I set off in the fog for work this morning and headed for the NCN Route 12. From the brief tarmaced section around the back of Southoe I turned left onto the off-road track, and my front wheel nearly skidded out from under me. I kept control, but eased up. The surface felt uncomfortably loose.
I blogged last week about previous maintenance work done to this section of the NCN Route 12, I wasn’t expecting to have new material so soon!
It was immediately apparent that the surface had been ripped up, just as had happened last May. The track was covered in loose, sandy gravel with larger stones scattered across it.
A woman jogger approached from the opposite direction used the narrow strip of undamaged track adjacent to the fields. I imagine she was using it to avoid an injury from slipping on the freshly turned gravel.
In the picture left, you can clearly see the gravel and sand making up the upper section of track near Southoe. From past experience this type of surface gets very sticky and slow to ride over once wetted. The sand and grit punishes your bikes components too.
As I continued along the track I became increasingly dismayed to see this entire section of track, 1 mile in length, had been razed to where it joins the road between Hail Weston and Little Paxton.
In places chunks of broken concrete and occasional bricks litter the track, while other sections have more in common with the surface of the moon.
So why has this been done again? Certainly it isn’t to improve conditions for cyclists and joggers. How anyone can think this is a suitable surface for a national cycle way is beyond me. Either they just didn’t think or it is a deliberate sign shouting “Cyclists Unwelcome Here”. I’ve emailed the local Sustrans rangers to see if they know more. They are looking into it and once I learn more I’ll update this post.
On a positive note, the Sustrans Rangers are aware this section of NCN Route 12 is in poor condition and are pushing to get an improvements project through. Lets hope they get it.
In the meantime, what should be an accessible public right of way and part of our cycling infrastructure is a hazardous mess.