23 Feb 2015

23rd February 2015 Wintry Wonderland

Monday 23rd 34F, +1C, gales, overcast, wintry showers. We were woken repeatedly by the roaring of overnight gales. Though it was only forecast to gust to 17m/s [38mph] it must easily have exceeded that suggest limit. The wind is expected to slowly subside during the day. With just a chance of sunshine later.

It stayed windy and mostly overcast. Rest day.

Tuesday 24th 38F, 3C, windy, overcast. As I went for a walk in early sunshine the sky turned leaden. Fortunately it rained only lightly.  Blowing a 30mph gale for most of the day.

I left late morning under a heavy overcast with spots of rain in the air. Cruising at 19-21mph with a tailwind going. Coming back was a bit different. Only 18mph on my usual 31mph descent despite using the aero bars. Down to 6mph in bottom gear on one rise with my nose dripping onto the crossbar. Only 13 miles.

Wednesday 25th 40F, 4C, breezy, variable cloud with some sunshine. I enjoyed an hour and half walk to the woods. It was very odd to see half a mile of fresh mole hills running along the verge of the track every yard or so. But not one spoil heap had moved out into the crops. What was it about the field or the crops that they didn't like? I was treated to a whole collection of small birds foraging in a clearing deep in the woods. With Several Black caps and a Tree creeper amongst them. Nearby, three birds of prey were having a heated argument. There was rather a cold headwind coming back but at least it stayed dry.

After lunch I rode off into light rain to do some shopping. It brightened up later so I headed for the nearest LBS for some spare inner tubes. It rained hard for the last five miles coming home into the wind! With all the rest days due to injury and bad weather it has taken me almost 2 months to break the 1000km barrier. Lazy git! 23 miles.

Thursday 26th 36F, 2C, breezy, heavy overcast. The forecast is for dry but grey weather with the wind increasing to 25mph gusts. So, slightly less windy than it has been. Talking of which... I keep wondering whether all my tricycling was a case of OCD. I became so used to going out that my days would seem empty without a ride. I would even go out if I was in pain.

The perfect solitude of the woods and fields. Rough grazing with nothing to graze it but wild deer and hares. The only visitors, apart from myself, are probably huntsmen. Though I never see any other boot prints here than my own. Even the vague signs of former tractor or vehicle tracks are historical. Presumably there is not the woodland activity in this area that there once was. The major tracks through the woods do show recent signs of clearance and harvesting. The contours are often too steep and far too wet for modern, large machinery agriculture. There is very little in the way of outdoor animal husbandry. Most Danish cattle live year-round in large sheds being fed on silage and big bale hay. There is very little free-range pig farming. Most of the many millions live out their short and miserable lives in closed sheds. The few sheep in the landscape seem to be pets. In fact there are probably more ponies visible in the fields than any other animal. Yet "real" horses are almost absent.

This year I am taking far more rest days but don't feel so guilty as I would normally. Is this the thin end of the wedge towards less emphasis on tricycling? Or simply a symptom of grey-sky, winter blues? The yellow lens sunglasses just aren't doing it for me this year. I no longer feel the need to compete with myself at raising my average mileage. Is riding 8000 miles or 13,000km per year even a sensible thing to do?  

Walked for an hour and half along new tracks in the woods. Saw 6 deer and several birds of prey. It keeps getting darker between brief brightening. It was amusing to watch two vast, 6-axle juggernauts reduced to a crawl to pass each other safely going in opposite directions on the local, blindly twisting rat-run. It has got so bad with GPS cheats that some farmers have had to put up signs on their drive entrances to stop foreign lorry drivers trying to take short cuts through their yards! The price of employing cut-price, Eastern European drivers with cut-price, car GPS units in the cabs of their international transport, HGVs.

A nasty headwind going to the shops. Returned at an easy 18-20mph, riding on the hoods, despite being heavily laden. The invisible speed restriction signs are working well. Not one vehicle passed the speed indicator board without it flashing. Average indicated speed is in the high 60s in a 50 kph, village speed limit. There is no board for the 60kph stretch where speed must be in the high 80s. 17 miles.

Friday 27th 37F, 3C, breezy, overcast with continuous rain or sleet. The wintry precipitation is supposed to continue all day. The rain petered out mid-afternoon so I had a short ride. Only 10 miles.

Saturday 28th 39-43F, 4-6C, breezy becoming too windy. Did my usual walk in boggy conditions. Went out on the trike after morning coffee . Crosswind going. Crosswind on the second leg. Headwind gale coming home! A few cyclists out training in the bright sunshine. Even a couple of racing bikes on car racks. Which is suggestive of something happening.  Overtaken by an MTB'er who expressed delight in the good weather. Too heavily laden to stay with him on a long, uphill drag. That's February over with. 19 miles.

