13 Nov 2013

13th November 2013


Wednesday 13th 38F, 3C, clear, light winds. Hope for some sun this morning. My hip is hurting from lifting the Higgins onto its ceiling hook yesterday. I was making room to work on the Trykit out of the pouring rain. I really need to find a better way to use my cycle lift pulley system. Because the two sets of pulleys can only shrink to a minimum length it won't lift the trike high enough to hang the front wheel rim on the hook. Perhaps I ought to try lifting it by the rear axle or even take the wheels off so it can hang higher. Decisions-decisions.

An hour and a half walk up through the woods and back. Very soggy working my way through boggy long grass in the fire breaks but the gaiters and boots worked perfectly.

Going out on the trike now. A hilly loop between a number of villages. The new tyres felt much more lively compared with the old ones. Carrying tons of shopping into a strong and gusty headwind coming home. 25 miles.

Thursday 14th 42-44F, 6C, breezy, heavy grey overcast. Forecast to be grey but dry. Walked a new route around the woods just for a change. Saw an unusual, quite large bird of prey. Mostly buff/brown/ with long narrow wings chopped off at the tips. Tried the Sony Action Cam again while I was out. Totally useless in overcast conditions. Dull, stupid sky colours, featureless shadows @ 1080p 30fps. Hideous bouncing results from recording while walking despite making every effort to hold the camera still. It would need a steadycam device to smooth out the long boring bits. The Ventus GPS logger is becoming slower and slower to get a cold fix in the mornings. Hidden battery dying? The same thing happened to the iGotU. Triked 15 miles with a cold tailwind coming home.

Friday 15th 43F, 6C, heavy overcast, quite still, misty, dry, but grey. Time for a walk. I found another wood to explore. I'm spoilt for choice provided I allow myself at least an hour of walking. I watched the behaviour of each vehicle as it approached, usually at high speed. I wondered at the strangeness of the act of commuting. Many seem to develop unnecessary aggression. Perhaps to provide the stimulus often missing from completely meaningless and totally abstract employment. Gaining one place on the road in the morning rush hour is utterly insignificant yet is an exercise practised by countless drivers.

The queue remains totally unaffected in both length, behaviour and speed. The only change is in its subtle order of indistinguishable units. The overtaking driver sees a new bumper and is in turn becomes the new bumper in front of the overtaken driver. To achieve this change of local scenery he/she has often risked life and limb. Not to mention the future happiness and comfort of all of those they know and perhaps support. There is a terrifying parallel here with the Matrix. Particularly if the participants have accumulated considerable debt to pay for a "high performance" vehicle in order to achieve a subtle change in the bumper in front of their windscreen.

As I was walking along it struck me how there is a fixed hierarchy of sensory deprivation in our chosen forms of transport. The static observer sees and hears most but usually has the most limited range of observation. The walker has a much greater range but the act of walking disturbs the wildlife and denies the walker a range of stimuli. Flocks of birds and solitary animals are seen fleetingly as they move away along the hedgerows. Or across the fields or through the woods. The clomp or rustle of boots through leaves and grass deprives the walker of a whole range of sounds. Which merely stopping brings back to the alert consciousness.

The cyclist can cover many more miles but is even further removed from nature by the roar of the wind in the ears and swifter movement. Though not remotely as much as the driver. Whom, cocooned in  a mobile, sensory deprivation tank is shielded from most sights and sounds. And, arguably, any real sense of danger as they travel in an alternative reality. The higher speed demands total protection from the wind and weather and requires much higher concentration for safety. Nature is seen only fleetingly almost by accident. Though the passenger may have greater freedom to observe as if from afar. While The traveller by ship and plane have an alternative viewpoint, but as the scale rises so does the Earth withdraw even further from personal contact.

Walking amidst nature is good for you provided you can escape from all the other completely artificial distractions of the Matrix. The city was never intended as anything but a convenience for trade and protection. Its very inclusiveness, density and noise only leads to a far greater risk of isolation. The inequality of its inhabitants is a strong catalyst to indifference. Competition to succeed at the expense of others requires a degree of sociopathic behaviour. Most typically seen in the commuter in the luxury car. They seek deliberate isolation from reality to avoid engaging their conscience.

