11 Jan 2011

Happy 2011!


Mr Higgins goes on a Weight Watchers course.

I ought to have some new year's resolutions. I failed miserably last year. I didn't ride 100 miles in one day. I didn't beat 10,000 miles. So, they'll have to do as targets for this year as well. :-)

January 1st 2011. 35-36F, +2C! Strong overnight winds dying down slowly. Trees still thrashing about first thing. Sun forecast for all day. The ground where we'd cleared the snow is treacherously icy! I hope I can get out for a ride after morning coffee.

I have completely changed the blog format to mark the new year. I'm still not sure about certain details but I think it works for the moment. I would have liked a purple theme to match my trike, clothing and assorted saddle bags. Sadly, nothing seemed to work. It all looked much too "girly" or miserably drab and dreary.

Last year the joke was that the brown background matched the Danish roads after the farmers had done their worst. It ended up looking like a desert. The weather now seems to dominate the news so clouds are more appropriate. Since I am out in all weathers on my trike I like the different clouds in this background. The summery and the slightly threatening alike.

Using a background image throws up all sorts of difficult choices to ensure text legibility. My love of photography and posting images forces special requirements for the post backgrounds. I am trying to avoid clashes. Or pictures appearing completely washed out. I am still looking for a way to add borders to images. Then I may be able to change the post background tone and strength.  Both of which I am presently slightly unhappy with.

Last year I rode 9,360 miles or 15,070 km on my trike. I struggled for months with a recalcitrant Brooks 'Professional' saddle and an inadequate cycling wardrobe. I suffered from seemingly endless knee and  saddle comfort problems which often limited my daily mileage.

When I started the year I was not nearly as fit as I am now. Not merely the considerable muscular changes but I no longer pant from climbing a few stairs. I have changed my pedalling rates considerably thanks to a cadence computer and sensible advice from other cyclists. Had I continued to push hard in the 70-80 rpm range I would probably not even be riding today. Shifting to much lower gears and 90+ rpm has kept me fit and riding comfortably. The recent shift to index gears has smoothed gear changes, given me closer ratios and avoids knee shock on hills. 

My weight has dropped by about two stones in the last 18 months and stabilised at just over 11 stone. My diet has changed to match my greatly increased energy requirements. We never ate junk food very much. Nor consumed sugary drinks. But I have added two daily dishes of fresh fruit and organic yoghurt or cream to my meals. My morning bowl of home made, organic muesli with organic, low fat milk has doubled in volume. I am still addicted to biscuits and chocolate but limit myself to a biscuit snack on my rides to avoid hunger knock. The regular, sickly sweet and greasy, Danish pastries enjoyed at work are now a very distant memory.

Well, when I finally decided to leave, it was safer to ride across the yard than walk on the polished ice. It was exactly the same with the minor roads. They had thawed but refrozen to leave wet, crumbly, sheet ice from verge to verge. The trike proved remarkably safe yet again. Never putting a wheel wrong regardless of the extremely slippery conditions.  16 miles isn't a bad start to the year considering the strong wind on the last leg. 

Sunday 2nd January 18-29F, -8-2C. Almost still with bright sunshine. Main roads largely clear but minor roads still covered in thick ice. Traffic fairly light. I was climbing quite well despite my right knee hurting. Which was just as well considering I climbed two of the longest hills in the area. 25 miles.

Mon 3rd 12F, -11C overnight, with hoar frost. still and sunny. 26F, -3C. The shelves were empty of bread in the supermarkets. Main roads clear, minor roads thick, dusty ice. 20 miles.

Tuesday 4th.  Deep grey overcast, windy and hovering just below freezing. The wind is knocking the hoar frost off the trees.  I'll go out after morning coffee. Roads improving. Blowing and threatening snow. Only 10 miles.

5th 28F, -2C, overcast, very windy overnight with new snow and drifting. Main roads fairly clear but smaller roads very poor.  Very hard work pedalling through the crumbly stuff. Better though, than risking the main roads and drivers on auto pilot at 20mph over the speed limit. A few brushed past me far too close for comfort! 15 miles.

6th 30-34F, -1+1C, quite windy, very dark overcast. Spent an hour and a half clearing 4" of new snow from 400 yards of drive. Well, I needed the exercise more than the lazy neighbours. Then I did a quick shopping trip for 14 miles. The roads were very wet with lots of puddles and standing water trapped by the snow and slush. With the wind blowing the spray off the rear wheels I was getting rather wet.
So rear mudguards are useful sometimes. Not that mudguards protect the rider from speeding motorists and lorry drivers. If they fitted speed cameras in every village they could repay the entire, European, national debt within a week. Nobody keeps to the speed limit.

