1 Dec 2013

1st December 2013

Any cycle without a proper rear view mirror has a blind fool for an owner.

Something rotten in the state of Denmark.

Sunday 1st. 45F, 7C, windy, heavy grey overcast but dry. The DMI is dangling the virtual, sunshine carrot at me again. They are also promising 30mph NW gusts all day. If I'm going for a walk I had better fasten the chinstrap on my bobble hat!

Another hour: Another walk up to the woods. Despite it being a few degrees warmer it was marginally uncomfortable on my hands in the stiff breeze on the way back. My eyes were watering so much that I mistook churchyard bushes for church goers from half a mile away. I shall have to avoid riding in that direction. Not because of the supposed "crowds" of the faithful blocking the road but to avoid being reduced to a crawl by a headwind.

It's very odd how expectations of speed are such an integral part of cycling at the "enthusiastic" level. One might have thought that any cycling was good enough. Even into a strong headwind. The pedals still go round and around as is their wont.  It is just not nearly so much fun. Too much like hard work. Where's the reward? We associate our greater effort with increased speed and effortless climbing. The opposite, in adverse wind conditions, is certainly not true for most of us.

A tailwind merely makes us feel fitter and faster. We claim no special privilege for a tailwind as we sail along well above 20mph without a care in the world. It must be the same feeling as having an electric motor assist. Though it is certainly cheating from a purely "human-powered" point of view it must be an absolute blessing at times. Especially when an old fool is pedalling like mad to try and catch you on your electric bike! All this wind resistance stuff makes one wonder how fast we'd ride on the moon. Assuming we could have a flexible spacesuit, a decent air supply and a proper road surface of course.

Good grief! The wind has suddenly blown a lot of the clouds away. We might even be able to read outside by lunch time. Assuming we can all read. Enough waffling. I had better crack on. Go South East young man!

Gusting was the wrong term. It was blowing a steady 30mph with very brief quieter moments. I had only gone a mile or so before a car overtook me and the driver climbed out and waved me down. I thought he was going to tell me off for impeding him on a narrow, twisty lane. It embarrasses me to admit that I have been praised for the second time for my thoughtful and courteous riding. He was almost gushing in his praise for my road positioning and friendly wave of thanks for his holding back until it was finally safe to overtake. I may have to change the cycling Lycra for a a proper Superman outfit at this rate. <blush> 21 miles fighting the wind with all I had. And then some.

Monday 2nd 30-40F, -1+4C, quite still, sunny, white frost, low, patchy mist. An hour's walk then out on the trike. Bought some more winter socks for cycling and walking from an agricultural merchant. Loop stitch one side and smooth on the other. They are very thick, warm and seem to be long lasting. The old fashioned "open weave"  socks are too rough and open for real warmth and comfort. The Aesse jacket, GripGrab winter cap and thin overshoes and scooter gloves kept me toasty warm today without overheating.

I rode for miles on a lane where the hedges were being clipped. The mostly blackthorn and hawthorn clippings were carpeted right across the width of the road! Reached the end of the lane and promptly punctured. I though I'd got away with it until then. I rode the last mile or so home (slowly) on a flat front tyre to save time as I was already late for lunch. The mini pump made no impression on the flat tyre and it was no place to be working right beside the road anyway. I doubt the tube is worth much now. 21 miles.

Tuesday 3rd 40F, 4C, heavy overcast, breezy. I had better mend that puncture first. I checked repeatedly but there was absolutely no sign of a thorn or flint in the tyre. No obvious damage from riding with it flat. Cold on the hands when I went for a walk afterwards. Rode to Assens. Quite windy but going well. I saw a mostly white form of Buzzard sized bird and a much smaller one of Kestrel size. Both sat quite still on exposed branches while I passed. I keep seeing more fallen trees as I cover new routes. Another storm is forecast for Thursday night. 21 miles.

I am reposting this image to mark the felling of this superb avenue of mature trees. The October storm felled and damaged some of them and the drive between them was long disused. Unfortunately it was not the only avenue to be much damaged by that storm. Many old oaks and hornbeams suffered losses due to still being in leaf. Trees dramatically shape the mood of the landscape and their sudden absence can be quite a shock! The irony is that those who plant them rarely enjoy the full and final results of their labours. Mr Higgins looks typically well loaded with shopping. There's an equally full Carradice Camper Longflap hidden under there somewhere.

Wednesday 4th 45F, 7C, heavy overcast, breezy, showers. I went for a walk but it started raining harder so headed home again. It is still good to get out. Moles are becoming a real nuisance with their dark mounds of soil  popping up everywhere. With the threat of rain I kept my ride short. Only 10 miles depriving me of passing the 7,000 mile mark for the year so far. It did not rain and the afternoon became sunny. Allowing me to check around for the coming storm. The one in October was fierce but short lived. With record wind speeds for Denmark. Tomorrow's promises to be not quite so violent but last for 18 hours! I'm wondering how many weakened trees will survive the onslaught. I had better stay out of the woods tomorrow!

Thursday 5th 42F, 6C, already very rough and windy, overcast, showers. I went for my usual hour's walk, skirting the side of the woods. It was already blowing quite hard with the trees roaring. Just a few spots of rain. The storm is supposed to peak late afternoon with 35m/s or 70mph+ gusts. Starting Sou-Westerly and going round to the NW. Promised to turn very wet then wintry later. It's best to stay off the trike today, I think. There isn't much we can do but sit it out and hope nothing gets broken. I keep trying to remind myself that much of the world suffers far worse storms than we do. I wish it helped. It's the sense of the unknown.

I played it safe and stayed indoors all day. It is supposed to be not long after the peak now at 19.30pm but it has been relatively quiet with only occasional noisy gusts. We enjoy our best shelter from NW winds thanks to the trees and hedges. Far less noisy this time than I feared. Though it is now far too dark to check for damage or fallen trees. The northern half of the UK seems to have copped the storm as well. With severe flooding now forecast to exceed historical storm surges further south.

On a lighter note: "A good saddle is an asset." I have it on good authority from the Brooks website. Suit yourselves.

Friday 6th 35F, 2C, gales, wintry. 7.40am and it's still pitch black outside. The wind will be gusting to over 45mph until 6.00 this evening. There was an inch of snow on the car at bedtime. Cars seem to be travelling at their normal speed with little sign of snow this morning. I went for a walk with the wind still roaring in the trees. Though I stayed well away from them in case they toppled or dropped branches. As it was such a bad day for wind again I took another rest day.

Saturday 7th 30F, -1C, dry, winds light, promise of sun once it rises far enough to register. It felt very cold as I walked for an hour. The wind had already risen to between 15 and 20 mph. I left very late for a ride after mending another puncture. Those roadside hedge clippings seem to have found their mark but again I could find no sign of anything in the tyre. Very odd. Rode to Assens. Most of the shops were closed as it is half day on Saturday in Denmark. Though the supermarkets are open from early to late every day. I bought some more inner tubes as a reserve. 21 miles.

Sunday 8th 36F, 2C, overcast, raining, misty, still and very dark at 8.15. The rain is promised to fall all day though there might be a window for a ride later. While the wind picked up it stayed dry while I walked for an hour. Just starting to spit with rain on the last leg. The puddles were still frozen under the surface water and nearly caught me out!  I'll have to go out on the trike after coffee whatever the weather. The rain paused just long enough for me to get abut a mile and then restarted in earnest. The wind was blowing at 30mph just to add the fun. I was fairly wet all over before I reached the shower but still quite comfortable in my Aldi jacket. Only 9 miles. I didn't have the will to go any further.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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