30 Apr 2015

30th April 2015 Just another [soggy] Thursday"

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Thursday 30th 41-50F, 5-10C, calm at first, light showers with a heavy overcast. It was so dark this morning I couldn't see the wall clock at 6.45 am. I was terrified the Head Gardener would notice me glaring at the clock and find it was only 5.45! Variable cloud, sunny periods and showers possible all day.

I was just reading that the German and Danish governments are actually discussing means to limit the annual mass migration of Danes to German supermarkets to buy cheap[er] booze and the ever-popular, sugar, gas and water, [tooth] soft[ening] drinks. The German's have resisted past Danish overtures to reduce the cross border smuggling shopping sprees. Usually claiming they fear job losses at the border supermarkets. I just think petrol must be far, far, far, far too cheap if the Danes can actually afford to drive all the way to the border and back, towing a trailer, just to buy cheaper, unhealthy crap products. Instead of staying at home and paying the highest prices and taxes in the EU for the same crap products.

My walk started with a hare lolloping away for a few yards before it stopped to sit up and watch me with one eye. Then I saw and heard my first warblers of the year. There is a constant background of wheezing greenfinches, see-saw cheeping Great tits and hammering woodpeckers in the woods.

A Shelduck hiding under a very large red arrow. The Danish landscape is very reminiscent of desert sand dunes.

As I emerged from the woods into a cold wind a large, snow-white bird of prey rose from a hedge. It opened its wings, made a few turns and had gained hundreds of feet in no time at all. After that it seemed content to circle gently as it followed me home with two large eyes on its wing undersides staring down at me. I had imagined it was something slightly more exotic than a white form of the common Buzzard but it seems not. Plover's and Shelduck were flying around or settling on a vast prairie of finely raked, dry soil. I love the plaintiff call of the Plover and enjoy watching their amazingly acrobatic flight. What the Shelducks get from a vast, undulating plain of bare soil is beyond me. They stand out like a sore thumb from miles away! Perhaps they have no enemies? Or, at least none that can sneak up on them without cover.

I left after morning coffee with instructions to find something unlikely and returned empty-handed at 4pm. The wind hardly bothered me all day. Towards the end of the outward leg the sky ahead was simulating Quink's blue-black ink. There were a few threatening rumbles and a few spots of rain but I managed to retreat from out-under unscathed. It wouldn't last. As I  packed away the essentials in my saddlebag outside the last supermarket it hailed. Then went off again. I set off for home only for it to hail some more. It was stinging my eyes like a sandstorm! Then it turned to rain and tipped down until I reached within a mile of home. The wind was sideways-on and the roads were awash. Every vehicle added its own plume of spray to my own.

Wild cowslips defending the entrance to the woods.

Then, within sight of home, it promptly stopped raining and the sun came out bright and warm. Too late! I was thoroughly soaked over anything not actively covered by my cheapo, supermarket-purchased, X-Rage, cycling rain jacket. My bare legs were bright red from my ankles to my other bits. My hands were cold and wet from wearing the GripGrab 'Masochist [WC] Blotting Paper MkI' gloves. The WC might suggest I wanted to flush them away somewhere but really stands for "Wind Chill" in capitals. As soon as I was indoors I jumped straight into the shower to warm my extremities up again. Though "jumping" is probably a bit of an overstatement even for me.

So, that was April finished with. Some bright spark obviously thought it would be fun to concentrate all of April's showers into one final deluge. But, thankfully, I'm not paranoid. My GPS plotted route looked like several tattered paper kites on a string lying out on wet grass after a storm. Which seemed highly appropriate. Only 34 miles today.

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27 Apr 2015

27th April Vanity, vanity all is vanity.

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Monday 27th 34F, 1C, white frost! No wind and sunny. Had a short walk because I couldn't get online.

The Trykit against a fluffy sky in a brand new exit mirror at a farm entrance. It seemed too good an opportunity to waste. I'm facing the wrong way on the wrong side of the road for this shot. Though it still looks correct for the Continent. I'm trying to train the bloke on the tricycle to smile but he always ends up looking smug. He probably thinks he's clever for taking pictures from waist level without a viewfinder.

Left after coffee to ride to Faaborg by the hilly, overland route. A gentle tailwind at first but the nearer I came to the coast the harder an onshore wind blew. Did my shopping and then detoured back further north through Korinth via some beautiful, undulating countryside with lots of forests and a lake. There were many attractive old houses along the lanes.

I passed three village speed indicator boards and all were showing average traffic speeds of 69-70kph in 50kph zones. [43-44mph in 30mph built-up areas] Then in one village I passed a parked van on the verge with a camera hidden in the rear window. So there is justice after all. Quite a strong headwind all the way back home. I used the tri-bars occasionally to help maintain a decent speed. Just trying not to prolong the agony past afternoon tea and toast in case I get told off for being a stop-out!

I had almost reached home when a pre-pubescent, teenage psycho was driving through the village at 50mph in a large, apparently brand new, Alfa Romeo. He passed a junior school with its 30kph [19mph] signs lit and several busy supermarkets on both sides of the road. The normal, legal speed limit is, of course, 50kph/30mph. What is a measly fine to anyone who's father can afford such a car?

Moments later another driver lost his patience because somebody baulked his illegal speed by pulling into a supermarket car park. He floored the accelerator and squealed his tyres until he was out of sight. Having again passed the same junior school with its 30kph signs lit for going home time and several supermarkets. The cycle path stops abruptly with an exit ramp straight straight into the traffic just by the school entrance. With the further impediments of a series of wide ramps to private drives forcing cyclists even further out into the traffic! Another great example of the blinding genius of local road design "engineers."

Recently, the young driver of a BMW 4WD managed 213kph/132mph while towing a trailer. He had no driver's license, so presumably had no insurance either. He could have saved his father £700-1000 in fines by staying at home. There is no fixed fine for such a ridiculously high speed. The maximum legal speed for a car towing a trailer on the motorway is only 80kph or 50mph. So he was travelling at 2.6 times the legal speed limit! It would be a miracle if anybody drove at 50mph on ordinary roads while towing a trailer. Many are travelling at well over 60mph while towing trailers. No police presence = no recorded crime.

Tuesday 28th 36-50F, 2-10C, hard white frost at 7am, sunny with cloud and hardly a breeze. I saw another very dark squirrel and a gaudy Greater spotted woodpecker in the woods. The fresh Beech leaves are gorgeous as they glow in bright layers. Just a late afternoon ride to the shops in a strong wind. Only 12 miles.

Here be monsters! A shy, Horrendous colossal squidii looking for pastures new in a cloud of brown dust. I even managed to capture the incline.

Wednesday 29th 38-51F, 3-11C, rather cloudy with sunny periods but blowing hard. I left later than usual for my walk and met a number of slurry spreaders. Later three young ladies on horses turned into the same lane. Horsey persons must be quite late risers. I haven't seen a horse being ridden on the local roads in years despite many fields being stuffed full of ponies and horses.

I have a new bird of prey to identify. A scruffy, upper-middle sized bird was soaring with wings permanently bent at the "elbows" as it worked back and forth over the fields. I think I'll have to go with a Marsh harrier. Smaller than a Red kite but with some similarities and there are plenty of small marshes locally. Mostly buff, not clearly marked, so possibly a female. I see loads of different birds of prey from the trike but would probably fall off if I tried to watch them for very long. Binoculars would get in the way when I am riding on the aero bars and besides, the instructions warn you not to move while using them. [i.e.The binoculars. NOT the tri-bars.]

Just a short ride this afternoon with a gale blowing. It is the season for Danish supermarkets to block access to their bike racks with pallets and/or cages. I tell the staff about it every year but it's like talking to a... br... bike rack on a brick wall. Why do they never [ever] block car spaces despite having literally hundreds of cycle-riding customers each day? Answers on a postcard please to the managing directors of Fakta, Rema 1000, Aldi, Netto, Kiwi, ABC, Etc. Do you recognise a pattern here? That's right. Well done! All Danish supermarkets are showing their total indifference to the hundreds of thousands of customers who are also cyclists.

Car owners can fill their cars with crap from a loaded trolley. The cyclist must choose more carefully and visit more often, but is unlikely to carry away vast loads of the high profit margin, junk foods and fizzy liquids. Particularly as they must not take the supermarket shopping baskets out of doors. Guess who is being treated as a second class citizen by the supermarkets? That's right. Well done! Cyclists! So the Danish government's empty promises on actually reducing CO2, fighting an epidemic of obesity and "direbetes" is just that. Empty words. Only 7 miles.


