1 Feb 2011

February 2011


 Colour coordinated and trying hard not to roll away downhill. The hazard stripes are not there for nothing! Somehow they knew I'd be along eventually.

 1st February 30-32F, -1-0C, overcast, windy. It felt bitterly cold as I headed into the wind. Forecast to gust over 30mph. I still had to take my heavier jacket off because I was getting too warm on the hills. Coming out of the shops it was freezing again. The bungee is keeping the big bag completely under control and I'm glad for the extra storage capacity. I didn't notice my right knee once today. I saw a Green Woodpecker in the hedges of a quiet lane. 20 miles.

2nd 34-36F, +1+2C, windy and increasing, overcast, misty. My clothes were soon covered in white dew and the trees raining huge droplets. The last 8 miles were into the wind. I was tempted to take to the lanes to get some shelter from the hedges but resisted.

As is traditional, the farmers were out spraying today as it was judged to be the first really windy day this year. A lot of trees and hedges are being removed everywhere I go. Even the council workers are getting in on the act. Taking two men, a van, a tractor and a load of motor driven machinery and two weeks (so far) to clear a run of roadside brush. Which my wife would have cleared in just a few hours using just a pair of secateurs and a bow saw. 22 hilly and muddy miles.

3rd  41F, 5C, gusting wind, mostly sunny. Just a quick shopping trip so far. Being blown all over the road by side winds. Even windier tomorrow (20-25 m/s gusts = 45-50mph) with rain forecast all day. So I may have my first rest day tomorrow. 13 miles. Plus 13 miles later.

4th 41F, 5C, roaring overnight gales, sunny periods, dry but turning wet. You wouldn't believe how soft gravel drives can become after permafrost gives up its iron grip. First rest day this year.

5th 43F, 6C, gales, overcast. Two nights of fierce gales have left me tired. It was still blowing hard when I left mid afternoon. My jacket was too warm with a tail wind adding 10mph to my normal speed. The roads were littered with crushed twigs and dead leaves. There were signs of fallen, rotten trees having been sawn up and moved off the road. Only 10 miles. I didn't feel like doing any more in that wind. Forecast still tomorrow.

6th 40F, 4C, overcast, misty, light head winds. I saw a lot of (mostly) mountain bikers in pairs and groups out in the lanes. Upwards of a hundred at a guess. They seemed to be going in all directions so it must have been a map reading exercise. A chap out training caught me up and overtook. Despite a bag load of shopping I used the opportunity to get some exercise and held his wheel for a mile or so. I went to the front and he paced behind me for another couple of miles. Finally I had to turn off and he pressed on, panting like a steam engine. I spent the rest of the ride waving at all the cyclists going the other way. 24 miles.

7th  41F, 5C, overcast, windy. Storm 30m/s (65mph) gusts forecast tonight.  Only 13 miles.

Uprooted root ball.

8th 38F, 4C, overcast, windy. Well, we survived the overnight storm, unscathed, but some trees hadn't. Some tall beeches had fallen across the road. Leaving a nasty dent and piles of sawdust where the emergency services had cut them up into moveable lengths. The whole root ball had tipped over in the wet soil. They had left one tree up and it was leaning across the road alarmingly. I put the trike in a low gear and sprinted under the danger zone. :-) The road was covered in broken twigs and branches. Not to mention the shredded foliage of a run of conifers.

Only 10 miles today. I had to go to the city to collect my new/old car. Just in time too as the biennial test was due on the last old banger in a couple of days. A certain failure, it is always nice to upgrade to something slightly less embarrassing than the last. We paid a bit too much, for the year, but it was a one-owner, non-smoker, rust treated and tidy. (the car, not the previous owner)

It only took us twenty minutes at the pumps, using a Danish version of the owner's handbook, to find the petrol flap release. In truth, we gave up in the end and asked the young chap behind the counter at the petrol station. We would have been there all night, otherwise. The release was under the driver's seat and the tank was completely empty! Whoops!  

We put out some sunflower seeds and fat balls in dispensers last week and the word is going around. We have had Nuthatches, Bramblings, whole gangs of smartly dressed Great tits, Blue tits, Coal tits, Sparrows, Blackbirds, Chaffinches, a Robin and several cats so far. I hope I haven't left anybody out.

9th 41F, 5C, overcast, calm. No time for a ride today. We saw a couple of slow moving, recumbent trikes holding up the traffic while we were out in the car. The occupants look terrifyingly vulnerable to me. Their uniqueness may make them highly visible but I'd rather be knocked off my trike than squashed under the tyres of a rat-running, 12 wheeler reading his car model GPS! My rarity probably protects me too. Though I hope I don't suddenly become an endangered species! Few drivers pass me, going the other way, without at least a glance in my direction.

I'm amazed how powerful, diode, bike lights are falling in price. The Danish, coop supermarkets have 1W front and half watt rears for about £6 each now.

0 miles today. So they were safe from my traffic impedance today. And I from them. :-)

10th Feb, 39F, 4C, winds light but increasing, rain, overcast. Only 12miles.

