29 Jan 2012

25th January 2012


25th 22-31F, -6-1C, still and clear. I set off about 9.00 (-5C) in bright sunshine to reach a distant supermarket. I wore heavier ski underwear but it was really too much and I sweated. My hands were warm in the 40 oz Thinsulate gloves today. As were my toes in two pairs of woolly socks and overshoes. Perhaps the thicker underwear was keeping my extremities warm? Perhaps it was the gentle tailwind?
The bike computer packed up every time I took my eye off it. Then the i-GotU GPS logger didn't record anything. Just to add to the fun the Ventus logger recorded only 35 miles!?! Which seems far too short. I'll have to check the distance on Google Earth. Not that this is particularly easy because I follow winding, minor lanes and roads across country to avoid traffic.

I punctured at halfway on a farmer's art installation of oversized rocks beside a busy main road! Who would use a tractor to rake his gravel verge and leave the cycle path completely covered in golf ball sized gravel? Answers on a postcard, please, to:

I was breaking chunks of ice out of my beard before going into the shops! On the way back there was a perishing cold, head wind. I ate only a banana and four cookies since my 7am breakfast. So I was getting rather tired towards the end.

Google, Blogspot and Firefox are all conspiring against me on the editing (again) !! I have reset the pictures and surrounding text five times and each time it reverts to the wrong spacing!!! I'll fix it in html editing when I have the patience. Make that 8 times including html editing! Ten times and now it is resizing images as it goes along!!  P'raps I've been hacked? :-)

Today's dawn captured by my wife on her old Sony P71.
The cells of light looked just like molten lava.

26th 28-33F, -2+1C, clear but windy! Forecast to hover around freezing all day with 20mph steady wind speeds and gusts to 30mph. Supposedly clouding over after early sun. Should be interesting.

It wasn't. The trees were already thrashing about before I left at 9.30. Fierce gusts from the side had me hiding under the handlebars in my balaclava and skiing goggles. (which I hadn't needed before today)

My nose felt like an ice block and the wind was coming from all directions. Though it was helping me along at other times. I had no choice where I was going because I had an appointment. The wind really picked up when I got there. With leaves and dust blowing up in swirls and whistling around the buildings.

On the way back it was pure misery. I must have had 30lbs or 15 kilos of shopping on board. It filled four large carrier bags as I unloaded it all back at home. Most of it was solid or liquid. The wind was playing harmonics in higher octaves as it whistled through my brake levers.

My quadriceps were on fire at 6mph in bottom gear on the flat some of the time! Where the few field hedges still clung to existence it was fine. I could do 10-12mph without effort. My Aesse jacket was wet inside when I took it off! At least the sun stayed out. So that's all right then.  Perhaps I need a rest day to recover my strength? Overnight snow is forecast but the amount and length of snow showers is shrinking all the while. 21 miles today.

27th 29F, -2C, still windy, 2" (50mm) of snow lying, overcast with a little more snow forecast. A rest day? I have just walked along to have a look at the road. It has been salted but the road is much narrowed with raised ridges of filthy slush. This tends to dam up puddles which would give me a nasty soaking as cars struggle to get past. My leg muscles are quite tender in places when I massage them.  As the wind is still gusting to 30mph I've probably talked myself out of going out today. My last rest day was the 28th of December. Hi, my name is Chris. I'm a trikeoholic. I haven't had a ride for 24 hours. One day at a time. :-)

28th 30F, -1C, breezy, overcast finally clearing to weak sunshine. I'm going out after coffee. Can't feel any pain in my legs now. The roads were fairly clear but it made no difference anyway. On a trike with 2WD one just continues regardless of the surface conditions. I heard a loud bang when I ran over some frozen slush on the main road  but the tyre stayed up. I stayed off the cycle path after that.

Though sunny, the wind was very cold. My fingers and toes were fine but I was overheating again due to wearing two skiing vests. I really don't think it helps. I saw a couple of bullfinches in the hedges. Chaffinches are by far the most common birds I see. Even outnumbering sparrows. With blackbirds probably third. Only 16 miles.
29th 28F, -2, overcast, snowing steadily, light breeze. Yesterday's forecast has been completely changed to snow all day. At least another inch has fallen overnight. I have to go out anyway and consider the car an inferior tool for the purpose in these conditions. It's not a lack of experience driving on snow. I used to go looking for snow-covered country roads to practice my driving skills in the UK.

The problem is always the fear that any oncoming vehicle will lose control. I have seen so many cars leave the Danish roads that I no longer trust their skills. They make absolutely no allowances for weather conditions. Fitting winter tyres is normal here. Typically drivers then assume that they are now perfectly safe under any road conditions.

They continue to drive above the legal speed limit. They still drive nose to tail. Overtake without a care in the world. Only to end up on their sides or upside down on the verge. Or in a field. A phone call to the private rescue services and the car is soon gone. Or they hit some innocent soul head-on and another family tragedy makes just a line or two in the local paper.