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26 Apr 2015

26th April 2015 Rant, rant against the dying of the right to life.

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Sunday 26th 45F, 7C, overcast, occasional rain with only a light breeze. I am being sent on my walk. It was just spitting lightly as I returned an hour and a half later. A few geese and Shelducks added life to my usual route. It rained for most of the day so I used it as an excuse for another rest day. My knees have been aching recently but this may be to climbing ladders rather than cycling.

Oh no, he's off on his soapbox again! Lest there is any doubt. I post my rants because I can. It saves me bottling up the anger which was always at the forefront when I commuted daily by bike and trike. I often used to get to work absolutely fuming at the utter senselessness and selfishness of drivers. Now I can smile at my pointless words and the length of my rants. This is despite the best efforts of what are basically, countless psychopathic bullies riding in massive, dodgem cars. Haring along on a worldwide race track without a care in the world. How else can one describe the behaviour of so many drivers?

Why is slowing down, however briefly, for a slower moving obstruction such a massive blow to their egos? Such an affront to their place in the rigid hierarchy of vehicle ownership? Or is it just an irritating, but monetary blip, in their [usually absent] concentration? Is that the secret? They don't want to pay for their motoring convenience by being returned to hideous reality even for a moment? Driving seems so easy. Anyone can do it. You have to kill "loads of people" just to get your license taken away. A driving license is a basic human right and must be returned ASAP even to a habitual "serial killer!" 

How hard is it to apply the brakes gently [or much more likely] simply lift off the accelerator pedal slightly? They always slow down to stare at an "accident." Even if it risked the lives of drivers too dumb to slow down for the other ghouls up ahead. They would certainly slow down to a kerb crawl if a couple of pretty young women in bikinis were walking, two abreast, down the side of the road! Should cycling and walking only be allowed for attractive young women in bikinis? This might be rather weather sensitive and accidents might actually increase! Better not go there!

A cyclist usually has to work quite hard to regain lost speed. A driver just has to press a soft pedal ever so slightly and completely effortlessly. Which is the greater task? Pedalling or pressing a pedal? Why does the driver [who has to exert so little effort] resent having to accelerate back up to their previous [and probably illegal] speed? Think about that for a moment...

What is it about cars which makes drivers feel so utterly invulnerable that they will risk the lives of others, including children, to avoid slowing even slightly? Drivers seem to develop an antipathy towards other road users because their own perceived, personal risks are so incredibly low. I have always said that seat belts and air bags should be replaced with a long, sharp spike in the middle of the steering wheel. How else can you concentrate their minds on the hideous and bloody reality of hitting something living? Hitting a fellow human being with a sledgehammer weighing over a ton and moving so incredibly fast that it smashes literally everything in its path. The damage to flesh and bone makes shooting people look [almost] like a harmless hobby!  

Perhaps drivers caught speeding, or for any moving traffic infringements, should be sent to car breakers yards at frequent intervals? Make them examine the carnage of everyday motoring life. Give them a real sledgehammer to see ow incredibly hard it is to damage a car in reality. Then compare their feeble efforts with the results of any RTA.

I have twice seen the aftermath of horrific "accidents" in Denmark and another in the UK. On one occasion I saw a family car ripped wide open! It was resting against the motorway central barrier and facing the "wrong way." A young woman was trying desperately to pull her baby out of the open side of the car. She was standing in the overtaking lane as cars sped by apparently oblivious to the perils of her, and her baby's, situation. Were these drivers literally on auto-pilot? Were they so "out of it" that they could not see a brightly coloured car ahead with a "real" person standing in the middle of the "fast" lane? The motorway is completely straight for miles at this point and weather conditions were perfect. Do you sneer, or just wonder, at those who cause concertina pile-ups on motorways? What was the young woman doing which caused her to end up in such a precarious situation? Texting? Using her mobile phone, behind the wheel, as so many countless others do without an obvious care?

The second "accident" was at a village crossroads on a route I have travelled many hundreds of times over the last two decades. This crossroads is almost blind to cars on the main road from one direction. They get only 200 yards of straight road to prepare themselves for the crossroads. Otherwise all other branches are very long straights with excellent visibility. Approach speeds on the main road, from both directions, in this 30mph/50kph zone, are typically 70kph according to the speed indicator board. 70kph is 44mph. Or ~50% above the legal speed limit. At 44mph 85% of pedestrians and cyclists will die compared with a much lower fraction at the legal speed limit.

This illegal speed of ~45mph is true for all motor traffic on the main road except when an "inconvenience" occurs. Such as when a vehicle wants to turn off at the crossroads. Near "rear-enders" are so commonplace that it is completely routine. They miss seeing the indicators of the turning vehicle and then have to brake violently to avoid an "accident". That'll be the "sensory deprivation" of modern vehicles at work. Sensory deprivation means the absence of sense. Common or otherwise. 

Imagine our horror when we arrived in our own car from the 'blind' direction to find a vehicle on its roof! Several other cars were damaged and at odd angles to the road or even lying on their sides. A tractor was involved somehow and the elderly "farmer" was crying, waving his arms and wandering about in an obvious state of shock.

The "star attraction" in all this mayhem was a car which was either crushed to half its width. Or had been literally sliced in half lengthways. A pretty girl sat in the driver's seat of what little remained. She was ashen faced and there was obviously nowhere left where her legs should have been. There was nobody standing anywhere near her or her damaged car. Perhaps nobody present was prepared for the hideous reality of what had actually happened to her on her simple journey from A to B. They just couldn't cope with the sight of somebody dying so horribly in their warm, comfy and fuzzy everyday reality. All this occurred in a 30mph / 50kph zone. How is it even possible to slice a car in half lengthways at 30mph? The obvious answer is that it is not possible at 30mph even with approaching vehicle both travelling at the same [legal] speed. Twice 30mph is 60mph. Twice 45mph is 90mph collision speed. That 50% increase is probably what cut her vehicle in two and left nowhere for her legs to continue their normal existence. I have often seen very much higher approach speeds on the indicator board just before this crossing.

I still pass this same point several times a week on my trike. Most of the traffic is still travelling at a steady 44-45mph in a zone which is still clearly marked as 30mph [50kph] at frequent intervals. The "lollipop" signs are erected for miles in all directions. I have to suppress my rage against the speeding driver's pointless selfishness and utter stupidity but have no real outlet except for my equally pointless rants. [Call them personal therapy.]

Despite the obvious carnage we never found anything about the "accident" in the local paper. So have no idea whether the girl even survived her horrific injuries. The nearest emergency station was already alerted and only a couple of miles away. The traffic was still flowing slowly through the carnage so we got out of the way. I have felt guilty ever since that I did not stop and try to comfort the poor girl. There would probably have been hopeless language difficulties and I certainly have no emergency first aid skills to offer. But I still remember her ashen face and shiver involuntarily sometimes as I pass the spot where she was sitting so still. Would I have been quite so concerned if some "stupid old git" had been sitting in the same "half a car?" It is so easy to dehumanise others in unthinkable ways when they fit our programming.

The kommune [county council] seems to be widening the road from the blind side of these same crossroads. They have cut down all the mature, roadside trees which once decorated this pretty stretch on both sides of the road. The road already seems twice as wide without the narrowing psychological hurdles of massive tree trunks. Without doubt approach speeds will rise even further once the machines have gone and the entire road is perfectly resurfaced at full width. I can guarantee that the speed indicator board just before the crossroads will continue to flash its utterly useless warnings to every passing vehicle. Most of which are travelling well above the speed limit and have passed before the lights can react! Just as so many other village speed indicator boards flash uselessly far more often than merely indicating the legal speed of passing vehicles. But life goes on.

There was nothing in the local paper when a young man turned abruptly and stepped into the speeding traffic on a hill into Bath. He somersaulted like a rag doll as a car hit him hard at about 30mph. Now the young man was a serious inconvenience to the morning rush hour commuters! He was selfishly lying all twisted up in the roadway. Several drivers took it upon themselves to lift him and prop him limply against a garden wall on the opposite side of the road. The RTA "victim" was behaving like a floppy Guy Fawkes figure and not taking his "propping up" at all seriously. He was clearly unconscious or perhaps even dead by the time they had finished with him! 

I argued with the drivers to leave him alone until the expected ambulance men could asses his obviously serious injuries. But I was just a cyclist and had no authority amongst drivers still in auto-psychopath mode. They just climbed back into their vehicles and drove off to their globally important tasks for the day.

