10 Apr 2015

10th April 2015 Woods for the trees.

Friday 10th 34F, 1C, thick mist, bright and still. The mist promises to burn off but how soon? An ideal day for a ride if it clears quickly enough to allow an early start. Took a half hour stroll in the mist to kill time.

Mmmm! Choker-Kola! The ultimate disposable drink. Disposable packaging, teeth, waistline, self esteem, cardiovascular system, insulin syringes... ? ©

When I finally left, bare legged and wearing fingerless mitts, the mist was almost gone and there was bright sunshine for the rest of the day. I rode to Ringe, where I bought another pair of Taktik bibs at the new cycle shop. The third retailer on these very large premises to my knowledge. Lots of tasty machines to admire of all kinds. From kids, to roadsters, to city, to racing and MTB. I was obviously more interested in the latter two. Having only one pair of bibs and a few pairs of decent shorts is not very sensible. Bibs are best for comfort over longer distances. Shorts more convenient for my typical, daily shopping rides up to [say] 40 miles.  Though I have gone further in the DHB shorts when the bibs weren't available.

I came back via the Ringe-Korinth narrow gauge, cycle path. There were fairly frequent piles of horse droppings on the 1.5m wide tarmac but at least the deep, flinty sand had become safely grassed over. Only here and there, particularly near Korinth, had the horses' hooves cut deep into the grassed area and strewn flints right across the path. Fortunately it was dry today and I wasn't still using Continental's 4000S blotting paper tyres. So I survived unscathed. Though it was very worrying when I did hit the sand and gravel.

I saw only one other cyclist, one walker and one jogger in the entire 16km/10 mile length of the path. Which runs along the old railway bed. Pleasant scenery, no hills and a huge pleasure not to have to listen to and watch out for constant traffic. The only real criticism this time was the steady headwind. This kept my pace down to 13-15mph when I felt I could have cruised nearer 20mph. With no other users there would not have been any danger. The path is very open throughout its length without any real shelter amidst the often, wide-open fields on either side.

This openness does have some advantages in that the wind and rain seem to help to clear the tarmac path of debris. Where there were trees close by the path they had dropped lateral moraines of twigs. Which were completely dried out or beginning to compost on the edges of the tarmac. Suggesting that the path is only rarely swept. There are rather too frequent raised concrete slab crossings for the many farm tracks which cross the route. These usually required my lifting off the saddle to avoid some nasty raised bumps.

Otherwise, the tarmac itself is still nicely smooth. Except for one short stretch where tree roots have lifted and cracked a few small patches. This was clearly indicated by a huge exclamation mark on a road sign beside the track. Rather oddly there was no other useful signs. So I hadn't a clue where I was going until I got there. [Korinth] I was using the sun [as usual] to confirm my rough direction throughout the day. The barred chicanes, to stop motor traffic joining the path, were a bit "fierce." Without adequate clearance for my trike's rear wheels unless I went "off-road" on each tight bend. There is nothing unusual in this. The chicanes on other cycle paths are exactly the same. Presumably a Danish standard design. I noticed that the clubman desperately trying to catch me [for several miles!] lost a lot of time on one of the chicanes. He probably forgot to choose a low enough gear to be able to simply ride through. I didn't take a single photograph all day! 63 miles.

Saturday 11th 50-61F, 10-16C, still and sunny. The stench of pig slurry is so overpowering that you could cut rashers from the air. It lies so thick in the tractor ruts that it forms deep, black puddles. Perhaps the farmers have independently discovered dark matter? Just don't tell them or they'll want more taxpayer's  "environmental" subsidies! I wonder how much they get per mile of road they plaster in thick mud? No ill effects from yesterday's ride as I took my morning walk. It has already reach 61F/16C at 11 am. And 64F/18C at 15.00.

Farmers using mechanical aids to rapidly load the capacious hopper of the seed drill. The tractor has very typical, doubled rear wheels to lower ground pressure and reduce wheel slip on steep slopes. Doubled front wheels are also quite common on tractors. Making an imposing sight as they sometimes span the entire breadth of the road. While some larger farms can afford a huge, Case tractor with four caterpillar tracks. Despite my criticisms of pig farming and muck spreading in particular I still find their agriculture activities interesting.

It was so mild today I was down to just shorts and racing jersey for the first time this year. I was overtaken by three serious clubmen while I was cruising uphill at 20mph despite being heavily loaded. They each gave me a cheery greeting as they passed having followed me uphill at a decent clip. I dropped onto the aero bars on the following descent and just managed 24mph but they were still going effortlessly away before turning off my route. It steadily clouded over during my ride but felt no cooler for the shade. 20 miles.

Sunday 12th 43-51F, 6-11C, breezy and sunny. Strong winds gusting to nearly 40mph expected later. The wind was already brisk despite the [almost] balmy temperature. I enjoyed my longest walk taking in two woods with extras. Detours are an essential part of wood-walking. Exploration without demanding excitement or even surprise is the norm.

Today's birds numbered a Tree creeper, Long-tailed tit, an unidentified, fluffed-up warbler and a gaudy Greater Spotted woodpecker. These were greatly outnumbered by the more common, but never commonplace, Great tits, Chaffinches, Sparrows, Wagtails and Yellowhammers. I sometimes hear birds with no immediate mental imagery of their identity. A repetitive tapping on a metallic object caught my attention today but offered absolutely no clues. It sounded too loud for a small bird. Perhaps a woodpecker had become bored with sending his woody echoes through the forest? Though I suppose that branching out into a more melodic percussion range might confuse potential mates. Best to stick with what you know. Unless you intend to practice deliberately planned parenthood.

A supermarket chain is offering a selection of cycling clothing starting today. So I had better get moving to beat the Sunday rush. They were very well hidden but I eventually found the translucent white, windproof jackets hidden underneath some jerseys.

Another desperate attempt at capturing a steep hill. This one seems to work better than most. Modest zoom and a raised horizon at 2/3 instead of the usual one third seemed to help.
The jackets had a nice, close fit on my skinny arms, good length, ventilated flap, packed down extremely well, with reflective details and zipped back pocket all for £13 equivalent. I was looking at similar jackets in the bike shops and they were horribly expensive despite being ridiculous bum freezers!

No way of telling the breath-ability or how shower proof the jacket is until I've tried wearing it. My only similar jacket is day-glo fluorescent yellow and was splashed all over with tar from active roadworks almost from new [from a charity shop.]  I wanted a smart-ish, lightweight jacket which could be easily tucked away into the Junior saddlebag. For those days which start, or end cool, with warm in the middle. It can be misery not to be warm enough on a cycle ride. A good jacket takes away the temptation to trust to luck. Only 7 miles so far. Though very windy, with fierce gusts, I may be allowed out again pm. Nope! I was "advised" by the Head Gardener to take a rest. Probably wise, given the wind conditions.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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