30 Dec 2011

23rd December 2011

 23rd 43F, 6C, heavy overcast, breezy, dry. Only a 6 mile errand.

24th Christmas Eve. 37-40F, 3-4C, bright and sunny with a cloudless sky, a cold and strong wind. I did a loop but seemed to be struggling against the wind whichever way I rode. My hip feels rather better today. Heavy overnight rain had made big puddles on the roads and fields again. The drainage streams were swollen into brown, rushing torrents. 17 miles.

25th Christmas Day. 45F, 7C, overcast, breezy, light rain. I dressed for the rain and was far too warm. 10C, 50F is forecast for tomorrow but with 40mph gusts! Lovely. Only 8 miles today to clear the cobwebs. Which meant I couldn't even scoff a whiskey-flavoured chocolate before going out. Now I can enjoy a tin of English beer before our traditional Christmas, roast chicken dinner. Lots of Everard's Original Ale suddenly turned up in the supermarkets at an unbelievably low give-away price of 7DKK per tin. That's only about 70P in real money! Sometimes life smiles upon you but mostly it's a self-made headwind.

I struggled to find a suitably Christmassy picture. So you'll have to make do with this one from Christmas Eve last year. Back then I rode 13 miles in deep snow with a howling gale and drifting! What a difference a year makes!

Merry Christmas to all my readers. But particularly to my followers for their interest in my slightly eccentric activities. And to Steve, my gratitude for literally giving me his Higgins mudguards and stays. Not to mention those who have commented on my blog.

I must thank my wife too. For her patience in putting up with my infinitely variable absences on the roads and lanes of Denmark. The endless cycle of having clean cycling clothing ready to cope with the ever-changing conditions. Not once in two years have I been allowed to leave the house without fresh clothing from head to foot. Usually 7 days a week with only occasional rest days.

The number of viewers to my blog is becoming ever more astonishing. As are the repeat visitors. I still find it odd that anyone should find my triking worth following. I hope I give something back in sharing my love of the countryside, the wildlife and the historical architecture.

I started writing my blog to force myself to ride when I was too lazy, in too much pain or the weather was too bad. Without my virtual watchers I would never have become fit enough to ride more than a few miles. Tricycling is so unlikely a means of transport. It boggles the mind that more than half a dozen people could possibly find it interesting enough to come back again. Thank you, all, for your support. :-)

One of my Christmas presents from my long-suffering wife was a set of electronic luggage scales. A sort of T-shaped handle with a hooked strap and digital readout. Much easier to use than my old fishing spring scales with my long eyesight. This "sad" blogger will now be able to easily weigh and record each day's shopping for posterity. Don't panic just yet! With my memory it certainly wont be every day! I Promise I shall limit myself to the exceptional rather than the mundane. :-)

26th UK Boxing Day or the Danes' 2nd Christmas Day. (Anden Juledag)[pron:annan yool-uh-day]

45-49F! 7-9C, heavy grey overcast, mild, windy and increasing. More, extreme weather records being set!

9kg/18lbs of shopping. ;-)

The drainage streams have returned to gentle clarity. A Jay whizzed right over my head and a Buzzard looked down on me with apparent contempt as I rode beneath its perch. My hip has stopped hurting. I wonder why? It can't be all the digging. (the broadband, fibre optic trench is now reaching halfway)

 Only 14 miles today. I've now reached 12,000 km since Jan 1st. Only another 35 miles for 7.5k this year. Every mile/km of that entirely on "Mr Higgins". My 1954 Reynolds 531 Higgins "Ultralite" trike. (with modern additions and accessories)

27th 46F, 8C, overcast, gales reducing. First "normal" day after the holiday. It is supposed to be cloudy but dry but hasn't stopped raining since I got up! It finally stopped raining after coffee. I did a quick loop for 10 miles. It was so mild I was dripping with sweat wearing only my thinnest jacket over my usual cycling togs. I could have worn just the racing jersey without any jacket.

28th 40F, 3C, blowing a gale, rain increasing and heavily overcast. I had things to do in the morning. Looked at the weather forecast and decided to finish my trench along the drive for the broadband optical fibre. Just a few feet to the house across a flower bed to do now. I have buried and backfilled the conduit and warning tapes. 0 miles. An exhausting sort of rest day.

Has anyone seen the Lucozade video advert with the rock band rolling down a steep hill? Unless I am mistaken the drummer is riding a Roman Road tadpole trike:

29th 40F, 3C, rain and gusts to 45mph forecast. The rain has stopped and it is brightening up. So I had better get some miles in!

