Monday, October 31, 2011

Boats, cracks and dogs!

Saturday, 22nd October: Where else to go on a Sunny Saturday after a week of limited cycling but the Lodes Way – or at least some of the Lodes Way. Here is the route, I have taken it before – more than once. It is a shade under 60Km/36 miles long, flat and mostly peaceful, either off-road or on country lanes. Before I forget here is the Bike Route Toaster link. I have mentioned it a couple of times – but I also planned (and did) take a few more pictures of the cracks in the road long Headlake Drove. I reported the problem to the County Council, but got no feedback other than the matter was closed. Whilst the method of reporting the problem via the internet worked smoothly, the actual information content of the communications was minimal.

I know, I tend to say avoid cycling along the side of the River Cam on the weekend as it gets quite busy, yet I often fail to take my own advice. The path is fairly wide and generally walkers and cyclists give each other space. Mind you today the matter was slightly complicated by the rowers on the river. many of the boats have a coach who cycles down alongside shouting words of advice and encouragement. Some have to people cycling. What amazes me is how well they manage to cycle whilst not seeming to pay any attention to the path.

I am convinced that one or two of them must end up in the river each year. Although it was not super-warm it was sunny. Mind you it has reached the time of year when I now try to carry lights with me. I didn’t expect to be out after dark, however it only takes a fiddly puncture or two to delay me and then lights become necessary.

Actually I think that the river was ore crowded than the path. With the start of the new University year there always seem to be lots of new students trying out the rowing. There are four boats in the picture.

After Baits Bite Lock, you see large boats like this one. What did I say in ,y last post about trying to catch up (and pass) cyclists up ahead.

The same applies to boats as well – only to get a picture of course.

A bit of Cambridge graffiti – out in the sticks betwixt Horningsea and Quy.

The view back towards Horningsea – the crops are growing well in this field. It hardly seems any time at all that it was being Combined.

The path along here is pretty much either gravelled or concrete slabs, with the exception of a small bit of field.

Another field that has not long been ploughed – neat lines of plants popping up already.

The apples on this tree seemed to glow in the Autumn sun. I couldn’t capture that glow unfortunately.

After passing by Lode (the village) and over the Swaffham Bulbeck bridge along the Lodes Way the route passes along a road between Upware and Swaffham Prior. Although it is not the busiest of roads there are times when you get a few cars along it as well as agricultural vehicles and lorries. I think that is is used during the rush hour – although it is not a fast road and I am not sure what route is short-cuts.

What does worry me, especially as the daylight hours get shorter is that large cracks have appear on each side of this road. These cracks are wide enough for a bike wheel to slip into and potentially jam and throw the cyclist of his or her bike. The cracks are about 15-20cm from the edge of the road and where a cyclist might end up cycling in the face of oncoming traffic.

Elsewhere on this road there are “gullies” that have been created at the edge of the tarmac surface and one windy day I was blown slightly sideways into one and it threw my front wheel and I fell of my bike – so they can be dangerous. That time I kind of rolled onto the verge and apart from my pride nothing else was hurt. So I do feel that these cracks are dangerous for cyclists – especially on a route that forms part of the Lodes Way – a cycling route.

At least the Council is on notice, if a cyclist (or motorist) does have a problem then it will have to be taken seriously.  Perhaps I ought to put in an FOI request for the process by which they decide whether problems need fixing or not.

This is what I mean about how a bike wheel could sink into the crack – these are 25 tyres (1 inch) and certainly wide enough to grab the wheel.

I wasn’t that systematic in detailing all the cracks. I just stopped and took a few pictures.  I think that there are at least 12 wide cracks along this short length of road.

As far as I can tell they are only going to get worse.  This time around I have submitted a form to the CTC.The form has a few more details to fill in – which is reassuring, they also don’t pass on your details to the Council in question. Like all such automated systems I have an email letting me know that it has the report.

As you can see cracks and more cracks.

Here is the view from the bicycle – just imagine looking ahead as a car comes tearing down, you move to the edge of the road and then whoops, your wheel catches and you fall in front of the car. Actually it would be better not to imagine that at all.

You can see my front light – just in case my return home gets delayed.

After Headlake Drove crosses Great drove the road is actually slightly better. It is slightly surreal with a small “forest” of white sticks either side of the road.

After a bumpy bit at the end of Split Drove you reach a rather large new sign – “Caution Low Bollard" Ahead” – actually it looks like a load of bollards to me. Presumably short bollards allow agricultural vehicles easy passage, I wonder if my Land Rover would clear them.


One of the benefits of the Lodes Way is that it has opened up some countryside for people to enjoy – the downside is that it seems to be attracting cars as well.

At the top of Harrison’s Drove, alongside Wicken Lode I took a picture of this solitary tree.

I also took a picture of this digger – somewhere in Wicken Fen, I was expecting to see it from the other side – but didn’t.

As I was about to get back onto my bike some people were coming down the bridleway with a couple of dogs. Now I pass lots and lots of dogs when out cycling. Normally owners with troublesome dogs tend to grab them and let me past. If the owners don’t appear worried then I tend to assume that the dogs will be fine. Unfortunately that was not the case this time. Before I even got going the dogs started snarling at me, one ran round the back of me and then went for my leg. I felt what seem to be a jaw grab my leg, but no skin was broken and finally the owners grabbed their dogs.

Is it unreasonable of me to expect people walking their dogs in public places to be in control of their flippin’ dogs. If I’d been cycling one of those dogs could have jumped up and caused me to fall into the Lode – I wonder where the law stands on responsibilities for damages – such as to a broken camera.  These are those dogs.

As I wended my way through to Wicken I stopped to take a picture of this reversible plough by the side of a field. I should have taken it from a different angle – the edge of the plough and the sky coincide.

After crossing A1123 passing down Docking’s Lane (a track) and joining NCN11 I headed back to Wicken. I was a little surprise to see some irrigation in the distant field.

As the nights draw in it will make it harder to take pictures, mind you there is still time to take pictures of the sun setting. I got this picture of the sun low in the sky just before reaching Black Droveway after passing through Reach.

Black Droveway has recently been flattened which makes it much smoother, but actually harder to cycle along whilst it is soft. I know us cyclists are a whingeing lot.  This time I took an alternate route to the side of the main path. By the looks of things so do quite a few other vehicles.  You can see how low the sun is – my shadow is pretty elongated.

I am still cycling in shorts, the weather hasn’t gotten that cold yet. I did have some long-fingered gloves though – my fingers are the first thing to feel the cold. I was wearing my cycling sandals, but had put on some socks as well.  So as the sun started setting I tried to maintain a bit of pace. Once I joined the NCN51 route in Swaffham Bulbeck it was a case of heading towards the sunset. This is the sun somewhere between Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham, sinking into the horizon.

Although there was time to take a picture of this plane jetting across the sky to the US (I am guessing).

Apparently the fine weather will last over the weekend so I will visit the CGB to see how the cycle way works between St Ives and Swavesey are going for my Sunday cycle.

No comments:

Post a Comment