20 Jun 2013

20th June 2013


You never know when  you'll really need that puncture repair outfit! This rather weak joke is all about the Ovethi tyre specialist vehicle at the front of the vast wind turbine mast carrier. 

20th 64F, 18C, a grey, breezy start. Sun and 25F warmth are promised. Somebody forgot to cancel the mist and low cloud! Grey, misty and humid. My sunglasses and the hair on my arms and legs were constantly wet. Only 65F at 2pm. Well short of the "cross my heart and hope to die" DMI forecast. The inversion layer made the motorway traffic incredibly noisy at great distances. Normally the roar of tyres is only noticeable about a mile or two away. I could easily hear the racket from twice that distance today. I don't know how people tolerate the noise. It must be exhausting having that as a constant background. Like living very near a weir or a huge waterfall, I suppose. But without that warm feeling that it might flood at any time.

I saw a chap loading a robotic/remote controlled grass cutter onto a trailer. It had just finished clipping the grass strips between the road and the cycle path. Very neatly too, I might add. Unfortunately I was too late to see it in action. I suppose the cutting width was about 4'. So there were some economies of scale compared with the usual push-along, motor mowers. But without the usual damage caused by "overenthusiastically driven" ride-on mowers. I wonder how it copes with posts and other road furniture?

There seems to be quite a lot of tidying up going on at the moment. I passed a team painting the decades old, concrete traffic barriers along the sides of the road. Going from dull, mossy grey to startling white is a bit of an eye opener. Fortunately the barriers are only situated where there are particular hazards. Such as wet marshes and ponds right beside the road. Or where houses are particularly vulnerable to attack by overambitious drivers. Now all we need is a team of several hundred thousand specialist pot-hole fillers to finish off.

Rant/ You have to laugh when the government announces a new and foolishly expensive cycle path with great pomp and fanfare. They spend millions, only to leave millions of lethal potholes sitting there like anti-personnel mines for innocent cyclists. It's the deliberate blindness to the hideous and obvious truth which irritates me most. It's the same all round the world judging from the news. It really is no wonder there are riots and Arabs Springing up everywhere. Brazil must have a lot of potholes too.

And another thing: They spend huge sums rebuilding a school with all mod cons. Then leave the damaged cycle path and pavement, which pass right in front of it, looking like a tank training ground. All that expense, vast machinery and manpower and they cannot afford a single chapess with a broom and shovel to clear away the mud and stones at the entrance to the building site? They could  throw the biggest rocks into the echoing chasms in the cycle path! Do building tradesmen never ride bicycles? I think we can safely assume that local government officials are barred from cycling in case they hurt themselves. /Rant :-)

25 miles of reckless abandon: Submitting myself to the fates of the open road and equally bumpy cycle paths. That bloke, Feng Shui, had it mostly right! He said it was bad Chi to tricycle on the outside of corners with too much camber and too many holes.

21st 61F, 16C, overcast, breezy... raining? It is supposed to be dry this morning but wet for the next week. The DMI are threatening more cloudbursts and thunderstorms. I had better break out the flotation devices and paddles for crossing all of those flooded potholes. Not to mention a tinfoil hat to protect myself from those 18mm hailstones! There is no hailstone proof cycle helmet standard that I am aware of.  Can't shelter under Ash trees because they have all gone in the petrochemical smog.

Wouldn't it be wonderfully ironic if the Danish Prime Minister threw a few of her vast collection of priceless designer handbags into the bottomless pits. Just to help cyclists pass in the illusion of safety. But that's a bit like hoping Imelda Marcos would shoe the poor.

God knows what HC Anderson would make of today's very strange world. Though nothing has really changed since "The little match girl." Except for all the people trafficking and the size of televisions. Fortunately for us, the new plague of teenage zombies are all welded to their mobile phones. Imagine the danger to life and lumpkin if the network went down! There'd be a catastrophic increase in demand for neck braces and sun visors! A whole generation would wake from their electronically induced slumbers to find the world had not missed them at all. Civilisation, as they knew it, would have been an empty fantasy of patented celeb culture and free downloads. (All paid for by their parents as usual)

I can't see them being happy about waking up to the 21st century and sniffing the smog. They might start demonstrating about the potholes in the cycle paths. Then who knows where that might lead? Turkey is inflamed over a mere shopping centre in the park. Still no mention on the news of the loss of cycle paths to the bulldozers. Though I'm sure it must be at the bottom of all that unrest.

It was much the same half a century ago. The feared Hippy youth riots were only quelled by the wholesale re-distribution of polo necks, freedom from compulsory haircuts and overpriced, warped vinyl Beatles LPs. Bicycles were suddenly unwanted relics of the dark, satanic 50s. All short-back-and-sides haircuts and the district nurse freewheeling downhill in neutral in her Morris Minor with intent. All swept away before a tidal wave of Minis and urban motorway building in formal worship to the new (Japanese) god Kar. Not to mention the backwash of wholesale corruption. As countless historic town centres were ripped out to make way for backhanders.

Denmark was slightly different to the UK. Nobody who worked for a living could possibly afford the bus fares. So cycling still clung on. Providing an independence and freedom of movement still only seen in the car manufacturer's wildest TV advertising fibs fantasies. Where traffic jams, cycling impediments and "accidents" are all banned before the watershed by international law.

Danish Police shaken by wild drivers on the Helsingør motorway: 1300 caught speeding past roadworks. 720 in one day. An average of 240 speeding offences per hour! 

Politiet rystet: Bilister kører vildt på Helsingørmotorvejen - dr.dk/P4/København/Nyheder/Nordsjælland

[Right click on webpage and select Translate in Chrome]

I was out in the car three days in a row recently on business in Odense. Normally I hardly bother to drive these days. While keeping strictly to the speed limits I was routinely overtaken by every vehicle which approached from the rear. One senior Danish policeman said that he was shocked how speeding laws were completely ignored by other drivers as he drove his own car. I say: "No police present: No traffic crime." Only 167 people were killed on the roads in Denmark last year. The lowest number since 1930. A women on a bicycle was killed by a turning lorry only today.

