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.

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