18 May 2012

18th May 2012

18th 52-59F, 11-15C, breezy, sunny periods. The forecast was cloudy all day but it was mostly sunny. I wanted to do another 60 mile ride to test my stamina. So at nearly 8am I headed off towards Faaborg. All the while hoping the forecast headwind was still light. Having got there I stripped down to jersey, shorts and mitts for the long climb back out. I turned north and uphill with the breeze behind me. Following my planned route all the way up to the motorway and main E-W road at Skallebølle. It seemed a terrible waste not to take full advantage of the south-easterly wind.

There were some fairly serious climbs along the way: From Hårby up to Jordløse seems to go on and on. Then the longer and steeper Svanninge Bakke drag out of Fåborg. Which continues on, ever upwards, despite my earlier turn-off towards Vester Hasinge. Then there's the climb up to Verninge from the soggy Nr. Broby marshes. Where I saw lots of gorgeous Shellduck and Oystercatchers. Finally I repeated the long climb from Tommerup Station up to Skallebølle. Where the motorway runs close to the old main road. The latter is furnished with separate cycle paths running alongside. It also forms a handy belt for the island of Fyn on the maps.

There is only one "bump" along the main road going up to the Vissenbjerg traffic lights. Then the long descent leading to the mainly flat stretch to Grønnemose. Where I turned sharply straight into the wind for the last 10-12 miles. The wind had built up to about 20mph making it tiring going. I was already starving by then! No excuses! Just moaning about my inability to parallel process the need for a very necessary snack. While wandering the isles of a modern supermarket. Most of which have even more shelf space set aside for sticky sweets and sugary snacks than they do for veg, fruit or booze. 

My quadriceps were on fire as I struggled off Mr Higgins in the first supermarket car park. 20 minutes hobbling around the shops in Årup and then the final leg home. 5 hours exactly to do 58 miles (including stops). 4.5 hours of actual movement according to the Ventus logger.  Exactly 4 hours of active pedalling according to the converted cadence computer. The i-gotU GPS didn't record anything. Fortunately the Ventus did. Though only 58 miles. My bike computer said 61 miles! Where do I queue for my refund? :-)

Slightly more amusing(?) was the revelation that having left home and completed my circuitous ride I had gained (or lost?) several hundred feet in altitude. So said the Ventus route map altitude data.  You may also think that 11,500 feet of ascent and 12,00 feet of descent places me somewhere on the bottom of the North sea. I can confirm that my relatively new MTB footwear remains perfectly dry. 11.5k ft of ascent, in 58 miles, in a country renowned for its glacial flatness may also seem like a slight exaggeration.

I can confirm that according to the excellent and free Danish mapping and aerial imagery service (Grundkort Fyn) I would be 68metres above sea level in my sock feet when standing on the lawn. While according to the Ventus G730 GPS logger I am at least twice that height. As I have no real head for heights, when not on firm ground,  I decided to explore further (online). It seems that one can take vertical GPS information with a large pinch of North Sea salt. At least as far as these relatively cheap commercial GPS loggers are concerned.

One thing I do admire is the apparent learning ability of these clever little toys/devices. As new, they tended to wobble off to each side of the road with gay abandon. Nowadays they quite often stick to it over much of my route. Without them I would not have a record of my, now well over 700, individual daily rides recorded as reloadable files. Now, if only I could get the two loggers to agree, on my distances travelled, I would be in GPS heaven. Give or take a few hundred feet in altitude.

BTW: Except for a few protrusions, the island of Fyn is, very roughly, 40 miles wide x 40 miles high on the map. 65km x 65km.

19th 50-65F, 10-18C, breezy, overcast, light rain. The rain cleared to sunny periods. I took off the Aldi jacket, cap and gloves in Assens to put on the thin Giordano. A mile later I was so cold, from fighting a headwind, that I had to put it all back on again! There are huge numbers of birds about now. The verges are full of Forget-me-nots. (little bright blue flowers) A tremendous number of Dandelions too. Whole fields have turned bright yellow. Just a gentle 30 mile shopping trip. Brought back a large bag of sewing compost tied on top of a load of shopping.

20th 70F, 21C, breezy, mostly sunny. First warm day of the year and I heard the first cuckoo today. I plastered myself with suntan cream. Which may explain why my eyes were watering again. I went up the minor coast roads to Nørre Aaby via a circuitous route. Half a dozen large groups of clubmen were out training today. It may just have been coincidence that they were all in the same area but separated by time on the road. You can see the leaders of one group in the image above. There were a few solo cyclists about too but they were not stragglers. Lovely day for a ride except for the wind. Haven't done any proper shopping yet. 44 miles. 10 more miles pm. 293 miles this week.

