31 Mar 2016

Thursday 31st March Take the long way home!


Thursday 31st, 39F, 4C, light breeze, very heavy overcast. Dry with some sunshine and 50F promised for later but the westerly winds will be gusting to 25+mph this afternoon. Not ideal for a longer ride to the east. I'll get there yesterday but arrive back home the day after tomorrow. I'll never get away with it! ;-)
Talking of unnecessary exertion: I was just reading a Danish running coach saying that beginners should start by walking briskly before running to avoid injury. I am often tempted to run but don't even own any trainers, these days, let alone "proper" running shoes. Interestingly[?] I read another coach's advice saying that any running shoes would do. He suggested that the fetish for having expensive shoes chosen and fitted even by "specialist" running shops often failed to do other than empty the runner's pockets. Sports shops were even less likely to provide skilled service except in daylight robbery.

I've tried running in my £5, $7, charity shop, [as new] Ecco walking boots but they seem just a little "over the top" if you see what I mean. Birds start making plans to emigrate again as soon I clomp past. Mind you, soldiers run in their boots during [cough] boot camp training if the Hollywood films are to be believed. Though I'm not sure I could manage to chant "Chump is a chump, Chump is a chump" for very long without becoming extremely bored and my mind beginning to wander. Perhaps I just need a sociopathic sergeant major to provide some impetus?

I'm going to have to change over from my MTB winter boots soon but I doubt the NW MTB shoes will provide much jogging pleasure. At least I was never tempted to go the "road shoe" route or I would have been all over the place in the supermarket aisles. Road shoes with protruding plates are almost as daft and totally impractical for touring as wearing track spikes to go jogging in the lanes.

Last chance! I really must get off my (er-um-er) saddle and go for a proper ride today. Or March will become yet another example of severe undernourishment in the miles department. Though it doesn't look remotely like sunshine at the moment. [7.30am.] In fact it seems to be getting darker. The birds are playing 'trampoline' in the trees so they must have heard the rumour about sunshine.

Left at 9.30 after morning coffee and rolls. Stopped at 23 miles to look around a bike shop. It hailed on me at 25 miles but I kept going with a nice tailwind helping me along. Reached my goal at 43 miles after taking an unmarked wrong turning.

My goal for today's ride was an old, unmodernized village shop almost on the east coast of Fyn midway between Nyborg and Svendborg. It had been on the market for some time at higher price but was recently taken over by another estate agent and is now being offered for about £25,000 or $35k equivalent. For the entire time I was wandering around taking photographs a large dog in in the garden of the house behind never stopped barking. There were two cars parked outside the house so I doubt the owners were absent. Perhaps this is the real reason the old place has never sold? As I was taking photographs a bus came down the road and swung around the corner in front of the shop. I was afraid it was going to swipe my trike but he proved to be a cheerful and very good driver and waved as he safely missed my only transport home.

Left the old shop at 2pm to come home with a strong and gusty headwind now impeding progress. Completely ran out of energy at 75 miles with only a cheese sandwich and two muesli bars washed down with pure apple juice to last me all day. I had to stop and buy some bananas at 80 miles just to get home. BY that time I was hardly able to put one foot in front of another in the supermarket. Ate two bananas while resting on a handy stack of garden compost bags outside the shop.

Recovered enough to ride the last few miles despite puncturing on flints outside the shop. 84 miles in 9 1/4 hours with at least an hour of that for stops. So I maintained my 10mph average overall. I should have bought the bananas early on in the day and kept my energy topped up at intervals. A fool and his energy are soon parted! Finally arrived back home at 6-30pm with my flat tyre valve banging on the road. Modern "wireless" tyres run extremely well on the narrow rims when flat so there was no point in mending it and making myself even later. In the old days, when I was young, HP tires would quickly roll off sideways when the tube punctured.The ride's autopsy will have to wait until tomorrow.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


30 Mar 2016

30th March 2016 A martyr to wind.


Wednesday 30th 39-46F, 4-8C, strangely dark at 7am with heavy overcast, breezy with rain forecast for this morning. Nearly the end of the month and not many miles added to my yearly total. Taking so many rest days really eats into my averages. If words were miles I would be well ahead of average.

Butterbur throws up lots of strange flowers long before coming into leaf. Its leaves look like a kind of false rhubarb and it often grows extensively and untidily on the verges. Later in the year it gets even scruffier as the leaves are shot through with holes presumably made by caterpillars. The Butterbur provides a little early colour in an otherwise drab season. Thanks to The Head Gardener who provided identification.

I have a potential target on the east coast of Fyn but weather and wind have denied me the longer ride. Fyn is the island, on which I now live and the central landmass of the three which form tiny Denmark. The big bit to the left of Fyn is stormy and can be considered merely an extension of northern Germany. As is evident from the number of "beach occupied" towels and summer house names in quaint, italic Germanic. While the snobbish, overpriced, easterly bit of Denmark is more a suburb of  Malmö [Sweden] despite its delusions of grandeur in having the Multicultural capital stuck on th coast more as an afterthought. Meanwhile, the central island of Fun [Dk.Fyn] feels far bigger than its 36 miles wide by about 40 miles high, rather lopsided, blob on the map. I'm ignoring the "sticky-out" bits on the edges for the purposes of this argument if you will forgive the geographic technicality.

Of course any journey on a trike strictly requires a "there and back." Preferably in one day. Living on the left edge of Fyn means any journey east must be doubled into quite a significant ride. I'm talking relative here because I am no longer a mile-eating teenager with the spring fully wound up on a lightweight bike. The mileages above are also beelines and life is rarely that simple. By the time all the "wiggles" have been added up the "simple" 35 miles to get there has risen to well over 80 for the round trip. Even Google earth is calling it 60km each way which is around 40 miles, in old money. Not to mention my "unique ability" at getting lost. You might even call it my very own "super power" if you were very unkind. We'll gloss over the time I drive most of the length of Wales in completely the wrong direction following a particularly exhausting camping holiday. Even having all the villages on my route listed on a [damp] piece of paper, or cornflakes packet off-cut, holds absolutely no guarantee of my finding signposts at really vital crossings and junctions.

Like most semi-civilized, Western countries, Denmark employs a signposting system intended only for locals and is meant to be completely ignored as means to actual route-finding. So one often finds a turn-off, which really ought to be marked in even a modestly fair world, but isn't. Having a map doesn't always help either. I would need to remove my choice of sunglasses for the hour, polish the thick mist from my reading glasses, now safely extracted from my jacket back pocket [without losing anything else secreted there] and then find the wrinkly map in the bottom of the saddlebag under all the other stuff, only to find the map was not sufficiently detailed to show small villages. Nor even name quite large towns most of the time. I find there is always a huge element of luck in these matters!

The weeping birch was the most noticeable landscaping decoration when I first moved to Denmark. That, and corrugated, fiber-cement roofing.

In a bout of terrifying logic one might have fitted a map case on top of the handlebars. But then how, on earth, will I read my cadence or trip mileage on my, now completely obscured, "bike" computer? Not to mention, not being able to climb with my hands on the handlebar "tops!" I am not the owner of a "quite bright but lacks concentration" mobile phone. Let alone having a really smart one! Nor do I even have "a tablet" to my name. So don't go taking any of these for granted based on your own highly connected, multimedia, multicultural, cross-networking, electronic smog,  Elysium!

I tend to think of my mobile phone more as a form of one-way, remote control from Home Base. With similar properties to a very long but inflexible length of bungee cord. It stretches just enough to avoid snagging, or having to roll it up neatly on a drum before leaving. But a has a closely defined length beyond which 'diplomatic relations' are likely to be suddenly withdrawn "on the slightest whim."  

Besides, the wind drag from an unfortunately angled tablet might affect my forward velocity to the tune of several grams/centimeter/watts/sec, or something like that. Even if I had something "really fancy" fitted to the trike's 'bars I would have to remove it to go into the shops on the way back. With all that entails, including careful calculations for remaining elapsed time, relative to air temperature and expected solar influx and average insulation values in watts/centimeters/minutes, before the frozen stuff is likely to go off. Even a "GPS friendly" trike computer would cost as much as a 1960s fortnight's camping holiday in Wales and I hate camping anyway.

