26 Jun 2013

24th June 2013


Those damned windmills! Such an eyesore!  
Haven't they heard of symmetry? ;ø)>

24th 56-62F, 13-17C, breezy, overcast. The promised rain should end quite early. Leaving sunny periods for my usual window for reaching low orbit and the international supermarkets. My knee is feeling better today but I'd better not push it too hard. A helpful wind going but hard work coming back. It only brightened up towards the end.

After swapping my last pair for a larger pair the Tactic-Sport bib shorts were unbelievably superb. Not a moment of discomfort from the seat or the very flexible braces. I was completely unaware of wearing them for the entire journey. Absolutely no sign of dampness after nearly 40 miles and several hours in and out of the saddle. The deeply contoured cushion, pad or chamois is the most comfortable imaginable. The multipanel cloth is nicely snug for support without tightness. The rubber grip strip on the hem of the legs went  unnoticed too.

The pad in the Bontrager Race bibs gets very sweaty indeed after a much shorter ride and begins to irritate the sit bone area after only 30 miles, or even earlier. Probably the damp building up in the seating area. There is no obvious ventilation to the sponge padding despite the contouring of the much thinner foam.

The Tactic-Sports bibs, in combination with the steadily improving Brooks B17 'Special' have safely removed any remaining doubts about my potential range. As long as I can keep pedalling they should stay comfortable. If only the wind would drop I could give them a far more serious test. A bit of sunshine wouldn't go amiss either. I've only managed a couple of 60 mile rides this year so far. I am still determined to reach 100 miles even if it takes me all day. Which it will on present form. Only 39 miles today.

25th 56F, 13C, light breeze building to windy, cloudy. I went outside to look around the garden and found a vole pottering around. It seemed oblivious to my presence. It's odd how so many shrubs and trees are, or have been, heavy with bloom yet the lilacs have been very muted this year. There are vast stretches of lilac hedges on Fyn. Often providing the only protection from the wind. Lilac blossom can usually entertain with their variety of colours. Bees seem in very short supply too. The garden is usually packed with bees, but again, not this year. Shopping in Assens. 23 miles. Plus 7 more miles pm.

26th 52F, 11C, tree-thrashing windy, cloudy with bright moments. Summer continues to evade us. Or rather "avoid us." As Gargle and the other crooked, commercial giants would say. If it looks like the maffia, smells like the  maffia and pays taxes like the maffia... then it must be Tarbucks whitewash, Gargle mouthwash, RottenApple and Malwarts n'all.

Insect 'twitchers' are coming from all over Europe to see the solitary bee of 2013 in our garden. Well, here it is! Cheerfully getting another good dose of nicotine from spray drift. I just hope it didn't inhale!

Denmark is producing a map showing air pollution for every address. The problem is they haven't allowed for the user to add their own data. If you live next door to a 24x365 woodburner then no map is going to stop you choking with laughter at the sheer idiocy of the project. And what about noise pollution? The map pretends to show that heavily trafficked roads are polluted. What about living next door to semi-commercial, black market, firewood producers? There is hardly a village which doesn't have its own chainsaw massacre of the peace and quiet of the countryside.

Have they measured the broad spectrum pollution on every rural rat-run? Where cheapo, East European car GPS leads 6 axle juggernauts barging through every village and hamlet just to save a kilometre or two. It gets worse every day! I am far more likely to meet a lane-filling articulated container lorry, with a foreign number plate, than a private car or farmer's 4WD. I often have to take to the grass verge as they thunder past at a ridiculous, tarmac and bridge-destroying pace.

The reason for my "inner calm" this morning? I have added a poorly toe to my wonky knee and gammy right arm. (My apologies for using these heavy medical terms so early in the morning!)  At least the promised rain has dissipated for today. Shame it's blowing a gale.(again) I would have been sprayed (yet again) in yesterday's stiff headwind if the farmer's help hadn't got his spray bar tangled in a garden hedge! Coming back was an 8-9mph affair. Though I did manage 15mph briefly going downhill by standing up on the pedals.

As I was riding back from the shops I saw the roof of the lorry sticking up above the verge. This was where the field was well below road level. At first I couldn't work out how he had managed to get down there. The bank beside the road was at least 45 degrees and impossible to negotiate with any normal vehicle. There was also a growing crop in the field so the lorry obviously wasn't waiting to collect anything.

Further on I saw the damage done to the lilac hedge. The lorry must have missed the bank completely when it left the road. Landing upright on its wheels down in the field. The engine was still running and the driver talking on his mobile phone. Presumably relating the problem back to base and requesting a rescue crane. The odd thing was that the wind would have pushed him onto the opposite side of the road. Perhaps the fierce side wind helped to keep the lorry upright as it quite literally flew off the road in mid air? The driver was incredibly lucky not to be sitting in a complete wreck! The lorry looked undamaged from my side of the road. Just sitting there in a straight line as if it was parked in the field. 17 miles.