I had to mend a puncture before I could go out. Obviously caused by that lump of frozen slush on the cycle path yesterday! It snowed continuously until I returned home 10 miles later. I should have worn my skiing goggles to keep the snow out of my eyes but had opted for the yellow sunglasses.

It was easiest to ride on the fresh snow. As it wasn't so slippery as the compressed car tracks. No problems with traction up or down hill. Coming back on the main road is was watery slush between ridges. It threw up quite a spray from the front tyre all the way home. Oh, the luxury of proper mudguards on a day like this! A moron in a Volvo brushed past at 60mph. Giving me a free shower of filthy wet. There was nothing coming the other way. So he could have used the whole road. The I-gotU GPS logger has failed to record for two days in a row now.

These are typical road conditions at the moment. Isn't it odd how difficult to it is to capture the slopes of hills with a camera? This shot is looking down quite a steep hill. I walked some distance up the hill and used a lot of zoom to try and show the incline, but failed. Mr Higgins is actually standing well below my camera position but looks slightly higher. 

I have now added +2/3 to EV on my Panasonic Lumix TZ7 camera and am much more pleased with the results. I usually have to add gamma and contrast in PhotoFiltre to every image I use. Not any more.

I have been trying out Wordpress to see if I could move my blog over when Google invades the world next month. Wordpress is so greedy you would not believe it! It is impossible to even change background colours on the free service. Pay another $30 dollars to change minor details? Pay another $30 to rid the blog of adverts?  Buy this domain name or that. Pay to own a blog template? Pay this. Pay that. Talk about hard sell! This is the best I could do on a shoestring:


It's no wonder Google bought Blogger and Picasa. Now nobody can opt out of their global domination. At least I could delete my Facebook account. (or so I hope) It just didn't inspire me to do anything useful with it. So if anyone notices my absence (unlikely) you know where I am. Probably still blogging by candlelight in a cellar somewhere. While constantly checking over my shoulder that the jackbooted Google Gestapo aren't coming down the drive. In an armoured personnel carrier plastered in tasteless advertising. The Chinese could easily afford to buy Google and Facebook. The next thing you know it's back to the Dark Ages. What has this to do with triking? Not a lot.

"Gates" likes these found at the entrance to many Danish villages. Probably intended as a psychological narrowing of the road to try to reduce speeding. The 1056' 321m Brylle TV mast is just visible in the centre background. I deliberately stood in the middle of the road to place the mast between the trees. The Danish flag on the right shows how hard the wind is blowing. The fields "smoke" fine snowdrifts across the roads in the absence of hedges. 

Mr Higgins is further laden with two large carrier bags in addition to the large saddle/sports bag. I simply tie the plastic bags by their strong handles to the saddle frame with thick, nylon cord. Netto's large carrier bags are excellent quality and last for months of such abuse. Probably about as long as the sports/saddle bags themselves. I'm lucky to get six months of use out of a sports bag. So I usually buy them in charity shops and discard them when they wear out. 

The carrier bags are limited to light, bulky items like toilet rolls, lettuce, bread rolls and sliced loaves. Heavier items like tins, jars and the daily collection of organic milk cartons go into the sports/saddle bag. A fellow cyclist had a brand new carrier bag rupture and spill its shopping onto the car park outside a supermarket. I suggested he invest in Netto carrier bags. He looked at me as if I was insane! His loss. I've never had a Netto carrier bag fail on me yet. :-)

Many larger sports bags are far too long to fit between the rear wheels of the trike. So I carefully select shorter bags with a very deep box section to maximise my carrying capacity. One cloth handle is strapped to the rucksack frame with Ty-wraps. The free handle is lifted over the saddle to be supported by the saddle pin once the bag is loaded and zipped up. 

The free, cloth handle is lifted back over the nose of the saddle to allow easy unloading. The handle usually covers the zips of the sports bag so there is an added sense of security when the trike is left unattended. 

Daily practice over the last two years has proved my bag system works very effectively. Particularly since I fitted the cut-down rucksack frame using plumbing clips. I ought to shorten the frame to give some support to the bottom pf the bag but there aren't enough cross rails for my support clips if I raise the frame. I keep looking, in the charity shops, for another ultra-lightweight rucksack frame. One with more cross rails, but no luck so far.

My rear carrier

30th 26-31F,-3-1C, windy, clear and sunny. I organised my route to match the wind direction quite well until the last couple of miles. I was riding mostly on thin powdery stuff. The sun and salt had combined to wet the roads in places. In others there was a couple of inches of windblown snow. Always where the hedges had been removed by farmers. A steady stream of snow was being thrown forwards by the front tyre and balling around the brakes. In the thicker places the snow was flying sideways out of the front mudguard all over my overshoes and long, woolly socks.

Despite forgetting my biscuit snack (again) I kept going for 28 hilly miles in these snowy conditions. The cheapo bike computer kept stopping but both GPS loggers worked today. Toes and fingers were fine but I was too warm in the double vests. The Head Gardener will insist that I wrap up warm! She thinks that if she is could then I must be too.

