29 Mar 2010

Keep on trikin'

Mon 18th Jan 2010: -2C and almost calm. I spent the morning helping my wife to clear a new 2" fall of snow. When I left after 3pm I had the winter training trousers on again after being so cold yesterday. Though  I was soon too warm again. So I removed the thin padded waistcoat at the first opportunity. I was fighting an inch of mixed slush, ice and packed snow on the minor roads. Main roads mostly clear on the carriageways with banks of snow in the cycle lanes. I chose to take a meandering route to yet another village with supermarkets.

Quite amazingly, five different people spoke to me outside the shops. Three asked specifically if I had made the Higgins myself. At  this rate I shall have to have a story ready for enquirers. Or bilingual leaflets ready to hand out. They all seemed genuinely interested in the trike and recognised its sporting pretensions.

Later I saw a cyclist tootling along at a good pace a few hundred yards ahead and thought I'd try and catch them. Just to get some idea of my fitness level. I was averaging 16-18mph before I finally caught them. I was panting like a steam engine and my legs were on fire. They had eased off to about 14 mph on a long incline so I had no choice but to to go past and then try and stay ahead. The young rider had a sporty bike with skinny tyres. I put quite some distance on him on the flat but then a steeper hill intervened and he caught me as I dropped back to 12mph. I tried to use the cycle lane in town but it was too just narrow between the snow banks for a trike and I had to use the road again. The last time I checked in my my mirror he had disappeared.

It was dark by the time I finally headed for home but the traffic was light enough to avoid problems with the narrowed roads. I really have begun to hate the main roads with the lorries and their matching trailers brushing elbows with me. It's not so bad when the cycle lanes are clear and they have more room to overtake safely. Only 21 miles today and legs a bit achy in the evening.

 A picture is worth a thousand words. This sums up the present conditions nicely.

Tues 19th Jan 2010. -1C with light northerly - north easterly winds. I chose a village 9 or 10 miles to the north as my target for today.  Lots of hills but avoided the worst main roads.  Roads still mushy in places with banks of snow on either side. Had a chat with a Danish chap who had lived near London in his youth. He was interested in the trike and mentioned somebody who kept tipping a trike over on the corners. (in England) Tried to keep my speed up (as usual) for 22 miles today.

Wed 20th New snow + cold + windy + shoulder pain from snow clearing = rest day = 0 miles today.

I found a superb, time trial video from a really talented film maker on YouTube: BTW: The trike is at 6.40-6.55. It looks like a Longstaff judging by the hubs. The rider (Adrian Perkin)  is moving along nicely. The film maker (M.E.Carroll) deserves far higher viewing figures. Sadly the average YouTube audience would need naked cyclists falling off every few yards to begin to watch this sort of thing in larger numbers.

And another great TT video by the same author. By  coincidence the trike appears at at 6.40 and again at 6.50 (later confirmed as Adrian Perkin on his Longstaff) These videos stand full screen viewing at higher resolutions.

Thursday 21st Jan 2010. -3C, 27F, light winds. Minor roads covered in packed snow and frozen slush. The narrow tyres break through the crunchy stuff and act as a brake. Then I get wheelspin trying to get the speed back up. Lots of recent drifting and wind sculpture of snow banks beside the roads. Very hard work making progress in places. Very quiet on the way out with no traffic at all. Headwind on way back made my toes very cold and slowed me down. I didn't need a handkerchief. I needed a whole bed sheet for my nose! Saw Fieldfares in the hedges and two large (Great Spotted) woodpeckers foraging together in birch trees.  Only 19 miles today but at least I made the effort.