 Click on any image for an enlargement.

17 Feb 2015

17th Februrary 2015 Wilderness taming for mudpluggers.

Tuesday 17th 32F, 0C, light breeze, heavy overcast. Promise of some sunshine later with fairly light winds. Though It did not brighten as I walked for a little over two hours through the forest. Strings of geese were heading east as I plodded along the lightly sticky, spray tracks. Two elderly chaps were loading fresh cut logs into a trailer behind an immaculately restored, vintage tractor. They were so pre-occupied that they didn't notice my passing them on the tufty grass track. A little later I saw a smart Nuthatch foraging on a moss-covered, fallen tree. He was accompanied by a pair of bright Goldfinches as I stopped to watch them through my binoculars.

I kept turning off my intended route to explore new tracks. Deliberately climbing the untidy, 30-40 degree fire breaks between ranks of dark conifers. Just to give my legs a good workout in the hope of reducing the pain from working on the car. A cold wind chilled my cheeks as I descended from the forest. Where a dozen Whooper swans were resting on the field close to my exit to the busy road. All periscopes were raised to monitor my intentions. They finally took off heading east at only 50'. Then U-turned and passed right over me in a westerly direction. Their soft whoops still audible as they crested the woods and vanished into the valley beyond.

I rode straight into the wind for the first leg. Too breathless to use the aero position for long. I detoured via a hilly route on the way back as the mist thickened steadily. We were never troubled by the promised sunshine. Not even for a second. Visibility was down to 100 yards by the time I reached home. I'd had to wipe my [yellow lens] sunglasses frequently. Only one 'Smart' back light still working when I tried turning them on. I'm going to scrap this crap and find something which uses proper batteries! I have had to clear the mud out from under the fork crown and around the brakes a couple of times over the last week. It seems to build up quite rapidly. 18 miles.

Wednesday 18th 37-40F, 3-4C, already breezy, heavy overcast. It is milder and the wind has turned to the south west but it will be gusting to 30mph later and bring rain this afternoon. I'd better have my ride this morning. After a period of cold but dry weather the forecast is for a week of rain and wintry showers ahead. It stayed dry and very sunny for my walk. A bit cold to start with, but I soon warmed up. Even took my gloves off on the walk back. Saw a single deer and two very noisy geese. I'm still wondering what they found to chat about.

Rode into the wind for the first 8 miles. Then a tail/crosswind and finally back into it. The last leg was very hard work even on the aero bars! I was only managing 12mph. My thighs have finally recovered from the car mechanics. So I was able to hang off the side again. 20 miles.

Thursday 19th 37F, 3C, heavy overcast but dry. Blowing a gale and feeling bitterly cold! I'm not even sure I want to go for a walk. But, brave boy that I am, I set off with a limp from yesterday's walk. I had slipped on a pile of branches which were blocking my way in the woods. Quite unusual for me to do anything so daft. I plodded steadily uphill on a fresh spray track with my boots growing larger by the second. What with the suction from the bare mud and the huge weight of my boots I almost turned back.

Then a couple of deer popped out of the hedge and lolloped away. I decided that if they could run on sticky mud then the least I could do was persevere. My ankle soon improved and was quite forgotten as I strode back downhill again to regain the road home. I was using  the rough grass in the centre of the farm track to try and brush off the huge quantities of mud which I had accumulated. I watched a bird of prey struggling against the wind as it was being tipped all over the place. A pair of large Carrion crows croaked their amusement as they traversed the gale in the opposite direction. Despite the yellow sunglasses my eyes were watering in the crosswind. Not a nice day for a ride! Only 7 miles.

Friday 20th 33F, +1C, windy, heavy overcast and raining. The rain, sleet and snow are supposed to keep going all day and tomorrow. Blowing to 25mph today. If you don't hold your breath in anticipation of a ride then I won't either. It finally stopped raining in the late afternoon but continued to blow.  I fiddled with the Smart rear light which had refused to work and discovered the batteries were fine measured on the DMM. It was the switch on the light which had stopped working. I eventually got it working but there was no flash option and no Off! Life is too short to be messing with this crap! Rest day. Tomorrow's forecast looks much worse than today!

Saturday 21st 36F, +2C, light breeze, heavy overcast with steady rain falling. The forecast is for it to become more wintry later. So not very promising. It snowed wetly from about 12 o'clock. Managing little more than a thin white coating on the grass and rooftops. Every vehicle was dragging a huge spray tail. A foul day for a ride. Rest day.