The forecast is for much colder weather with more snow. My wife and I tried to finish the last yard of trench for the optical fibre broadband. We had put it off because the trench kept flooding. We found the topsoil was frozen literally as hard as rocks! We were eventually able to undermine the frozen stuff and lift it out in large clumps. Job done ready for the final installation. The frozen soil and gravel from the drive will have to wait for a thaw. So we can tidy things up afterwards. I tried using the miner's pick on it but it would not budge. The point barely marked the surface! I wonder if I'm getting enough exercise?

31st 25-29F, -4-2C, windy, clear and sunny. It's been a busy day. The fibre optic broadband installer arrived first. 35/33mBit/s. Not bad for a 30/30 service. The techician was competent, professional and polite. I had to open a new network to get my machine to recognise the new service. It was only a matter of minutes before I was live again. My old service was 4/0.4mBit/s. So I have an 8x faster download and over 60x faster upload. YouTube videos taken only a couple of minutes to upload instead of over 40 minutes!

Then I had to ride into Assens for the 2nd silo demolition. It was supposed to be at 11.30 but after several false starts it was well over an hour late. Lots of people gave up and went home. It was freezing! -3C with a 20mph wind gusting higher. Fortunately my wife had insisted I take a duvet jacket to put on or I'd have given up too. Riding home afterwards, against the cold wind, was 'orrible!

Finally I had to go and collect my car from the workshop. The rear end had been damaged by a moron in a car park shunt. His insurance had accepted full liability. 20 miles. 

Click on any image for an enlargement.

25 Jan 2012

23rd Jan cont'd 2012


23rd cont'd: It was getting rather long. I'll decorate the latest rant with some pretty pictures to take your minds off my monologue. :-)

A frosty landscape
The huge flock of birds resting on the valley floor are lost at this scale. As were the next row of "windmills" behind those on the horizon.

 A typical sign found at the entrance to every Danish town, city and village.  The "now entering a built up area" sign is for the 99% of (apparently) illiterate drivers who do not recognise the numerical symbols for 50kph (30mph) as usually found on "lollipop" signs.

And the obverse. To remind the 99% of drivers, who are probably already exceeding 80kph(50mph) that they may now legally increase their speed to the national rural speed limit of 80kph. It goes without saying that speeding is a national sport. The absence of rural, police patrol cars, or speed cameras, makes the risk of being caught rather unlikely.

In a very odd way, I think this is quite a good thing. Better a low crime, no police society. Rather than one riddled with crime and a police car on every street. One just wished that the average motorist's driving skills, at speed, matched their remarkable ambitions. At least they aren't remotely as bad as the British!

Gentrified thatch in superb condition.

Most Danes, arriving in Britain, must think they have died on the ferry and gone to traffic hell! I'd give the average Danish pedestrian five minutes before their life is snatched cruelly away. Or severely threatened at the very first junction or pedestrian crossing. Waddya mean the traffic should stop and wait for them as prescribed by law? And which was taught to them in kindergarten!! (Dansk: Børnehave= children's garden = pron: burn-uh-hayve-uh) Most Danish kids attend Børnehave since both parents usually work.

Danish pedestrians have real rights! Which they take as an absolute right! So much so that Danish pedestrians rarely bother to give the patient motorist so much as a glance at a junction or crossing. They know exactly and instinctively when the pedestrian has the right of way.

They stroll across just as they were taught to in their infant years. Learning their inalienable rights as they take their daily toddle beside the børnehave institution's prams. While wearing their multicoloured, padded one-piece suits. I still laugh every time I see them. Even after 15 years! They look so like comical, Disney cartoon characters. And, they are perfectly disciplined by the age of 3! 

And, without resort to violence or even the threat of as much. Such a far cry from the British pedestrian anarchy: The: "Behave! Or I'll slap your legs!" teaching method of the fictitious British Highway Code. They were still showing government/taxpayer sponsored road safety TV ads before I left the UK. What a deplorable admission of failure!
Prehistoric earthworks. Probably a fortified village.

Most Danish cyclist have extraordinary riding skills compared with most British cyclists. The Danish child is taught to ride on the road beside their parents at the age of 3 or 4. Yet they would really struggle to survive for the first few days on the bloody streets of Britain. Simply because they would be quite unprepared for the psychopathic aggression, blind selfishness, awful manners and murderous impatience (and intent) of the average British motorist. Worse, they would be completely unprepared for the total ignorance and subsequent denial of all cyclist's rights. Ignorance of the law is no excuse in a British court. It's arguably the reason for so many coroner's hearings.

Even the average Danish "white van man" has fully fledged wings and an invisible halo compared with the typical, fire breathing, genocidal-suicidal, British, caveman brute, of the type.

Too much contrast for the camera to handle. I tried to rescue it in PhotoFiltre but even the obscuring hedges were against my getting a decent shot. The old tree was truly magnificent. Even when bereft of leaves. The thatched farmhouse retains its privacy.