7th 34F+1C, sunny, light winds. Main roads wet but mostly clear. Minor roads: Brown, rock hard, rutted and very bumpy ice with a salt dressing. 21 miles.

8th 39F! +4C. Heavy overcast, wind picking up. The thaw is causing a skating rink! It is almost impossible to cross the yard or walk down the drive. The trike was sliding sideways with zero friction on the slightest incline while I was pushing it. I climbed on and the font wheel was being pushed all over the place. The roads were saturated. With long lanes of standing water trapped by the banks of snow on each verge. I was given a good drenching by a couple of morons speeding through the deep water oblivious top all that goes on around them. I'm going to fit a rocket launcher to the handlebars if this goes on! Only 7, rather wet miles.

9th 30-34F, -1+1C, breezy, sunny. Roads much improved today with snow banks on either sides yet to melt. Patches of grass visible in the garden where yesterday was polished ice. The drive is still icy though. A short ride to the shops for 11 miles. I may go out again after coffee.

20 miles later on. I was feeling quite strong at first despite the wind. However, the price of a tail wind cruise at 20mph is repaid with interest struggling into it later. It felt rather cold despite being above freezing. It's quite amazing how even watery sunshine can cut through ice. Take away the sun and nothing changes much even at higher temperatures. The ice was still lying in the woods where the sun couldn't reach. It was colder too. I could still feel the wind even through a mile of dense beech and  mixed conifers.

10th 30-33F, -1+1C, heavy overcast, misty, wind building. I decided to ride to the city to shop rather than take the car. The main roads were okay apart form the snow bank overlapping the cycle lanes. The raised cycle paths were clear but the minor paths were solid ice. The journey back became miserable as I was heading into the wind. My clothes were covered in white dew, the wind was cutting my face and my toes ached with the cold.  Like an idiot I had left my overshoes behind. I was fooled by a glimpse of sunshine before I left and a forecast of several degrees above freezing. Visibility was right down to 100 yards in places. Not that this affected the lunatic behaviour of the countless driving sociopaths. 40 miles in four hours including stops.

11th 30F,-1C, overcast, breezy. Just a short ride to the shops. The wind is stronger today and from the opposite direction from yesterday. Lucky I didn't leave it until today to ride into the city. It would have been much harder going but probably easier on the way home. 11 miles.

12th 30-36F, -1+2C, blustery breeze, overcast. We had about 3" more snow overnight. I cleared the drive then went out shopping after coffee. The main roads were saturated. With long ridges of wet slush retaining long runs of standing water. Not much fun when idiots overtake at high speed and run over the slush! If only I'd taken my snorkel and flippers! Despite being over freezing the wind was horribly cold. I avoided the snow-covered lanes today. Only 14 miles. Winds forecast light tomorrow but it will be foggy. Rain is also on its way.

13th 32-35F, 0+2C, light winds, heavy overcast. Some of the conditions I experienced today were the slipperiest in decades. The wet, compressed ice on the lanes had a very low coefficient of friction. My front wheel was sliding effortlessly to follow ridges and indentations regardless what I did with the handlebars. I could only point straight ahead and keep pedalling. Touching the brakes produced instant lock-up.

I found one road which was covered in smooth, wet ice and had a bit of fun riding in circles. Turning the handlebars at the slightest angle produced violent wheelspin. While the front wheel ignored all commands and slid violently away from the intended direction. The horrors of 1WD writ large! Simply straightening the handlebars soon brought everything back under control and the grip came back. Despite the roads being horribly wet again I still managed 20 miles fairly effortlessly.

Typical conditions on the minor roads at the moment.

14th 36-38F, 2+3C, almost still, heavy overcast with thick mist. Continuous rain forecast for later. Roads still improving but still very wet. Minor roads almost clear of lying ice and snow leaving a heavy residue of sandy salt. I was going quite well today though not particularly quickly. Climbing seemed easier than usual. I am trying very hard to avoid describing other road users in derogatory terms.

The picture above missed the bright red flashing lights. The yellow, supermarket carrier bag may not be pretty but it easily carries a large sliced wholemeal loaf and lettuce without crushing. Leaving more room in the other bag for heavier objects. It doesn't hurt that the yellow is high visibility and the bag has very strong handles. A pair of them usually last me six months despite being used daily.

It is very difficult to capture hills with a camera and do them proper justice.  Too much zoom and they become foreshortened.  Too little and the slope just disappears. This one is quite hard work and climbs for about a mile. Getting much narrower in places as it winds between the trees and high hedges. 22 hilly miles today.

Click on any image for an enlargement. Back click to return to the text.


  1. The blog looks good. The blue, pink and lavender must be a favorite. It matches your Higgin's color. I like the tires.

    Warm and dry riding in the coming year.

  2. Hi Gunnar. Many thanks. I'm glad you approve. :-)