27 Jul 2015

27th July 2015 Not a well boy!

Monday 27th 56F, 13C, overcast and windy with showers or rain forecast all day.

I liked the similarities between the jumble of bales and the clouds.

After a short, but wobbly walk, all plans for today were put on hold. It started with vertigo and tinnitus and ended up with vomiting, feeling hot and cold, then sleeping for several hours. I have been deaf in one ear with severe tinnitus for over a week but the warm olive oil drops treatment didn't help. Whether the ear and food poisoning symptoms are connected I have no idea. Google says the symptoms of an inner ear infection are very similar to mine. Late afternoon and I am still weak and wobbly now with no desire to eat. Fortunately my wife was not unwell so that should rule out anything we ate. A dreadful day, sleeping when I wasn't nauseous, suffering from dizziness or actually throwing up. I have only eaten one round of toast all day. Another rest day in every sense of the word.

Tuesday 28th 62F, 17C, light wind, cloudy with bright moments. Showers forecast for most of the day. Despite sleeping for most of yesterday I managed to stay in bed until 5am. I didn't dare to eat any muesli but had a banana at 6am with a little water. Which thankfully stayed down. Splitting headache and feeling much worse so went back to bed at 7am and slept for another couple of hours. Feeling a bit better now. Going to try a piece of plain toast and cool, black tea.

An now for something completely different: I was just reading about the Gogoro:  Gogoro's first Smartscooters are now being delivered | The Verge It looks like a smart motor scooter but is battery driven. The compact batteries can be swapped in seconds and exchanged at a chain of outlets for a fixed premium of about £20 equivalent per month regardless of the number consumed. The scooter will cost just over £2000 initially, so probably just within electric bicycle target audience. Some electric bikes and very heavy "mobility" trikes cost about the same or even more. The Gogoro leaves them all for dead with its incredibly sophisticated electronics, range and speed. It adapts to maximise performance for its rider but also feeds information back to base for assessment of use and popular routes, in the mega-cities it is intended for. 10 million-plus inhabitants. Analysis of the mass data holds all sorts of useful city planning and traffic information. They do much the same sort of thing in analysing mobile phone traffic I believe.

It is hoped smart scooters will become an alternative, private, but still, mass transport vehicle. The first examples are just being released in Taipei. Hopefully the battery technology and rental-exchange method will rub off on bikes [and trikes] if they ever reach the West. Rather oddly it cannot be recharged at home or at work.

If it rids our own roads of the stinking and ridiculously slow, but noisy, 2-stroke scooters it will all have been worthwhile. Ordinary motor scooters can be bought for well under £1000 equiv. Which means that the smart electric scooters will need to offer something extra for the typically youthful [and probably impoverished] owner. Reliability might help the Gogoro cause. As will not having to mix 2-stroke fuel and smell like a petrol station.

On a  much smaller scale: My replacement battery for the Ventus GPS G730 dongle has just arrived. I just need to solder the leads and off we go. Well, perhaps, not today. I have really missed my GPS recording of my routes. Particularly the longer rides, of course. I am often amazed how poorly I understand the exact direction I take on my routes. Normally I use my previous experience of the area and the sun [when visible!] but I often waste time taking an indirect road or lane. Usually due to a lack of village name recognition and/or poor signposting. My longest routes have all tended to lengthen beyond that planned due to my poor sense of exact direction beyond my usual riding territory. I once drove half the length of Wales in completely the wrong direction while [hopefully] returning from holiday there. Deja vu, anybody?

I do carry some road maps, for absolute emergencies, but this would obviously need me to stop to get them out of the saddlebag. Firstly, I hate stopping and secondly I would need reading glasses to be able to read the village names. I tried making a list of villages from the route finders on the free online mapping services. But I would always miss an unmarked turn or some other navigational disaster. I always return safely home eventually. Just never not usually by the most direct route. I suppose that if I really cared I would be more serous about it. Or at least learn from my mistakes. Rain is hardly ever an issue on my more distant rides, so there is never any need for a bee-line home to avoid hypothermia. At least, not yet.

No doubt 'live' GPS, on a screen large enough to read without a magnifying glass, will arrive eventually. Hopefully with a touch screen to drag or swipe for greater magnification. A nice heads-up display in a smart, helmet visor? Now all it needs is for it to become cheap enough to satisfy my usual skinflint mentality before I lose my mentality altogether. So, basically, it is a technological race against time.

I should be grateful that I don't need prescription lenses for distance any more. Having worn glasses for literally decades, tricycling every day [in cheapo, supermarket, cycling sunglasses] fixed my distance vision within a year. However, lack of accommodation [natural stiffening of the eye lenses] is the real bugbear of old age. I now need two pairs of reading glasses. One weaker pair for the computer and another pair for reading the tiny print "they" plaster all over everything these days. Just because they can nano-print, product details doesn't mean they should! Don't even get me started on bread wrapper dating labels! I wouldn't mind but I'm allergic to cheap plastic glasses!

But enough about me: I hear Sky bosses are upset at the way their riders were abused during the tour de wotsit. Easily fixed: Just tell the French mental hospitals not to hand out free bus passes to their patients during le tour. What about drones with air-to-ground missiles to take out the spitters and obscene arm wavers? Where to draw the line? Anybody running alongside the riders makes them fair game in my book. If they haven't run the entire length of the day's stage, just to reach that spot, they really aren't worthy of competing on foot. Anybody wearing fancy dress? Definitely anybody more than two stones over a healthy body weight who pretends to jump up and down. [Reducing the allowable margin on an annual basis would thin the ranks nicely.] Anybody not clapping respectfully? Anybody with their Børøx in a g-string! Motorbikes running over riders. Cars pushing riders over barbed wire fences. The list is endless and [should be] so unnecessary.

Froome seems like such a nice guy. But, if he is ever found guilty of illegal doping he should be strung up by the Børrøx from the finishing line arch on a mountain top finish! Just as a warning to others. Like the Italian 'Giro' team with two doping strikes in one year. Plonkers!

Wednesday 29th 56F, 13C, bright and breezy. Risk of showers for the next two days and rather windy later. I woke very early but am feeling much better today. Yesterday I soldered the new Li-on battery to the GPS dongle using my best micro-surgery, lack of skill and a very small bit in the Weller iron. Now on battery test, the dongle has been running [naked] for over 12 hours. It is supposed to stop when stationary so must have scribbled imaginary routes all over the world map by now! It had, but only local. I had 17 hours out of a short charge on the new battery. So it can't be very old stock. It's a shame they don't date them. The originals, in the GPS dongles, weren't dated either. It looks as if a new model of the dongle is available from Canmore with silver details on the case. The GT-730-FL if memory serves.

Brooks has sent a heads-up mail on some new and old promotional videos. Well worth viewing most of them: Though the "retro" bike shop assistant really ought to be filthy. Nobody would be allowed to look that clean for more than five minutes. Cleanliness meant a skiver! Or the bosses son. There were no biological washing powders or miraculous hand cleaners back then. When I were a lad... I used to use Vim and Fairy washing up liquid with a scrubbing brush to clean my hands after a bout of "mechanicals." The mixture was probably toxic given the off-gassing of chlorine! I'm still waiting for the oil-less plastic chain after more than half a century! All they can come up with is fat, cogged belts. I'd like to seem them manage an 11 speeds cassette and a triple up front! 


Still too weak and wobbly to go for a ride. It was hard enough work shopping briefly in the car for the absolute essentials.

