30 Jun 2015

29th June 2015 One man's warmth is another's....

Monday 29th 60-70F, 16-20C, grey start clearing to bright sunshine. Short walk as it became rapidly warmer. Watched the coots for a while.

Left after lunch into a gusty crosswind to shop. Pleasantly warm but rather spoilt by the strength of the wind. 14 miles.

Tuesday 30th 60-70F, 16-20C. Grey start but clearing rapidly. Walked for an hour and a half in bright sunshine. Met two large dogs on the track, which seemed to have missed breakfast, though I escaped unscathed.

Left before lunch to practice hill climbing around Håstrup and Radby overlooking the distant sea. Lots of birds of prey [and gulls] soaring. Came back by another, hilly way for 34 miles total. June seems to have flown by. Disappointing weather until the last few days.

I have been suffering from a creaking crank. I tried un-clipping each foot in turn and pedalling with one foot to discover which was the offender. Removing the left showed slight rust and a polish on the flats. I smeared some LMP grease on the axle and re-tightened. We shall see if I have cured the irritating noise. Opinions differ whether square-axle cranks should be lubricated. Pedals threads should be greased to allow later removal if needed. The self-extracting crank bolts/screw caps are a huge improvement over crank extractors. The same goes for socket-head screws. I just wish the cycle industry would embrace stainless steel fasteners. You pay for a posh handlebar extension and the socket heads screws quickly go rusty. The same happens to the screws on brakes.

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26 Jun 2015

26th June 2016 Coot's paradise.

Friday 26th 55-68F, 13-20C, light breeze, bright overcast. Warmer with lighter winds forecast for today. I wonder if I'll be allowed out for a "proper ride" again today? I didn't get far on my walk and spent ages watching the family of two adult coots and five chicks on the village pond. The tall irises provide perfect shelter in their marshy surroundings. Making capturing the entire family an exercise in patience for a humble Point and Shoot camera. The adults would regularly jump into the air to make a seconds-long dive, which produced lots of bubbles and water movement. I was surprised that they did not resurface right under the babies.

Swallows constantly swooped low, even coming within a foot of my head, as I remained perfectly still for long periods. A background of warblers and blackbirds singing out on the wooded marsh competed with the passing traffic. It is odd how the wildlife will completely ignore vast, passing lorries and roaring farm tractors, but quickly hide if they see a silent pedestrian.

I rode down to the south coast after morning coffee and toast. Then turned for Helnæs peninsula via the hilly lanes and the gentrified fishing village. The cloud cover thinned at times allowing some brightness with the flat light quite favourable for photography. It was comfortably warm without much wind. I took lots of photos of photogenic houses along the way as I worked my way out to the lighthouse. Where I enjoyed my mature Cheddar cheese on whole grain, a French mini loaf on the thoughtfully provided chairs, almost overhanging the clear, placid sea. I had a banana for dessert washed down with a box of pure apple juice. A perfect day for a ride without it becoming too hot or windy. The sheltered, inland sea was dotted with swans and coots. Starlings moved around in nervous flocks beside the twisting rural roads. Solitary wagtails would stand waiting until I almost reached them. Before moving further down the road in a game of tag. 40 miles.

Saturday 27th 59-68?F, 15-20C?C, light breeze, heavy overcast. Threat of showers or rain. It remained almost dry, except for a few spots. Sounds seemed dampened by the thin, misty haze which hung over the landscape. I varied my route through the woods but had to take to the conifer fire breaks to avoid the chest high grass and weeds on my normal tracks. Saw only one hare but could hear deer bucks having a squabble out of sight. The birds seemed very muted today. There was a single, loud bang, quite unlike a gunshot, while I was right out in the middle of a large field. No obvious explanation for the noise. Perhaps it was one of the practising jets breaking the sound barrier high above the uniform, grey clouds.

The morning coffee and toast ritual safely completed, I set off in spitting rain. The roads were damp but still dry under the larger trees for the first mile or so. Then the rain  gradually increased throughout my ride until a continuous spray was coming off all three wheels. The cheapo, supermarket, cycling rain jacket kept me fairly warm though it was just as wet inside as out. As was evident from a slight chill on my bare forearms inside the close-fitting, jacket sleeves. Fortunately most of the passing traffic was thoughtful enough to keep its distance. So the usual [free] cold showers were avoided.

No matter how wet you think you feel, the golden rule is not to corner hard enough to need to hang over the bright arc spraying off the inside rear wheel! As my socks grew progressively wetter and colder I comforted myself that I would soon be enjoying a warm shower. The cyclist within easy reach of home is a very different animal from one with no hope of warmth and shelter for several hours, or days. 2015 and it still seems impossible to obtain affordable and breathable clothing for cycling in the wet. Only 15 soggy miles.

Sunday 28th 55-68F, 13-20C, breezy and overcast. Cloudier and windier than previously forecast. With rain only promised for much later. Only an hour's walk with moments of warm sunshine. A dozen or so swallows performed enthusiastic acrobatics as they skimmed over the dense weeds of the marsh. While the young coots had grown bold and were exploring the entire pond unattended. They have a fair turn of speed themselves and can probably manage a 2mph paddle over the width of their pond.

Eventually it became a warm and bright day. Having assisted the Head Gardener, in my secondary role of lumber jack, I decided to take a rest day from the trike. 

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24 Jun 2015

25th June 2015 Oh, bucket!

Wednesday 24th 51F, 11C, cool, heavy overcast and breezy, with rain spitting in the air. I spent half an hour wiping over the Trykit with a clean rag. Then rubbing it down with ScotchBrite fine, abrasive fibre. Followed by rubbing the rack to a uniform matt finish and refitting the Goth, leather, saddle bag.

Were I to be <cough> saddled with a painted frame it would already be looking incredibly scruffy. The stainless steel Reynolds R931 frame is very forgiving of my lack of regular cleaning.

