28 Apr 2014

28th April 2014 Camera Action!

Monday 28th 50F, 10C, light breeze, full sun. Another beautiful sunny day but with lighter winds promised. Gusting only to 20mph. I keep forgetting to record the peak temperature during this warm spell. My figures usually relate to the temperature as I scribble on my blog before leaving for a walk. Then the temperature when I return from my ride as I write up anything unusual. Or to try and express some thought which has popped into my vacuous noddle.

After my walk I shall be back to experimenting with the downward-pointing Sony Action Cam. Yesterday's results were spoilt by not being able to fix the camera anywhere useful. The camera is now firmly supported behind the saddle. The saddlebag and supporting "rack" are gone and the entire length of the seat stays and most of the rear axle should be clearly visible. Thanks to the wide angle lens and bright sunshine the image of the trike is nicely sharp. Though the road below is moving too fast to be properly captured. I just need to check with some short, trial videos that the camera is pointed correctly. Then I can do some hill climbing and sprinting to see what the rear end is actually doing. Each video has to be downloaded onto my computer for viewing so it is not exactly an "immediate" format. Better I suppose than the "good old days" when one waited for a lab to develop the film.

Well, I've now completely wasted a couple of hours on Sony's POS Non-Action Cam. Not only is it rattling its LCD screen (a well known fault which somehow escaped the multi-billion dollar Sony Corporation's, blind, deaf and dumb, product testing department) but the Play Memories Home software is also broken. I tried downloading an update but guess what? It automatically opens the software to install the update. Then tells me it can't install because the damned software is open!!!
It gets worse! I added a long tail for a completely different viewpoint. This proved to be the best length with the Sony's field of view.

What a total piece of crap this camera has proved to be! Half the time the micro smart card doesn't remain connected to its socket! This is totally unforgivable for a sports action camera. So hours of recording are never recorded! It is absolutely useless in anything but bright sunlight and then it paints the sky in lunatic LSD colours! I have another Sony product going back because it rattles like a bucket full of bolts. Is there any Sony Product which actually works as its hype department claims?

A whole day, only 9 miles covered but I eventually had two videos (almost) worth sharing. Albeit with absolutely appalling soundtracks! YT didn't like my second video and spent ages processing it after processing the first one "live" without so much as a pause before it was available for public viewing. Then the Itinerant went off! Weather apart, it has not been my day at all!

Top view:

Another view:

I have now added music to the videos to hide the mechanical racket and buzzing LCD screen and suggest you watch full screen in HD if you can. Though picture quality is still vastly inferior to the original videos in 1080p watched on my own computer. Despite appearances no part of the roads covered were flat. Given the tiny number of tricycling videos posted online I hope you consider my very amateur efforts worthwhile. There is a strange irony that there are literally hundreds of YouTube videos of adults playing on children's toys. Yet very few videos of touring and racing tricycles being ridden by "real" cyclists.  

Tuesday 29th 44-67F, 7-20C, still and sunny. Forecast is just as warm again but possibly cloudier than the clear blue skies we have been enjoying for days now. It became very warm and stayed sunny. Four and a half miles in a couple of hours wandering in the woods. I saw bullfinches feeding each other, a lot of different warblers, two Shelducks, a hare, three large deer and a buff coloured, middle sized, bird of prey. And two domestic cats hunting in the spray tracks.

This early in the morning the oil seed rape hardly smells. It is probably at its best right now with most flowers open right to the tips. The woods are glorious with new foliage lit by the low, bright sunshine. Though the camera makes a very poor job of capturing the beauty of it all. It lacks the range of contrast of the human eye and is easily burnt out by brighter highlights. 

Time for a ride. Rode to a plant nursery in bright warm sunshine. A blind, senile, drunken, retarded psychopath with a drug habit brushed past me at high speed on a wide open road in his car. How do I know he had all these excuses ready? Do you know any other reasons for such dangerous and anti-social behaviour? Why does the mere ownership of a car provide such a lethal weapon without security and psychological tests? If I owned (say) a large howitzer would I be allowed to wander the roads of the entire world without some kind of checks? Yet any fool can drive a car! And most of them do! 23 miles so far.

I have to go out again. A lot of butterflies, insects and large flies about at the moment. One fly went right into my ear! I just hope it came back out again before it saw the light at the far end of the tunnel. Pardon? Another 7 miles in the afternoon. My "hip" was hurting again. I stopped to press my knee up to my chest and it improved after that.

Wednesday 30th 61-66F, 16-19C, thin, high cloud, warm and sunny, with light winds. Had a 3 mile walk. Recent spraying had re-opened the spray tracks beside the woods. Pig shit must be a valuable commodity now. I keep seeing vast, 6 axle, stainless steel tanker lorries stinking of the stuff. One tanker was being loaded beside one of the giant storage tanks at a huge pig farm. So there can be little doubt that shit is being ferried away from the originating farm.

I have a new pair of shorts from Wiggle. Thought I'd try their dhb Aeron race shorts for when I don't want (nor need) to wear my best bibs. The pad looks quite reasonable, perforated for airflow and the shorts material is multi-way stretchy and comfortable in a compression fit. So they shouldn't sag at the bum like my older shorts. Nor sweat like the awful Bontrager bibs with the frilly rubberised legs! I'm going out for a ride in my freshly laundered, new shorts after coffee and rolls.

The new shorts were more comfortable than any of my older ones but slightly too "grippy" on the Brooks saddle. After a few miles this seemed to wear off to some degree and I could adjust my position without lifting off. I presume that shorts are designed to work best on modern "plastic" saddles and their artificial coverings. These may be more slippery than solid, treated leather. Then again, the shorts may have picked up some free wax from the Brooks Proofide in this warm weather. Allowing them to slide more freely. 16 miles so far. Plus 13 more pm. I was unusually grateful for my water bottle today and kept taking swigs. (Of tap water)

It's not as if I normally ride like a basking shark but I still managed to get several large flies in my mouth today. The warm weather has produced too many of the things. The overall stench of weapons grade, pig shit might also have something to do with it. I must have seen over a dozen huge shit dribblers today but only one traditional muck spreader.

