7 May 2011

Maybe. Maybe not.

Ist May 2011 Sunday. 46-53F, 7-12C, windy, cool and sunny. And smelly, of course. Today's rain was cancelled due to excessive sunshine and shortage of clouds. It's an ill wind..

Rode on the Higgins snail to the shops and returned laden again. (the "snail" is a reference to the sheer capacity of my new shopping/saddle bag and the weight of its contents when fully stuffed. Higgins shopping trolley is now too conservative a term. 

It was a bit too cold for fingerless mitts again but I persevered. I had no choice since I had no gloves with me. My knees complained as I left but it soon passed off. I wish the wind would give it a rest. The same pattern day after day. Chest still bunged up. Still a bit breathless.

Spring has truly sprung with the arrival of the first swallows. The whole place has been freshened up with a thick coat of bright green, well dolloped over the landscape. Lots of plovers acrobatically defending their nests. A scruffy Jay flew over my head and stopped to stare from the hedge. Obviously never seen a racing trike before. A few yards on and a yellow hammer did the same trick. First this year that I've noticed.

The woods and hedgerows are packed to the gunnels with singing birds competing for attention. Small groups of geese rest by every polluted puddle in every field. The air is full of birds of prey pretending to be gliders. There was a real glider overhead yesterday. All very pleasant and rural. Except for the industrial quantities of pigshit and cheap scent and unknown chemicals being liberally splattered all over the beautiful Danish landscape. There really is no escape from the pong and the spraying! Two days in a row I've been sprayed by tractors running along the edge of the field right beside the road.

Here's one for Gunnar. Taken last year. The story goes that in the late 1700s a rich, local landowner demolished parts of the old church and rebuilt it with a tall tower and observatory. Whether he wanted to see all of his land in one go, or a view of the sea, I'm not quite sure. . Here's the full story in Danish just for Gunnar. :-)

Dreslette Kirke - Wikipedia, den frie encyklopædi

I have cropped the left side of the picture to remove parked cars. Also hidden a hideously intrusive no waiting sign centre right. Cars and street furniture completely spoil many photographs. They date the view and drag one's attention away from the subject and the peace and quiet of the countryside. I prefer a timeless quality in my pictures.


A couple of cyclists, out training, passed me. A few leisure cyclists waved. I paused by a lake to snack on my biscuits and watch fish rising to flies. The air has been incredibly clear over the last couple of days. Not at all what you'd expect in a drought. April 2011 set a new warmth record in Denmark. Sunny too. 19 miles so far. Mostly into headwinds. I must take more photographs!

All there is between me and these monsters is an almost invisible, electric fence. Shields up, Scotty!

2nd 46-47F, 8C, strong winds, sunny. I woke feeling snotty and dizzy with tinnitus but hoped it would go away. So I put on long fingered gloves and set off into the wind. Very hard work it was too fighting the cold wind. My legs were tired and achy today. Probably all the ladder work.

The Ventus GPS logger hasn't recorded a full track for a week now despite being fully recharged and the data cleared every day. It just loses the plot and dozes off. P.O.C. 19 miles.

The unspoilt, abandoned, rural railway lines of Denmark. The barrier is to stop the hired pedal trolleys from running straight across the road. Also, presumably,  to stop access to cars and motorbikes. BTW: "SKUB" just means "PUSH" in Danish.

Anyone would think that these lines would have been made bicycle friendly years ago. They are certainly much used by local, pedestrian traffic and as dog toilets. The only wheeled devices running along here are the hired pedal trolleys. Of which there seem to be not all that many. All it would take to make these tracks multi-user friendly would be some self-stabilising gravel. At the moment even mountain bikes would struggle to make any progress.

It seems shocking to me that these wonderful routes are so underutilised. Particularly as the traffic on the minor roads and lanes constantly increases. It took me ten minutes to capture just a few shots without vehicles intervening. Most drivers were travelling above the speed limit despite the proximity of a school and the local shops. The crossing is right in the middle of a village. The rusting supports for the old road barriers can seen to left and right.

These railway tracks often follow, almost flat, direct routes between places. The dense, mixed hedges offer the shelter which the farmers have denied the minor road users in many places. These old tracks would be absolutely ideal for commuting! Yet I never hear of any campaigns to turn them into proper cycle routes.

I doubt the present, right wing government truthfully gives a damn about bicycles. Though they may make all the usual noises about green issues they can't even match their previous promises on C02.

