2 Feb 2012

Feb 2nd 2012


Feb 2nd 17-23F, -8-5C, still but becoming breezy, sunny. Light snow flurries soon died out. It was bitterly cold! I could feel my back radiating to the clear sky before I even turned a pedal. Once I was under way, into the breeze, it felt as if it was blowing right through me. My nose and cheeks felt as if they were burning. So I had to cover my face with my gloved hand every time I rode downhill.

After two supermarkets I had to make a downhill emergency stop. A huge, foreign lorry had tried to go under a low railway bridge! GPS fail? Or a cheapskate East European transport company using a car GPS to save pennies?  It was lucky he braked in time but my brakes were useless and I had to put my feet down to stop! A combination of ice and snow and worn brake blocks caught me out. Fortunately the nearest (and only) bike shop was in the next village. So I stopped there to buy new brake blocks for the centre-pull, front brake. The old blocks were worn down to the concealed alloy! My lovely £5 Shimano front wheel rim now has a nasty ring scored in it! Grr!

Having fitted the new BBB blocks I couldn't find a 9mm spanner to fit the cable bridge to slacken it off. The front wheel wouldn't turn! I have no screw adjusters on that brake. I suppose I could have borrowed the correct spanner from the shop but my pride wouldn't let me. I carry a bulging tool kit but no spanner for the cable bridge? Nuts! So I had to replace the old blocks but turned upside down just to get home. My hands were black and aching badly with the cold by now.

Going home was even colder! I kept up a good cadence to try and stay warm. Every time a speeding lorry went the other way it was like a 10 degree drop in temperature. My fingers and toes were cold but not aching too badly.

I was talking to the bike shop owner abut winter gloves. He showed me some Sealzkin Outdoor gloves which he said were popular with scooterists.They felt very nice, roomy but not all bulky like my 40oz Thinsulate.  He also stocked Grip Grab but I can't believe such thin gloves can possibly keep hands warm down to -10C. Both were around 350DKK or about £39+. Too costly to take a risk without carefully checking reviews online first.

I wouldn't care if the Thinsulate were warm enough and weren't so damned stiff and bulky. They make my fingers ache on the brake levers so I can only ride in comfort on the tops. Well, having read a number of reviews it seems most of the bike gloves are pure hype. They are sweaty if waterproof and not warm enough for really cold or wet weather.

I have that already in my sub-£10 Thinsulate 40oz. Which are already a nightmare to launder. The fleece lining has to be pulled out and then reinserted. I use a blunt piece of dowel! If only my hands were smaller I could wear a thinner pair as liners. I'm at the maximum size in Thinsulate already and there is no room for even my thinnest poly gloves. 24 miles.

The trees started snowing at about 11 o'clock.
The sun is already climbing higher.

Back at home I was able to change the brake blocks after slacking off the cable bridge clamping nut. I don't own a 9mm spanner. Though I do have a socket. Working at -5C in the shed is still more pleasant than working outside a bike shop on snow. The new BBB brake blocks are excellent! Sure and progressive stopping even when the brakes are balled up with snow. Highly recommended so far. Though they do make a bit of a rubbery squeal when new.

The cold, salt and light side plate rust meant that I have been struggling to keep the chain quiet. I have been using light, daily applications of thin bicycle oil. So I gave it a really good soaking this afternoon. I also oiled and adjusted the head bearings and oiled the gear changers and bare cables. The picture above tells all about my lack of maintenance or having much care about appearance. The brake cable now needs replacing as it is rusting and beginning to fray.

I'm sorry about the lack of new images. I haven't found anything inspiring to photograph. My hands get very cold when I do. So I just keep going when I would normally stop. Time travel edit: I took some pictures to divide up the older text. 

BTW: My 30/30mBit/s fibre broadband is still working well. Though I am more at the mercy of website server speeds than the actual internet connection speed. I wish I knew why YouTube videos are frequently stalling with the new high speed connection. It doesn't make sense when the old, much slower broadband didn't!

