21 Jul 2014

21st July 2014

An old and impressive water mill looked positively medieval before restoration when it was still painted overall in Swedish red. Now it looks just like a modern block of flats!

Monday 21st 71-82F, 22-28C, windy, warm and sunny. Early cloud has cleared and the easterly wind is already gusting strongly. Just another [warm] day in paradise. My hip was hurting this morning and I am deaf from riding in yesterday's crosswind.

I watched large birds of prey having a scrap over the woods. The lower bird kept turning on its back to protect itself from each attack. Eventually one of them gave up and left the scene.

The harvest is well under way with bailing following on closely behind the exit of the grain transporters. The level of mechanisation is quite incredible and no doubt very costly. Except in manpower. It's odd how my early morning walks have increased my interest in the activities of the farmers. Cycling is more removed from direct exposure to everything but spray drift. Four miles where the buzzards fly.

Later, I rode straight into the wind to the shops then looped back by another, equally hilly route. I went into one supermarket with a list of six stock items and came back out empty handed. No stock! The "fresh" loaf of bread is already stale despite four days left of "best before" on the packaging. Alongside, was organic milk which was badly tainted by fruit juice. It was being "offered" for just over half price despite today's sell by date. A large, yellow sticker demanded "less food waste." 20 miles.

Tuesday 22nd 70-80F, 21-27C, light breeze, full sun and already warm at 7.30am. The summer weather continues. The wind should be slightly weaker today. Though not for long. It had already picked up within 20 minutes of starting my walk around the block. Which, contrary to usual meaning of the term, is almost all delightfully rural with fields stretching away into the distance on both sides of the road.

The few cottages and disused farmhouses, clustered around the ancient church and village pond, were enjoying an exuberant flying display by a couple of dozen swifts. Their extended, scimitar-like wings and greater size distinguishing them from the smaller and much "busier" swallows. The latter flap their wings almost constantly between violent twitches and changes of direction to capture their aerial prey.

These three miles, which I enjoyed on foot today, were once my normal daily route when I first started cycling "seriously" again. Though I ought to use the term loosely. A few short years ago I would thrash once around the triangle and return exhausted and in pain. My legs would then hurt for the rest of the day. Yet still I fooled myself that I was a real cyclist. If I was feeling really strong I would ride a longer, circular route of 5 miles. Headwinds would reduce me to a painful, 5mph crawl. It seems a long time ago now but my legs ached constantly back then.

I thought I was ordinarily fit, getting plenty of exercise at work, a couple of stone overweight and a non-smoker. I was drinking milk in litres per day [instead of black coffee] and eating far too many free Danish pastries in the canteen. My blood pressure bothered the doctor but I would not accept the offer of taking pills every day.

I was collecting old sports bikes and very dated racing bikes and MTBs at a fiver [£5 equiv] each from recycling stations and flea markets. The shed was packed with over 20 machines which were supposedly waiting for cannibalisation. Anything to build an even better "racing" bike. [Which I could not really afford new] I must have been tragically deluded to think that I was well on my way back to some teenage level of fitness in the saddle.

Suddenly I yearned for another tricycle. Like the vintage lightweight which I had once ridden with such enthusiasm in my youth. Fortunately and rather amazingly my brother in the UK quickly found me a Longstaff axle conversion set. I would never have found anything like a "proper" racing trike over here.

Now all my energy went into building a better trike from the untidy heap in the shed. Rather less energy went into slowly improving my fitness. Though I did ride the few, hilly miles to work now and then. Usually when the car was in for repairs. Most of my colleagues must have thought me mad to be riding a trike. Even one with slight pretensions to "racing" grandeur. The number of racing trikes in Denmark can probably be counted on one hand. Though one does see occasional recumbents.

Then all my elderly colleagues and I were sacked and our jobs sent straight to China and Russia. Or anywhere else where wages were low enough to improve the bottom line of the multinational which had just taken us over. Primarily to bleed us dry of decades of know-how in a uniquely specialised field. While I was forced to try and find new work at 63. With limited useful skills and even more limited Danish.

Rather than drive all over the countryside in the car I chose to ride my trike everywhere to seek employment. That was four years and 55,000 km ago. I seem to have settled on 11 stone, eat properly these days and my legs no longer ache all the time. I was fortunate to escape at 65 but have continued to ride most days. 

Another warm and windy ride for 10 miles. Several large birds of prey were soaring over the newly harvested fields. Seemingly oblivious to the roaring harvesters below but wary of an old fart on a tricycle passing over half a mile away. We must have had one hundred butterflies in the garden over the last few days. Echinacea, Oregano and Teazle seem to be most popular, flowering, food plants.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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