Turning these routes into cycleways make an ideal project for all the unemployed. Whom the politicooze want to force into working full time for only their unemployment benefits. What a shame we can't force the present politicooze into unemployment! These trough dwellers moan about the population being overweight and lacking exercise. Who really wants to get off their fat arse to go for a walk, a wobbly, gasping jog or a slow, snaking, uphill, bike ride in heavy traffic? Surely a quiet, flat, rural cycle path is a much better spot to have a heart attack in some privacy?

Mr Higgins eyes up a buxom lass loitering at the supermarket.

3rd May 40-49F, 3-8C, breezy, cold, sunny periods. Overnight frost with the grass all white! Just a gentle tootle to buy some food. I rode through some woods to see where the enticing tracks led. A bit silly really because I ended up quite near where I had left the road in the first place. The trike handled well on the heavily rutted tracks. I put the front wheel on the grass ridge in the middle. The rear wheels ran quite smoothly along the bare earth in between.

Mr Higgins goes off-road.

 Mr Higgins sums up the courage to venture into the deep, dark woods.

Only 14 miles.

4th 39-47F, 4-8C, breezy, sunny periods, cold and stinky. Frost overnight. Grass white and frost patterns on the car. I was quite cold as I changed the front brake for another centre pull. The hex, brake extension bar is not quite straight on my Higgins. So I needed more clearance to avoid the brake block rubbing on corners and heavy camber. This may have been the "new" Shimano front wheel flexing more than the last one. Much better now but my brake cable is a bit rusty so should be changed' soon. Only a short run to the shops today. 12 miles.

Mr Higgins stops to chortle at the wonky spray tracks in a field of oilseed rape.

5th 46-55F, 8-13C, windy, sunny. What a disaster! I couldn't get any bread locally so had to go further afield into the strong headwind. Then I circled back to the shops I needed. I was so late I decided to take a shortcut through some woods. I was congratulating myself on bombing along at 12mph on rutted tracks when I punctured on a rock! I put a new tube in and pressed on. Then I took a wrong turn and ended up miles away from where I was going. This after doing a snail's pace for ages to avoid another flat tyre! Three hours to do 28miles!

I checked the punctured tube back at home. It had two snake bites at 90 degrees to each other along the tube. I am trying Alan's Super Patches again. This time I'm going to carry a spare tube with two of these patches fitted. I was very careful in my preparation and they stuck down really well. They will have time to adhere even better before being eventually subjected to high pressures. The last time I tried a Park Super Patch in an emergency it lifted soon afterwards.

None of my conventional glue patches were small enough for these narrow Bontrager 700C tubes. I couldn't get them to stick right around the circumference so had to peel them off again! 

I passed an industrial pig effluent production plant where five tractors were sitting with their engines racing. Three were stirring a giant, round concrete tank full of stinking slurry. Two others were waiting to load their spreader tanks. A little later a slurry spreader came roaring down the middle of the lane forcing me off the tarmac and into a field! Its flexible hoses were swinging wildly as the driver chatted into his mobile phone. He swerved away just as he reached me. A mile further on a modified tank/container had a big diesel engine racing as it stirred yet more slurry. My clothes stink of pig shit every time I come home.I can sometimes smell it on my own breath after a ride. This can't be healthy! It is no wonder I have bronchial congestion for months on end.

And, on a lighter note: Who said wind turbines can't be beautiful? The trick is to have small groups in straight lines dotted about the countryside. Three is a good number for one site. This picture was taken straight into the sun. It is far more impressive full screen.

Mr Higgins investigates dappled shade.

6th 50-60th, 10-16C, sunny, winds lighter. A figure of eight shopping trip. I was going well today. Even cruising at 20mph for a while on the flat with a gentle tail wind. 23 miles.

Beech woods are glorious at most times of the year. Each season presenting a different colour and a wholly different light.

Out of curiosity I weighed my shopping when I got home. 17lbs despite it being rather less than usual. Only one and half carrier bags full instead of the usual two full carrier bags or even three. I have obviously been underestimating the weight I am carrying. 20+ lbs is a much more likely total. Which has to be added to my usual, ready-for-the-road 38lbs. So when I'm carrying milk, potatoes and a few tins I could easily be dragging 60lbs all up weight. A Guru Photon racing bike weighs 10lbs complete. (without shopping) I'd need at least three sky hooks to get Mr Higgins that light! :-)

I'm getting rather ashamed of Mr Higgin's tatty appearance again. The question is what to do about it. Patch up the missing paint? A total repaint? It will have to be cheap and DIY. I'd also like to keep (or replace) all of the transfers. (decals) I still like purple/mauve but would prefer something a little stronger. Perhaps even (gasp) metallic!