Sunday 22nd 35-38F, 2-3C, a cold breeze but bright sunshine from a cloudless sky. There was still about an inch of patchy snow lying this morning. Frozen slush stripes along the roads. The ground was mostly frozen underfoot as I walked a large loop through the woods and fields. I saw just one hare but no deer today. After months of near silence the woods and hedges are suddenly full of bird calls. Mostly Great tits and a few Yellowhammers. It clouded over as I walked home into the cold sou-westerly. Now it has just started raining! [12am] It is supposed to clear up again this afternoon. So there is still hope of a ride later.

It didn't clear up but I went out anyway. Whereupon I punctured for the first time this year. Probably on the sand and gravel left by the road workers in a village. The rear tyre was filthy with mud and sand so I had to wash it in a puddle before I could even start. Then I wiped the tyre inside and out with a clean rag and swapped the tubes. It promptly started raining. As I was removing the mini-pump the valve pulled out of the inner tube. So I had to start pumping all over again! God knows what anybody thought of the rapid hand movements! I was working in a supermarket car park and a couple came back to the car in the next bay. They turned on the engine and then sat chatting for ten minutes!!! Not a happy bunny! Only 10 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

16 Feb 2015

16th February 2015 No through road!

Monday 16th 33-34F, +1C, grey and very windy but dry. It is expected to gust to 15m/s, 30mph or 50kph later. The trees are already swaying.

"Blocked for through traffic"  Sadly this is only a temporary sign at a private stately home. Which has extensive half timbered and thatched outbuildings intermixed with masonry. These buildings enclose two absolutely vast yards with several smaller yards more hidden from view. The cobbled right-of-way through the yards is temporarily closed to rat runners due to re-thatching. Beyond the three arches/portals is a delightful [mostly beech] forest with pleasant walks. I have posted images of the forest regularly over the past few years. The autumn leaf colour is always gorgeous. 

Tragically, the traffic constantly races along the narrow and blindly undulating lane despite the recent addition of 60kph [37mph] signs. The odd thing is that there seems to be no obvious reason for the traffic. Behind the camera is more forest and a few scattered hamlets, farms and more distantly, small villages. Unfortunately there is no useful alternative route which does not involve a long detour by even narrower and twisting lanes. Drivers being what they are, no detour is ever acceptable. Not even if they are inconvenienced by the cobbles and having to take turns to pass through the three portals. I'd love to wallow in the historical atmosphere of the place. Or enjoying the potential for peace while riding under majestic beech trees. Instead of which there is the noise and incongruity of passing traffic. Happily the arches are far too narrow and low for lorries. Though that does not preclude a regular stream of builder's and service vans despoiling the truly amazing scenery. With their roaring tyres echoing loudly in the old, cobbled yards.

Just a heads up that Steve Abraham is riding a One Year Bicycle Time Trial to try and beat the record set in 1939. You wouldn't believe the record if I told you. Nor that he needs to average over 200 miles per day, every day of the year, to beat the old record of 75,056 miles. Or slightly less than 10x my own average mileage! Unfortunately Steve does not enjoy all the disadvantages of riding a trike.

Steven Abraham, his record attempt

I had a freezing cold walk in a gale up to the woods and then looped back past the small lake in the marsh. I had hoped to use one of the spray tracks above the lake but they were far too soft and sticky. Unfortunately I disturbed about 20 Mallard ducks which were sitting or foraging unseen in a fold of the field. A solitary white duck with black head and back was having an energetic bath on the other side of the water. [A lesser Scaup?] There were three of them last time I was there. The lake is only about 125 wide x 80 yards of bare water but is ringed on three sides by dense cover and marsh for bird nesting.

Two Herons took off steeply and floated like kites on the wind about a 100' up over the lake. They were making no forward motion at all! So I walked briskly on to avoid further disturbance and to keep warm. I prefer to skirt above the lake using the gentle contours of the field and [later] the cover of the crops but the conditions would not allow it today. The lake and marsh are used for shooting judging by all the grain feeders, bulk containers and spent cartridge cases lying about. I shall go out on the trike after lunch whatever the weather. Far too many rest days already this year! I'll head north to battle the easterly crosswind.

It was an interesting ride with the wind over my right shoulder. I was cruising at 18-20mph with one bout of fairly effortless 26mph. The supermarket crooks were playing their usual games with a lack of advertised, discounted goods. Coming back was a completely different ride. I struggled for 12mph on the aero bars but sat up for only 8-10mph. I don't think my nose stopped running from the cold. My thighs were still too tender to hang off the trike on the sharp corners. Only 13 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

9 Feb 2015

9th February 2015 Generating problems...

Monday 9th 43-45F, 6-7C, breezy, overcast. Sunshine promised. No sign of it yet. Higher temperatures today but a cool wind while walking back. The usual tracks were flooded from field run-off. Saw two deer. One in the woods and another, smaller one, grazing a field. Several birds of prey. I'm leaving my ride until after lunch for brighter, less windy conditions.