I had been riding downhill on the opposite side of the road when the "accident" happened. He seemed to have been walking fairly normally until he made his sudden turn just prior to a completely blind corner. I doubt he ever walked again by the time the psychos had straightened out his damaged limbs to make him easier to carry! I wonder if the psychopaths would have been quite so unthinking if the victim had been an attractive young woman. Would she have been more "real" to them as a person? Or just another road casualty? To be pushed aside like some piece of unwanted road debris. So that they could continue their utterly vital journeys to the office or factory. Are these the same monsters who bayed for death at the Roman games, public execution or enjoy today's "splatter," horror movies?


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25 Apr 2015

24th April 2015 "Net blanks!"

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Saturday 24th 50-55F, 10-13C, misty, breezy and overcast. Rain forecast for late morning and continuing for the rest of the day. I was reading somewhere that 75% of all road users in Copenhagen have been threatened by cyclists. Or have been on the receiving end of rude words or gestures. The figure is 50% for the rest of the country. This suggests [to me] that many cyclists have been made short-tempered and frustrated by their riding experiences. Competing with motorised traffic never [ever] empowers the cycling or walking "crash test dummy." The battle is as one-sided as South American jungle natives being mown down by armed national soldiers, riding in fleets of WW1 Russian battle tanks, to practice their illegal "logging exercises."

The whole "cyclists on the roads" thing often reminds me of organised racism in Apartheid South Africa. Drivers expect [nay demand] that absolutely nothing impedes their [often illegal] progress. They demand the right to travel at illegal speeds in order to shorten their journey times. Often after leaving deliberately late to add the only excitement in their miserable, boring lives. Not to mention a "nice test" of their [fantasy] "racing driver" skills in a mass produced, sensory deprivation tank. Originally intended to carry families in some comfort and personal safety between motorway stops for greasy takeaways and consequent [travel sickness] throw-ups. Burp! They often speed [illegally] simply because they can. With almost no chance of detection or remotely costly sanction for their illegal behaviour.

Mostly they drive using an obsolete, 1950s-built, mental auto-pilot using valves and red tape instead of transistors, RAM and hard disks. An early form of computer which completely excludes all thought, or care, for pedestrians and cyclists sharing exactly the same environment due to a complete lack of parallel tasking, computing power. After all, this driving mentality was developed long before the breathalyser spoilt many a great night getting completely plastered at the pub before driving home! Burp! I hardly dare mention sharing jokes and YT kitten videos by SMS while "cornering like a pro" through the junior school chicanes.

Why do I have to jump onto the verge to avoid repeated collisions with uncaring drivers on my morning walks? Why do I constantly have to give way to driving behaviour which would surely put the perpetrator behind bars in ordinary life? Or certainly would do, if he/she was not safely ensconced within his/her [fantasy] armoured [computer games] family "sports" car. Where diplomatic immunity is internationally and rigidly enforced by default. Which means nobody's fault except the idiot cyclist who got in the way!

Almost every car is sold entirely on [hyped] performance and appearance by corrupt advertising. Often filmed in some backward, ex-communist, 3rd world, Eastern European country on closed roads on a Sunday just after dawn. Adverts which never [ever] mention safety because that would be a sales [hype] negative against making their 3 millionth sale of an identikit, Eurobox, killing machine. One which statistically makes an AK47 look like a child soldier's plastic toy rifle, water pistol.

This [habitual] driving behaviour instantly increases death rates amongst soft bodied cyclists and pedestrians catastrophically!! 85% deaths in RTAs compared with only [?] 5%. Can you imagine any driver voluntarily buying a snazzy, after-market speed limiting computer for their vehicle? Even if they were available in faux Carbon Fibre or real leather-covered.. anything which reduced their [illegal] speeds to no more than the legal speed limit. The mere idea would be absolutely laughable! You think otherwise? Which planet do you live on?

Why do driving criminals complain about "speed" cameras being "cash cows?" Do they call bank security cameras "cash cows" for catching "innocent" bank robbers? Or is killing a cyclist while taking a "racing line" at a ridiculous and illegal speed, through a favourite [completely blind] corner a lesser crime than [say] deliberately shooting a bank worker or hostage in the chest, head or stomach? Is it because there is some element of avoidability thanks to the driver's "super-advanced" driving skills? The ones they learned from binging on several series of Top Gear via Netflix? [aka: The Clarkson Syndrome?] I presume you voted for the overweight bully [replete with driving bans, poor hair and speeding fines] to be returned to Top Jeer? Burp!

If only most drivers had remotely the level of driving skills which they carry around in their unquestioning, deluded, fantasy-world noddles. Until, that is, something goes horribly wrong! Why do drivers fall off the edge of the road and cut every corner despite the double white lines and frequent speed limit signs? If only road designers had the skills which they carry around in their wildest fantasies. If only cycle paths [or even the edges of the roads] were designed [and maintained] with cyclists in mind. Rather than as a means to exclude "the blacks" cyclists from curtailing all driver's rapid [i.e. completely illegal] vehicular progress.

Potholes and stones are a far greater danger to cyclists with their maximum of about 1/2" of tyre air suspension [and no real suspension] between them and the usually crappy, edge of the road, surface. Now compare that with the several inches of air and thick, supple rubber, with several more inches of additional suspension travel, enjoyed by literally every road legal vehicle found on the roads today. Yet the majority of bumpy, gravel strewn and cracked cycle lanes run parallel to a perfectly smooth road surface. The blacks cyclists are forced into a narrow, and often crumbling lane full of litter, puddles, loose gravel, sunken or raised drains and fallen debris from vehicles.

While the "poor old" driver, protected from the nasty blacks cyclists by only a narrow white line, enjoys a billiard table level of absolute perfection. This despite having a vehicle perfectly capable of some considerable speed off-road without damage when necessary. Vehicles never seem to have any trouble racing to a good spot on a field used as a temporary parking space for some important outdoor sports, car boot sale or rock music event! Yet if a black cyclist pulls out into close-brushing traffic, to avoid a huge pothole or a stack of fallen pallets from an unsecured lorry, then it is automatically the cyclist's fault if an "accident " occurs? Whatever happened to the default rear collision = the following driver is automatically guilty rule? This doesn't apply to the blacks cyclists in this strange, alternative dimension? Why is that?

How often, as a driver, do you feel physically threatened by a speeding cyclist or pedestrian? One who completely trashes any chance of your survival in a crash? Really? How does that work? How often can a cyclist "chop off" or "cut up" a car, bus or lorry with complete impunity simply because they can't [or won't] be caught afterwards?

Far too many drivers [of both sexes] behave as if their masculinity was constantly at stake. Is seeing a "better" car on the road a clear case of penis envy for you? Why else would there be BMW/Audi "bull-dozer" drivers with low profile "racing" rims and oversized double sphincter exhausts? Why would they drive them in a city where average vehicle road speeds are lower than an overweight jogger can manage after binging on chocolate layer cake, crisps and "energy" drinks for several decades? Why does the average driver react so violently to unwelcome intrusions into their [sensory deprivation] personal space? Yet thrust that same space into other's proximity like a flasher in the park.

Is it guilt? Or a sudden glimpse of some unmentionable vulnerability in their ridiculously expensive, armoured, GP, SPORTS, GTS, GTi, kompressor, blower, twin-turbo, 32 valve, 4VPP, direct injection, DOHC, All-Spark, wing on the roof, exclusive front spoiler, offset number plate, low profile, real wood veneer, oversized tachometer, solid carbon fibre gear knob, understated factory racing label, sports seats, roll bars and harnesses, race developed, anti-personnel carrier? One equipped with [imaginary] 50mm cannons to pick off all those damned blacks cyclists!

Because ALL cyclists are are a lower form of life AND PAY NO ROAD TAX OR INSURANCE AND CONSTANTLY JUMP RED LIGHTS! They have to be eradicated from the roads because the brutish [all masculine = pot bellied] multimillionaire Top Jeer host says so? Probably from behind the wheel of your wildest [i.e.mass produced] wet fantasy entirely at license payer's expense. [5-star, chef-cooked evening meals and mobile hairdresser excluded!]

I'm going for a walk. Wish me luck! I'll almost certainly need it. Bandits low at 12 o'clock!!
It's a good job I have the optional low profile treads on my SUV boots. The Carbon Fibre foil and Kevlar reinforced chassis, with solid-forged CNC machined aluminium eyelets and flexible, mountain-racing-developed, CNC engineered side-walls ensure that I retain maximum grip while off-roading at speed. i.e. hopping onto the relative safety on the verge! An odd, but very commonplace situation to find the tracks of many road vehicles originally intended only for smooth asphalt. Wouldn't you say?


