Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Early Coffee Ride to Ruan Lanihorne.

Looking out of my window on Tuesday it was as black as four in the morning outside, which is probably because that was exactly the time, and being unable to sleep, I decided to get out of the house and go for a ride.

In fact it was five o'clock when I wheeled the Jamis out onto the road, having had to have a coffee first, a check on the net of course, then get dressed and load up the bike with lights and stove and whatnot. Right away I knew I was over dressed even without a jacket, having been expecting an early morning chill in the air, but no, it was very warm out already and with a sunny day forecast, it was only going to get hotter.

Threading my way out of the village I was struck by the sight of three cats, positioned with military like precision about twenty yards apart, all sat staring into the hedge on the left side of the road. It was as if they'd agreed to co operate on the task at hand, and cover the area thoroughly. One by one they looked up as I approached and darted across the road in front of me, only to stroll back to their posts again as I watched in the mirror.

Getting out from under the dribble of light from the village street lights (a couple of years ago they turned them down to save power, might as well turned them off altogether really) I really appreciated my cheap Chinese front lights. Both are single LED jobbies bought from traders on Amazon, and together, they light up an otherwise pitch black road well enough for my modest needs, without even resorting to the high setting. These are the style of lights that have a reputation for burning your house down when charging them up, which could be a bit inconvenient I must admit, (I always charge them up outside using an extension lead with a safety cut out on it, just in case they decide to misbehave) but so far, both my lights and their chargers have performed faultlessly, although they don't get used too much admittedly.

Still short of the official sunrise time of 05.30ish, but already some light was appearing as I headed towards Probus.

 This is an in camera HDR shot using the tripod, and it hasn't made a bad job of it at all, with none of the overblown look one tends to associate with HDR images. The camera fires three shots off at differing exposures (Jpegs only, no RAW captures) then merges them into one Jpeg.

This on the other hand, was a normal shot taken using Aperture Priority, ISO 100 and then letting the camera sort the shutter speed, and again with the camera on the tripod, as even on a bright day it's gloomy under those trees.

The aim for the morning's bimble was to just repeat the ride I did on Good Friday this year, a loop taking in coffee by the river at Ruan Lanihorne and then round the lanes of St Michael Penkevil.

Early morning really is a special time to be out and about in the world. Everywhere is just so quiet and there is (usually) a freshness in the air that is often lacking in the late evening. There is also the chance of some encounters with wildlife too, and as I made my way along the lanes, I saw quite a few Rabbits or Hares go bobbing into the undergrowth ahead of me, and also caught fleeting glances of several Deer in different locations, one stood in the road ahead as I rounded a bend, two more in trees at the side of the road among other sightings. Unfortunately, all beggared off before I got close enough for a properly good look at them.

 Quietness you can hear. 

Oi! Mooey... yes you! Here I am trying to appreciate the magic and beauty of the still, quiet, landscape, and you come along chompin' and fartin' and stompin' about, scaring the crap out of me as I was wondering what ghastly beast was creeping up the hedge behind me! A bit of hush and respect for the moment please...

Well, it being an early ride, there had been various near encounters with fuzzy bummed beasts and critters such as Rabbits and Deer, but they all scarpered before I got close. This little chap however was completely oblivious to my presence as he busily furtled about in the hedge. Thankfully, being miles from anywhere, there weren't any hedge staring cats waiting to pounce. 

As it was getting light, so it was also getting misty, and progress was slow as I kept stopping at gateways to look at the view out across the fields, or just at the road behind me. Having passed Tregony I eventually reached Ruan Lanihorne and had a brief nose around before deciding I needed my second coffee of the day and made for my favourite spot when over this way, a bench on an old quay beside the river, a short way up the lane towards Lamorran. This is a rather splendid spot to just sit and relax a while, the peace only being disturbed by low flying Geese. Gert feathery long necked things flying in formation, they were making some racket, not just squawking but the noise of their wings beating through the air too.