The new shorts are fine so far. The original grippy feeling on the saddle is now gone. They stayed cool and dry on what was quite a warm day. Nor did I have to keep pulling them up like the old ones. In fact I was looking for a pair of clip-on braces to wear with my original collection. Until my wife insisted I buy some new shorts. 

  Click on any image for an enlargement.

22 Apr 2014

22nd April 2014

Tuesday 22nd 50-62F, 10-17C, early cloud cleared to sunshine. The Easterly wind is picking up again. A 3 mile stroll to start the day. My attempt to capture the weird sound in the woods was a barely audible failure. I used my camera's video function expecting something on the soundtrack. It could be a deer, or a fox. It sounds like a deep but sharp bark. Nothing like any dog I've ever heard though. Quite menacing, in a strangely alien way.

Three hares were pottering about together on the track leading to the woods. Too far away for a photograph. Every time I advanced a few steps, they retreated more. Plovers gave me a nice flying display on a newly tilled field. As did the skylarks. I knew Skylarks could climb fairly quickly but it was a shock to see them literally drop like a stone from a hundred feet and "flare out" just above the ground! An amazing feat of flying! A medium sized, all brown, bird of prey sailed low over my head with long, narrow wings extended to 'fingers.' It quickly disappeared over the tops of the trees. I am enjoying the way the oil seed rape is changing the landscape before it becomes too smelly.

It was windy but mostly sunny for my ride. Going quite well. Only 19 miles.

Wednesday 23rd 46F, 8C, heavy grey overcast, light rain and a light breeze. Showers or rain forecast until after lunch. No walk. A mid afternoon ride coincided with renewed rain. I managed to get quite soggy in a short time despite the Aldi rain jacket. I'm getting quite good at removing and refitting the Crud mudguard. I don't know why I bother to take it off because it weighs almost nothing, is almost invisible and offers very little drag. 7 miles. Much better weather promised for tomorrow.

Thursday 24th 42F, 6C, overcast, light breeze. Showers possible? Where is the promised sunshine? It didn't brighten up for my 3 mile walk. I was walking towards home when a pigshit spreader entered the field. So I had to make a serious detour to avoid it. Arrived home to enjoy the full bouquet! Yeuk! The whole area now stinks of weapons grade pig shit! As if that wasn't bad enough 173 pig farmers have been reported to the police for punishing pigs. With 7500 suspected attacks which caused sores and wounds very likely to have been inflicted by humans. Many wounds suggest that pigs have been beaten with chains, spanners and hammers. A huge fraction of all pigs die prematurely. You'll never guess what they have written on the side of the huge, slaughterhouse transporters? Thriving (animals) means healthy (animals). Yeah right! Enjoy your bacon!

Left mid afternoon for Assens. No sign of sunshine but I was cruising at 20mph + going. Rather slower coming back into the wind by another route. Finding stock in the supermarkets is a complete lottery! Only 19 miles.

Friday 25th 46-60(?)F, 8-16(?)C, windy, sunny. A 3 mile walk. A hare ran almost right up to me. Sat down, stared for quite a few seconds, then ran like hell!

I left after morning coffee for Middelfart. As I rode at speed, close to the salt marshes, I was being sandblasted by flies. I couldn't find what I wanted in Middelfart so rode on to Fredericia. Where they obviously haven't resurfaced the cycle paths since the Old Bridge was built! [1935] I seemed to be fighting the wind all day long. My plan was to ride back via the main road but it was far too noisy with constant traffic and an exhausting head/crosswind. It always irritates me that the road surface is absolutely perfect. While the cycle path is all lumps and holes! So I turned off and detoured through several villages to gather shopping as I went. Each village has different supermarkets amongst the small number of national chains.

Like a fool I didn't eat until 3pm and then only had a cheese roll and small box of orange juice. So I was getting a bit tired by then. I bought some bananas and ate one. I looked at the vast sweet racks in several supermarkets but nothing appealed. So I bought some digestives but they were like eating sawdust without a drink. All my own fault. I could easily have bought something. My moral sense will not bring me to drink sugar-loaded, fizzy crap. Though I could have bought some apple or orange juice nobody sells small boxes of the organic. I would have had to buy a litre but had no storage space left in the pint-sized Carradice Camper.

65 miles, pushing hard all the time, particularly into the wind, is only a test of stamina if you eat correctly. I was starving by the time I got home and stuffed my face with assorted sandwiches. With lots of tea to help it down. Then a good soak in the bath followed by a half hour nap and I was almost back to what passes as normal for me. Drinking tap water during the evening helped me to rehydrate. I was given some free rehydration salts by a bike shop once but they gave me leg pain each time I tried them. 

Saturday 26th, 45-65(?)F, 7-18(?)C, windy, full sun. The easterly wind already looks stronger than the peak forecast for later. Temperatures are supposed to rise rapidly to the high 60s. No (obvious) ill effects from yesterday's foolishness. I'll start with a walk. Warm sunshine and lots of birdsong. A hare came quite close again. My Lumix TZ7 camera isn't very sharp when hand held at full zoom. It really needs a DSLR with a long lens to do these more distant subjects proper justice. This is a beautiful time of year to live in the countryside. [Pigshit notwithstanding.]

It felt almost summery as I rode to the shops. Climbing quite well. So I did an extra climbing detour while still loaded with shopping. The first ride this year wearing only a cycling jersey and shorts. 19 miles.

Sunday 27th 46-65(?)F, 8-18(?)C, windy, full sun. Same forecast as yesterday but windier. My 3.5 mile walk in an hour and half seemed much warmer than the indicated temperature [58F] even though I was just ambling along. The oil seed rape has reached shoulder height and firmly closed the spray tracks.  I saw a Jay and a Blackcap today but no hares. I have also seen several cyclists out training already.

We are having an amazing run of fine weather. Except that it is slightly too windy.  Cycling into a headwind, while I am still fresh, doesn't make it any easier until I turn around and come back. Which is a bit like stating the obvious unless it is a major part of one's daily cycling experience. Doing it the other way around is even sillier. A sin of which I seem frequently guilty.