These longer routes now have to be very carefully considered because such distances are at the very limit of my stamina for a one day ride on my typically loaded shopping trolley trike. Such mileages obviously demand a minimum number of daylight hours for safety reasons. So tend to crop up in the summer "silly" season rather than in the darker [miserable] months at 55N. It is not that I could not ride in the dark but rather that I should not for inherent safety reasons. Getting lost is only the most obvious of them. While drunken/typically lunatic commuters must also be factored into the survival equation. Their sociopathic needs are always far greater than the lives of "we lesser mortals." They've seen the car maker's propaganda and believed it to the very last syllable and enhanced pixel. Their minds are always on anything but their actual driving and whatever tasks that might suggest. E.g. Lifting one's foot, however slightly, off the 'idiot' pedal never even seems to occur to most of them.

Crossing the relatively new, north-south, Odense-Svendborg motorway has also become a "more interesting" hurdle than previously when it was only a heavily congested, main road. All thanks to a financial limit on how many rural lanes and minor roads were considered worthy of their own tunnel or bridge. So detours may well rear their ugly heads. Pushing me well off-course from the tightly stretched, ultra- linear, tape measure provided by Google Earth.

Even their route finding services are just, plain silly. I have lost track of the number of times I have been sent to the far reaches of Fyn before being offered a return to normality in roughly the right direction of my intended goal.  Only by choosing the "pedestrian" mode of transport does the line become less deviant in its route suggestions. A mere cyclist is expected to get to his bottom right target via Odense which is near the top of the island and a city best avoided unless life and limb are considered potentially disposable. So what Google is thinking of I have no idea at all despite Odense's pretensions to grandeur in the global, city cycling stakes. The city may well call itself "cycling friendly" but that is absolutely no reason [at all] to detour forty miles out of one's way on a trike. Not with those narrow cycle paths and countless red lights, it's not. Several decent cycle shops notwithstanding, none of them carry Campagnolo anyway. So Google's cycling route idiocy might be ironically amusing if it were not so serious on the day!

Now add in the wind. I'm a martyr to wind on my trike. Denmark always seem to be windy and wind is a huge factor on any ride where the "pedaling pedant" has to provide the only power available. Gravity doesn't usually count because it averages out over most [return] routes not actually involving a one-way descent from some high, mountain pass. The wind decides if I can manage 8mph, with a drippy nose, or can cruise fairly effortlessly at twice that and smile at the world's usual hardships. If life were really simple I could fight a nicely light crosswind to get there and then enjoy the usual sine-wave of increased tailwind speed on the way back. Easy peasy! Except that it rarely is. Even a wind at right angles to forward progress is a headwind on a bike or trike. A headwind on the return leg is a trial beyond human endurance when tiredness has already set in and all the mature Cheddar sandwiches have long been consumed.

My trike computer tells me I average a little over 11mph but it obviously hasn't heard of natural stops, eating and photography. So I tend to use a round figure of 10mph for the average duration of any "staying out for the sake of it." Simple maths suggest miles / 10 = number of hours expended, more or less, unnecessarily. The morning ritual of coffee and marmalade on toasted rolls tends to push my start times slightly forward of "the crack of dawn." Which has implications for a later hour of return from such cycling madness exhausting marathons adventures. Sandwiches have to be made before leaving and all the usual items accounted for before lift-off to achieve low Fyn orbit. Heaven help me if I ever forget my 'phone! Been there. Done that! Logic suggests a pre-ride routine but that would assume some degree of normality exists between this particular pedant's audio reception appendages. Rather like Pi, aroundtoits tend to come in threes and continue almost indefinitely. And then you die. Leaving behind an untidy mess of largely unspoken resentment without nearly enough storage boxes to contain it all.

After a morning of rain I chose a bright period for a brisk stroll down the road to play chicken with the traffic. It was decidedly chilly, not even bare hands comfortable, despite the 42F on the thermometer. Then the sky started spitting so I headed back home again with less than half an hour on the [life] meter. It's always a difficult balance between life-enhancing exertion and using up your allotted time in slow motion.

I was just reading a Danish running coach saying that beginners should start by walking briskly before beginning to run to avoid injury. I am often tempted to run but don't own any trainers let alone "running" shoes. Interestingly[?] I read another coach's advice saying that any "running" shoes would do and that the fetish for having shoes chosen and fitted by "specialist" running shops often failed to do other than empty the runner's pockets. I've tried running in my £5 [charity shop] Ecco walking boots but they seem a little "over the top." Mind you, soldiers run in their boots during training if the films are to be believed. Though I'm not sure I could manage to chant "Chump, Chump Chump" for very long without becoming bored.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

29 Mar 2016

29th March 2016 Sony HDR AS-15 action camera fails again!


Tuesday 29th 41-46F, 5-8C, today's POO [Pigshit Olfactory Offense] scale 7/10, windy, bright but very cloudy becoming solid overcast then clearing to bright but cloudy at times.

I tried my Sony AS-15 webcam on my walk today to compare it with the cheap little Denver AC-1300. The Sony's image motion stabilizer certainly helped when I was walking but not perfectly by any means. Lurching was most noticeable in the lower screen area despite my best effort to hold the camera steady and pan very slowly. The wide angle lens made it very poor at recording the landscape. Stretching and flattening it to the point of being completely worthless as a record of my walk. Even watching the resulting video full screen on my 24" widescreen HD monitor it was like looking the wrong way through a telescope!

I had the AS-15 in the later, protective case and actually managed to record some birdsong over the grating wind noise and an irritating rattle/creaking within the camera and/or its fit within the case. I used a small, bendy rubber tripod fitted to the screw socket in the case bottom as a secure handhold. Its compact dimensions meant it could be easily be pocketed when I had finished filming.

Yet again the Sony performed very badly indeed when pointing into the still dim/obscured sun. Basically turning itself into a dark, B&W camera! It still manged to steam up the case lens cover even in cool weather and without strong sunshine.  And, managed to make the sky a lurid turquoise despite the over-all greyness of the sky. You'd think Sony would have offered an improved firmware to fix colour problem by now but that might actually dig into sales of their latest [and probably still broken] iteration. No point in fixing what's badly broken if you have a planned, slow release, incremental, drip feed, annual release of "new" models for the next 1500 years and counting!

The colour rendering of my videos was easily as dull and miserable as I remember from last time. With very poor/no detail in the shadows and leafless hedges and trees. The fields, still with their low, early, grass-type crops, were almost monochromatically drab green. All very depressing and further confirmation that it was a complete waste of money buying the AS-15 and then adding the expensive second [later] smaller case plus other accessories. I'm really not sure I want to be bothered putting it back on my handlebars knowing the mechanical racket it will be sure to record. Not to mention its delight in steaming up at the slightest excuse. 

Will I want to add it to my helmet knowing that I will not be able to monitor if it is even working? Or whether it has already "steamed up" and I have just wasted literally hours of recording. The small display screen and rubber setting buttons are on completely the wrong side for helmet mounting in both Europe and the USA! Only in Japan, Australia and the UK will the buttons be accessible. So the camera will need to be removed from its protective case to check recording time left or alter any of the settings. You'd think Sony could have "handed" the cameras for particular markets, but no. The tiny, dim, recording LED is also on the back of the camera so would require I remove my helmet to check it has actually started recording! What a total mess!

Is Sony relying on sales of anti-misting sachets to make a profit on their action camera range? Much as printer manufacturers do with their Fabergé designed, platinum-unobtainium-saphire-moondust filled, ink cartridge? Perhaps we should be told?