It was blowing from the NW as I headed due north in bright sunshine. I was very short of breath again. Particularly when climbing. Not so bad coming back as I cruised at 19-20 mph in the aero position. Only 12 miles.

Tuesday 10th 45F, 7C, sunny, breezy. Feeling unwell.  Nausea and dizziness. Sinuses? 'Flu? I stayed "fuzzy" all day. Another rest day.

Wednesday 11th 37F, 3C, light breeze, heavy overcast. Feeling much better today. Walked briskly for an hour. Cleaned the trike of accumulated mud and grime. Removed the front mudguard as it is binding on the road mud again.

Went out on the trike after lunch. An approaching crash test dummy overtook a  tractor just as I reached them. Solid double white lines is no hindrance to such drunken, senile, drug abusing, sociopathic morons. It's only my life at stake after all. So that's all right then. A tramp asked me for money outside the Coop. He went on along the car park asking everybody he met. I've spent some miles on the aero bars again. I'm getting used to the slightly different handling. Cruising at 20 mph is becoming quite normal. I'm even climbing in the aero position on the way home into the prevailing S-Westerly. Climbing out of the saddle is becoming more and more routine. My saddle came loose for the first time ever. I had to stop and tighten the clamp! I wonder whether somebody has been fiddling in the hope of getting a nice free Brooks? 15 miles.

Thursday 12th 36F, 2C, quite still, heavy overcast. Walked my usual route up to the woods and back another way. Muddy boots again.It was one of those days that just feels cold despite the lack of wind. I rode a figure of weight in search of fictitious produce on special offer. Lots of felling in the woods has left large gaps. 23 miles.

Friday 13th 33F, 1C, heavy overcast,  light breeze. A potentially damp start is forecast but brightening later. I walked my longest route so far. Leaving earlier than usual I followed tracks just inside the edges of two woods. Probably six or seven miles over rough ground. Three deer were caught out on a ploughed field and unsure as to my intentions. While standing still they were very difficult to see thanks to their coats perfectly matching the rough soil. Only when they moved were they more visible. They stopped several times to stare back as I watched them through my binoculars. The air feels damp and it is very darkly overcast but it remains dry. The wind is increasing from the south east but is still quite light.

My planned afternoon ride became a more serious affair when the generator on my 20 year-old car seized and melted the drive belt in the drive. Friday the 13th? Huge clouds of smoke issued form under the bonnet. A ride to a distant scrap yard for a generator replacement suddenly took priority. I rode the first 17 miles there in an hour. With a lot of time in the aero position and cruising at 20mph. Though there was a fair bit of climbing to do too. I came back another way to do some shopping. A bitterly cold wind all the way home blowing from between 10 o'clock and a headwind.. I was overtaken by a banking person, on an electric bike. I tried to chase but even with the aero bars and climbing at 17mph I hadn't a chance. At least I overtook a young mountain biker on a long climb. Not enough miles in his legs despite the smart bike and all the right togs. 38 miles.

Saturday 14th 31-37F, -1+2C, very light winds, frosty start with thick mist. I spent the morning struggling with the new/old alternator/generator. The pivot bolt was completely hidden under the generator. Which in turn is under the inlet manifold and various pipes. There was no reasonable access to the concealed head of the bolt. I ended up lowering the spanner/wrench on a piece of string after dropping it right through onto the ground several times. Finally I was able to undo the pivot bolt and then the upper tension clamping bolt. Only to discover that the new belt needed to go behind the water pump belt. Of course the water pump was rusted to its mountings and the tension adjuster was immovable. Even with the bolts completely removed the pump wouldn't budge with a crowbar levering [carefully] in the hole provided. It took ages to finally free it. Once I had everything back together there was a loud click, the clock went out and the starter wouldn't run. So the battery went on charge for an hour before the engine started right away. Success with an aching back! The car seemed okay as I went round the block. Far too knackered to go out on the trike today.

Sunday 15th 36F, +2C, windy from the east with a heavy grey overcast. The forecast is raw cold and grey. So they have that right. After checking the car would start I walked briskly up to the woods. I was hoping to undo the damage I did to my legs and back yesterday. The backs of my thighs still feel tight after bending over the car engine for hours. No problem climbing up or down the slopes on the tracks though. I might go for a short ride to buy the essentials and loosen up a bit. But didn't. With a bitterly cold wind gusting to over 30mph I wimped out in deference to my aches and pains.

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8 Feb 2015

New triking video from Tokyo!

