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.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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