Fleeting sunshine and gales with spots of rain accompanied me on my ride. Some quite nasty crosswind gusts at times. At first I was being chased by an old fart, of my own age, on his electric bike. I kept leaving him behind on the downhill bits through sheer devilment on my part. We were better matched on the flat until the big hill intervened. By "big" I am referring to a breathless hump rather than anything exceptional. Of course I was determined not to be caught and put some real effort into the climb. I was watching him in my rear view mirror as he sat bolt upright with his knees at 45 degrees to his crossbar and pedaling slowly. I beat him over the top by quite a margin and then shot down the following descent so that he became a tiny blob in my mirror. Not as easy as it sounds with a strong and gusty crosswind pushing me all over the place on the drop. Every time a car passed the wind would shove me hard with their bow wave, suddenly vanish and then return with a vengeance. That was the last I saw of him as he turned off after the next rise. 

On the way back I enjoyed a slightly different route to normal just to add a few extra miles. Some areas of Fyn are very attractive thanks to seemingly, accidentally arranged blocks of mature woods and fiercely corrugated fields. One would almost think it was manicured parkland at a historical, stately home. Though it is usually an illusion due to low green crops pretending to be extensive lawns when seen beyond a certain distance. Only 16 miles and a docking of house points for being "a dirty stop-out."

I keep explaining to the Head Gardener that I am not much of a "catch" being a certified old clown, on a trike, in my usually gaudy cycling "uniform" with tight-wearing, skinny legs, cycling shorts with a baggy bum and wearing funny, Edwardian style, waterproof, MTB winter boots. Besides, I have very little free time for any likely "dalliance" between my "deeply meaningful" relationships with [usually] pre-teenage checkout operators. Which are now so commonplace in Danish supermarket chains. While I may "clack" around the aisles like some "cheap tart in high heels," my SPD plates hitting the floor makes my cornering ability somewhat constrained should I ever be daft or deluded enough attempt a "Benny Hill" style chase of the staff or customers! ;-) 

Click on any image for an enlargement.


28 Mar 2016

28th March 2016 Got to film an offender or three.


Monday 28th 41-50F, 5-10C, bright and rather breezy with 45mph gusts and rain promised for later. Yesterday was another day of almost, total physical inactivity. Though I have put my Sony AS-15 action camera on charge. It takes about four hours via USB. I plan to fix the camera somewhere on my person where it can be started without hesitation when the need arises. Western gunslinger style, if you like. It must also be pointed at the area of interest or there really isn't much point. This is not remotely as easy as you might think. So some considerable practice may be necessary.  A row of bottles on the fence as I practice my "draw" may be slightly optimistic given my usual lethargy in these matters.

Last time I tried the camera I usually had to press the button and then turn the camera on its side just to see if it was recording. Which is a bit daft when LEDs cost so very little and consume so little power. But then Sony just wanted to get into the action cam market ASAP and nobody at the factory dared question the poor design. Or they would have been expected to fall on their screwdrivers for disloyalty.

My rides are simply far too long and [visually] boring to record the whole thing. Not to mention how tediously boring it is to watch the resulting video from having the camera on a handlebar mount.

It is ironic that the little Denver AC-1300 is a far better camera [in some ways] and one third the size of the Sony but cost only small change in comparison. Even the Sony's supporting brackets are more suitable for industrial heavy lifting than carrying a few grams of plastic camera around. While the brackets and clamps provided with the Denver were completely incompatible with the waterproof camera case! The accessories neither remotely fit in size, nor can be fitted anyway, due to the projecting case closure clamp. All I can do is hold the camera by hand which is decidedly limiting for an action camera despite having three hands! It also takes forever to download even short .avi videos from the camera.  

The Sony does have image stabilization but produces ridiculously lurid skies, hates bright sunlight and steams up readily in its waterproof protective case. So I quickly gave up on it as a ridiculously  expensive, white [but black] elephant. It also recorded nothing whatsoever of its audible environment. Preferring instead to practice a rattling roar from mechanical noise and road shocks transmitted through the massive handlebar clamp! Subtlety was obviously not in its design brief.

A later [less waterproof] housing is much smaller and slightly less obvious on the trike and is supposed to be able to record more ambient sounds. Opening up the protective case, by drilling a few carefully paced holes, to let the steam out and sounds in, only results in the deafening roar of wind noise. I have tried an open clamp with the exposed camera but [again] the slightest breeze records as an awful roar of wind noise even while it is sitting completely still on a tripod. So that idea didn't float either.

Sony must have been amazed that idiots like me would actually pay for such a desperately compromised bur still expensive camera. But then none of the reviews I read online were remotely honest about all the shortcomings. With the original and essential waterproof case it was impossible to do anything with the camera once it was in its [usually steamed up] housing! Nor could it take pictures underwater because the lens cover was curved [instead of flat] so the water and air acted just like as a strong lens to make everything foolishly fuzzy! Dogh! The later, and smaller case has rubber buttons to allow changes in settings without opening the case but still needs a separate and expensive "flat plate" purchase to use the "underwater" case for taking videos [cough] underwater. Dugh?

Only now in 2016 has Sony AS55 finally listened to the complaints of owners and made the base flat so it doesn't fall over. Dugh? Only now does the waterproof case finally have a flat lens cover as standard. Dogh? Only now has it a parallel view of the menus instead of an endless series with only one item on the screen at a time and multiple button pressing sequences to get anywhere. Sony listens? What absolute crap! 

However, recent close calls, at the hands of deranged drivers, suggests that I start posting my AS-15 road trip failures on YT and to hell with the "rules" about driver's right to absolute privacy, so help me god!

Naturally I shall NOT name my videos with the offender's registration plate number as do the cycling YT vloggers in the UK. If I post the videos as mere records of my rides then if mayhem should happen to break loose [however repeatedly] then "our hero" can hardly be blamed if the psycho morons were "accidentally" caught on camera. If said mayhem results in my being tortured by Danish modern "art" in some hospital, or other, then I will hopefully have proof of the perp's identity hidden away in my camera. Though whether the police will even bother to look is quite another matter. It is difficult to find enough police man hours when the drugs, round the clock politic-ooze protection and the immigrant-terrorist scene having to be monitored so constantly.

It is a well known fact that the Mk1, human bod, tends to match their behaviour to perceived reward and punishment. As does the common or garden, habitually crap-poor driver. If they speed [illegally] they get a nice kick of adrenaline and the journey is shortened. Chalk up several reward points per mph extra on top of the legal speed limit. Now add the [almost] total lack of road policing in rural Denmark and the rewards come both thick and fast. [And, in equal measure.] Rewards, for poor driving, obviously outweigh punishment almost 99.99999% of the time! As is completely obvious from the general standard of driving behaviour and highly illegal average speeds. One can only presume that the politic-ooze [N.B. NOT the police] prefer it that way to avoid losing even more voters at their pointless elections for who can blatantly lie the most and keep a straight face while enjoying ample monetary reward, 6 star accommodation and being the center of attention on Danish TV News but nowhere else on Earth.  

The Danish police occasionally set up a few speed cameras, here and there ,and then catch literally thousands of illegal speeders [?] in an hour. Often including quite a few banned drivers amongst their vast haul. The cameras clearly identify the person behind the wheel so there is no easy get-out clause for the habitual drunks who can still afford to stump up for an "ambulance chaser" to claim it was the butler at the wheel.

My car has been hit three times from behind at traffic lights by drunken drivers and scraped twice in car parks by drunken drivers in nearly two decades. So, if you spread that across the whole country, drunk driving must be a popular national sport. I have had numerous alcoholic colleagues who drank and drove on a daily basis. And crashed fairly often too! Mind that cat! It seems almost commonplace to drive while banned in Denmark according to the news reports following a police camera "sting." Which means the drunks must also drive without insurance, tax or regular vehicle safety tests. There is obviously no cross referencing when a vehicle is purchased provided that the driver is able to physically hand over the cash. The vehicle only has to be bought my a friend or relative and the drunk can then go on drink driving until their next crash. Or next court appearance following a camera blitz.