I ought to go out after the morning ritual of coffee and marmalade covered rolls. Just to celebrate the sunshine. I have caught some sun on my forearms but my legs are still very pale brown. Probably from last year. I still have a phobia about having white legs from kids shouting at me as I raced past them as a teenager. I still haven't decided whether I dare defy the wrath of SWMBO about shaving my legs. I'd better wait until they are toasty brown to reduce the chance of discovery.

I managed two rides today without going very far. Chased a couple of riders for a couple of miles but had to turn off to the shops just before I caught them. I doubt they were really trying.

Later I attached a Sony Action Cam to the seat tube to capture the gear change and my flailing feet. The Sony handlebar clamp is not very suitable for such activities due to its fixed lateral angle. So I have now added a right angle bracket and a steady bar and mounted the camera just behind the saddle. I shall hopefully have a more useful video tomorrow than those I have captured so far.

The 16:9 format wants to run along the length of the trike rather than across the track. The camera also needs to be raised to somewhere around the saddle height. Otherwise the camera does not capture the correct area of interest or enough of it. It was the continuing bright sunshine which inspired me to try this. The Sony's video performance in overcast conditions is very poor indeed.

My thinking is that a firmly fixed camera should capture any flexure of the rear axle relative to the diamond "bike" part of the frame. (If any!) Unfortunately there isn't anywhere suitable to dangle the camera except behind the saddle. Though it has a wide angle of view it still needs to point at the right area. Avoiding my flailing feet and the trike frame completely filling the screen has been difficult so far.

This is the first time I have ridden my Trykit trike stripped of all the usual ballast of saddlebag, tool kit, rack and heavy U-lock and I still only managed 16 miles today. Though I was trying really hard most of the time. Cruising at 20-26mph  on the 46t chainwheel uphill and down dale riding with the wind. Only 12-16mph coming back into a headwind but I was climbing well when out of the saddle. Something I have been practising a lot lately.

I keep pushing my pain tolerance in the hope of more effortless range on longer hills. My quads seem to have developed more as a result. They say you should remain seated on a trike but I actually enjoy the feeling of standing up on the pedals despite the pain. Now I attack every slight rise to try and improve my range before I have to sit down again and twiddle to the top. My hip pain seems to have receded again. It is usually brought on by lifting heavy weights. Probably the sciatic nerve complaining.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

21 Apr 2014

21st April 2014 [Getting my daily fix]

Easter Monday 21st 51F, 11C, overcast, breezy. Possible showers this morning.

Apparently I am an exercise self-abuser. As dependent on cycling as a drug addict is on toxic chemicals. It must be true because it is all over the Danish papers. Continuing to exercise while injured is a sure sign. As is the feeling of the day being completely empty without a ride. The guilt associated with taking a rest day is another.

Picture of a hare in a spray track. What hare? Suddenly everybody's a critic!

Thank goodness I am cycling on public roads and not training on a turbo under some rusting bridge in a run-down, industrial backwater. Or hiding my guilty secret in a dark corner of a seedy gym or (groan) pedalling away my dwindling self-esteem at home alone!

The really funny, but achingly tragic part of all of this, is that rest is "a good thing." It gives the mind, body and muscles time to repair themselves. Probably leading to better performance than continuing to train without a rest. Try telling that to a habitual addict with the skinny arms, bumpy legs and protruding veins to prove it! Oh, the awful shame!

The blame for my downward spiral into my chronic cycle of exercise self-abuse can be laid squarely at the feet of the bankers. They brought about the recession and the constant pressure to export as many jobs as possible to the slave labour countries. Otherwise a company's quarterly results [and thus their share price] would go down in the nano-second between electronic trading cycles! Now add in the politic-ooze's shallow attempts to curry favour with white trash voters by openly punishing the unemployed. Ensure there are no jobs (at all) at the hilariously misnamed "Job Centres"  and over-staff them to the gunwales with fully paid up members of the New Nazi Youth. Arbeit Macht Frei! Now you know why I started fixing on cycling!

Discarded, like so many others, onto the growing unemployment register, it was required that I sought three job interviews per week. I was 63 when I was made redundant along with many others in my age group and many of my former colleagues. Worse,  I was crippled with RSI from decades of serious manual overload. But too unfit for early retirement on the grounds of ill health.

I was two years away from normal retirement age with few useful job or Danish language skills to offer. So I was arguably less attractive to any employer than a habitual drunk with a swastika tattooed on my forehead and a ring in my nose. And, if that made me attractive then I would still be right at the back of the queue of swastika bearing, ring-nosed drunks!

To avoid the heavy financial burden of driving everywhere in my old car I rode my trike to every failing, windblown, industrial estate, solitary unkempt factory and weed infested, rural business. Usually to be told that they were "already downsizing."

Thus began my fall into chronic self-abuse by over-training on my trike. I went out in blizzards at temperatures down to -15C to prove I was actively job seeking. I used every psychological trick to help me to keep up this strangely eccentric behaviour. Rather than lapse into nihilistic depression. Or an uncontrollable rage at the intolerable unfairness of life, the universe and everything.

I actually imagined I had gained some status as a cyclist. Rather than having no status at all as an unemployed nobody. I blogged and scribbled down my mileage to prove how serious I was. I took self portraits in roadside hazard mirrors to prove I was actually out there in the wind and the rain. I kept lists of businesses I visited and constantly changed my routes as I searched for any potential place of employment.

No jobs were ever offered but I seemed to amuse those I met. I may have actually served a far more vital role as a tricycling clown by providing spontaneous entertainment therapy to depressed businesses. The rest is blogging history. Until, that is, I was eventually informed that I had officially retired. Having escaped from the dole queue I unaccountably kept up the daily tricycling fix. Though  not on a fixie, I hasten to add. One still has some pride! 

Thanks to the headlines I am now (no doubt) quite widely known as a cycling self-abuser. It is difficult to avoid this conclusion as I leave home most days dressed like a Tour de France racer. But incongruously mounted on such an unlikely steed as an adult trike. Does not compute!!