After a day of minor skirmishes with the Danish traffic I have only to watch the helmet cam videos of British cyclists on YouTube. To remind myself of my decades of cycling over there. Yet, miraculously, somehow I survived to tell the tale! Now I should give daily thanks that I'm now in traffic heaven! Without having paid the usual entry fee. :-)

A posh, organic farm with its own shop.

One slight oddity, with the normally polite Danes, is their unwillingness to give way to another motorist. Even to allow somebody else to pull out of the last parking place in Denmark! So that they might (effortlessly) take their place. But no. They prefer to drive very slowly past and then go several times around the entire city looking for an empty parking spot. Rather than let that one car release the temporary, car park, gridlock.

At side junctions, even when caught in an endless queue on the main road, they will usually close the gap. Rather than let even one car cross the queue to turn into the opposite lane. It is inexplicable but true. Perhaps they think they are still little pedestrians taking their right of way?

The British may well be raving psychopaths (and madwomen) behind the wheel. But they are still willing to allow some poor sod to escape the misery of being stuck in a side road. You'd think it would occur to them (the Danes) that: There, but for the grace of ... go I.

If I ever went back to Blighty I'd want an armoured personnel carrier. With live ammunition and an armed, police convoy as escort! A few marines as back up wouldn't go amiss in case we run into a case of British road rage. :-)

Timber-framed thatch guarding the remarkable gates of a village church.

24th 25-30F, -4-1C, still, clear. Another hard, white frost. The sun came up at 8:40 and stayed bright in a cloudless sky. There were a lot of geese and Whooper swans flying around in huge circles over the open countryside. What a racket the swans made!

Today I wore two pairs of medium weight wool socks and my feet were warmer. I now wear the neoprene overshoes below 35F as a matter of course.

If you really want to test the effects of wind chill just hop on a bike at below freezing! Forward motion in still air is enough to freeze the bare skin quite quickly. Now add the slightest breeze and the effective temperature plummets! Now do it going downhill into the wind! Clothing which is perfectly comfortable at only slightly higher temperatures becomes almost worthless. Usually because it is too porous to air movement through the vital, windproof outer shell.

Rural, wooded bliss on "pheasant alley."

Usually, Thinsulate 40oz gloves are just about usable (on a bike) at -3C. They struggle to keep my hands warm unless I wrap my finger around the tops of the bars. The idea is to keep them out of the direct draught. If I expose my gloved fingers, by holding the brake levers, it's the agony of frozen fingers!

The main clothing problem is breathability. While retaining  perfect windproofing. Finding the combination of both (and some useful shower proofing to boot) seems very expensive indeed. Forget all about coated nylon waterproofs. You will sweat like a sauna with the slightest exercise.

Better to put a newspaper inside your jumper or jacket if you find yourself without adequate windproofing on a cold day. Only a single sheet, or two, will do. Racing cyclists have used this trick for decades. I did myself when I started commuting 15 miles to work back in the 60s. And 15 miles, back again after a day spent on my feet.  I used to go out in the lunch hours too. Just to get a few more miles in.

Boring as hell, but it fills an empty space.
Try pretending that the wind turbines are holding up the sky.

Back then the "new" proofed nylon anoraks were being pushed by the likes of Blacks of Greenock for climbing. I invested in a bright orange one and sweated horribly for the next decade. Both on the hills, on the bus and on the bike or trike. Awful things for cycling or climbing even when faded with wear. Once one's clothing was wet against the skin there was no way to dry out again! Not without going into a warmed building. Preferably taking off your wet poly underwear as well. Try finding a warmed building in the Welsh hills. Or in the middle of Dartmoor! 

The most serious problem for cyclists (in cold conditions) is achieving high levels of windproofing without extra warmth. Cut off the wind and you don't need much extra warmth from your clothing. Your heavy exercise will usually provide all the warmth you need. Particularly when hill climbing. If you start sweating on a climb get the jacket open ASAP and take off any warm head wear. You owe it to yourself to avoid that hot, then icy cold, wet back! Once your back is cold it must be really wet. It will takes miles to get comfortable gain. If you ever do.

A smart old house still wearing its thatch with pride.

Since the air temperature is low you'd think that you could just keep adding fleece jackets. Which is what I did in my first cold, Danish, cycling winter. The trouble is the bod in the middle. Sweating into the polyester underwear. Thin poly underwear  does a great job of keeping sweat-induced moisture away from the skin. But it does have its limits. No amount of fleece jackets will keep you warm for long in cold and windy conditions. Okay, if you just want to stand around in still cold air. Not if you are moving. Better to wear down filled clothing if you want to stay really comfortable in one spot. Or on a slow walk in the winter sunshine. Keep your core temperature up and your extremities should stay warm too.

30 miles today. I had to do a ten mile detour. Because there was no bread in stock at the first supermarket! Grrr?