Thursday 30th 61F, 16C, very humid [84%!] rather overcast with dark clouds and rumbles of thunder. Which later turned out to be fighters practising WW3 at high altitude. Showers and wind forecast but nothing yet. Just an hour's walk to check on the coot family and that the village was still there. The verges were laden with thousands of dead, dying and battling slugs. A revolting sight at the best of times.

Still not 100% recovered for triking. Weak, sweaty and head-achy sums it up. Normal services are resumed after the Danish annual holidays.  It started raining so I stopped to put on my jacket. Only for it to immediately stop raining again. I'm never sure whether to be grateful it has stopped or miffed for causing a false alarm. The headwind had picked up too. Though it didn't seem to make so much of an impression on the young chap who overtook me. Only 10 miles but at least I'm back on the road.

Friday 31st 57F, 14C, cool, windy, overcast and light showery. Short walk for some fresh air. Still suffering from vertigo, headaches and tiredness. Have made an appointment to have my blocked ears syringed next week. No ride today.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

26 Jul 2015

25th July 2015 Regaling with gales.


Saturday 25th 62-64F, 17-18C, gales with very heavy rain. The forecast was exactly right as we were woken at 5.30am by thunder and torrential rain. It was precisely this forecast which had sent me for a decent ride yesterday. Knowing that there would be very little chance of a ride today. There is a pause around lunchtime but much more is due later. I missed my chance as it began to pour just as I finally made the decision to go out under darkening skies. Tomorrow holds greater promise after forecasting an earlier wash-out.[sic]

I'm calling this one: "Inarticulate aliens first attempt at scribbling crop circles in Danish." Too pretentious? Well, I am a tricycle artiste!  ;ø]

Sunday 26th 55-61F, 13-16C, windy and overcast. Possible showers with winds gusting to 35mph later. A blustery walk, admiring the forces of nature, after the storm. The roadside trees were flailing as I was passed by a peloton of some twenty-odd, keen clubmen cheating by riding fast with the wind. Then a Norton and BSA twins cheating by riding the opposite way, into the wind, assisted by large engines. I noticed that the BSA rider had a very long plait. So he [or she] must have at least one close [and very patient] friend.

There were countless slugs washed out of the landscape by yesterday's heavy rains. It is difficult to be sure whether the crop damage was done by down-draughts, or rather, down-blasts in this case. Or the sheer quantity of water falling from the sky. Other bits of Denmark got a bit "soggy" but it wasn't too bad, here, for most of the day. 18mm/ 3/4" in a half an hour cloudburst was recorded just north of us. It is odd how the stiffest crops suffer the worst storm damage. It hardly moves in the wind but gets battered flat just the same. While the softer stuff, which wafts in waves to every breeze, survives unscathed.

The crosswind was strong at the start of my ride, with fierce gusts, but not too much of a problem. A roadside tree from an elderly avenue of Hornbeam had snapped mid-trunk. Probably over two feet in diameter at that point but likely due to rot.  Passing gaps in high hedges and between buildings with a crosswind is always a bit of a worry with overtaking traffic limiting elbow room.

Our hero [moi] "rescued" a large frog in a supermarket car park. I came out of the shop to find the frog sitting under the back axle of my trike! Presumably it stretched its legs while it was tipping down yesterday or overnight.  After several attempts to contain its huge leaps I finally caught it in an empty carrier bag and carried it straight to the boundary fence. Where I spotted a pond and released "froggy" to find its own way back down the bank. No doubt he/she/it is still exploring the car park. I was going to ask him if he was "Edible" but thought better of it.

A tailwind pushed my speed up to 28mph on one descent but I still couldn't go any faster despite the tri-bars. Better than the 26mph last time though with a much lighter tailwind. I shopped in three villages before finishing off the last leg on the tri-bars, again, to maintain my speed straight into the wind. Well loaded today but still only 17 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

24 Jul 2015

23rd July 2015 A goodly wodge of miles.


Thursday 23rd 63-68F, 17-20C, quite windy with lots of bright, sunny periods. Just a short walk around the village today to find the door was open to the village church. So I had my first glimpse inside in the nearly two decades of my invasion of Denmark. Had a chat with a roadside home owner about his outbreak of Japanese Knotweed. He was unaware of its name nor how difficult it was to eradicate. The young Coots are still doing well on several local ponds. Harvesting has just begun in earnest. There are lots of different grain crops in the fields this year. The land changes dramatically after harvesting. Lost views can reappear once the extra meter of vegetation has been removed from the low, undulating landscape.

Rode away after lunch buffeted by a strong crosswind in bright sunshine. Once I had finished shopping in the first village I headed across country to the next. Lots of mostly elderly, well laden cyclists going the opposite way. Presumably an organised tour which had caused them to get strung out over several miles. Some waved, others grinned or shouted a greeting. Two more villages later and I had to fight the wind to get home. Several buzzards were foraging in the newly harvested fields. They seemed quite  unperturbed by the racket and huge clouds of dust being made by the harvester and accompanying grain collecting tractors. Yet, the moment I passed on the nearby lanes they took off and circled. Tricyclists must get a bad press in bird of prey circles. Only 26 miles.

Friday 24th 63-69F, 17-21C, light winds with sunny periods. A good excuse for a ride. So I set off at about 10am suitably fortified with marmalade on toast and milky coffee. Going well to start with despite a crosswind. I was cruising at about 18-20mph and nipped up to 23-24mph to overtake another long gaggle of organised tourists. I kept the sun ahead on my right and just kept going until well above Fåborg. I passed a newly mown field with the hay still lying just as a whirlwind lifted handfuls of stuff high into the air. It slowly crossed the entire field, as I rode along. Much to the surprise of a buzzard which must have been standing in the field before being so rudely disturbed. It took off and mewed all the way to the nearest copse to recover its composure.

I continued on through the undulating forest and then, quite unintentionally, down towards Korinth. Where I was slowly picked up by a trio of club persons on a training ride going at about 18mph. They ignored my greeting as they passed so I tacked on the back for few effortless miles. They turned off early so I had to climb through Korinth unaided. So I did most of it out of the saddle just because I could.

Then on to Katterød, Pejrup  and Diernæs. [Not necessarily in that order.] I stopped at the first roadside bench of the day to enjoy a sandwich and banana in burning sunshine at Pejrup. Before taking a small road down to the wooded coast and through the impressive sanatorium buildings. After that I looped back up to the main road to Fåborg where I dropped down onto the tri-bars to speed the long descent into town. The white, lane-demarcation lines are breaking up badly so it was rather bumpy at times!

On the way to Horne, where there is a ferry to Germany, several black "Gestapo" cars went past. So rumours about Merkel dictating tewrms to Greece about may have been true after all. There were also quite a number of British motorcycles about during the day. Always a pleasure to hear their unique sounds amid flurries of memories of my teenage years. I paused at a very busy marina to enjoy my second, and last, mature cheddar sandwich and another box of pure apple juice. A red helicopter came inland [noisily] and landed in the grounds behind the posh restaurant.

The long climb up from Falsled to Jordløse was completely spoilt for me, yet again, by the ridiculously rough surface of the marked-off cycling assault "coarse." There are long stretches where somebody couldn't be arsed to grind the white lines away prior to a very thin resurfacing job. Then the new dashed lines were relaid over the top, but out of phase with the [Roman?] originals. The lack of adhesion over the former white dashed lines means that cyclists must employ a fully suspended mountain bike with 4" tyres to make any serious progress. It's fine when one can safely use the perfect [billiard table] tarmac of the traffic lanes but the roughness of the "cycle lanes" [and I do use the term loosely] would have hindered even Hannibal. I seriously doubt that his elephants would have been remotely impressed with this example of bronze-age, Danish roadworks either. Cyclists are the new black.