 Ruan Lanihorne Church Lych Gate. One of the better appointed gates this, what with a roof to keep the rain off and benches for the pall bearers to rest while waiting for the Devil Dodger in chief to come and conduct the funeral. The building in the background is The King's Head pub, so if the vicar was a long time coming, then refreshment was close at hand. That coffin rest looks rather unconvincing though, the base being fairly modern looking brick. Presumably the original was removed for some reason, or fell apart and the stones removed for 'repurposing'.

The Church in Ruan Lanihorne was dedicated to St Rumon in 1321, who apparently, was possibly, maybe, perhaps, an Irish Missionary, but it seems, not a lot is known about the geezer.

 Fuzzy photo time by the look of it. Coffee this time was a Latte Caramel - very nice too, and ten sachets for a quid in the Pound Shop.

Chinese Lanterns, the Jamis and the Ruan River.

After about an hour or so I packed up and moved on again, riding slowly and taking in my surroundings as I went. Past Lamorran and riding alongside and above the river, I looked down through the trees to see a line of Ducks all sat in a row on a semi submerged log. From my vantage point up on the road I thought they'd make a great photo and accompanying caption – Ducks in a row, a metaphor for how a ride in the countryside sorts out the head and gets everything back on an even keel. From their vantage point down on the log, the Ducks thought otherwise and beggared off smartish, just as I was taking the camera out - my fancy analogy ruined by Fowl play.

 Sat on Sett Bridge taking in the view of the road and woodland ahead, and the river to the sides.

Sett Bridge looking back towards Ruan Lanihorne.

 Passing through Lamorran Wood.

This hill knackers me if I attack it, so the best plan for me is to get into the winching gear right from the start and sit back, dig in, and just enjoy plodding my way up. Bar ends I find are really comfortable when climbing.

Abandoned looking chapel near Fentongollan Farm, just up from Merther Lane.

The lanes in this area of the Roseland are nothing but an absolute treat to ride, passing beside the rivers, and through woodland, and almost entirely devoid of other traffic. Passing through those woods I didn't realise just how warm the morning was getting but I soon found out as I dug in up the hill towards Tregonian where the road is more open and I started to top up the tan on my face and neck. What goes up must come down, and after slogging up one hill, I was soon hurtling modestly down another past Merther Lane, while also pondering on which way to head home. Stay on the road I was on, which would be shorter but would also involve walking up the ugly hill out of Tresillian, or go a longer way round to Probus, then Ladock, which also involves a couple of vertiginous slogs, but rideable ones. Despite being rather over dressed for the heat of the day, I opted for the latter, using my local knowledge to take a short cut along Wagg Lane and up into Probus. Unfortunately for the Jamis, that meant negotiating a farmyard awash with smelly slurry and slop, so it is now in need of a wash, which is fair enough as I can't actually remember when I last cleaned this bike, as it hasn't really needed it.

 2 miles from Tregothnan.

This lane is a rarity in Cornwall - it's straight and flat!
Whoa!... What the hell is going on now? I've tried deleting and reloading that huge image but it won't resize to normal for some reason. Fuzzy uploads, random super size photos... Wish I knew what was going on.

 Wagg Lane into Probus is now declassified and listed under 'other route with public access' on OS maps, but back along, was probably the main road from Probus to Tregony.

 Flippin' fuzzy uploads again. Grrrr...
Anyway, downtown Ladock looks a bit underwhelming, but with tea, coffee and most importantly, pasties, available, the place has everything you could want. (oh and that is the pub, last building on the right).

Splendid and aromatic display outside a house in Ladock. Glare of the Daisies in the sun mullered the meter's attempts at getting a balanced exposure, (no good me trying manually either...) so some heavy lifting was required in post processing (not entirely successfully either).

Drifting along lanes like these in the warm sunshine is nothing but absolute pleasure.