Short-eared owl?

Today's walk was more than usually interesting. Greenfinches, with their unique wheezing songs, are turning up in sufficient numbers to match the Goldfinches. As I was walking along my familiar farmer's track, a large owl lifted out of the crop close nearby! It flew only a few yards and then dropped out of sight again. It only rose again to fly away as I reached its new position along the track. I managed one quick shot [with my camera] but the image lacks any sharpness through heavy cropping. I'd put the wing span as at least 3' but certainly not Eagle owl sized. Buff face, very high aspect ratio wings, "pointed" with no obvious "fingers" at the black tips. I'm going with a Short-eared owl unless somebody can suggest a better identification.

Later, on my way back along the main road there were large numbers of motor-bikers going the other way. It was quite exciting being so close to so much movement and noise! They were riding an eclectic mix of Harleys, Japanese, German and Italian machines. I can't say I noticed anything British. There were a few HA club emblems amongst them. All were travelling at somewhere around the rural speed limit. It must be awful for drivers to be baulked on their way to the bakers/take-way/pub by machines which can often trash their highest potential [and highly illegal] speed on any road with a national road speed limit of only 50mph/80kph! Or [a measly] 70mph on the motorway.

The first few drops of rain are falling now at around midday. Stop raining on my [motorcycle] parade! Rode to the shops as the rain blew sideways to match the tyre spray. Managed to cruise at 18-20mph on the way. Wore my cheapo, supermarket discount, X-rage, waterproof [racing] jacket over my lightest winter cycling jacket. Very comfortable and no sweatiness at all despite the hills. That'll be the race-developed evaporative cooling of my naked [ultra-low-drag] hairy legs. I should have worn the winter MTB boots. Saw lots of Alfa Romeos going the other way. Shame about the rain on all those [race-developed] soft tops! It's been dry for ages until today. Only 12, slightly damp miles and only 3001 km for the year so far.



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23rd April 2015 Mud, glorious mud!

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Friday 23rd 46-57F, 8-14C, overcast, breezy. It is supposed to brighten up later. I have just spotted a tiny blue opening in the clouds! I'd better go and disturb the birds in the woods. You'd think they'd know I wasn't dangerous by now.

There were several gorgeous bunches of Oxslips in the woods.

Sometimes you just have to smile. A Goldfinch was singing in/on a tree beside the road. The traffic was so heavy that he was completely inaudible. So he was twisting from side to side on his twig like some frustrated, animated cartoon character. I saw my first Swallows of this year. Though the cloud is still very heavy there were some pleasant warm periods of bright sunshine. Almost everything seemed to have suddenly turned green within the last couple of days. Still lots of mature trees waiting to come into leaf. Oaks are probably the last roundtoits.

I rode a different way today by a route which I rarely take. Nicely hilly with almost no traffic at all and lots of sunshine. Had an interesting chat with the owner of a Batavus electric bicycle outside a supermarket. Quite a sophisticated machine with pedal force sensors inside a large casting around the bottom bracket/chainwheel. An enclosed Bosch motor provides the automatic tailwind. Batavus made 2-stroke mopeds at one time. The parallels with these battery driven machines is fairly obvious.

The pig's muck spreading continues unabated. Most of the roads are covered in baked on mud. Which is causing annual problems with the traffic caused, clouds of brown dust getting into my lungs. I'm coughing and clearing my throat a lot! Though I may just be allergic to the ammonia content of the slurry. Not to mention being bumped about by the hard mud mushrooms and gravel bigger than both my thumbs put together. You could say I'm all thumbs on farmer's mud. But you'd be wrong.

The Danish parliament has just agreed a few more billions on top of already-inflated EU subsidies to further subsidise the farmers for their <cough> environmental work <cough!> Lies, damned lies and the endlessly corrupting, unelected EU politic-ooze. They should get off their lazy arses and visit a few of these <cough> environmentally friendly farms <cough!>  They could always get the EU army to lend them a tank or tracked, armoured personnel carrier to reach the farms by road. Though being so important they will probably want to use a helicopter or executive jet on "environmental grounds" at EU taxpayer's expense with a [konservative] 50% lost to corruption and waste. 18 miles. [Not out!]


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20 Apr 2015

20th April 2015 The Sun has got his hat off.

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Monday 20th 47-62F, 8-17C, clear and sunny with a light breeze. It should be a good day with 10m/s gusts. [20mph] on a 10mph N-NE base and 60F this afternoon. It's only  matter of deciding where to go. Walking down the road in the rush hour is no fun. So I came back via the 1-5 meter wide spray tracks. I came over all domesticated and scrubbed the dried mud off the tyres and rims. Even brushed the thick, black dust off the brakes.

The Trykit sunbathing without the usual Camper, rack and heavy U-lock.
Junior is dangling from the Brooks saddle loops to save some more weight.
I think the trike looks taller and sleeker without a large bag on a rack. 

Coffee and toast safely consumed, I headed Northwest with the trike suitably lightened of its usual load. [Except me of course.] Going well despite the feeling that I was fighting a  headwind. Coming back was easier with [mostly] a tailwind. A superb day for a ride! Chatted to a couple of people about the trike outside supermarkets. It was their fault. Not mine. The woman became quite vociferous on the subject of heavy trikes and became an instant advocate for lightweights. 43 miles to fetch one small bottle of Ecover washing-up liquid? Well it was 10% extra free! I drew the line at bringing back a bag of cheap, organic potatoes. I can get those just down the road.

Tuesday 21st 42-60F, 6-16C, full sunshine, windy. Walked my usual loop through the woods. Watched a Greater Spotted woodpecker for a while  as it attacked a moss-covered tree stump. A colossal squid turned onto the field just as I was about to take a short cut along the spray tracks.

After coffee I managed a crosswind on the first leg. A tailwind on the second leg down to the sea and then  paid for it all the way home! I was struggling to maintain 12mph on the flat on the last bit! Another colossal squid was spraying muck right up to the verge as I climbed a steep hill. I could smell it on my clothes as I queued in the supermarket. Yeuk! 27 miles.

Wednesday 21st 41-56F, 5-14C, light wind. It went from full sun to overcast and back to full sun again as I left for my walk. Over two hours working my way through both woods. A Nuthatch, Fieldfares and  Chiffchaff all drew my attention. I may have seen my first [ever] Whinchat perching on top of oil seed rape plants. An even better day for a ride with very little wind and warm sunshine. There were vast swathes of pure white Wood anemones with gently brushed, violet water colours on the backs of their petals. The hedges are finally coming into leaf. With the white blossom of the Blackthorn in showy clouds against their dense, dark stems.

Rode a clockwise, rural triangle in warm sunshine. Breezy but not too bad compared with most days. Yet another person came over to chat about the trike. Said they'd seen me all over Fyn. The fields and woods are covered in yellow Lesser celandine flowers. There must be many square miles of them altogether. Passed some lambs amongst the sheep. 24 miles.

Thursday 22nd 46-51F, 8-11C, breezy and overcast. It was decidedly chilly on my walk thanks to the westerly wind and lack of sunshine. Saw a large brown hare and lots of Mallard ducks. Have you ever noticed how alike a didgeridoo and ducks on a pond can sound? I wonder which inspired which?

Just another shopping trip on the trike. A chap came out of a supermarket dressed like a pro to ride away on his posh carbon fibre steed and completely ignored me. Obviously not a paid up member of the cycling brotherhood. Later I saw half a dozen clubmen out training. Every hand went up in greeting as I rode the other way on the tri-bars into the wind. 21 miles.

Friday 23rd 46-57F, 8-14C, overcast, breezy. It is supposed to brighten up later. I have just spotted a tiny blue opening in the clouds! I'd better go and disturb the birds in the woods. You'd think they'd know I wasn't dangerous by now. Sometimes you just have to smile. A Goldfinch was singing on a tree beside the road. The traffic was so heavy that he was completely inaudible. So he was twisting from side to side on his twig like some frustrated, animated cartoon character. I saw my first Swallows of this year. Though the cloud is still very heavy there were some pleasant warm periods of bright sunshine. Almost everything seemed to have suddenly turned green within the last couple of days. Still lots of mature trees waiting to come into leaf. Oaks are probably the last roundtoits.

