23 Sep 2013

Monday 23rd September 2013


Monday 23rd 57-62F, 14-17C, breezy, overcast. Smoothing the Chemical Metal to fit the Higgins bottom race went very easily. I used a large flat file to take off the high points then a strop of abrasive paper to smooth the material. Trying the race produced short polished arcs which could be further rubbed away. I soon had the race within 1/4" (6mm) of the crown. I used a piece of steel tube to finally tap the race into place while it was still a tight fit. Assens, blowing a gale. 2 o'clock headwind going, 8 o'clock side wind coming back. 18 miles. Plus 10 more later. I saw a large, purple pig doing the "dying fly" outside a pig farm. Crows were picking over the carcase. Nice.

Tuesday 24th 52-55F, 11-13C, light breeze, overcast. I managed 18 miles in the first hour with a gentle tailwind. It took me three hours to get back straight into the increasing wind! Though there was some shopping at three different supermarkets, browsing a village charity shop, exploring some new lanes and photography on the way home. The hip pain has moved back to my right buttock. Still waiting to hear the results of my blood tests, ultra-sound scans and x-rays. My shoulder has improved slightly. It is no longer agony to put my clothes on. Just painful. 40 miles.

 Wednesday 25th 47-55F, 8-13C, light winds, rather overcast. Rain forecast for 3pm. (It didn't) It wasn't very warm today. Headwind building on the way home. Long fingered gloves going. Fingerless gloves coming home. It's ploughing, raking and seed drilling time and the roads are plastered in mud.

Shopping gets ever more difficult. Edible organic bananas are getting very hard to find. They are either bashed to bits and black all over. Or bright green and hard inside. Cherry tomatoes are having to be carefully inspected to avoid rotten or overripe mush with water running in the bottom of the tray. Now the supermarket con is really coming home to roost. Not only do you have to walk round and select your produce in your own time but you have to inspect it for quality too. Then check the receipt to ensure you haven't been robbed yet again. Not a  week passes without variance between the shelf pricing and the receipt.

The monopoly money supermarkets hope to avoid public embarrassment by making the checkout belts ever shorter, the staff ever younger and  keeping the queues so long that everybody is too impatient to have time to read the receipt. The checkout operators now demand (with menaces) to know if you want a receipt to try and cut out the middle man. Then its have a nice day on autopilot without an ounce of sympathy for our plight as passive netizens of the Matrix. Those who refuse a receipt have a fool for a shopping client! 20 miles. Sometimes it seems all uphill. Have you ever noticed the similarity between's Marvin's head and a cycling helmet? <sigh> :-)

Thursday 26th 42-53F, 6-12C, cloud clearing after a rainy night. Should be a pleasant, sunny but cool day with lighter winds. A promised max of 53F/12C. Overdressing followed by overheating followed by undressing followed by a chill! It's that time of year again! Put too much effort into your ride and you end up standing at the checkout in just your bibbeys. Like some emaciated but sinewy Borat with squiggly veins struggling to prop up your obscenely muscular, but strangely undernourished calves. While you desperately try to avoid swearing sweating furiously in the endless checkout queue.

The birds are misbehaving again! I blame the spraying. I suppose it's better than (a) silent spring. The spiders are huddled tightly into the window frames to avoid the marauding Blue tits. The Sparrows are busy probing the dormer roofs for overnight perches out of the rain and wind. The Blackbirds are squabbling as usual and the sky is full of circling Mink gulls. Probably looking for tricyclists to crap on. I kid you not!

For those unfamiliar with immigrant Danish wildlife; Mink gulls inhabit mink farms in vast numbers. Except when they are standing apart on a nearby field and burping fishily. Sadly there are no known predators of gulls except when they are nesting. I'm not sure I don't prefer ground rats to gull rats. At least the ground living rats are fairly quiet as they go about our their business.

They say that mink farming has never been more in demand since the Chinese new money decided to empower themselves by returning to caveman couture. With a nice edge of animal cruelty to spice up their purchase. It's probably only a desperate attempt to distance themselves from their muddy, peasant upbringing. Quite why raising mink is known as farming rather escapes me. Except for the foul stench more typical of their pig farming neighbours and/or owners. Burp!

I have made my first ever appointment with a physiotherapist. I haven't a clue what is involved. As usual I may have to pretend that I am from Mars. Which is more true this week (allegedly) than it ever has been. At least according to science it is. Though that is not remotely the point:

Living is a foreign land, with little direct contact with the natives, means that a new vocabulary has to be invented from the ground up for each new ritual. Each new experience lacks a comfortable, well-honed list of dos and don'ts and familiar expectations. In the total absence of tradition, learnt by rote during a long, insubordinate childhood, the simplest assumptions are either absent or quite simply false.

How one addresses another person can be a hurdle or a springboard into the complete unknown. A mere social faux pas from ignorance of norms? Or a cringing status violation unlikely to be easily forgiven? It all largely depends on the recipient of my polite but friendly greeting. Language skills, accomplished articulacy and a well polished vocabulary confirm status. Crass mistakes in sentence and even gender construction and major pronunciation malfunctions score low.

