21 Apr 2017

21st April 2017 Head Gardener's apprentice.

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Friday 21st 46F, 8C, dark grey, light winds with a threat of rain now and then with wind later. Still busy in the garden so no walk today. No ride either as I was set to work moving sand and gravel in dozens of wheelbarrow trips. Despite my best efforts the iceberg did not tip in my favour. The servant's entrance is still blocked to tricycles so I have much more work to do.

Saturday 22nd 40F, 4C, bright and breezy with possible showers. A good day for barrowing? Did you know that tricycles are also known as "barrows." Probably in recognition of their vast carrying capacity compared with those silly machines which fall over when not actually fitted into a bicycle rack. Even bicycle racks have at least two meanings. Both a carrying device and a parking place.

The problem with most bicycles is that the big rear wheel gets in the way of real bags. Panniers can help to overcome this problem but these bags are, by necessity, narrow and tall and sit right out in the breeze. Which increases both the frontal area but also adds huge drag due to the rectangular cross section. 

A saddlebag is sheltered by the rider's bulk and has enough depth for carrying more reasonable  quantities of "real stuff." Unfortunately, the vast majority of saddlebags are aimed squarely at bicycles and don't fit those very well anyway. Additional support systems are vital if the bag is not to become a very large and efficient, though non-adjustable, drag brake. Many a steel mudguard has served double shifts in supporting a badly sagging bag. The trend to naked tyres does not favour the longevity of any bag dangling unaided from the saddle. 

Meanwhile the rear triangle of a tricycle has acres of spare room. It can have a bag deep enough to carry serious quantities of "stuff." Provided the bag fits easily between the rear wheels it need only avoid the circular saw action of the rear sprockets from below. The height to the underside of the saddle is the next important parameter which must be addressed. Those sporting several feet of visible saddle pin are laughing. The vertically challenged have no such luck.

The Trykit could easily manage a 50x30x30cm saddlebag if one were available. That's 45 liters of recycled sports bag in New Money! By comparison, the largest Carradice 'Camper' saddlebag [see image left] is a bijou purse for girls to dance around at the disco. Strictly a lipstick, mascara and packet of tissues carrying capacity even with a following wind. Hardly room, even, for one of those obsolete iPhoneys which used to be so popular with real blonds. 

A tricycle rack is a serious bit of kit and ought to be considered vital to heavy transport duties. The rack keeps the saddle bag safely off the cassette. While providing plenty of even support for a brace of milk churns or a three seater settee. Or any other regular transport needs of the serious tricyclist. The tricycle rack helps to spread the loads into the rear triangle of stays and so avoids unnecessary mechanical stresses. It also stops the bag from flopping into the wheels when you take those vicious, supermarket, car park ramps at 37 mph and 45°. As you desperately try to cross the traffic as an oncoming sociopath puts his foot down to cut you off.

Did you know I broke my first trike by carrying a hundredweight [112lbs] of sand and gravel the fifteen miles home from Bristol to Bath? That was back in the last century but being an immature youth is no real excuse. I borrowed an empty drum from work to carry the load and the mechanical torture broke one of the chainstays. You would not believe the hills I had to climb out of Bristol with that load!

The reason for this total insanity was that none of the sand stockists in Bath were open while I was at home. I could not bring myself to steal some sand from the local golf course bunkers. Not even if I had been willing to pick out the dog's muck. My excuse for needing the sand was to build a sand-filled loudspeaker baffle. Well, you have to, at least once. Don't you?

Today I walked my usual route up to the woods and back down by the other track. It was blowing a gale! Making it quite difficult to keep my baseball cap on a lot of the time. Few such caps are supplied as standard with chin straps.

Three distant hares pretended to be invisible to my binoculars out on the bare field. Then I spotted a bird of prey. It was blowing too hard to keep my binoculars still enough. So I crossed the road and borrowed a signpost to steady the view. Which upset the bird of prey so that it took off and soared much closer. Light underneath, wings tapering almost to a point, with 'fingers' at the tips  and a very long tail. Possibly a Goshawk, but it's a wild guess. The undersides of the wings were differently marked to the images posted online. More like the usual darker "contour lines" common to some other birds of prey rather than uniformly speckled.

There was a short sprinkle of rain as I neared home on the main road. Judging from all the traffic there must be a sale somewhere. Or they are escaping some dire circumstance yet to register on our rural-detached radar. I was excused tricycle shopping on account of a double marathon wheelbarrow race to move a load of gravel. It would not have been much fun riding in the gale force winds.

Sunday 23rd 40-48F, 4-9C, bright and windy but not cloud free. Walked anticlockwise up to the woods and back the other way. I hadn't gone far before a Nuthatch started scolding me loudly from the roadside trees. A few gulls dotted the huge expanses of bare earth. Still no sign of the first, familiar, green blush at grazing viewpoints. Elsewhere, glistening waves raced across the foot tall, grass-like crops as the wind roared in my ears.

Half a dozen deer were sheltering in the conifers but moved away through the shadows. Once out of the woods there were mixed flocks of small birds foraging in the bare fields. There were Chaffinches, Sparrows, Yellowhammers and the very populace Great tits. Up to fifty Fieldfares are still sharing the big lawns with the clockwork Starlings. Despite the wind I still have to go shopping. I have been slacking on the shopping front while wheel-barrowing gravel for hours on end. But no, another day of shoveling and wheel-barrowing gave me enough exercise for another day. When will it ever end?

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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