I had to use a lot of zoom to bring this windmill into the picture from across the valley. 
Losing two more at the same time. I like wind turbines.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

22 Jan 2012

21st January 2012


21st 35F, 2C, sleet, windy, heavy overcast. Sleet and rain are forecast all day so it might be worth taking a rest day. Last rest day was 28th December. So only 3 weeks ago. It might clear up briefly at 3pm.Like an eternal optimist I set off into dying rain. The first five miles was okay.

The remarkable bends and slopes on this farmhouse and its barn are very real! They remind me of tents pitched on a very bumpy camping site.

Then it started raining heavily. The rain turned to hail driven by a vicious gale. The 1/4" hailstones stung my face and knees so much that I was sure I was bleeding. I cupped my gloved hand around my face and struggled on. Looking for any shelter. Eventually I found an overhanging bush and I could stop. Whereupon the hail stopped and it started raining again.

On I went until pale turquoise opened in the heavy grey clag. It brought a cold headwind but at least it stopped raining. Only 10 miles. I jumped straight into the shower to dry off.

 An unusual colour for a timber-framed farm but I think it works rather well. The steep roof angle shows that the entire farm was previously thatched. Though here it has been covered in asbestos cement, corrugated panels. A very common roofing material in Denmark. It had the advantage of not being so heavy that the roof needed reinforcement when changed from thatch. It was also, very much cheaper than thatch!

22nd 31-37F, -1+3C, breezy, sunny at first. The early sun was short-lived turning. quickly to overcast. The roads were thinly coated in ice. I pulled off to let the salting lorry pass on a narrow lane. It felt rather cold all morning. With the headwind picking up for a while towards the end.

I was going quite well at times despite my chest being a bit bunged up. My left thigh felt strained for some miles but it passed off again. 33 miles.

mountain tricycle trike with detachable conversion 26inch wheels mountain tricycle trike with detachable conversion 26inch wheels on eBay (end time 22-Jan-12 14:29:34 GMT)

Fetched £206 after 5 bids. 

23rd 26-34F, -3+1C, sunny, still. A hard overnight frost with everything white. The puddles were frozen again.
Winter is a bit of a joke this year. Though I have never seen so much water lying in the fields and woods. Wind turbines standing completely still. This is unusual. They seem to turn in almost no wind at all. My wife and I joke about how much imported, nuclear power electricity they must be using to make them turn in calm conditions.

Just another shopping trip. I keep having to change hats and gloves once I warm up. It must be the sunshine. Despite the neoprene overshoes and very thick, loop-pile socks my feet are still getting cold. Drawing my feet back in the shoes works wonders. Until I forget again. I really ought to try some thin shoe liners (innersoles) to stop the cold air being pumped through the shoes. It mush be the foot movements and leaky shoe plate fixings. My chest is still thick when I clear my throat.(which is often) But no pain. Nose like a leaky tap in this cold. Frosts forecast to persist for a few days. Better cold than wet! 20miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


16 Jan 2012

16th Jan 2012


16th 38F, light winds, very heavy overcast. The DMI website is offering continuous cloud for the next week. With potential snowfall over several days!

They are still showing the fraudulent [IMO] Uniblue scam adverts. It seems so simple, doesn't it? Download, Scam and Clean? Er... Haven't they forgotten the big red "PAY" button somewhere in the middle of their "traffic light" ads? I'm amazed that Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut is willing to accept advertising from this sort of company. Reading online comments it seems many others agree. Every new scam produces hundreds of new registry errors. Really? How does that work? I use CCleaner Free. It keeps me regular. ;-)

This series of pictures is of a beautiful farmhouse and its odd mixture of outbuildings. I have no idea if anyone lives there now. The initials above the door suggest that landed gentry were in residence there in the past. The farm lies between two stately homes so is probably part of the estate. The date 1861 is mixed with the initials over each door.

All these images have been considerably lightened because the sky was so dark. Despite it being midday. There is a melancholy air about the place which is well suited to the lighting. I'm never sure whether images work with intervening shrubbery. In this case I think they suit the mood of the place.  Somebody cuts the lawn but there is little other sign of habitation. Certainly not as an active farm. I like melancholic buildings. My wife calls them depressing.

16th cont'd. I set of after 9am with the intention of reaching a 17 mile-distant shop. It felt cold in my Belstaff jacket but I pressed on. Warm going uphill. Cold going back down. The puddles in the roads and fields were still iced over. Though yesterday's delicious, icing sugar coating and bright sunshine were now absent. When I finally warmed up I took off my Thinsulate hat. I must have ridden 10 miles with just the Abus helmet on my head. My nose was streaming in the cold and had to be cleared every half mile or so. My hands were also becoming quite chilly at times.

As I climbed off at yet another supermarket, at 20 miles, I nearly fell over! I was extremely dizzy. I didn't know whether it was the cold getting to my sinuses. Or my inner ears. Perhaps I was suffering from dehydration. Or even low blood sugar. I staggered around the supermarket, swaying like a drunk. Just trying to warm up and stay upright. There is never anywhere to sit down!