Yet we must forgive the political leader and royalty for their strange accent when they are tempted to abuse a foreign tongue with which we are already familiar. Their status demands automatic respect. Mine has to be earned the hard way. With few tools except a clumsy assault with a blunt instrument by way of my pidgin Danish. Or my last desperate;  "Can you speak English" emblazoned on my verbal life saving ring. My language insecurity tends to produce this default behaviour as I roll on my semi-lingual back, show my teeth and pretend I am a harmless puppy to be baby talked.

There are those who accept my accent with complete ease, throw a few ganglion switches and then converse effortlessly. Others can no more understand a single word I utter than they can understand Mandarin Chinese or Klingon. Foolishly, I asked for directions in a shop last week. The two elderly ladies hadn't a clue what i was saying but were rescued by a charming lady of Asian origin. Who helpfully volunteered to intercede on my behalf. She had no difficulty in communicating with me in her even more fractured Danish.

No doubt her English was as good as mine though I did not want to spoil the occasion by being so rude as to test her skills with a local audience. If a person does not voluntarily sink to English by default then I tend not to push it.  I left with my warm thanks for her kind assistance and she seemed pleased to have helped. While simultaneously polishing her skills at Danish in front of the home crowd. Meanwhile the local ladies remained obviously baffled by the entire proceedings.

It started spitting from a huge dark cloud as I left after coffee but it didn't amount to anything. Promised to be sunny later. It was, eventually. The roads were very wet in many places so I thanked the cycling gods for their kindness in keeping me mostly dry from the knees up. But if it should happen again I'd be grateful for being forewarned. So I could take a lighter pair of sunglasses to cope with the darker interludes. I tend to become inexplicably depressed when riding in dark sunglasses in anything but optimum lighting conditions. 20 hilly miles but going well. Now my hip is aching again.

Friday 27th 46F, 8C, quite still, high cloud. I have heard from the quack about my x-rays. Vitamins are  normal but I have slight osteoporosis of the hip. A quick search shows that cycling is excellent for the heart and lungs but doesn't place enough stress on the bones to increase bone density. Tests have shown that serious cyclists suffer from bone calcium loss despite increased calcium intake over normal.

Walking is probably much better for the bones. Running risks overloading the joints from impact stresses. The problem may be exaggerated by my habit of spending most of my time off the trike on the computer. So I am going to add more walking to my activities. Further scans have been requested at the hospital so we'll see how that turns out. This is all very odd because I spent 11 hours a day on my feet constantly lifting weights until 3 years ago. I put the agonising pains in my hip and buttock (at the time) down to severely overloading my old bod!

The pains went away when I started cycling seriously but have recently come back again. I'm not just scribbling this for interest's sake. This information might be useful to other cyclists. If only as a warning to do some homework on the subject before they suffer from similar problems. It's not a matter of diet either. Our diet is far better than most with lots of organic fruit and veg, oily fish, seed, nuts, dried fruit and a good mix of roughage and dairy products with all the essential minerals and vitamins. Alcohol intake is also low and I have never touched Colas. Which are a known bone dissolver. Interestingly, dairy products are not particularly useful in increasing calcium uptake. Though I won't be removing them from my diet unless told to.

To practice my one foot before the other skills I set off for a modest walk to the village. I found walking on the road was quite hard on the feet and ankles. So I clomped off across the humpy fields instead. Keeping to the spray tracks to avoid potential accusations of damaging the soil structure with my size 11s. I was gone for an hour and a half and carried more mud off the fields than really seemed appropriate. Typical overcompensation for a distinct lack of recent walking. Then I changed and climbed onto my trike for a 10 mile ride. The odd thing is that my hip has (temporarily) stopped hurting.

Saturday 28th 52-56F,11--13C, light winds building, sunny. 15 miles. No ill effects from yesterday's tromp across the fields. Except for the lingering guilt at having muddied the roads. I was chased for several miles by an elderly couple on a tandem. I was cheating by using a huge and very full shopping bag as a rear fairing. The UCI will be furious!

Sunday 29th 47-51F, 8-11C, cold, but breezy and sunny. Gusting to 10m/s/ 22mph later. The giant sprayers are out again for the second day in a row. The crops don't look any bigger than many lawns. What do the plants need so desperately which requires repeated spraying at such short intervals, onto almost bare earth, in such windy conditions?

Even windier once I escaped for a ride. A cold wind meant I put on a wind proof jacket and kept it on.

It is surprising how small adjustments make a big difference on a trike. I noticed the tops of the handlebars were not level behind the levers. So I lifted them slightly and had instant comfort from the larger, level platform provided. I also straightened the saddle by a few millimetres at the nose and could feel the difference.

I lost, or had my wallet stolen in a local supermarket today. No money in there but I had to stop my bank card just in case. I went back an hour later and did the rounds trying to find it and asked the staff in the shop but no luck. I know I had it at the checkout because I took out my last note to pay for the goods. 21 miles.

Monday 30th 47F, almost still, bright sunshine. Mist was filling the low pockets in best Hollywood style but I didn't have my camera with me in the car. Only an 8 mile ride later.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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