I went a different way today by a route which I rarely take. Nicely hilly with almost no traffic at all and lots of sunshine. The pig's muck spreading continues unabated. The roads are covered in baked on mud. Which is causing problems with the clouds of brown dust getting into my lungs. I'm coughing and clearing my throat a lot! Not to mention being bumped about by the mud mushrooms and gravel  bigger than my thumb. Though I may just be allergic to the ammonia content of the slurry. The Danish parliament has just agreed a few more billions on top of inflated EU subsidies to further subsidise the farmers for their <cough> environmental work <cough.> Lies, damned lies and the deluded politic-ooze. They should get off their arses and visit a few of these <cough> environmentally friendly farms <cough.>  They could always get the army to lend them a tank or tracked armoured personnel carrier to reach the farms by road. Though being so important they will probably want to use a helicopter or executive jet on "environmental grounds." 18 miles.

Saturday 24th 50F, 10C, breezy and overcast. Rain forecast for late morning and continuing for the rest of the day. I was reading somewhere that 75% of all road users in Copenhagen have been threatened by cyclists or have been on the receiving end of rude words or gestures. The figure is 50% for the rest of the country. This suggests that many cyclists have been made short-tempered by their riding experiences. Competing with motorised traffic does not empower the cycling "crash test dummy." The battle is as one-sided as jungle natives being mown down by armed soldiers in battle tanks.

The whole "cyclists on the roads" thing often reminds me of organised racism in Apartheid South Africa. Drivers expect [nay demand] that absolutely nothing impedes their [often illegal] progress. They demand the right to travel at illegal speeds in order to shorten their journey times. Often after leaving deliberately late or speeding simply because they can with almost no chance of sanction. This [habitual] behaviour instantly increases death rates amongst soft bodied cyclists and pedestrians by 500%. Can you even imagine drivers putting up with  computers in their vehicles which reduced their speeds to no more than the local speed limit?

If only most drivers had remotely the level of driving skills which they carry around in their unquestioned fantasies. [Until something goes horribly wrong.] If only road designers had the skills which their carry around in their wildest fantasies. If only cycle paths were designed and maintained with cyclists in mind. Rather than as a means to exclude "the blacks" cyclists from limiting rapid [and often illegal] vehicle progress.

How often as a driver do you feel threatened by a speeding cyclist or pedestrian who completely trashes any chance of your survival in a crash? How often can a cyclist "chop off" a car or lorry driver simply because they can't [or won't] be caught afterwards? Far too many drivers drive as if their masculinity was a constant issue. Why else would there be BMW/Audi drivers? Why would they drive them in a city where average road speeds are lower than an overweight jogger can manage after a binge on sponge cake?


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17 Apr 2015

17th April 2015 L'eau de swill!

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Friday 17th 51F, 11C, breezy with sunny periods. The morning was spent tidying the garden. Becoming cloudier in the afternoon. My brother has kindly sent me Beryl Burton's autobiography "Personal Best". Which I shall greatly enjoy. Having exhausted myself on tidying up I took a rest day.

The naked beech woods resplendent in a fresh coat of morning sunshine.

Saturday 18th 41F, 5C, bright with high, feather-edged cloud and light northerly winds. I'd better have a walk to sort out my muscles from yesterday's foolishness. Rapidly approaching seventy and I still have a penchant for moving the impossible. This time it was a huge, concrete drainage pipe which we inherited. Probably a yard in diameter and two inches thick the monstrosity stands chest high. I levered it up to 15 degrees before losing patience. Then lifted and manhandled it upright and backwards to cast slightly less of a blight on our private landscape. [Google Earth permitting!]

A thin bluish mist hung over the gently rising ground to the ridge where the woods clung to the wettest and most uneven ground. A Blackcap worked the litter on the forest floor before a Great tit descended. Stirring a flurry of leaves as it flared out to begin its own methodical search. It wore the more pastel hues of a younger bird. Mature birds are more colourful with  more contrast until their plumage tires from a year of intense activity.

An explosion of spring leaf growth vies to shade the fossils of fallen ancestors.

The air was quite still as I exited the woods to descend the track to the road. A goose cranked out a monologue as it complained endlessly about the meaning of life until well out of sight. Vast 7 axle tankers plied back and forth along the muddied ribbon between traffic blighted villages. Passing and re-passing each other as they toiled to carry pig slurry from farm A to farm B, C & D. Some glistered in as pristine condition as the day they left the factory. Others besmirched by multiple saddles of their foul cargo running thickly down their stainless steel flanks. All of them dragging the nauseous, unmistakeable stench of ammonia, pig faeces and urine at the cost of yet another weekend ruined for more rural families. No wonder they routinely file out to the car and head for the numbing delights of the city shopping malls!

I rode north straight into the wind. It was much more comfortable riding back at 18-22mph. The indexing has gone to hell on the lower gears! I presume through cable friction. Possibly as a result of adding the brake noodles. I have wound the adjusters in and out and oiled everything but it doesn't help for long. 12 miles. There was something I could not find so I'll have to go out again. Plus 6 miles more for 18 today. It is weird how quiet Saturday afternoons are in Denmark. In Gravely Blighted it was the busiest time of the week! Many Danish villages with multiple shops and supermarkets are deserted.

Sunday 19th 40-55F, 4-13C, overcast, light breeze. Sunshine with easterly gusts to "only" 20mph are forecast. It was cool walking directly into the wind but hardly noticeable once I had turned north towards the woods. I watched as a "colossal squid" spread more pig's muck on the fields. One tankful lasted only 100 yards! A Plover was following an absolutely lunatic flight path. With violent twists and turns which would make any pilot or racing car driver look feeble. I startled a small hare which rose from invisibility in the short, grassy crop and dashed off to find better cover. It needn't have bothered because I never saw it until it started running. Quite warm towards the end in bright sunshine under a cloudless sky. A glittering glider drew our attention after we had watched a Red Kite hunting almost overhead back at home. A wonderfully impressive bird in the air. With long, slender wings and graceful flying skills.

I found the niggling, slow puncture had gone down much further than usual. So I checked the tyre carefully and removed the inner tube before finally fitting a new tube. I found three holes in the tyre tread. Two with tiny flints eating away and one quite large hole where the puncture was situated. There was a time you could buy rubber solution for filling holes in tyres. More useful for tubs. The Duranos have only done 2100 miles so far with two flint punctures. Either there are more flints about or I have been unlucky. The other tyres are in better condition.

The gears were fine up on the work stand. Misbehaved as soon as I rode the trike. Another slight adjustment and they performed far better. The wind was quite variable in strength and direction on a short ride to collect the essentials. The wind turbines were standing still which is highly unusual.  I was going quite well today but still only did 10 miles. A poor week at only 70 miles total mostly due to the high winds! I should have gone for a longer ride today but was busy at home. Lazy git!

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15 Apr 2015

15th April 2015 "He ain't heavy! He's my [hire bike] brother."

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Wednesday 15th 54-58F, 12-14C, sunny but windy. An early appointment for 6 miles. Wind already unpleasantly strong and cool. A strange thin mist on the landscape producing a soft focus effect. With the wind building to 40mph gusts I spent the rest of the day on projects at home. It was mostly warm and sunny but very windy until late in the afternoon.

Thursday 16th 41-52F, 5-11C, light breeze and sunny. I was just reading about a colossal cock-up in the major Danish city hire bike replacement programme. The old hire bikes were so heavy that the Danes called them farm gates, or some other derogatory term. These new electric bikes cost $7500 - £5,000!! [equivalent] and the few released onto the streets so far are little-used already. At £2.50 to hire one they may appeal to the rich Chinese tourists we keep hearing about. Some [well above pay grade] plonker decided that these costly bikes should be secured by entering the borrower's email address on the touch screen. Not once but twice! Now enter your telephone number. Now enter your pin code. Which telephone number? The one back at home or my mobile? Do they want my Chinese national dialling code? Pin code? What pin code? I'm a rich Chinese tourist! Can't I just hire a nice BMW?!?!

Here's an attempt by the BBCAA [BBC Advertising Authority] to use a non-cyclist [default multi-millionairess celeb] presenter, in a foreign country, to test Copenhagen's bicycle hire facilities. No doubt the entire film production team [of several dozen?] were flown over, 1st class, at British TV license payer's expense. Just in case any of them hit the producer for non-provision of a 7 course, hot, packed lunch before returning to their 5 star hotel to rest and recuperate from jet lag.
 


Yeap, you've guessed it: "Warning! Warning! Emails don't match! Warning! Step away from the bicycle! Warning! Please hand yourself into the nearest police station for attempted cycle theft! Exterminate! Exterminate! This machine will now shut down automatically for three Earth years as an anti-theft measure. Thank you for your patience. Exterminate! Have a nice day! Exterminate!" [Should be read with a thick Dalek accent from the BBCAA's Dr.Who TV series.]