The cross wind really picked up at 10 miles. It was roaring loudly in the trees and hedges and pushing me about in the gaps. The final leg was straight into the wind. Despite their seemingly sparse growth the Lilac hedges offered remarkable shelter. I chose a route to minimise my exposure to the vicious gusts. I managed a nice rear-end, sideways drift exiting a roundabout with wet road surfaces. It felt completely safe and under control.

 Only a couple of miles from home it started bead blasting me with stinging hail. Then it got really serious and the rain was so heavy I couldn't see more than a few yards. It was being driven straight at me by fierce winds.  No point in putting on any extra clothes so near home. So I plodded on in near bottom gear in a wet cocoon of pain and misery. With the help of passing cars I was soon soaked to the skin from head to toe.

Now I'm home the wind has dropped and the sun has come out. Grrr? :-)  I managed 19 miles. My aching hip still keeps coming and going.

30th 33-39F, 1-4C, breezy becoming very windy, mostly overcast. I went against the wind while it was still light. Then enjoyed a strong, variable crosswind on the way back. Is it supposed to work like that? Just another day in (cycling) paradise. 21 miles today. 7500 miles and 12k km safely achieved. Not as good as last year but I'm older now. ;-)

The second Assens sugar silo before demolition in the early new year. This is much closer than I would be allowed on the big day. My back is to a brand new fitness centre building so I hope they get it right next time! 

Mr Higgins is still sulking. He demanded a distant position in the picture, hidden behind a wall. Anything to avoid having his brand new, bright orange, spoke reflectors flashed all over the Internet. Oh the shame! I told him that there's no way I'm paying an £80 fine just because he doesn't want to look like a kiddy's trike. ;-)

I'd like to share some pictures of Alan Schmidt's warm-up rollers. They might inspire somebody to make some for themselves. Handy for those wet days. Or when there is no open road handy to warm up for a time trial or road race. Or for when one doesn't want to leave the start area. Naturally, these rollers are designed specifically for a trike. And 2WD trike at that. They are probably unique! Most training rollers are designed for a bike. I like the elegant simplicity and ultra-low profile. He says they are also handy for fine adjusting his gears. Having independent rollers for each wheel makes the most of 2WD. Providing more natural resistance to pedalling.

And a close-up of the rollers themselves.

Of course there is far more to Alan's international success than these clever training rollers. We wish him continued success in competition again this year. 

31st 30-35F, -1-3C, still, promising brightness. The weak sunshine stayed for a couple of hours and then low cloud followed by mist moved in. It was odd to see a wind turbine with the blades completely vanishing anywhere above horizontal. The cloud base was sharply defined at the middle of the nacelle. I'm sure there is an air moisture relationship to how cold one feels. Before the mist arrived my hands were fine in ordinary Thinsulate gloves. As the mist thickened my hands started feeling cold. I had to keep clearing my rear-view mirror and computers every few minutes right from leaving home.

Long load in 2010. 5m or 16'.

The wrong way to do it! Long loads should be hung from the saddle frame. As shown above the rear seat stay triangle severely limits the turning circle. Which makes it very dangerous (impossible!) to turn at a junction! The planks also tend to hit the seat tube. Which can easily cause damage.

 2011 was an even longer year for Mr Higgins! 7m or 22'.

Here the planks are correctly hanging from prusik loops tied to the seat frame. The ends of the planks are restrained from forward movement by the seat pin. Longer prusik loops of cord are pulled tight around the plank. Then drawn back to be tied off at the saddle frame to ensure the load does not slip free under acceleration or hill climbing. The sheer weight of heavy planks is still hard work uphill. The plank shown here was almost too heavy for me to lift. The pneumatic wheels are the axle from an old sack truck. They roll well but get very noisy above 15mph. The wheels follow the trike perfectly as if on rails.

I learned this rope technique from rock climbing. Prusik loops rely on the friction of repeated insertion of a free loop end through the main loop until it is wrapped around an object several times. Prusik loops can even be used for unscrewing pipes or climbing traditional greasy poles. As soon as the tension is taken off the free loop end the wrappings can be moved up, down or along an object with one hand. Or easily freed in seconds. As soon as the tension is put on the free end of the loop it locks firmly onto the object. The loops can be any desired length.

I should state that I do own a car trailer. But such long loads are impossible to manage safely without special frames to support the planks so that they extend over the roof of the car and hang out of the back of the trailer. For short rural journeys, of a few miles along quiet lanes, using the trike for transport is actually much easier. I certainly wouldn't recommend it for town use. Not unless you live in China.

My chest is bunged up again. Making me feel very short of breath on hills. I'm almost constantly clearing my throat when I'm out on the road. My nose drips constantly too, but that's just the cold weather. I saw a bunch of cyclists out training. Quite a few called out as they passed. I could make no impression on their speed with the trike being already heavily loaded. They quickly disappeared up the road.