"A trip to the park"
An excellent new video from a tricyclist in Tokyo.
Lightweight racing trikes in Japan are probably as rare as in Denmark.
Video captured on [and off] a gorgeous Morris trike from 1963.
Best seen in 720p HD cinema/theatre mode.
Fullscreen viewing is enjoyable in HD.


7 Feb 2015

8th February 2015 Spare a battery, mate?

Saturday 7th 38-40F, 3+4C, overcast, clear, overcast, still at first, becoming breezy. Promised to
be very windy later this afternoon/tonight. [Storm] The climbing temperature have turned the firm permafrost to downright quaggy! Walking on the spray tracks became a sticky and slippery affair. I was soon carrying muddy disks the size of snow shoes! Walking back was into a 20mph headwind with my eyes streaming. I had imagined the much higher temperatures would not require my yellow sunglasses. A flock of Fieldfares took umbrage as I passed.

My ride was going well with a crosswind. I was cruising at 20 mph with several bouts of 26 mph without obvious pain. Coming back was slightly different. Even on the aero bars I couldn't get much above 12mph and was crawling at 8mph for a while. It must have been blowing head-on at 20mph. Only 15 miles.  

I was just reading about a new Storm electric bike which has enjoyed huge success from crowd sourcing finance. The Storm has fat 4.5" tyres for comfort without suspension, 20mph top speed, 50 miles range and 90 minutes recharging. It weighs a hefty 50lbs plus 6lb battery but a lot of that weight must be due to the fat wheels. It has a lot of "youthful" style but little practicality for carrying the shopping home.


Having glanced at the price tags of the seriously overpriced electric bikes in the bike shops they should sell well [to the young] if the eventual price is still sensible. Established bicycle manufacturers must be in for a very rough ride if the Storm and fellow travelers begins to sell at a lower price than the typical, steam pipe "clunkers" being sold with a Chinese electric motor hub! You can buy a far more complex, far more sophisticated, fully suspended, multi-geared, motor scooter to carry two people for half the price of many existing "e-bikes!" So you could have a "his and hers" motor scooter for the price of a single 1920s e-bike? Does not compute!!

The strange thing is there isn't a single image or video of the Storm being sat on like a normal bike. Storm suggests that it looks more exciting for the rider to stand up. So it's really a very heavy scooter and not a serious electric bike? Try standing up in the high street until your legs get tired. You'll look like an idiot and be treated like one! Try pedaling that 56lb weight with fat, draggy tires and a single gear back home uphill. Are we seeing a re-invention of the Sinclair C5 here? Whatever.

I couldn't add any images here because there are none on their fundraising website without a load of text or hype attached. The fund raising has already reached over 6 times the intended target. The sponsors will get a cheaper Storm. The remarkable level of funding will place a far greater degree of expectation of serious mass production at still affordable prices.

Though I see a few pensioners riding electric bikes they really haven't taken off in my part of Denmark. [Meaning there are plenty of pensioners but few e-bikes.] Perhaps e-bikes are more popular in the big cities? I know that I often struggle to keep up with them but what is their useful range in everyday reality? And when the the battery dies what then? Will a typically unfit or elderly rider really be able to pedal home? Taxi fares are astronomical around here even if they do have bike racks in the boot.

If I owned an e-bike I'd probably want two batteries as standard. One on the bike and the other on charge. Perhaps a third strapped to the rear carrier for extended range in emergencies. Given the present cost of batteries it is beginning to look like the same price as three motor scooters! His and hers and one for the teenage daughter!

E-bikes really need a kick start towards far greater range and far more affordable prices. Otherwise they will never become a serious alternative to the internal combustion engine. If only they could settle on a standard battery module they could be swapped at [say] petrol stations. Though an alternative would be much better. If only to get away from the cigarette smoke coming from the slot machine arcade!

Battery swappage would probably require a range of performance options. Rather like 2, 3 and 4 star petrol, if you like. Battery exchange only begins to make sense if proper standards follow mass take up. In that sense e-bikes are still stuck at early 20th century motorcycle acceptance levels. Lots of individual people experimenting and working in their garages but no serious expansion in uptake yet. I don't count the established bike manufacturer's offerings as any more than fleecing the technically ignorant customer with a novelty label.

The Chinese are most likely to capture the eventual mass market. Probably as labelled products for existing manufacturers at first. Or they may finally begin to follow the pattern of the Japanese 1960s industrial revolution. To establish new [and strange sounding] household names for recognised products. Names we now take completely for granted even though we may disagree on pronunciation. Firms like Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, etc. Some Japanese companies entered motor sport and dominated it for years. [Or decades!] They made most established British motorcycle manufacturers look like handmade, two wheel, traction engine builders! Electric bike racing as a mass public interest sport is still some way off at present levels of performance. The quietness will take some getting used to.