Outside the shop again, I felt I was falling off the trike and had to get off again. I decided to eat a banana and drink a box of orange juice. As I was feeling a bit better, after a while, I put on my thin windproof jacket over the Belstaff 'Cyclone'. Naturally, I put my Thinsulate hat under the helmet again.

It was a bit worrying being so far from home with such strange symptoms. I have been feeling slightly dizzy more than once recently. Usually at home, when I turned my head too suddenly. Not out on the road, luckily. I used to get dizzy quite regularly if I climbed out of the car too quickly. Mind you, I rarely use the car these days. My wife blames the dizziness on too much time spent on the computer.

I was soon warm on the long uphill drags going home but couldn't get rid of the headache. It seemed to get colder as time passed but I wasn't feeling particularly tired. My wife agreed with me when I arrived home. She had been tidying in the garden. The temperature had actually risen 1 degree but it felt 5 degrees colder. There was no real wind to speak of and I had it on my back coming home anyway. Safely home and I ate some sandwiches and retired to bed for an hour. I still have the headache and slight dizzy feeling hours later.

40 miles today carrying 15lbs of shopping for half of those miles. I certainly wasn't as tired as I used to be after such a long ride. So? Am I having fun yet? What do you mean 40 miles isn't far? Try it on 50lbs of trike, including shopping, on my hilly roads! Try it when you are a worn-out, old fart, like me! :-)

17th 40F, 4C, light winds, very heavy overcast. My back was aching this morning. As was my head. So I'm waiting until after coffee to go out. I gave Mr Higgins his biennial scrub down with cold, soapy rainwater. I could not believe how filthy he was! Usually, I only see the handlebars. I'll find some puddles later. To rinse the soap off.

Well, there were no puddles so Mr Higgins is probably still sticky behind the ears. My cheapo cadence bike computer is no more. The new battery failed to revive its normal functions. Poking a bit of wire through the original button holes had no further effect. The cheapo mileage meter is now fine but I've lost 256 miles after zeroing it on the new year. My wife is showing cold symptoms today. So that may explain the severe dizziness and continuing headaches. Only 14 miles.

Am impressive, edge of town farm with buildings of all ages.
Beautiful, old-style lamps and doors really look the part.

Only the length of the house gives the impression of former wealth. It still seems slightly overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the outbuildings. Tiled box dormers aren't very commonplace around here either. I wouldn't like to hazard a guess as to the age of this tidy, old farmhouse. Timber-framed buildings were still being erected in the 1880s. The steep roof angle might suggest earlier thatch. Perhaps it was gentrified when the funds became available for tiles? Though I doubt it improved comfort levels indoors.

18th 37-38F, 3C, heavy grey skies, breezy. Feeling a bit better today but my wife is still unwell.

How much weight did I save by removing one bike computer and a lot of dirt? The wind built up rapidly. Which was useful when I wanted to cruise at 20mph to cover some distance to another shop quickly. Then I had to turn into the wind to get home again!

I was nearly brought off by a couple of boy racers. They had waited until just before a red traffic light to overtake me. I was going straight on. These two posers started a rolling track stand moving well off to the right. So I started to overtake them when the lights changed. As you do.

This building looks like it was designed primarily for housing work horses.

Now they decided they were going left without either looking or indicating. As I was already alongside I asked the leader of the pair what he was doing. (in Danish of course) Only to receive the sneering yeah-yeah-yeah of the Dane caught with his pants down around his ankles. A SMIDSY from two tøsedreng on fancy racing bikes? You couldn't make it up! 

I went on to finish my shopping and then headed across country by the winding, hilly lanes. Anything to avoid that long drag along the main road straight into the wind. 23 miles. Half at an acute angle to a nagging, cold and blustery wind. Even my toes were cold. The Aesse jacket did its job very well today. Normally it is too warm at 38F but it coped well with the nasty wind.

I'm now taking off the Thinsulate hat in the shops to avoid rapid overheating. As my hair always looks a sight at such moments I put the helmet back on. Well, you have to keep up standards, don't you? The heavily laden trike already looks like a Danish tramp's daily transport. So I have to make an effort. I was carrying five, nested plastic buckets home today. Held on with cord to the saddle frame and lying on top of the bag. :-)

This barn is quite unusual. Heavily timber-framed but with a rather strange, boarded, mansard-like, lower roof. It may have been for increased ventilation of the upper floor. I imagine all of these building are rather outdated for modern, big machine/prairie type farming. So it's nice to see these old buildings still being well cared for.

19th 40F, 4C, breezy, heavy overcast. Rain was promised but it stayed away. I was getting fierce but short-lived pains in my head on the way to the shops. Though I had my warm hat on. Chest a bit wet, breathless, snotty. I still have a slight headache. Just another virus.

