Wednesday, May 1, 2013

There and back to Wadlow Wind Farm and a Spring Puncture

Saturday, 20th April 2013: As I sit here tapping away at this Post I am also listening to the link provided by the Swaffham Bulbeck Cyclist, a Radio 4 program – “Fens of Cambridgeshire”, featuring the Reverend Leonard Jenyns. He was the original choice for naturalist on HMS Beagle, but turned it down and his place was taken by Charles Darwin. He was also became the curate of Swaffham Bulbeck in 1827. You will have to listen if you want to learn more!

Before I start, we have the Council Elections coming along and once again the Cambridge Cycling Campaign have done an excellent job of asking the candidates their views on cycling related matters. One of the candidates comments has reached the (award-winning!) Cambridge News – “Cyclists branded unruly and abusive in Cambridge election row”.  The BBC has a more sober “Transport is ‘key to success’, candidates argue”. Which seems to focus on things liker the A14.

It would also seem there is some political pressure being applied on A14 matters. The matter of whether South Cambs District council should contribute several million pounds to the upgrade was blocked by the ruling conservatives apparently. A cabinet minister has also been reported as suggesting that Cambridge City Council's refusal to help fund the project could cause it to be scrapped.

Now for some economics – in a perfect market price is set by the balance of supply and demand. Issues occur when you have either a small number of suppliers or buyers which can affect supply or demand and so cause price variation.  So is it a surprise that Petrol sales slump to 23-year low as drivers suffer sky-high prices on the forecourts.  Apparently “many drivers have been forced to switch to public transport or use their car less”! The issue is that we squander energy like there is no tomorrow – it isn’t free, yet we seem addicted to it. We also seem to forget that motor vehicles create noise, pollution and kill and injure people.

One aspect of our addiction is the “school rush”, which occurs twice a day as parents tear along to deposit their children. When I am on my bike I try to avoid them – the rush seems to bring out the worst in drivers. We have problems with obesity in the UK, yet we pay lip service to the problems of making it safe to get kids to school without a car. Although I disagree with the tone of this school’s approach to kids who use their scooter to get to school I can understand the issue. Scooting to school? First, pass the test!  I reckon all schools should become compulsory 20mph zones with cyclists, pedestrians and of course scooter riders given absolute priority.

Yet what do I read in the Cambridge News – ‘Danger’ cyclists issued stark warning by police in Cambridge”.  To make us feel humble, we are told that this is for our own good – “to save lives and prevent injury”. Gee thanks, but as a cyclist who uses lights and doesn’t jump red lights I feel that the real danger comes from the cars and lorries not from cyclists or pedestrians.  Even when cyclists are assaulted it would seem “those assault cyclists are not usually prosecuted”. There is another post, after a shocking collision between a bus and a cyclist.  Check out the bit about the Lambeth Cycle Conference – and who didn’t attend. Also see what “Mark the bus Driver” wrote.

Enough ranting, well almost – at the mo (May 1st, 2013 @ 10:17am) there have been 42,399 signatures on the

Promote cycling by implementing the recommendations in the 'Get Britain Cycling' report.

So get signing and if you have then get others signing.

Saturday was a lovely day – a day where it was almost impossible not to cycle. So chores out of the way I wondered where to wander (on my bike of course). After finding the byways around Reach to be okay I figured I would go for something with a bit more byway away from the beaten track. Or rather away from the beaten tarmac – beaten track is what I wanted,

Three choices sprang to mind. The first was out along from Histon along Gun’s Lane/Rampton Drift and Cuckoo Lane to Willingham and back along the Guided Busway. The second was to head out along the  Roman Road to Balsham. The last was to circle around Wadlow Wind Farm. I chose the latter. I would get a hill to climb and views to see – which appealed on such a clear and sunny day.

The route I chose wasn’t that long – around 45Km but does almost reach the 100m contour (well 94m actually). It might have been longer but there were two issues. The first is that I punctured and the second is that my front brake started giving me problems, more on that later.

Here is the Bike Route Toaster link, the route sets out through Teversham, up to Great Wilbraham and then along Mill Road and past Wadlow Wind Farm. (I have just noticed a mistake in the route I took around Wilbraham, I stuck the the main road really, but I ought to try that way – although Toft Lane is shown as a footpath.) I then cycled around Chilly Hill towards Dullingham, back to Swaffham Bulbeck then back on NCN51.

On Airport Cycleway heading towards Teversham there were signs warning of a Cycle Event.  This Bike Event ride popped up for that weekend, but the route doesn’t seem to tally.

Airport Cycleway, Cambridge

Here is the map for those who want to see it without clinking the BRT link.

One of these days I am going to cycle around Cambridge with nothing better to do than take pictures of all the issues related to road use that I reckon are far more dangerous than silly cyclists. But until then you will have to make do with the odd one or two pictures thrown in on my regular cycle rides.

This is one of those examples of poor laws and lack of consideration. I used to think that drivers who did this were being mindful of their tribe (of other motorists) and not wanting to create an obstruction. I think the real issue is they don’t trust the other b*ggers on the road and do it to minimise risk of damage to their cars. Although there has been a spate of thefts from cars in Cambridge.

Pavement Parking – Teversham

Between Teversham and Fulbourn there is a magic pavement – you know the sort that looks like any other pavement, except on this one magically it is safe and convenient for both pedestrians and cyclists. Also by keeping moving obstructions of the road cars can drive even faster on this straight bit of road.

The trouble is with magic pavements is that there is nothing magic about the design, in fact it would appear that the Council? has decided to add extra obstructions long this path. Designed to clip you pedal perhaps? Perhaps it is being used to produce “funny” video clips of cyclists falling from their bikes as they seem also to have stuck a camera ready to record the jape.