Over 20lbs of shopping! A hilly 27 miles to end the year. The roads, lanes and cycle paths are already covered in literally thousands of dead fireworks. Just for once they won't have nice weather for their fireworks tonight. Rain is supposed to start after lunch and keep going.

The Winter edition of the Tricycle Association Gazette has just arrived in the post. Perfect timing!

Happy New Year. 

Click on any image for an enlargement.

28 Dec 2011

19th December 2011

19th 36F, 3C, mostly sunny, cold wind, ground frozen.  My hip is hurting a lot. I'm hoping it is just strained from heavy lifting. We went Christmas shopping in the car. Another rest day. 0 miles.

Mr Higgins surveys the Vest-Fynsk landscape. Gelsted lies in the distance. The retaining wall of Ørslev Kirke (church) is on the left.

20th 33F, 1C, heavy overcast, cold wind. My feet were soon cold despite wearing two pairs of socks. I have just bought some thick woolly socks with loop pile. They came highly recommended from a farm supply shop. At 69 Kroner or £7(equiv) I was rather hesitant. They might fall to pieces in no time with the endlessly repetitive foot movements of cycling. If they last they will save me some pain. 

 Ørslev, hilltop church is from the middle ages. 
The bell is younger from only 1426. The hilltop is almost certainly the site of an even more ancient place of worship. Note the use of shrubs, trees and conifers to decorate the graveyard. Graveyards are always well tended in Denmark. Unlike many in Britain today.

 My hip/buttock is still hurting but not so badly as yesterday. It is impossible to locate the pain despite it aching continuously.  I might just squeeze past 7,500 miles this year if I can avoid more rest days. Failing that I will just have to settle for 12,000 km. It's been an odd year of mostly short, morning rides but with fewer rest days than last year. Touch wood, my knees haven't bothered me for ages. Not so much as a twinge.  A hilly 19 mile loop today.

The owner of this bike has given it a bath. The sight of an equally scruffy MrHiggins was obviously too much to bear.I keep riding through puddles but it hasn't helped.

A bindingsværk hus (timber framed house) perched right on the end of a muddy lane to nowhere. I leave no lane unturned.

21st 32-36F, 0-3C, blindingly sunny, only a light breeze. The lanes were covered in black ice. I was even able to get some very brief moments of wheelspin on one ascent. Then the salting lorry overtook me on another hill and it all turned wet.

Another beautiful, unmodernised, four-sided farm. The flaky bark suggests Plane trees on the right. The Christmas tree stands almost defiantly by the portal.

My hip is still aching but I tried not to let it limit my ride. It is mostly on the hills that I notice it. Or when standing up from sitting down. Though it doesn't hurt (much) when I get out of the saddle to reduce the pain from normal climbing. I still managed 20 miles without too much effort. Got to keep up the average. :-) My heavier winter underwear was far too warm despite the freezing temperatures. Sweaty then chilled. My heavier Thinsulate gloves were literally wet inside!

Later I disgraced myself by digging another 5' of trench through solid hardcore for my fibre optics, broadband connection.

Thatched cottages nestling in the landscape. The fields have been flooded in many places by the recent storms. The relatively flat, corrugated nature of the Fynsk landscape makes it difficult to find lower ground for drainage. Heavy clay is commonplace below the topsoil. Denmark was ground flat and weighed down by the ice ages.

22nd 38-39F, 3C, overcast, breezy and raining.  Forecast dry but cloudy this afternoon. I think I'll wait until later to go out.

It was still spitting when I left and soon commenced to drizzle all the way round. I was dry enough in my Æsse jacket and a little too warm on the hills. I was able to dry out a bit in the shops at half way. It became steadily mistier as time passed. Giving a "Hollywood aftermath" tobacco cast to the murk as seen through my yellow glasses. 20 miles.

A solar roof x 2 going on. Producing more power is not the problem It is saving power which really matters. Where is the paint-on super-insulation for the existing housing stock which cannot be conventionally insulated? Pensioners are freezing to death while the rich are getting tax handouts for producing yet more electricity. The total carbon debt which Chinese panels owe the world is never taken into consideration. A tiny handful of hybrid cars get tax breaks when their total carbon debt is massive. While keeping vast numbers of small, existing, petrol-driven cars running is totally ignored. As is the massive carbon savings of cycling. Windmills, hybrid cars and solar electric panels are sexy. Cycling and the existing fleet of conventional cars are not. Where do I queue for my free electric car? I want to save the planet! ;-)

Click on any image for an enlargement.

New, heavier fines for cycling offences in Denmark


Humbug Rant alert!

This would be hilarious if it wasn't so serious. The new centre-left Danish government has dropped all of the empty promises it made prior to its election. It has ignored the 95% of drivers who are speeding in every kind of vehicle on the road except cycles! It has ignored the 30%+ of all drivers who use their mobile phones routinely and continuously at the wheel while in motion. It has ignored the 80% of all drivers who completely ignore double white line markings on the roads.