I am often tempted to set up a camera on one of the local blind corners to actually count the numbers of drivers who need the entire opposite lane as they overshoot. Not to mention the hundreds of lazy arses too tired to go all the way around exactly the same corners. So that they too are in completely the wrong, but opposite lane, on every blind corner. This despite double white line markings for miles. A further irony is that some of them could easily pass each other but in each other's lanes! I kid you not! Many international container lorry drivers find it impossible to stay within the white lines while chatting with the world on their hand-held mobile phones. While simultaneously rat-running on completely unsuitable roads thanks their cheapo [car type] GPS systems.

Have camera will travel? We shall see. My morning walk was interrupted by a dog walker parked on the track to the woods. He had a small dog running loose on the prairie and it was dashing around like a total lunatic. The dog's remote control had obviously packed up. Which I found highly amusing. I filmed my progress through the woods on the little Denver because the Sony was still charging hours after I plugged it in. I doubt the Denver video will be worth a look without stabilization. First I have to find suitable software to be able to watch the videos. Both Picasa and Media Player refuse to play them but what do you expect in 2016 with a very recent W10 computer? Make viewing easy and automatic for the user? Are you kidding? This is Microsoft we are talking about!

Later I saw my first hare of the year impersonating a square rock on which somebody had obviously scraped their muddy boots. I stared at it several times through my binoculars before it finally got bored with me and trotted slowly away. A large bird of prey looked on but was not tempted by the obvious, furry breakfast. The sunshine was gradually being reduced by thin, high cloud while the wind went on increasing. A mountain biker went past in a day-glow suit standing up on the pedals to make forward progress into a 15m/s, 30mph headwind. A set of aero extensions wouldn't have gone amiss! An MTB, or roadster, has almost double the drag of a forward-leaning bod on a sports or racing bike according to bicycle science in the 1990s.

I watched nearly two hours of a very dated [1991?] documentary on YT through my Chromecast on the normal TV yesterday. Just as a change to the usual boredom of watching films on a computer screen from less than 3' away. "The Bicycle: A celebration of the invention." In a strange, square format for CRT TVs with rather poor picture quality. Encyclopedic in scope, there was lots of fascinating technical stuff and plenty of old machines to enjoy in Low D. I had no idea recumbents were being tried as early as the 19th century. Shame they were banned for being far too efficient or things might have been very different by now. Ballantine and Burrows both had a look in.


Well worth a watch if you have a couple of hours to kill on a rainy Easter Sunday. What stuck in my mind was the [LWB recumbent owning engineering professor] from MIT saying that the cycling authorities strangulation of progress had all but destroyed cycle manufacturer's ability to innovate. Which had made talented engineers look elsewhere for employment. That same cycling authority which can look back with pride on a century of continuous drug abuse and corruption. I followed that film with a 1945 Raleigh propaganda video of the dark satanic mills before it all went horribly wrong. So now I know how to forge steel cranks whether I need to or not. Still, both videos were interesting and well produced for their time, however odd the hairstyles.

Which is more than I can say for my two dreadful Denver AC-1300 videos of my walking though the woods and the subsequent descent from the same. A cross somewhere between Quasimodo and a damaged tripods from War of the Worlds would have been smoother as I seemingly lunged from one foot to the other. While jerking the camera about unintentionally with every single step I took! My deliberate counting of 1 thousand, two thousand, three ... as I panned helped slow things down, but not nearly enough. I shall have to knock up a lightweight "steadycam" for the Denver to reduce the violent wobbles. The AC-1300 is so light it won't need much in the way of a pendulous counterweight. I just wish I'd had the discipline to turn the videos off again before the motion sickness really set in! Burp! ;-)

Another rest day watching trees bending to the wind and rain streaking diagonally across the windows from my computer desk.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


26 Mar 2016

26th March 2016 Turner would have done it justice.


Saturday 26th 37F, 3C, thick mist, light wind to start the day. My tinnitus is back. There seems to be no obvious 'trigger.' It can start on a ride, a walk, while I'm working on a project in the garden or wake me at night. I'll try not to let it make me bad tempered. We wouldn't want an excuse for another rant, would we? ;-)

A strange morning of changing contrasts on my walk. The mist lifted to a cold wind while I was at my highest point. Becoming almost Turner-ish at times but moving too quickly to capture well in stills. "Up on the tops" is a foolish exaggeration except that it is true in the strict context of my locality. I managed a couple of short videos of mist racing across the fields with the dark forest as a backdrop back-lit by glowing white light. If I can stitch these together and add these to YT you will see them here.

Once the thickest of the mist had blown away the sky broke into cloud and blue. Pooling patches of light crossed the landscape teasing me as I repeatedly failed to capture what I saw. Of the seventy three images I took during this morning's walk only a few held up under the inevitably limited inserted blog format. When seen full screen on my 24" 16x9 HD monitor they look completely different. Full of space and softly focused distance, mood and undulating rural interest. I suggest you click on the images for enlargements though the resolution will not hold up like my 3meg originals. There is a far better sense of perspective when seen in larger formats.

As soon as I returned to begin blogging and downsizing my images the sky quickly became overcast again. The birches and long stemmed willows are now rocking gently to and fro in the southerly wind. Which will, no doubt, provide some serious resistance to my outward progress on the trike after coffee. With rolls covered in lashings of very serious, Den Gamle Fabrik "The Old Factory" marmalade claims 45% oranges. Olfactory would do at a pinch. Excellent stuff and a morning ritual for me.

Late morning ride into a cold headwind. A dimwit was coming the other way holding a mobile phone to his ear the size of an A5 notebook. I saw him coming from 200 yards away. He didn't see me at all despite 200 yards warning of my approach and my solitary presence. He was about to cross my lane into a skewed junction when he realized that there was a grown adult on a tricycle in his path. A sudden violent jerk away and I had time to do my "put the bløødy phone down" hand signal. Of course he then stamped on the brakes and bellowed "watch yourself" after me. Well he had to didn't he? What with having his entire family in the car. It best not to get involved with the criminally mentally ill. We'll just have to hope he didn't beat up his family to compensate for his obvious inadequacies.

On a lighter note: Three small deer ran across a lane in front of me. Only about as tall as Labrador dogs but skinnier they were completely invisible once they reached a ploughed field. I see lots of different deer hoof prints on my walks. They can vary in size almost 3:1 between the  largest and smallest. I once saw a really tiny deer on Helnæs peninsula. I had no idea they existed before that sighting. 22 miles.
Sunday 27th 44F, 7C, windy, light rain and overcast. Not looking very promising as the rain has started earlier than forecast. Gusting to 15 m/s or 30mph on a 20mph base around lunchtime. Tomorrow is worse with gusts to over 50mph from an unlikely south east. This means the neighbour's smoke will be travelling so fast it may even reach the [smokey] neighbours to the west.

After struggling with YouTube's editor I managed to [easily] merge my two mist videos using Freemake Video Converter. I hate wind noise so I added some interesting sounds from Kevin MacKleod's Deep Noise. [Best heard through headphones or big speakers/subwoofer for best effect.] I really must learn to pan more slowly.

^ Click YT's Fullscreen button
 for best visual effect.

The only [world changing] news which caught my attention today was that Denmark is being invaded by hungry Mute swans. Normally they just sit in large numbers out in the sea inlets looking suitably decorative but comfortably distant. I saw two on a farmer's field the other day so it must be true. The UN have asked Putin to intervene with carpet bombing raids. While I can only suggest that swans have absolutely no sense of smell! Global Warming has a lot to answer for.

The clocks have gone forward, for those who missed it. So now I have no idea what time morning coffee is arriving today or what this means in relation to lunch. These are important questions. The Head Gardener is keeping mum so I daren't raise the subject willy-nilly. I just pray it doesn't lead to a bout of ranting because I'm really not feeling strong enough for that sort of thing after losing an hour of sleep. Perhaps I had better retire to the shed and pretend to do some more tidying? I could replace the kinked rear gear cable I suppose. Though I prefer to work outside where there's more light and room to move freely around the workstand.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


25 Mar 2016

25th March 2016 Youthful, mostly uphill exploits.


Friday 25th 41-47F, 5-8C, windy, grey and wet. These things are sent to try us. Or words to that effect. My small,  but sensitive, wind vane is spinning like a top. But generally pointing an accusing finger at the the usual source of choking smoke. The more staid vane above it has no doubts. Guilty as charged!

