24 Feb 2014

24th February 2014

Monday 24th 39-43F, 4-6C, windy, cloudy but brightening. I'm going to Odense on the trike. Wish them luck!

It was blowing a worse gale than yesterday! A Southerly 20mph base with 30+ gusts. Mostly a head crosswind going both ways made it quite hard work. I was trying to keep the cadence up around 105 rpm most of the time. Having arrived in Odense mid-morning still fresh from the leafy cycle paths I didn't seem to have bothered anybody this time. At least I heard no raised voices. I took another route home in case anybody was lying in wait for me. I was much too warm on the way back despite stripping down to the (almost) bare essentials. 42 miles not out.

Trees overdoing the steroids.

I am coming to the conclusion that with Denmark being so "lumpy" I get a good workout on every ride whether I want one or not. Add in the constant wind and I think I may be safely excused intervals.

Lest there is any doubt, it should be said that I very rarely potter when out on the trike. Overtaking all other ordinary cyclists is perfectly normal behaviour for me. This, regardless of my weight disadvantage. By which I mean the usual 20lbs/ 10kg load of shopping and all the extra "sticky-out" bits of a trike. My own weight is still hovering around the lower end of the 11 stone mark. So I probably present a sort of OCD, cycling polyester clad, slightly undernourished, greying pensioner with funny (cyclist's) legs whirling round to a pained expression. That is when I'm not actually grinning back at somebody who waves. 

Only the obsessive compulsive owners of carbon bikes, with all the clubman's kit on, offer serious competition to my pride. In another life I was probably a whippet who never learned to stop chasing bikes in order to overtake them. This all started when I was 15 and I have never been properly trained out of it. Even after 50 years I still get on and go as fast as I can without becoming completely breathless and exhausted. Odense brings out the worst in the whippet. There are so many other cyclists to chase down and leave in my (three) slightly damp tracks. Do whippets need to do intervals? 'Nuff said.

Nature has a go at installation art.

Tuesday 25th 38-50F, 3-10C, bright but breezy. After a watery start it quickly became sunny on my walk. Though with a thin, cold wind at times. I had to take my jacket off towards the end. Walking wardrobe rethink to cope with spring is imminent. The same problem on the trike. Windproof yet cool is vitally necessary to avoid sweating followed by an icy chill down the back. The temperature climbs rapidly from uncomfortably cold at this time of year. The wind doesn't help. Dress to be warm at the outset and it's instant mobile sauna! Just another day riding to the shops. Too warm on the way back. I'll have to loose the vest and/or the tights if it stays this mild. Only 15 miles. I wasn't allowed out again after lunch.

Wednesday 26th 38-46F, 3-8C, breezy, rather cloudy with only occasional brightness. I became daring in my walking route today and took to the spray tracks across the fields. I heard no gunfire. So, either nobody saw me, or they couldn't be bothered to make me pay the ultimate price for walking on their sticky mud.

Not long after leaving on the trike a young and incredibly skinny "racing" cyclist approached a junction just as I passed. I called out a "Hi" (as you do) but seemed to be ignored. So I sprinted up to a still higher speed and he chased.

 Man has a go at installation art.

Half a mile later he went past on the first climb as I struggled to maintain 18mph. I tried to follow but hit a brick wall of oxygen starvation as I climbed out of the saddle to get on his back wheel. My six week cold was obviously still taking its toll. I have been clearing my throat repeatedly for longer than I can remember. It coughs up like clear Evo-Stik. A couple of weeks ago it was green! Two weeks before that it WAS the same colour as Evo-Stik!

He put several hundred yards on me on the following descent. Nothing I did would make me go any faster than 22mph downhill into the wind. His frontal area must have been half of mine as his head was lower than his bum and his bum was narrower than my Carradice Junior! Which I had foolishly left behind in the excitement of needing more shopping. So I can blame it all on the lift-drag ratio of a stalled Camper Longflap in the turbulent air of my flailing legs.

I followed him along the main road at a steady 20.7-21mph but still he pulled away. I seemed to have hit my ceiling and there was no more reserve of speed despite my superman position. With my gloved palms on the tops of the uncomfortably sharp peaks of  the Campag Ergo hoods. Nobody warned me that I would be needing tri-bars when I left home!! 

Nature turns up the colour when it thought nobody was looking.
After nearly five miles of this nonsense I finally lost sight of him as he crested the summit of a long drag about half a mile ahead. I was still doing 18mph on the climb but that was my limit. The Ventour jacket was too cold for today's temperature but kept me from having a free sauna on the climbs. After the first bout of shopping I cut across country to the next village for another dose. Am I having fun yet? 20 miles.

Thursday 27th 39-47F, 4-8C, windy, very misty at first, becoming clear and sunny. Visibility down to less than 50 yards at the start of my walk. I knew I was walking towards dark and towering conifers but could only see bright, white mist until I was right up close. Once the sun came up it very quickly burnt away the mist. I saw Yellow hammers in the shrubbery on the marsh and disturbed the poor herons on the drainage channels. A mountain biker seems to have discovered the route through the woods. I can see several sets of studded tracks now.

Another cloudless day for my ride. I was cruising at 20-23 mph for a while but changed direction and the crosswind started eating into my speed. At Vissenbjerg I discovered massive potholes in the middle of the cycle paths at the main road traffic lights. One hole on the petrol station corner and another on the opposite corner. Both holes were over a foot (30cm) deep! Anybody falling into them on their bikes wouldn't have a chance. It would almost inevitably mean a visit to hospital.

Ironically a lorry had dropped half its load of gravel for hundreds of yards along the cycle path below the lights. I had to take to the road to avoid it. An enterprising local volunteer could collect a couple of builder's wheelbarrow full of gravel and fill in the holes. It's not as if the council will ever get round to it! 20 miles.

Friday 28th 39-44F, 4-7C, almost still, hazy with weak sunshine. Thinking it would improve my bird watching I took my heavy old binoculars with me on my walk. While I was certainly able to confirm the pair of Yellowhammers there was very little else of particular interest to see. Until, that is,  I arrived home to spot a Nuthatch in one of our own Silver birch trees. Several chevrons of geese went over earlier arguing furiously over their route south. When surely north would have been far more appropriate for spring? I am not aware of the magnetic pole having flipped just yet. I disturbed some Shelducks and Herons on the pond in the marsh. The herons flew off together again. Before one bird returned to do a slow lap of the pond to check if I was really a danger to life and limb. The ground around there is heavily littered with spent cartridge cases so I could see his point of view.

I rode to Assens for "spring" cycling gloves and new brake blocks. It was recommended I try Ultegra blocks in preference to the cheapo Spectra blocks I had been using. The original Tektro blocks weren't all that good. The Spectra blocks are okay but scrape like metal to metal sometimes. They are also clumsy in both size and shape. Needing very wide brake tracks and removing the magenta finish on the front rim. I brought back a load of shopping as well. Assens is still filthy. Hundreds of cigarette butts, dead batteries, beer bottle tops, litter and black filth everywhere. The promised light rain arrived in the last mile from home but was short lived. The wind remained light. 20 miles.  
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