Whatever they do build must have serious capacity for bringing the shopping home safely and securely. Bicycles, scooters and mopeds never really did get that part right. And still haven't! Anything over a single, full, supermarket carrier bag still requires a car. Or two journeys? In the wind, rain or snow? Yeah, right!

Bicycle pannier bags may have some capacity but most are deep and narrow. Making loading groceries a very risky business with mixed shopping items. I speak from years of experience using a variety of bags on my trike. And I'm still struggling for capacity which does not involve flattening the loaf [again] nor crushing the eggs or tomatoes. Nor bursting fragile bottles or cartons of liquids.

Anybody who thinks Carradice makes suitable saddle bags for shopping really needs to try it. I do most days of the year. I supplement their largest Camper with a cheap sports bag with three times the capacity. It cost me a £iver in a supermarket and has lasted for ages. I had another one previously but the dog shit collection area is always tightly designated by the wall hook right beside the bike rack. Danish supermarkets never clean outside the monopoly money, printing premises. They rely on wet weather and the wind. Or the blast from the exhaust of their 6-axle, bulk delivery juggernaut.

Shopping without a car is a worn out joke. Shopping with a bike is a sick joke. What about making you load the carrier bags quickly on the ridiculously-short checkout belt? Deliberately designed to rush slower customers out of the shop. So they only need one pre-pubescent teenager to "man" the checkouts. Rather than opening two checkouts to clear the endless queues.

Supermarket carrier bags are a sick joke and usually far too weak to carry anything further than the distance to the car outside. Preferably in a [filthy] trolley to preserve the contents fragility until they can be safely scattered across the car park while loading the boot in a wet gale. Thus saving on even more pre-pubescent staff for cleaning up spills indoors. Hanging those same, bulging carrier bags from the handlebars of a city e-bike? Are you serious?

Sunday 8th 32-37F, 0-3C, a cold wind, clear and bright. I could walk up to the woods by a different way thanks to the ground being hard frozen again. A few Mallards pottered on the icy lake as they emerged from the scrubby, marginal bushes. The resident Heron circled and disappeared. A couple of dozen Fieldfares are still hanging around the neighbourhood.

Afternoon ride with a gentle tailwind at first. Cruising at 20mph on the aero bars. I am getting quite used to them. It gradually became more cloudy. Headwind coming home using the aero bars to maintain speed. Hundreds of noisy Rooks in the trees and out on the fields. Lots of birds of prey. By sheer coincidence, or irony, a chap outside a supermarket started bemoaning his electric bike. Two years from new and the battery will no longer hold a charge and the controller circuitry is dead. I quickly put him off buying a trike. A few clubmen were out training. Finished the loop on 19 miles exactly. The quagmire is back after the permafrost melted again.

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6 Feb 2015

6th February 2015 With extra icing on it.

Friday 6th 23-34F, -5+1C, thick mist, hoar frost, perfectly still. A cold, clear night, with mist, has left everything white. Buildings are just becoming visible as darker silhouettes at 100 yards at 8.00am. A perfect day for the commuters to attempt the land speed record? Judging from the number of tyre tracks on the verges, where vehicles drivers have "lost it," there may be a further requirement for icy roads to qualify officially.

Silent spring due to an iced over pond.

I was almost run over by a 6-axle juggernaut yesterday as the driver complete overshot a corner. I was walking on the verge, on the opposite side of the road, on the outside of the corner! The Hazardous Goods Vehicle driver was closely followed by two Vestas White Van Men. Both of whom overshot the same corner in their haste to joust at windmills. I was waved at by several lorry drivers as I hopped onto the verge to let them pass easily against oncoming traffic.

The mist cleared quite quickly as the sun rose warmly on my face. The air too cold at first for bare hands and holding cameras. Every twig and plant was coated in 8mm long ice crystals. I took 58 pictures in an hour and half of walking. Of which I quite liked only six. The sense of depth, sparkle and light is lost no matter how I try to capture what I see.

Eight Whooper swans passed over heading for the unseen coast. Calling quietly to each other and probably searching for clear water. Mixed flocks of small birds scavenged beneath the  busy feeder in the small, quiet yard of the long-forgotten village school. Including a Goldfinch and a Blackcap. The traffic was light and well behaved today. By the time I finished my walk only a distant haze hinted at the earlier mist. Windmills punctuated the horizon beyond the chill, undulating landscape under a blazing sun.

There is just the merest touch of a breeze in the sunlit, weeping birches now as I wait for the morning ritual of coffee and marmalade covered rolls. Wrapped up well, it should be a perfect day for a ride. As the temperature slowly climbs towards freezing point.

