully it will only be on half the post. I guess the alternative is that I could just cut down on the number of pictures I put in a post. (To be honest despite the reduction in bandwidth I have suffered at the hands of my ISP that is not something that I have given much thought to. Although I am much more aware how long the Blog takes to load on a slow line, which can be a real pain.

So on Wednesday the weather was really pleasant in the Flatlands of Cambridgeshire and I took the afternoon off and went for a longer ride. I have done variations of this ride before, but not actually this sequence of roads and tracks. I like it because, in the main it avoids busy roads, it is in the countryside and is a loop - the route out is not the route back. With the new Lodes Way it has become even more pleasant. Here is the BRT link to the route (I hope!). The route is just under 80Km/ 50 miles with 150m of ascent/descent which is not much when you consider the distance. The downside is that it can be fairly windy and indeed it was when I went out - but not enough to spoil the enjoyment.

As you can see from this map the " climbing" occurs oop North around Haddenham, Coveney and Ely. The tracks roads are quiet, however the tracks along the Aldreth Causeway can be a bit uncertain after rain and tractor movements. Having said that I have never found them to be really bad. They just require a little more care because of the ruts in the mud. An alternative route would be to avoid the Aldreth Causeway and take Long Drove, just before Cottenham and then join the Twenty Pence Road to Wilburton. The road is not pleasant but not really too bad. I would tend to avoid the Cam cycle path on the weekend afternoons by taking the Horningsea road - again not a big issue.

One final note - I tend not too mention Traveller's caravans much (unless they are cooking bacon). Some of the byways I take are fairly remote and occasionally I have passed one or two caravans parked up. I have never had any issues, dogs and horses are on leads and I'll generally say hello if someone is about. Going through one group a young lad who was trying to get a stake in the ground to attach his horse to asked me to take a message to the camp to get a hammer to him, I did and was nicely thanked for it.

Cambridge to Ely Loop rtn via Lodes Way.JPG

The day I went up the NCN11 path alongside the Cam it was pretty quiet, although there were a few rowing boats gathering with cycling coaches alongside. (Now they are to be avoided! as they often are so focused on the crew rowing they pay less attention to what is around them!) This is Baits Bite Lock, the rowers stop here, there is a Lock though for boats to pass on through up to Ely. The lock has the only footbridge between Chesterton and Horningsea - as shown on the left of the picture. The tarmac in the picture is not representative of the cycle path alongside the River Cam - but the path is actually a good flat gravel path with very few potholes.

One thing I did notice was I was getting a lot of loud creaking from the bike - it seemed to be coming from the pedals but stopped when I stood up to pedal.


Although boats moor along the River Cam they tend to congregate closer to Cambridge and there are fewer than on the Kennet and Avon Canal from Bath to Bradford on Avon. You do still see them along the River though.


NCN 11 along the River Cam comes to an end at Waterbeach, they are hoping to be able to connect it with the Lodes Way in the future. the route I take squeezes along Station Road and Chapel Street. There is limited parking and so one side of the road is "blocked" by parked cars - which calls for assertive cycling. In my experience assertive cycling sometimes works and sometimes I am not assertive enough. I got waved though when "forced" to give way by some old boy who probably didn't see me. The route then heads along the Cambridge Road, which sounds like an important road except it is a dead-end road except for pedestrians and cyclists. The road is signed as the route to Cambridge and Milton. It ends at the A10 where there is a shared path down towards Milton. The crossing of the A10 always sounds worse than it is - there is a traffic island in the middle that helps. Mind you I am not sure I have had to cross it during the rush hour. The picture shows the Cambridge Road looking back towards Waterbeach - old roads never die they just become country lanes and get less maintenance.


After that the route is quite quiet passing through Landbeach and then heading North along Green End before turning left onto the Cottenham Road. I passed around 20 apple trees on the Green End/Cottenham Road stretch - this must have been deliberately planted I would have thought. I took the picture to remind myself to mention it. There seemed to be plenty of apples on the trees - this years seems to have been a bountiful apple season.


After Cottenham I headed out along the Great North Fen Drove, the road in the picture, where for all of a kilometre I was able to cycle at up to 60Mph, not that I could really. This seems to be a slightly bizarre quirk of the way in which Speed limits are applied in the UK. I realise there are not many houses along the road - but there are some and as a country lane there will be horses and walkers and of course cyclists. Mind you I have not seen cars speeding along here either.


Looking North-ish from the Drove (over Great North Fen) you can see the water tower of Haddenham in the distance. The "hills" do not really strike fear into the cyclists heart do they. That is where I was heading. The fields are nicely ploughed.


The road gives way to a Byway - Archie's Way where I passed some dog walkers and surprise, surprise another apple tree.


This is Cow Lane - this is the sort of road I like - hardly anyone about. (It connects Rampton and Willingham along with Iram Drove).

I stopped to try to resolve the creaking noise and decided it must be coming from my seat post. My Marin hybrid has a suspension seat-post which actually works quite well in conjunction with my Brooks Leather saddle to take the sting out of bumps and ruts. I put a bit of synthetic oil in to see if that would help.


After Iram Drove (a road) the route then goes off-road along the Aldreth Causeway, firstly through the middle of Belsar's Hill, probably an iron-Age fort. The Causeway was apparently used by William the Conqueror to invade the Isle of Ely.


When I cycled along it the causeway was pretty flat and not very rutted and the skies were blue! Although I would not call it a busy byway people do obviously use the route, which leads into some lovely countryside. It crosses the River Great Ouse on its way North.

At this point the creaking had not stopped, in fact it was worse with the bumps and ruts. So I had another look - it turned out to be the bolts clamping the saddle to the seat-post were slightly loose. I tightened them up and all was quiet - but it was a timely reminder that I needed to keep an eye on such things. It would not be easy cycling without a saddle (or chain-rings).


Where the track reaches Aldreth there is a choice of byways and roads to take. Looking at the map I have been on the byways but not the road around Holme Fen, I must give it a try next time I am in the area.

This time around I cycled up the High Street and up was the operative word, from 2m above Sea level to the altitude-sickness inducing heights of 35m. Alright a bit dramatic. You do get a good view of the countryside though. This picture was taken halfway between Aldreth and Haddenham on the Aldreth Road looking "down" on the countryside. (It is two pictures stitched together.)

Aldreth panorama.JPG

The next stop is Coveney.

1 comment:

  1. interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you
    caravans for sales