31 Dec 2013

23rd December 2013

Monday 23rd 40F, variable cloud cover, breezy. It could brighten up. (And did) I'm going shopping on the trike early to get some fresh bread rather than going for a walk first. Yesterday's offering was discounted with yesterday's, sell-by dates. What use is that? Toast anyone?

Rode to the only other local stockist today. I arrived at the supermarket to find a people carrier sized minibus (for one) parked diagonally across the shop entrance in the only disabled parking place.

Take away the scruffy crops and this landscape could be even more beautiful. Though I wouldn't want to be the bloke pushing the lawnmower!

No stock of bread and none expected. 12 miles avoiding illegally speeding lorries trailing huge plumes of spray. Cars passing far too close when nothing was coming the other way. And watching vast clouds dragging filthy underskirts of heavy showers across my path. I was even chased home by a huge and brilliant rainbow but still remained dry. (apart from the traffic spray)  Off we go again. Last minute shopping for food filled three bags to carry home on the trike. Windy but still dry with weak sunshine at times. 20 more miles. I thought I'd better get some more miles in because tomorrow looks stormy again.

Tuesday 24th 46F, 8C, gales, overcast, raining. It has been a noisy night. If it stopped raining at least I could go for a walk. There might be a window later. A pause in the rain after coffee was not long enough to drag me outside. The wind is supposed to reduce (temporarily) after lunch. It was never meant to be. Another rest day.

My apologies for the lack of snow scenes this year. It was ordered in plenty of time but failed to turn up.

So here's one I made earlier:

A Merry Christmas to all my readers and thank you for visiting my tricycling grotto.

Wednesday 25th overcast, breezy, dry. I'm not allowed out on my trike in case of drunk drivers. Santa has brought me more lights for my trike. The LED is a modern miracle for the cyclist. I can just about remember acetylene lamps. The there were the common or garden battery lights where the expensive batteries were often almost flat before they left the shop. These days a set of cycle lights weigh a few grammes, cost small change and last for years. Yet some cyclists still don't bother. It's not a case of just being caught out by an early dusk. I see cyclists riding together all without lights hours after darkness has fallen.

Thursday 26th 34F, +1C, heavy overcast, thick mist and calm. Time to walk off some of those chocolates I enjoyed yesterday! The mist cleared rapidly into local patches as I walked and then came back again more generally. The grass was crunchy and white in places but not enough to make it less muddy elsewhere. The edge of the road was covered in black ice. Making it impossible to walk safely on the white lines. Now the sun has come out and the mist is thinning to patches again. It should be safe to go out on the trike after coffee.

Again the mist was extremely variable, as was the traffic, but I survived to tell the tale. My sunglasses were covered in fine droplets so that I couldn't see clearly as I rode into the misty sun. A slow start but I sped up after a few miles. Later I stopped and tried to feed the ducks on a pond but they must still have been full up from Christmas Day. I detoured on a slightly different route for a total of just 16 miles before a late lunch. It felt like Sunday today due to the lack of lorries. Though there were plenty of cars racing along the lanes as if their lives (and mine) depended on it.

Friday 27th 37F, 3C, Breezy, sky almost clear. Promised to be very windy with rain by lunchtime and gusts up to 45mph. I shall have to go out early! It is still pitch black outside at nearly 8am. After a family was wiped out on a Christmas walk I am now wearing a flashing diode bike light and reflector on cords around my neck as I walk. Not that this morning's traffic warranted such protection. I now take to the verge and stand still while they pass and leave the road at the earliest opportunity. The sky is changing almost by the minute as the edge of the storm moves nearer. I caught a glimpse of a slice of sun just above the horizon but it was all over in seconds and the grey clag is back. A few gaggles of geese passed noisily overhead flying towards the south and east.

I'll have early coffee and marmalade covered rolls and then go shopping on the trike. I probably have some catching up to do after the holidays. The wind had already picked up to a roar in the trees when I left. Fierce side gusts made life slow and interesting on the way. Helped me home afterwards with the occasional sense of twitchiness from the trike as I passed gaps in the hedges. Only 8 miles. I was back for an hour before it started raining. So I could have stayed out longer if only I had known in advance.