For a bike costing just £325 a few years ago, the Jamis does a pretty fair job I reckon and once again I arrived home promising to ride it more often. The trouble with that is I've three other bikes I enjoy riding equally as much, if not more depending on the terrain/mood, so maybe I should try and do more longer road rides which is where Battersby, the Jamis (you need to be a Coronation Street fan to understand why the bike has been given that name), is more at home.

Map of the Bimblage, and the full version along with other info like graphs n'stuff can be found HERE


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Drunkenness, Storms, and a Welcome Visitor.

The big news down here in Cornwall (after the storms that is, more of which in a mo...) is that there has been a mass of Flying Ants invading various parts of the county, and they've been getting the Sea Gulls drunk. It appears the Gulls like a bit of Flying Ant and can have a good nosh while just flying about instead of having to drop down and nick people's pasties and crisp packets. The problem is, the masticated ants react with the acid in the Gull's stomach and make the bird act in a drunken manner. They've been flying into buildings, urinating and vomiting in shop doorways, nicking for sale boards and walking round with traffic cones on their heads and shouting 'Woi Oi' at passing Pigeons. Yesterday three Gulls suffering from hangovers fell off the fence while waiting for the Council tip to open. It's all a bit unseemly to be honest, but hopefully it won't put people off from coming here on holiday this summer. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are likely to be busy for some time though.

The big news this week was as mentioned, the storms that were forecast well in advance, and due to hit yesterday (Tuesday). We were warned of heavy and potentially violent thunderstorms with weeks/months/years worth of rain likely to fall in a couple of minutes. 

Now I love a good thunderstorm I must admit, so was quite looking forward to this one and sure enough, come yesterday morning, there was change, and a feeling of expectancy and foreboding in the air (or was that just me and my enthusiasm?) as a very feisty hot wind blew up sending litter and leaves rattling and rustling down the pavements as I eagerly rode out on the Marin looking to immerse myself in the weather. Initially, the forecasts had told of heavy rain in my neighbourhood by 10 am, but come the morning itself, that estimate was pushed back to lunchtime. Now I say immerse myself, but I was actually in wuss mode, and set off without any waterproof clothing, and fully intended to get home before the rain came.

Blue skies and sunny weather as Tregassow Lane lies ahead, but not shown in this darned fuzzy upload here, was a hot and feisty, trouser and bouffant ruffling, wind.

Initially the sun was out and the sky a lovely bright blue, but it was also fiercely humid and when exposed to the blustery wind, like standing in front of a giant hair dryer - it was marvelous! As I said, I do love a good old meteorological tear up, but especially that sense of foreboding ahead of an approaching storm. Other folk just go about their business without giving it much thought of course, it's just me and my over active imagination I expect, but knowing there's a big storm coming makes for a sense of slight unease in me - will it be a really bad one that tests my enthusiasm by actually scaring the crap out of me?  How hard is it going to rain and will I make it home before it does? I also like the sweet whiff of Ozone as the storm draws near and the freshness in the air after it has passed. I make them into a bit of an event then really, a bit of a thrill, but I've always been filled with awe and wonder when the sky lights up with potentially destructive and deadly lightning flashes, and deafening, house rattling, cracks, splits and explosive rumbles of thunder.

 Less than a mile into the short ride and my first stop for a photo, and an attempt to capture the wind blowing about. 1/10th sec at f16 and ISO 100 should do the trick, but the bike draws attention away from the vegetation.

Okay then, time to get in amongst the greenery and shoot through the edge of the agitated hedge. 1/6th sec at f13 this time. Both shots saw the built in ND filter used to slow the shutter speed, along with the self timer to reduce shutter finger vibration, and of course, the camera was on the tripod.

Moving on I stopped again in another gateway for more photos. No more attempts at capturing the wind now, just bike in the countryside shots. The top photo of these three just shows the sky starting to change as the weather turns.
For these I fished out the 450D and the ultra wide angle Sigma. I ought to use the DSLR more actually, as it does a better job regarding the dynamic range and not blowing out the skies than the compact, but operator failure is also a factor there of course!