What price my status now? I see my role as one of low impact, self-preservation and bugger the tabloid press! I exercise. Therefore I am. I avoid sugar and other crap non-foods and should thus be a lighter burden on the health service. Not to mention being lighter on my feet. My constant exercise [albeit self-abuse in journalsleeze] keeps me amused rather than bored out of my tiny skull.

A 3 mile walk through woods and fields in an hour and half, soaking up the spring countryside, watching birds and counting hares. I met a black cat on a spray track a good mile from any house. It began to rain gently in the last mile.

I shall be self-abusing on my filthy, tricycling habit after lunch. Well, no matter how low I sink, at least I'm not a banker. Nor a "musical chairs" politician. Nor an, equally worthless, journalist. Nor, god forbid, a member of the insecurity services. ['Scuse my language!)  ;ø))

Despite the strong, gusty wind I still managed 21 miles of excessive exercise. I saw a Blackcap right beside the road and a pair of Red kites alighting on a midfield copse. Traffic was very light. I have just passed 2000 miles for the year. It's going to be a poor year indeed unless I increase my overdoses of completely inexcusable exercise.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

18 Apr 2014

18th April 2014

Friday 18th 41-45F, 5-7C, grey overcast, light breeze. Yesterday's forecast of sunshine and light winds has become showers and rather windy. They spared me the showers but there was an eye watering wind all the way back from the  most distant point of my walk. Four miles in an hour and half. I saw three hares. Including one which did not seem to recognise me as a potential threat as it lolloped steadily towards me on a quiet country lane. By the time I had my camera ready it had disappeared through the hedge into the woods.

My right, Salomon 'Discovery GTX'  boot is now squeaking so loudly that I am disturbing the horses at their grazing. I sound like a medieval cart with a dry axle! It is no wonder the birds are hiding from me! Dogs I pass are barking at me as well! There is no visible difference and the other boot is completely silent. It doesn't matter whether I put my heel or toe down first, or walk flat footed, it squeaks just as loudly!

I had no need to go shopping and as it was a cold, miserable day, with showers, I decided to give my painful hip a rest.

Saturday 19th 40-58F, 4-14C, becoming windy, heavy overcast with thick mist. The forecast is sunny all day with light winds. Where do I queue for my refund?

The mist cleared very quickly and I was soon rather too warm on my walk. My hip is fine today. I saw a flock of about 50 Fieldfares foraging on a large area of short grass. Still a few pairs of geese circling noisily.

I rode to Assens by a roundabout route and back again by another. Spotted my first Swallow and Red kite of the year. Warm enough for bare knees and fingerless mitts. Bright sunshine and the wind remained fairly light. 21 miles.

The supermarkets were cheating on their special offers again. Crooks, damned cooks and Danish supermarkets! Isn't it odd that Denmark alone, in all of Europe, has no consumer protection? I have to go out again to finish the shopping.

Plus ten more miles. Half a dozen small peacock butterflies were sunbathing on the road. Presumably trying to warm up more quickly in marginal temperature conditions. I saw my first dragonfly of this year in the same area.

Sunday 20th 50-65F, 10-18C, breezy and sunny. Temperatures could get quite silly today despite the increasing NE wind. We could see the high 60s [F]. Warm sunshine for my walk again. A hare was guarding the entrance to the woods. The flock of distinctive Fieldfares numbered around 300 today!

It peaked at just over 65F locally. Remaining sunny but windy throughout. I was crawling downhill at only 15mph on the way there and climbing at 22mph and on the big chain ring all the way back. Only 11 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

14 Apr 2014

14th April 2014

Monday 14th 43F, 6C, heavy overcast, windy, occasional drizzle. It is forecast to blow 40mph gusts later and I can already hear the wind. With showers forecast and a quick walk around the garden to test the conditions I have decided to postpone my walk.

 Farmer's toys. The one with the most wheels wins.

Noah must have been in charge of the weather forecast today. There was a shower just before I left and then came the real rain! I was only 100 yards from home and committed! Or, more probably, should have been. Throw in a headwind gale and I was lucky to have put on the Aldi rain jacket and GripGrab rubber overshoes. Though I stayed comfortable enough apart from the soggy knees.

A tiny bird of prey sailed slowly overhead completely ignoring my presence. Similar outline to a swift or swallow and not much bigger. It looked quite dark against the sky. Google suggests a Merlin.

An over the shoulder, very gusty wind on the way home kept changing direction. Trying to push me all over the place! Just passed 3000 km for the year so far. Lazy git! 23 miles.

Tuesday 15th 34-51F, 1-11C, white overnight frost on the grass, bright sunshine from a cloudless sky. Warming nicely. Northerly breeze. Where shall we go today? To a garden centre at Fåborg via the coastal road and back by an inland route. A cross tailwind going but it felt like a headwind most of the way back. My hip was hurting from the very start and never let up. As were my knees. Finally, I pulled my tights out of my socks and tugged at the knees to make them baggy and that solved the knee problem. Shame it took me 45 miles to discover this!

A cheese roll and a banana were not enough for such a long and hilly ride. Particularly while having to continuously fight the wind. So I was tiring a little towards the end. Svanninge Bakke was completely ruined by the unusual wind direction! I have never climbed it so slowly. It is usually a long but enjoyable climb. 53 miles.

Wednesday 16th 32-54F, 0-12C, white overnight frost, still and sunny. With the wind turbines standing still it is an ideal day for a ride once it warms up. I should have gone for my longer ride today due to the very light winds forecast all day. My hip and kneecaps are still hurting. The hip pain is probably from lifting heavy ladders the day before yesterday. The knee pain caused by the tights I wore yesterday.

I walked five miles in 2½ hours this morning in warm sunshine. Adding a Blackcap, a Robin and several warblers to my list of birds spotted this year. Don't smile at the mention of a Robin. They are very shy birds over here. Completely unlike the semi-tame Robins in the UK. Thanks to the lightweight, compact binoculars, which I now carry on my walks, I find that Yellow hammers are incredibly commonplace. Though Chaffinches and Great tits still outnumber them by a very large margin.