The Google Street View image [above] from 2010 shows only a very short stretch of the near, 3 mile, long, snaking climb. The lower, and much rougher half of which, lies is in the forest has deteriorated rapidly since Google deigned to make the climb. Being the main, south coast road, the traffic is usually fairly continuous in both directions. Most drivers are completely ignoring the 60kph/40mph speed limit and rarely miss a chance to cut any corner. So the chance of cyclists escaping to the excellent traffic road surface is remote for most of the 75m -250' gain in altitude. Remind me not to use this stretch for any "Everesting" attempts! Not that I'd live long enough to ever finish the ride.

The Carradice Junior saddlebag proved that it has easily enough capacity, for a day out, but that the lid straps are stupidly short. The canvas lid is still safely covering the contents when the straps are several inches short of reaching their buckles. The usual nylon "sphincter" with tension cord keeps everything [large] safely contained but there is absolutely no way for the straps to meet. Nobody at Carradice has ever used a Junior in anger, apparently. Perhaps there is genuine Carradice bailing twine available, in a choice of luxury tan or traditional white. Just for those special moments when you need to hold the lid shut when the Junior is full to the brim, but still "two straps short of a buckle." There's a free, catchy logo for Carradice in there somewhere. ;ø]]

As can be seen in the image above I tried a crude, PVC plumbing pipe spacer with a toe-strap around the seat pillar for the first time today. [see image below] But the Junior still swung noisily to my cadence and the buckle wanted to wear out my shorts however it was "dressed". This arrangement really needs some further thought. Perhaps a zip tie with the "buckle" tight against the bag? Or longer fixing bolts for the minimalist rack and some extra spacers? I notice the holes in the bag material, made at the factory for the supporting straps, are badly frayed now. Which is very odd considering how little use the Junior has had. Strictly retained for fine weather and longer rides. Had Carradice downgraded their fabric for my Junior? I have a really ancient example which is still in remarkably fine nick.

My arms were quite red afterwards, from all the sunshine, despite the thick layer 50SPF gunk I plastered on before leaving. I did a fair bit of climbing out of the saddle today. Though not because I was saddle sore for a change. The Brooks B17 'Special' seems to be behaving itself at the moment. Though I resent the slightly tipped up nose angle purely for aesthetic reasons. Shame the Cambium was such complete, and utter crap, comfort wise. It just goes to show that width and Brooks rail springing aren't everything. Today I remained quite strong to the end for 67 miles total. Only consumed one completely emptied bottle of water plus two small boxes of apple. Not a single photograph taken all day, again. Tut-tut.

Meanwhile, in the t de f  [with deliberate use of the lower case to show due respect] the raving lunatics in the scum scrum still think it's all about them. Spitting and obscene gestures at Froome by these escaped lunatics? Whatever next? Real sportsmanship?  No chance. This is the t de france after all. Nibali attacked the moment he saw Froome had a serious mechanical problem. Then denied his complete lack of sportsmanship just to prove something, or other, to his sponsors, on the last climb. Poor eyesight, perhaps? The overhead cameras clearly showed him double-checking to ensure Froome was stopping for vital repairs when a stone jammed between his rear brake and the tire. No doubt a short-sighted attempt by the Sky wind tunnel boffins to reduce drag?

Froome actually climbed out of the saddle to prove he can ride a bike with great style as well as great speed. Perhaps something to look forward to next year? That, and a new, low drag, colour-coordinated, spit screen, complete with Sky logo? I suppose it would be too much to ask for all the riders to compulsorily wear knuckle dusters? Thought so. Contador could give Froome lessons in hitting lunatics while simultaneously climbing out of the saddle. Cycling mitts do offer some slight [and unintentional] protection for the knuckles. Though it would be a great shame if the riders injured themselves fending off yet more of the deranged scum scrum. I'd blame the parents. If they actually owned one...

Click on any image for an enlargement.

20 Jul 2015

20th July 2015 Scum scrum "fans" rise to the top.

Monday 20th 60F, 16C, breezy with bright sunshine.

I have deleted my original post on Tour de France scum scrum "fans" rising to the top. Once I have unloaded my frustration at the infantile and lunatic behaviour of many tour "fans" there was no need to leave the rant online.

Then I read that the Sky team now needs police protection from the scum scrum, "fans" after threats were made. What's next? Bomb threats from the religion of peace? If it clears the mountain tops of the scum scrum  "fans" that would be a huge bonus. With slightly more luck the scum scrum "fans" will begin to stay at home [in their mental hospitals] and watch their football idols instead. I blame the hospital staff for giving out free bus passes for the tour route to their patients. Who but a mental patient would throw a cup of urine at Froome, the "star" and Yellow Jersey wearer, of the Tour de France? Who but an escaped mental patient would physically attack one of his team? [Porte] That's right, children, only a raving bløødy lunatic!

That said, watching the Sky commuter train monopolising the race is about as exciting as waiting for paint to dry. Neither  Froome [nor Wiggins before him] are remotely interesting to watch despite their speed and climbing ability. They have no elegance or charisma on the bike. One can well imagine the continental scum scrum "fans" getting quite cross because their doped stars are no longer fighting it out with each other amongst the mountain scum scrum "fans". Watching the scum scrum "fans" behaving like escaped mental patients is more than I can stand. There are far more interesting things to do , even for a cycling enthusiast, than watch the tour scum scrum "fans" on TV. I could sit and watch rain drops drying out on my saddle. Or even go cycling.... ? Now, there's a thought!

I wonder what the smart money is thinking about doing next with their massive subsidies of this very strange "sport?" Will they continue to tolerate Sky's dead boring, big money dominance? They tolerated the doping era because it was exciting to watch riders risk their lives and their health to win at any cost. Perhaps Sky should make their strangely uniform uniforms more sexy? That might work. It might also discourage their fans from wearing dark colours on their bikes when the roads aren't actually closed for them.

I saw a family of Marsh tits preening their feathers in some willows. They were so unusual [to me] that I had to look them up to confirm they weren't dark capped warblers. After a loop through the woods it started spitting on the last leg of the way home under a black sky. It didn't amount to much as the dark clouds mostly passed to the south of us.

I was busy all day at home so took a rest day. The evening sky was strangely marked by persistent vapour trails from the air traffic.

Tuesday 21st 65-71F, 18-22C, very windy, diminishing overcast with light showers. Expected to brighten up to sunshine but gusting to 15m/s, 30+mph. With the trees roaring and the sky scudding over this morning I should have gone for a ride yesterday! The overnight rain had brought thousands of slugs onto the roads and brought down twigs and seeds from the trees. The sun came out as I walked the roads with dozens of swallows swooping around me. I stopped to photograph a small brown butterfly with cream, filigree wing markings. Only for it to vanish from the scene into the maw of a passing swallow. Gulp! Burp!

Warm and sunny but blowing  a gale. Another rest day.

Wednesday 22nd 66-72F, 19-22C, rather cloudy and breezy at times. Forecast to remain dry with lighter winds and some sunshine. The wind and sunshine were highly variable on my walk. Several immature Wagtails were playing tag. The trees in our rural garden are a magnet for all kinds of birds.

