29 Nov 2014

29th November 2014 Another SMIDSY!

Saturday 29th 33F, 1C, heavy overcast and windy. The forecast is for gusts to 25mph and a fixed temperature just above freezing point all day. I know I am cold proof now but I'd still like a pair of sunglasses with decent edge seals to keep the wind out. I had a cheap pair from a supermarket once but the foam only lasted for a couple of rides. They were great while they were still functional. Skiing goggle are highly appropriate in winter but just seem too over the top on a bike/trike except in a real blizzard. Skiing eye kit also tends to be too dark for anything but blinding sunshine on the snow covered mountain slopes. Riding into a cold wind, particularly downhill,  is apt to cause eye watering with most "cycling" sunglasses. When one would rather be fully able to constantly monitor the traffic regardless of lighting conditions. Particularly in your essential rear view mirror!

It seems a woman driver not only failed to see a cyclist on the cycle path yesterday. But, having knocked him down she then ran over him before stopping. Leaving him trapped and unreachable by attending ambulance staff underneath her car. The cyclist had approved lighting but died on the spot. Yet another SMIDSY. I hope her phone/tablet was automatically checked for simultaneous use just prior to "THE ACCIDENT". It really ought to be standard procedure to check a mobile phone/tablet/whatever by now. One can always check recent phone use while driving from the drool running down the driver's chin after "AN ACCIDENT." Unfortunately their knuckles are usually protected from dragging on the ground by the floor of their car. So there's no point in checking those.

Those who cycle commute or train in the dark should ideally go for complete overkill in the lighting department. And, wear a high viz, highly reflective waistcoat or jacket as well. You can't complain from the grave if you haven't made yourself properly visible. Black seems to be the favourite colours of many cyclists. Often supported by tiny "magnet" lights mounted at axle height. Fit and forget, says the packaging. Most driver's will forget you exist until they feel the thump!

Many Danish supermarkets and all bike shops have an assortment of really bright LED bike lights for literally pocket change prices and on upwards. A £tenner equiv will get you noticed from both front and rear from well over a mile away. Make sure your lighting flashes! There is far too much competition for driver's attention with fixed beam lights no matter how bright they are. Only cyclists use flashing lights. So it's a no-brainer to recognise you for what you really are.

A quick snap of my 3 'Smart' rear lights from 20 yards away at dusk. The lights seem much brighter when they flash and are certainly more noticeable up to much greater distances.

Take my word for it that a bright, flashing front light will make oncoming cars dip instantly. While a steady beam, of exactly the same brightness, often means your presence is completely ignored by drivers. Leaving you blinded by their headlights. Want a fixed beam? Then buy two lots of lights and fit both sets front and rear. Put one set on fixed beam and the other one flashing. If you have the patience you could stand by a busy road in the dark and watch approaching cyclists for visibility. There's an eye-opening education in suicidal folly to be had from the verge!

Some Danish supermarkets sell hi-viz waistcoats for cyclists at this time of year. Do you suppose you'll look remotely silly riding along like some mobile Christmas tree wrapped up in fluorescent day-glo bag? At least you'll get most driver's brief attention compared with the hoards of completely invisible, suicidal morons sharing your route! Too fashion conscious to be seen out in such a get-up? How fashion conscious is an autopsy shroud? Or were you hoping for the sympathy vote of head-to-toe plaster casts with trendy, stainless accents from the braces?

If you drive as well as cycle then prop your bike against a tree with the lights switched on. Preferably when it is dark and raining heavily. How well can you see your bike through the wet windscreen? Now wrap the tree trunk with your usual cycling jacket. Are you really feeling that lucky? Now imagine yourself doing your usual 40 in a 30mph zone suddenly catching up with the moron on that bike!

Shouldn't selling black cycling wear be classed along with selling hard drugs? It's no wonder they send the Sky team to a tropical island to train. If they tried cycling in their team apparel in America or Europe they'd be completely, bløødy invisible! What an example to set to the slavish, copyist, weekend warriors!

Why not go out and buy one of those hideously bright waistcoats with lots of highly reflective strips? Wear it every single time you ride your bike/trike. You'll look like just like a policeman if you are really lucky and choose your jacket/waistcoat well. Most drivers instantly snap to attention when they see a high viz jacket in their headlights because they feel suddenly guilty about their current speed. Or, far more likely, at sudden risk of unexpected discovery of their lawbreaking. They were probably talking bølløcks to their iSlave and speeding before they glimpsed you through their fog of alternative reality! You might even save another [invisible] cyclist's life by setting a good example! Or reminding drivers that there are hidden cyclists in their path.

I limited my morning walk to half an hour as it felt rather cold in the easterly wind. Left for my ride after morning coffee. The only bit of me feeling cold as I rode into the wind was my nose. Which tends towards blue/violet over the winter. I hate balaclavas which cover my face so there is not much can be done! The rest of me was fine. Having reached my goal I meandered back via the lanes still enjoying the Duranos.

I saw four Red kites soaring on a ridge in a sparsely populated area. One of them seemed curious about me and followed me for a couple of miles. Though it may simply have been hunting, it kept coming nearer, as it followed the lane I was travelling along. I have ridden four 19 mile routes this week without covering the same ground. Just an odd coincidence and shows the large number of potential routes available to me. Provided I stay away from the main roads I can go for miles without seeing a car. Still bunged up with my cold/flu. 19 miles.

Sunday 30th 29F, -1C, windy with the trees bending, dark from the heavy overcast. Uncomfortably windy for these temperatures. I shall have to dress more warmly for my walks. While simultaneously trying to avoid overheating. Windproof without too much insulation would be ideal. My nose is still blocked or running and I'm still partially deaf in one ear causing constant tinnitus. Still short of breath and my chest still congested. Fortunately my chest seems to clear after a few miles and my occasional dizziness at home doesn't affect my balance on the trike.

I wore a duvet jacket on my walk and was perfectly comfortable in the cold wind. The frost had frozen the mud on the spray tracks opening up familiar routes. Having followed a route across the fields I could hear shooting and saw the hunters cars parked about a mile east of me. So I stayed out of those woods and took the track to another forest. Quite a few different MTB tracks visible in the frozen mud.

A remarkable mix of small birds were moving together along the hedges. I saw a bird of prey with long, pointed wings and a distinctive white patch on top of its long tail. Foraging hooded crows were performing crazy aerobatics over the fields as they mobbed one of their own. I came across three red deer grazing in the woods and watched them for a while through my binoculars. Eventually they spotted me and stepped gently into the undergrowth. Further on they popped out from behind a pile of logs and dashed across my path into the darkness of the regimented conifers. I'll go out on the trike after lunch now.

My short, late afternoon ride was marked by the arrival of a KMXKarts recumbent trike in the supermarket car park. The second I have seen in a fortnight after several years of the complete absence. I was just about to leave but stopped to take some snaps as the young owner went shopping. The very low trike was not easy to capture in such poor light. Made worse by being trapped between a bike and the plant sales rack.

I am still not convinced of the merits of placing the rider at exhaust pipe level. Nor do I like the effect such trikes have on one's neck muscles from lying half prone without adequate head or neck support. No doubt one would get used it it after a while. The handlebars also seem rather too close to tyre spray for ideal winter comfort. Still a very smart machine though. Only 10 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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