Turup Kirke dates, as do many Danish churches, from the 1100s. Constantly added to, it gained the Gothic style and was much enlarged in the late middle ages.

27th 54F, 12C, windy, wet and overcast. My toe is too painful to walk normally now. Though there is nothing much to see. As it is supposed to rain all day (and tomorrow) this seems like a perfect opportunity for a rest day. Hopefully a rest will give the toe time to recover. The Head Gardener has put a plaster on it and I have been "excused boots." There's not much I can do in carpet slippers in the rain, except to put the world to rights on my computer. Though I will do my best not to bore my cycling readership. Nor attract the interest of the snooping NSA (Nazi Stasi Americarians?) and/or GCHQ/PRISM as one of the many "not doing the right thing." ;-)  

Yesterday I was talking about the finely detailed Danish air pollution map. Well, there is already a call for estate agents to append the air pollution score to their whimsical fantasies sales literature. Since very few houses are selling anyway this could well be the final straw before the Danish housing market collapses completely. Our online searches for a new Chez Tricyklist (away from the incessant woodsmoke and barking/howling dog) suggest that there is nothing rural detached, within our price range, which is not quite literally ringed by pig farms. What the estate agent's carefully selected (manicured) images do not show then Gargle Map/Streetview usually can. 

It's odd how Gargle puts a very soft focus filter on all their "satellite views". Presumably to protect public privacy. Or, far more likely, to try and monopolise sales of their higher resolution mappery to the likes of NSA/GCHQ/Big Business. 

Meanwhile, back at the pig ranch, there is another free, online, high-res, aerial photography service called Grundkort Fyn. One which totally eclipses Gargle's rapidly-aging aerial fuzziness. The Danish service is annually updated with new and even better aerial photography. With lots of really useful bells and whistles in image overlays. The detail is increasingly astonishing with each new release. With past decades imagery still available at a click on the mouse one can easily make comparisons. Handy for seeing when one still had a particular car/trailer/hedge/tree or fence. 

Not so long ago I used to have to specially order Ordnance Survey maps at quite foolish (monopolistic)  prices from the local outlet. For what was really just a very a poor drawing of basic geographical features. So today's online aerial imagery seems almost magical in comparison. The ability to pinpoint exact locations and follow my rides, using GPS, only adds to the fun of cycling.

Our new found ability to "see over the hedge" is really quite extraordinary. Not to invade another's privacy but to discover the wonders of hidden gardens, lakes, historical features and old houses. While the trike certainly offers a far better view, compared with many cars, there is still lots which goes quite unseen.

There has surely never been a better time in human history to enjoy the rapid advancement of technology in the hands of the common man. Despite my pointless jibes at the NSA/GCHQ/PRISM snoopers I still hope that we can remain calm as the massive, often unforeseen, technological changes wash over us. We are probably less than a decade from useful robots in daily life and the complete unknowns of AI. Both arrive at a time of massive youth unemployment and deep questions about our supposed democratic leadership. Let us hope that such potentially dangerous technologies are all placed under strictly democratic control. Rather than only in the hands of the "powers that be." Who would always have it all their own way. If only out of knee-jerk paranoia and raving nationalism. 

It amuses me when geographical location is used as an excuse for almost anything. Where one is born is not something over which one ever has ANY control. Yet the village mentality and utterly pointless loyalty to a particular location still exists the world over. When you glance up at a cyclist, or tricyclist, you have absolutely no way of discerning where they came from. It could be the next village. Or, quite possibly, from the other side of the world. Imagine having your bicycle stolen by a local drug addict feeding their own filthy, self-abuse. Or being caught up in a tribal battle between football supporters of neighbouring cities. While you are on a round-the-world ride to raise money for charity.    

28th 50F, 10C, very windy, light rain and heavily overcast. Cool temperatures and continuous rain are forecast for all day and tomorrow, yet again. I put up a wind vane a couple of days ago. Hoping to be able to confirm the wind direction suggested by the DMI's computer modelling. The carefully balanced, low friction vane is sitting on a vertical pole on a shed. At about 15' off the ground  the vane has spent a lot of time quite literally going around in circles! All the trees and high hedges are obviously producing too much turbulence for directional accuracy. At least it confirms that our continuing inability to confirm the true wind direction, within the garden, is soundly based on reality. :-) 

My toe is still hurting despite resting it all day yesterday. I have cabin fever already and it's only 7am! Even if my foot was fit enough to have a go on the completely unused exercise bike I'd still be bored. I bought it a couple of years ago in a flea market for small change. It can't have more than a quarter of an hour's use in all that time! It has a massive flywheel for a front wheel with an adjustable tension, friction tape in the rim to give a sense of climbing a steep hill. If I was fit enough to ride that thing then I am fit enough to go for a proper ride. 