The Danes are still nowhere near reaching their empty promises on carbon emissions. You'd think cycling was the cheapest way to cut emissions and should be encouraged. It has everything going for it including better health. So fewer visits to the doctor and fewer lifestyle diseases. You'd even think cyclists would be rewarded for their selfless courage. (Yes Please!)

The world is in social chaos and political unrest. The EU is in financial meltdown. Rich Danes are getting tens of thousands of pounds (each) in child benefit and social assistance. Their private palaces and castles are being renovated at huge cost to the ordinary (and the world's most heavily burdened) taxpayer.

But! And you really couldn't make this up! The new government has been using its incredibly valuable time to increase fines for cycling offences! Read all about it! Riots in the cycle lanes! Terrorists on the cycle paths!

This list is borrowed from Dansk Cyklistforbund: The Danish Cycling Association: The rough translations in red italics are my own.

 Bøder og takster: Offences & Fines

 Uden lys i lygtetændingstiden 700 kr/ Having no lights on a bike at night:£80/$122US

 Håndholdt mobiltelefon under kørslen 1000 kr/ Hand-held mobile phone use while riding. On an empty cycle path? Or only on the roads? £112/$174

 Fejl/ mangler v/ bremser, reflekser mv. 700 kr/ Mechanical brake faults or lack of reflectors on the cycle: £80/$122

 Kører over for rødt 1000 kr  Jumping a red light. £112/$174 Unlike drivers, the vast majority of cyclists are turning 90¤ into another cycle lane, when they jump the red light. Not crossing the moving lanes of traffic. Which would be suicidal!

 Kører mod færdselsretningen 1000 kr/ Riding against the traffic: £112/$174

 Cykler i et fodgængerfelt 700 kr/ Riding on a pedestrian crossing:£80/$122

 Cykler på cykelstien i venstre side 700 kr/ Riding on the wrong side of a cycle path:£80/$122

 Respekterer ikke færdselstavle eller pile 700 kr/ Failure to respect warning signs and posts:£80/$122

 Overtræder ubetinget vigepligt 1000 kr/ Failure to observe the rules of the road: £112/$174

 Giver ikke tegn 700 kr/ Failure to indicate: £80/$122

 Kører uden hænder på styret 700 kr/ Riding without hands on the bars. Tour of Danmark stage winners excepted? £80/$122

 Cykler på fortov/ gangsti 700 kr/ Riding on the pavement/ footpath: £80/$122

 Holder fast i andet køretøj 700 kr/. Holding onto another vehicle: £80/$122

 To personer på alm. cykel (bøde til begge) 700 kr/ Two people riding on a normal bicycle: £80 each! $122x2= $244!

 Forkert placering før/ mens du svinger 700 kr/ Wrong road placement before and while taking a turn? Hmm? £80/$122

 Ringklokke, der ikke virker: Advarsel/ A warning for a Non-functioning bell.

Usynlighed: Complete invisibility to other road users: The death penalty! No appeal!

Some of these offences are far from trivial. For example: I'd make jumping a red light to cross a junction a fine of £1000 without the slightest hesitation. It irritates the hell out of other road users! But, let's make it £10,000 for doing so in any other vehicle! Which is a far more dangerous moving object to avoid for all other road users.

Driving through red lights is completely routine in Danish cities after the lights change. Often holding up the traffic which is queuing patiently at a filter to turn at the traffic lights. Many filter queues miss their chance to progress several times thanks to late, illegal, selfish, red light runners.

Likewise with riding a bike without lights at night. Stupidly dangerous in traffic. A bright set of front and rear, 5-diode lights can be had for only 25DKK. Or about £2.50 at most supermarkets. So there is little excuse not to have several lights. But, what about the vast numbers of motorists and lorries with missing or faulty lights? I'd put it at a conservative 1 in 4 of all vehicles, on the Danish roads, if you include badly adjusted headlights pointing far too high. I drove 20 miles home in the dark yesterday and was staggered at the number of approaching vehicles with missing or badly adjusted headlights! Instead of being cut off at the back window sill, many 4WDs and people-carriers flood the car ahead with blinding light, when following another vehicle.

What about putting up speed cameras? Denmark's drivers could repay the entire world debt in a week if they automatically fined the vast majority of speeding motorists. All of whom are flagrantly exceeding the speed limit in town, on the motorways and country roads. It i so commonplace that driving at the speed limit attracts tail-gaters like a magnet. They then use any chance to overtake. Often while carrying their entire family. What sort of example is this to the young and impressionable? The next generation of speeding, dangerous and selfish motorists!