Shared-use path – with added obstructions (between Teversham and Fulbourn)

Yep – looks like a video camera. There are a few of these around along with two rubber tubes across the road. It seems that there is some data gathering taking place on traffic flows. Perhaps they are comparing two different approaches?

Traffic Flow Analysis heading into Fulbourn

As I was heading back out of Fulbourn another sign of Spring – green leaves sprinkling a tree along Church Lane and what look like they were once Almshouses.

I mentioned I had two issues, the first issue was that I had not realised that sun can be warm, it has been such a long Winter. So I had three layers on top, one and a half too many. I was sweltering and wasn’t sure whether my small saddlebag would be up to the job of carrying my top.

The second issue was  that as I was cycling into Great Wilbraham the back of the bike seemed a bit wibbly. The sort of wibbly that makes you think, oh no a puncture. Although you secretly hope that it is just your imagination and that the tyre just needs a little puff of air.

It can’t have been a very bad puncture though as it took another kilometre or so before I was becoming convinced.  The question then is shall I carry on and pump it up from time to time, or should I turn around and go home or should I fix it. Fortunately there is a bench in Great Wilbraham and it presented itself just at the right time.

So I shed some unnecessary clothing and settled down to fix the puncture. I find it is so much easier to fix a puncture when  relaxed. Perhaps I should have popped up to the Carpenter’s Arms and gotten a bottle of beer to sup as well.

Fixing a puncture – Great Wilbraham

As you can see the weather was too nice and so I sort of, almost, managed to stuff my windproof jacket into the saddlebag.

It is a nice neat saddle bag but a tad small sometimes. At least I had the stuff to fix my puncture with me though. I also find that the press studs to close the flap can be a little tricky to click shut sometimes.

Saddlebag Stuffing

I then headed out of Great Wilbraham and up the bridleway between the Chalk Pit and Wadlow Wind Farm. How about that for a blue sky. There is a plantation called the Old Cambridge Road Plantation and another one called the Cambridge Hill Plantation. So perhaps this track used to be the old Cambridge Road?

Oh ys when I overturned my bike to fix the puncture I hadn’t realised that a nut and bolt had gone missing from one of the brakes – the bolt on which the level pivots. I could brake but without much force – and I had a rutted down hill track to navigate.

Blue Skies near Wadlow Wind Farm

There was a tractor doing some work between the Wind Turbines. When you see the tractor against the structures it makes you realise just how big they are.

Wadlow Wind Farm

In this picture the tractor, on the other hand, looks like a small dot. They were spinning, but slowly.

Wadlow Wind Farm

This is the track that runs alongside, it is a byway and is usually pretty good even when wet because it is a chalky area.  This is the view looking towards Cambridge.

Byway Alongside Wadlow Wind Farm

And this is the view looking up, with the Old Cambridge Plantation on the right. I took a picture of a fox up ther4e last year, it was not at all phased by me.

Byway Alongside Wadlow Wind Farm

The track drops down to Lark Hall Corner and passes Wadlow Farm.  The OSM map shows the byway in yellow on the usual view, but then if you switch to the cycle view it disappears. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately the track then goes down and then back up another hill. At least I get exercise this way.

Wadlow Wind Farm Turbine from Six Mile Bottom Road

I took a byway short-cut down to Grange Road. This last time I came along here this was a hedgerow.

Missing Hedgerow – Grange Road

This bit is the track I cycled from onto Grange Road – there is a pumping station to pass and a ford to cross – although I am not sure I have ever gotten my wheels wet.

Missing Hedgerow – Grange Road

Maisie propped up by the Icknield Way signpost.

The Icknield Way

I am convinced that there are more people out leisure cycling  than there were a few years ago. I often see groups and individuals, some kitted out in Lycra and some not.

Cyclist on Grange Road

He went up the hill faster than I plan to.

Cyclist on Grange Road

Once I was up and rolling along the flatter bits I got my breath back – this Oil Seed Rape will be in flower before we know it.

Oil Seed Rape – almost in Flower on Balsham Road

There was a train, unsurprisingly perhaps at Dullingham Station. Although it seemed that the driver and guard were sitting on a bench waiting? It looks as though a wash wouldn’t go amiss.

Train in Dullingham Station

There was a bit more climbing from Dullingham Station (around 69m) to the top at 88m and then down again past the Polo Ground. I then headed towards Swaffham Bulbeck  on Newmarket Way (well that is what is is called on this old map here.) It is now called Swaffham Heath Road.

Pylons marching over Swaffham Heath Road

On the old map this appears as Nun’s Field – it has been nicely prepared – I am not sure what is going to spring up. I reckon the trenches are too wide for spuds.

Nicely prepared Field on Swaffham Heath Road

The shadow of a pylon across Nun’s Field

At this time of year quite a few fields seem to sprout poles – apparently these are crop trials.

Crop Trials

NCN51 runs through and between Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham. There is another of those magic paths which allows cyclists and pedestrians, which is narrower than most.  Along is is a bridge - Stone Bridge.  To one side there is a wooden bridge for cyclists and pedestrians. This one has had a layer of plastic strips screwed down to it. |Everything else fell of my bike when I cycled across it.

Wooden Bridge – next to Stone Bridge – with extra vibrations

Interestingly the bit of the path that go4es over the wooden bridge is quite a bit wider than the tarmac bit of the path. So why the Cyclists Dismount sign then?

Stone Bridge – Cyclists Dismount

As far as I can see these signs are a clear indication of failure on the part of the planners when “creating” cycle routes.

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