9 Sep 2011

September Already 2


9th September  55-60F, 13-16C, sunny, winds quite light. I seem to be nattering on more than ever. So I've started a second chapter for September. Just to avoid long downloads for those on slower connections. Nor do we want readers getting callouses from excessive scrolling, do we? ;-)

Love Lane needs a gentle trim. 

New, young Elms keep throwing untidy shoots but soon succumb to disease. 

Now it is the turn of the magnificent Horse Chestnut (or conker tree). The leaves are frequently turned prematurely brown by burrowing, miniature moth larvae. Clouds of tiny, white adults can be seen hovering around their victims. My wife has saved ours from the worst disfigurement by collecting every single fallen leaf and then bagging them securely. No easy task with such a huge tree! Composting doesn't work because they can overwinter in the heap.  

A cool start into a light wind.  I saw a large group of racing cyclists preparing for a training ride. Then I passed a long string of about 50 kids (8-9 year-olds?) all on their bikes with a couple of adult supervisors. They were climbing quite a hill so I went past at twice their speed. There were a few excited shouts but nothing derogatory.

None of our favourite bread in the shops and no stock (again) of the special offers as advertised. So I have to go out again after lunch. I was going quite well today. 20 miles. The trees are weighed down with fruit, conkers, acorns and nuts this year.

A relaxed back garden in a village backwater. Who knows what dramas have been played out here over the lifetime of the timber-framed farmhouse?

Ten more miles later, in bright sunshine, at 62F and light winds. I was breathless and drowning in my own lungs on the hills. My legs are stronger than my wind at the moment. Probably another 20lbs of shopping. The gear change has improved considerably with 9 gears. Perhaps the bar-end, lever ratios better match a 9 speed gear block? The new chain helps of course.

My allergy to the sunglasses seems to have passed. I have been rotating between my collection of cheap, supermarket, cycling sunglasses. Just to to see if I can produce another reaction. Though without success. It may just have been the heat of summer. I don't like riding without glasses because my eyes water so readily in the wind. The air is also full of flies in the hedge-lined, rural lanes which I usually frequent on the trike.

Mr Higgins insists on a leading role.

I saw the local red kite circling again today. Earlier, a sleek, little Sparrowhawk flew swiftly by. There is a tremendous range of birds of prey in Denmark. Oddly, there have been very few pheasants this year. Nor very many Gold Finches either. Woodpeckers have been more abundant even in our garden. They were attacking the Birches which I had trimmed recently.

I have just been notified that I have something special on the way in the post from the UK. Something I am greatly looking forwards to fitting to Mr Higgins. More details, and pictures, when the parcel arrives in a few days.

An old and strangely depressing, rural smithy.
I thought it might be a bakery. But a sneaky peek through a window showed anvils and tools still resting near the big hearth. Another building, nearby, with large sliding doors, has the appearance of a once-busy workshop. Now it all stands forlornly on a junction beside a main road. A forgotten way of life from when horses were the only way.

10th 65-70F, 18-21C, overcast, light winds. Instead of the forecast sunshine we had wall to wall overcast and rain until after coffee time. So I set off much later than usual.  Half a mile up the road I saw a couple of racing cyclists dawdling along. So I thought I'd better try and overtake them. Nearly two miles later I finally managed to catch them. By then I was panting like a traction engine and my legs were on fire!

A superb avenue of Hornbeam leading to an enticing arch.

The "racing cyclists" turned out to be a couple of very overweight young women. Who were strolling along side by side at 20mph on quite decent racing bikes. No obvious muscle tone in their legs to speak of. So they weren't even "proper" cyclists. (despite the XXL shorts and jerseys)  Yet they were nattering to each other as if they were out for a gentle walk. While I was breathless and exhausted just from trying to stay with them!

Contented outdoor cattle utterly spoilt for scenery.

They took to the cycle path in a village and one of them started zig-zagging for fun. As it was downhill just there and they were baulked by another cyclist I hopped back onto the empty road. I shot round the roundabout at the bottom as if my life depended on it. After that I was pedalling flat out at 23mph but they were still hovering in my rear view mirror.

A splendid, decorative, barn gable from 1855.

I was extremely grateful when they suddenly disappeared.  It would have been embarrassing to be overtaken again by these two "puddings" as I grew tired. Having warmed up I decided to plough on. Doing 20-22mph for the next few miles into a gentle headwind. Dropping occasionally to 16-18mph on the long rises. I arrived at the shops bathed in sweat as if I'd just conquered a mountain pass at 40C. My hair was literally dripping! Am I having fun yet? :-)

What a wonderful position to place a young sapling. 
Leaving it for one's descendants to enjoy the spectacle of maturity.

When I came out of the shop, some biker, bar steward had parked his huge, motorised, plastic, wheelie bin at an angle across the bike racks! It took a while to load my bag but the selfish moron still hadn't come out. So I had to move all the bikes just to get my trike out. Then put them all back again without scratching his plastic toy. I wonder how long it will take him to find his helmet? Which he had foolishly left resting on his bars. (Wicked chuckle)

Berries galore on a mature shrub!

Later, I saw a convoy of about 50 Morris Minors going the other way. From immaculate ex-factory standard to hotrod special they were all very smart. I didn't have time to take a photo.  Only 15 miles of outrageous fun and adventure.

More Hornbeam in a long avenue leaning drunkenly to the prevailing wind.