It's odd that the weather figures so largely in my life. Walks, rides and all my foolish projects all graunch to a grinding halt in the presence of precipitation. Why is rain so unpleasant and uncomfortable? A desert dweller, or inhabitant of a drought area, would rush outside to welcome the first few drops and dance in the following deluge. Though usually colder, snow is much more fun. An umbrella is a poor companion in wind and likely to be seen askance when furnishing a trike. "What a clown!" Yet a cowl or canopy is acceptable because they are traditional on exotic holidays? Who makes up these rules? 

I made a flat perspex windscreen for my old bike when I was still at school. Then slipped on a steep uphill corner and fell like a stone! Smashing the expensive material on the very first ride. Its weight was as foolish as the idea but I was desperately trying to keep up with an older boy. He on his '531 racing bike with 10 gears and skinny tires and I on my ancient £2.50 heap of water pipe and low pressures with flat bars. I turned myself inside out every morning trying to keep up on the vertical sections of our daily route.

The hills were incredibly fierce and school at the top of a hill so long and steep there was a strict, prefect-enforced ban on descending while mounted! No need for such a ban on the climb as few bothered to ride but I had my new found pride and something to prove. Only to enjoy a personal sauna in assembly as the heat of my furious pace found a strangely delayed outlet. I can still remember the older boy's feet pumping up and down, his chain flipping effortlessly across the cogs and his toe straps flapping from over 50 years ago. I had bare, rubber tread pedals and my cadence with a 3-speed Sturmey rear hub was literally all over the place. A year or two later I was already experimenting with triple chainsets.  The lack of gears back then may account for my fetish for "extras" these days. As my regular readers will attest.

I wasn't doing too badly for a tiny and unbelievably skinny, underdeveloped kid who was sent to a specialist by doubtful parentage. The over-quack had me blowing up balloons to develop my non-existent lungs. That exercise didn't last long however, because I, quite literally, couldn't manage it. Not without nearly passing out within seconds! It took me well over another decade before I stopped feeling light headed at every attempt at inflating Christmas decorations! 

Anyway, that daily ride/chase to school changed my life. I had found something related to sport which I could actually do. I hated most sports with a vengeance and still do. Being tiny and non-competitive meant I was always stuck at full back when we played rugby in the snow. The chances of my surviving a tackle may have been sympathy rather than the scorn heaped upon me by a whole series of "Sports Masters"

At the time I [or rather my parents] could not afford the exotic machinery I admired so enviously in the packed cycle sheds. Where the true aficionados congregated in morning break to bask in their gleaming ownership. Avid polishers of spotless steeds with strange men's names which still make other grown men's mouths water even today. I have no idea why because I never noticed them there at the time.

Thanks to the cycling, I went, almost overnight, from the tiny kid who half-walked, half-loped on the playing field to one who could not stop running. Before "taking up" cycling I used to run cross-country with the back markers who always arrived late back for the showers. There was the only fat kid in school and the blue one with heart problems and there was me panting along with them.  Usually with a stitch in my side to add to the misery of exercise. But not any more! I even began to compete with the serious runners in my class at sprinting. Alas, it was all, far too late! This was just before leaving school. But above all, finally, I grew from the school dwarf to above average height in under a year. My decade of being bullied mercilessly was finally at an end but came much too late. Another roundtoit. The story of my life.

Eventually I was allowed a Jack Taylor lugless frame and all the Campag gear. Though there was a hiatus when I was still riding on HPs instead of sprints and tubs, I still won my first 10 mile time trial of only two ever. I was closely paced right round the route by a bigger rider on my second outing at the village club TT. He sprinted past me on the line and I was so angry I never rode TT again. I protested but was ignored. TT was only for cheats!

I was even allowed out of tech college to "train" instead of staying in the sweaty gym or going swimming or during "free periods". Which meant I would ride flat out up and downhill and chase buses and lorries like a demon for several hours almost every day. Climbing was my thing and I knew Charly Gaul and Federico Bahamontes by name from black and white library books. I knew they spun their pedals fast and climbed great mountains.

That was good enough for me as I repeatedly climbed Landsdown and up to Odd Down and Combe Down and Claverton Down and sought out hills like Brassknocker and Landsdown Lane and Thomas Street and the 1-in-4[?] Prospect Place above Bathford Hill itself and the lovely long drag up the Box Hill up to Corsham. Then there was the Hollow and Warminster Road and Holloway and Widcombe Hill and Bathwick Hill and Lyncombe Hill and the Gloucester Road and Wellsway. The area above Snow Hill is the perfect training ground for keen climbers of the steep stuff. Thomas Street, Pera Place, Arundel Road and Clarence Street with Guinea Lane a little further on towards the City Center. The area was so steep that it had a major landslide back in the 1881 which destroyed 175 houses! Leading to the establishment of Hedgemead public Park. The area leading from Widcombe up to and above Bear Flat is ripe with decent hills named after poets and playwrights. This was where I raced to school.

The whole point was that I would never get off and push or give up and turn round. Not ever. They were placed there as a personal challenge to be conquered and at as high a speed as possible. Many of these can be enjoyed on Google Earth. Though the sheer weight of traffic and countless parked cars seen on GE simply weren't present back in the 1960 and 70s. Many of these inclined, linear car parks are almost unrecognizable now. Making rapid descents a completely different experience to my own youthful freedom.

I would measure 25 mile routes on the map and ride them as if in a solo TT. It never occurred to me that they should be flat routes because there were none. Bath is built in a crater, with only the Bristol exit remotely flat, and what fun is that? Besides there was usually a headwind if you couldn't "catch" a bus or a lorry early on before they got a good speed up.

I climbed Box Hill furiously before riding my two village TTs and remember a posh kid arriving at the start of the village TT by Dad's car, climbed straight onto his posh bike in his posh racing kit and then threw up when he'd finished his ride. While I only ever had a T-shirt and a single pair of woolly shorts with hard chamois but already had an afternoon of riding flat out and ten more hilly miles before starting the race. So I was already "nicely" warmed up. I even went on my one and only [ever] Sunday club run with Corsham CC. Their more experienced riders tried to talk me out of my 58T TA chainwheel. But how else was I to pace coaches, lorries and buses along the Globe Straight for a quick trip to Bristol? They didn't like my Unica Nitor saddle either but I found Brooks saddles heavy and horribly uncomfortable.

There were a bunch of very long haired, rural kids who rode well over 110" fixed on 'proper' Cinelli track bikes and they would sometimes ride two and three abreast behind buses and lorries. We even rode like that to Weston Super Mare once, swapping to new buses and lorries as each turned off. Most double-decker buses back then had the tell-tale marks of our narrow tyres on the alloy rear bumper. Doing track stands at traffic lights became our normal behaviour. Though once I dropped the front wheel into a drain cover with slots running parallel with the kerb! As if in slow motion I fell over sideways with my feet still strapped tightly into the toe clips. I had just given up paying for bike insurance because I could not afford it on my pocket money. The Bath council weren't remotely interested when I went in to point out the idiocy of their drain choice at a traffic light! 

Then my Jack Taylor was stolen and I took up smoking while mourning its loss and searching the rougher back streets of Bath in vain. My previously un-burstable lungs were never the same after that. Though I never gave up cycling and even commuted from Bath to Bristol for a year on an Original Dursley Pedersen and even a no-name trike with 26" rusty wheels. I broke the latter by carrying a 1 cwt [112lbs] of sand in a huge cardboard tub back the 15 miles from Bristol to Bath up and down some incredibly steep hills! While commuting I could still beat recognizable cars from center to center until they opened the new Keynsham bypass.

Probably the only existing photograph of myself on a bike: Posing in the local park on my Dursley Pedersen "Peasant Commuter Deluxe."  I have posted this image before but it is worth a second look just to prove that old people like me did once exist in a strange, monochromatic, [almost twilight] world of black and white. Probably captured with an Instamatic somewhere around 1970 but I wasn't scribbling my blog back then.