An odd sort of a day. Feeling warm and humid with the wind coming and going. I was soon blackened on my chest and arms with thousands of tiny storm flies. They kept tickling my face too, so who knows where they went when I had my mouth open! Went out again after lunch but still only totalled 15 miles today. Denmark is on holiday so many of the shops and normal services are closed. The roads are relatively quiet too.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

17 Jul 2015

16th July 2015 Cleared for take-off.

Thursday 16th 62-70F, 17-21C, light winds, bright and sunny. No walk today. Having worn myself out on yesterday's rest day I had better have a proper ride today. If only to catch up on my drooping mileage. I shall head north east into what passes as today's prevailing wind. By the time I ride back again later I should be enjoying a gentle tailwind. I have removed Goth the Bag and refitted the Carradice Camper on the rack. I could go much lighter still by removing the rack and fitting the Junior saddlebag. Except that, then I couldn't carry the intended [organic] shopping home from afar. It's all swings and roundabouts using a bike [or trike] as a shopping trolley. Interestingly [?] sving [pron.swing] is a [road] corner in Danish. Children's swings are gynge but it will only confuse everybody if I try to suggest a useful pronunciation.

It was a superb day for a ride. Light but variable winds and solid sunshine. I was going really well today but have absolutely no explanation for doing 18 miles in the first hour! It felt like it was mostly uphill and into a cross headwind. Perhaps it was the removal of the leather bag? I decided to go to Bogense first and then onto my shopping goal further west. Bogense was full of tourists and locals enjoying the warm sunshine. North west Fyn is gorgeous at this time of year with plenty of variation between fields full of crops and small woods. Even vast fields of mixed roses.

I came around one corner just as a small, white plane was taking off. Lots of serious and non serious-cyclists about today. The former were usually going faster than me. While I was usually going twice as fast as the latter. The cheese sandwich and banana were enough to keep me going today washed down with two small boxes of pure apple juice. I hardly touched my water bottle. Which was rather silly. By later afternoon and safely back at home, I was already on my second pint of water and second cup of tea. 51 miles.

Friday 17th 60-68F, 16-20C, a light, easterly breeze with bright sunshine. With a slight threat of cloud and showers forecast for later. I hadn't walked far before I spotted large hare sunbathing out in the middle of a huge lawn. As soon as I opened my camera case it ran off. As did a cat I disturbed hunting on the track out in the middle of a prairie. The woods were full of butterflies of all kinds. From a tiny, pure white one, smaller than the nail on my pinky. To a group of almost blue-blacks each as large as a Red admiral. The warmth must have made them all much more animated than usual. As were the flies! It didn't pay to stop for long before they descended. The huge variety of grasses competed with the wild plants. Many of them in flower. Japanese knotweed continues to spread along the verges. A number of private, roadside hedges are becoming infested with it.

I left late afternoon into a stiff easterly wind being followed by a heavily laden cyclo-tourist. Though I soon put a lot of distance on him and he climbed off to walk one long hill. The traffic remains light due to the annual holidays. Cruising at 20-22mph coming back, even uphill, thanks to the tailwind. Only 11 miles. I forgot to mention that I rode right through a massive swarm of bees on a descent under Horse chestnuts. I could hear them bouncing off my cycle helmet and worried they might get trapped inside the vents. Fortunately, for all concerned, there were none and I survived to ride on again.

Saturday 18th 62F, 17C, breezy with a heavy overcast. Possible early rain but clearing up to full sun and 30mph gusts.

I was just reading in the Danish news that one can be fined up to £500 / $750 [equivalent] for publishing pictures of criminals, in action, online. A boat owner published pictures on Facebook of some men putting his own boat into the water prior to stealing it. The police were not happy! It was their job to investigate crime, not the public's. This, from a police force which doesn't even bother to turn up to the vast majority of reported burglaries. [As alleged by Danish online news stories.]

The same news stories may raise serious questions as to why the Danish police don't bother turn up to live reports of mass bicycle theft in the local high street. As members of the public use their phones to film, photograph and report the perps in action with bolt cutters at a cycle rack. Simultaneously with the boat story there was yet another piece on East European bike thieves now targeting "high-end" [racing?] bikes for export back home. With yet more lorry loads of bicycles worth literally tens on thousands of pounds/ dollars [equivalent] being found at "open" EU borders. The police hope to prosecute the "suspects" in Denmark to try and put off the gangs of professional bike thieves.

We must all pray that nobody photographed the perps in action and thereby completely undermined the police investigation. On past form the perps will probably get away with a fine and being sent home. Even if they are sentenced to a short prison term [and exported afterwards] they will be straight back on the next train, boat or plane. Or even on the gang's next bicycle-collecting lorry.]

I am quoting respected, Danish, online news services here. Not speculating wildly for the sake of it. Those who fear that the Internet will lead to Cambodian style reporting to a corrupt or genocidal government should look to their own government for their [often illegal] surveillance of their own citizens. Including open door permission, to other nations, to monitor billions of innocent people's online activities under the pretext of fighting terrorism. If you were a terrorist would you announce your plans online? Really?

I also mentioned recently how the new, Danish [minority] right wing government was promising to drop environmental restraints on farmers. Including how much pig shit [along with the resulting ammonia] they could dump on their land. Also, to remove controls on how many pigs can be mistreated in industrialised pig rearing units, regardless of the amount of supporting land the "pig factory" owner holds. The idea of having unsprayed and uncultivated  margins alongside water courses were also to be dropped.

Now it seems the [unelected?] EU environment minister has altogether quite different thoughts on the matter. They will demand that the previous government's promises will be followed, along with all other EU nations, to reduce farming, environmental impact by a set amount by 2020.

Cornflowers are a common sight brightening up the wildly overgrown verges.

Not that anybody will achieve the [always voluntary] reductions in pollution. They never have in the past. So why bother now? They [the politic-ooze] will still get their massive [inflation beating] salaries, all their "second jobs" incomes and lifelong pensions for their [self] service to their country. Not to mention their huge expense accounts [to endlessly "juggle".] All regardless of how well they fulfil their completely empty promises and always tow the party dogma line to ensure their consciences are never troubled!

I had better go for a walk to get away from the neighbour's perpetually smoking chimney before I am tempted to put the videos on YouTube! Psssst! Anyone wanna see some dirty videos of another neighbour [regularly] burning a great pile of ordinary household rubbish on his front lawn? This, despite there no longer being a weight limit on the weekly bin emptying. You can see the smoke blocking visibility on the main road in full HD! What about the other neighbours having regular, illegal, lorry loads of painted demolition chipboard delivered for their 365x24 wood burning stove? Not interested? Nor was the council, environmental officer. <cough><cough><cough> I can't imagine why my chest is constantly blocked up and I keep have sneezing fits, can you?

Nice day for a walk. Warm, dry and sunny but with enough wind to keep it comfortable. A hare lolloped within  yards of me but seemed more interested in eyeing the camber.

A late morning ride to Assens. Fighting a gale to get there with the crops waving and trees bending. A poor heron was having a terrible struggle making any headway at all. Everybody seemed happy and smiling in town. Complete strangers were chatting to me in the shops and making jokes about the T de F because I had my Telekom yellow jersey on. Much quicker coming home with a tailwind despite being laden. Thank goodness I put the Goth leather bag back on instead of the minuscule Carradice Camper. Only 18 miles today.