I was replacing the worn headset bearings today and used the opportunity to thoroughly clean the forks. The underside of the forks are not usually accessible to cleaning unless the trike is inverted and the front wheel removed. Inaccessibility also applies to fifty seven years of sunshine. The hidden areas were unbelievably deep and vibrant! It positively glowed with the richest purple imaginable.

An odd discovery was that somebody had used Araldite or epoxy to pack out the steerer tube. Just to provide a decent seating for the lower head bearing race. The usual raised bearing seat was barely 1/16" deep in places with a very wavy top edge! The epoxy had been used to deepen this seating. Presumably using a greased bearing race to provide its own mould. I tried a used Shimano 105 headset but it was too deep. So I was forced to use an older set from one of my recycled donor bikes. At last I have a smoothly turning headset without slop. I have yet to ride it but will know tomorrow if the work has been worthwhile.

 A cycle path lined with saplings which haven't yet come into leaf. The surface is superb apart from a couple of potholes. Quite a long climb but at least the traffic is at a safe distance. The absence of traffic gives a cycle path entirely its own atmosphere. The birds are also much more numerous.

7th 55-65F, 13-18C, windy, sunny. It¨s all very well being able to cruise effortlessly above 20mph but one always has to return into the head wind. The headset must have bedded down. It was loose and made the trike twitchy and prone to violent steering wobble. My knees and arms have caught a bit of a suntan. Lots of hare about today. 26 miles.

A more mature section of the cycle path. The denser growth is better at blocking traffic noise from the main road which runs closely parallel just here.

8th 60F, 16C, blowing a gale, cloudless and sunny. I was being blown about all over the place. Which made it tiring which ever direction I was going in. Gusty and turbulent. Even with a tail wind it kept blowing me backwards.   Headset still too loose with steering shimmy if I let go of the bars. Only 17miles.

Three hours cleaning and adjusting Mr Higgins in the afternoon plus a 3 mile test ride. The Shimano, steel, triple chainwheel is a pig to clean even using car engine cleaner and assorted brushes. The rings are riveted together despite being detachable as a unit from the alloy cranks. Stripping an alloy triple is a (relative) piece of cake. The plated finish on the steel rings is very scruffy and the bare steel remains dark and unattractive compared to alloy rings.

9th 65-68F, 18-20C, blowy, full sun. My knees complained as I pulled away but I was soon able to forget about them. Despite a headwind I was doing about 16-18mph. Faster still on the way back with my shopping. I am beginning to get back my climbing power for the first time. Until now I haven't been feeling very strong. Nor confident enough to risk hurting my knees. So my average speeds haven't been very high at all. The lilac hedges are suddenly in flower. Still only 17 miles.

10th May 66-73F, 19-23C, breezy, bright with sunny periods but slowly clouding over. Going well again. Putting much more effort into it. Even getting out of the saddle on hills to try and use different muscles. 26 miles.

Alan Schmidt is going well (down under) at the Paracycling World Cup in T1 in Sidney. Alan won both the massed start and the time trial! Well done Alan! His hard training and careful preparation are providing superb results.

Beauty and the beast?

11th 60F, 15C, breezy, overcast with spots of rain. 20 miles successfully avoiding showers.

I thought this salad bowl of subtle variations on green was gorgeous. So I stopped to take some pictures. It is, or rather was, a kind of wild play area on a narrow lane leading out of a tiny, rural village. It has a tattered rope hanging over a drop beneath an ancient tree. Steeply inclined banks offer exciting bike rides for those with the wind in their hair. It might have been a sand and gravel quarry in the dim, distant past.

From a time when kids still knew how to play out of doors without ephemeral props. When the only real dangers lay in in the boundless imagination. Before everything had already been done to death on an artificial screen. When the roads and lanes were still empty, linear playgrounds. Full of magic and raised, excited voices. Competing for hyperbole against a constant background of deafening birdsong. That was back before we sold our children's souls in exchange for commercial, plastic tat. For cheap, instant gratification and the opiate fix of lurid, secondhand entertainment.

 Here's confirmation of my love for lush spring woods and winding country lanes. I'm reposting a missing picture but can't duplicate the missing text.


13th Still no posts for the 12th and still no access to write. I'd better back everything up before Google loses it all again. Blogger is not a free service. It is paid for with Google advertising. 28  miles?

15th 60F, 16C, very windy, sunny periods with occasional, very heavy showers. I thought I was pedalling into a storm when the sky went black up ahead. Though only a few drops hit me as it went north of me. Still no 12th May posts. I am now backing up my mileage chart as often as I can remember to. Only 12 miles today.

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