The forks are R953 and were quite prone, at first, to thin, horizontal lines of surface rust if not given an occasional, but cursory, wipe over. For some reason the initial rust problem seems to have largely dissipated. A hint of discolouration can be seen around the Sigma, wireless, computer sensor but that's about all. The area around the front drop-outs showed a bit of rust during/after winter rains/snow but easily wiped off. Probably the after-effects of salting the roads. Anybody with a proper water and soap cleaning routine would probably never notice any problems. I tend to go for months without so much as a quick wipe over. This is probably due to my entirely solo approach to cycling. If I had to withstand the gentle humour of fellow cyclists it would be far simpler to keep the trike clean just to avoid their amused witticisms. 

I have hardly mentioned the Sigma but the display has been a model of clarity and reliability so far. Thankfully it has shown no hint of the major problems of my previous computers. Not least its excellent legibility without reading glasses! The only thing I don't really like is the curved tops to the 7s. I glance down to check my mileage and regularly confuse the 7s with 2s. Taking my eyes off the road twice to confirm the actual figure should really not be necessary in this day and age. By the time I look up again I could easily have hit a lump of the gravel which is strewn almost everywhere.

I have to spend a ridiculous amount of ride time reading the road surface ahead to avoid potholes and stones. It would help if I tipped up the display head so I could see the bottom of the 7s, from the hoods, but that would mean changing the tilt again every time I am resting on the aero-bars. I usually have to adjust my Cyclops mirror to monitor the overtaking traffic. So changing the display angle on the computer would add yet another task with every change of riding position.

It stayed dry and overcast but very windy for my short ride. Blowing a gale on the way back!  I passed a couple of farmers out spraying yesterday and by coincidence had a dizzy spell again this morning. My nose is also streaming and I am sneezing so it may just be blocked ears again. Who can tell?

On the positive side, I realised today that my years of lower back pain may have ended. [For the moment, at least.] I'm wondering whether this has to do with the aero-bars? Could the regular stretching to a much lower position have freed a trapped nerve or sorted out a wonky disk? I usually noticed the worst pain the day after I had been doing some heavy lifting. Well, I have been doing quite a bit of lifting recently without being physically penalised for it, just for a change. Ever onwards!

I am now within only a couple of miles of 3,000 for the year at half way. So I really need to get cracking if I am going to keep up my 8k miles per year tricycling average. Last year was only in the 6,000s. I have been allowing myself many more rest days this year than previously. A day without any mileage, at all, makes a big hole in the figures. Conversely, rests days allow time for muscle recovery from the damage caused by cycling. Only 10 miles today. Some people would call that a recovery ride. Others would say it was no ride at all!

Thursday 25th 59F, 15C, cool, light winds, dry but rather cloudy, to overcast, with a few sunny periods. The farmer had kindly trimmed the weeds around his field so I had unusually easy access to the larger, marsh pond. There must have been well over 200 young ducks spread out into in several large flotillas! I saw three Red deer and four hares today. The forest tracks are getting over head height, in tall grasses, with brambles making progress more difficult. Two decorated, lorry loads of students went past with horns blaring and plenty of shouting. A buzzard circled, seemingly unconcerned, overhead. The hedges are full of elder blossom and gorgeous wild roses. I can still hear and occasionally see, warblers everywhere I go, whether on foot or trike. Lots of Greenfinches wheezing too.

Left mid-afternoon for a hilly ride to my first goal 10 miles away. Then another route to the shops and then home. Nearly taken off by an idiot in a mini excavator practising his stupidity by swinging the bucket out into the middle of a narrow lane. What was more amusing was the 7 axle lorry which was following right behind me. One second later and the excavator driver would have had the shock of his life and probably his last. I dived in behind the digger to allow the grateful lorry driver to pass in a huge cloud of brown dust from the digging. Only 22 miles.

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23 Jun 2015

23rd June 2015 Narrow gauge outing.

Tuesday 23rd 60-66?F, 16-19C?, almost still, sunny. The forecast is for a risk of showers with quite modest winds. I have the Trykit stripped down to the Junior sans rack. Off we, jolly well, go! I left about 9.30 and had managed 15 miles in the first hour. A large group of some fifty, mixed teenagers were riding  the opposite way in florescent jackets. Each at their own pace, they straggled well over a good couple of miles between first and last. Having ridden the main road for some miles I joined the Korinth to Ringe narrow gauge cycle path at Højrup. [pr.Hoiroop] A chap seemed to be catching me on his MTB so I waved him past at a suitable crossing. Whereupon he stopped and we chatted for ten minutes about cycling. He had ridden in many different countries. He took a couple of snaps of the trike and we set off towards Ringe again until he turned off.

By the time I reached Ringe it had turned grey and cool for a while. I browsed the big bike shop's display though I could find nothing to really tempt me. Eventually I decided to return by the cycle path to avoid the traffic on the main road coming home. Riding an old railway track, on near perfect tarmac, is a slightly weird experience. There are no noticeable inclines, to speak of. Which can tend to make the ride a bit boring. There is definitely a slight lack of stimulus. If it were not for the fabulous countryside I might well have decided to rejoin the roads at one of the many crossings. I had a light headwind most of the way home which increased the impact of the countless small flies. Certainly not a day for slack-jawed breathlessness! Dust devils formed repeatedly over untidy, darkly-grassed fields. Momentarily exposing the sheer weight of pollen in the warm air as they swirled and evaporated into thin air again. Fortunately I haven't been too troubled by pollen recently.

The bright sun soon returned and I had spent most of the day in bibs and short sleeved, racing jersey. There were many more marker posts and signs than I remembered from last time. In the entire, two way, distance I saw perhaps three cyclists and three dog walkers on the path. On each occasion I had to take to the grass verge of the horse track alongside the path.

Having punctured twice on my first ride on the path I was rather wary of going off-piste. Fortunately the grass has managed to get a firm hold of the flinty sand over time. Only the section approaching Korinth is badly cut up by hooves and the odd MTB tyre track. Not to mention the stench of horse urine from the track-side pastures.

