6 Oct 2014

6th October 2014

Monday 6th 53-56F, 12-13C, windy from the east, lots of grey cloud. Forecast to be dry but very windy. 20mph base with 35mph+ gusts. I'd better make a chinstrap for my baseball cap before I go on my morning walk.The wind is stripping out the autumn leaves so that they fall like large snow flakes at times. Japanese Knotweed is doing well almost everywhere I go now. The kommune [council] obviously doesn't take it seriously.

I saw another, smartly dressed  jay today. There were hundreds more geese migrating. All heading south in long ragged lines. Though they were flying rather high I could still hear them clearly from down below. Watching them through my binoculars was fascinating as they were soon well out of unaided sight. Lots of gulls wandered aimlessly across the sky as rooks foraged restlessly on the fields below.

Rats seems to have enjoyed the mild weather and are increasingly visible as road kill. One ambled across the road right in front of me this morning! I also watched a cat pounce on a tiny vole and chomp it down. A 3 mile walk in just over an hour as the weak sunshine peeked out between the clouds at times. I had better leave early for my ride to avoid the strongest winds.

Famous last words, as usual. By the time I escaped it was blowing hard with fierce gusts. I did a loop which forced a complete U-turn to my initial direction. Which was amusing because I was doing about 22-26 mph at the start. Even staying ahead of an elderly driver who was unwilling to overtake me. Even when I pulled into a bus stop to let him pass he hesitated.

This amazing old farm building must have had a fresh repaint. I'm sure it used to be a lighter red. It looks as if the roof has had some repairs too.

As soon as I turned off I was right down to 10-12 mph with no more than 16 mph on the steepest descents. The light, GripGrab scull cap was warm but beneficial until I reached the shops. First time I've worn it this year. The distinct wind chill through the slots of the helmet as I stepped outside suggest they do their job in keeping my bare bonce cool in warmer weather. So it was straight back indoors for the cap.

It was quite amusing when I rode down an avenue of Hornbeam at right angles to the wind. The bare trunks and busy branching above caused a Venturi effect. Which accelerated the wind off the bare fields in combination with a severe negative camber. I was almost crabbing along as I hung right off the upwind side to stay on. Fortunately there was no traffic and a slight decline so I didn't have to pedal too hard to keep going fairly quickly.

I was grateful for the shelter of the forest further on but rather afraid of falling branches. The wind was really roaring in the tops. There were broken twigs up to 2" diameter [50mm] lying about on the roads already. A direct hit from one of those would do quite some damage. Just being hit by an insect at speed is painful enough!

Coming home by the same route was the complete opposite. I was climbing effortlessly at 22 mph so pressed on a bit harder and topped out at 26 mph, still sitting, on a long uphill drag. One which usually sees me struggling to hit 12 mph in still air on a good day. I was fairly well loaded with shopping as usual. Which I noticed immediately I stood up to exit a junction on the main road. They drive around the blind approach bend like maniacs. So it pays to get safely over to the other side ASAP. One can't always rely on hearing them coming round the corner. Only 14 miles.

Tuesday 7th 52F, 11C, gales, almost continuous rain. I think I need a slightly shorter handlebar stem. I'm feeling stretched out again. The present one is 120mm so I'll try a 100 mm first. It rained and blew hard for most of the day. Rest day.

Wednesday 8th 49F, 10C, very windy, very cloudy, rain. Before buying a shorter stem I moved a 10mm spacer from above to below the handlebar stem. Perhaps raising the 'bars slightly will reduce the slight sense of being stretched on a rack. This only occurs when I'm on the brake hoods with my fingers wrapped around the brake levers. I'd rather I wasn't sitting more upright but I have no choice if my back complains.

It would be slightly safer if I could wrap my fingers naturally around the tops of the levers. Instead of resting further back on the bar bends and and only on the middle of the hoods. Campag supplies hood extensions for large hands. I may be furnished like an Orangutan but I'd need an even shorter stem to use those.  I didn't bother with a walk this morning but it is brightening up nicely now. Though still blowing well.

Rode to Assens to look for a 100mm stem. Raising the bars hadn't helped much at all. I found a nice, matt black stem for £15. Heavier than my Ritchey 120mm but hardly a deal breaker. 20 miles so far. Going out again.

A red form of the Spindle tree. [Euonymus europaeus] These bushy trees seems remarkably commonplace in local hedges. More usually in the dull green form. The strange, bright pink fruits are easily recognised. These eventually open to show the relatively large seeds.

I fitted the new stem before leaving and was surprised how 20mm can make such a difference. I felt more upright and reaching the hoods to wrap my index finger around the brake levers felt much more comfortable than before. I no longer spent time pushing myself back on the saddle. The steering felt lighter too. I should have made this change earlier. Further rides will prove whether I have now found a more suitable position on the trike. The stem can easily be fitted upside down or spacers moved up or down. Plus 7 more miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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