Excessive speed uses far more fuel than maintaining a steady speed at the prevailing speed limit. The excessive speed demands harsher braking and harder acceleration. Which dramatically increases fuel consumption! Not to mention vehicle and tyre wear. It also increases the risk of loss of control on wet or wintry roads.

Do you want to hear the finniest thing about all this? If a Dane pays a £50m fine without appeal to a court his speeding offence up to 40mph is dropped from his police record after a couple of years. So speeding in a car past a school. Or through a busy shopping street. Is considered only half as dangerous as many of the cycing offences listed above!! Welcome to Danish alternative reality! Stranger than fiction! The Twilight Zone... Woo-oo-ooh. :-)

What about making car chip (performance) tuning illegal? You see plates outside garages offering this service. What about crushing the cars of of multiple, drink driving offenders without licenses, insurance or road tax? What about making it illegal to leave the engine running while a vehicle is parked? An amazing number of diesel owners leave the engine running while they visit shops and supermarkets. Do diesel starter motors really suffer from such incredibly poor reliability?

At least one in five of all drivers don't (ever) indicate when exiting a roundabout. The vast majority of drivers indicate far too late at junctions and exits for the information to be of any use to other road users. Causing long queues while people wait to enter a supermarket car park. Only for the approaching vehicle to finally indicate its intention when it is already parked in the car park and the driver is halfway to the checkouts!

The vast majority of drivers haven't a clue about matching their speed to motorway or trunk road traffic. Then, once they have reached the speed limit, having caused a dangerous but temporary tailback, they continue to accelerate to 20-30 kph over the speed limit! Every single time! I guarantee you could place bets on it and become rich overnight!

Ironically, in Denmark you aren't allowed to learn to drive without qualified driving instructor tuition. By far the worst driving I have seen are these driving school cars with only the instructor behind the wheel. So who's watching the instructors?

Anyway, let's hear it for pedal transport! Saviours of the world! Where do I queue for my bløødy medal?

PS I have just fitted Mr Higgins with the statuary, CE approved, bright orange, spoke reflectors. He is sulking and threatening never to come out of the shed again. ;-)

PS:  Razzia: Over 100 cyklister fik bøder - fyens.dk - Odense



10 Dec 2011

10th December 2011

Dec 10th 34F, 1C, light snow showers, clearing to full sun, windy to 30mph gusts. Must take some more photos! A nasty, hard, cold headwind going. Roads wet with slush, snow and ice in patches. Fields white and patchy even after lunch time. Useful tailwind coming back. 20 miles. Still have to go out again. Plus ten miles later. Returned at dusk after fighting a freezing cold wind. 37F now and clouding over.

11th 34-37F, 1-2C, clear, becoming heavy overcast, light wind becoming windy. Damp and spitting rain. The sun never had a chance to come out before it clouded over. The drainage streams are still swollen from the storm.

Rather amazingly, I managed to repair my cheap CSI cadence computer. First I carefully dismantled the case. Using a fairly narrow screwdriver blade with a twisting action and working my way around the edges. Behind the stuck-in plastic buttons there were small, thin, dished plates. These had pins reaching inside the case. So I removed both the buttons and the plates to break the permanent contact. The computer sensed the buttons were permanently engaged. So it was constantly resetting itself.

I could then use a piece of stiff wire through the button pin- holes in the casing to reset the computer. With the crank magnet and sensor carefully aligned the self-start operated normally and the revs came up as usual. Whoopee! I carefully taped the top and bottom of the case back together to exclude rain. It's good to have the rpm readings back again. My cadence had fallen to the low 80s in the interim. 

The usual vast flocks of restless crows and rooks were absent over the last few days. Those that are left seem to be at war with each other. Making a racket and attacking each other in aerial combat.

There are still small flocks of shy, transit birds. Which I cannot recognise at a distance. Some of them are probably Redwings. Similar to thrushes in size and colour. There are other grey birds too. Both the same size as Redwings and much smaller. A number of mid-sized birds of prey were floating about too. Larger than Kestrels but smaller than Buzzards. A heavy load of shopping today. Bought at half way then dragged up and downhill. It seemed like mostly uphill. 26 miles.

12th 36F, 2C, winds light, very heavy overcast. 8.30am and it is almost too  dark to read by outside. It started to drizzle lightly, increasing steadily, as did the wind. The day-glo jacket was damp but the Æsse jacket felt dry. I found a pretty cycle mirror with an egg shape called a Cyclops. Sadly it seems impossible to mount it using my present clamp. As the Cyclops seems designed only for handlebar end fitting. I have a gear lever fitted just there. 20 miles.

