4 Apr 2010

Just driftin'

Monday 25 Jan 2010: 17F, -7C, easterly breeze, clear skies and sunshine. Another day and another set of shops. The detour back was a mistake. The wind had caused more drifting on top of existing ice. Still managed 14 fairly slow miles. Got the trike completely sideways on ice and snow a couple of times but just managed to correct it. Overconfidence on rapidly changing surfaces as my speed built up downhill. I had tightened the head bearings and the trike is steering smoothly again. May be just a little tight because I could ride hands off for a fair distance without it following the camber.

Tuesday 26th Jan 2010. It's -12.5C, 9.5 F outside at 9 am. Would you go out? Of course! The sun is shining and it's quite still. Besides I have my new toy to try out: The GT-120 i-GotU GPS logger. I just checked it outside and it recorded my journey round the garden after quickly getting a fix. So it's definitely working.

My hands were too cold on the trike again. I really need to find a thin pair of gloves to go inside the heavier Thinsulate pair. I wore a scarf around my face to reduce the burning cold on my cheeks but my beard still froze solid. Then froze itself to the scarf which went completely stiff in turn from the moisture in my breath! Every time I moved my head it felt very prickly around my chin and neck.  I took off my outer fleece jacket because I was still overheating on the hills despite the cold. The bike computer had gone into slow motion as my speed changed. The front gear changer was so stiff it would not change down without a helping touch from my heel.

The little GPS logger behaved impeccably once I understood the sequence of red/blue diodes. Both diodes need to be blinking every 4 seconds to ensure tracking. As soon as I returned from my ride I downloaded my trip onto my computer. It immediately zoomed into the correct area on Google Earth, drew my track and then told me everything I could ask of it: Start and elapsed time, maximum, minimum and average speed. The same for altitude. Including several options for graphing and describing it in great detail. My route had only risen and fallen by a couple of hundred feet but the altitude graph looked like the teeth of T Rex!

The usual Google Earth/Maps options are all available as backgrounds to the recorded track, including terrain. Claimed accuracy is 5 metres but it was still able to show that I rode out and returned on different sides of the road! Though it did cut a couple of corners at full zoom. Perhaps I was travelling too fast on a winding lane given the fixed period between fixes? Many variations of different means of transport and analysis are optional. From sandals to cars and motorbikes. The supplied software really is excellent. Though the logger has to be plugged into its unique USB cable for some tools to function.

The GT-120 is tiny so I hung it around my neck on a cord so as not to lose it. The blue is a removable, tough, silicone rubber sleeve to further protect it and provide a belt loop.  The logger weighs almost nothing at 20g yet produces a staggering amount of useful information from orbiting satellites.  I made one silly mistake by not turning off the logger when I was in the shops. This dragged my average speed down because it kept logging my wandering the aisles. I discovered that I could easily delete this section of the numerical log file later on as a further option. The log showed lists of stationary coordinates so they were very easy to delete in blocks. Even the 5 second per GPS fix log list could be further broken down with even more detail.

It is only my first day and first try with the supplied software so there may well be much more to discover. I updated the software online last night to the latest edition. (dated 25.12.09 from memory) I am delighted with this new toy and the software. It even agrees with the distance shown on my cycle computer. You can't ask for more than that. My distance today? 17 very cold miles.

A glimpse of the mountains of Fyn through a deep gorge of trees. 131 metres above sea level at their highest point! [430 feet] :-) Denmark was scraped flat by the ice ages. The high points are usually formed from the bottoms of ancient lakes springing back up after the ice had gone. The sun makes this scene look much warmer than it  is. Probably still below -8C when I took the photograph.

It was incredibly quiet today with almost no traffic away from the main roads. My fleece hat, ear flaps killed the usual roar of the wind in my ears. So I could hear the birds singing in the hedges. Great Tits singing at -10C? They must have heard the rumours about AGW! I could even hear the kids in the village school playground a good half mile distant across the snow covered fields. I thought their racket was a noisy flock of geese at first. The occasional train snaking invisibly through the bumpy, frozen landscape was very clear too. Possibly an inversion layer? The back roads were lined and rutted in many places with up to 4" of polished ice from hard, frozen slush and traffic. It was still -7C, 18F at mid day! A bit different from this summery link:

Cycling Holidays in Denmark on Fyn | visitfyn.com

27th Jan. -2C, 15m/s gusts = 35mph! A leaden overcast with snow forecast all day. I just couldn't sum up the will to go out knowing I'd have to crawl into the headwind in bottom gear! A rest day then. I brushed the accumulated snow and ice off and then oiled the trike. It's just above freezing right now (at 5pm) for the first time in weeks! Sunnier and lighter winds forecast for tomorrow and temperatures back down to -3C.

28th Jan. Just below freezing after yesterday's thaw produced lethal conditions on every road and every surface. Continuous sheet ice for mile after mile with variable sunshine. Traffic was passing me at 70kph (on the big speed indicator board) going into a 50kph village with a completely blind corner at the entrance gates. A chap in an orange suit was waving at drivers to slow down. He told me that that somebody had already died. Just round the corner a bus had collided with a car on the ice. Are these drivers nuts, retards or psychopaths? I left the main roads as quickly as possible and pottered along the icy lanes of the Empty Quarter. 25 slow miles on treacherous ice almost every inch of the way.

29th Jan. 32F. Sunshine was forecast but it turned grey and snow fell all day. Very light winds. Rode  to the shops via the main road and returned via an icy back road. I had half an inch of snow on my fleece jacket and socks by the time I got home. Only 11 slow miles. 6" of fresh snowfall forecast for this evening and overnight.

30th Jan  2010. 14.5F, -10C. Sunshine and still.   Cleared 4" of new snow (and drifts) in the morning. Tootled on packed snow to the shops after lunch. For some strange reason it didn't feel very cold despite the very low temperatures. 8 slow miles.

Sunday 31st Jan. 32F 0C. cleared new fallen snow for a couple of hours. Then it snowed while I was out so I had an inch of snow caked onto my fleece jacket at one point. Only 13 miles because only the main roads were remotely passable and I couldn't take any detours on the way home.

I ended a very difficult month with an average of 10 miles per day and 310 miles for the month. Considering I deliberately rode at temperatures as low as -12C, on roads often covered in snow and ice, I'm fairly satisfied with my mileage. 11 rest days due to the wintry weather. The ten day forecast is remaining cold with more snow.