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 Heln├Žs 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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