I was too much of a loner to enjoy the club cycling scene and preferred to ride at my own, flat out pace and my routes chosen entirely on a whim. I still try to catch every other cyclist I see up ahead. So it is almost certain I was a yapping terrier in a former life. I've probably said that before because even I am suddenly getting déjà vu. Was I there?

I rode the 110+ miles down to Plymouth in one day and back again the next at sixteen or seventeen. The agony of saddle soreness on my Unica Nitor still lives on, seared indelibly into my memory. No doubt I still have the scars but I am too shy to look down there. Not to mention carrying that heavy cotton tent in which I could not sleep in a pitiful, kapok sleeping bag directly on the ground in a park. Some mouthy kids came over to see what was happening and wouldn't go away for ages. Climbing with that load was like pulling a bus but at least I could get out of the saddle. I was so tired coming back across Dartmoor that I hallucinated that I saw a coach and horses coming the other way! It suddenly vanished just before it reached me. It had seemed so incredibly real. Very odd.

A grey day today with light rain. The first sign of sunshine was at 17.00 [or 5pm in old money] but lasted only a minute at most. The Head Gardener was kind enough to help me tidy The Trike Shed. Needless to say I had absolutely no desire to be tidying anything but what can you do when you meet an irresistible force? I can say in all honesty that I was actually able to touch the far end wall for the first time in living memory. Not that it means much in my case. There was no ride that day. It was supposed to be Good Friday but I have no idea what was good about it. I suppose you had to be there to appreciate the point. Grey Friday would have done well enough for me.

Oh, by the way, never waste your money on cheap, steel, shelving racks. You will regret it until the end of your days. Why don't they make shallow storage tubs? I'm sick of cardboard fruit boxes falling to pieces! Nothing is made to last these days! ;-)


24 Mar 2016

24th March 2016 A lesson for us all.


Thursday 24th 27F, -3C, hard white frost, clear blue sky and perfectly still with bright sunshine. The
only movement in the trees is from Wood pigeons flopping about. A Jackdaw has arrived in his smart, grey, down waistcoat and is bouncing around in the birches looking for nesting twigs. Chaffinches take their turn to perform heroic acrobatics in the willows. The only thing missing is the prancing horses. I'll be the token clown, if you like. Now the first breath of air has arrived and my tireless little anemometer gently begins its morning exercises. The wind vane points firmly eastwards at the blinding Sun. Clearly responsible for all of this delightful chaos. In the absence of a suitably sunny image you will have to make do with fluffy clouds and protesting landmark trees. Still standing against the felling of their cosy hedging skirts.

I left my gaiters at home as I chose to walk the three mile triangle around a local village. The same course I took when I used to thrash around on my bikes and later trikes. Only to return sweating and  exhausted from a single lap and badly in need of a lie down.

Mewing wakened me to the possibility of birds of prey and I looked up to see four buzzards spiraling together only a hundred feet overhead. They were soon a couple of thousand feet up but only two were circling when I returned an hour later.

The lesson from Brussels, and all the other utterly pointless atrocities, is that life must be lived to the full. Are you giving it everything you've got every day as if it were your last? Will you be glad you made the effort you did today? Will you go to bed tonight still breathless and excited by what you made of your day, and ours? Smile often. Somebody else may need one far more than you will ever know. Smiles save lives.

Ugly men, with equally ugly minds, take lives pointlessly because they have nothing whatever to contribute to humanity. Their minds are so small and empty that they implode to hatred and the simplest brain washing. Their lives are ruled from morning to night by the the weight of that huge chip they have carefully and selfishly constructed, for themselves, on their very own shoulders. That is no way to live. So, inevitably, they must die empty for empty causes. Any cause will do for an empty man, or equally deluded woman.  Pick a cause. Any cause. It's only slight of hand.  Or sleight of mind. True martyrs give their lives freely so that others may live. True martyrs do not pack nails into bombs to take innocent lives. All in the desperate hope of overcoming their all-consuming ugliness to win vacuous virgins with no morals nor knickers. True martyrs have no need of such petty rewards. 

Some of the happiest people on earth are desperately poor and live in terrible hardship from birth to death. Their smiles are all they can share and they are absolutely priceless yet given away freely. That is when their smiles and lives are not being taken from them, dirt cheaply, by greedy, evil, corrupt men with an agenda. Let the worms gnaw at the blind, senseless fools who cannot smile like a child in morning sunshine. Some are born dead behind the eyes and there are none so blind as those who will not see. [The folly of their thinking.]

It soon turned grey and started raining after lunch. As it was a religious holiday it was doubtful the shops were open. Null points.


23 Mar 2016

23rd March 2016 Pt.2 Early Heavy Bombardment!


Wednesday 23rd 41-46F, 5-8C, breezy, bright sunshine, blue skies.

As I readied myself for my walk I started clearing my throat but found I couldn't. I was drowning in my own juices! Opening the front door explained why. Weapons grade pig's diarrhoea was being spread on the field across the road.

I had to walk alongside to get to my exit so I took some pictures of the beast responsible. It was crawling at walking pace across the huge, undulating field. A long hose stretched hundred of yards back to an oversized shipping container, on wheels, behind a large tractor. The seat and controls of the machine were reversible to that it could retrace its route without turning the whole machine around. Which saves putting a twist in the hose. Refills in the shape of vast, immaculate, 7-axle, mirror-polished, stainless steel, tanker lorries started arriving. They parked beside the nearby lane and emptied their contents into the shipping container on the field to be pumped along the seemingly endless hose to the machine.

Ordinary muck spreaders have large, on-board tanks and have to return to the farm for refills once emptied. The big reel which contains the hose can be seen in the middle of the machine. The savings in time and mess from remaining on the field are obvious. The hose fed machine avoids repeatedly carrying mud off the fields and onto the roads.

Fortunately my chest cleared once I was upwind of the stench and ammonia. As I crossed the prairie on my way to the woods a Red Kite came over. It was still being mobbed by a pair of crows until well out of sight in my 8x40 binoculars. I returned the way I had come to try and capture some images of the tankers and container but they had moved on too far down the lane to be worth pursuing. The tankers were not there long enough to reach before I could walk there. Buzzards where wheeling and soaring high overhead as I returned home.

Just a short, mid-afternoon ride for 7 miles. A driving terrorist shot through the shopping high street, past the school and busy supermarket entrances. When I shook my head he gave me the V-sign. Just another day in psychopath's paradise. No cameras. No police. No crime.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

23rd March 2016 Sober news from Belgium.


Wednesday 23rd 37F, 3C, light winds building, bright but cloudy. 

Belgium's annual road death toll for 2013 alone was 476. [Wiki.]
Of which 25% were "innocent civilians" on foot or cycling.
Road traffic accidents are only 15th in the causes of death in Belgium.
Yet they still sell crap "foody" products laced with weapons-grade sugar.
Packed with dangerous fats and strongly suspected additives and colouring to innocent children and adults alike. 
The most dangerous place on earth is your local supermarket.
Food chains are many times more likely to kill you than a bunch of deranged lunatics.
Is there an armed police presence at your local supermarket? 
Are there police helicopters overhead with SWAT teams aboard? 
Are they monitoring entries to your supermarket and excluding "at risk" types?
Are the obscenely obese being denied sugar bombs?
Are the supermarket staff highly trained to spot "danger" signs?
Are there security cameras monitoring "risky" behaviour?
Is the huge display of sweets and drinks locked for safety and under trained, adult supervision?
Are the global security services tapping your phone and computer?
Just to see what you are planning to feed your children tonight?
Is any nation training their elite soldiers to raid supermarket shelves?
Are the international news headlines screaming about your local supermarket this morning?
Is Chump likely to spout about deaths due to overeating? 
Is Cruz warning us about our toxic diet and quantities of ingested "toxins?"
Is Hillary Clinton campaigning on obesity, diet and exercise?
Is any politician planning to ban dangerously fatty food imports? [Except Putin who doesn't count.]
Will Obama fly to Cuba to warn Cubans of their poor eating habits and lack of exercise?
Will the Pope tell his "flock" to lose weight and take up jogging or walking?
Is there a "Richter Scale" for impending, major loss of life due to gorging between meals at McLardy's?
Does China have missiles trained on Coca-Cola factories?
Would you ring the police if a 50 stone neighbour returned from holiday with food concealed in body parts?