The Danish firm Gobike, which was handed the monopoly contract to supply these eye-wateringly expensive, £5k bikes, subcontracted out to a German manufacture. Which then had a nasty wobble. No doubt from outsourcing to China and 'Lean manufacturing' techniques with the entire staff under the threat of sacking. [Only joking. Such things don't happen in civilised Europe. Do they?] The entire contract is now in danger of failure to supply and existing hire bikes could even be removed from the streets as part of bankruptcy arrangements. No doubt much to the relief of the Danes. Who could never fathom out how to release the machines from their AI locking system!

Here is another video but in Danish this time. Ignore the language and just enjoy the video. The "tester" is an obviously well educated, Danish politician. She shows how difficult and confusing it is to enter all the required details into the bike's computer before it can be ridden away! You'll get the gist despite the language difficulties. And no, you can't vote for her in the upcoming UK elections!



And, on the subject of monopolies and politicians I see the Danish head of the anti-competitive unit at the EU is going after Google for anticompetitive behaviour. Perhaps the same Danish talking head could do something about the obscene monopoly in Danish supermarkets and its massive dairy industry. A retail sector renowned for its incredibly high prices compared with the rest of Europe! I speak as a daily consumer of this monopoly service who also cycles. Just in case you thought I was wobbling even further off-topic.

Still on the subject of bike hire it seems that American bike hire companies are setting a maximum weight for hirers at 260lbs. That's about 18.5 stone or 118kg. Or, if you have to ask: You're too heavy! Now I'm wondering if there's a sensor in the bike seat to protect the machine. Will a speaker with a robotic voice say "Ouch!" Nah, they would probably sue for hurt feelings and bankrupt New York, or the US Treasury, or something.

My walk proved to be an eye watering experience despite the supposed protection of the cycling sunglasses. It must have been blowing a steady 25-30mph with 35-40mph gusts forecast yet again. I saw my first male Goldfinch of the year plus a pair of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers in the woods. Later I spotted a large, multicoloured fox in the spray tracks of a field and watched it through my binoculars. The wind was not in my favour and it must have sensed I was there because it turned and ambled away behind a hump.

My eyes were watering again when I arrived home. I found the morons neighbours were having another household rubbish bonfire on their lawn directly upwind of our house. Just to add to their idiocy they had a washing line full of clothes just downwind. I'm all for care in the community but why don't the desk jockeys who arrange these things choose their own neighbourhoods for these experiments in social friction? It's no wonder the Americans are so in favour of guns! I wouldn't dare own one with neighbours like ours! Though I might be tempted by a grenade launcher if one comes up in a [Danish monopoly] supermarket special offer. I could always claim I was aiming for their house and the occupants were just collateral. I just hope the supermarket has plenty of ammo to go with the toys!

I have decided it's no use my trying to be funny with this guy riding fast and loose while recycling the English language:
  
Bike Snob NYC

It was no day for a longer ride with the wind roaring in the trees and blowing me about. I was often struggling to maintain a straight line against the crosswind. No problem on a country lane but I was riding a two lane main road with fast traffic and no cycle lane. Coming back I climbed a steep hill into the wind just for the fun of it. The new X-rage [supermarket] cycling jacket was sweaty but completely windproof. That meant I could feel the sweat but was not chilled. As I would certainly have been with a 'normal' breathable cycling jacket. 52F is not hot by any means so it seems the jacket is rather low on breathability. Still handy to have in the bag on those days with unpredictable weather. 13 miles.

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14 Apr 2015

14th April 2015 Staring into the abyss!

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Tuesday 14th 41F, 5C, heavy overcast, breezy with a little rain. Showers possible this morning. Less windy than yesterday.

It doesn't look much in the photograph but this poplar is over 5' in diameter at the base! Such roadside trees can reach enormous sizes and seem to be stable even in Danish storms. 

I was reading an online article the other day where the author suggested that one should avoid chasing viewers, followers and "likers." It is tempting to try and please as many visitors as possible. Yet online visitors to a narrow interest blog, such as mine, could find themselves here for an almost infinite number of reasons.

The likely number of cycling enthusiasts who also find upright trikes interesting must be few indeed. I'm really not sure what other search terms will find my blog. Some search engine connections seem highly unlikely. While others are hardly likely to pick up on my "forestry" pictures as a theme. I do not label my pictures with other than their P number and rsz. Besides, Google image search is still crap at finding anything using more than one search term.

When I broached the subject with my brother, on remaining in context, he suggested that I just write about what interests me. Which might be seen as a scatter gun approach but at least allows me off the noose of continuously entertaining my small band of loyal, repeat visitors. Not that I intend to stray too far. Tricycling is still my daily pleasure/torment/obsession.

No doubt I could reach a mass audience with topless kittens without ever mentioning tri-cycling. Or anything else for that matter! Even as a committed "clown on a tricycle" I have too much self respect for that ploy. So I must pedal my lonely furrow, through the road-plastered mud and hope others find their way here even if they stay only briefly. Hopefully they will find something amusing or interesting in my lifelong butterfly approach. I have had hundreds of interests and hobbies over the years so my wife re-applies the butterfly badge at fairly frequent intervals.


I seem to have satiated myself with images of pretty thatched houses and cottages. At least within a modest [say] 30 mile radius of my locality. Too many attractive or traditional Danish homes are utterly spoilt by dustbins, post boxes and parked cars. Fixed post boxes, on the property boundary, were made a legal requirement to speed up the efficiency of a Danish Post Office deliveries desperate to reduce staff numbers as "snail mail" letters dwindled under the onslaught of email and online information. The hideous blight on the landscape of [traditionally] white post boxes has almost ruined building photography for me. Now add in the ubiquitous black and green wheely bins! Which so many Danes consider suitable roadside furniture for their highly "dez rez" homes. Some even erect decorative fences around their bins so that they [the bins] are expensively framed but still only visible and accessible from the road! Do they walk around the framing to put stuff in their bins? Life is too short!

Presumably this highly visible roadside bin business is out of fear of missing a collection. Or came about due to some subliminal association with post boxes and the advertising garbage usually found in them each day. Advertising special offers is big business in Denmark. Every supermarket chain and big shed store produces a weekly "comic" full of special offers. These newspapers are delivered by armies of private delivery bods [including countless children] or the post-person. While one can register a lack of interest in the advertising guff, to avoid the snowball effect, it doesn't always work perfectly. Hence the close association between waste bin and postbox is constantly reinforced. Resulting in the present roadside eyesores.

You may think that the quantity of advertising garbage does not warrant such formal arrangements. Yet I remember passing numerous subdivided, city houses with flats on each floor. Where the entrance halls are quite literally piled high with this advertising junk! Passers-by get brief glimpses of a persistent hoarders worst nightmare. As the unfortunate occupants come and go through a dark, narrow chasm between towering stacks of paper. Presumably the flats are occupied in swift rotation so that no one person can organise a proper clear-out. Hence the rapid descent into advertising newspaper mayhem!

The sheer quantity and weight of this material must be a huge psychological burden on those who must tolerate such potential fire hazards on their ground floor. I can't imagine what it does for their love life. It is no wonder there are so many divorces and single people about. Getting a JCB or skid-loader into the entrance halls is obviously a non-starter. Particularly where so many town houses have narrow flights of steps. So how do you clear all this stuff out?  Hold a street party, hire a builder's skip and form a human chain?

What if you don't know anybody even in the next flat let alone the entire street? Alert the city council of the potential for a catastrophic landslide on the next opening of the front door? Possibly of such volume and extent that it actually blocks a bus route?

Getting back to the wheely bins: The narrow slot where the green bin has been divided between paper and glass hardly has room for one month's advertising material. I calculate that if the occupants of two flats went on a fortnight's holiday the waste problem could easily get away from them. It's like one of those space travel situations. Where you can't carry enough fuel to get far without requiring an exponential increase in fuel capacity. The numbers just don't add up!

Regular visitors will recognise my waffling in response to a morning of rain. The habit of some years now is to ride way weather permitting. Today's inclemency has been made worse by a lack of emails. For the second time in a month I am unable to satisfy the demands of my email "provider" in providing a valid password! Some people say that having an internet connection is a basic human right. They should add emails to that demand IMO!