Not that any of this has anything to do with cycling it is all beneficial to my sense of well being. Not to mention my fitness. Appreciating one's surroundings, particularly when so favoured by woods and rolling countryside, is vital to maintaining a sense of balance. So few get to enjoy the quiet solitude of such beautiful scenery and its wildlife. I often disturb hares in the spray tracks and woods. You wouldn't think hares lived in the woods but there they are. The sheer number of different birds on my walks and cycle rides is amazing.

Not having to share the woods  and fields with other people is another bonus. Being away from the traffic, often without a road within sight or sound, is incredibly relaxing. Having retired gives me the freedom to explore my surroundings at leisure at almost no expense. Having no real timetable allows me to fill my hours in any way I please. So many people get bored with their lot. With no job to give them a sense of status. Nor pastimes to fill their waking hours they find themselves lost. While I have so many hobbies that I can alight, like a butterfly, on anything which catches my interest of the moment. I have no need for passive entertainment while I can still entertain myself.

I went out on the trike after lunch. Lots of cyclists out training. Though it would be unkind to call them fairweather cyclists just because it was almost still with bright sunshine. I was going quite well myself today. Bare knees and my thinnest jacket to stay cool offered a wonderful sense of freedom after the long months of multi-layered swaddling clothes. I should have left the vest at home too.

The motorbike season has started in earnest. An old, single cylinder BSA went past. A unique sound you rarely hear today with multi-cylinder Japanese bikes being the norm. The conservatism of the British motorcycle industry offered nothing to compete with the imports. As the public literally dumped their bikes for affordable cars and could then sit in traffic jams. Instead of enjoying the freedom of the road and endlessly inclement weather. 18 miles.

Thursday 17th 44F, 7C, already windy and cloudy. The wind is supposed to peak at 45mph gusts this afternoon. I will need a chinstrap on my bobble hat if I leave it that late to go for a walk. Not that I wear a bobble hat these days. Fleece is warmer, much lighter, non-itchy and less stretchy. While on the trike I wear a thin, windproof, medieval cap under my helmet. The level of comfort offered by these shaped 'hats' is astounding. I wouldn't be without one of these caps under my helmet in a headwind or rain. Yet they weigh almost nothing and will squash down into a tiny space. I haven't yet mastered the skill of removing my helmet while riding along to fit or remove my scull cap.

It was sunny but not too windy in the forest as I did a loop along the tracks. More and more trees are bursting into leaf.  There was almost a dawn chorus of birds singing away in their own acoustic amphitheatre. Falling silent again when I hung about too long searching for the source of an unusual song.

It's odd how they can all sense that somebody walking is a lower risk compared to one standing still. Spotting tiny birds through the binoculars in a tangle of branches takes some practice. I saw several Nuthatches, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and many more subtly marked warblers. Which I am not very adept at delineating on the hoof.

The trees in the garden are bending to the increasing wind as I laze about on the computer. Loads more motorcycles are enjoying our winding country road. On their way to who knows where. All at each, their own pace. Several groups of ten or so have been quite commonplace today. Longer strings of many more are a familiar sight and sound later in the year. I was talked out of venturing forth on the trike in such windy conditions.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

7 Apr 2014

7th April 2014

Monday 7th 50-53F, 10-12C, light winds, damp with occasional drizzle and a bit misty. I rode the Brooks 'Professional' today and regretted it. It has all the qualities of one of those rocks you find on on the beach. They always look as if they will offer a perch to rest on. Then prove to be as uncomfortable as a.. bike saddle. It drizzled on the last leg. 21 miles. The B17 'Special' is going back on tomorrow! It was a strange day for lack of windmills. I use them all the time to check wind direction. Today they were largely hidden in low cloud.

Tuesday 8th 52-50F, 11-10C, windy, overcast, drizzle. High winds (40mph) and rain forecast for today. Will see if it improves later. I have re-fitted the B17 'Special' saddle to save myself further suffering.

The Danish police in Sealand [Sjælland] were open to public requests for sites for their radar vans to try and reduce speeding. They received 150 requests in a very short time! The majority of requests were from villagers plagued by speeding vehicles. And there I was thinking there was no interest in controlling speeding in Denmark. I have been saying for years that nobody bothers to stay within the speed limits. Neither in town or country. To drive at the speed limit is to be routinely overtaken by buses and articulated lorries. As well as cars, vans and official council vehicles.

My walk was interesting if only for the sheer quantity of water involved. It had started raining steadily by the time I reached the woods. In a rare flash of common sense I decided to head for home by the slightly more direct, spray tracks. Though I was plodding steadily through continuous standing water on sticky bare mud. Or splashing along swiftly running streams on the really steep bits.

The rain soon chose to stop messing about and became proper stair rods in great abundance. It was raining so hard that visibility was much reduced. I arrived home having managed to soak every bit of clothing, and myself, quite thoroughly. Being able to squeeze huge quantities of water from my totally inadequate wardrobe is not the most enjoyable of pastimes. It was fortunate that it was quite mild out there. Though it has now dropped five degrees F. I remained fairly comfortable throughout. Had I not been quite so near home it could have been far more serious. Going into the proper wilds protected only by a short, shower-proof jacket is a recipe for disaster.

I rode away after lunch in sunshine but expecting rain. It stayed dry but very windy. Only 10 miles. I stopped noticing the B17 'Special' seconds after I sat down. I had feared I might have "sensitised" myself by riding poor saddles for two days but was completely pain free today. Except for a niggling toenail. It pretends to be ingrowing until I attack it with sharp nail scissors.

Wednesday 8th 46-53F, 8-12C, rather windy, sunny periods between heavy cloud. I wrapped up better today for my walk but it stayed dry. There were white horses on the puddles on the track to the woods.

I have been soaking the Brooks 'Professional' in clean water for a couple of days to make it fully pliable again. I could then mould the thick leather with my fingers to the desired form. Removing the forward-sloping, delta grooves was the main priority. It is now flat again across the seating area. I've propped it up to dry naturally in the open air and will ensure it is completely dry before I  ride it again.