22 Mar 2016

22nd March 2016 Daubs to the left of them. Daubs to the right!


Tuesday 22nd 41-45F, 5-7C, heavy overcast, light breeze, dry. What will today bring? The boredom of living in the countryside? Not here it's not! The place is absolutely awash with birds of every variety. No tree or bush is safe from their perching, calling and singing! If it's not some squawking Blackbird with delusions of grandeur and a poor sense of humour, it's gangs of twittering sparrows. Haven't they heard of the boy who cried "Wolf?" Right now there is a Magpie chasing blackbirds through The Head Gardener's 25' high willow woods! Will it never end?

 A strange portal to the back of  someone's wardrobe? 
What does that make this side?

I was watching three buzzards wave soaring and they kept turning completely upside down if another approached too closely. Wood pigeons have this strange habit of climbing slowly until they stall and then recover. Only heaven knows why! It's absolute chaos out there! You can't go a few yards without the Chaffinches and Great tits shouting above the passing traffic. They must have lungs like blacksmith's bellows! Just look at those sports geese flying high over Everest while simultaneously holding heated political discussions. I know they don't have mountains [or even decent hills] in Denmark but you get the picture. Birds are completely crackers.  

The center windmill is stationary and looks slightly "overdone" judging by the open, and blackened,  back door.

I know you are probably bored to death with my stories of Danish local councils filling their palatial town halls with Danish original modern "art" and costly, Danish designer furniture. Now, guess what? Lack of funding means that they are cutting back on nearly 100 beds in a brand new super-hospital. But, it gets worse! The millions of funding set aside for the hideously childish and butt ugly daubs is being maintained! The equivalent of drive-by splatter accidents at a poorly run, paint wholesalers are to hang from the walls of the "super hospital" because they are [quote] "good for patient moral."

What a load of arrogant, elitist cobblers! Leaked reports coming out of Guantanamo suggest that Danish modern art was thousands of times more effective at breaking hardened prisoners of war than the voluntary courses they ran on "indoor surfing." But that the devastating effect on the staff, exposed to the merest glimpses of these weapons-grade daubs, has resulted in an urgent call for the base to be shut down. It is even thought that some of the prison staff became so unhinged by "the art" that they converted to Islamic fundamentalism on the spot. Which brings a whole new meaning to "For your eyes only!"

Naturally the UN has deplored the use of Danish art for torture purposes without the permission of the [utterly deluded] "finger painters." The CIA has denied all these reports as untrue because they claim they only ever used cheap printed reproductions. They claim the effects of using original "artworks" would have instantly turned the prisoners to complete vegetables. The spokesperson also mentioned that all the original Danish "artworks" had already been bought up [through shady middle men at vastly inflated prices] by the Danish local councils and hospital trusts. So they [the CIA] never had access to these unbelievably dangerous materials in the first place.

I have already begun praying vehemently that I never need hospital services. I'd want to "top myself" within minutes if they left any of these "dirty protest" canvases on the walls of my Psych ward.

Can you even imagine yourself standing smugly in the "Artists Only" queue at the "Pearly Gates" with examples of your unexpurgated crap stuck under your sweaty armpit? A voice booms out: "And what did you do with your precious gift of life, my Son?" Is there really any lower form of human life after modern "artists" except for graffiti "artists," pedophile priests, bankers, the politicooze and estate agents?

My walk took place beneath a protective dome of tireless Skylarks as I sought the mythical Hare with moist eyes. [I'm a martyr to wind.] These wonderfully cuddly creatures have been absent from my perambulations for what seems like an eternity. Have they all been wiped out by some hideous pox? Or have they been permanently blinded by deliberate glints from the hunters' mirror-polished, silver flasks? So that they (the Hare) became all too easy cannon fodder.

In a complete change of scenery I found a pretty pair of Bullfinches in their best wedding togs. Danish for clothes is tøj so there was definitely some corruption going on there. Probably Early English natives struggling with anything remotely "foreign." Translation, of any foreign language term to English, or the converse, sounds just like "Shout louder!"

Sparrows, Greenfinches and Yellowhammers shared unkempt, scrubby willows around an overgrown pond. They seemed to be congregating around a Pheasant, fast food takeaway. A large, pale, bird of prey and two geese took off complaining loudly. While my progress was punctuated throughout by overexciteable Blackbirds. But aren't they all? We presently have a surfeit of Chaffinches practicing their three chords, so if anyone has a shortage you know where to come.

Afternoon ride to the shops under heavy, grey skies. Three more items listed as special offers or price reductions not available. Lies, damned lies... My legs were tired today. Only 16 miles. The sun finally came out at 17.30pm and the sky is now clear. Where do I queue for my DMI sunshine refund?

Click on any image for an enlargement.


21 Mar 2016

21st March 2016 Got to have a tussock or two.


Monday 21st 41-44F, 5-7C, windy and non-uniformly overcast. Despite the balmy temperatures the wind had me huddled deep into my shell of a jacket. My nose demanded the regular attention of a worn scrap of tissue I found deep in a jacket pocket. I was grateful for the high zipped collar of my Norwegian style jumper today. Far more practical than any restricting polo neck.

A difficult day to manage the usual over-inflated balloon of self-importance as the wind buffeted my [initially] aching body after yesterday's foolishness. Nobody else cares how far or how quickly I manage to reach nowhere of remote important and return largely unscathed. Well, perhaps the bit about avoiding injury at the hands of some demented and deluded driver. If only to hear what I am going to rant on about today. Rather than some natural sympathy for the silly old pedant on his tricycle. 

I can just hear the likely thoughts: "He deserves everything he gets for the way he goes on and on.""He's just like those adverts for obscenely overpriced batteries in every, single, ITV break for decades!" If they were so damned good they should have thrown themselves of the shelves and for a whole lot less for not being advertised to death! Will that do? ;-)

With the cold wind, light rain after lunch and no pressure to go out I took another rest day. My walk had already undone any discomfort in my back and legs from the previous day's ride. Some [serious?] cyclists believe that walking is bad because it may work on muscles which are not relevant to cycle sport. I disagree completely thanks to my own experience. I have often hobbled off down the drive with an aching back and legs only to miraculously recover before I have gone very far. The mere act of holding oneself upright [Martin Freeman's Dr.Watson military style?] seems to have real benefits in my own case. A Neanderthal gait might be entertaining, for those Danes who still like clogs, but this is very unlikely to provide the same powers of recovery.

Residual cycling pain in my legs responds readily to walking on very rough grass. [Not on the roads which just makes me tired and bored!] The benefits may be due to an inability to judge the point and timing of heel impact on rough grass. The body and mind must become very supple to avoid repeated and unpleasant jarring. Particularly on steep descents. I certainly respond to walking where massaging my own leg muscles has very little, or absolutely no effect at all. For the first several years of taking up cycling seriously again I suffered from leg and back pain continuously. Day and night there was a constant sense of chronic tension. Only lying flat on my back seemed to help the back pain. No stretching exercise, borrowed from the internet, helped my legs.

If only I had discovered walking on rough ground earlier I might have enjoyed much less pain and made more rapid recovery from my longer rides. I doubt that city dwelling cyclists will have the luxury of my many, rural walking routes. Rough ground usually belongs to somebody and may be inaccessible. The local park may have rougher sections with changing inclines to try. Disused railway lines or canal paths seem likely. Or deliberately take to the verges on the industrial estate or quieter roads. That is if they haven't already been paved everything to death or become a dog toilet. The former, just to avoid the habitually clumsy going arse-over-tit and then suing the council for their personal inadequacies. City dwelling dog owners, seen out and about without approved toxic hazard suits, should have their noses rubbed in it! Or get a bio-degradable, vegetarian dog?