Sunday 19th 61F, 16C, overcast, windy. Rain forecast for this afternoon. Walked for an hour. Watched the young Coots for a while. Later, on the trike, it was much windier than  the 10m/s gusts which were forecast. I did a rural loop before starting the shopping. Only 16 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


15 Jul 2015

15th July 2015 Let's be careful out there!

Wednesday 15th 61-68F, 16-20C, another bright start but more windy today. Westerly gusts could reach 30mph later on what should be a sunny day. I had better go for a walk before it gets too hot. Or I start ranting on about something or other! Grrr! ;ø]]

As I was passing a large farmyard a pair of female pheasants were spotted walking out in the open. Just at that moment a large cat passed them going the opposite way along the drive. They seemed not to notice each other at all. This would suggest that cats do not form a normal part of a pheasant's diet.

Once upon a time...

I was just reading in the Danish news that 1 in 10 deaths, involving cyclists, occurred with electric bikes ridden by the over 60s. This is totally out of all proportion to the actual and total numbers of electric bike owners put together. Given my struggles to catch, or even keep up with, many electric bikes, I can well understand this age group's inability to cope with the higher speeds achievable.

There is also the likelihood that other road users might well misjudge the cyclists greater speed. They see a typical, elderly cyclist, who may not even be pedalling. The driver will completely misjudge the cyclist's approach speed and pull out in front of them. That short glance may not recognise that the battery-driven cyclist is travelling at typical racing cyclist speeds! Racing cyclists have nerves of steel and lightning fast reactions. They also do a lot of training rides. So carry huge number of miles in riding experience under constantly changing conditions. They survive on their highly polished skills in traffic. [Or die young.]

Now compare these highly skilled riders with a typical pensioner riding just a couple of miles to the shops a few times per week. Their shiny new, battery bike is always freshly changed. It will provide the power to travel uphill and down at speeds well beyond most normal, sedentary, pedal cyclists.

As far as I am aware there is presently no licensing, training, helmet or high visibility requirements, for battery-assisted cyclists. So one can easily imagine the Danish politicooze are now thinking furiously how they might be able to further fleece all electric cyclists. There must surely be some way of raising revenue from them. Even if it is transparently extra taxation rather than some real or even useful safety measure.

A high visibility vest/waistcoat ought [perhaps] to be an absolute minimum legal [and still useful] safety requirement for electric bike riders. Perhaps with high contrast/reflective "lightning" symbols on both the front and back to help to signify an electric cyclist is loose in the traffic.

History suggests that riding a moped usually required licensing and insurance. It would be a shame if electric bikes were so limited just as they are "taking off" as a relatively new means of [very green] transport. Do the Danish politicooze really want to push electric bike commuters back into their cars? They have already declared war on the cyclist by hugely raising fines for cycling misdemeanours! Even using up vital police manpower to hold very public fining campaigns on mildly errant cyclists. While doing little, or nothing, to make the cyclist's life easier, quicker or remotely safer. Meanwhile, real motoring costs drop year on year on year on year and speeding is a national sport. [After mobile phone use behind the wheel.] But then they [driving mobile phone abusers] aren't the low hanging fruit for deliberate police action for their politicooze masters. 

Given the ready availability of high performance "Cree" LED lighting then it cannot be beyond the wisdom of all that these could easily to be made into law. That these lights be used, in flashing mode, on electric bikes both day and night. Just as car drivers, and presumably motorcyclists, are legally required to have their dipped headlights lit, both day and night, in Denmark. The popular flashing bike lights, driven by magnets on the spokes, are simply too pathetic to be worth mentioning in this context. [Or any other involving cycling safety.]

I am not remotely a fan of steady light beams on cycles, no matter how powerful they might be. A fixed beam is so easily confused with so many other lights or even reflections of lights. A flashing beam is used only by cycles and is incredibly useful in both spotting and instantly recognising the presence of a cyclist. This valuable safety factor works at great distances, or close up, and even in heavily congested traffic. The bright flashing light reflects readily off wet roads and shiny vehicles even when the cyclist cannot actually be seen directly when hidden behind huge lorries and buses. A fixed beam cycle light could be at any distance and travelling at any speed due to their high variability in brightness. Most drivers have other things to think about than judging where that feeble light is coming from and what it might mean in their busy little world.

A new minimum standard of brightness, and frequency of flashing, will be required if lights are really to be made compulsory. I have tried a cheap, but very powerful, flashing LED light on my trike and found the frequency of flashing downright unpleasant at night. I think the frequency is probably too low and my eyes were struggling to adjust to the constantly changing difference in light intensity. A faster flash would be much preferable without losing its vital and uniquely valuable warning and road lighting value. My "Smart" lights flash in a complex, high visibility cycle and I find these fine on the eyes. Though the the front light is severely lacking in intensity, by modern "Cree" LED standards, the rear lights are fine.

Cycle helmets would have to be vastly improved before they could be considered remotely suitable for electric bike riders. Motorcycle helmets are total overkill on weight and rider's view alone. The present cycle helmet may be light and well ventilated but the actual protection offered remains highly controversial. A new [and much improved] helmet test standard might well be required if they are ever to be made compulsory for all electric cyclists.

Adjustable ventilation on helmets is strongly advised since the electric cyclist has very different requirements from a normal pedal cyclist. In fact the normal cyclist would eventually gain enormously from having adjustable ventilation as standard. It will help to match the seasons and the weather and the amount of energy being expended in different temperatures and wind and weather conditions. A racing cyclist speeding up a long climb, in a heat wave, has not remotely the same ventilation requirement as a cyclist plodding a few miles to work on the flat, in wet or sub-freezing, conditions. Yet both are offered the same basic helmet construction.

Only styling really separates helmets from each other at present. Which is really rather pathetic considering the huge reliance on helmets to protect the poor cyclist from illegally speeding, and usually sociopathically driven, drivers. i.e. That class of driver which thinks it enjoys a completely detached and elevated hierarchy over all pedestrians, cyclists and all other vehicles, except Ferraris. Their vehicles can be most readily identified by the row of fat ØØØØs on the bonnet and their pathetic driving skills, though not exclusively. If only their driving skills matched their grossly inflated ambitions and infantile delusions we could all sleep as well as they do. [Even behind the wheel.] I find it hilarious that so many can't stay on their on their own side of the road as they race between ridiculously overshot corners. Not that they are remotely alone, of course. It's just that they have no excuse when their vehicle is designed for excellent handling given a competent driver.

No matter how safety regulations may change to match new challenges it is still the cyclist who must always ride defensively and with intelligence. They are always the most vulnerable in any battle with far heavier and faster vehicles. Even pedestrians must learn to look out for their speedier, but still silent, progress. The speed and endurance available from electric bikes is evolving steadily into a completely new class of vehicle. This is placing a new and heavy burden on the elderly rider, in particular. They need to develop far greater skill than that required by a normal pedal cycle when ridden by themselves. Greater speed demands faster reflexes and much greater skill in cornering and manoeuvring. Particularly in the wet, in traffic and when braking hard.

Dealing with traffic, not yet accustomed to their greater speed, will require keeping all of their [remaining] wits about them. The rules may call for low maximum speeds but, from my own experience, this often exceeds even that of a fit and active cyclist. Every accident and every road death is no doubt being monitored with a view to changes in the law. The whim's of the politicooze, to potentially negative publicity, change with the wind and rarely match real needs of those it affects. So, let's be very careful out there!