11th 65-68F, 18-20C, overcast at times, rather breezy. Very quiet. Not one cyclist out training. I saw quite a large deer in a field. It watched me go past and then went back to grazing. Later some hunters were circling a willow copse with their guns and dogs but I heard no shots. I'm feeling a bit tired today. 28 miles but I have to go out again. An eleven mile errand later in the afternoon.

12th  60F, 15C, overcast. Blowing a gale and getting worse. Left after coffee. Just made it home again before it started to rain. Only 13 miles.

13th  60F, 16C, overcast, heavy showers, hurricane force gusts. 13th? What a disaster!

The brand new Sram chain broke and ended up lying on the road behind me during a vicious, squally cloudburst. A rivet had pulled out of a side plate. The pin was still there but it was twisted at an angle. So it wouldn't go back in using the link extractor. Thank goodness I carry the link extractor with me for emergencies! Or it would have been a seven mile walk in foul weather!

The broken link.

I had to wait out the storm and the 50mph gusts before I could see clearly enough to remove another link. I haven't had a chain break since I was 16 years old and used a hammer and a nail to re-rivet chains. That's more decades and more miles and more chains, without a chain breaking, than I can easily calculate in my head....er...um... where's my calculator.. 48 years! Thank you, Sram! I should have listened to my brother and bought another make.

The same link showing the rivet completely out of line with the hole in the opposite plate.

What else? Oh, yes. No stock of another supermarket special offer. Makes yer spit, dunnit? 18 uneventful miles. I still have to go out again. If I dare. 10 more miles later on. Blowing even harder! Bottom gear and 5mph on the flat at times! The gusts were fierce! I must be getting fitter because I wasn't exhausted by the struggle.

I had to add the missing link back into the chain to avoid a crunch on the biggest sprocket and biggest chainwheel. [48x26T] It can be seen in the image above that the chain cannot be any shorter. (pictured after addition of missing link to bring chain back to former, nominal length) When the sky is lighter I will have to examine every link with a magnifying glass to ensure all the rivets/pins are properly set in the side plates.

In case there is any doubt: I do know how to break a link and replace it. I must have done it literally hundreds of times over the years. I use a link extractor to press the protruding pin back in. Through the roller and then the opposite plate until it is equal both sides.

Then move the chain onto the second position in the link extractor to only just free up the resulting link stiffness (from the riveting) without slop. Then double check the rivet (pin) is still equally protruding on both sides. Finally turn the pedals backwards and watch the lower jockey pulley for stiff links. This will make the pulley jump. The chain will not run smoothly around the small pulleys where there is a stiff link. I hope you were all paying attention? :-)

14th 52-57F, 11-14C, mostly overcast, steady rain, sheeting at times with gales. Fitted my new rear mudguards and stays. Thanks, Steve! Test ride to the shops and back after lunch. Great fun because the roads were streaming wet in places. Much more relaxing and safer not having to pull out around puddles and standing water. The mudguards and stays are totally silent in use even over huge cobbles. I have a new chapter illustrating the details:


Terrific gales coming back with no hedges for shelter and the rain was absolutely lashing down. I was on the 28T chainwheel in bottom and second gear trying to exceed 7mph on the flat! My usual 31mph free-wheeling hill was 13mph on the middle ring and pedalling hard. 13 miles.

15th 55F, 13C, sunny, breezy. Read all about it! The curse of Mr Higgins' new rain apparel causes severe drought in Denmark! Well it didn't rain all morning as promised! :-)

 I told you it was windy!

It looked like being a quiet day, for a change, but the wind kept building. The last five miles were straight into the wind and no fun at all. I wore my "predator" jacket over the matching road jersey and it seemed to work well against the cold wind. Not too warm going with the wind thanks to being a thin shell. Though the thinness makes the arms a bit "flappy" going downhill or into the wind. 

 Early TT tandem trike?

Mr Higgins observed that the dual action, downtube, indexed gear/brake lever is of an early form. He wondered if the cutaway saddles were really as comfortable as (say) a nice pair of Brooks Swifts? He had some very serious doubts about the responsiveness of shared steering in an emergency! 

He was, however, very impressed by the high carbon content, duplex, monocoque frame. And finally, that the disk wheels and lack of mudguards strongly suggested an early TT road iron. He obviously knows far more about these things than I ever will. I couldn't even tell if it was a delta or a tadpole! They all look the same to me. ;)

As expected the Higgins mudguard stays contributed mightily to bag stability on corners. So I no longer need a bungee cord to keep the bag out of the spokes! This is a truly valuable, additional asset because it avoids crushing delicate shopping. Which usually goes on top under the zipped flap.  

A group of school kids were fooling about on a main road as I passed. Running and walking in the path of trucks and buses which were probably doing 70mph! (in a 50mph speed limit) Dead kids walking! This is very unusual behaviour for usually, well-behaved, Danish kids. I expect they are "special needs". 24 miles.

16th September blogspot is messing about with the blog pictures. Clicking on a picture (for an enlargement) produces a gallery from the entire post against a black background. If you back click you are taken to another post! The image gallery window has to be closed instead. So now I have to delete the enlargement message at the bottom of 120 posts! I wonder how this will affect anybody on a slow connection?

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


  1. The photos of the house look similar to the house near Aalborg where my family hails from.

    Don't trim too much, the birds seem to love roughness in the landscape

  2. I have made it that far north only once, Gunnar. A summer expedition in the car. They usually seem to have the worst of the Danish weather up there.

    The birds have no shortage of roughness in the Danish landscape. It is remarkably varied except for the lack of mountains and rocky cliffs. Plenty of woods, marshes, hedges, beaches and ponds for them to play in. Even the cities have lots of trees, parks and greenery.