22 Dec 2014

22nd December 2014

Monday 22nd 48F, 9C, blowing a gale and pouring down! The next few days look awful on the DMI forecast. Almost continuous rain and wind. It dried up in the afternoon but I had to go Christmas shopping in Odense. A rest day.

I do not like mud! Ploughed fields are dismal, dark and ugly. Only made worse by greater size. They become a no-man's land. A desert, rural minefield for the unwary walker where none may safely tread. The random, disjointed, haphazard surface offers no pleasure. No place of rest for tired eyes. Nor safe cover for beast or bird. 

Tuesday 23rd 45F, 7C, heavy overcast light breeze. The forecast is continuously wet and windy again. I left early to avoid the worst of the rain. Blowing, with rain on the way back. 13 miles.

Wednesday 24th 46F, 8C, breezy at times, heavy overcast, raining. A slight promise of a clearing, with showers, later. The Danish "monsoon season" continues. Despite the unusually high temperatures it has put a bit of a damper on any hope of a late surge in mileage. At least we haven't had a foot of snow! [Yet] Showers have continued all morning but the clouds are now breaking enough for occasional sunshine. A ride is imminent!

Who's that fat lump? 2005? A shot of my very first attempt at rediscovering tricycling after a near, four decade hiatus. The Longstaff axle conversion would eventually became a lifesaver. I was approaching 60, carrying 13 stones in weight and still needed glasses back then. I  had very high blood pressure but would not take anything for it due to online scare mongering and side effects.

When I first started riding on a daily basis I would thrash the 3 miles "around the block" at about 8 mph average then have to lie down for half an hour to recover. It took me ages to build up to a single ride of 20 miles! Just climbing the one flight of stairs at home was a breathless experience. I was in such pain in my right hip that I could not reach my shoes nor lift my feet off the floor to tie my laces. 

While walking the factory floor at the end of a 9 hour shift of standing constantly, without lawful breaks, I would get spasms of pain which completely paralyzed me to the spot. I suffered from regular nose bleeds. Just getting in an out of the car was agony. Yet despite all this I completely deluded myself that I was still quite fit for my age! If I could lift heavy weights at work then I must be fit. Wrong!

Countless miles and a few years later my eyes have perfectly adapted to distance. My weight has dropped and stabilized at just over 11 stones. The paralyzing pains from the stresses and strains of decades of heavy physical work have finally gone. Along with the hard-earned muscles and pot belly. I haven't measured my blood pressure for years.

I started riding a trike really seriously in 2010. For the first couple of  years my legs were in constant pain both day and night. Much as I  enjoy talking about myself, this is not the real reason I share all this information. 

We live in a crippled world of 50% morbid obesity, fast junk food, fizzy sugar bomb [energy?] drinks and almost complete lack of exercise for many. By sharing my own story I hope to show that even somebody in as poor a shape as I was could become a fit and serious cyclist and healthy person again. 

By watching my diet and taking regular exercise I was able to undo the damage of drinking far too much milk and stuffing my face with Danish pastries almost daily. I was also drinking far too much black, industrial-strength coffee from the canteen machine. Visits to the canteen helped to reduce the boredom of repetitive production work. My stomach felt constantly full and I even resented being offered a plate full of dinner by my long-suffering wife. Heartburn and acid reflux were my constant companions. I could never lie down on my right side in bed without the serious risk of vomiting! Having to sit up in bed just to avoid regurgitating the last meal was a nightmare. 

My being made redundant at 63 probably saved my life. Though I certainly didn't thank them at the time! I escaped from the routine of overeating. While simultaneously burning far more calories thanks to my regular cycling. It also removed me from the repetitive strain injuries I was steadily building up. The constant pain in my shoulders took over three years to subside after I left. I still get occasional pains in my hip/buttock are but it must be nerve pain rather than the joints. There was no sign of joint damage on all the X-rays and scans I had trying to find the source of my constant  pain. 

I began to cycle every day to seek work when the economy went south. Or rather East in my case as my company laid off vast numbers of staff to export their real jobs and lifetime of expertise to new-build factories in China, Russia and Poland. 

Perhaps most importantly for me was the deliberate and constant reinforcement of the desire to ride daily. By blogging about my experiences, recording my mileage publicly, GPS logging and recording my routes as maps I had no excuse to slack. I deliberately used shopping and job seeking in the scattered villages of Denmark as my daily triking goals. All the while I was steadily improving my trike, my stamina, my comfortable range and my personal fitness over time. 

I hope you can gain something useful from my own example. I had every excuse not to ride but made myself go out in -15C frosts, falling snow and on wet and icy roads while in constant pain. I knew I would soon stop if I did not give myself strong reasons to ride. I used my [often imaginary] blog readers to discipline myself to continue despite the pain and cold. I often went through agonies with frozen toes and fingers before finding suitable winter clothing.    

My steadily improving fitness, daily changes of scenery and regular daily exercise were also a valuable tool against depression. Many unemployed people become dejected when they are repeatedly passed over for a new job. They spiral down into apathy. Mixed with anger at their mistreatment by the heartless thugs at the Job Center. All added to the total indifference of potential employers to their begging emails for work. 