11th 39F, 4C, sunny periods becoming overcast, wind increasing to 15m/s gusts, 30 mph. There was a beautiful, pale, golden light on the fields when the sun came out briefly. Only 10 miles.

12th 22F-29F, -6-2C, sunny, windy.  A gorgeous, cold morning with quite a strong, steady wind. My right knee was aching most of the way. Probably handling winter fuel rather than cycling. I haven't been doing much in the way of mileage recently. Still managed 20 miles.

 It is rather hard to see from these downsized photographs but the owner of this field hedge has used dozens of wheels as a unique fence. For well over a hundred yards there are large, identical, spoked wheels, standing upright, rim to rim. Probably from light agricultural cultivators these all steel wheels were probably quite light for their ~4' diameter. They look as if they should have been shod with solid rubber tires. Though no tyres are still visible. A gearwheel decorates the hubs suggesting a drive  to the cultivation mechanism back in horse-drawn days.

The hedge has become rather overgrown now. Largely concealing the wheels in the undergrowth. I used to pass this way over ten years ago and the wheels stood tall and proud back then. It is amazing how long they have survived without rusting away. Perhaps there was a local factory making these wheels. Or even whole machines, in the dim, distant past.

13th 29-31F, -1C, rather breezy, cold, overcast with snow. 2" fell overnight with light drifting in the strong winds. It was quite slippery and I managed to lock the front wheel a couple of times. The snow was smoking across the roads to side winds in places. High winds and more snow forecast. 14 hilly miles without any real problems. Though my right knee still complaining.

14th February Around freezing, overcast and blowing up to 40mph gusts. The Danish weather forecasters are warning about wind chill.  I'll take a rest day to see if it helps my knee. It's ironic how I used to question why runners still ran while wearing knee supports. Regular exercise is certainly addictive. I pass a few joggers and some serious runners out training.  It may sound odd but I don't even know if I can run. I don't even own any trainers. 

Why run when one can travel far more comfortably at three times jogging speed on a bike or trike? That's not just a time saving but also a really serious increase in range!

The upright trike offers a seat. Though comfort is a relative term one can simply come to a halt and remain seated. Even a bike with a prop stand is highly unstable and the rider must dismount. They will usually return to find their bike reclining on its side in windy weather. I see literally thousands of "dead" bikes on my travels. The domino effect is commonplace at bike parks. Instead of using the galvanised ironwork, usually provided, they insist on using the stand. So when their bike topples it takes a lot more down with it. Not so with a trike.

A trike provides a clear view over most hedges and cars. It offers a constant challenge just to stay on. Many corners have the potential to provide a real test of courage and riding skill. Every change in camber is a reminder of one's careful balance between perfect safety and complete disaster. A bike rider misses much of this. They may enjoy slightly greater speeds for effort expended. But, they miss the sense of floating on an endlessly changing road surface in all three dimensions.

Those who dislike the effect of camber will never appreciate the benefits of trike riding. They will stay on two wheels and remain upright until ice and snow intervene in their happy relationship. The 2WD trike continues regardless of weather conditions. At least, that is, until walking through deep snow would be even harder work than tricycling. Four inches of snow is usually doable. Anything deeper and the tyres are trying to climb a vertical wall of resistance. There is no escaping this geometry with standard-sized wheels.

If the tyres cut through to the ground below then narrower tyres are much preferred. How wide must your tyres go to ride above the snow base? You are almost bound to suffer greater rolling resistance under most circumstances. With two wheel drive (2WD) there is no need for knobbly tyres. In fact they will offer further impedance going on my past experience with MTB tyres.

Upright trikes are not ideal for off-road use due to their limited lateral stability. It can be done, but usually requires low speed and violent acrobatics. Many off-road trails are deeply rutted by motorised traffic. If one places the trike's front wheel on the central ridge then the low slung pedals can strike the ground. Bridging between the verge and central ridge can be difficult because of the constantly changing level of the different surfaces. A bike would sail through all this without a qualm.

Finally, a trike offers remarkable load-carrying capacity. If the load will fit between the back wheels, without sideways movement, then that is the only real limitation. The load can be as high as the distance between the saddle and the vertical, axle reinforcing loop. Provided ones legs are free to flail around then the load can be almost any reasonable weight. I have carried loads in the past which were almost impossible to lift by hand. Such loads make the trike feel strange and heavy but they can be managed on any reasonable hill. Though a lightweight, trike frame may not survive such severe abuse.

The following is an interesting insight into "needs must":


The damned car wouldn't start so I had to ride in the gales anyway. Seven miles in bottom gear including downhill!  Twenty mph, coasting, coming back.

15th 28F, -2C, overcast, still blowing a gale with snow in the air. Wasted the morning driving to the city to have a new battery fitted by the dealer. Free of charge but they should have swapped batteries before parting with the car. 0 miles.

Tricycle on eBay (end time 16-Feb-11 20:06:32 GMT)


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