Completely slackening off the tension nut is important to avoid the leather stretching out of shape as it dries. The marking on the top from unnecessary G-cramping (via shaped plywood offcuts) will soon disappear. The leather proved to be easily pliable enough not to need any tools.

I'll go out on my trike after lunch now despite it gusting up to 40mph. I tightened the laces on the B17 'Special' to see how it responded. Firm and narrower but still comfortable. It was fun cruising at 20+mph with a tailwind except that the Catseye computer kept dying on me. Shopped and then fought my way back again into the gale.  Several cyclists were out training and making a much better job of it than I was. 20 miles.

Thursday 10th 34-47F, 1-8C, still, sunny at first but slowly clouding over. My toe was still hurting so I walked more slowly, pausing regularly to listen for and spot birds.

I'll probably go out on the trike after lunch. It gives me more time than having to be back by lunch time. The 'Professional' has dried out and is stiff again. Though I shan't rush to inflict myself on it, nor vice versa. Rode to Assens. 20 miles.

Friday 11th 46-48F, 8-9C, almost still, heavy overcast. Four mile two hour walk.

A council tractor cleaning road furniture. Despite the high cost of investment it only takes a few seconds to clean each item and then onto the next. Denmark uses meter high, plastic posts with reflectors at regular intervals rather than the British system of cats eyes. This may be due to the far greater quantities of snow over here in most winters. The regular snow ploughing would probably rip up cats eyes. Not to mention the far greater chance of the reflector posts remaining exposed to car headlights on the (usually) unlit rural roads. Only a tiny minority of road signs are lit compared with Britain. Why rural roads would need street lamps is a mystery when all vehicles have headlights. 

Cleaned the trike and re-adjusted the rear indexing. The cable had wrapped itself around the ShiftMate in the wrong place. It is supposed to cross over between the two, different sized pulleys on the flat machined section. It seems to jump over the flanges when left to its own devices for a while. The cable really needs to held in place on the flat area. Though it wouldn't be easy without altering the pull ratios. Or perhaps the flat machined area could be reduced. To leave raised pulley edges to the flat area to help resist the cable jumping over the pulley flanges.

I rode to a rural garden centre and back via the shops. 27 hilly miles in bright sunshine. My toe is feeling better after I performed surgery on the damaged cuticle with sharp nail scissors. Applying a cream with added oil will help to keep my nails and cuticles soft so they don't crack. I am still unsure whether the damage is due to walking or cycling. When it first occurred I blamed narrow cycling shoes.

Saturday 12th 41-52F, 5-11C, rather cloudy but with splodges of blue and a light breeze. It was cold again overnight but is warming rapidly. Becoming sunny and windy later. I had a walk but took a rest day from the trike.

Sunday 13th 44F, 7C, cloudy, almost still. Sunshine and showers with strong winds increasing later. A pleasant walk in bright sunshine but increasingly windy. I added a solitary Grebe to my tally of birds on the local ponds.

A hilly ride to the shops with the wind roaring in the trees. I was cruising at 28mph for a while! Then I was caught up in a cycle race and was catching the tail enders on a long, uphill drag. Whereupon they decided to get serious and formed a tight bunch to head off down the road on their carbon steeds. Coming back was into a gusting gale. With occasional cross winds trying to put me on the verge. A few cyclists out training despite everything. 23 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

Musical saddles!


I thought I'd better have another look at saddles and the factors which seem to matter to me. Feel completely free to disagree. 

The mist had cleared quite a bit as I set off perched on the Vetta SL saddle. I had treated the B17 'Special' to Brooks own wax proofing yesterday because it showed the rain far too easily. It was still rather greasy to ride this morning. Though I could have buffed it with a coarse rag I chose to do something different for a change. The B17 could be left to soak up what wax that it might while I re-tried the Vetta.

It was an interesting experience riding another saddle for a change. It felt quite small but managed to support my sit bones well enough. I think what the B17 brings to the table is much greater area and the hammock suspension. It does so at the cost of some efficiency. Almost every other saddle which I have tried feels instantly "faster" than the B17. These 'artificial' saddles make you want to ride faster and you do. Including climbing more quickly and efficiently. This is despite my B17 'Special' being tied. Which made it much stiffer and quite a lot more uncomfortable. Though not unbearably so. Let's just say that it is sometimes noticeable that it is there.

Perhaps the B17 damps the power of the lower glutes (buttocks) by offering too much support? There is still some friction between my thighs and the B17 despite the tie. Though I notice it only for the sense of a complete lack of body friction on other saddles. The B17 reduces the contact pressure per square unit of area in the name of comfort but at the expense of speed. The Vetta remained quite tolerable but never quite failed to become completely unnoticeable. A good saddle can be completely ignored. It simply doesn't draw attention to itself. You can't expect a few millimeters of foam under a vinyl cover over a stiff plastic body to do the same job as a suspended, flexible, leather hammock.

Nor did the Vetta vinyl offer the same controlled slipperiness of the Brooks. Making it a matter of lifting off every time to change position fore and aft. I was wearing my slipperiest and thinnest shorts so it had to be the vinyl making it sticky right from the first moments. Until I climbed off 24 miles later. I wanted to give the Vetta a "fair go."

On a broken-in leather Brooks the ratio of dynamic to static friction (stiction) is absolutely perfect. Though certainly not when new. It is far too slippery out of the box! Which strongly suggests that Brooks' advice to Proofide the new saddle has other benefits than merely nourishing the leather.

One can micro-adjust one's position on a leather Brooks while remaining fully seated. I tried silicone polish on one vinyl saddle but found it far too slippery until it wore off! Then it was right back to sticky vinyl again. There must be lessons to be learned in comfort from getting the slipperiness exactly right. It has to be in all riding conditions too. A sweaty rider does not want any change in friction with the saddle. Or the saddle will dominate how his shorts behave against his skin. It needs little imagination to suggest that repeated rubbing as one pedals for hours will cause extreme soreness.

Were it otherwise it might have been fun to recover the tatty Vetta with new, purple upholstery vinyl to match the Trykit details. I shan't be rushing to try this after trying a vinyl saddle again. The Vetta looks and feels slippery but just isn't when sat on. It would be a waste of good leather to recover a plastic seat.

