21 Mar 2010


Warning: The images below are up to 300kB if you left click for an enlargement. Back click to return to the blog. The 4:3 format, original images are around 4MB from a Lumix TZ7 and downsized to 1000 x 750 pixels in PhotoFiltre. Naturally some resolution and sharpness are lost in the process. I suggest you reload the page to ensure you are seeing the latest version.

Autumn is here at last and a chill is in the air. The trees are glorious as I pedal along the lanes trying to keep my cadence high.  I am now trying polyester sports clothing for the cooler weather to avoid taking days off. Using my daily runs to gather shopping required a larger bag but also provided a good reason to go out. Particularly when it is raining or blowing hard when it would be very tempting to just take the car. I found that t-shirts were fine in summer but cotton quickly becomes wet and cold when clothing was added on top and I began to sweat. It is much safer to remain cool rather than become even slightly too warm. Not an easy task when there are so many hills.  So I use my Thinsulate tea cosy hat as a rapid response thermostat.

Fully waterproof, coated nylon jackets are still a total disaster on a bike and will not be used again if I can help it. Fleece is fine for blocking the cold wind but must be removed at the first signs of my warming up. I have a couple of well-fitting windproof jackets in two different weights which are at least heavy shower proof and breathe quite well. New, thin, polyester sports underwear is proving warm and comfortable. Better than the much heavier "thermal" or woollen underwear I have used in previous years. These are just too thick to wick moisture away quickly enough and dampness means cold chills around the back.  Spare jumpers are also good as they breathe and can be easily added or removed as necessary. Stuffing them into the bag is also easy because they are so easily compressed and can fit in and around the shopping.

I find my bare knees don't mind a slight frost but thin, dark, long underwear works well as slightly warmer leggings. Moreover it doesn't seem to attract much notice in the supermarkets. Undressing (slightly) for the warmth of the shops is vital to avoid building am instant and serious sweat from the previous exercise. Followed by a chill the moment I step outside again. So it's quickly off with the hat, gloves and windproof jacket for a tour of the aisles. Then back on again for the trip home by the most scenic route.I still haven't fund a decent solution for rainy days. Perhaps I should return to a classic  c cycling cape? If I can find one over here...

By the way, I found the other original, rear tubular tyre completely flat this morning. I pumped it up hard and set off for town and it was still hard when I returned after an hour and 15 miles later with plenty of stops for photography. Oddly, it was still hard when I put my trike away hours later I managed another 30 miles over two days before the puncture became too silly to avoid pumping every mile. I shall have to buy another Schwalbe Montello to match the one I bought earlier.

Having searched for months for a suitably light and capacious bag I finally found a good one in a charity shop. It looked brand new and unused and cost only small change. A trike can take a huge bag between the rear wheels but one must avoid anything dangling too near the sprocket block or swinging into the wheels. I don't have any form of  carrier and find, so far, that I do not need one. The secret to success is having a bag with carrying handles like a proper shopping bag. Not to carry the bag but to loop them over the saddle to rest safely around the saddle pin. Short ties to the seat stays keep the bag from swinging about. Long top zips allow shopping and clothing to be loaded and unloaded fairly effortlessly. I still have the old-style saddle bags and panniers from yesteryear but they now seem far too heavy for my taste. Longevity is no longer an excuse for heavy, cotton canvas and real leather straps. Your mileage may vary.

Who said that Denmark was flat? One is hard put to find a single stretch of perfectly flat road in my neck of the woods. The lanes shown here pass through a beech forest and both were once the tree-lined avenues to a stately home. In fact the great house is still there but the traffic no longer consists of horse drawn carriages. These lanes are each of  about five miles in length, at right angles to each other and almost dead straight with hardly a house on them. They rise and fall like a switchback and are usually very quiet except for the odd car using them as a rat run. The rises and falls in the road can completely conceal speeding cars so one must stay alert. Fortunately all cars must show headlights in Denmark so one usually has plenty of warning as they crest a more distant brow.

The traffic in my little bit of Denmark is rather like that of my childhood memories. The volume away from the main roads is much like 1950s to early 1960s rural England. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have landed up here in this beautiful and quiet countryside. My previous ten years in a remote, rural part of the UK started in much the same fashion. However, the traffic increased along our narrow, quiet lane 1000 fold in that time. When we first moved there we would notice if a single car or tractor passed in one day. Ten years later it was one every few seconds day and night.  While we have noticed an increase in heavy goods traffic, here in Denmark, it is not remotely on the same scale as in the UK.  Provided I stay off the main roads I might see fewer than half a dozen cars on my daily ride of an hour or two. Often far fewer.

It was a dull, damp, misty and overcast day, after a night of drizzle, but the light was wonderful. Here I am approaching the stately home with an old iron gate barring the way to an old, disused track to the big house. The road takes a sharp turn to the left to skirt the main house but passes through beautiful, timber-framed or brick outbuildings via three low arches.  Each long rank of buildings has different styles and roofs, including thatch. There is even an old tower clock dial above one arch. As I pass through on the huge, rutted, brick-sized, granite cobbles with my teeth chattering.

Despite the appallingly rough  road surfaces, in places, I can usually manage around 30mph free-wheeling down this hill when there isn't the usual head wind. If you peer into the far distance you can just make out the road going on for several miles as straight as a die. Though admittedly it is a bit  misty in this image. You can also see a blue sign indicating a Danish cycle route. It is amazing that they don't use the long abandoned private and public railway lines as bicycle tracks. These old railway tracks snake for miles all over this part of Denmark but are used (in parts) only by heavy, hired quadricycles. Which only run along some of the tracks. Making these old railway tracks suitable for cycling would remove the real cyclists from the dangers of the roads but nobody seems to have done anything about it so far. The published and signposted cycle routes usually just run along country lanes and rural roads. Often with a metre wide marked cycle lane running along the verge on more major roads. In town these lanes are often halved in width by ramps to private drives and parking spaces.  Not ideal for a tricycle and often impossible to negotiate safely even at low speed. Loose gravel overspill from the drives is always a problem too. Have people no pride at all? They spend fortunes tarting up their homes and then ignore the moraine of gravel tumbling from their perfectly flat drives!

The eye is drawn into the mysteries of the beech wood. Where does it lead?

This country lanes often has large groups of pheasants wandering about at this time of year and the inevitable birds of prey overhead. Denmark seems to have more birds of prey per square mile than the UK had per county! Hardly a field passes by without sight of a soaring bird or two. They are literally everywhere! Kestrels are extremely commonplace as are buzzards and other birds of prey I can't easily name. I have even seen several sparrowhawks in my own garden. The cries of circling birds of prey are a natural part of the background sounds of rural Denmark.

Winter is close now and the air is chill. A harvest for the birds awaits but many will succumb to the unending cold and snow ahead. My trike must seem unusual because I am usually given a very wide berth by passing cars and farm tractors. In the UK I would often return from a ride fuming at the psychopaths who put their speed and lunatic overtaking behaviour well ahead of common sense and safety.  Just in case there are any doubts concerning my bias against motor traffic I usually manage at least 20k miles per year in my (modest) car.