A pleasantly warm and sunny day but rather windy. I was busy wasting my valuable remaining time, at home, on various silly projects. Cue: Chorus of Monty Python's "I'm a lumberjack..." So, another rest day for the wicked.


13 Jul 2015

13th July 2015 No [long] rest for the wicked!

Monday 13th 59F, 15C, still, overcast. The forecast is for fairly light winds and a mixture of cloud and sunny periods. Rain is possible but yesterday's forecast showers did not arrive until 19.30 and then lasted only seconds.

I was just reading the Danish headlines about the class inequality of human survival in Denmark. Those who lack a higher education live on average until they are 72. Qualified professionals usually last until they are 82. The "working classes" [for want of a better term] have much earlier onset of debilitating diseases and are much poorer survivors. My own experience is that smoking is still very commonplace amongst the unskilled/ unqualified workforce. When the indoor smoking ban arrived factories had to provide smoking shelters. They were very well used indeed! So much so that management had to insist that they clock out to smoke and clock in when they returned to work. So many smokers took [illegally] to the toilets. Leaving the non-smokers in a stinking, breathless fog. Excessive drinking and alcoholism were rather too visible in a factory workforce of some seventy people over a decade. Obesity was not really much of a problem except for a small minority who never stopped eating or drinking junk. Perhaps they should have been made to clock-out too?

Early retirement seems to be readily available to the sedentary occupations in Denmark. While those with heavy physical work usually have to wait until they finally reach the official retirement age. Probably suffering from long term ill health and injury by that time. Plans to raise the retirement age seem grossly unfair on those whose work takes a heavy, physical toll. Raising the retirement age to 67 means the working classes may only enjoy 5 years of threatening, ill-health before they expire from the requirement to receive their pension. While the banker and office worker can usually look forward to years of comfortable retirement.

Conversely, my wife and I try to delay the onset of ill health as much as we can by avoiding the most obvious threats. We avoid smoky atmospheres and eat organic produce when we can get it. Avoidance of sugars, meat and toxic fats is the norm. Wholegrain bread, lots of fish and home-mixed, organic muesli. Salad, fruit and vegetables coming out of our ears. Lots of physical exercise. Low, non-regular, beer consumption with only very occasional organic wine. Living in the countryside should have offered health benefits were it not for neighbours routinely burning demolition firewood year round. [Literally 365/yr even during heatwaves.] Then there are the toxins from arable and industrial pig farming. Spraying the fields goes on even in gales and one cannot always be aware that it is happening.

Will we buck the trend and survive beyond our allotted 72 years? Better ask the drunk drivers and sociopaths who think their seconds saved greatly outweigh our right to our few, remaining years. I do my best by constantly monitoring my rear view mirror while  out on the trike. Or jumping [routinely] into the verge when necessary while walking rural roads where there is no pavement. The drunks, the senile, the drug addled, the registered blind and psychopathic drivers may be remarkably commonplace on the Danish roads. But we are determined not to let them deprive us of our last few years.

What they don't constantly remind you of as a child is that time constantly accelerates throughout one's life. It can seem like a decade between birthdays in childhood. While whole months can flash past unnoticed as you grow old[er.] Habits in youth can curtail all pleasure of living to a ripe old age. I want to rage at kids I see smoking because they already smell like stale ashtrays and can't run a few yards without becoming breathless. I want to prod the chronically obese as they suck constantly on their baby bottles of sugar and gas. Many are quite literally making themselves physically handicapped by their sheer bulk. Many can't even move their flabby thighs past each to walk like normal, human beings. Their feet make small arcs as they waddle like ducks.

I want to break the bottles over the heads of young, habitual drunks before they kill somebody, or themselves. Drug abusers are fools without imagination. Unable to see how life can be interesting and even quite tolerable without their chemical smog. Even the most basic wisdom and young shoulder are often mutually incompatible. They think their "harmless" habits are their own highly individualistic signs of rebellion. Exactly as we did, as teenagers, of course.

The second and last of my Ventus G730 GPS dongles has finally died. I believe the problem is the limited life of the internal Lipo battery. With nothing to lose, I took a chance and pulled on the blue end of the dongle with beaked pliers where the lanyard usually fits. The end of the dongle popped open without damage showing the contents. The battery was fixed with double sided tape but finally responded to a push on the USB plug pressed down gently on a piece of wood. A bulge formed in the front of case which I relieved with a small screwdriver. This was just the case doing what it was designed to do in resisting pressure as the USB was plugged in for recharging.

After a further struggle I finally found the correct sized battery online [from eBay] and have ordered it. Amazon[UK] was a complete and utter waste of [considerable] time as every dealer refused to send to Denmark after all the rigmarole of putting it in the basket and going to the checkout.

These GPS loggers have been amazing and have allowed me to very accurately record my routes on Google Earth using the supplied software. Stats about speed altitude and distance are also displayed beside the aerial view. I only paid about £20 each for the dongles at a supermarket chain and the first one lasted for years. Later ones obviously suffered from ageing of the same batch of LiPo batteries. The GPS logger distances were very similar to my bike computers. Which was nice confirmation that each was getting it right. Or both were completely wrong but somehow agreeing with each other to within a mile or so.

I rode north with a fairly strong crosswind on the main road. Rather short of breath and had to keep clearing my [thick] throat. Perhaps it's toxic plywood sawdust from another, unfinished project? Only 12 miles.

Tuesday 14th 64-71F, 18-22C, a bright start with a light breeze. The five Coot chicks are growing fast and even making short dives. A patch of parallel lines of cloud went over. Difficult to capture, I have darkened the image to improve contrast. Probably a pressure wave effect, but what do I know?

A warm and sunny ride to the shops. Headwind coming back. I heard a cry and  glanced up between two villages to see six buzzards soaring overhead. Presumably a family made up from this year's brood. I doubt that adults would tolerate each other in their territory.

Sun block cream and insects don't go well together. I always end up looking like a long strip of  mobile flypaper! The cream ran down into my eyes on the way home. So I had to ride the rest of the way with both eyes closed! It's lucky I was wearing my dark glasses. Or drivers might have been afraid of the clown on the tricycle! Only 16 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

6 Jul 2015

6th July 2014 Battle of the bulge!

Monday 6th 60-65F, 15-18C, occasionally very windy, brightening through rather a lot of cloud. Expected to blow to 15m/s or 30+mph later. The heatwave is over, for today at least.

Back to the woods today. Saw three deer, 2 hares and several large birds of prey. The tracks and fire breaks are very overgrown now. Very windy walking back with my head down and eyes watering. It was pleasant enough after the heat because it never went over 65F all day. It's quite amazing how the crops change the appearance of familiar landscapes. Each type of grain has its completely own texture when seen up close and from afar.

Rode north to make it a crosswind going and coming back. Rough, gusty wind but mostly bright sunshine. I was only able to cruise at 14-16mph going both ways. The latest Ventus GPS dongle is misbehaving after a flush of working normally. I might break the old unit open to try and use loose, rechargeable batteries on a lead. I bought this Ventus from the supermarket when the internal batteries were obviously well beyond their shelf life. It suddenly woke up when I left it on USB charge all day. Mostly reliable ever since, until recently. Only 14 miles.

Tuesday 7th 67-77F, 19-25C,  Bright, clear and windy. Took a walk down the road for some fresh air after the dizziness returned. My wife is having similar symptoms today. Spraying? Who knows? It is getting hot and humid again if only by our own modest standards.