I plan to try the Brooks 'Professional' next. Just to remind myself why I gave it up. Unfortunately it had become mouldy in places from sitting in a box in the unheated shed over the winter. I gave it a rub with a dry rag before renewing the Proofide treatment. It should be ready to ride by tomorrow. It is still showing the marks form the battens I used to pull out the creases while the saddle was soaking wet. Any rub marks rapidly disappear when a leather saddle is ridden. My 'Professional' still doesn't have the correct form and should be re-soaked and reformed. I rode it too soon after the last attempt at soaking and spoiled it all over again. I had discovered the wonders of the B17 by then. So didn't need the 'Professional' to be comfortable just to maintain my mobility.

The reason I am trying other saddles is to discover whether it is the rider who eventually toughens up in the contact areas. Or it is only the saddle itself which matters in the comfort stakes. I have been riding almost every day for years now. I can't honestly say that I have developed a rhino-like hide where I sit on the trike.

There is also the question of underwear. Not that one should wear anything under ones shorts or bibs. Except that tights are unavoidable in the colder weather. Even my best bibs do not offer the same comfort when wearing "skiing" tights. I never wear waterproof trousers because they hamper pedaling movement far too much. I also avoid rain whenever I can. It is simply unnecessary for me to go out in the rain. So I don't bother. Denmark is far drier than the western UK. So wet weather doesn't crop up nearly so often.

I keep wishing I could find an ultra-lightweight saddle which offers perfect comfort. The Brooks are much heavier than any racing saddle by at least a pound. The B17 has comfort to die for but needs protection from the weather. Tragically, it also changes shape beyond the perfection of "just broken in".

Which is precisely why I tied it when it started sagging into what I call the delta form. This is when forward sloping grooves appear between the "wings" and the "fuselage." The seating area being the wings and the fuselage the spine of the saddle. They really ought to remain level but with extended wear become separated. These grooves force the rider to slide forwards "down" the saddle onto the spine. So the spine sags. The owner then decides to tighten the tension nut to stop the sag. Immediately leading to far more grooving than before. The saddle is now doomed.

Tying helps to overcome this tendency in my experience. A suggestion from Alan H. for which I remain grateful. Though tying does cost some loss of comfort. The saddle is stiffened into an inverted U-beam with no freedom of the vertical sides to flex outwards. It is this flexure which makes Brooks leather saddles so comfortable over bumps. The stretched hammock design certainly helps but outward skirt flexure does most of the work. The support rails have almost no suspension effect at all. If they were flexible enough to bend they would not be stiff enough to support the rider. The rails would eventually break through fatigue.

If only it were possible to "freeze" the newly broken in Brooks in its optimum shape for the rider. Only lace tying seems to do this. Otherwise I would have had to start all over again breaking in a brand new B17 'Special'. The name is very apt. These really are very special leather saddles until their very flexibility ultimately becomes their downfall.

Others seem to keep riding them for decades and enjoy their sagging delta hammocks. I found I had to keep tipping the nose up just to stay seated at the back of the saddle. Tipping the nose up only exposes one's soft tissues to the front of the saddle spine. Your crutch really doesn't like to be crushed and constantly rubbed while pedalling. Supporting your weight is the vital job of the sit bones and the relatively flat (and springy) seating area at the back of the saddle.

We'll have to ignore the forward position adopted by many racing cyclists in competition. At least for the purpose of this discussion. If the Utterly Corrupt Individuals at the top of the self appointed cycling mafia would allow more forward saddles then everybody could sit comfortably. But progress is not the name of the game in competition cycling. Maintaining the corrupt power of the UCI is. They'd probably appoint a pope if they thought they could get away with it. No doubt Galileo had some thoughts on bicycle design which had to be suitably punished. Da Vinci almost certainly knew more about bicycle design than the UCI does today. But I digress:

Don't be a naive "tyre kicker" and use your hands to judge the stiffness and quality of a saddle. Your fingers cannot possibly apply the local pressures your pointy sit bones apply to a saddle. So pressing and knocking will teach you absolutely nothing. A broken in leather saddle sounds just as hard when you rap it with your knuckles. Playing musical saddles involves sitting on them in turn and riding them for a long way until one of you gives up the fight. Or you agree to an amicable truce based on mutual respect.

I have often thought that the Brooks 'Professional' 'S' would make an ideal touring saddle. The 'S' stands for short. Not "sissy" or "women's" per se. Though Brooks certainly describe them as the latter. The idea being that ladies need a wider saddle because their sit bones are anatomically wider. Or is it because they usually have more padding than men before the obesity pandemic reared its ugly wotsit? Not sure about this but I have read that the girls don't actually like "their" shorter saddles..

The 'Professional 'S' is as wide as a B17 at 175mm but has thicker leather and is considerably shorter. 242mm to the B17s 275mm. Though some dealers quote other dimensions to Brooks'. How often do you need the full length of a B17 as tourist?  I would prefer a new old stock 'Professional S' rather than a Team Pro S.

I actually saw a gorgeous NOS 'Professional S' on the wall of a bike shop but passed it by. Having been bitten once by a NOS 'Professional' I doubted the 'S' would offer any more comfort. I completely missed the extra width and replaced the saddle on the display hook. A decision I now much regret. Of course it had been sold by the time I returned at a later date. I just hope the new owners are using it well. It would probably make a good MTB saddle too. The modern 'Team Pro S' is a bit pricey for an experimental purchase and I have enough saddles already. I'm not sure Brooks still uses the very thick hide of the "professional" on the replacement "Team Pro" models.

My long-suffering wife has just reinvented an apt old saying to describe my frenetic typing: "Doolally tap." You'll have to do your own research to discover the origin of the term. ;-)

Click on any image for an enlargement.

1 Apr 2014

April 1st 2014

Tuesday 1st 38-41F, 3-5C, cool, breezy with heavy overcast. It was quite chilly on my walk. Comfortable in  the woods but cold in the wind. 4 miles exploring new routes in the woods.