 A buzzard made a surprise landing on a paved drive as I passed. He looked completely out of place. There was nothing obvious on the slabs for him to eat. On the way back I chased a cyclist into a roaring headwind but couldn't make any impression. He just kept going further away. Two cats were road kill. A ginger and a young, beautifully marked tabby. There seems to be a lot of tree and hedge clearing going on at the moment. Field drainage work too. 18 miles.

Paper and bottle bank containers are a common sight in most villages.

 20th 36F, 2C, sunny, becoming overcast with rain. Breezy. It had snowed big flakes overnight. Only about an inch but it had refrozen hard in places and thawed in others. The roads were very wet and slippery. With slush and ice-dammed puddles.

Some corgis were loose with toddlers and owners and they rushed over to see me. I tried to stop from speed and slid for a couple of yards on the icy surface. Not a problem though. The dogs barked, sniffed my feet and then wandered away. Obviously as bored with me as I was with them.

After about 8 miles the snow petered out and the roads were quite dry. I did my shopping and headed home. Soon it started raining. Becoming steadily heavier so that my clothes felt very wet on the outside. Though I stayed quite comfortable and dry in the Aesse jacket. Still no new photos. 19 miles. 

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10 Jan 2012

10th Jan 2012


10th 40-43F, 4-6C, breezy becoming windy, weak sunshine becoming cloudy.  Because it was warmer, I wore the Ventour jacket again. It just wasn't warm enough. Certainly not as warm as my Belstaff Cyclone. I could feel the cold air on my chest and arms blowing right through it. (plus my racing jersey and long-sleeved, poly vest, of course) The thinnest day-glo jacket was in the bag so I could have worn it too but I couldn't be bothered to put it on. I feared I might overheat on the hills. So I plodded on. I warmed up eventually but it was a lesson learned. I'll only wear it when it is safely over 45F. 

I spent an hour running all over some steep, wet and very muddy fields at a large, specialist tree nursery. My Tahoe shoes were literally caked in mud! It was good fun riding the tracks between the fields though. The roughest I've ever attempted. The secret is to be prepared to get out of the saddle when things get too laterally vertiginous. 2WD makes an awful lot of difference to keeping going. Coming to a standstill on a steep, heavily cambered, tractor-rutted track, with one's feet firmly clipped in, is not a good idea!  

I saw quite a number of older cyclists out training solo today. Probably the sun bringing them out. All of them gave me a wave and/or a greeting. I have no idea what they think of me on my trike. No doubt the pukka cycling clothing and high cadence gets them thoroughly confused.

My wife insisted on washing my (Abus) helmet for me. Probably because I was going to do it myself. It's daft the way the helmet is designed. It is impossible to remove most of the dangly bits to wash them separately. It looks as if the black strap anchors should lift out but they don't. The helmet didn't smell, or anything like that. I just thought I'd better give it a spring clean. To freshen up the straps and the very thin, foam pads.

 The theme seems to be houses hiding behind their shrubbery. I'm using up some images I haven't posted.

Shame I never had any instructions with it. Couldn't find any online either. They have a website but no cleaning or maintenance instructions? A bit silly. I might send them an email. :-) The Lane-U is a great helmet BTW. Incredibly light and comfortable. I often forget to put it on when I'm already wearing a Thinsulate hat. I had to ride back a whole mile the last time I forgot it. It all helps to keep up the mileage. Why do I so resent repeating a leg of the journey? 23 miles.

11th 44F, 7C, weak sunshine, breezy. Wasn't feeling at all energetic today. It must have been all that rough walking yesterday. Left after morning coffee. The light inspired me to do some landscape photography. Which didn't leave me much time for shenanigans. So only 14 miles. Lazy git! :-) 

A strangely deep-cut, ancient track down to a small lake. Quite inexplicable, because it is in the middle of nowhere without any obvious habitation. The low lying area is far too wet and marshy to build on, I would imagine.

Village pond

12th 43F, 6C, gales, horizontal rain, overcast. Steady winds building to over 30mph with gusts over 50mph. Should decrease and brighten up this afternoon. I'll wait. Left at 3pm. Wore my Easse jacket on my wife's advice: Wind chill factor in the strong winds. I stayed comfortable despite being blown about by a 4 o'clock wind on the way.

A member of the electrician's Mafia overtook me in the high street of a village. Then jammed his breaks on with a swerve to the right to ensure I couldn't get past. I was doing 17 mph and the speed limit is only 25. El-Price-Fixing Ltd knew he was turning sharp left into his yard. What a stupid plonker! I had to brake hard not to hit him!

Mr Higgins admires the scenery.
The plastic post with reflectors marks the edge of the road. Handy when snow is too deep to see the correct route. These posts are a familiar sight on most Danish roads, large and small. In the UK they have cats-eyes to serve a similar purpose.There are none, that I know of, over here. I would imagine cats-eyes have a slight traffic calming effect. 

After shopping it was much worse on the way back. The wind seemed to have more than doubled its strength and was now at 10 o'clock. After more shopping the last leg was head on as the wind had suddenly veered north. I had to put my lights on as it was dark by then. Fortunately it stayed dry. 15 miles.

