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Autumn leaves

Wow, the autumn leaves, blue skies and bright toadstools were impressive today.  It was all of Autumn leavesa sudden half the temperature of last weekend (in Centgrade anyway) making for perfect autumn conditions.  Beautiful weather but cold enough to scare off enough dog walkers so that with a bit of care in choosing the route we did not have to slow down too often. Great! 

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Perfect weather

After lunch it started to rain really heavily. Perfect, it meant I got the woods to myself.  I barely saw anyone the whole time. I could go round some of the paths on the Wageningse Berg where normally I would never go on a Sunday afternoon because there are so many people there.  Wonderful stuff, rain. And after a bit the rain stopped (though it was so wet under-wheel that that barely made a difference).  The autumn leaves were spectacular, and the setting sun (you can just see it in the photo) added to the colour. Perfect weather

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Snow

Throughout December and January it has been constantly snowy and icy. That has given beautiful landscapes, but less than ideal conditions for mountain biking. When there is some snow it is ok, but as it gets deeper, it gets more and more difficult to pedal. Once the wheels sink in more that 1/2 way it is difficult to make any progress. There are some places round here with loose sand, and I've always had an aversion to cycling thorough that. However, now I know what the point of learning the right technique for that is; it is just the same as snow. Ice is another matter. The friendly paths through the woods are transformed into monsters waiting to trip you up and smash you down.  Cycling with a group becomes irresponsible and by yourself it is a matter of going slowly and carefully. Not exactly fun. Nevertheless, for views like in this photo it all becomes worthwhile.

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Bird song

The woods were filled with the sound of birdsong this morning. Blue tits (left), great tits, blackbirds and finches were all singing away, building nests and establishing terretories. There was a bit of warmth in the sun, the ground has now defrosted (so no puddles anymore, see below) and it was generally quite spring-like.  The downside is that the woods were also filled with other mountainbikers, walkers, dogs, children, children with footballs, more dogs, horses, etc.  After a winter of having the paths to myself, I had got used to the idea that it was not a problem to be on an official route, so made a tactical mistake of following a signposted route.  Nevertheless the weather was so glorious that it did not matter and we still had a great ride. 
The photo was not taken on the trial, but a couple of weeks ago in my garden
.

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Splash!

Yesterday it was the hottest March 22nd on record, and today it was also beautiful.  It felt more like summer than spring.  Even splashing through cold water was more refreshing than anything.  With buzzards circling overhead, rabbits in the meadows and song birds in the trees, it was a gorgeous afternoon.

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Dutch "Summer"

Last month I wrote that it was summer.  I don't know what I was thinking of.  The calendar might be of the opinion that it is summer, but anyone with their eyes open can clearly see that, if there is any season that we are not it, that is summer.  Cycling through the woods yesterday was hard work, due to all the time sinking in the wet slurry that the paths have turned into. Despite my best efforts, my speed dropped 10% below average, and in the evening all my joints were complaining. The heavy rain was so persistent that my wonderful winter boots, which kept my feet bone dry all the way through the winter, filled up with the water running down my legs. And apparently the layer of mud that was I coated with was so impressive, that a group of children I passed burst into laughter. At least I suppose that was why!

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