Saturday 28th 43F, 6C, breezy, heavy overcast. There was quite a keen headwind as I walked towards the woods.  There I discovered hunters cars parked around the lodge and I turned back to be on the safe side. I was almost home before the shooting started abut an hour and 20 minutes after my escape. The overcast is breaking up to small patches of blue sky so there is hope of a little sunshine later. Instead of which it turned greyer still with quite a strong wind and light showers. Yesterday's gales did even more damage in the woods. With lots more toppled trees. It seems to have damaged many lilac hedges as well. It must have been localised damage because it didn't seem too bad here. 15 miles.

Sunday 29th 40-42F, 5-6C, heavy overcast, dry, breezy. The DMI is promising early sunshine but I don't believe in miracles. Though the darker clouds are moving incredibly quickly. Had my walk. Still no sun. Rode into the wind to Assens via the coast road. Not that it goes very near the coast. There was a short shower but it didn't amount to anything serious. Passed a scattered group of hunters along a lane. They started banging away just after I passed. What a racket! I scattered a huge flock of rooks which was foraging on the fields. Only 21 miles but I'm going out again after lunch. It has brightened up quite a lot now with real (though weak) sunshine at times. Plus 9 more miles after lunch.

Monday 30th 39F, 4C, breezy, heavy overcast. December 2013 is lined up to be the second warmest ever after a record warm December in 2006. I was much too warm yesterday on my walk. Then again later on my trike in my best winter jacket at 42F with a tail wind. There is a fuzzy line around 40 degrees where it is difficult to dress accordingly. Wearing extra clothing under the wind proof shell is never a good idea. Better to warm up from a slightly chilly start than to start out overdressed.

Removing clothing in an exposed situation out of doors once a sweat has built up in the inner layers will not lead to increased comfort. On a short ride one can get home and jump in the shower. On a longer ride it is far better not to sweat in the first place. Climbing long hills will add a thermal load which often requires opening up a jacket or removing an over-warm cap.

I find that cooling my head provides much greater control than simple jacket adjustments. I sometimes carry two GripGrab scull caps. Start off in the warmer one and then change into a cooler one, or none at all, as soon as is sensible. Being cosy is great fun on a cold day but can often lead to chilled sweat on the descent after the first real hill. This is all terribly obvious but difficult to manage without real clothing options while out on a ride. Few keen cyclists have the carrying capacity to take off extra layers if it gets too warm.

I soon took off the cardigan and cap and was still too warm in my second best winter cycling jacket. I hit 22 mph a few times on the flat in bright sunshine. Having reached my goal I finally bought myself some proper hole punch pliers after decades without. Coming back into the headwind was very hard work. Reaching 10 mph was a struggle let alone trying to maintain it. A deer popped out of the woods, took one look at me and then popped straight back in again. Spraying the pedals with lubricant has completely solved the difficult unlatching from the shoe plates. I had been struggling to un-clip for a week or more. 21 miles.

Pm. Punched and laced my lovely B17 saddle! (See last post)

Tuesday 31st December 2013. 38F, 3C, light breeze, clear. The sun rose at 9.00am as I turned off the road. A pleasant hour's walk in bright sunshine. Not a cloud in the sky. I'll go out after coffee to test my newly laced saddle. I had to drop the nose by one click but the saddle was superb. Proper support where it was needed, still comfortable and firm enough to feel fast. I just hope it stays this way. I disturbed several birds of prey today. All of them, medium sized and unknown to my limited skills at recognition. A string of Hooper swans passed over followed by two more going the opposite way. 21 miles for a total of 7388 miles this year. My lowest mileage in four years of returning to tricycling.

I still haven't managed 100 miles in one day. Raising the bar to only 83 then 84 miles. The Trykit remains a delight to ride and the Brooks 'Special' saddle has proved to be worth every penny. Schwalbe Duranos are proving to be reliable and comfortable to ride on at 90psi. I am still having minor trouble with my Shimergo gear selection on one particular cog.

The ShiftMate I ordered in November from SJS Cycles still hasn't turned up despite their taking my money on the 2nd of December including £7 postage for something weighing just a few grammes. Their tracking number has been tried at least twice daily for a month without ever being recognised. I was told to contact them again on the 31st of December if it failed to arrive. Very strange service indeed! Or, rather, a complete lack of it.

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