I have just noticed a horrible lump on the side-wall of my Schwalbe Durano front tyre. The side-wall reinforcement material seems to have ruptured. It is lucky I had ordered and already received new replacement tyres! Not a happy bunny because I will have to swap it before going out now. It proved to be a hole in the side-wall through which I could clearly see daylight. It was lucky I didn't risk riding any further on it!

Once I was roadworthy again I had only a short ride. It had started raining steadily just as I reached the first shops. A van had its nose caved in against the back of another in one village. Either vans are incredibly fragile or excessive speed may have been a factor. As soon as the traffic had cleared the pile-up and attending emergency vehicles they were putting their foot down again. Without a care in the world for the 50kph/30mph village speed limit! Only 10, rather damp miles.

An old, ruined farmhouse glimpsed through its collapsing portal.

Wednesday 8th 67F, 20C, very windy at times with bright periods between dark. Forecast to rain for most of the day with thunder possible and gusting to well over 30mph. Walked for an hour before large drops started falling from a threatening sky. Watched the young coots on the village pond for a while and then I had to head home in a hurry. Only for it to go off again. The Coot family were absent yesterday and I feared something had happened to them. Large flocks of sparrows are busy, moving constantly around the neighbourhood. Blackbirds are starting their dawn chorus well before 4am! It never seems fully dark at 55N in mid summer. It became even windier and much wetter so another rest day.

Thursday 9th 56-54F, 13-12C, overcast and very windy. Warning of rain and potential storm force gusts later. The trees were roaring and bending as I walked in the hope it would remain dry. The roads were already littered with fresh green leaves stripped by yesterday's wind and rain. Just as it did yesterday,  large drops started falling before I had gone very far. So I turned and strode briskly back again as huge lorries used lots of the entire road width. The shower proved to be very short-lived but by then it was too late to try again. The temperature is slowly falling as the pressure drops and the humidity climbs.

There were a few showers during the rest of the day but mostly I was worried by the roaring wind. I decided prudence was the better part of valour and took another rest day. No point in risking my life unnecessarily. From years of experience I know that many drivers are hardly aware of the effects of such a strong wind where a cyclist is concerned. Just passing a field entrance or a gap in the hedge, when there is a crosswind, can easily push the cyclist several feet in either direction. If a driver is taking a chance to pass closely, on auto pilot against oncoming traffic, it can swiftly become a life or death situation.

Friday 10th 56-60F, 13-16C, windy and overcast. Another windy day but hopefully devoid of rain. I shall stay away from the main roads as much as possible.

I walked my usual loop up through the woods and back by another way. Blowing a gale but not too cold in the sunshine.  I was leaning on the wind on the way back. It was fun watching the waves crossing the tops of the different crops.

Copenhagen police are investigating the discovery of between 250 and 400 stolen bikes and trikes at a cycle shop. A customer recognised his own, stolen machine there. It seems they were being resprayed to avoid easy detection. Frame numbers were ground off in some cases, while others, still with their original markings, were registered as stolen. I suppose it makes a change from the newspapers reporting East Europeans exporting their booty by the lorry load over EU open borders.

2015 and they still can't invent a decent, lightweight lock or live GPS tracking for bikes. Many owners of lightweight bikes will take a chance on using a worthless lock as a visual deterrent. Rather than carrying a ridiculous kilo+ [2lbs] of insurance approved U-lock. If they are willing to spend a couple of thousand, saving a mere 50 grammes, they are hardly going to strap a ship's anchor to their carbon fibre machines, are they? Does not compute!

How much longer are the lock manufacturers going to get away with stealing their customer's hard earned money? They offer either the crap protection of a cable lock, which could be chewed through by a toddler still with their baby teeth. Or a U-lock, or padlock and chain, so damned heavy that most cyclists will baulk at carrying it! Talk about a license to print money!

Going well and spending a lot of time climbing out of the saddle. Just a windy shopping trip for 21 miles.

Saturday 11th 63F, 17C, light winds with occasional sunshine. No walk. Headed for Fåborg on the south coast. Lots of racing cyclists in pelotons and riding solo going the other way. Saw the first recumbent tadpole trike in several years belting down a long hill which I was climbing. Going well again with lots of out of the saddle climbing even when cresting small rises. The more you do the easier it becomes and the more you get out of it. Headed north after touring the coast beyond Fåborg for a few miles. Came back inland through lots of forest against a gently rising wind. Only took a cheese sandwich with me so I soon ran out of food and completely lost my energy towards the end. 64 miles.

Sunday 12th 57F, 14C, overcast, almost still. Showers forecast. Enjoyed a quiet walk in a loop around a large field in front of the woods. The coot chicks are sporting white chests and have largely lost their ugly red heads. I came within 10' of a deer grazing in the crops. Only the tips of its ears were visible until it raised its head to stare at me.  Escaping from the stiff grain crop proved quite a problem as it had to make high jumps just to clear it legs. Later, a hare dashed away along the track. It felt remarkably warm out of the wind with the humidity at 80%. Making walking back into the wind very pleasant. A tiny Slow worm was lying dead on the white line marking the verge. Just the tip of its tail had been flattened. Half an inch difference and it might have survived. It was surrounded in curious ants sensing a meal. A pure white pigeon landed at the end of the track just as I joined the road. It had no traffic sense and took off right into the path of a speeding car. Only just clearing it as it swerved away to find safer ground.

The winds were still quite light as I headed to the first shops. Lots of solo riders out training. Road and MTB. A long descent on the tri-bars with a gentle tailwind produced only 26mph despite my best efforts. It's not the brakes dragging! Well laden on the way back. Only 19 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

5 Jul 2015

3rd July 2015 Heat is always relative.


Friday 3rd 72-82F, 22-28C,  breezy, sunny but with lots of thin cloud. Expected to be warm again.

I was just reading the Danish TV news website. They perform much the same duties as the BBC in providing millionaire celebs, for tabloid consumption, at license payer's vast expense. The Danish licence costs almost twice that of the UK while more and more Danes stream their entertainment. Or would, if only they could have a high speed Internet to watch the miserably small selection on offer from Netflix.

Anyway, the new Danish government, only days after the election, is already talking about relaxing or slashing environmental controls on farmers. They [the farmers not the trough dwellers in government] will be allowed to plough [and spray] right up to water courses instead of leaving them as wildlife corridors and vital protection for the water course. Ammonia release from the massive annual pig shit spraying will be a free-for-all instead of facing a steady reduction.  Ammonia will continue to cause health problems for the few surviving rural dwellers.

All this at a time of rural, home sale stagnation and the rapid loss of amenities like schools, shops and services. All this, when Denmark does not attract the visitors and holiday makers they ought in comparison with many other countries. All this, when countless farmers are close to bankruptcy with un-repayable debts and the serious risk of causing more bank collapses. All this when the vast majority of Danish pork products contain dangerous, antibiotic resistant, bacteria. All this when the deliberate mistreatment of pigs in small cages is rife. All this when Danish pigs are driven for hundreds of miles packed in lorries to Germany to be slaughtered. All because Danish wages in slaughter houses were too high, so that they were all closed down. All this, when antibiotic use in the pig farms is climbing though the roof.

Lighthouse keeper's cottage.

Walked a loop by road and track. The wind turbines were all still. Oppressively warm and I returned feeling dizzy and deaf. Tried warmed olive oil in each ear to melt any ear wax while I lay down for 10 minutes on each side. No discernible effect. Gargling with warm, salty water helped slightly.

