20 Dec 2012

16th December 2012


16th 37F, +3, still fully dark at 8am., misty and still. Neither of my bike computers is working and the steering is up the creek. I slackened off the head bearings and re-tightened the lock nut. The trike is still jerking instead of steering. It felt cold at first but I soon warmed up and started taking things off. The Aesse jacket was just too warm today. I shopped then tootled about the country lanes trying to add some miles. The roads were mostly clear on the carriageways but still clogged along the edges and the cycle paths. I was damp from head to toe by the time I returned with a three bag load of shopping.  All the supermarkets were open and busy today despite it being Sunday. Probably trying to capture some Christmas trade. Still only 20 miles.

17th 38F, +3C, grey, damp, very misty at first but clearing. The thaw continues. I managed a quick trip to the shops for 12 more miles.

18th 37F, +3C, grey, overcast, misty, breezy. I wore the Sealskinz gloves and they were too cold most of the time. I ought to limit them to 40F minimum.The computer was working again but the cadence sensor cable is still broken. The chain is brown with rust from the salted roads. I put a lot more oil on it to keep it going until the worst of the weather is over. Some of the gears are a mess because of the knackered chain and altering the cable tension. 22 miles.

19th 34F, +1C, almost still, heavy grey overcast. I wore the thin polyester gloves under the Sealskinz and my hands were fine. Only 8 miles.

A Christmas shopping trip in the car provided a pair of Shimano Ventura heavy duty winter overshoes in size XXXL (EU46-48!) These were meant as a Christmas present but were tested to a trial fitting, at home, to avoid disappointment on the big day. It seems that Shimano works in a parallel universe where size 48 really means size 42½ with a following wind.

Despite several broken nails and a terrific struggle, over a 20 minute battle of several rounds, I only managed to get one on over my left, size 45, Bontrager, MTB 'Racing' shoe. These overshoes were obviously aimed at the road crowd. Those who insist on wearing heel-less, flat soled, narrow pumps more suitable for ballet than stomping the aisles of rural supermarkets. Alas, they will have to go back. The overshoes, not the supermarkets. Nor the roadies. A check of online reviews shows they are aimed at a wide range of shoes. Just not in my size! And no comments about Shrek sizes in footwear, thank you very much!

20th 34F, +1C, light breeze, cloud clearing slowly. Hopes of some sun. It feels perishing out there! There was some weak sunshine but it was never warm. Thought I'd make an effort today. Lots of birds of prey flying about and a gaggle of noisy Whooper Swans. 28 miles.

21st 32F, 0C, windy, overcast and grey with blue just beginning to show. The snow on the fields is reduced to patches. My back is aching from handling stove fuel yesterday. It was already complaining after shovelling snow for the last few days. I finally escaped after lunch. The wind was strong and cutting against my face as I rode home in the dark along the main roads..

 The batteries in the Smart lights have finally given up. Fortunately I had taken a couple of spare rear lights in my bag. Neither had a hook fitting so I had to hold one in my gloved hand and then hold it behind my back when cars were coming up behind me. Had either of them had a hook type fitting I could have hung it from the saddle bag loop provided for just this very purpose. Ironically, I had two light clamps already fitted to the Higgins mudguard stays but neither matched the lights I had with me. Why can't they standardise and use hook type fittings. You can hang a hook shape over almost anything. Even a bit of cord if necessary. Grrr? 19 miles.

22nd 31F, 0C, very windy, overcast, bitterly cold. The wind chill factor was nasty today. A snowstorm is forecast from this evening until tomorrow. A complete stranger climbed out of his car at a supermarket and asked it it wasn't too cold for cycling? I replied "Never!" and he laughed. A goodly wodge of shopping today. Including 6 litres of organic milk. Enough for the holidays. 15 miles.

23rd 31F, 0C, severe, gusty gales, blizzards, spindrift and drifting! Fortunately the snow and wind are lighter here than further north. I have to go out but may use the car. It is no fun riding straight into a 50 mph wind full of ice particles!

24th 38F, 4C, still and clear sky, becoming breezy and misty later. The main roads were clear but the lanes were still covered in crunchy snow and ice. I managed to get the trike sideways a couple of times.The sun has come out now and the mist disappeared again. There was a digger busy clearing snow on one stretch. It was quiet in the shops. Only 10 miles.

25th 38F, 4C, calm after the overnight storm, clearing to brightness. Most of the snow was washed away by the rain.

Merry Christmas to anybody reading this. I had a Cateye Cadence (wired) computer as a present from my wife but the battery was completely flat. 0.7V instead of 3V. Most computers have a little slip of plastic to isolate the battery during storage to stop it being drained. Not this one. All my other computers use larger batteries and I have no spares amongst the dozens on assorted cards! Should I go out in search of a new battery on Christmas day? Risking my life (and assorted limbs) amongst all those drunken drivers? Eeney-meeny-miny-no... Another rest day.

26th 41F, 5C, sunshine and showers with a stiff SW wind are forecast. Still pitch black outside at nearly 8am. Not even properly light at 9am with a heavy grey overcast. I have some chocolate calories to burn off. Not a bad day with a highly variable wind and occasional weak sunshine. It only started raining properly as I rode the last couple of miles. Not many supermarkets open today.

The SealSkinz gloves were fine on a 40F day like today. Wearing the Aldi jacket was a bit sweaty so I removed the cycling cardigan. I was lucky to find a battery for my new bike computer after trying half a dozen other places. So now it is working properly I need to fix it on the trike.

I left the computer sitting on my desk and it still hasn't turned itself off after several hours. I checked the sensors with the spoke magnet to ensure it was not still waiting for further set-up instructions. I think I may have a duff one!

Nobody is ever going to believe this but I saw a jet black buzzard today. Not in the air, as previously seen nearer home, but perched low on a roadside tree. We exchanged stares and I rode on. I was wearing orange sunglasses to cope with the gloomy overcast but I still can't see how they can make a normally brown bird look coal black all over! Other brown birds don't look black! I have seen a pair of smaller, black, birds of prey on a nearby lane several times. Larger than a Crow, or Rook, but smaller than a Buzzard. This solitary bird was as big as any Buzzard. There is a Black Kite but none of the pictures online show it as anything but dull to dark brown. This bird was completely black with a shiny black beak. 24 miles.

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