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.

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