Then I checked around to see if anyone was about, whizzed the bike into the field, lobbed the 55-250mm zoom on and got a couple more bikey shots before an angry farmer could appear armed with a shotgun and telling me to beggar off.

The big frustration is trying to capture all those weather related feelings in a photograph! Well, it's beyond me I admit that, so I don't even try ( I did get some shots of lightning forks long ago on 35mm but haven't tried since) but I did try to capture the wind by parking the bike in amongst some crops and including part of the hedge in a shot or two to enable some movement to be seen. I had a bit of a photo blitz in a couple of gateways as it turned out, taking loads of shots, even deploying the 450D for a rare outing, so I came home with a ton of very similar photos, but it was all most enjoyable. I had a great sense of feeling alive while being out and about on my ride I must admit, the weather and atmosphere was all very invigorating!

 Back breaking work going on in the fields at the top of Tregassow Lane at Trehane Barton, and it must've been hot work too. The ever stiffening wind was blowing only hot air and doing nothing to cool things down.

Ah now here we go... things are starting to look a bit tasty. This is looking in the same general direction (South) as the first photo in this post, but the bright blue skies have been replaced by a hazy, malevolent looking, all enveloping, fug.

So what of the storm? Well I made it home without getting wet, quickly had a shower (which was a pain racked one as my back was giving me bother by now, I must've ricked it at some point) and quickly set about editing the photos before having to turn off the computer and unplug everything - yeah I'm old school like my parents, but if this storm was going to be anything like the Met Office promised, exploding TVs and Routers and mullered PCs would be a real possibility.

I kept one ear and half an eye open for the advancing storm, and it certainly got a bit dark, well, very dark actually, but other than a couple of distant rumbles and a light smattering of rain that barely wetted the tarmac outside, nothing happened. It got lighter again and soon turned into a lovely, sunny,afternoon. Weather radar online showed some parts of the country, and indeed, this county, were getting a proper battering, but where I am, once again, all was pretty much business as usual. Down West at Coverack the storm hit really hard, sending cascades of water rushing down the streams and into the sea, knocking down walls, ripping up the road and all sorts. A couple of miles away from there though it stayed dry, so the hot spots were very localised it seems. Oh well, while I don't want floods and damage, and those affected by the storm have my sympathies, I do feel very disappointed to have missed out. What a let down! Oh well, there's always next time.

Meanwhile, in other news, my day was made however by a hairy arsed visitor late last night in the shape of 'my' Badger making a noisy appearance just before I went to bed. I have been aware that something has been coming into my back garden under the side gate for some while, and I thought it was most likely a Hedgehog, but the other night I heard a rumpus out on the patio and went to investigate. Well actually, I thought it was a pesky cat and went to give it a blast up the bum with an old washing up bottle filled with water that I keep by the back door. So I flicked on the light, opened the door, squirty assault bottle in hand, only to see a low slung hairy thing looking back at me. 'Blimey' I thought, 'a Badger'. 'Shit' thought the Badger looking up at me, 'it's one of those upright things' and he took off into the darkness pronto. 

Excuse the crappy photos, and also all my junk in the background. This patio is up three steps from the garden, so Miladdo there is quite bold, and he was quite unbothered by me turning on the light this time and opening the door.
I had a cracked egg in my box of eggs, so had left it out in that bowl for him. He took the egg and ate it most noisily (shocking table manners these Badgers) on the first step down. A quick check around to see if there was any more food to be had, a look up at me as if to say 'is that it big nose? Nothing more for me you tightwad?' and off he bundled.

