28 Jul 2014

28th July 2014

Monday 28th 68F, 20C, almost still, bright overcast. The winds are forecast to be light today. Yet again
thundery showers are possible while the heatwave continues. I was just reading that it is a bumper harvest but prices are lower than five years ago.

Thanks to the harvest I was able to enjoy the firm perimeter of a huge field. Battling my way effortlessly through the untidy stubble of the recently departed, oil seed rape in my big walking boots. The trekking sandals were reserved for walking on roads. I was enjoying new vistas, out across the local landscape, thanks to the steep slope up to the top of the field. A farmer in large, wellington boots and shorts was eying me from across the field as I trudged back down the much gentler slope to the main track. Minutes later a 4wd arrived with a loaded trailer and sailed straight off across the field. Quickly becoming lost from sight in the rolling contours. Once I leave the road it is extremely rare for me to see anybody, at all, on my walks. The air felt sticky and hot again today with just a hint of mist. Sunny periods between large splodges of thinning cloud bode well for another sweaty ride today.

And, hot and sweaty it was. Despite the heat I detoured up a couple of hills just for the fun of it. 16 miles. Thank goodness for lukewarm showers!

Tuesday 29th 68-77F, 20-25C, breezy, sunny out of a cloudless sky. It became steadily warmer on my walk. Thanks to the forestry work in clearing the fire breaks I was able to access a whole new area I never knew existed. There were several large birds of prey circling. One complained at my presence in its territory.

The picture is of two massive Beech trees on the edge of the forest. Both trunks must be five-six feet in diameter at the base.

A hare seemed to find me amusing and played his own game of tag. Stopping at intervals to stand sideways before bounding away again in a jolly rocking motion from side to side. This went on for several hundred yards. It was lucky the sun was out because I hadn't a clue where I was when I finally emerged from the shady tunnels beneath the trees.

Though quite breezy it was another warm ride. The new Shimano SPD cleats have made a great improvement in foot security for climbing and sprinting out of the saddle. 20 miles.

Wednesday 30th 62-74F, 17-23C, still, cloud clearing to sunny. A little cooler this morning but the heatwave is expected to continue later.

I was just reading a warning from the police that they can trace hash consumption for three weeks after consumption. There is nil tolerance for drivers affected by hash. With guilty drivers facing a three year driving ban. The police advice is not to drive for three weeks after abusing "wacky baccy." There is a huge quantity of empty beer packaging lying on rural Danish verges. Drunks continue to drive after being banned repeatedly. Can one assume that advice against drug abuse and driving will be taken equally seriously?

My walk looped around the perimeter track of an unharvested field and through some more distant woods. Walking back along the main road showed a severe lack of concentration by some drivers. With incredibly slow reaction times to my presence even on the clear straights. Only my swift action in jumping onto the verge saved me from one elderly woman's total inability to react to a pedestrian beside the road. She actually swerved towards me instead of away! Just as did the old man who has twice nearly run me down on the same road.

I still find it interesting that so few small birds I see are sparrows. In fact I rarely see sparrows except near rural homes. The majority of small birds are Chaffinches, warblers, wagtails, Greenfinches and Yellowhammers. Goldfinches seem much rarer this year after some previous years when I saw lots of them. July 2014 is already the 5th warmest since records began. A nationwide drought is reported. Hazel and Elder bushes in the hedges seem to be the worst affected with large numbers of yellow and falling leaves.

I deliberately chose a hilly route for my ride. I was overtaken by a mountain biker wearing jeans on the longest and steepest drag. Oh, the terrible shame of it! Grr. The heatwave has been affecting the roads. With a glossy black appearing on the surfaces of many roads. particularly where heavy agricultural vehicles run. Tractor tire tracks are increasingly visible on the  road surface.

I was overtaken today, on a completely blind bend, in a village with a built up area speed limit. The 'perp' was a county council, small truck driver with a matching, large trailer in tow. The consequences of a head on crash with the (normally, illegally speeding) oncoming traffic are far too horrible to imagine. Last week I was overtaken, on a completely blind bend, by a young driver towing a large caravan behind his car. Both drivers were using the entire width of the opposite lane with zero braking distance. Leaving no room (at all) for oncoming traffic approaching around these sharp, blind corners. Only the lack of oncoming traffic, on these normally busy roads, has denied these drivers national (or even international) headline status.

Their raving insanity marks them as totally unfit to be in charge of any vehicle, at any time, anywhere. Not even a toy, push-along, plastic lawn mower! These roads routinely carry buses, intercontinental lorries and countless cars and other vehicles. What are the chances of their survival next time they choose to behave in exactly the same, insane way again? What are the chances of several school buses and a petrol tanker NOT coming along the other way, in tandem, next time? 

It seems that robotic cars are not far off now. Car lobbyists suggest that the majority of drivers will not trust the technology to relinquish their own, terrifyingly inadequate, control of their vehicle. I'm wondering how the car driving computers will be programmed to cope with the high percentage of white line crossers on every single corner in Denmark. Do the completely worn-out, double white lines offer any clues as to the frequency of this illegal driving behaviour? Thought not.

How will the robot cars cope with aggressive tailgaters? With 90%+ of drivers in Denmark completely ignoring every speed limit they will need to program the autonomous cars to cope with that 90% carrying out illegal overtaking. Doing so in every imaginable and terrifyingly unimaginable situation! On blind corners, outside schools with hundreds of children milling around their buses and in heavily congested, narrow shopping streets with lots of pedestrians criss-crossing the road. The robotic cars will need to cope totally regardless of whether the illegally overtaking vehicles are buses, taxis, articulated lorries, scooters or cars. 19 miles, still not quite out.

July 31st 67-76F, 20-25C, still, sunny periods. A short, lazy walk to stretch my legs before morning coffee. I watched birds on a large area of mown grass. Lots of wagtails on the ground or preening on handy perches. With Swallows zooming constantly back and forth. I saw a bright ginger, sparrow-like bird with a grey head, foraging. Best guess is a bunting but it was hard to see even with the binoculars. It flew off as soon as I tried to get closer. A large, green dragonfly circled me as I walked back. It clouded over and rained briefly after my return.

I left on the trike after lunch headed for yet another duel with a faster rider. This time it was with a woman  of about my own age on a racing bike. She was very slim and very tanned and annoyingly fast! After she passed me the auto-mutt instinct kicked in and I lifted my speed from cruising at 15mph to a steady 20. That wasn't nearly enough so I upped my game to my limit of 23-25mph and still she drew away! There was soon several hundred yards between us before she turned off.  I seemed shorter of wind than usual but that's not an excuse. Merely a fact of life this year. Probably an allergy according to the doctor after having my forearm repeatedly punctured by the surgery nurse. Hopefully it will pass with the changing seasons and the irritant dies down. 

I was buttonholed by several different cyclists outside several supermarkets today demanding to know how far I rode. When I told them that I had covered 55,000km km in the last four years they seemed suitably impressed. I wish I was too but this year's mileage is much worse than 2013. I was already 1500 miles up at this time last year and that was a poor year at 7400m/12,000km. There is no real excuse. Previous years have been hampered by constant saddle pain, leg pain, hip pain, shoulder pain and an uncomfortable, stretched out, riding position on the Higgins. I must be getting soft! Only 23 hilly miles fighting the wind and the temptation to chase anything going in my direction.

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