18 Jul 2014

18th July 2014

Friday 18th 65-80F, 18-27C, almost still, bright but cloudy. The forecast is for continuing warmth and lots of sunshine. Let's not forget the suntan cream, people! Saw a Nuthatch and Greater spotted woodpecker as well as several birds of prey. A large eagle- like bird with black wing tips was unusual. I was trying to make it into a Red kite but it was too light in colour.

Another view of yesterday evening's gorgeous sky.

After the morning coffee and rolls ritual was over the wind was light enough to keep the windmills mostly still. Though there was still a good onshore breeze blowing on the way to Assens to shop. Very warm and sunny all day! Going well with lots of cyclist out an about. Including quite a number of loaded tourists. 21 miles.

Saturday 19th 70-83F, 21-28C, breezy, sunny. Another hot and sunny day forecast with light, easterly winds. It feels cooler on the trike than standing in the sunshine. The same goes for walking when it is into a cooler breeze. Then as soon as the sun comes out from behind the clouds it is unpleasantly hot again. I took some pictures of the harvested fields on my walk. I still haven't come across a large harvester in action this year.

It was even warmer on my late morning ride. I've had cooler cups of tea than the contents of my water bottle! I still couldn't resist a longish climb as a pleasant detour despite the weight of the shopping in the bags. 16 miles.

I thought I'd better update on the steady progress of the Brooks B17 "Special" saddle. Having worried about increased sagging I punched four neat holes (with a pair of good quality leather punch pliers) and laced the skirts together. The B17 immediately became harder and stiffer despite having been slacked right off on the tension nut under the nose. There was a short period when I actually resented the change. However, continued riding has made the saddle more comfortable than before the lacing. I am now a very happy bunny with easily the most comfortable saddle I have owned in 60 years of cycling.

The leather has continued to darken through sweat absorption and presumably exposure to sunshine when parked. Repeated exposure to rain has not occurred thanks to a relatively dry climate and a proper Brooks saddle cover when parked in rainy weather. A trike does not spray the underside of the saddle in wet weather as does a bike without mudguards. Reserving that pleasure for the rider's thighs when they hang off the side on sharp or fast corners.

A storm-damaged windmill under restoration and reconstruction.

I now only rarely apply Brook's own Proofide and have avoided alternatives like horse saddle oil and other "snake oil" recommendations you may read about online. [Including here!] They are only required when impatient for more comfort. Or to rescue a badly dried out old saddle. A protected, active saddle doesn't need it and the leather continues to darken and gain in beauty with age. A leather saddle must remain stiff enough to supprt the rider without getting out of shape. Special oils may dramatically shorten the useful life of a good leather saddle and will require constant re-tension. Brooks claim the leather should be fed [sparingly] but softness is certainly not the target. After several failed saddle treatments on NOS saddles I agree with them.

A well used leather saddle is never an easy subject for photography due to the high surface shine. The B17 "Special" [as seen here] now has 8,200 miles on it since May 5th last year. Always ridden while wearing decent racing shorts or bibs. My Tactic bibs remain the automatic choice for longer rides but the Wiggle dhb "Race" shorts have proved themselves perfectly comfortable beyond 40 miles. They are now my standard tricycling wear and gently machine washed at 30C immediately after each outing. I bought a second pair in another colour to avoid confusion in the wear and wash cycle.

They stay in place superbly, thanks to the superbly stretchy material. Without that awful "sagging baby's nappy" effect common to cheap and nasty shorts. Shorts have the advantage of not needing to strip to the buff to sit on the toilet or to remove a sweat soaked, winter vest. Shoulder straps, on race bib braces, can become uncomfortable if not stretchy enough. Or the joints in the shoulder strap seams are badly placed or sewn. Quality racing bibs still remain the obvious choice for longer rides. Due to the support they offer in or out of the saddle.

Sunday 20th 68F, 20C, sunny but windy. A sticky 25C and 30mph easterly gusts expected. That usually means continuous strong winds in my own experience. I could ride north, I suppose, but a strong crosswind can often seem like an equally powerful headwind. A very familiar experience on one of my regular N-S routes. Where there is almost no shelter [at all] from hedges. I'll see how I feel after a walk.

Three miles in an hour under a hot sun with plenty of dawdling to stare at the view. A large bird of prey was climbing on thermals and stiff wings over the waiting fields. Quite possibly a Honey buzzard. I passed one field where there were strangely flattened patches. With the stalks all laid neatly in one direction within each depression. With each patch arranged at completely different angles and seemingly quite unconnected. Not man made vandalism due to the uniformity of the smoothly flattened stalks. No other fields were similarly affected. Possibly caused by down drafts but there have been no storms locally. It was not easy to capture well due to my low vantage point and pointing the camera straight into the sun. The wind is quite strong now with the trees swaying. I have already seen half a dozen cyclists out training.

I decided to head north east in the hope of an easier ride home. It worked except for the very last leg. I was tiring towards the end due to lack of food. Only a banana, a cheese roll and a small box of apple juice wasn't really enough to keep me going. My mouth was constantly dry from the start and I kept taking sips from my [warm] water bottle. 46 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


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