Since then I've been leaving a few tasty treats out for him, and they have usually all gone come morning, but last night I heard a commotion again and this time carefully opened the back door, camera in hand, and was able to spend an all too short minute or so watching the Badger rooting about. At one point he looked straight up at me, but carried on rummaging unperturbed before deciding there was no more food to be had, and off he went noisily across the garden. What a magical few moments they were! I know Badgers are a bit controversial, and many folk would happily see it shot or clubbed to death, and livestock owners do have a point, but I'm a soppy git and an animal lover so these encounters have been very exciting I must admit, and hope I get many more.


Monday, 17 July 2017

Three Ride Catch Up.

Some more quality time on the bikes this week just gone, but really, any bike time is time well spent. I say that, but these were very selfish rides - I enjoyed them, but there's not a lot to tell about them to reward anyone unwisely straying onto these pages. No tales of derring do, no glorious vistas to try and describe, no appearances on Traffic Cops likely. They were very quiet, gentle toots about my usual haunts that did me a power of good, but there's nothing much of it to share unfortunately, at least, not with my meagre writing and relating skills. That last bit frustrates me a bit... no, a lot actually, I do wish these blog entries were more interesting and informative writing wise. 

But anyway, I'm going to lob some photos up from these rides instead of wittering on about nothing, starting with the first ride to Idless Woods, for which I gave Fatso the gig.

 Now this is why I love the lanes. Granted, for stark visual, photographic, appeal, I prefer them in winter when the trees are bare, but scenes like this put jam in my sandwich pretty well too. To drive along here in a car is to miss out on the warm air, the sounds and the smells. To spear down this road like some Tour De France refugee, thrashing the pedals while chasing a Strava Personal Best is just a great experience wasted in my book. Drifting along feeling the air on your face and listening to the birds is what it's all about, but as Bertie Bassett once said, it takes all sorts, so I shouldn't criticise.

But I do read forum posts, and also watch Youtube videos, about people saying they're not enjoying their cycling and thinking of giving it up as the Personal Bests have dried up, they fret about their lack of wattage output and they're just not enjoying it any more. Well you're doing it wrong! Well maybe not completely wrong, but just try forgeting all the competitive guff for a change and just go out and chooch about for a bit. Go wherever the lanes take you, just go for a quiet ride on a bike for heavens sake! Don't set targets, set limits- say a maximum of 10mph... Or keep it in one gear - a low one...Yes really! Leave your Strava wotsit at home along with your heart rate monitoring watch! Wear non luminous clothing! After walking, the bicycle is the simplest form of transport going, it doesn't have to be complicated. I can't help thinking some folk need reminding of that sometimes!
Talking of personal bests, that must be the longest caption to a photograph ever...

After riding the new Plus Bike around a lot, I thought I'd dig Fatso out again, and boy did it feel weird to start with! Low, fat and wide... oh and noisy! Noisy tyres, noisy freehub, noisy chain rattling against the front derailleur... damn! I'd forgotten I'd got a second coggy thing on the front after riding the one by set up of the Plusser. 
I don't know if it's just me, but when I get something new vehicle wise that's different, it's not switching to the new that causes the problems, it's going back to what I should be used to. After years on Japanese motorbikes, I bought a mid seventies Triumph with the gear/rear brake on opposite sides to what I was used to. Riding that was never an issue, going back to my other bikes was. Same with driving and riding in Europe. Never an issue driving on the 'wrong' side of the road, but get back to England and at the first roundabout I'm thinking 'Whoa this is weird... go round this clockwise? How does that work?'
It was the same with Fatso, I was getting in a right tangle with the gears to start off with, but I soon got back into the swing of things, and most importantly, no one saw or heard all the clanging and grating of chains over cogs and derailleurs... Least I think no one did.
Another big caption... Hmmmm...

 The entrance to Idless Woods at Lanner Mill is just beside this old shed/garage. Unusually there were no cars parked here on this occasion, there's normally a couple belonging to walkers and paid dog walkers.
That's some hill too, but thankfully the entrance is only half way up, and when going all the way up, it also provides a nice spot to give the legs a rest to poke about and take photos.