Just a quick ride for 6 miles between showers. I made it home just before a cloudburst! Just as well I wasn't tempted to stray.

Talking of straying: I was expecting a small package in the post today. It was confirmed despatched mid-afternoon yesterday from a dealer only 50 miles away. Then I remembered we don't get post on Fridays. Nor does Post Danmark deliver any packages on Saturdays. Not according to the last postman I asked. No post at all on Sundays. So, if it comes on Monday, my 29 Danish Kroner/ £3.32 GBP/ $5.31 US  buys me a four day service. That's only 12 ½ miles per day. Hang on though! We don't get any post on Mondays either. So it's probably a 5 day service @ 10 miles average per day. An ancient Greek with a cleft stick, 2000 years ago in silly summer temperatures, could manage that in just a toga and flip-flops when there were no proper roads! Nor any post vans. Online dealers are judged by the speed and quality of their service. Now that's what I call a Danish tragedy!

 22nd 56F, 13C, windy, overcast. Showers promised this morning with continuous rain later. The winds last night were fierce! The trees looked as if a hurricane was blowing.  It must be blowing about 20mph now. More than double that last night. Just a short ride after lunch. I was intending to go further but it started tipping down. So I headed straight home into the wind with huge sprays coming off the tyres. 8 miles.

The package I had been expecting yesterday arrived late today. Somebody must have been curious. Because the padded bag was peeled open along the side enough to look in. If it was the CIA snooping then they must have run out of funds for glue to hide their traces. It can't have been the NSA because they can afford anything they want. (Allegedly) ;-) There wasn't time to send it to GCHQ.  I just hope the snoopers weren't too disappointed to find a set of new cables.

23rd 57F, 14C, bright but cloudy. Showers are forecast all day and for the next week. I'm not used to rain on this scale. Denmark gets a fraction of the rain we had in the western regions of the UK. I have developed a mindset where rain does not loom particularly large. Just as the British develop a mindset that it will probably rain unless they go on a foreign holiday where rain is usually absent. They know instinctively that staying at home will only be punished by more rain.

I distinctly remember going for a long ride in my teens when a thunderstorm broke out a long way from home. I plodded on through the deluge. Constantly afraid that the next flash would turn me to a crisp. Only when I arrived home and leaned against some iron railings was I given a severe jolt. I must have built up quite a static charge.

Even when wet, the tyres would probably protect a rider from lightning. I'm not sure if cyclists are immune from lightning strikes. Though I'd still prefer the speed of getting home on a bike to walking home across the moors. Trikes bring up another problem for the reluctant storm chaser. They spread the ground contact points even more than a bike. Moreover there are three tracks. With no drying effect for the rear tyre from running in the track of the front. It is the difference in potential between points on the ground which catches out the four-legged, non-cycling species. Probably best to stay off the verge then. My fuzzy logic suggests that tarmac is probably safer than wet grass or soil. Or is it? Bare, metal handlebars may also increase the risk even over wet tape. Though I've heard that carbon fibre is a terrific lightning conductor.

Lest you think I'm getting this all out of proportion, I aim to enjoy a few more years of my pensionable years before I become too senile to ride any further. For all my aches and pains cycling has given me more reason to celebrate life than any other of my countless other hobbies and interests over the long decades. My real regret is that I had to wait so long to be able to do it properly. Cycling any real distance requires the correct clothing and riding position and some considerable practice to improve basic fitness. An efficient machine adds to the enormous pleasure of rolling away down the lanes into the all-pervading greenery.

I do have the incredible luck of being fully immersed in the green stuff. Riding to a city is a deliberate choice and provides new scenery and challenges. I exchange foliage for the doubtful benefits of hand-on shopping. Those who must make do with built up areas must leave their drab greyness to refresh the soul with a good dose of the green stuff. I use the term 'soul' in the non-superstitious sense. Many city dwellers must suffer from greenery deprivation. The seasons pass unnoticed as they commute through the dull greyness of the decades. To the pointless destruction of all their waking hours. Until, all too soon, they become too old and fragile to continue their slavery to their quarterly bills.

How will the retirement years be consumed? Yet more TV? Or shuffling to total anonymity in the local supermarket? Waiting endlessly in the doctor's surgery? Or watching the passing traffic from a netted window? Yet we are told that the entire world is moving en-masse towards the dull uniform greyness and the dulling roar of endless city traffic. You'd think the standards for the built-up environment would be taken out of the hands of the corrupt and arrogant wasters and well-proven failures by now. They talk about greening the cities but there's bøøger all sign of it happening on any scale so far.

An amusing example of the possible:

Any "architect" and I use the term loosely, not already growing living green walls up into the stolen skies is really not trying very hard. But what would you expect from any gang of feral urban vandals? Whose avowed task is to make life as awkward and uncomfortable as possible for the unfortunate inhabitants of their visual dross. While they themselves gorge endlessly on their insatiable vanity. Each desperately trying to outdo each other in trying to prove that architecture and art are both absolute proof that time is running backwards.

It is turning grey in my own sky. The first shower has arrived and I have a painful knee from dragging a wheelie dustbin the hundred yards to the corner. The dustbin lorry cannot manage our narrow drive and would damage it with its weight if it tried. I will still try to get out.

It started with drizzle but dried up after a while. Blowing a hard headwind again. Easier on the way back. My knee only hurt when I climbed out of the saddle. So I didn't. The shops were very quiet today. Except for the clomp-clomp of my matronly, MTB shoes. 18 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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