 13th 37F, 3C Another low with gales and gusts to 45mph. With continuous heavy rain forecast. It doesn't look like it's worth going anywhere today. It never cleared up. Nor stopped blowing. 0 miles. Rest day.

Koga Miyata  suspension tourer. If you have to ask you can't afford it!

14th 37-40F, 3-4C, windy but reducing, heavy grey overcast. It started raining as I reached home though it wasn't forecast. I may be allowed out again after lunch. The cadence computer is still working. 17 miles.

 Plus 19 more miles later. So I made up for yesterday's rest day. Came back in the dark in the rush hour on a busy road. Not one driver failed to dip their headlights thanks to the Smart front light flashing away. Yet again one of the £5, ½W rear lights had flattened its batteries in the bag. I might as well leave them in place on the trike. Where they won't eat batteries. Or find a way to shield the protruding on/off buttons.

This one is a bit special: A 19" lady's Longstaff trike in Reynolds 531 with 2WD. The vendor talks about a differential but it may be Longstaff's, double freewheel 2WD. Well equipped machine which would suit a range of riders. See seller's amendment: 

Adults Tricycle,Ladies Frame,Light Weight & Hand Built by George Longstaff Bikes Adults Tricycle,Ladies Frame,Light Weight & Hand Built by George Longstaff Bikes on eBay (end time 18-Dec-11 22:11:35 GMT

22 bids to £374 failed to meet the hidden reserve.

This one looks like great fun for those with a good sense of balance on the rough stuff: Or would make a handy "shopping trolley" or runabout.

A different approach to trike conversions. http://www.bikecare.co.uk/tribike.html

mountain tricycle trike with detachable conversion 26inch wheels mountain tricycle trike with detachable conversion 26inch wheels on eBay (end time 12-Jan-12 18:22:32 GMT)

Re-listed at £600 after no bids.

A scruffy trike conversion set with 20" wheels. The starting price is a bit silly IMO. Unless you are desperate to convert a small wheel shopper. May be a Rogers rather than Higgins. I think Rogers used galvanised removable seat stays. These look galvanised.

higgins tricycle conversion 5 speed higgins tricycle conversion 5 speed on eBay (end time 18-Dec-11 20:58:55 GMT)

Ended with no bids at £145.

15th 39F, 4C, windy, heavy overcast. It was horrible! Blowing a steady gale. The lanes were flooded in many places. Everything was wet, dull, muddy and bedraggled. Once I'd found a loaf I gave up the struggle and came home with only 17 miles to show for it.

Assens Museum dedicated to a young naval hero. (Peter Willemoes)

16th 38F, 3C, heavy overcast, winds starting light but increasing. Rode to Assens to do some shopping. They were going to have another try at blowing up the silo at the old sugar factory at 12.00. So I hung about and took some snaps and videos. There were hundreds of people there and traffic chaos after the event. It was fun to ride up the long hill between the slow-moving, opposing traffic. 20 miles.


17th 36F, 2C, overcast with sunshine promised for later. That'll make a change then! The sun did come out and now it's a beautiful but cold day. Only a quick tootle before we go out. My legs were tired. My toes were cold but I was too warm. Can't win. My own fault for not putting the rubber over-bootees on. 15 miles. At this rate it doesn't look as if I'll reach 7500 miles this year.

18th 32-35F, 0-2C, overcast, very dark, wind light. A cold start. My computers and mirrors kept icing over and had to be cleared every minute or so. The sun came out and stayed out. Blindly bright and low. Any water on the roads was icy. The verges were white.

My hip soon started complaining so I never reached the 20 mile-distant shops. Rather than limp straight home I just pottered the lanes and villages taking pictures. I still managed 30 miles. Holding the camera was cold on the hands. My feet were cold despite eventually putting on the over-boots. There were far more hunters out than cyclists today.

I have a new computer keyboard. A cheap Snappy. The back-lighting went on the Zippy I had before. I preferred the Zippy except for the delete key being alongside the left cursor key. I was always accidentally deleting text. The Snappy has rather strong springs on the keys but quite modest travel.

 Last time I needed a new keyboard I could not find one with white keys. Not anywhere! I tried every computer shop in the area and in several cities. There was a total monopoly on black keyboards. Black is crap! IMO. Without good lighting it is impossible to read the keys. I can type quickly with two sets of two fingers but could never learn to "touch" type. I tried several times over the years without success. Some laptops have nice keyboards. I'll just have to get used to the Snappy now I've bought it. £15 is very cheap by today's standards.

Another 8 miles after lunch. The grass was still crunchy underfoot. I was sprayed with salt by a passing gritting lorry!

Click on any image for an enlargement.

1 Dec 2011

December 1st 2011

A traditional, Danish windmill hunt.
Windmills are shy, retiring creatures and difficult to spot in their natural habitat.