After a sunny start to my ride it turned grey with a cold wind. Somebody has been taking large chunks out of the forest! There were large gaps with huge piles of pine logs and stacks of beech tree trunks along the road. I passed under a small, buff, bird of prey perched in a roadside tree. Presumably a female Kestrel. It flew away with fast wing beats. A buzzard was braver and watched me ride past without undue concern. It must be a difficult time of year for most of them. The Wood pigeons and Pheasants have their grain feeders set up in most copses and woods by the hunters. Though the Chaffinches are certainly not adverse to a visit.

Going quite well today with several stints of climbing for hundreds of yards out of the saddle. This makes me more breathless, than remaining seated, but is definitely faster than sitting and twiddling. I practice changing gear up and down regularly while 'honking' to avoid losing any speed or dropping too low in cadence. The trick seems to be to relax for a fraction of second during the gear change. A soon as the chain has "clunked" I can turn the power back on again. Just shoving it into gear while pedaling hard works but just seems so much clumsier.

Listening to the pros changing up the gears after a corner, while time trialling, suggested that most of them just banged it into gear without a pause. I've never heard such a racket! Though their disk rear wheels must exaggerate the sound and their next contracts will depend on their results. Not to mention having a pro mechanic constantly replacing their worn equipment. I believe I read somewhere that Sram gears are noisier than others when changing. That might explain a lot. 21 miles.

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3 Feb 2015

3rd February 2015 And a bit more snow.

Tuesday 3rd 28-30F, -2-1C, almost still, heavy overcast. Promise of possible light snow showers. About an inch
of new snow lying from overnight showers. Enjoyed a walk up to the woods as a huge sun struggled against the breaking cloud. Having walked the length of the woods I returned by the road. Where I was sprayed by every passing vehicle.

The sun eventually lost the battle with the cloud but at least the sky isn't uniformly grey. It felt remarkably cold in an increasing northerly breeze. I was sensible enough to wear glasses with yellow lenses to avoid my eyes watering. Though the glasses do make use of the binoculars considerably more difficult. I saw four deer in the woods. All running away from me after I had cleared my throat. There was up to 6" of snow in a few places where the sun and wind could not reach. Though the frost made light work of the usually marshy areas walking is a rather noisy affair at times.

It was bitterly cold at first riding north into the wind. It took several hill climbs to finally stop my hands aching with cold. Then it started to drop frozen rain mixed with occasional sleet. The roads were mostly clear but very wet. With only an occasional stripe of slush between the wheel tracks. Coming home it seemed more like a crosswind but warmer. Lots of birds of prey lurking in the trees or moving away from me. 18 miles.

Wednesday 4th 25-30F, -4-1C, almost still, rather cloudy. I was just reading about a survey which suggests that gentle jogging for more than 2.5 hours a week shortens life. Intense, prolonged exercise affects the heart and arteries as detrimentally as complete inactivity. At least it does statistically.

Whoops! I walk briskly up and downhill, over very rough ground, for far longer than that over a couple of days. Sometimes as long as that in only one day. Add in the tricycling and I should have died before my great-grandfather was born! Am I enjoying myself yet? Statistically? Not allowed! I wonder how many people have died from being crushed by falling statistics? ;ΓΈ)

I walked in a rural loop and was aggravated by two Pointers on a footpath. They were guarding an isolated, ex-farmhouse but obviously had delusions of grandeur involving a foolishly large territory. Eventually the owner gave up shouting from afar and came to collect them. Of course they completely ignored him and kept barking. So I cut off across a field to continue my walk. The number of ducks on the small, frozen lake had shrunk to half a dozen in a last small area clear of ice. They were hardly outnumbered by Coots. Normally there are dozens of ducks laughing their heads off on the water.

As it was quite cold again I did not make the same mistake as yesterday. I put on a thin pair of polyester gloves under the Dintex scooterist's gloves. These worked perfectly and I was warm and comfortable from the start. I was quite warm after the shopping so didn't need the thin gloves on the way home.

I passed an old  farmhouse where the 3-lengths, thatched barns had burnt down. Fortunately the thatched house looked unscathed. I'm sure I posted a picture of the place a couple of years ago. It had a pretty doorway seen across the enclosed yard through the old barn access port. Now all the framing buildings are gone. It will be interesting to see how [or if] they rebuild the missing structure. It oozed with atmosphere with its chestnut avenue to the drive, the large pretty pond and all the thatched buildings. 18 miles.

Thursday 5th 32F, 0C, light breeze, heavy cloud clearing with increasing periods of sunshine. Light overnight snow cover. I changed my walking route again to enjoy new views.  The tens of thousands of fresh tracks in the snow snow gave an interesting insight into one night's wildlife activity. Apart from several sizes of deer prints there were countless others in all sizes. From tiny voles to dog-like prints over 3" long. Some of them must have been hares but there were many with a distinct 5 point star impressed between the pads in several sizes. There were tiny bird tracks and 3-toed monsters four inch long! Some with, and some without webs. Cats cover a surprising amount of ground. Often travelling miles from the nearest house. I often see them out on the fields.