It was at the Korinth Station that I had reached the end of the line, and the cycle path, and found the very first waste bin. Now I had to return to the minor roads to finish my pleasant journey home. Though I had quite forgotten about the long climb up Møllevej [Mill Road or Way] to Jordløse. [p.Yordloozuh] The hill seems to go on forever! Each time I crested a new false summit another step reared up in front of me. 57 miles and I'm still in good shape. I have caught a little more sun to add to the tea-stained knees, calves and forearms.

The half-timbered outbuilding pictures of my recent blog posts are from yet another old farm still hoping for a buyer. Many farmhouses would/might be better off for demolition of their outbuildings. Though it depends entirely on the circumstances. Some runs of buildings are more attractive and better build quality than the farmhouse itself. It is just that the buildings no longer have much useful purpose except for storage.

Many traditional Danish farm buildings formed closed squares. Offering a more sheltered yard, protected from the wind and driving snow. With only a covered portal for a horse and cart this has provided severe access headaches for some farmers with the coming of ever larger farm tractors, harvesters and implements.

Small mixed farms are commercially obsolete and even the massive swing to industrialised pig farming has not helped. Putin's tit-for-tat ban on imports of EU produce has pushed many Danish farmers even closer to bankruptcy. There must be a huge glut of pigs now. Still with large feed bills and huge debts to never repay. This has provided many more farms for sale. Often with all the agricultural land stripped way. To make it more manageable for the new owners and their ride-on mowers to entertain themselves at the weekend.

The fields are added to ever larger holdings with the finances to invest in large scale, grain crop production. The unwanted farmhouses are often very large but can sell very cheaply indeed if a buyer can be found. Keeping the [often] very long, traditional farmhouses warm in winter must be a nightmare at modern fuel prices. Just insulating the loft of such a large building area is a serious investment. Properly insulating a pretty, half-timbered building even more difficult. The cost of re-thatching a complete run of farm buildings at 1500DKK, £150 or $200 per m^2 would require a large fortune!

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22 Jun 2015

22nd June 2015 And now some mixed news!

Monday 22nd 56F, 13C rather cloudy, light winds with showers forecast all day possibly with thunder.

I ordered some new Schwalbe Durano tyres from Cykelpartner.dk an online Danish bike and parts
dealer. The present Duranos have flattened treads through tricycle use and are showing an increasing number of small holes from the sharp flints which litter the unswept, Danish cycle paths and highways.

This rural junction has been like this for years. Traffic turning into the minor road cuts the corner. Dragging the  loose and uncompressed gravel from the verge and depositing it across the entire road.

Gravel of all sizes collects in moraines at junctions, on corners and along the verges. Many cycle paths are littered with gravel from the drives of houses along their length. It is obviously beyond the wits or any sense of responsibility to [ever] sweep up their droppings. Just getting them to clear the snow from the pavement outside their home [required by law!] is a completely lost cause in many cases. Farmers carry countless flints onto the roads and right across the cycle paths in the mud from their fields. Leaving the flint gravel everywhere as the mud slowly disappears in thick brown, airborne dust, through tyre wear or rain. The Danish communes habit of adding gravel to the verges to allow slightly extra road width for overtaking, at much lower cost than tarmac, adds its own level of gravel accumulation chaos.

My order to Cykelpartner was placed late on Saturday afternoon @ 17.37pm and the package is already waiting for my pick-up from the "packet shop/post office" delivery machine in a local supermarket this morning. Just one of a national arrangement for parcel collection from a very large chain of Danish supermarkets and [some] petrol stations. The secure parcel dispensing machine has lots of different lockers and opens on entering two, four digit pin numbers and inserting my Danish national insurance card to confirm ID.

Anybody who complains about carrying a national ID card is an idiot. Does anybody leave home without a debit or credit card these days? Duh? The Danish card is exactly the same size and style as any bank card and has the owner's name, address and National Insurance number printed or embossed on it. A magnetic strip allows it to be read by services including the library, doctors, dentists, local council services,etc .

The card saves everybody loads of time by not having to spell difficult names and addresses and then produce alternative forms of ID to confirm personal identity. Passport anybody? The Danish national insurance number is used as primary ID for most online banking, official communications etc. Unlike the ridiculously random British NI number the Danish one has date of birth first followed by four security digits. Anybody presenting the card as ID must obviously match the age shown by the NI birth date. A very simple check that the card or its identity isn't being abused.

Within seconds I received clear emails from Cykelpartner immediately confirming my order. Then another later to confirm Sunday despatch and now another confirming readiness for collection at 08.30 today. [Monday] Postage was free because I chose local collection to avoid hanging about waiting for the postman all day. Postal delivery times are as variable as today's weather and of doubtful reliability. Miss-posting to neighbours is remarkably commonplace despite clear house numbers. For many years we only had post on a few, specific days of the week! I kid you not!

I know that most of you are unlikely to ever deal with a Danish online bike parts dealer. But thought I'd share a mention of the same, truly remarkable service I receive every single time I have dealt with Cykelpartner.dk They have over 10,000 remarkably positive Trust Pilot reviews with a score of 9.6 and are liked by many more Facebook users. It just shows how well it can be done with determination and customer service always a priority.

For those who think I should deal with a bricks and mortar shops I might have agreed. Except that no "real" bike shops stock anything but 23mm Duranos [or in any other folding "racing" tyre] and usually only stock the Durano Plus anyway. I prefer the lighter Durano and 25mm width for greater comfort. Average shop prices are also 100DKK/ £10/ $16US higher than buying them online. When you are buying three at a time that adds up to 1½ free tyres!

I have only 3,400 miles on the latest Duranos with three punctures so far. Not as good as the first set I bought but there is still some life in the present set. Wet weather seems to be their Achilles heel. The damp allows very tiny flints to gather in any hole in the tread which eventually work their way through to the tube. Dry weather seems to avoid any visible flint collection. Like the Continental 4000 & 4000S, which I used before buying Schwalbes, there seems to considerable variation in the rubber compounds between batches.The Blue 4000s were fine until the treads literally split like a knife cut. Both pairs of 4000S were puncture magnets! 