How much longer is this ice age going to continue? The forecast is even colder for the next ten days. I was promised AGW! Where do I queue for my refund? :-)

I saw a great little toy online: A GPS logger. It records one's route and then shows it on Google Earth when one gets home. The GT-120 for 400DKK [£46][$76US]equiv  @ only 20 grammes and smaller than a matchbox looks quite interesting for monitoring my training progress. MobileAction Technology - i-gotU Official Site. I always forget to record my daily mileage and then forget to check the bike computer before I leave each day. Ain't senility wonderful? Every day is a surprise! Toy-toys-toys. :-)

Friday 22 Jan. 17.5F, -8C. 10m/s South Easterly breeze. When I got the trike out of the shed my chain was frozen stiff into zig-zag wiggles! Presumably the moisture from previous rides had frozen the links. It is so cold in the bike shed that snow, which I bring in on my shoes lasts for a week.  I had to oil the chain and run it backwards for a while just to make it behave normally before I could leave.

Taking no chances on clothing this time. I'm fed up with being cold. Skiing goggles. (very sensible today after several days of streaming eyes) Windcheater over fleece jacket, all wool jumper and thin polyester vest. Winter training trousers over polyester tights. Longest and thickest wool socks in the cupboard over polyester socks.

My windcheater became saturated by the time I returned as was my fleece jacket. (interstitial condensation forcing a dew point within my clothing) I knew I was a bit too warm most of time but had little choice once I was out. The wind chill without the outer jacket was just too unpleasant with the headwind + my forward speed being additive. I did five miles at 12mph plus unprotected from the head wind. Wind chill factor below -20C! My beard was literally a solid mass of water ice but thankfully my nose didn't run nearly as much today.  25 miles on mostly clear main roads and snow packed/icy minor roads. I may try wearing a second fleece jacket instead of a wind cheater. The fleece will breathe better. Allowing the moisture to be carried away without allowing the cold to reach my skin. As it does with my single (densely matted) fleece jacket.

Perhaps another jumper would be worth a try? If it proves too warm I can always put it in the bag. My theory that a raised core temperature would keep my extremities warmer was not really born out in practice today. My left hand became very cold (for a while) until I started climbing. Then having descended into a headwind wind my feet gradually became colder and stayed cold for the entire ride. Not painfully so but hardly comfortable either.  

I climbed this long hill today. Managing an average of only 12mph. Google Earth tells me it is 2.5 miles long with a bend near the middle where it disappears out of  sight 1/2 mile beyond the footbridge. The hill continues behind the camera for another 200 yards. Some local recumbent cyclists used this hill for coasting trials to prove the speed and wind resistance of their various steeds.

Note the unusually wide bicycle lane just here. Normally I have one rear wheel running along the dashed line of most bicycle lanes because they are so mean with the width. To add to the irritation the width of the dashed line ensures I must have both the front and one rear wheel running along the line if I try to bridge it. A wider track on the trike might help but I might need a "wide vehicle" sign embroidered on the back of my shorts. :-)

Saturday 23 Jan 2010, -7C, 17.8F. Stronger SE wind moving the trees and smoking snow across the roads. Tailwind going. Really nasty headwind back.  I could feel the cold on my arms and chest through all my clothing on the way back. I had a stripe of frost up the back of my outer fleece jacket when I got home. It was painful to remove the ice from my beard because it was frozen so hard. 20 miles of slow, biting cold on frozen roads.

Do you call that a cycle path? I knew I should have put the snow plough on before leaving!

Sun 24th Jan 2010: A roaring wind overnight had produced yet more drifts from old snow. 21.5F -6C with the trees still bending to gusts when I left. A horrible headwind. I couldn't get much over 12mph on the way to the shops. Not even pedalling downhill! My fingers were cold even in my thicker gloves. The main roads were an ugly concrete grey from dried salt. Tried to  take a detour on the way back but the road was impassable as far as the eye could see. So I ended up with a miserable 9 miles on the clock.

BTW: I have a new hat! A thick, felted, peaked,  fleece cap with ear flaps and neck protection which matches the colours of my trike. I am now the colour-coordinated, foreign legionnaire of the tricycle brigade. Very good it is too with the skiing goggles in place. The first time in weeks my ears weren't freezing cold. With the tailwind I was cruising at 20mph uphill and down dale. I wasn't out long enough to get cold feet.