Swans, geese and ducks on an unspoilt lake.

13th 36-38F, 2-3C, blowing a gale, sunny periods. A cold headwind had me struggling to reach 10mph.  The wind did not make me want to go far. I did my shopping and then headed home. 13 miles on Friday the 13th? What can possibly go wrong? :-)

A bit sweaty in the Aesse jacket despite the cold wind. Gloves too cold at first but my hands soon warmed up. I'm not sure if there is some drag somewhere. Or I'm just getting tired. I don't seem to be moving very fast recently. Not even with a tail wind. No obvious pain in my leg muscles. I just feel slow. I'll check to see if there's some bearing stiffness. The brakes and mudguards are certainly not dragging. I barely hit 30mph on a big hill and couldn't maintain it on the flat. The tyres are as hard as usual. Perhaps the chain is getting stiff despite frequent oiling. The gear pulleys are well oiled too.

An electric bicycle and vehicle showroom in Assens. Only open on Saturday mornings. The white, "futuristic" suspended electric/pedal bike costs 14,000DKK in the dealer's sale. About £1570GBP or $2400US! 

Electric drive does not seem to be generating the excitement of early infernal combustion motorbikes and vehicles. Where are the myriad makers tinkering in every shed and garage across Europe and the US? Perhaps they are all on You Tube. Though most seem to be using available commercial technology rather than building from scratch. I saw a TV advert for an electric car by one of the existing car companies. Pretending that such technology was completely without environmental impact. But what do you expect from car manufacturers and their corrupt TV advertisers?

14th 29-37F, -2C+3C, bright, winds light. A frost! I left rather late because I'd lost my 5 year-old mobile phone. The cheapest Nokia, half paving slab. I only use it for emergencies when out on the trike. Don't have any use for a mobile phone otherwise. Fortunately my wife thought to ring the number while I was out. It was in the jacket I had worn yesterday. In the pocket we had both checked several times in the search! Talk about parallel universes!

 A beautiful day for a ride but a bit chilly at first. I found I could draw my toes back in the shoes slightly when they felt cold. This was despite having neoprene overshoes and thick socks on. Started with thick Thinsulate gloves but changed to thinner ones at the half way mark. The thick ones are far too stiff and bulky. The Aesse jacket was fine at first but became a teensy bit sweaty with the tail wind.

I managed to raise my speed a bit today. Probably because I oiled the chain well before leaving. Found nothing untoward or causing drag. Apart from the rear changer being a bit noisy in low gears. I oiled the pulleys again and it seemed to help. I still managed 26 miles despite not having a phone. ;-)

A tumbling landscape of deep valleys and wooded hills.

15th 26F, -3C, still, full sun promised. The grass and the car are white with frost. The blinding sun won't get above 14 degrees altitude here at 55N. A slightly corpulent, half moon ducked for cover behind the trees at the clamour of church bells. Few will answer the call on a day of icy roads and glassy ponds.

I wore the thin, day-glo jacket over the Aesse and stayed comfortable for a couple of hours. Then I took off the thinner jacket when I started warming up on a long drag.

The thicker Thinsulate gloves kept my hands warm but were wet inside. I tried the thinner gloves but my fingers started aching with cold. So it was back to the heavy pair again. They are far too stiff for comfort on a bike.

Punk willows cheer on Mr Higgins as he climbs bravely, but foolishly, into the unknown. The iced-up stream was an accident of a single car tyre track at the top of the hill. Somebody had damaged the verge and re-routed the entire watercourse away from the natural ditch on the right.

It was a gorgeous day, despite the cold. So still, even the wind turbines forgot to wake up. Lots of geese complaining overhead as I ploughed my lonely furrow between fields off rooks and crows. They rose and fell like oily rags. With their rough voices carrying across the jumbled landscape. I think I glimpsed a Bullfinch in a hedge. It was too bright to have been anything else. A superb red with a hint of orange. A few buzzards moved lazily away from the verges as I passed. Or glared back from a safe distance.

A swollen beck meanders along a rare, flat valley.
This takes me back to my childhood in the Lake District in north west England.
Trout could often be seen resting under the muddy banks of tiny, roadside streams.

There were more walkers and joggers than cyclists until getting on for mid day. A few waved or called. All of them were going the other way. I'm glad I don't live near the galloping railways. I couldn't be doing with their racket every few minutes. A lot of my journey was within earshot. Without the roar of the wind to drown them out they seemed amplified. Perhaps there was an inversion layer. Chainsaws, shooting and shouting could be heard for miles.

Mr Higgins enjoys the play of light and shade.

My cheap bike computer failed to record anything and then went blank. Probably a half-flat battery and the cold. I hate not knowing how far I've been. You don't miss these things until they are gone. My head was full of things to talk about as I rode along. All have been wiped clean now. 30 miles as the GPS flies.

Click on any image for an enlargement.