I complained to another online [non-bikes] UK dealer recently about the long delays for delivery, longer waits for [endlessly and repeatedly out of stock] items [despite acceptance of my order] the total lack of useful communication, ignoring multiple follow-up emails, etc.

I mentioned Trust Pilot in my repeat email sent ten days after the first was completely ignored and was told that Trust Pilot is a complete scam. Needless to say they, themselves, have an appalling TP score of below 4, of entirely negative reviews, with dire ex-customer warnings about ever dealing with this company. Some have even publicly threatened them with the UK Trading Standards Office to obtain a refund for non-received items. Our last order from them contained obviously returned items which had been previously opened and tried by dissatisfied customers. The [almost up] sell-by dates were a year earlier than our last order when they kept us waiting [again] supposedly to restock! Or, in other [fewer] words: How NOT to do business online!!

No walk and only a short ride under a dark and threatening sky. It even tried to spit on me on the way back. The Head Gardener told me it had mightily, but briefly, "persisted" at home only 10 minutes ahead of me as I fought a light headwind. Only 7 miles. I'm wondering if it is worth the risk of taking another ride. Not today.

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15 Jun 2015

15th June 2015 Comfrey invasion!

Monday 15th 56-60F, 13-16C, breezy but bright. No walk due to an early appointment. Rode into the wind to the shops. Tailwind coming home. Rather cold in/on the mitts going. Comfortable coming back, heavily loaded despite three, everyday items not in stock. If it gets any worse there'll be bread queues! Every supermarket is constantly cutting back on stock. You can't ever guarantee to get the same thing twice!

We have to find a new kind of quality bread every three years, on average, because the Danish baking monopolies get bored and stop making it. Usually after shrinking the loaf size dramatically and then ruining the quality by stuffing it with rye to prepare the customer for the end of a production run. Hardly a day goes by when I don't have to ask the supermarket staff for something missing from the shelves. Udgået [discontinued] is the most common word in the Danish language. 19 miles.

Tuesday 16th 50-59F, 10-15C, breezy with heavy cloud cover. Even cooler than yesterday. If this is summer I shall be expecting a discount. The tame hare was playing on the track just inside the woods. Where I also met a tractor. The grass is getting very long on many of the tracks. Making progress quite difficult and often damp or downright wet. Comfrey is threatening to take over the world! Thank goodness it is much better looking than most wannabe despots. There was a threat of rain too in the air as I walked back.

The headless duck was extremely relaxed about my close presence to the young.

Left on the trike after lunch into bright sunshine. With a strong crosswind which felt just like a headwind. I felt strangely detached. Detoured to photograph some tiny ducklings on a village pond. Had to tour three supermarkets just to find decent potatoes, red cherry tomatoes and organic milk. I kid you not! The headwind had reduced to an  irritating crosswind coming home and I was able to cruise at 16-17mph. One of those days which isn't warm nor cool enough. I wore a jacket and sweated. Too cold to take it off. I caused a cattle stampede on a roadside field! Two young ones were quite near the road and veered away on my arrival leading to total panic! 14 miles.

Wednesday 17th 50-56F, 10-13C, breezy and rather grey with rain promised for all day after 9am. There were some brighter periods as I plodded around the village block while avoiding getting too far from home and a couple of potential short cuts.

A flower powered carriage? It will never catch on! I wouldn't want to meet the martial arts expert who could swing that weapon on the wall!

A family of Coots was pottering around each of the village ponds. Ploughing through the surface weed without disturbing the smooth green covering suggests they have no fear of large pike. Or any other large fish for that matter. Denmark is strangely lacking in rivers to fish. With no fish, there can be no fish eggs, to attach to duck's feet, to spread them about the landscape. The wind was stronger than I had expected but still no rain by 10am. This is despite the weather radar showing several blocks of rain having passed right over us. Mustn't complain, though, certainly about not getting wet!

With rain spitting in the air it was no day for detours or longer rides. Just a couple of large saddlebags full of organic fruit and veg. Another item has been discontinued. Once it started, the rain and wind kept up all day! Only 7 miles.

Thursday 18th 54F, 12C, cool, overcast and rather breezy. Another day of [lighter?] showers than yesterday but gusting to 15m/s or 30+mph. I'm still waiting for confirmation of my rebate for summer's failure to perform under existing consumer protection legislation. My walk was uneventful except for the familiar hare guarding the entrance to the woods. Staying dry so far @ 10.45am.

Just a short ride for 10 miles. Still dry at 2pm though with some dark and threatening clouds. Going out again. IT poured dopwn just before I was going to leave. Riding a main road with a crosswind is no fun when every lorry sprays me from head to foot. It even felt like my legs were being sandblasted. The roads were drier for the return journey. Plus 13 miles more.

Friday 19th 55F, 13C, overcast, showers and breezy. Forecast to be much the same as the last few days.

A hilly ride through a more distant forest. 21 miles of which half was on wet roads with drizzle falling steadily. Am I having fun yet?

Saturday 20th 52F, 11C, breezy, overcast with promise of brightening. Left for my walk into a cool breeze only for the temperature to soar to a balmy 60F [15C] in warm sunshine.

Rode to the shops. Cruising at 19-23mph with occasional bursts of 25mph. I was overtaken by a young chap out training. Harder work coming home heavily laden. Overtaken by four immaculate Morgans. Only 15 miles.

Mmm! McBlubbery! Relax, take the weight off on.

Sunday 21st 56F, 13C, mild with a grey overcast and light breeze. I discovered two more families of coots, each on their own ponds. The young look very strange with bright red heads and ginger ruffs. It has been a successful year for the birds with huge flocks of sparrows and starlings working over the large, rural lawns. More signs of Japanese Knotweed spreading unrestrained along the verges. The Sunday drivers seemed pre-occupied, senile or drunk. I had to take to the verges several time to avoid oncoming cars headed straight for me! It is quite unnerving to realise that the violent twitch back on line was probably only the result of my sudden movement. Had I not taken quickly to the shrubbery I would probably have failed to return from a simple, morning walk. This is quite unacceptable driving behaviour by any reasonable standards. Lots of weekend warriors riding individually, in pairs or small groups. It is time I joined them.

