4 Jan 2012

New Year. All change? The conundrum.


January 1st 2012 80,465 page views and counting! 45F, 7C, overcast, raining, windy. The forecast is more grey but dry. Wrong again! Not a good start, DMI!

Talking of false starts: For some reason I felt the need to unburden myself this morning. I sat down at 7am and and typed about me for two whole hours. Then I changed my mind. There was no justification for justifying what I do:
I tricycle. Therefore I am.

Right then! Focus! Reasons to be cheerful? Okay, forget the unburdening. Nobody is here to read about me. Except how it might relate to triking. Or cycling in general. Or even just to view the pretty pictures of thatched cottages and/or trikes and things. Why are they reading this? Better not ask. Or the spell may be broken! 

Then I thought I'd give the blog a fresh new look for the New Year. It worked wonders last year. There's a lovely standard background with driving rain and angry, heavily overcast skies. Suits you, sir? Not according to my wife! If it ain't broke; don't mend it! Ah well. It was worth a try.

It's just that I don't feel like doing exactly the same thing again this year. It doesn't feel right. I want change but don't want to upset anybody. Nor disappoint them if they like what they see already. Nor do I want to bore them.

How can one improve on my blog's (alleged) template perfection? ;-) By gilding the lily? Whitewashing the coal? All psychedelic colours and flashing lights? It's no longer the 60s of my youth. So grow up! What if I don't want to grow up? I ride a tricycle with orange spoke reflectors, a mirror and a bell. I wear shorts every day and ride backwards and forwards though puddles. Hmm. Better not act like a bull in a china shop then. Something might get broken.

 I still feel the need for a new theme. I'd love to have an autumnal beech wood but it isn't autumn all year. There is no facility for changing the backgrounds month by month. It's full on WYSIWYG on blogspot. Change the slightest thing and the whole thing changes by magic. Mostly black magic in my case. Nothing evil. More like "seen through a glass darkly." :-)

So? What to do? Watch this space. Oh, and Happy New Year, everybody!

Later: It drizzled lightly all the way round. Fortunately it was also very mild. So I wore the thinnest jacket once I'd warmed up and stayed comfortable. Lots more fireworks lying about. They'll become compost before they are removed. Denmark has slowly become a linear compost heap. Large puddles everywhere too. The good news is that I have sprained my hand while trying to lift a rugby ball-sized rock out of the ground. The bad news is that it makes braking and gear changing very painful. Only 12 miles.

This barn or shed is in a rather sorry state with added, cast-iron windows.

2nd 42F, 5C, breezy, sunny, mild. Quite a nice day for a ride. Except for the stiff breeze on the way back. My hand and hip are better today. A racing cyclist overtook me so I tried to stay with him at a safe distance. I cranked it up to 20mph but couldn't maintain it. I was soon panting like a shunting engine.

I played in the deep puddles on the lanes again. Great fun! The best thing about mudguards is being able to lean-in on corners. As usual on a trike. The very first corner from home always got me when the roads were wet. It is downhill so I always have a good bit of speed on by then. That sudden, icy coldness through the shorts as a stripe of wet was thrown up by the inside wheel! Yeuch! :-) Only 16 miles.

3rd 38F, 3C, overcast, almost dark even at 8:15am. A storm is forecast for later and overnight. If I can get out early enough I'll miss the worst of the winds and rain. I left at about 8.30 with the wind already stronger than hoped for and all my lights twinkling away.

Not bad at first with the side wind. Though the middle leg was much worse. I was down to 9 then 8 then 7mph at times. I must have been pedalling too slowly because my knees started complaining. The repaired cadence computer has given up again. I ought to give it an absolute last chance with a new battery. Yesterday's visit to a cycle shop in another town suggests I wont get any change from £70 for a Cadence Sigma. I'll just have to do without and guess. Just as I have done for decades.

I was cruising easily at 20mph later on. Perfect timing too as it didn't start raining until I was within half a mile of home. 21 miles isn't bad for such a blowy day.

I have tried various background images to replace the cloudy sky on my blog. None seems to work as well as the original. I like the mix of light and dark. Which suggests the constantly changing nature of the weather. Unless I am suddenly inspired, I'll leave the blog appearance alone for the moment.

For those who are unaware of it: The blog's basic colour scheme matches Mr Higgins' paintwork. Mr Higgins being my much-modernised, 1954 Higgins 'Ultralite' racing/touring trike. My daily ride, shopping basket and imaging platform. (Which just means I carry a compact camera everywhere)

My usual patch is mostly around south west Fyn. The central island of Denmark's three, main landmasses. Though I routinely cover most of the left half of the island of Fyn and beyond.  I am an Englishman and rapidly approaching retirement age. Living here in very modest, rural exile.I choose a new target for my ride each day. This usually means a suitably distant, rural village supermarket. Since each supermarket belongs to a different chain this gives scope for a wide variation in shopping. Since no two shops carry the same stock.  

