8 Mar 2016

8th March 2016 Tricyclist fights off giant green tarantula!


Tuesday 8th 32F, 0C, overcast, very light winds with light wintry showers forecast. More of yesterday. More perambulating under  leaden skies. Sometimes the even light can actually enhance some objects.  Like moss on trees, for example. I tried to sneak past the marsh pond and disturbed two geese. They were already wary and soon took off making a hell of a racket. Whether it was the same pair circling half an hour later I have no idea. The firebreaks were steep, mossy, muddy and slippery. So business as usual. Very quiet in the woods. Not even a Jay to shock us both with its raucous cry. Fought off a giant green Tarantula which was hunting in the marsh.

Mid afternoon ride heading north with a cold tailwind. It started raining so I had to don my cheapo supermarket rain jacket. Which lead to another struggle with a recalcitrant zip.  After that squall the wind steadily dropped as I headed home in company with the early commuters, to find the local wind turbines standing quite still. The sun teased by sneaking out briefly from under the grey lid at 5pm. Too little. Too late. You've upset me now! 13 miles.

Wednesday 9th 34-41F, 1-5C, heavy overcast, slightly misty, windier, supposedly mostly dry with some sunshine.  They were right. Just for once. It is a fine but breezy, sunny day now. I walked my usual route in very squishy conditions. Fortunately wet mud means wetter grass and a free shoe-shine if one keep to the tussocky grass ridge between the worn and often puddled, gravel tracks. An unexpectedly large, pale rock, in a field beyond a hedge, magically transformed into large deer when I looked through my binoculars. It was too warm for my jacket as I walked back with the wind and sun behind me.

Short afternoon ride into the wind. 8-10mph going. I dived into a rural junction to let a bus and lorry pass effortlessly without even pausing. That's the value of rear view mirrors for you. 16-18mph coming back and I was climbing one hill at 17mph, out of the saddle. So I must have been getting some unexpected wind assistance. There is usually a prevailing headwind as I breathlessly crest the summit to hurl myself down at the blind bends below. You'd be absolutely amazed at the number of drooling, idiotic GTGPs who try to overtake me just there! Miles and miles of double white lines but they are all still pressed nose to tail like the programmed, worker ants they think they are. All wishing that, as if by some miraculous fairy tale, the road will magically clear ahead of them. Keep taking the happy pills, people! You know it makes [no] sense at all. Only 7 miles.

Thursday 10th, 33-40F, 1-5C, breezy, heavy grey overcast. Mostly dry forecast with some sunshine later. A flock of a hundred rooks have just lifted off the front field in a perfect vortex before spreading out and heading to the woods. Disney would have been proud.

I have plans to visit my favourite, rural builder's merchant some ten miles away. It has by far the widest stock. Including a fascinating legacy of, probably outdated stuff, which has not been scrapped or binned. I feared it would be stripped by some soulless new manager when the place was overtaken by a national chain. The quantity of items on offer tends to plummet dramatically once "efficient new blood" moves in trying to make a name and career for itself.

Exactly the same thing happens to supermarkets. All the good things we have relied on will be guaranteed to disappear rapidly from the shelves. To be replaced with the standard Danish supermarket, cheap white bread, oil-based lard and weapons grade sugar, monopoly fare. How, on earth, can these chains compete against each other when they all sell identical products but keep the same miserable, sour-faced staff from the previous iteration?

They spend a fortune advertising and devising an endless round of 'special offers' and then scuttle their own ship with the inherited, front line staff on which they think they will save a pretty penny. Just as the previous lot thought before they stripped the shop and put up their own colour of chain link shelving to direct the sheep at great cost. Lunatics doesn't even begin to describe the brain dead clots who run these identi-chains. Perhaps the clue lies is in the universal, Danish "monopoly." They all think they are playing with monopoly money. Then feign surprise when their brilliant strategy does a nose dive and branches have to close against the "stiff" competition. You wouldn't mind except these idiots have closed all the village shops with their endless, "get rich quick" special offers.   
They say the journey is the thing and the potential routes to my source of interesting bits and pieces are all hilly and attractive. Including riding through a forest full of short, but steep climbs. Another route is via main roads but includes rather a long but still enjoyable climb. With a potential tailwind today, it is obviously a day for masochists to perform to the best of their ability. Even if it means crawling back again with one's nose dripping steadily into the constantly rusty, socket head, tension screw of one's handlebar extension.

An eye-wateringly cold, easterly wind nagged at me as I walked briskly towards the more distant woods. I seriously considered breaking into a jog, just to get it over with, but decided the increased windchill would probably only worsen the pain in my cheeks. Besides, I am not set up for running with my jacket pockets stuffed with the usual detritus so essential to my walks.  An absence of small birds suggested they were all sitting huddled together somewhere with their beaks chattering.

The sight of two large geese on a field had me thinking about the scale of the landscape [as you do] as I strolled back along the road. In Wales one can gawp upwards at the unbelievably tiny sheep dotted precariously up the broad shoulders of the glowering hills. Plonking a sheep on any of the local 'mounds' would be akin to balancing a plum on a cup cake. Here, one must usually make do with rooks and the odd jackdaw for measuring vertical scale. Sheep are not completely unknown but usually reserved for farm pets. Or for harrying with imported, badly trained collies.  

My ride to buy some nuts and bolts was a cold affair. It has reached 40F, but felt much colder than that. The wind seemed to have gone around to the NE which is unusual. Even when the wind was over my left shoulder it felt like a freezing, gusty headwind. Though I still managed 31mph on a descent. 20 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


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