It remained overcast but dry as I rode over to the west coast enjoying the undulating but quiet lanes and hamlets. This is not an area I visit much.  I paused in a wood and was instantly attacked by midges. Remarkably few people about for Sunday morning. Though there were plenty of motorised lawnmowers roaring out of sight behind overgrown hedges. I don't think I heard the sound of children playing all morning. For once the wind was light enough not to be a nuisance. Plenty of cyclists out and about. The spring on the buckle of my right NorthWave MTB shoe has broken. I can neither tighten nor escape from the shoe when I get home! 25 miles.

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11 Jun 2015

10th JUne 2015 Hic! Oh Shell!! Hic!

Thursday 11th 51F, 11C, hardly a breeze, overcast. It should brighten up later.

And now, in breaking news: It's official: Shell encourages drunk drivers to buy their fuel at Shell petrol stations. A conscientious attendant at a Shell petrol station stopped two three "very obviously drunk" drivers from leaving and called the police who made the arrests. The police gave her a £50 reward. Shell sacked her for failing to wear a high visibility vest on the forecourt while saving lives. Meanwhile: Drunk drivers can safely use Shell petrol stations without the slightest risk of a citizen's arrest by the staff. Just try not to hit the petrol pumps on your way out!

Mmmm! McLardy's Choker-Colour! Major distributors to Danish roadside litter! We deliver where others fear to tread! 

Will Shell be now be having a [damage limitation] TV advertising campaign to encourage drunk drivers to buy from their chain of [drunk magnet] petrol stations? Perhaps offering savings stamps for petrol purchases based on blood-alcohol levels? With a free presentation bottle of booze after collecting enough stamps? Dunno. Perhaps they should ask the tobacco companies for some really expert advice on attracting generations of lemmings. I wonder whether Shell buys oil from IS or sells barrels for bombs to Assad? Probably best not to ask.

I could come up with some suitable Shell advertising slogans myself:

Shell: The drunk driver's tipple of choice. 
Shell: Get many more miles to the litre [of alcohol!] 
Shell: Too big to ever have to say sorry.

The story of the sacking has gone viral on Facebook with some 900 customers threatening a boycott. One of whom spends 30,000DKK a year or about £3000 at that particular Shell petrol station. Most expressed the opinion that Shell had got it badly wrong.

My usual walk was interrupted by a huge lorry, with attached crane and matching trailer coming to collect a pile of logs.  Rather unexpectedly I was asked by the driver if I was authorised to be walking in the woods. Why, on earth,  would I need to be approved to practice my legal right to enjoy the woods? The sign giving the public legal access from dawn to dusk was planted on a post not ten yards from where we stood!

Should have waited for the huge cloud of dust to settle!

I saw a [scaredy] cat in the woods for the first time today. It didn't come near enough for me to ask if it was approved. It was the spitting image of our old, grey tabby too. A few hares were out on the big field which still has low crops.

It cleared up after lunch but was still only 63F at 3pm. Just a short ride through the woods today. Only 10 miles but came back heavily loaded. It had reached a pleasant 66F, 19C when I returned.

An old, half-timbered thatched cottage from  1777 has had a sand blast to remove centuries of chalky paint. The house name "Svinget" means "The Corner." They must have been psychic! Hundreds of intercontinental HGVs now pass within three feet of the gable end, bedroom wall and window!

Friday 12th 60-72F, 15-23C, almost still with bright sunshine forecast until after lunch. Warblers and blackbirds are having a singing competition in the garden trees. I wonder if I'm allowed out for another proper ride? The Head Gardener worries about my long term exposure to UVs. It's not as if I go south and bake myself on a semi-tropical beach for several weeks a year. I'm not even allowed to leave without a good dollop of sun block laid on thick with a plasterer's trowel.

Mmmm! McLardy's new logo:
Simple fare for [very] simple folk.

No morning walk today so I could leave early suitably reinforced with toast and morning coffee. Rather a lot of traffic on my route but the wind remained light. With many of the turbines standing still early on. The wind picked up a little as I headed home on a different route. Still only 30 miles.

Saturday 13th 64-67F, 18-19C, overcast, warm, sticky and static wind turbines. Thundery showers forecast for this pm. I walked a familiar route backwards. No, not like that. I meant clockwise, instead of the reverse. I don't wear rear view mirrors on my walking boots!

It started raining at my most distant point from home. I was wearing a lightweight, polyester, shower-proof jogging jacket for its pocket capacity. Shower-proof being, on a scale of lies, damned lies and shower-proof, somewhere between blotting paper and fisherman's net. I crooked one hand over my binoculars and pressed on.

A very large heron had obviously heard the rumours about imminent, rising water levels.[Except in California of course.]  The daft bird was looking decidedly odd standing tall, perched on the top of a tree, overlooking a marsh drainage channel. Perhaps it had seen herons sitting up in trees on its holidays? It snuggled down as soon as I took out my camera. Which rather spoilt the effect. Not a very crisp picture, I'm afraid, at full [12x] zoom with further cropping.

Once the rain had satisfied itself that I was comfortably saturated it went off again. A peloton roared past dragging a tail of spray. Rather them than me! Cars came much too close and sprayed me too as I plodded back along the road. Several cars passed with stacks of MTBs aboard. Obviously heading for a competition somewhere even muddier than the roads we must all travel.

Not feeling very energetic on the trike today. Hardly managing to cruise at 16mph. I left damp roads behind and returned to wet roads and light rain later. I'm wondering if they are going to make a cycle lane on the newly widened road when they have finished with all the drainage and district heating work. It's very broad minded of drivers to travel at 60mph in the 60kph limit. Normally they go blind, deaf and dumb if you so much as mention Imperial measurements over here. Only 15 miles x 1.61 = 24.15km. 60mph  x 1.61 = 96 kmh! No sign of any badly parked vans. That usually produces some bright brake lights these days!

