1 Mar 2012

1st March 2012



March 1st 42F, 6C, breezy, heavy overcast. More wind. More grey. Just another day. Neither hot not cold. I took off the Aldi jacket and put on the even thinner Giordano. I came home with a huge red weal across my forehead. A bit like  Frankenstein's monster. Failure to adjust helmet headband between changing hats! I tried to adjust my shoe cleats but the screws were well rusted in. (despite being well greased as new) I wanted more clearance from the new cranks after polishing patches on the old ones. The new cranks are a different shape so may escape such damage. 3 shops, 16 miles.

A flock of swans and dozens of geese relax on a flooded field by a quiet road.
The geese are sitting on the grass bank beyond the water.

2nd 40-47F, 5-8C, breezy, mild, clearing to full sun. The windmills were standing still first thing but it felt like a headwind for the first 8 miles. After that it was mostly in my favour. A superb day for a ride! I was riding without a jacket most of the time. A heavy load of shopping again but I was climbing well. 30 miles today.

I had a pleasant chat with a lady who had seen me out on my trike. She, and her group of cycling friends, were intending to ride their bikes down to Paris! They were well in training with a ride of 50km (30 miles) every other day.

3rd 33-43F, 1-6C, windy, clearing to full sunshine. Overnight frost had left the grass white and the puddles iced over. I messed up the wind direction completely. Going with the wind when it was still gentle and then struggling back when it had picked up. I was so tired after 28 miles I came home for a coffee and rolls before going out again to finish the shopping. At least I should have some more pretty pictures.

 Spring has truly sprung. With the birds much more vociferous. The lawns and verges are suddenly full of crocuses, snowdrops and wood anemones. The woods echo to woodpeckers. I saw and heard my first skylarks and greenfinches. There were shell ducks on a field pond. 

The Aldi jacket was doing a good job against the cold wind. The SealSkinz 'Activity' gloves were cold at first and then sweaty later. When I say cold I don't mean my hands were cold. Certainly not aching. The right hand just felt as if the glove was cold. Nor were they wet inside. It was just that my hands felt sticky when I took off the gloves to take photographs. 7 miles later. Wind still very strong.

It doesn't look like it but this large, hairy object was over 6' tall!

4th March 36-38F, 2-3C, blowing hard, heavy overcast. 18mph steady wind base with gusts to 26mph. I had better think more carefully about my route today.

This sink hole has appeared in a field near the road. Somebody is throwing soil in to try and fill it in. Now about 20' across and at least 10' deep. The edges are too step for the critical slip angle of the sandy soil. Cracking is showing all around the perimeter so it may grow much larger. The blue string is comforting.

It was cold riding into the wind and not much warmer with it. The Aesse jacket would have been a better choice today. I wore the Aldi.

My hands were never warm today in the SealSkinz 'Activity' gloves. I would have been better off wearing my dirt cheap supermarket gloves. I don't know what it is about these expensive gloves. They are very windproof but have absolutely no warmth of their own. My hands were uncomfortably cold for a lot of the time. Which is absolutely ridiculous for the asking price. The manufacturers claim these have some insulation. God knows how they'd cope with real freezing temperatures. Though today's wind chill factor was -15C this is not remotely the same thing as riding in -15C temperatures!

14kg of shopping = 31lbs. It made the steering twitchy. With vicious speed wobble when I relaxed my grip on the bars. The good tail wind made it effortless coming home. Then it started to snow as I unloaded Mr Higgins. Only 18 miles today.

5th 34-38F, 1-3C, windy, dark grey. As it felt cold and windy I thought I'd try polyester jogging gloves under the SealSkinz. Not a good idea. Despite there being lots of room my hands were aching with the cold. I took of the thin gloves after the first stop and was more comfortable after that. Perhaps my hands warmed up going up that long hill? I nearly lost it on the following descent! Fierce side gusts nearly pushed me off the road at over 20mph. I was hanging off the side so far I couldn't pedal. Then a huge lorry overtook me and I was nearly sucked under.  I hate main roads!

After that I sought out the narrow lanes with high hedges. The wind was cold and strong as I fought my way back across country. After my shopping I had a tail wind and was climbing one hill at 23mph! Even Mr Higgins was impressed! The Aesse jacket was no better than the Aldi in these conditions. It has more warmth than the Aldi but is not quite as windproof. The Aesse just feels more comfortable thanks to the thicker, softer cloth. Though beautifully close fitting it gives more than the stiffer Aldi. The Aldi is a thin shell and feels like it. If the Aesse had pit zips it would be a much better garment for a much wider range of temperatures and conditions. Having underarm vents makes the Aldi wearable. 21 miles.

6th 30-36F, -1+2C, windy, full sun. 23-25mph with the wind. On my hands and knees coming home. Hands cold going. Okay coming back. Toes cold on the way back. 18 miles. 

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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