They suffer the repeated and utterly pointless, compulsory  "training courses." Teaching them that all hope of finding a new job is lost. As they are crowded into a dismal, stuffy room full of "losers." To be re-taught the basics of CV writing, searching for a job online or sending cold call emails to potential employers. The unemployed quickly discover that they are amongst the countless other pawns in a sociopath driven world. One of twisted global economics and the total corruption of investment banking and their powerless lackeys full of empty promises amongst the political-ooze. 

I was very lucky and eventually escaped from the unemployed persons conveyor belt by reaching retirement age at 65. I had not paid in for long enough to benefit from early retirement sickness benefits available in Denmark. Many office workers take advantage of the benefits on offer without having any serious health issues at all. While factory workers are driven into the ground but denied the protection so readily offered to others far less deserving. 

Fortunately the habit of riding every dry day has continued unabated into retirement. I also live in a beautiful, rural area of Denmark where boredom with riding or walking the same routes is easily avoided. I enjoy the constantly changing weather with the seasons. The fields are regularly recycled with new crops which constantly change the undulating landscape. I wallow in a green world full of birds and wildlife the moment I leave the house. Morning walks became a regular habit too and help to balance the physical and mental stresses of cycling. 

If you don't enjoy the same rural advantages, as I do, then find a park and get a good dose of calming green there. It's not hippy talk or alternative anything to need green surroundings in your life. Canal towpaths, cycle paths and riverside walks are often softened by bushes and trees or untidy undergrowth. Affluent areas of towns and cities are always well furnished with gardens, shrubs and roadside trees. So don't let the drab grey of a built-up, concrete, city centre environment get you down. Get out there and breathe some fresh air even if it kills you! ;ΓΈ)    


For the entertainment of my readers I have added traumfahrrad to my links list. [Links at top right] His entertaining use of the English language, in a delightfully cynical, cycling context, is well worth a warm and fuzzy wallow. He seems to like Brooks Cambium saddles despite the obvious personal handicap of riding a fixed wheel bike. Plus his obviously lacking, but absolutely vital, third wheel. A necessary requirement of any truly satisfactory, pedaled machine.

Since he prefers the Cambium to the B17 this must be praise indeed. Until, that is, you remember, that he claims to carry insufficient weight to properly break in a leather saddle. Saddles are so personal that one should treat each and every personal [or professional] recommendation with exhaustive caution. Preferably before splurging out on endlessly recyclable, plastic waste to add to the storage problems in the trike shed.

Meanwhile, I keep wondering when some marketing type will register "Bum's Rush" as a suitable dose of hype for a sporting saddle range, in kangaroo leather, for cycle adornment. At least it would be preferable to "Bum's Rash!" But we'd probably better not go there.

I rode an errand in bright sunshine. Then decided to detour through the woods on the way back. Big mistake!! The rain was soon coming down in opaque sheets. So I sheltered for a few minutes. As I finally exited the forest the sky seemed to explode with a vehement roar in the trees and the torrential rain turning to icy hail! I was soon blinded, despite the yellow lens sunglasses. While my face and legs were stinging like mad. My lower half became soaked as I ground slowly onwards into the vicious headwind. With my nose dripping onto stem tension bolt. I just managed to reach 15mph pedaling hard down what is normally a 30 mph, half mile descent. It took me 3/4 of an hour to do the last 6 miles! 10 miles in all with the roads covered in streams and standing water. With the added enjoyment of heavy spray coming off the wheels of the churchgoers as they left their lunchtime Christmas service. The 24th is Christmas Day in Denmark. Or rather the evening [Jule Aften or Juleaften] of the 24th.

Thursday 25th Christmas Day. 38-32F, 3-0C, northerly wind, overcast, rain turning to snow. It is supposed to clear this afternoon. The Danish climate has suddenly switched to winter mode with -6C, 21F forecast for tonight! There has hardly been a proper frost so far this year! I'm not sure I'll be allowed out today. What with all those drunken drivers coming back from their family visits. It has been snowing gently all morning without pitching. While the temperature has dropped 6 degrees F. A rest day.

Santa brought me a super bright headlight for the trike. A 'Scream' BPM-170L with Cree 243 Lumens LED. I went outside to try it in the dark and was unbelievably bright! It completely outshines everything else I have ever seen or tried. With a solid, white beam of the user's choice via an adjustable barrel to change the beam width. Shining it up in the air I could see a sharp beam stretching off for a great distance. It has 5 light settings. With 3 levels of brightness, SOS flashing mode for emergencies and rapid, random flash sequence to avoid strobe effects. A weakness of another LED light which I bought from a supermarket. The manufacturers claim 5 hours at full beam from 3 AAA batteries. A series of optional, screw-on rings provide two choices of sideways illumination, or none behind the head. Translucent red, clear and black rings are fitted in the super smart, all black packaging. A dual diameter, handlebar clamp is provided. Or it can be handheld as a plain barreled, extremely powerful torch. It readily illuminates a rock on  the drive 50 or more yards away from indoors.  

Click on any image for an enlargement.


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