They avoid nature by passively absorbing culture in clearly segregated and completely artificial social situations. Before returning to the mental construct of the gilded nest. But which is merely a cripplingly expensive dormitory for most. Silence and nature are to be abhorred and feared. They are unwanted distractions from the escapism of blind, obsessive acquisitiveness. Meanwhile the planet dies. Little by little. And I trudge steadily on. Spoilt (but not rotten) by nature and the priceless good fortune of my rural situation.

I hope you enjoy my recent pictures of the countryside which I seem to share with so few others. As I try to capture the atmosphere and sense of almost complete solitude. Once off the road, I hardly ever see another soul. Distant traffic perhaps seen from a high viewpoint. To remind me that I am, despite appearances, not the last on the planet. It is odd to think that most of the area is never trodden by man. Even the fields may feel the weight of large tractors and machinery, on occasion, but only very rarely a muddy boot.

My ride was slightly disturbed by steady, fine drizzle. Though no rain was forecast. The Crud mudguard continues to protect my feet as I try to extend the life of my fragile overshoes by leaving them in the saddle bag.  A goodly wodge of shopping was loaded into the big pink bag and I headed home. With the trike feeling more like a tractor towing a heavy trailer. It didn't help that the chain wouldn't move to the inner chainring. So I danced on the pedals instead. Still more shopping to do. 14 miles so far. Plus 7 more, still damp, for 21 miles today.

Saturday 16th 48F, 9C. Forecast to be windier today. An hour's walk in fine drizzle. I tried to avoid a large dog loose and barking on a rural public footpath. The owner of the farmhouse on the path told me that I should not take a detour around his field. Though we parted amicably enough after a chat.

I left it until after lunch in the hope the rain would go off. It didn't, so I went anyway. Very grateful for the Aldi rainproof jacket and GripGrab scull cap. I stayed dry and cosy except for my knees. The Crud front mudguard kept my feet dry inside my overshoes despite the saturated roads. The very long tail proves that a wider, conventional mud flap really isn't necessary. Full marks to Crud! If I had taken my TA cap I could have kept my face and yellow sunglasses dryer. Good load of shopping again but only 11 miles. A better forecast for tomorrow.

There is discussion in the online media about the "speed cameras" which will be introduced to Danish roads in 2014. A certain politician was no doubt hoping to corruptly curry favour with the electorate by suggesting the cameras should not be used as a source of revenue. Strangely, he completely ignored the fact that you can only be fined for driving too fast for the legal speed limit. I know I moan endlessly about how the majority of drivers in Denmark completely ignore the speed limits so I won't repeat myself again:

In a recent case two vehicles collided resulting in the deaths of three children travelling in one of them. The mother of the children had attempted to cross the path of the other vehicle to turn at a crossroads.

Image borrowed from nordjyske.dk

The driver of the other vehicle was driving at 125kph on a 80kph road.. i.e. 78mph or 56% above the legal speed limit on a rural road with a 50mph national speed limit while using his mobile telephone. He was fined £1000. The traffic inspector suggested that had this driver been driving at the legal speed limit the other car could have safely emerged from the crossing even though he (the other driver) did not brake.

So, remember children, that the cameras are only there to raise revenue from innocent drivers who are speeding while using their mobile telephones. It is not as if your own intrinsic value is any higher than (say) £300 in the courts. And, apparently,  there is absolutely no need for a driver to brake in the event of impending collision. (Provided their conversation on their handheld mobile telephone is interesting enough.)

Sunday 17th 41F, 5C, completely still, a clear sky with sunshine threatened as soon as that hill moves out of the way. All very promising for a longer ride. I just need to stoke up on marmalade covered rolls and milky coffee first. The Camper 'Longflap' has been removed from the rear triangle crossbars. Replaced by the relatively tiny 'Junior' fitted directly to the Brooks 'Special' bag loops for a change. I still need some carrying capacity for my air/sea rescue kit even for a "lightweight" ride to slightly more distant destinations.

Riding against a gentle NW breeze I headed north. The computer magnet started hitting the Crud mudguard stay and put the computer out of action. After fiddling with the head, magnet and sensor I'd lost my mileage with only a rough idea how far I'd been. It started up again after some fiddling. Eventually I found the rural village I was looking for, took some pictures and then headed home again.

Though quite cool, it was a perfect day for a ride and perfect countryside to be riding through. There were a surprising number of people around in the villages. On my weekday rides I rarely see anyone at all. I even saw some North American Bison in a field and a large deer bounded across the road right in front of me. Four and a half hours to do 46 miles including plenty of stops.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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