 21st 69F, 21C, breezy, warm sunshine. Oh what a perfect day. Not! I was going to ride down Thinggyden (lane) to Ebberup supermarket. But decided at the last moment I just couldn't be arsed to waste time on the vicious dog at the farmer's Ebberup Maskinstation. Nor its moronic owner when he finally got off his arse to come and shout uselessly at his damned dog. As it continued to threaten me on the public highway. Just as it had done repeatedly over several years.

Ebberup Maskinstation

So I went along the noisy, usually windy and busy main road instead. Enjoying the pleasures of the blind rush hour drivers as they brushed past me at 30mph over the legal speed limit, as usual. Speed limit has no absolutely meaning in Danish. The road is dead straight for miles and so wide that three buses could easily pass each other at the same time and still leave room for a trike in each of the clearly demarcated bicycle lanes!

As it was beautiful, bright sunshine I thought I'd take a picture of the Øxnebjerg Mølle as I approached. It is painted black so needs the right light to make the most of it. The moment I entered the short drive to the windmill I was attacked by a vicious, grossly overweight, black Labrador. It was barking like a lunatic, frothing at the mouth and lunging at my thigh! I couldn't get off because it was too near me and might have taken a big chunk out of my leg as I struggled to unclip! So I kept turning away from it as I rode around in circles on the loose gravel. Just trying to put the trike between me and the bløødy dog!

Lilac hedges are remarkably commonplace on Fyn.
Not a great shot due to the high contrast.

Then the moronic owner came wandering out of a shed and told me her dog was harmless! I was then advised to start the day with smile! And why did I not carry something with which to feed her dog? To which I retorted that it was a perfect day until I met her dog and its idiot owner.

I wonder whether the Assens Kommune (Council) knows she lets a vicious dog run loose at a local tourist attraction? They seem proud enough of it to mention it on their website. It it also shown on various historic windmill resources online. They even have open days. No mention of vicious dogs anywhere. Since I am a guest in this country I seriously doubt (from previous experience) anybody would be interested in a formal complaint. Least of all the police! But there is always Google Earth!

Øxnebjerg Mølle. Mind the vicious black Labrador!

Having escaped, I quite enjoyed the novelty of the rest of my ride. As the wind picked up from the completely opposite direction to the usual South Westerlies. Which made some stretches much quicker than usual. Even allowing a route I would normally ignore as it was uphill and usually straight into the wind. The climb went very well! Almost exhilarating.

As I entered one sleepy rural village with a very wide, straight road I saw a lone car approaching from a considerable distance. But it seems I had no right to be taking up his private tarmac. So had to be duly punished. By having my arm brushed by his wing mirror as he sped past at well over the (completely imaginary) speed limit. I assume the driver was showing off to his equally psychotic passenger. Why else would they tolerate such sociopathic behaviour without looking back to see if I had survived?

Or was it one of the many, habitual driving drunks? The ones we read about in the papers? Those who drive while drunk with total impunity until caught at a random police check point. Then, for the umpteenth time, they are fined a pittance for driving while disqualified. Then go straight out and drink drive until stopped again. And again. And again. Am I having fun yet? 30 miles. What a lovely day for a ride!

22nd 68-74F, 20-23C, windy, sunny with thin, high cloud. Windier than yesterday. Just another day going to the shops. The i-gotU GPS logger is misbehaving.

A delightful old thatched house. Still for sale beside the main road.
Access is all but lethal up a steep ramp from the yard on a blind corner. 

A fascinating detail of this incredibly winding, country road is the absence of speed limit relaxation signs from the north! Somehow the road engineers completely forgot to erect such a sign! So, officially, no driver may exceed 50kph (30mph) going south from 50kph/30mph Ørsted. For at least ten miles through several speed-limited villages! But not this one! 

Those going north may legally drive at 80kph/50mph as far as Ørsted. A large number of drivers cannot stay on their own side of the road on the many sharp corners. Despite endless double white lines. I have seen at least 50 vehicles leave the road completely in the last 10 years. It is treated like a Scalextric track by most drivers. It's crackers! 

I was able to find some "proper" handlebar tape in a bike shop in Odense. They had two rolls left of traditional, sticky backed, black cotton tape. So I bought both. At another shop they had some stock of black, track mitts in real leather. Just like real track mitts used to be. Sadly they had nothing in Size OU3. (OrangUtan XXXL) I liked proper leather mitts in my youth. (in cream not black) They eventually moulded themselves to ones hands and were as tough as..  er .. old boots. They could even be used as a brake on the front tyre in an emergency.

Right next door is another charming old house, this one has a placard showing 1777. Also up for sale. Both are hideously close to the heavy traffic. Which thunders up and down this road ever since cheapo, car-type, GPS units showed the East European, transcontinental lorry drivers where the handy, short-cuts lie. 