Ever onwards.

3rd 14-19F, -10-7C, about an inch of overnight snow but forecast sunny all day. Still with a gentle breeze building. With a maximum of -5C at lunchtime to look forward to. It's odd, while I have been eating my (home made, organic) muesli at the computer the temperature has continued to fall below 12F and stay there. -11C Brrr. :-)

It didn't feel quite as cold as yesterday. Except on the descents. I wore a finely woven, fleece jacket over the Aesse and all the usual gear. I could still feel the air blowing through the whole lot at first but I soon warmed up.

I tried playing with a scarf to protect my face but it was too awkward. My skiing goggles steamed up immediately I covered my face. So I left the scarf  behind.  The fleece jacket worked remarkably well. Rather surprisingly I didn't overheat. Not even on the long climbs. I had promised myself to take it off if I did get too warm.

The edges of my nostrils are getting sore from being continuously cold and wet. It feels like having blown my nose too often. Except that I don't. I use a finger to close each nostril in turn and blow. I'd need a bed sheet sized handkerchief to cope with the constant stream! Despite the close trim my beard was full of hard ice again today. It is difficult to remove without pain.

I forced myself to take some pictures today as the blog is looking a bit threadbare. The snow on the roads is very odd today. It squeaks loudly as I pedal over it. Rather like rubbing a toy balloon. Probably just the low temperature. It was sticky too with cars dropping huge clumps onto the road at intervals. 

My wife said she is going to staple my bag of biscuits to my forehead if I forget them again. I suppose that makes biscuits my staple diet? (her joke, not mine) No stock in the supermarkets again. I wouldn't be surprised if Fakta go bust. I'm sick of doing the rounds of the half dozen "local" outlets only to find they have no stock in any of them! The same holds true for Netto, Rema1000, Brugsen and Kiwi. They send out their weekly reduced price offers newspapers but have no stock when I ride for miles to get there! False promises = fraudulent advertising IMO! The Danish consumer ministry is only interested in stopping the sale of vitamins and Marmite! 23 miles.

 4th 7.5F-17F, -13C-8C, still, mostly sunny. Very cold on my face at first. I had to pull up the chin of my balaclava over my nose. Or the pain was too excruciating to go on. I wore the fleece jacket over the top of the Aesse jacket again. It provides a nice level of comfort without the usual sweating. The cold air can still be felt pressing right through all the layers but it is not really unpleasant. Coming and going depending on the wind direction and my speed. I can unzip both jackets in the supermarkets to avoid the sauna feeling. The supermarkets still without stock.

Mr Higgins well covered in snow. The rear hubs were solid 4" diameter cylinders of snow for much of the morning.

The snow was plastered up the front of my legs from the front mudguard. It sprays out just behind the fork crown all over my legs and the trike. Very little traffic on the lanes so I used the time and "tobacco filtered" sun to take some pretty photographs. The camera, my hands and brain were all working in slow motion in the cold! Legs rather tired today.

Roads mostly snow covered except for the last short leg by main road. It's mazing how my speed increases the sense of how cold. Only a couple of extra mph and it feels as if the temperature drops like a stone. My face, chest, hands and toes can all feel the difference. 20 miles.

5th 9-17F, -13-8C, still and sky quite clear but clouding over. Last night at bedtime my thermometer showed -2F, -19C. Luckily it has now warmed up to the same as yesterday morning. The forecast is not to rise above -5C. It said that yesterday but it never got above -8C. Light dusting of crumbly overnight snow. It didn't feel quite as cold as yesterday but my toes were cold.

Lots of buzzards floating about today. More tame than usual. One has just landed in the birch outside my window. I saw a jay in the middle of a field. Usually they are a woodland bird around here. A grouse was feeding and then running along the verge. There was no where for it to escape through the hedge. At least I assume it was a female grouse. Fat, buff with a small head and red eyebrows. Lanes still thin, hard packed  snow cover. Main roads much clearer. Only 15 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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