As it is April the 1st here is a picture to test your cynicism, knowledge of wildlife and/or credulity. Not necessarily in that order. A snow white slug? Surely not?

I went out after lunch wrapped up well thanks to a cold easterly wind. Fortunately I took my warmer gloves today.

The supermarket chain crooks continue to mislabel their special offers. To visit a Danish supermarket is asking to be robbed. Doubly so if you don't check your receipt. If you can find anywhere to put your shopping down before leaving. The trike was weighed down with shopping again and I was fighting the wind coming back. Stuck it in a lower gear and pedalled fast.

I frightened a woman walking the central white line of a 2 way cycle path with her two dogs spread out at 45 to either side of her on extended leads. I was climbing a steep hill and didn't want to lose momentum. However, her stupid dog was as as brainless as its owner and turned into my path just as I hoped to slip past on the grass at about 7mph.

No dogs were hurt but she was obviously shocked at my sudden appearance in her completely cyclist free world. I could hear her mouthing it off as I receded upwards into the distance. I suppose I could have stopped to point out that she was using 1.5 times the width of an official and fairly busy, double cycle path but what would have been the point? Either of her dogs must have enjoyed a higher IQ than an owner with so little regard for others and her own safety. 

There was industrial strength pig's diarrhoea and urine literally running down the middle of the muddy roads. The shit sprayers must have been decanting extra shit from a bulk storage tank and decided to let it run over. I was sprayed with toxins not once but twice today. While the wind was bending the trees! I'd avoid oil seed rape if I was you. The farmer's latest toxic gold is put in everything these days. Only 13 miles.

Wednesday 2nd 41-50F, 5-10C, windy, bright overcast. It was marginally too cold on my hands to have gone without gloves thanks to the wind chill factor. Only a few brief glimpses of the sun through the thick clouds as I walked nearly three miles in an hour.

I went for my ride after lunch. The sunshine did not last long but I soon warmed up chasing a cyclist who passed me at over 20mph into a headwind. I could only manage 16mph and he soon disappeared down the road. A hilly and meandering detour added a few more miles on the way home. There is a mass of blossom out now. With the threat of new leaves exploding onto the scene very soon. 19 miles.

Thursday 3rd 36F, 2C, overnight frost, breezy, brightening sky through thin, high cloud. There was variable cloud and a cool wind for my 4 mile walk covered in and hour and half.  It has brightened up nicely now. I'm seeing a lot of Goldfinches and hearing lots of woodpeckers. That's two days in a row I've seen a pair of deer near the woods. The oil seed rape is about to flower over vast areas.

I did my regular ride to a shop 17 miles away and came back another way. Rather tired from the start and I should have worn my best bibs instead of my thinnest padded shorts. A cross headwind going and an even crosser headwind coming back. I saw a strongly marked bird of prey but have no idea what it was yet. Same clear colours as a Red kite, almost Buzzard-sized with shorter, very broad but pointed wings. 38 miles.

Friday 4th 37F, 3C, windy, bright sunshine. Becoming very windy later with gusts up to nearly 40mph.  It is possible that Denmark will receive some of the Saharan dust at some time over the weekend. The wind picked up steadily, to a gale, throughout my 5 mile walk. My usual complete solitude was broken by a huge lorry being loaded with logs in the woods. It is amazing how people develop special skills. I stopped to watch the driver placing logs (with the crane) with remarkable speed and delicacy. Later there were tractors busy tilling and another resowing damp patches from the long term puddles caused by the winter rain. The number of gulls on the fields matched the sheer size of the machinery.

My hands were still cold from the wind and my nose had turned bright red/blue after two hours of walking. The sky has now become milky with high cloud. Having a rest day from the trike due to the gales. I need any available excuse to force myself to take a break.

In a principle case in the Danish courts a couple has been awarded a huge sum in compensation for the low frequency noise they suffered when a small wind farm was built near their rural home. I wonder when the first principle case will be heard, into the suffering caused to millions, by the stench of weapons grade, pig shit spreading for (taxpayer subsidised) profit? Let's not forget the torture of millions of highly intelligent animals for (taxpayer subsidised) profit. Nor the continuing (taxpayer subsidised) abuse of antibiotics, on an industrial scale, which is threatening the present and future health of the human race. Enjoy your (taxpayer subsidised) bacon!

Saturday 5th 41F, 5C, very heavy overcast, light wind and rain. No walk today and I left my ride until after lunch to avoid the rain. It promptly started drizzling as I rode away! It finally stopped while I was shopping and stayed dry all the way home. I set my rear lights flashing and wore the bright greeny/yellow Aldi rain jacket to ensure I was visible in the mist and rain. Only 15 miles.

I bought a £4 Velolex bike computer with claimed cadence in Netto. Despite its high price the Cateye Cadence is very unreliable. The contacts in the shoe/docking station are its main Achilles heel. I often glance down to see it showing a blank screen or half the speed I am travelling at! The digits are so small (and tall and thin) that it is almost impossible to read accurately much of the time without a magnifying glass. By the time I have sorted the tiny 0s from the 8s I could easily have run off the road! What were they thinking?

Sunday 6th 46-51F, 8-11C, thick mist, light breeze, overcast.

The claim that the cheapo Velolex bike computer does cadence (i.e. crank rpm) was pure bullshit. It simply offers to count the number of turns of the wheels as an extra feature of the claimed 14 functions. The extra "lumpiness" in the pack was not a crank sensor and magnet. Needless to say: It is going back.

The mist had cleared quite a bit as I set off perched on the Vetta SL saddle. I had treated the B17 'Special' to Brooks own proofing yesterday because it showed the rain too easily. It was still rather greasy this morning.

It was an interesting experience riding another saddle for a change. It felt quite small but managed to support my sit bones well enough. I think what the B17 brings to the table is much greater area and the hammock suspension. It does so at the cost of efficiency. Almost every other saddle which I have tried feels instantly "faster" than the B17. These saddles make you want to ride faster and you do. Including climbing more quickly and efficiently. This is despite my B17 'Special' being tied. Which made it much stiffer and quite a lot more uncomfortable. Though not unbearably so. It started drizzling again on the last leg home. 24 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.