It's not all doom and gloom. The BBC has a story about trikes: Under their Autos section! Despite recent international dominance by racing cyclists from Gravely Blighted the BBC News website does not have a cycling heading under which to post its [non-contextual and often sexist] advertising! Never mind, Top Gear's "barrel bomb" will be back soon on another obese contract at license payer's expense. I'm amazed he didn't get a golden handshake for failure to provide a serving wench after a hard day's filming. All we got was the roasted boor!

http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20150413-raiooo-wilca-portugals-wheels-of-change

A heavy grey sky dripped until after 3pm but I went out anyway. Only to be overtaken by an old Golf on the brow of a long hill. Straight into the maw of a Volvo! It was so close I don't know how they missed each other. The Golf did a violent swerve straightened up and pressed on. As soon as they take the human out of autopilot the better! Later I was overtaken in a village by a Volvo doing jerky turns over the full width of the lane. Just another drunk? Or zonked out on antidepressants? Who knows? The line between sheer luck and a gory tragedy is too thin to measure.

My back was damp from wearing the new jacket at 50F on a long uphill drag. I shouldn't have bothered with the extra cycling jacket underneath as well the long underwear. I'll treat it as a jacket in its own right from now on. A young chap on a racing bike was training hard in the lanes but ignored my wave. I blame those welding goggle sunglasses and the all-black clothing. I'd have handed him a white stick but he was going the other way. Only 10 miles.


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13 Apr 2015

13th April 2015 For whom the bell tolls.

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Monday 13th 46-48F, 8-9C, windy, heavy cloud and showers. Sunshine's early promise quickly fizzled out when rain stopped my walk before it even started. I should have taken the chance to nip outside in my new, slightly translucent, white, cycling jacket to check exactly how shower proof it is. I could even have run around the lawn to check for breath-ability. The jacket, not my own. Of course, I didn't. It didn't occur to me until after the [non]event.

The slow puncture, which I reported several days ago, keeps coming and going. Some days the tyre remains rock hard and others it has dropped to only 40PSI. Being a lazy git, where these things are concerned, I have ignored the problem in the name of research and entertainment. It takes only seconds to top up the tyre with the track pump. Job done, until the next time.

Danish police are to have an extra go at catching speeding motorists. Which seems rather odd when you consider that means 90% of all drivers speeding 90% of the time. Which means they could catch thousands on almost every stretch of road or in any village chosen completely at random.

Another odd thing is how incredibly fast injuries rise in comparison with speed:


Here are a couple of graphics which I have borrowed for educational purposes.

A slight increase in the speed of a vehicle in a built up area and deaths in collisions rise from 5% to 85%! Many Danish roadside speed indicator boards show average speeds around 70kph or 44mph in built-up areas! Any society which routinely tolerates these higher average speeds has no real interest in road safety or pedestrian survival rates. Every political statement on the subject is just empty hype.

The second graphic illustrates the dramatic rise in deaths and injuries at more typical rural road speeds. I have edited the text for those who do not speak Danish. Denmark has a [nominal] 80kph - 50mph national speed limit outside built-up areas.

80kmh = 50mph. 90kmh = 55mph. 100kmh = 60mph. The conversion factor is 1.61.


Anyone who sticks to the legal speed limit is tail-gated and then overtaken by almost every driver. The exceptions, who follow at a sensible distance at the local speed limit, are remarkable for their rarity! This has been true for the near two decades since I have lived here. Most observers would believe that almost all drivers are either illiterate or innumerate or both. Or perhaps they are so blind that the large speed indicating lollipop signs, usually erected at frequent intervals, are completely invisible to them. As must be all the annual road safety placards erected to suggest a small reduction in speed and usually illustrated with children. Perhaps they would work better if the children were shown lying down like battered rag dolls and covered in copious amounts of blood? Even when the schools illuminate their special 30kph - 20mph signs, for student home time, they are completely and utterly ignored.

I left after coffee with the wind gusting fiercely. I could feel the wind blowing right through my thinnest proper "winter" jacket just before I left. So on went the new jacket on top of that. On the first descent I came close to losing it completely!  I was down on the aero bars doing 25mph when a bus came flying up the hill. The bus's bow wave shoved me hard towards the verge. Then I was sucked violently back into the middle of the road as it passed and blocked the crosswind! Fortunately there was nobody trying to overtake me at the time. Which just goes to show that the aero bars do not provide much protection against side gusts.

The rest of the journey, going both ways, involved rather more leaning on the wind than a racing sidecar passenger! I was often forced to grab the downwind handlebar for extra stability. The jacket proved completely waterproof and beaded perfectly in a short but nasty downpour. I kept it on to see if it was sweaty but it was fine even on the climbs. While coming home I could feel the colder air blowing up through the rear ventilation flap across the shoulders. Which just goes to show how poor my cheapest cycling jacket really is. I didn't need the new jacket by then but was grateful for its extra warmth during gusts. Though the fingerless mitts might have been a mistake today. Wind chill on wet hands rises dramatically!

This may come back to haunt me but I am very satisfied with the new jacket so far. Polyurethane coated nylon jackets would have had me in a soggy lather of sweat. Several cheap jackets bought as an experiment quickly proved themselves to be no better than mobile saunas! I carefully checked the inside of the new jacket and my normal cycling jacket for moisture when I got home. No dampness at all! Only 13, difficult miles, on the 13th in a £13 jacket and [just] survived to tell the tale. 



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10 Apr 2015

10th April 2015 Woods for the trees.

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Friday 10th 34F, 1C, thick mist, bright and still. The mist promises to burn off but how soon? An ideal day for a ride if it clears quickly enough to allow an early start. Took a half hour stroll in the mist to kill time.

Mmmm! Choker-Kola! The ultimate disposable drink. Disposable packaging, teeth, waistline, self esteem, cardiovascular system, insulin syringes... ? ©

When I finally left, bare legged and wearing fingerless mitts, the mist was almost gone and there was bright sunshine for the rest of the day. I rode to Ringe, where I bought another pair of Taktik bibs at the new cycle shop. The third retailer on these very large premises to my knowledge. Lots of tasty machines to admire of all kinds. From kids, to roadsters, to city, to racing and MTB. I was obviously more interested in the latter two. Having only one pair of bibs and a few pairs of decent shorts is not very sensible. Bibs are best for comfort over longer distances. Shorts more convenient for my typical, daily shopping rides up to [say] 40 miles.  Though I have gone further in the DHB shorts when the bibs weren't available.

I came back via the Ringe-Korinth narrow gauge, cycle path. There were fairly frequent piles of horse droppings on the 1.5m wide tarmac but at least the deep, flinty sand had become safely grassed over. Only here and there, particularly near Korinth, had the horses' hooves cut deep into the grassed area and strewn flints right across the path. Fortunately it was dry today and I wasn't still using Continental's 4000S blotting paper tyres. So I survived unscathed. Though it was very worrying when I did hit the sand and gravel.


I saw only one other cyclist, one walker and one jogger in the entire 16km/10 mile length of the path. Which runs along the old railway bed. Pleasant scenery, no hills and a huge pleasure not to have to listen to and watch out for constant traffic. The only real criticism this time was the steady headwind. This kept my pace down to 13-15mph when I felt I could have cruised nearer 20mph. With no other users there would not have been any danger. The path is very open throughout its length without any real shelter amidst the often, wide-open fields on either side.

This openness does have some advantages in that the wind and rain seem to help to clear the tarmac path of debris. Where there were trees close by the path they had dropped lateral moraines of twigs. Which were completely dried out or beginning to compost on the edges of the tarmac. Suggesting that the path is only rarely swept. There are rather too frequent raised concrete slab crossings for the many farm tracks which cross the route. These usually required my lifting off the saddle to avoid some nasty raised bumps.

Otherwise, the tarmac itself is still nicely smooth. Except for one short stretch where tree roots have lifted and cracked a few small patches. This was clearly indicated by a huge exclamation mark on a road sign beside the track. Rather oddly there was no other useful signs. So I hadn't a clue where I was going until I got there. [Korinth] I was using the sun [as usual] to confirm my rough direction throughout the day. The barred chicanes, to stop motor traffic joining the path, were a bit "fierce." Without adequate clearance for my trike's rear wheels unless I went "off-road" on each tight bend. There is nothing unusual in this. The chicanes on other cycle paths are exactly the same. Presumably a Danish standard design. I noticed that the clubman desperately trying to catch me [for several miles!] lost a lot of time on one of the chicanes. He probably forgot to choose a low enough gear to be able to simply ride through. I didn't take a single photograph all day! 63 miles.

