27 Jan 2014

27th January 2014

Monday 27th 23-28F, -5-2C, about 2" of overnight snow lying, very windy from SE. Further snow and drifting, with icy roads threatened by the DMI. It is supposed to improve this afternoon.  Which doesn't make an awful lot of sense if it mean more snow will have fallen by then. With a strong wind and ice particles in the air it wasn't very pleasant for a proper walk. So I limited myself to half an hour and some snow clearing. My wife has finally found my red balaclava! I don't wear it more than a couple of days a year but it is superbly warm when I do need it. Better for walking in cold winds than cycling I suppose.

I still hope to get out on the trike after lunch. The main problem on the largely uncleared roads is impeding the traffic. Which I try to avoid as much as possible. Unfortunately there aren't any obvious alternative routes to get to some places. Taking to the lanes would probably triple the mileage compare with the main road routes. Not a problem, per se, so much as the total time involved. Particularly when the lanes are in even worse condition than the more direct routes.

It had stopped snowing by lunchtime so I went looking for what wasn't in stock yesterday. Except that I went to another branch. This avoided both the dog and repeated disappointment. Despite the roads being saturated, with long strips of snow and slush there was the usual complete indifference to speed limits. I was overtaken on blind corners and on blind brows of hills. Tailwind going. Headwind coming back. I was too warm going both ways despite stripping off at half way. It has risen to freezing point now. Only 12 miles.

Tuesday 28th 28F, -2C, very windy from SE, overcast, hoar frost, more snow drifting, a bit misty. My cold is thickening up. Walkies! Where's my balaclava? Balaclavas are overkill when it is this "warm." A few degrees make a big difference in comfort levels in windy conditions. I was much too warm when I started climbing up to the woods. Too much nose blowing too. I had a bloodbath on my hands.  There was no desperate shopping, I wasn't feeling well and my hip was hurting. So another rest day.

Wednesday 29th 24-26F, -4-3C, windy, heavy overcast. Threat of light snow showers this morning. My cold and hip pain are dragging on. It snowed steadily during my walk. Light and dry much like the stuff drifting on the wind. I was able to complete my route where the flooding had subsided. The roads were dusted white at the thinnest with thicker layers. Even the traffic was taking it very easy for a change.

I was unable to get the new Dintex Heat Pax gloves back on the other day, while I was out on the trike. So I did an online search for the manufacturers. It seems that Dintex only refers to the wind and waterproof membrane. While Heat Pax refers to the air activated heat sachets. The difference in sizes is absolutely ridiculous! Last year's gloves are an inch/25mm wider and 1/2"/12mm longer.

These gloves are absolutely brilliant when they fit well. However, due to the wrong sizing of the second pair they are very difficult/impossible to put back on when my hands are the slightest bit damp. Even when they don't feel damp! Both pairs are marked L/XL and are manufactured in China. So who makes them? Dintex or Heat Pax? Thermafur? I'm really not sure yet. I have emailed the American suppliers to se if they can help.

An 8 mile ride in powdery snow with more snow falling continuously. The front mudguard was spraying road lying snow sideways but I felt no real extra drag. The trike ended up well coated. With almost an inch of powder almost up to the top tube. The balaclava helped to make me too warm again. Another day for breaking chunks of ice out of my beard.

I discovered that the more rearward situated axle on the Trykit did not offer as much tyre grip as the Higgins when I climb out of the saddle. It was easier to remain seated. The ShiftMate seems to be doing its job. No doubt a small adjustment on the cable would improve things still further. I really haven't spent any time (at all) fine tuning the gears since I fitted the Jtek device.

Thursday 30th 23-24F, -5-4C, overcast, windy. I still have a cold. I've also had to uninstall Google Chrome. Apart from the obvious privacy issues I was suddenly being completely swamped with adverts! Even with Firefox I can't escape from Google if I want to continue blogging and using the Internet.

How on earth did the world get it so wrong that they allowed such dangerous monopolies to exist? Because they were American? So they didn't have to pay taxes, like the rest of the world? Thus enjoying a massively unfair, commercial advantage to help them build their evil empires? Would the US have tolerated a Microsoft, Apple, Intel or Google under the flag of any other nation? Can you even  imagine the terrifying vulnerability of our entire communication and control systems when AI, China and the robots take over? Whatever.

It's that time to go out in the snow again and cough and snot all over the birds. I disturbed two hares who were just sitting in the middle of a field. They certainly explain some of the thousands of prints I see on my walks in the snow. (and previous mud) Padded feet and long front claws were unlikely to be deer.  I was thinking foxes. It snowed continuously and blew quite hard with 3-4" of snow underfoot and lots of minor drifting.

I left late afternoon for a shopping ride. Lots of snow and fluffy slush  on the roads. Saw a couple of snow plows scraping. Even dived into a field entrance to let one pass. Then spent ten minutes waiting for his entourage to go by. He must have traveled for miles to have collected so much traffic!

It was Fakta's turn not to have the special offers today. Just a large hole full of fresh air on the shelf on the first day of the offer. Get over it, Chris. It's a Danish supermarket. What were you really expecting in a country without any consumer protection? Hang on though.. they banned vitamins and Marmite. So somebody must really care on our behalf. 
I came back through the forest. Even more snow on the road in the lanes. It collected into a disk on the front wheel with the forks slicing thin circles. Or spraying sideways. Safe enough below 20mph but a bit wayward at the rear on the descents where the snow was a couple of inches deep. 10 miles.

Friday 31st 26F, -3C, overcast, windy. I still have a cold.

Going back to yesterday's rambling about dumping the Chrome browser.: Firefox now has Lightbeam to show who is tracking us around the web. You'd probably be shocked to see that every website you visit dumps several 3rd party cookies on your computer. Sometimes considerably more. What I have also discovered is that CCleaner is no longer needing to delete tens of thousands of Google files every single day. Firefox shows only a few hundred files to delete on every CC scan and a much reduced number of cookies.

So what was Google doing to produce such vast numbers of files? More to the point why are these numbers massively reduced despite Google still being the sole search tool via Firefox? I see Snowdon has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway. That would be a major slap in the face to the sociopaths at the NSA. Now all we need are real tools to undo the damage that unhindered commercial corruption is doing to our privacy online. If several hundred weird people in shabby raincoats followed literally everybody everywhere in the real world there would be a global public outcry. How ironic that it took the "Land of the Free" to bring us closer to 1984 than ever before.

Had my walk. Snow plows were scraping and salting again. The straight blades aren't very efficient on such steeply cambered roads. Leaving a strip of a couple of meters width of  untouched snow several inches deep along both sides. The traffic tends to avoid it unless something is coming the opposite way. So the snow hangs around much longer. Leaving me with no choice but to ride on the cleared tarmac. Which can hold up the traffic. When I'm walking I just plod along on the snow when vehicles are approaching. Fortunately this isn't too often on the lanes. It is very good exercise trying to walk briskly on snow. I usually choose to avoid the roads as much as possible. For variety I select a different route every day. Usually on a whim or wind direction.

I was horribly short of breath at the beginning of my ride. Climbing a long drag up to the woods became rather hard work. Things steadily improved to the point where I was climbing out of the saddle for several hundred yards on a later hill. My chest is still wet and ticklish after the event but I'm not coughing as much as I was yesterday. 19 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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