Sunday 14th 53F, 12C, very cloudy and quite windy.  Drifts of petals lifted in the breeze or to the draught from passing vehicles. A pair of buzzards circled over the woods as I approached. Otherwise the wildlife seemed to be having a day off. Perhaps they were hiding from the clanging of village church bells? Rest day.

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8 Jun 2015

8th June 2015 Sir Bradley Wiggin's hour record!

Monday 8th 53F, 12C, breezy with sunny periods. It keeps changing rapidly from overcast to bright sunlight and back again. Winds forecast to be up to 10m/s or 22mph today. I suppose it makes a change from 15m/s or 30+mph. With temperatures remaining below 15C /60F it can feel rather cool in the shade or when exposed to the wind.

An odd image which looks as if it is not upright but is merely the result of the worn path and ground sloping transversely.

Sir Bradley Wiggins has just smashed the hour record with 54.526km. At just under 34 miles mph he easily beat Dowsett's recent record despite BW fighting against ridiculously high atmospheric pressure. I can appreciate such phenomenal speeds as I often struggle to reach 30mph down the local hills even on the aero bars! To do 34mph on the flat and keep it up for an hour just shows the incredible level of power the multiple gold medal winner, multiple World Champion and Tour de France winner can produce! Clearly the best, male, British cyclist ever. With Beryl Burton the best British woman cyclist of all time.

Slightly warmer for my walk today. I brought the trike out of the shed just in time for a 2 minute cloudburst. The only time it rained at all today. Just a short ride for 7 miles.

Tuesday 9th 58F, 15C, dead calm at 8pm, wind turbines quite still with sunny periods. The wind gradually picked up from the north east as I walked my favourite loop. The clouds seemed to be crossing the sky quite rapidly. Lots of deer and hares around today. A pair of partridges were on the track and toddled away from me as I strode towards the woods. A hare had joined them in the game of chase. We all ended up in the woods but then the birds flew off through a fire break and back to their field. The turbines are turning briskly now.

A pleasant ride through another forest then back via the shops. Had a race with another pensioner on an electric bike. She would have beaten me easily if she hadn't slowed for a long but gentle downhill with rough tarmac. Third branch of the same supermarket chain and still none of the advertised special offers! Managed 33 mph down a hill into a village. Naughty boy! Lots of solo cyclists out training. I was sprayed again just before I reached home. 21 miles.

Crop circle: The oil seed rape blossom is lagging behind the rest in a damp hollow. The Yarrow and Hawthorn have tremendous blossom this year.

Wednesday 10th 63-68F, 17-20C, bright sunshine out of a cloudless sky. A short walk prior to going for a ride. With full sun, lighter winds and a warmer forecast it would be waste not to go out.

Rode off into the wind but only just comfortable without a jacket in the shade. After my first shopping stop a skinny teenage girl rode past on a sit-up-and-beg bike. I finished packing the Goth and followed on behind her expecting to overtake within a very short time. The big climb out of Brenderup up to Båring loomed up and again I was sure I would leave her miles behind. But she just kept on pedalling effortlessly away as I became more out of breath and could make no impression at all. I've seen more muscle tone on a jellyfish than on her skinny white, shapeless skittles but she still beat me to the top.[But only just as she turned off.]

Fortunately, for my damaged pride,  there was no more competition to be found on the road after that. I stopped at the shops again later and stuffed the leather saddlebag to overflowing before heading home with a cross tailwind. There was a backtrack and detour to be made at Ejby due to intense railway track laying. So the same farmer caught me twice with the same spray can on both sides of his field! My knees and forearms are becoming nicely tea-stained already. Or perhaps it's just the effects of spray drift? That might explain why I am seeing McLardy's discarded, porcine packaging everywhere I go. 42 miles.

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6 Jun 2015

5th June 2015 One warm day does not make a summer!

Friday 5th 55-70F, 13-21C, breezy with bright sunshine. The forecast is for a warm and sunny day for a change. May was a very long disappointment, temperature wise, with lots of wind to add to the chill factor. The next fortnight's forecast promises it will hover around 17C, 63F most days.

It was warm but windy for my walk. No, ill effects, at all, from yesterday's ride apart from a little pinkness on my arms. I met a 4WD vehicle for only the second time on the track to the woods. Several Shelducks dozed beside a flooded sump in a field. Normally they get anxious and take off for a couple of circuits. Wherever there are hedges there is birdsong but on the bare verges it is a slug-infested desert.

The kommune has been trimming back the wonderfully overgrown verges. Exposing and shredding all the litter which normally goes unseen. The cutter must be quite vicious because it even chops aluminium beer cans into several pieces! I wonder whether McLardy's worry about the half-life of their discarded packaging over which they sweat? I presume it is biodegradable but the same packaging has been lying there visibly unchanged for months now. Imagine retiring, at 65, from a company like Choker-Colour or McLardy's never having done a useful day's work in your entire life! I'm still waiting for the class action resulting in a massive fine on their ill-gotten gains. For their donations to crippling obesity and the misery of tooth decay for countless millions. Burp!

Rode across the wind for the first leg. Then straight into it for the next. Finally I had a tailwind for the shortest bit. First time this year I have left home without a jacket. It has just breached the 70F, 21C barrier at 2pm under a mostly cloudless sky. With only a little high, white mistiness in places.

There was a period costume procession in one village I passed through to commemorate women getting the vote. It's odd to think how many countries [and men] still live in the Dark Ages. One slight irony was that all the women and girls were walking. While a trio [of male] musicians were riding on a horse-drawn cart. It is interesting how cycling and the major change in fashions required for pedalling efficiency affected women's rights. Returned heavily loaded with a tail wind helping me up the hills. Still no ill-effects from yesterday apart from bright pink arms from overexposure to the lack of Ozone! 21 miles.