Only a short ride today in bright sunshine. Roads clear and almost dry. Saw a Blackcap and a Bullfinch on the way home. Under certain circumstances the aero bars are good for an extra 4-5mph. Sitting up, onto the hoods, feels like a serious headwind. I was cruising at a steady 14 mph on the flat. Shot up to 20.5 in the aero position. Then right back down to 14mph sitting up with my hands on the hoods.

Anyone time trialling without aero bars is seriously handicapping themselves because speeds are likely to be higher. With an even more serious rise in air drag as a consequence. The downside is reduced comfort and slight loss of control over rough roads. I haven't had enough practice yet to stay on the aero bars for miles on end. The strange thing is that it actually looks more comfortable in the aero position. The truth is that it is not. Perhaps I should watch TV while resting on my elbows? It could catch on... Only 7 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

1 Feb 2015

1st February 2015 Even more snow.

Sunday 1st 30-34F, -1+1C, light breeze, heavy overcast, snowing! I had a walk up to the distant woods and back along the road as the snow went from occasional flakes to moderate snowfall. Hundreds of rooks foraging at the moment. They are easily recognised by their long, off-white beaks. I disturbed a tree full of Fieldfares.

Landscape taken during light snowfall.

By the time I went for a ride it was snowing hard. With a 2 o'clock cross headwind I was soon plastered and half blinded despite the yellow lens sunglasses. I should have taken the TA cap for its peak for more protection. Even the trike was completely covered in snow as I came out of the supermarket.

The definition of a special offer in a Danish supermarket: Take this normal stock item off the shelf and hide it in the warehouse. Then, when the special offer period is over, bring it back out again and put hundreds on display at full price! Welcome to the twilight zone of Danish retail monopoly.

I was just reading that the Coop/Fakta are planning to close more branches. Fortunately only one closure will affect my present shopping habits. By coincidence they have always had miserable staff. Just like the other local branch they closed locally. Perhaps they should send secret shoppers to their struggling branches to check for such staff problems.

How difficult can it be to employ pleasant staff?  Real people with the necessary skills to make shopping an enriching experience for everybody? Mast Danish supermarkets seem to employ pre-pubescent staff these days with no interpersonal skills to speak of. Staff turnover in many branches is so rapid that one rarely see the same face twice.

It had stopped snowing by the time I headed for home but the wind was increasing and turning from a cross to a headwind. Not particularly energetic today despite cruising at 20 mph for a few miles on the aero bars. I shall definitely have to do something about that saddle! Only 16 miles.

Here I managed to capture myself in a roadside mirror while cornering hard at -2C in my winter cycling clothing. Aesse jacket, DHB shorts and Northwave MTB boots keep me comfortable. The image is fuzzy due to heavy cropping. I only shared this "selfie" for the amusing distortion in the convex mirror. I have no idea why I look so cross.

Monday 2nd 30F, -1C, almost still, overcast, snowing steadily with small flakes. Went for a walk keeping to new spray tracks to enjoy new viewpoints. I am spoilt rotten for pretty landscapes if you don't demand soaring mountains in the background. By the time I returned I was well covered in snow but there is still only about an inch or two of snow lying. Enough to make everything white but still easy to walk on the fields thanks to the hard frozen soil underneath.

The views were softened by the snowfall but remained not too blurry. My pictures in mist can often look badly out of focus. It is a shame that you can't enjoy my images full screen as I do. One gets a much better sense of 'being there' with far more realistic perspective. I watched a deer through my binoculars as it crossed a large field to reach the woods. Hundreds of footprints on the fields suggest considerable animal traffic at night. Deer prints of several sizes and hares had left their marks on the spray tracks I followed. Perhaps suggesting that they favour the smoother surface without having to drag their feet through the still-grassy, immature crops.

The aches and pains from my involuntary acrobatics have now subsided. Though I still can't lean on my damaged forearm it hasn't bothered me too much while riding. Not even when resting on the aero bar arm rests, provided I took some care about placement. I now have the elbow rests only slightly splayed outwards to the rear. I have also leveled the saddle nose. Hoping to reduce discomfort while in the aero position. I just hope it suits my normal riding position on the hoods!

I was buffeted by a crosswind on the way but it had decreased on the way back. I was treated to a gorgeous orange sunset burning along the horizon beneath the grey lid all the way home. A times the light rose like a jewel in a ring. I seemed to be very breathless going but felt better on the return journey. 13 miles.