On the face of it this all sounds incredibly boring. I could simply take the car and do a week's shopping. This, however,  is not remotely the point of the exercise. Which is to maintain the desire to go out every day to achieve a reasonable, average mileage. Variation of my routes is vital to maintaining interest. When the weather is cold or wet it doesn't take much for the average cyclists to call it a rest day. I choose to see rest days as the failure of my tactics to keep riding.

Riding the trike gives me a reason to go on. Not least, it gets me off the computer. Where I spend a ridiculous number of hours polishing my blogs and participating in various forums.

My photography is another layer in my armour against boredom and apathy. Maintaining the mileage chart is another. Each avenue reinforces the other to keep me interested and active. The images usually need to be slightly cropped and adjusted for light and contrast. More hours spent more usefully than passively watching TV. Which I rarely do unless there is something particularly interesting to watch. I literally hate most TV entertainment programmes. So I desperately need something to escape from it to avoid terminal boredom.

Mr Higgins currently sports 27 gears. Trykit 2-wheel drive. Narrow high pressure tyres. Mudguards all round and a Brooks Professional saddle. Last year, we averaged 20 miles per day to reach 7,500 miles. Rather less than the 9k miles in the previous year. My name is Chris. I haven't ridden a bike in over two years. One day at a time. :-)

It could almost be Wales.

4th 40-42F, 5-6C, still severe gales from the overnight storm, overcast. I was lulled into a false sense of security by the initial tailwind. So I set off on an exaggerated loop to my supermarket goal. After the next turn the side wind was incredibly strong. I was fighting for every yard to stay on the road. If this is what they mean by stabilizers I want a refund! A chap on a bike up ahead was using the whole width of the road just to stay upright. Luckily there was very little traffic.

I held a one-sided
discussion on the reason for the total lack of hedges as I tried to close the gap. When I finally overtook him it started raining. Then it hailed. Then it rained so hard I was rapidly soaked to the skin again. The water hanging from the brim of my helmet was sloshing back and forth. Making me feel distinctly sea-sick.

I climbed off at the supermarket feeling like a half-drowned, day-glo rat. I was given some funny looks by mid morning pensioners, out shopping. One of the staff wished me "good day". I told him it wasn't so far: "Ikke endnu!" He gave me a funny look too!

There was an inch of hail lying along the road as I pressed on towards home. The sky was almost black up ahead but fortunately it was travelling across my intended path. So was carried across the entire horizon long before I reached it.

Now the wind was on my other side. So I was fighting to avoid being blown under passing traffic. There were a few large lorries throwing up huge amounts of spray but it was mostly cars on this stretch. Sensibly, most gave me a wide berth. The wind was so strong it blew me dry again. As I arrived home the sun came out! My wife said it hadn't rained at all. She wouldn't believe me when I told her it was hell out there! I'm sure she thinks I enjoy this shopping lark. 18 miles. 

5th 40F, steady winds over 20mph, gusting to over 40mph, overcast with rain forecast until lunchtime. I think I'll wait until after lunch where there is a clear window and the wind reducing. The eternal optimist left at 10am into a fierce headwind and hardly went over 10mph. It rained on me enough to soak through to the skin. My Thinsulate gloves and hat were sopping wet too. I warmed up in a bike shop. Window shopping from the inside!

I expected a helping tailwind back but by then the wind had dropped considerably. Half way home it started raining so hard it sounded just like a tent as it pattered on my sopping wet, Belstaff, Cyclone jacket.

Two soakings in one morning is excessive even by my standards. I have never seen the roads and fields so wet. Standing water lying everywhere with no respect for boundaries. Many of the lanes had constant streams flowing down the hills. I have been looking at cycling rain jackets in various bike shops but they are very silly prices. With doubtful breathability judging by online reviews. It was too windy for my voluminous cape today. So I left it in the bag. 21 fairly soggy miles.

The Tricycle Association website has a link to an old British Pathe News film of a 1960 tricycle race. Not one of them has anywhere near the correct saddle height!

The Tricycle Association - News

Use full screen if you can.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


  1. Great picture, and nice to see a rare glimpse of the man on the trike. Also excellent to see that the mudguards are getting good use! Safe tricycling for 2012!

  2. Hi Steve

    Thanks very much. If only I could train Mr Higgins to smile for the camera! He always looks so cross! ;-)

    The roads have been wetter than I can ever remember. With huge puddles covering the minor roads at times. The freedom to ride through standing water is great fun! Sometimes I even go back and do it several times! :-)

    Happy New Year!