24 Jul 2016

24th July 2016. Heads you lose.


Sunday 24th 68-80F, 20-27C, bright sunshine with a light breeze. Likely to to be another warm one. Just a half hour walk down the lanes to the sound of birdsong. The crops are looking increasingly pale but only a little harvesting has begun so far. The wind turbines are moving today but it's hard to detect any real wind. A flock of perhaps fifty Swallows with young has taken an interest in our biggest plum trees. They are swirling around and even settling briefly.

In breaking news: A horse fly followed me into the trike shed and bit me on the leg. Fortunately, The Head Gardener provided Medivac and then applied a topical solution of Sodium Bicarbonate [Baking Soda] for instant [and continued] relief. Highly recommended! [i.e. The Sodi bicarb. You can't have The Head Gardener because she's spoken for.]

A financially depressed Danish county council has swapped the traditional coloured asphalt on their cycle paths over to rolled, coloured gravel. This has allegedly caused some cyclists to complain about falls due to low tyre adhesion on the loose gravel. However, the savings are considerable enough for the council to be invited to Copenhagen by the national minister of transport. Thereby wasting almost all of the potential savings on gravel v asphalt, no doubt. The commune concerned has promised to roll and then send a suction cleaner truck over the paths to remove loose gravel after a lengthy settling period. [Some months.] Since asphalt never needs to be swept [or anything else, going on past form] any savings are likely to be rather modest.

My main worry would be rain dragging the gravel surface forever downhill. As happens all too frequently with the strip of loose gravel between the verge and asphalt on many rural roads. Moraines of loose gravel are extremely commonplace at the foot of hills so treated. Corners, with the gravel strip treatment, are highly prone to scouring by the tires of trucks and agricultural vehicles taking the shortest route. In places this can lead to a sharp drop of up to 25cm[10" in old money!] at the edge of the asphalt. This is precisely where cyclists are expected to travel on unmarked roads even in the dark. I have nightmares about dropping a trike wheel over the edge into the abyss on a local main road with just such a large drop!

It's not all bad news though. A number of new cycle paths are finished or under construction on Fyn. There is a double-edged advantage here of course. Lifting the cyclists from the "race track" allows the cars to comfortably speed without having to avoid the usual, slow moving 'skittles.'

The huge sense of relief in being able to get away from the obvious traffic dangers makes cycling on segregated paths much more relaxed than on "painted lanes." Though it has to be said that there were no painted lines on the busy 'main' roads where the new cycle paths have been laid. The cyclist was literally riding in the same lane as the motoring sociopaths with no protection at all. Speed limits in Denmark are a moveable feast. The speed "lollipops" are completely meaningless and largely invisible furniture to most drivers. While roadworks speed reductions might as well be non-existent.

Meanwhile, cycling journeys in "cycling friendly" Denmark are falling steadily from 5% in the past to nearly 3%. In some cases this is due to the closure of many rural schools. Countless children, who would normally cycle to their local school, are now driven to a town school instead. It doesn't take a genius to turn healthy and lively kids into obese slobs with poor health and behavioural problems. But at least the farmers aren't spraying the children as they hang about, immobile, while bent double over their mobile phones in the village school playgrounds. [The children, that is. Not the farmers.]

The farmers usually sit bolt upright on their mobile phones behind the wheel of their gigantic machines and tractors. I believe they can even have their hands welded to their ear by sympathetic plastic surgeons supported by an EU agricultural grant. I can't honestly say I have ever seen a farmer with a "hands free" phone but one must surely exist somewhere. I should probably check the Guinness Book of Records to find out.

Being somewhat of an old fart and being averagely slow on the uptake I am often surprised by strangers suddenly speaking loudly in the shops and the general outdoors. I am never sure precisely what the etiquette is for dealing with these public order offenses. So I have settled for a withering glare.  Even this can be a potential minefield. With occasional strangers addressing me directly as if my being a [weird] tricyclist made me their long lost buddy! Owning a [weird] upright tricycle makes one  a marked man and many drivers recognise me from my [all too numerous] travels.

Being buttonholed outside supermarkets is almost the norm these days. Four complete strangers accosted me the other afternoon! I have absolutely no idea how the likes of Michael Caine cope with instant recognition. Mobile phones have a lot to answer for but at least nobody has demanded a "selfie" yet. I just pray it isn't Michael Caine with his phone stuck on the end of a stick!

I could launch into a diatribe here about '1984' and constant public monitoring by the "powers that be" but it's been rather done to death by now. Even I, have dangled an action camera off the end of a pole behind my trike. Being modest in nature I was careful to hide my be-shorted bum from the field of view. Though this produced a somewhat bizarre effect. It was quite impossible to tell when I was standing up on the pedals. I couldn't use a longer pole without falling foul of the special regulations related to vehicle length. One taken to absurd lengths in the case of record braking wings for offshore wind farms.

For those who absolutely insist on sharing their bum with an online audience I can only recommend a camera with a wider field of view than the Sony action series. Given the usual barrel distortion and field curvature associated GoPro wide angle lenses the: "Does my bum look big on this tricycle" takes on a whole new meaning. Though I'll do my best to avoid the most obvious comments like "whale ahoy!" Or even the mention of a barrage balloon being overhead. [I may be showing my age here.]

Perhaps this is the real reason why the climbs on the Tour De France are so heavily populated?  Not that it's any of my business where their peculiar interests lie. For myself, I never know quite where to look. And no, I do not have a saddle fetish.  I am [merely] a collector and spotter and usually avert my gaze towards such safer ground. As in: Fyzik. Sella, Brooks.. Or, was that the latest Ultegra, electric rear changer?

 Click on any image for an enlargement.

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