Click on any image for an enlargement.


20 Mar 2016

20th March 2016 On inelasticity.


Sunday 20th, 38-50F, 3-10C, clear skies, bright sunshine but quite breezy. The wind is from the north west today which is quite unusual. I have to admit that brightness wins easily over grey, however interesting mist might be for its concealing novelty. My familiar walk to the woods would be almost like entering an amphitheater were it not for the lack of seating and the absence of unruly masses. Only a sparse few houses enjoy that splendid view across the ever-encroaching, industrialized, mono-cultural prairies. If no one challenges my solitary presence then surely I am master of all I survey? My mind can expand to softly envelope, but not contain, the few square miles within easy reach of my stride. 

The old church on the hump turns a blind eye to all that passes below its parochial, enfeebled interests. Preferring to bellow its now monthly message to a wholly disinterested audience. Who it seems are too distant and deaf to reality, to hear the clamour and must arrive in the tiny car park by newly washed car. Or be discussed in derogatory tones henceforth, for ever and ever, amen.

I wonder what smaller scale sounds could be heard over the aching millennia before the arrival of the roaring traffic almost brushing its skirts. As the gardening staff now toil noisosmely with their mowers and clippers above the racket of the passing, East European container lorries and vacuous commuters practice their 'racing line.'

Will this hypocritical period be remembered as the Second Dark Ages or the first faltering steps on the ascent into enlightenment and equality? Is poverty of spirit really any different from wealth of ownership? By spirit I refer to morals and empathy. Not some outdated, worn-ragged set of rules to keep the plebs obedient and subservient to their 'natural masters.' Actual ownership is to deny oneself the delicious anticipation of breaking the almost invisible barrier of the toy shop window. How could anything possibly stand up to comparison with your mouth-watering fantasies?

When I was a child the windows froze into fantastic swirls and a coal fire was the only warmth in the house. Did we feel poor for the lack of X-boxes and flat screen TVs or the very latest iPhone? Mass ownership of cars, TVs and even 'fridges was still nearly two decades away. We practically lived out of doors and we were our own entertainment as we walked and ran or cycled for miles each day. Our world was there to be explored and measured against the enemies of our freedom. i.e. Teachers, parents, all adults, nasty bigger kids, employers and similar bullies who cling corruptly onto power for their own selfish gain.

Life was something in which you deliberately chose to immerse yourself.  Not some hideously secondhand, low resolution experience in front of a plodding screen. We never stopped talking loudly as our small world events filled our days. Imagination was rife and had to be excitedly shared or lost to the moment. Laughter and cries of joy and pain were real and breathlessly enjoyed and feared at a tireless trot. The smells are probably what I miss most in these, ever shorter days. Everything had its unique smell back then. Now my failing senses are cursed with pig's diarrhoea obscenely overlaid with cheap, weapons-grade scent. Or the sound of pointless traffic and the smoke of neighbours burning their pastoral heritage. 

But my own today beckons with the reward of sunshine and warmth on my back. Do not pity me for my life's choices. Mine is not remotely your life. Not something to be regimented into boxes of acceptable behaviour. You cannot criticize my life without seeing it as a sober lesson for yourself. There but for the grace of countless [small] gods go I, and you. The cards are dealt but what you choose to do with them is entirely your own affair. Within the limitations that society places upon your routines you may encourage your own growth. Or utterly destroy it. Let there be no small lives. For there are more than enough small minds already and they do seem to constantly out-breed us. Several billions rise each day and voluntarily don their assorted balls and chains for the empty day ahead.[sic]

Do not lay down your life too cheaply to the economic treadmill. To commute beyond a quarter of an hour is to have failed your basic proficiency test for life itself. Life is too precious to be wasted, simply wishing large chunks of it away with the mundane and habitual and resentment. Nor for risking life and limb to overcome mere distance and altered time. With a stupidly risky maneuver to gain one car's length in the traffic queue to hell, and then back again and again. 

Tell a child, if they will listen, that you only get one shot at this endless game we call life. Tell them that time is an elastic band and that they are only ever allowed to have one. It starts out extremely flexible and can wound to last all day and stretched to an infinity in youth. But the decades quickly pass and the rubber grows weary and stiff from daily abuse. So that the days fly by and Christmas comes around every second Thursday.

The completely invisible cat hunting on the marsh. Note how a single, cloaking blade of grass was easily enough to make it impossible to see.

Every child should be taught constantly and repeatedly that time accelerates rapidly with age. When the days are long we have few tools to shape them well so must live on our senses and instincts alone. With old age you have more tools than you have space to store them, But now, there is simply no time left to get anything done as you muddle amongst your pointless, ephemeral, tawdry possessions.  One never really owns anything unless you destroy it. Cake and eating it, come to mind. One merely rents something for the duration. To be passed on to, or discarded, by a greedy, ungrateful genetic pool looking for a free, and often completely undeserved, handout.

Above all, do not imprison others within your grudgingly narrow viewpoints and tragically small dreams. Or everybody will end up exactly like you and that would be truly, hideously awful. A quite literal, hell on earth! Value variety above conformity. Every single one of us is a walking example of how not to do life properly. The self-made man is foolishly amateur, arrogant and lopsided in constructing his pack of cards. And is often a tyrant to [jack] boot. Do not let your anger minimize other's absolute right to life and limb and whatever happiness they allow themselves. It is always your own anger at fault. Not their duty to be your victim, your slave nor even your disciple. Adjust your own reasoning [if you have any at all] and "get over yourself." Those who use people as cannon fodder have no moral leg to stand on themselves. Pick a cause. Any cause...

The images above are all from today's loop along the marsh. Birdsong provided undemanding companionship for my thoughts. I disturbed a Heron and several large birds of prey. You want it paved? Or tidied up? Or made "more accessible?" Wouldn't that be rather like building a tourist railway up a mountain? How will you measure yourself against the mountain with a passive audience passing effortlessly by at timetable intervals? They paid the terrifying price of the fare. Just to have that gleam of accomplishment stolen from before their very eyes.

Enough of the home-spun philosophy. Despite the Nor-Westerly wind I decided to head north. Having become lost in the tiny rural lanes I found myself nearer Bogense than my intended goal of Søndersø. So, this time it took me 26 miles to reach a 22 mile distant target. Last week it was 24 miles but who's quibbling? I still hadn't eaten by 2am so I was beginning to tire by the time I headed home. Despite being refreshed with two rounds of wholemeal bread and thick chunks of "Dubliner" mature Cheddar I began to lose the will to live at 30 miles. Thankfully a banana washed down with pure apple juice revived me and I was going strongly again by 40 miles.

An archaic mode of transport poses in front of obsolescent architecture. Long may they enjoy each other's patient company. Others are always in far too much of a rush to be somewhere else. They have no time to dawdle or be idly curious. The car takes you nowhere important at a speed  which always denies you the ability to travel at your own pace. Or even to pause and smell all the delightfully faded flowers of your own heritage. You are denied access to that which you deliberately set out to visit. How can you possibly immerse yourself in anything but a sensory deprivation tank, behind the wheel?

Highlights of the day included being deliberately cut off at a roundabout by a short fat and ugly barsteward in a short, fat and ugly car. There can be precious few rewards in life for a short, fat and ugly barsteward, with matching car. So I was obviously his token, powerless victim for today. He is probably working himself up from torturing little animals so I suppose I should be quite flattered. [Rather than quite flattened.] Fortunately my brakes and reactions still work well. Otherwise he would have been explaining himself to a sympathetic ambulance driver. Telling him about the mad barsteward on a tricycle, with delusions of grandeur. That rights of way at roundabouts equally apply to cycles... and how I had deliberately run into him despite him looking looking me straight in the eye as he cut me off...

Lots of keen cyclists about today and the warm and dry weather has even prodded quite a few fair weather motorcyclists out onto the roads. The wind was a hindrance for most of the day until the last leg. I was cruising at 16-18mph in the middle and for last few miles. A rather, red faced 48 miles, but still not out.

Click on any image for an enlargement.