1st 41F, C, heavy overcast, gales with up to 45mph gusts and rain forecast for all day. As the rain held of for a while I set off under a leaden sky with a gusty wind for company. The first two legs were okay but the final leg was a bottom gear crawl. It was horrible! Only 11 miles.

The repaired mirror is now much improved. No more vibration problems. It was fortunate that the original stalk was held by small screws. So I was able to adapt some plastic wall plugs to take care of the different diameters.

The mirror is now fully usable with all hand positions on the bars. It doesn't need constant readjustment for droop either. Being a fraction nearer it provides a slightly larger field of view. 

Having tried a variety of handlebar mirrors I now prefer plain, flat glass of sufficient size. This provides distortion-free, life-size views of what is approaching from the rear. An oblate spheroid surface with a very gentle curve would provide a wider field of view. Though it would still give a false sense of distance. Rather like the wing mirrors on a car. One gets used to it but the plane glass, inside mirror gives a much more accurate sense of distance. I rely on cars going out of the field of view in the mirror as the pass well outside of my own track. 

A large collection of Nobilis cuttings for Xmas decorations. 

Lying unattended on a deserted rural lane for several days without being stolen.

2nd 37F, 3C, light winds increasing, overcast, raining steadily. There was no rain forecast but it persisted all the time I was out. Towards the end my shoulders and arms were getting rather cold and wet in the Æsse jacket. Just another heavy shopping trip. I finally remembered to lubricate the chain. Sprayed everything with Basta lubricant. A very thin, clear liquid in a small spray can. It has an excellent, fixed short nozzle. The jet is very narrow and accurate for hitting the chain, pulleys, sprockets and changers. Reduces waste too. Fortunately it didn't make my head explode like WD40. The sun came out after lunch but I'm not allowed out again after getting wet. 19 miles.

Blogspot with the latest Firefox update 8.0.1 is giving problems.  I couldn't open any posts for editing and composing. Seems I am not alone. Cleared the dump with CCleaner and went over to Chrome. Luckily this seems to have done the trick. Though others complained it still didn't work for them. I had to repeat the CCleaner purge to continue composing after only one Update in Chrome. I can now compose again in Firefox.

I have cancelled the gallery view of enlarged post images. (Lightbox) You may disagree but I still prefer the single image enlargement. Viewers on a slow connection may hesitate to enlarge a single image if they think they'll have every image land in their lap. The startling white background to single enlargements is a trifle "sudden". Offering a choice of background colour to single enlargements would be an obvious improvement.

 3rd 40F, 4C, severe gales, overcast, raining. Forecast to rain all day and blow to 45+mph. A window presented itself mid-afternoon. So I set off expecting a drenching.  The roads were sopping wet but the rain stayed off. I was really glad for the mudguards. No point in dragging it out. So I did the shopping and returned in the dark lit up like a Christmas tree. Only one large Mercedes driver decided that his 2 seconds saved was well worth my remaining years lost. He brushed past me just as the only car in several miles passed me going the other way. I expect he was rushing to perform emergency brain surgery.  Hopefully, on himself. Perhaps he was an eye surgeon in a hurry to practice some DIY? 15 miles.

Drive-in, trike wash. It was 6" deep! You should have seen it when two cars went through! I didn't have my camera ready and no more came along.

4th 35F, 2C, squally gusts, rain, snow and sleet showers. It was supposed to be rain showers and and sunny periods! Occasionally it gets so dark we have to put the lights back on. The ground is coated with white ice crystals. The greenhouse has about an inch of snow lying on the roof. One glimpse of the watery sun. Where do I queue for my refund?

View across the rolling Danish landscape towards Vissenbjerg tower.

Having lazed over morning coffee the sky finally teased me with a sudden clear up. There was even an imitation of sunshine for while. I pottered off to do a loop bringing me to the shops towards the end. The idea being that the frozen stuff wouldn't thaw out  before I reached home. The sunshine was short lived before the sky tuned the colour of school ink. Then it rained on me, hailed, snowed and repeated the exercise several times. Until it finally gave up trying to impress and rained steadily.

I put on and took off hats, jackets, gloves and capes by turns. I sheltered from two nasty showers in weekend flea-markets. Hail is fine. If it is dry and one owns a hat. Rain is insidiously depressing.

Having sweated through three supermarket queues I could plod home. Oddly enough, the Æsse jacket felt bone dry upon arrival indoors. Only the toes of my socks were wet. Which doesn't make sense because I have mudguards and neoprene overshoes. 22 miles.

Denmark is so rich every village can afford its own Olympic standard, downhill, water skiing slope.

5th 35-38F, 2-4C, light winds, snow at first but clearing up. The drive is being dug up again to fix the telephone cables which were broken by the fibre-net contractors. So I can't get out until they move the digger! Now the sun is coming out!