Saturday 11th 50-61F, 10-16C, still and sunny. The stench of pig slurry is so overpowering that you could cut rashers from the air. It lies so thick in the tractor ruts that it forms deep, black puddles. Perhaps the farmers have independently discovered dark matter? Just don't tell them or they'll want more taxpayer's  "environmental" subsidies! I wonder how much they get per mile of road they plaster in thick mud? No ill effects from yesterday's ride as I took my morning walk. It has already reach 61F/16C at 11 am. And 64F/18C at 15.00.

Farmers using mechanical aids to rapidly load the capacious hopper of the seed drill. The tractor has very typical, doubled rear wheels to lower ground pressure and reduce wheel slip on steep slopes. Doubled front wheels are also quite common on tractors. Making an imposing sight as they sometimes span the entire breadth of the road. While some larger farms can afford a huge, Case tractor with four caterpillar tracks. Despite my criticisms of pig farming and muck spreading in particular I still find their agriculture activities interesting.

It was so mild today I was down to just shorts and racing jersey for the first time this year. I was overtaken by three serious clubmen while I was cruising uphill at 20mph despite being heavily loaded. They each gave me a cheery greeting as they passed having followed me uphill at a decent clip. I dropped onto the aero bars on the following descent and just managed 24mph but they were still going effortlessly away before turning off my route. It steadily clouded over during my ride but felt no cooler for the shade. 20 miles.

Sunday 12th 43-51F, 6-11C, breezy and sunny. Strong winds gusting to nearly 40mph expected later. The wind was already brisk despite the [almost] balmy temperature. I enjoyed my longest walk taking in two woods with extras. Detours are an essential part of wood-walking. Exploration without demanding excitement or even surprise is the norm.

Today's birds numbered a Tree creeper, Long-tailed tit, an unidentified, fluffed-up warbler and a gaudy Greater Spotted woodpecker. These were greatly outnumbered by the more common, but never commonplace, Great tits, Chaffinches, Sparrows, Wagtails and Yellowhammers. I sometimes hear birds with no immediate mental imagery of their identity. A repetitive tapping on a metallic object caught my attention today but offered absolutely no clues. It sounded too loud for a small bird. Perhaps a woodpecker had become bored with sending his woody echoes through the forest? Though I suppose that branching out into a more melodic percussion range might confuse potential mates. Best to stick with what you know. Unless you intend to practice deliberately planned parenthood.

A supermarket chain is offering a selection of cycling clothing starting today. So I had better get moving to beat the Sunday rush. They were very well hidden but I eventually found the translucent white, windproof jackets hidden underneath some jerseys.

Another desperate attempt at capturing a steep hill. This one seems to work better than most. Modest zoom and a raised horizon at 2/3 instead of the usual one third seemed to help.
  
The jackets had a nice, close fit on my skinny arms, good length, ventilated flap, packed down extremely well, with reflective details and zipped back pocket all for £13 equivalent. I was looking at similar jackets in the bike shops and they were horribly expensive despite being ridiculous bum freezers!

No way of telling the breath-ability or how shower proof the jacket is until I've tried wearing it. My only similar jacket is day-glo fluorescent yellow and was splashed all over with tar from active roadworks almost from new [from a charity shop.]  I wanted a smart-ish, lightweight jacket which could be easily tucked away into the Junior saddlebag. For those days which start, or end cool, with warm in the middle. It can be misery not to be warm enough on a cycle ride. A good jacket takes away the temptation to trust to luck. Only 7 miles so far. Though very windy, with fierce gusts, I may be allowed out again pm. Nope! I was "advised" by the Head Gardener to take a rest. Probably wise, given the wind conditions.

Click on any image for an enlargement.
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8 Apr 2015

8th April 2015 More images of "No Question" racing trike:

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Ivo Santavo of No Question trikes of Czechoslovakia has kindly provided more images of his trike rear axles to show how these new differentials fit: This trike belongs to Lada Ekrtova, the Cz lady tricycle racer.




Here is the view for the cassette side showing the Campagnolo Chorus 11 speed rear changer on its fabricated hanger.


A closer look. The welding of the alloy framework shows very neat and competent workmanship.











A square-on view of the differential housing. Presumably the large splines are to aid dismantling.

It can be seen that the alloy framework welding is very neatly done and the fillets generous.


The disk brake rotor is attached on the right to the differential housing to provide equal braking to both axles. Rear braking is always subject to adhesion limits on a lightly loaded trikes.

A better view of the rotor disk. Its large diameter sets the clearance required for the rear axle housing reinforcement tubes.

Where disk brakes are fitted to the rear of British trikes they have usually been duplicated to provide balanced braking on one brake lever.

Though some vintage trikes had rear drum brakes. Sometimes a single at the centre of a differential model. Or one for each wheel fixed out at the rear hubs.




Click on any image for an enlargement.
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7 April 2015 Daffy ecoterroristii?

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Tuesday 7th 41-47F, 5-8C, heavy overcast with a cold S-westerly wind. Did my usual circular walk. I saw a robin at the entrance to the woods. Stop laughing at the back! Robin's are timid and a very rare sight in Denmark. In the UK we always had tame robins in our garden. They would fly down and take food from the hand or sit on the handle of the garden implements while we worked nearby. Over here I doubt I see a Robin more than once in five years.

Some eco-terrorists must have been at work locally. Several daffodills were bravely growing on the grassy verges. Perhaps they were planted in protest at discarded McLardy's packaging and beer cans? Twenty years ago you never saw any litter in Denmark. Then the breweries/sugar bombers pushed for disposable cans instead of the default returnable/recyclable glass bottles and the rot set in from there. [Quite literally!] Nowadays you'd need a large sack to clear half a mile of grass verge! I find it interesting that crappy, fat-and-sugar loaded takeway food, fag-ends and empty packets, booze and sugar-laced crappy drinks are the most likely packaging to be seen gracing the verges. The same "household" names crop up regularly. Most of it life-threatening to the idiot consumer. If nobody picks up the rubbish then it joins the [recycling station commuter] trailer fall-out to be shredded by the council's mowers.

It stayed grey, cold and quite windy for my ride. Though I managed to avoid a headwind until the last leg. I looped down to the coast via some very hilly lanes. By retracing the same route I was able to enjoy descending the same hills which I had previously climbed. I still haven't found a hill I can't climb reasonably comfortably in bottom gear [28"] but still wish for another lower gear. A couple of inches lower would allow me to keep my cadence a little higher with less effort. It is never about just being able to climb a particular hill in a particular gear. It's all about maintaining an optimum pedal rpm to avoid damaging knee pain. Climbing a hill is really no different from pushing too high a gear on the flat or into a headwind. If you run out of low gears, such that your cadence drops too low, then you become a pusher rather than an effortless twiddler. 25 miles.

Wednesday 8th 43-55F, 6.C, an overcast start has burnt off to bright sunshine with a light breeze.  My poor 7-year old computer's hard drive was within a couple of GB of overflowing. So I ensured my pictures were all on the external hard drive and unplugged it. Then I deleted 148GB or 32,000 images from the C-drive. Probably a mistake because the external hard drive has been syncing since I turned it back on. It is endlessly loading MP4 files which I presume are old action camera videos. Now it has started work on the images. I just hope it doesn't refill the C-drive to the brim! The C-drive is showing GBs less free capacity with every passing minute. Eek! I left it running while I went for my walk and thankfully it stopped with 60GB free space left.

I'm having to share the roads with giant, leaky, pigshit spreaders again as I jump onto the verge to leave as much distance as possible. They were leaving long, wet, stinky tracks on their way to the fields. I caught a glimpse of the Robin in my binoculars but it rapidly disappeared into the undergrowth. Still a cold wind despite reaching 52F at 10.30am. I am struggling to match my clothing to the rapidly rising temperatures again. I leave early at just above freezing and it has often risen 20 degrees F by the time I return.

Mmmm! McLardy's coffee! Burp! ©

I left mid afternoon to find a puncture-proof wheelbarrow wheel. I noticed I had a semi-flat rear tyre but pumped it up hard to 100psi with the track pump and thankfully it stayed up. A tiny square of flint was sticking out of the tread of the Durano. Having dodged the pigshit spreaders again  there were no barrow wheels at the first DIY superstore/builders merchant. So I had to cover some hilly ground before the next one shut at 5pm! [They open at 6am] Made it by seconds after several shopping stops on the way. Success! They had one left in stock. Remind me not to ride at the same time as the inadequate psychopaths early commuters are being driven home by their robotic cars while they sleep! 26 miles.

Thursday 9th 41-52F, 5-11C, light winds, variable cloud. A long walk through the woods. Saw a superb Greater spotted woodpecker in its best and brightest clothing. Later, a straight there and back shopping trip for 15 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.
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