No interesting barn finds here unfortunately, just some old agricultural looking junk.

A full day's rain the previous day had left a few puddles in the woods, but precious little mud.

The trees being in full leaf makes for some slow shutter speeds on even the brightest days, and therefore blurry action shots. 

Saturday saw me take the Marin out again for a goodly potter around my local 'hood. A careful bimble this, as I had given it a full clean after its previous outing and I didn't want to get it all mucky again! So I may have been riding routes designed to avoid mucky farmyards, known puddle hot spots etc...

 The road through the farm at Boswiddle is always clear of Cow poop and country dumplings. Not sure I like the look of the local refreshments on offer though. Reckon you could stand a shovel up in that and it wouldn't fall over...

Under trees for more ride by selfies, and again the problem of low light levels leading to blurry action shots. The answer of course is to increase the ISO and shutter speed vastly, therefore arresting the action, but also destroying the fine detail in a noisy, fuzzy mess.

Despite the aforementioned day of rain, the local rivers and streams are running, if that's the word, at the lowest I've seen them in a long time. 
This unnamed stream usually flows quite nicely and noisily too - that lovely invigorating roar of flowing water as it is pinched at the sides when passing beneath the bridge on the road. At the moment the only sound is a slight trickle. Large parts of the stream bed were able to be walked on without fear of getting one's Beetle Crushers wet, so I took the opportunity to explore a bit beyond where the bank runs out, but a metal fence stopped me going too far, unfortunately. I'd like to walk along some of these streams at some point, wonky back allowing, to see where they go and to generally just poke my nose.
Poking around these river and stream banks is always interesting though, and makes for time relaxingly spent.

Sunday saw me machine gunning Imodium down my throat as I needed another ride but wanted to make sure I didn't get any unpleasant emergencies. 
This was just going to be round my usual loop, one of those rides just to keep the legs turning and the fitness up, but although gloomy and very humid, it was still a nice enough day out and I couldn't stay indoors. Sometimes it's not a desire to go out for a ride, it's a need, a fix I have to have.
Whether or not to go out was the easy part, the difficult bit is now deciding which of my motley collection of bi-wheelers gets the job. Having only ridden on fat tyres in recent weeks, I thought I'd reacquaint myself with 'skinny' rubber (2.25s!) and take the Voodoo.

 Woo... wobbly... slow... pedaly...
Yup, I did say slow. The Voodoo is a heavy bike now I've put panniers on it and fill them with all my junk, and it really did feel slow as I set off towards my beloved Tregassow Lane. My legs were flailing like the pistons on the Flying Scotsman as well and it wasn't just down to my cocking up the gears again, but also down to those smaller wheels requiring more effort. 
Well if I got confuddled by Fatso's 2x10 gear set up, going back to the Voodoo's 3x8 really saw me floundering to start with. I had to take my shoes and socks off to count the gear changes I did, and even then I had four gears left over. I'm going to need a calculator.

You've seen on Star Trek when Kirk says 'Warp Factor nine Mister Sulu! and it all goes a bit blurry? Well Pfft! Ain't anythin' special.
The Voodoo approaching maximum chooch factor 10 on the lane twixt Trehane Barton and Riverside.
I dickered about with the photo in Nik software, as in the overcast gloom, the Go Pro shots lacked oomph.

 The fields around Four Turnings Junction are besmothered in various crops at the moment. Spuds in this case...

... while on t'other side of the road are acres of Cauliflowers, with both of these crops being surrounded by fields of Wheat.
Harvesting all these growy things must take some doing that's all I can say. I have enough trouble pulling up the occasional Dandelion in my back garden.

Right, that's the lot I think, Thunderstorms are in the forecast for tomorrow afternoon, so that'll be something to look forward to, even if I do chicken out and don't take a bike for a ride in it - I'm a bit of a wuss about riding when lightning is about I must admit, but I do love a good storm so we'll see...