Perhaps I should dig out my old Bontrager MTB shoes to see if they offer more toe room than the Specialised? My toe only hurts if I press it against something. The bike forums are full of posts about finding wider shoes in a vast, wider shoe desert. The use of man-made materials offers absolutely no relief for those desperately hoping their shoes will stretch a little. They never will. The manufacturers can't even agree on long-established, international standards of shoe sizing for their overpriced and overhyped, largely plastic, ballet slippers! :-) Tried riding down the drive no problem. Walking? Ouch! Back home again. Another rest day! Where will it all end?

29th 53F, 12C, overcast, breezy with constant, heavy drizzle. It is supposed to rain until after lunch. I'm still not sure whether my toe is improving enough to go out. I am afraid of making it worse before it can heal properly. A plaster is helping to protect it against knocks. Perhaps it's fortunate that the weather has been so wet because it reduces the pressure to get out on the trike. The cabin fever is also reducing as I find other projects to work on indoors. The gnawing emptiness of yet another rest day is passing.

Hopefully the rest will make me stronger. The experts say I am doing it all wrong by riding almost every day. Though their advice is more related to racing, rather than my own cycling activities, it must still hold true for any form of heavy exercise. No rest means the body has less chance to adapt to the exercise, build healthy muscle and repair any damage.

I suppose I should count myself lucky that I have avoided injury and illness during my last few years of intensive cycling. Particularly at my age. My distances must seem pitiful to many cyclists who have maintained their interest and activity in the sport for many decades. Re-starting, virtually from scratch, meant that I had no base miles to build on. The lack of regular practice meant that I was terribly unfit compared to many cyclists who have kept going through the long years. Even if it was 'only' a comfortable commuting distance.

Just rebuilding my heart-lung efficiency took a couple of years of fairly high (total) mileages at a steadily increasing pace. Removing all (most) of the body fat from a decade of enjoying Danish pastries on a daily basis took three years. Recovering from the RSI caused by my last employment took over three years. My leg muscles are still changing considerably as time passes. My formerly muscular arms have become sinewy sticks. The psychological well-being of healthy outdoor exercise could easily be interpreted as being barking mad to want to cycle so much in the first place.

I only mention all of this in case it helps, or even inspires others to take up cycling after years of relative inactivity. Cycling offers health benefits without the struggle of taking up jogging while carrying extra body weight. The joints are better protected on a bike and one can use cycling as a mobile platform for enjoying or even reaching other activities beyond comfortable walking distance.

Cycling is extremely efficient at using human power to extend one's physical range. Even when I'm not trying hard I can double or triple the distance covered by an obviously fit runner in a given time. I see hundreds of joggers and runners in the lanes over a year of cycling. I can usually outpace even the fastest of them. Even while I'm carrying a heavy load of shopping and they only a miniature MP3 player.

This is important information if you want to swap the car or bus for a healthier way of reaching your regular goals. Walking is a slow way of reaching almost anywhere else. Running is very hard work with lots of discomfort and shock to the skeletal system if you have no previous experience. Three miles on the flat is quite an easy range. It probably means one hour of comfortable walking, twenty minutes of sweaty jogging or 10-15 minutes of easy cycling. I admire joggers and runners. I just don't feel I have the time, or the energy, to copy their example. Oh, and we have much better toys. I'm playing it safe and giving my toe another day to recover. Another rest day. It turned sunny later though still windy.

30th 55F, 13C, bright sunny periods, wind building to 35mph gusts later with the trees already swaying. I have to go out anyway. So I'm going to try a short ride wearing my old Bontrager shoes. They have more room in the toe where they have stretched slightly by beginning to come apart. I think I'll have to visit the doctor for an expert opinion soon. Or I'm never going to get mobile again. It's looking and feeling like an ingrowing toenail according to some online images. The cuticle or edge of the nail is a mixed mess of broken hard bits and pieces. Any sideways pressure on that side of the toe is still very painful. Though there is no sign of  discoloration, swelling or infection.

I set off after coffee in my old Bontrager MTB shoes. No serious pain on the trike but walking was more of a pain. I kept trying to drag my foot back into the heel but the Velcro wouldn't hold well enough to achieve anything useful. A more roomy pair of shoes with a ratchet fastening is looking more desirable now. It was blowing a gusty gale side wind. I spotted the damage which the lorry had done. It was clear that it had flown above the bank. They must have towed it along the spray tracks for a couple of hundred yards and then back onto the road where the bank was much lower. 16 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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