Serious transport companies use specialist HGV, GPS units. Which are much more expensive but show only the suitable routes for their large and heavy vehicles. Oddly, no EU laws seem to apply to this utterly ridiculous situation. They care about bent bananas but not bending the rules on traffic? I suppose they'd argue that it it might hamper open trade, people trafficking, or something like that.

This road would be infinitely worse were it not for a wonderfully low railway bridge on a tight hairpin bend. Situated about 8 miles up the road at Aarup. So many HGV drivers were coming off the motorway, trying to use this short-cut south, that the kommune had to erect height sensors on posts. With loads of flashing, orange warning lights and large exit road signs. To turn the heavy goods vehicles off the road before they met the low bridge. Hopefully sending them back in a circle of minor roads. Back to the motorway. 

So keen were many drivers to go south, by any means possible, that even the farmers on this detour had to erect GPS ERROR signs in their farm entrances! Anything to stop huge, 6 axle lorries trying to use their yards as short cuts to the south! 

In their infinite wisdom the road planners put the only south-going (new) motorway on the far side of Odense. Another 20 miles further on the motorway. Handy for heavy traffic coming from the East. (Sweden and all of Eastern Europe) But highly irritating for those coming from southern European motorways. (France, Holland, Germany, et al) There really are no sensible, south-going routes on Fyn. Apart from the new motorway to Svendborg. 

Thanks goodness there is still no bridge between northern Germany and southern Fyn. Or even from South Jutland to Assens! Otherwise the island would be completely swamped in intercontinental lorries! All taking a short cut. Which didn't involve driving half the length of Jutland to the Fredericia-Middelfart bridge and then East. Which they have to do now. Assens is quite close to SE Jutland and would seem an ideal place to put a bridge. 

I have marked the map with various road-bridge options.(in red) Fortunately, for us, there are no SW-NE motorways, or even existing main roads, on Fyn. None which would make any of these potential short-cuts viable. The most southerly route marked is a planned bridge. Direct from Germany to south Sjælland. Safely bypassing Fyn altogether and likely to earn a vast fortune in toll fees to pay for the huge building costs. Imagine the enormous savings in time and distance for the intercontinental traffic going east!

These days track mitts are all like Victorian lady's, opera gloves! Far too thin to be useful for anything. Particularly in a crash! I'd like to see the fixie craze bring back proper, tough leather, track mitts. Nothing visible so far. Wherever I look it's all GripGrab and other flimsy little things. Probably aimed at "girly" weekend warriors. They are more suited to gentle flower arranging. (the gloves not the weekend warriors!) :-)

Back in the golden days of cycling, road mitts had crocheted string backs and leather palms. Half a century ago I preferred all leather. When my all-leather cycling mitts became too awful to live with they were washed in soap flakes. As used for real cycling shorts: Real wool and real chamois. 23 miles.

23rd 66-72F, 19-22C, windy, full sun. Found a cheap pair of cycling mitts in Aldi. £5. They should last a few months until it turns cold again. I'm trying another pair of cycling sunglasses to see if my eyes watering is due to my darkest pair of glasses. It seems to have worked too.

Why does Chinese plastic stink so badly? I was going to buy a cheap picnic cool bag in Netto but they stank to high heaven! Now I shall have to find another way to bring frozen stuff back from the more distant shops. I sniffed the top of a cycling bottle and that stank too! I'm using a recyclable, mineral water bottle for the moment. Only 24 miles. I couldn't carry enough water to go any further and had frozen stuff in the bag. ;-)

Pm. Had a closer look at my rear tyres after noticing some canvas on the tread. Fortunately (?) I found this cut and swapped the damaged one for an old tyre: I mentioned this cut a while back but hadn't noticed the damage it was doing to the sidewall in the meantime. The original cut was dead straight and closed up so must have been the result of a knife attack. These tyres were 700 x 25 Bontrager Racelite. Bought in October of last year. They have almost 5000 miles on them now. Given that I have been along a few rough, farm tracks I don't think there's very much to complain about. 

The Race X-Lite 700 x 23 were not reliable for my use and at least an ounce heavier than the ordinary Racelite 25mm! I punctured far too many times with pinch flats. Nor would they fit evenly on the Mavic CXP22 rims. Not even when I lubricated the rim and tyre bead. A complete waste of (my) money IMO. I looked at them again and was not even tempted to put a few miles on them until I can get some new tyres. I never liked the silly asymmetric red stripe either. As if someone was desperate to make their mark.

Which brings up the perennial problem: Should I choose another make of tyre? I have wasted hours online trying to find an alternative. Cheaper, lighter, lower rolling resistance, puncture proof.. Surely it's not too much to ask? :-) 

Click on any image for an enlargement.


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