Well, I finally escaped. Not a bad day for a ride. I was given a free sports bag (by a bank) to use as a saddle bag on the trike. They were having a publicity day in the car park and started chatting about the trike. When I told them how far I rode they suggested I might advertise for them with a free bag. They old bag was on its last legs and advertising another bank. A cheerful lot and very polite they were. Getting a smile out of my own bank's staff is like getting blood out of a stone! "We're local, you know." (A tag line from a British TV comedy series) Only 16 miles.

 6th 35-37F, 2-3C, getting windy, heavy overcast, sleety showers. It felt rather cold today with a knife sharp wind and ice on top of the puddles. My nose was streaming at times.

I still haven't found a reasonable balance between a hat too warm and a bare head under my helmet. I take the Thinsulate hat off when I get too warm and then my ears get cold. The rain comes in through the ventilation slots too. I wore two pairs of thinner gloves instead of my winter gloves. My hands weren't really warm enough. The last leg was into the wind with wet sleet! Yuk! I have been enjoying riding through the big puddles where the roads are flooded. I used to avoid them but now it's great fun. Thanks again, Steve.

A chap, out training on his racing bike, passed me like I was going backwards. I was carrying a load of shopping and doing 12 mph uphill, at the time, but it's really no excuse. :-) 24 miles.

7th 36F, 2C, breezy becoming windy, heavy overcast, constant rain even before it is forecast to start. Then it sleeted. I seem to be getting spam disguised as comments on my blogs. I don't know why they bother. They will all be deleted without hesitation.

I was aching all over from yesterday's exercise in loading and then unloading a stack of 10kg (20lbs) fuel blocks for the stove. The rain didn't help so I spent the day on roundtoit chores in and out. I'd hoped for a clear up in the afternoon but it never happened. I did put the new bag on Mr Higgins. It isn't so voluminous as the last but is slightly wider. It has lots of useful inside pockets. The plastic mirror stalk is proving to be a weak point. The old Rawlplug keeps breaking off at the fixing screw. I'll have to find something tougher but still flexible.

I have purchased some Plastic Padding 'Chemical Metal' to repair the lower head (fork) bearing seating. Every so often the head bearings work loose and everything starts shaking. Like an idiot I filed away the orginal attempt at a repair. Probably 'Araldite'. It was far too soft to support the bearing properly. I read that the PP stuff has metal powder filling. (or so I hope) I'll post pictures of the problem and results of my repair. I've put it off for far too long while thinking about it. Rest day. 0 miles. Oh, the shame! :-)

BTW: Check out velogogo. A picture-orientated cycling blog with an emphasis on racing. Lots of bike "porn" and even a few muscular legs. "Porn" in this instance meaning pretty metal and/or paintwork. Nothing much to interest amateur gynaecologists. Lots of cycling related humour and the odd swear word. Far more pictures than talk. Is this a good thing? It kept my interest for a good couple of hours. Perhaps it's trying to tell me something?

I cloned out an ugly road sign for this one.

8th 33-38F, 1-3C, light winds, low sun, overnight frost. I am making a habit of wearing the Æsse jacket with the thin day-glo one over the top. As soon as I warm up I take off the thin jacket and may swap hats. The roads were wet with ice on top of the puddles. I got very sideways in one village which has a sharp turn at the bottom of a hill. The sun finally rose at 8.45 and became a nuisance in my rear view  mirror. The third leg was into the breeze with a low, blinding sun straight ahead and reflected off the road. It is hell out there! :-) 23 miles.

Another storm is forecast for tonight and tomorrow. Very high winds and rain are over Scotland today. Hopefully it will head further north or weaken before it reaches us. No doubt it will be a sleepless night.

9th  41F, 5F, gales, overcast. Slept well. No obvious damage from overnight winds. Rain and gusts to 50mph forecast. I do have to go out but will check to see if it feels ride-able. The longer I leave it the better the chance of the winds having died down. I left after coffee clinging on for dear life! The gusts from the side were ferocious! I as hanging right over the upwind wheel at times. Riding downwind was without drama. Though the fields were badly flooded in places and the roar of the wind in the woods and hedges was exhausting!

Coming back,  heavily laden with shopping, was awful. I was in bottom gear (28") and completely unable to move forwards at one point. I had to put my Thinsulate hat back on. Just to stop my brain from becoming supercooled by the turbo freezer, helmet slots!

Luckily there was more shelter to be had, further on and I was able to use the middle chainwheel. When I arrived home I found I'd lost my mirror and had to backtrack. I was certain about using it at one point but there was no sign of it anywhere on the road. Having given up after retracing my route by a couple of miles I found the mirror lying in the drive! Dogh! Only 12 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.