Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cycling–it gets easier the more you practice

Friday, 2nd May 2014: Still two months behind on my Posts! But the good news is that I am cycling quite a bit, which is why I am a bit tardy in posting.

Distance Cycled so far in 2014 (to end April)

Month

Distance (km)

Distance miles)

January

   503

   315

February

   610

   381

March

1,085

   678

April

1,150

   718

Total

3,348

2,093

I have also compared times for one of the routes I do more frequently and I am also getting faster (+25%). Not because I am training, just because regular cycling is making me a bit fitter, which can’t be bad.

Now I know I am supposed to be cutting back on commenting about cycling matters until I catch up but.  “Half of Britons say local roads too dangerous for cycling in BBC poll”. I am not surprised, I have heard the same message for parish councils around Cambridge and from the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridge. Although I can’t really see any evidence that the PCC is doing anything about it, except for targeting naughty cyclists.

In my view the trouble is there there are too many examples of sub-standard cycle infrastructure (including here in Cambridge). The needs of cyclists are treated with contempt. As a result this increases the perception of some motorists that cyclists shouldn’t be on the roads or are rolling road-blocks or are second-class citizens. 

Yesterday, as I approached a T-junction to turn right at the T, I looked behind, signalled and moved to the right hand-side of the road. There was a car behind me, but had given me space, but then changed his mind and overtook me and gave me room (Highway Code Rule 163), then swerved back across my path to turn left. If he hadn’t he would have had to go the wrong way around the keep left bollard that separated that was in the middle of our bit of road.

Today I passed a horsebox being driven by a woman on the phone, her wobbling over to my side of the road was what drew my attention to her driving. A little later a car stopped and then edged up over a steep kerb to park on a small triangle of land with roads on all sides. He had a large slab of a phone clamped to his face – he probably couldn’t actually see me such was the blinkering effect.

Now I have ridden more miles than I have driven my car this year, I know that cycling does me more good than harm. However I also know what it feels like to be hit by a car and knocked off my bike.  I do feel that, amongst a minority of drivers, the duty of care they apply to cyclists is appalling and getting worse.

Now I know the stats say I am pretty safe really, but I also know that as a cyclist some small number of drivers treat me with contempt. I can’t ignore the clear and present danger. Which is one reason why I find pleasure in cycling the country lanes and byways and bridleways.  I also reckon that pretty much all of the tractor drivers I meet out and about are courteous (to me anyway).

So if we want a healthier nation, then there is a straightforward answer – but Governments don’t seem to do straightforward (whatever their politics).

In a sign of me getting fitter even though this was an end of the day Friday ride and my plan was to get to Wicken and turn around I couldn’t stop and went on up to Barway and then to Soham and then through to Burwell along Broad Lane. I have digitised the route – here is it on Bike Route Toaster. The Lode starting and ending a Lode is a shade under 47Km/30 miles. The worst bit is the byway from Ness Farm to Broad Lane. It is fairly rutted, also it looks as if Broads Farm has new owners. There have a small dog that chases cyclists, well it has chased me twice. I can out run it, but it also seems to want to run in front on my front wheel. Arghh The last time I felt like reporting them to the Police – I haven’t but it is incredibly unpleasant when cycling to have a dog chase you. A dog snapping at you wheels is not conducive to good balance.

The Sustrans map shows one way around Barway, but there are also markers showing the route I too. This track runs alongside/under Soham Lode bank to Barway Bridge.

Remnants of an old NCN11 skirting Barway

Ely Cathedral from Barway Bridge

The US Air Force protecting the skies above Ely, or preparing to re-fuel the cathedral?  This is a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker. Most probably from RAF Mildenhall – here is one taking off from Mildenhall.

Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker above the skies of Ely

This was also in the skies above Ely – I am not sure what it is – but that protrusion from the nose could be for in-flight refuelling, strange as it may seem. I would imagine it extends a bit further. Here is a link to a picture of a HH-60 Pave Hawk Helicopter just about to undertake in-flight refuelling.  They do operate them at Mildenhall – here is a picture of one on the ground. It was a Pave Hawk that tragically crashed in Norfolk in January this year (2014).

HH-60 Pave Hawk also patrolling the skies of Ely

 

Reach Lode

A bunch (small) of cyclists having just gotten over the obstacle course.

Cyclists re-grouping after crossing Reach Lode via the footbridge

A Longboat moored just down from the footbridge on Reach Lode

The peloton is on the move on Lodes Way

Jockeying for the lead