Saturday 6th 63F, 17C, breezy, overcast with light showers. Supposed to brighten up later but with the default 30mph gusts. One slight, but increasing worry is a likely explosion of deer ticks after a mild winter. They can climb aboard any passing bod in the woods or even in long grass. Our cat used to come back with them quite regularly despite frequent treatment. The bugs can cause Lyme disease amongst others. I wear long trousers tucked into my socks and knee length, lightweight climbing gaiters on my walks to reduce the risk. Though a natural stop while on a ride probably exposes me to far greater risk of picking one up. These bugs are absolutely tiny at first but swell up into an ugly bag, from blood sucking, with their legs usually buried in the host. Making them difficult to remove without tweezers and considerable patience and skill. The ticks usually seek a hiding place where the host cannot see or scratch them off. Deer are often hosts [hence the name] and these are free range over much of Denmark. I see thousands of deer tracks on my walks so the population must be very much higher than the few I actually see.

Mild with a warm wind on my walk. I saw the MTB couple again. A hare popped out of the crop beside me and rocketed off down the track. After 200 yards it stopped and sat down. Then dashed off into the woods as I came nearer.  Most of the oil seed rape blossom has gone over now.

Just a short ride today. I keep meeting people who know me for my triking. 7 miles.

First Japanese knotweed [Japansk pileurt] getting established in the woods!

Sunday 7th 56-60F, 13-15C, windy and sunny from a cloudless sky. The forecast is back to the default 15C, 15 m/s gusts. Enjoyed a two hour walk through the woods. Saw several hares and another Red-backed shrike. Rather windy with cloud obscuring the sun at times.

Left rather late in the afternoon with a strong wind blowing. No advertised special offers in the supermarket as usual. Not dressed warmly enough. 22 hilly miles.  

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3 Jun 2015

3rd June 2015 Are we nearly there yet?

Wednesday 3rd 60F, 16C, gales, sunny periods. Enjoyed a 2 hour walk through the woods and back the same way. A hare dashed off but a large deer couldn't make up its mind as it browsed beside the track. I just managed to capture it with my camera as it vanished into the trees. The noisy Velcro on my camera case can startle sometimes when everything is so quiet.

You'll have to try and imagine this was a Bambi watching me for some time between grazing. You had to be there, I suppose.

Crosswind going to the shops turned into a fierce and gusty headwind coming home. Well laden for 16 miles catching up on several missing shopping days.

Thursday 4th 56-62F, 13-17C, breezy with bright sunshine. I am feeling a bit better today and the forecast is very good with a mild, sunny day and slightly lighter winds promised. In fact the latest forecast update has knocked the winds down from 12m/s to only 7! A 15mph westerly is hardly anything when most days we see 15 m/s forecast or well over 30mph. The conversion factor is 2.2. So it looks as if I could make steady easterly progress but not so fast coming home again. Not likely to get much above 17C, 63F with lots of sunshine. I have chosen a photographic goal near the east coast about 55km or just over 30 miles away. The trike is stripped down to its Junior status but I'm not allowed to leave without being plastered in sunblock.

Google Earth's most direct [walking] route proved to be rather optimistic. I had detoured too far north at Kværndrup because of the limited options for crossing [under] the motorway. Had I taken their ridiculous suggestion for a cycle route I would have detoured through Odense 20 miles to the north! It was nearer 40 miles to finally reach my goal by a fairly straight route.

Hesselagergård is a remarkable fortified home in an unusual Gothic-Renaissance style from the mid 1500s. It lies near the east coast of Fyn halfway between Svendborg and Newborg. A range of beautiful farm buildings lies to the left of this image. None of it is easy to capture due to the large foreground trees and undulating landscape surrounding it. It seemed a suitable photographic goal to ensure a good mileage today. I now have 83, 82 and 81 miles as my best daily mileages over three different years. The magic ton or century is still beyond my reach. I could have gone out again and ridden another 18 miles but it seemed like cheating once I had reached home. 

I started off with the Junior saddlebag hanging from the low crossbar on the seat stays but found my size 11s heels were striking it rather too often for comfort. So I rehung it from the B17's saddle loops. Only for it to start rocking very slightly at my 95-100 rpm cadence! It sounded just like a loud tick coming from the chain and kept me guessing for miles until it finally dawned on me what was causing the noise. I had even climbed off and turned the pedals backwards to check for a loose or broken link. Finally I stopped at a village bike shop and bought their very last pedal, toe strap from the good old, toe-clip days. This helped but did not completely cure the racket. I hate anything making a noise when I am riding along. A bike or trike is supposed to be silent apart from a bit of tyre roar.

Taking a different route back only compounded the distance error. Many of the minor road junctions are very poorly signposted or, quite often, not signposted at all! This is also true of the narrow gauge, Korinth-Ringe cycle path. With no signposts [at all] at crossings I hadn't a clue that I was going too far north again.

The Brooks B17 'Special' was mostly okay today with periods of mild discomfort at times. No doubt the comfort was aided by the Taktik bibs.

Several large deer were caught out in the open near the road and watched me closely as I pedalled the entire length of their prairie.

I spread my 3 rounds of cheese sandwiches over several hours with apple juice to help wash down a couple of bananas in between. Towards the end I was grateful for the water bottle I had fitted for the first time this year. It, and the weather, remained cool despite the sunshine. As usual, I was feeling rather dehydrated and hungry as I neared home.

There was a steady headwind all the way back but nothing to really complain about. I wore my thinnest, florescent jogger's jacket at the start. Once it warmed up and took it off I was down to a racing jersey and bibs for the rest of the day. Plates of cloud kept the temperatures down at times but I had no real desire to stop and put the jacket back on. I'll save any moans for the countless flies and beetles which bombarded me all day long. Often sticking to the melted sunscreen cream on my arms and face. 7.75 hours to do 82 miles including lots of stops.

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1 Jun 2015

1st June 2015 June's first cycling rant.

Monday 1st May 53F, 12C, windy with bright sunshine. Showers possible. Had another dizzy spell before bedtime. Gargled with salty water. Woke with a sore throat. Happy days are here again.