Left mid afternoon for a short ride. Hot, bright and light winds. Only 8 miles.

Saturday 4th 75-82F, 24-28C, bright, warm, a light breeze and almost still at times.  Probably going to be even hotter today. 27-32C forecast with UV close to 7! No walk but the trike is already stripped down to its Junior sans rack again. I had better remember my water bottle! Thanks to the lack of wind and despite the heat it was a fairly effortless 28 miles today. I spent quite a lot of time climbing out of the saddle. The heatwave will probably be broken by thunder storms later. [It wasn't because there were none!]

Sunday 5th 80-85F, 27-29.5C, bright, almost still. I went for a walk to find some coolth in the shade beneath some trees. A short lived pleasure because of the traffic and fitful breeze. Early plans for a longer ride, in pleasantly light winds, were curtailed because of the oppressive heat. I'm still going out but with much more limited ambitions.

Did a tour of Sunday flea markets looking for something quite commonplace, but without any luck. Very hot and winds very light but not interested in drinking luke warm water from my bottle. Was cruising at 21mph for some miles along a main road to get out of the traffic as soon as possible. Detoured down to the coast for 22 miles total. Still doing lots of climbing out of the saddle despite being bunged up with whatever allergy I have at the moment. Artemesia? Going out again after lunch. Plus ten more miles. It started to spit with rain on the way home and the outside temperature is already 10 degrees cooler than this afternoon's peak of 85F. Five minutes after arriving home it is raining hard. The rain didn't last but we were treated to a spectacular lightning show during the late evening. Long streaks of lightning were jumping horizontally through the grey sky as well as vertically. Fortunately there wasn't much thunder to keep us awake and the storm seemed to be moving easterly.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

3 Jul 2015

July 1st 2015 Short cut to extinction?


Wednesday 1st 68-73F, 20-23C warm with full sun and light winds forecast all day. It is already rather more windy than expected!

I was reading somewhere that robotics may lead to human extinction through laziness. Many of our historic "breakthroughs" could be seen in the same way: Fire allowed us to maximise energy from our food without having to gather nuts and fruit for hours each day to survive. Tools saved us hours of tearing at things with our teeth or nails. Or getting a slave to do it for us.

Crops saved us wandering endlessly in search of sustenance but led to crime. Anything which has value can be taken away by those too lazy to earn it or make it. Crime became a short cut to everything as did slavery. The ultimate laziness imaginable is to have somebody do something for you without your making any contribution whatsoever. The slaver borrows the limited lifespan of the slave for their own profit. Paving paths and roads led to efficiency of travel for the conquering Romans. A skill lost to the descendants of their slaves for almost a couple of millennia. A short cut of any kind is really a kind of cheating. It saves energy, or time, or both. You can have your cake and eat it thanks to improved efficiency. Though there is always a cost.

By now you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with cycling. I would hope that it is obvious. Plain bearings gave way to ball bearings. Heavy wood and iron frames gave way to thin-wall steel. Cast iron components slimmed down to steel and eventually aluminium alloys and later, carbon fibre. Steel rims gave way rubber bands and then pneumatic tyres and tubulars.

From the start it was all about saving weight, reducing friction, rolling resistance and wind drag. It's all in aid of a "free ride." It allows us to go faster and further or climb more quickly. Or, basically, to ride more effortlessly without paying for it in muscle tiredness or countless training miles or hours. Racing performances constantly improve thanks to our steady technological progress. The price is that the elite can afford the wind tunnel testing and speciality manufacturer's one-offs for their millionaire riders. The rest [weekend warriors] can only try to emulate their constantly cheating heroes.  

Any reduction in the number of ordinary cyclists would suggest laziness. It happened in the 1960s as the populace became motorised. Which meant they could sit and rest in traffic jams on the way to and from work. Instead of getting all sweaty, cold and wet on their way to the factory where there were no showers. Though subject to trends and other influences the numbers of cyclists do seem to be rising.

Motorcycles, mopeds and scooters allowed lazy cyclists to go much further/ more quickly/ in less time than any cyclist could manage. The electric bicycle is now being touted as the next big thing in personal transport. It has the huge advantages of lightness and lack of noise and pollution but at enormous expense compared with the traditional, infernal combustion device.

Serious range is the one hurdle for electrics to overcome. Even so, pensioners are already able to thrash keen cyclists on speed and climbing ability given a fresh battery. I can still remember, quite vividly, how effortless it was to climb a long, local hill on a borrowed moped in my teens. The exhilaration was highly addictive but had to be ignored for economic reasons. I did not own one then and never would. It was years later that even a secondhand car became the norm for my generation. Car ownership is still a status symbol compared with two wheeled transport. A habitual drunk who has been banned for years and still drives a rusting clunker while having no tax, driving license, MOT or insurance is infinitely more socially acceptable than the world's best paid cyclist on a tens of thousands of pounds bike.  

Meanwhile, back at the pig ranch: Walking the suddenly, weed free, field edge took me past the pond with all the young ducks. While sneaking past I noticed a large batch were hovering on the bank nearest me just behind the shading water plants. They turned their hockey sticks my way but did not budge. I was very grateful for the slightest breeze as it grew ever warmer. Dressing suitably for the sudden warmth is difficult. I need so many pockets and shorts are hopeless in chest high grass. With the risk of deer bugs I need long trousers. I rounded one field corner hedge to exchange a 30 second stare with a large, ginger fox. When I finally moved, to take out my camera, it loped off into the crops.

There was quite an easterly tailwind when I set off on the trike after lunch. So much so that I was climbing at 20mph! I was the warmest day this year so far and my drinking bottle of plain tap water went down quickly. Probably just as well because it was soon as warm as bathwater. Headwinds and crosswinds on the way home. A fire leader, police car and fire truck went the opposite way at incredible speed using all of the road. Fortunately I took to the first available run-off each time I heard the sirens to give them plenty of room on the blind corners. Luckily I did or I might well have become the emergency myself! And, I'm really not kidding! 21 miles.

Thursday 2nd 71-78F, 22-26C, very breezy, full sun. Another cloudless sky in Europe's continuing heatwave. Britain had a record yesterday of nearly 37 degrees [high 90s F] I saw 76F, mid afternoon, on my usual digital thermometer with the outside sensor in the shade under the northern eaves. The weather station records temperatures a degree or so higher but I am sticking to the old thermometer as my standard to avoid confusion.

While the temperature and weather probably has little interest to my readers I use it to guide my cycling [or walking] dress code for the day. All depending on the wind speed, of course. Our very well-protected garden gives little guide to the actual conditions beyond the high trees and tall, thick hedges. It can be a real shock to escape from the micro-climate of our enclosed, rural garden and be hit by a freezing cold gale! Normally I do get my wardrobe right for the conditions. Thanks to owning several [secondhand] winter jackets to choose from I am usually warm enough. Only occasionally do I have to remove something when I warm up.

Overheating is more dangerous in cold weather than being slightly too cool. Even when wearing polyester it can build up too much sweat and become cold. Once the layer next to your skin is cold and wet it is impossible to warm up again until the garment is removed. Which usually means back at home before jumping into the shower to warm up. A wet vest on a cold windy day is misery. All of which is highly irrelevant during a heat wave.

Left late morning. Visited umpteen shops and returned heavily laden. It was rather hot and very windy. My luke warm water bottle was emptied, refilled and emptied again. 22 miles.

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