The Reynolds R931 stainless steel Trykit stripped down for the Sunday run. Carradice Junior saddlebag hanging from the Brooks B17. The tri-bar elbow pads and extensions offer some relief from headwinds even for an old fart  elderly tourist like me.

According to the news Denmark grows better dandelions than it does corn. Danish corn is now so low in protein that many countries will not buy it unless it is sold very cheaply. Countries importing "EU corn" actually have exclusion clauses for Denmark! So Danish pig farmers are having to buy corn from right around the world to feed their animals to achieve "normal" industrial growth rates. It's nice to know that all that spraying and muck spreading is doing so much good!

Time for a walk! I have been watching and listening to YT videos to positively identify the bird song which fill my days when walking, cycling or even being out in the garden. With so many mixed trees, marshes, pond, lakes, fields, lawns, overgrown verges, set-aside, hedges and woods the habitats are incredibly varied. Just riding along a country lane is to be bombarded by different bird songs and glimpses of birds and wild animals. It adds another layer of interest trying to spot the different birds as I ride along. Skylarks offer a constant background chorus.

 Birds and animals sometimes treat cyclists, and tricyclists in particular, differently from a walker. Ponies and horses will often jump out of their eating trance, veer away or even bolt when a trike passes. Yet will completely ignore any number of bicycles whether singly or in bunches. There must be something about the double rear wheels which disturbs or upsets them. Meeting road-going pheasants is a very common occurrence. They really can't be trusted to behave sensibly and will often dash across in front of me. Even when there is perfectly adequate cover on their own verge. Hares are also as daft as a brush and equally unpredictable. Feeling unwell all day with swollen neck glands. Rest day.

Tuesday 2nd 51F, 11C, cold, wet and windy all day gusting to over 40mph later. It was too! Still under the weather. Another rest day.

I was just reading in the Danish news about the cycle route from Berlin to Copenhagen. Germany shares a border with Denmark in South Jutland. [Syd Jylland]

Nu kan du trygt cykle Berlin-København langs Præstø Fjord | Sjælland | DR 
"Now you can safely cycle the Berlin to Copenhagen route along the Præsto fjord."

 [In Danish with a cheating library picture of a real cycle path well away from any traffic because DR TV News is far too busy with the general election to get their [mutually parasitical] brown noses out of Copenhagen despite Danish TV licenses costing £240 a year!! Most of which goes on only half a dozen millionaire celebs. 

Last time round, the politic-ooze immediately forgot all their empty election promises and massively raised cycling fines! Then they had the nerve to send out huge numbers of those incredibly rare Danish policemen. i.e. Those who don't have time to even attend to 9/10 of the plague of house break-ins by organised teams of East Europeans [allegedly.] All this just to fine loads of errant cyclists. While 90%+ of all drivers in Denmark travel at well above the legal speed limits with impunity. 

But I have digressed. Apparently the Berlin-Copenhagen route is quite popular with the Germans. Except, that is, for the Danish part. Which is downright live-threatening in places according to the German Cycling Federation.


I'll post a link to the Danish government's plans and figures [in Danish] for encouraging cycle tourism. But the English language button drags the visitor away to a generalised tourism website. Which just goes to how how much "they" really care about encouraging international cycle tourism! Much of rural Denmark is unspoilt, corrugated and gorgeous. Fyn, in particular, but not exclusively. Away from the main roads the rural areas are lightly trafficked compared with some countries. There are countless thatched and half timbered houses, palaces, village ponds, copses and woods. You see what I'm doing here? I'm doing their paid job for them without receiving a penny. Most of my pictures on my blog celebrate Denmark's beauty. I'm an unpaid, English speaking, tourist ambassador. ;ø]

Cykelturisme i Danmark
Cycle Tourism in Denmark.

Fully 30% of German tourists in Denmark are cyclists and they spend quite a bit of money locally along their rides. This in areas where there is an acute demand for jobs and income! It seems a stretch of the route has just been modified to provide two cycle lanes with a single central traffic lane. The idea is that vehicles will have to temporarily use the cycle lane to pass each other in opposite directions. This will allegedly [desperately-hopefully] bring traffic speed down since they will have to match that of any cyclists present to be able to pass oncoming vehicles safely. The grand, unified theory is that traffic must temporarily leave the central "traffic" lane and partially use the cycle lanes due to the limited width of the central lane.

Well, guess what? I know of exactly the same idea used in a popular shopping village here on West Fyn. Where a truly idyllic, minor road, leading out through the forest is used as a rat run in both directions. Despite the speed limits being normal for built up areas [50kph/30mph] the traffic often races along there provided there is no oncoming traffic. With cyclists having to stick to the narrow, marked-off cycle lanes on either side. The council has erected a number of posts at intervals to act as chicanes but all this does is force cyclists behind the posts. The chance of a vehicle actually being held up by them is rare indeed. If an oncoming vehicle risks a pause they will simply floor the pedal to get past the posts first!

What is missing, of course, are a series of those wonderfully democratic speed bumps, or ramps, to rip the sumps off the maniac's vehicles. i.e.Those who show so little respect for the schools, daytime child care facilities, public services and institutions, old peoples home, child cyclists and child pedestrians along this "quiet stretch" of road. But no ramps or bumps are present, of course. This is Denmark, after all, and ramps might inhibit the speeding traffic from exercising their basic human rights to travel at any speed of their own choosing!

The road surface is super smooth on the traffic lane but rough out on the cycle lanes. This because they resurfaced the road first before the contractors [or the council engineers] totally screwed up. So they had to grind away the first set of cycle lane markings for 3/4 of a mile. Leaving countless rough dimples in their place. Then replace the lines all over again with thick dotted stripes which are very unpleasant to ride on.

This beautiful stretch of road is dead straight too. Which only encourages the driving psychopaths to put their foot down. And, by golly, they do! You'd think there was nowhere to put any of the [usually] illegally parked, police speed trap vans which are making the Danish headlines. The road is forest edge on one side and tree lined shade with mature private homes on the other. I presume the luxury home owners are unwilling to put up with the potential noise from any serious traffic calming measures.

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