30 Apr 2010

Shit happens!

May 1st 2010. It's raining when it should be dry and my knee still hurts from yesterday's collision with the shed door. There are no currant buns and no rolls or bread for toasting. Why are the Danish supermarkets so dreadfully poor at ensuring they have stocks of the basics?  Every visit is a complete lottery with few winners. When I have cycled miles to buy something it is very disappointing to constantly find empty shelves. Will we starve? Read the next exciting episode! (Later) ;-)

My weight is now under 11.5 stone. My hips are finally almost completely free of fat.  Only about 3/4" total thickness when pinched. No extra fat below my belly button at all. About 3/4" total pinch thickness above instead of my former 2"+ thickness "apron" of pot belly,  middle-age spread. My forearms now look half their former girth of only 8 months ago.

In my youth I was around 10.5 stones for quite a few years but I haven't a clue where I have any fat left to lose. Perhaps my bone density is higher these days? It obviously can't be the size of my brain! My lower weight may explain my ability to climb hills more easily than my improved fitness.

I'm now wondering if I should be consuming something extra to combat weight loss and help to build more muscle mass. After losing a lot of bulk on my legs, due to muscle-stripping fat loss, the muscles are now growing larger again. Muscle definition in the calves is much more obvious as well as muscle bulk noticeably increasing. My thighs are also growing more obviously lop-sided. With the typical emphasis on the outer thighs of the keen cyclist and with an "overhang" just above the knees. An no, I do not look like an Olympic sprinter quite yet.

My contacts have mentioned my obvious weight loss even though I was only just over 13 stone at my heaviest. My appetite is slowly improving after years of my feeling constantly rather full. Yet I still don't ever feel really hungry and have still not experienced the dreaded cyclist's "knock". (Where the rider suddenly feels completely exhausted due to low blood sugar)

My diet hasn't really changed to match my increased energy requirements. Though I do have a bowl  of freshly stewed apple with organic yoghurt every day and a larger bowl of home-made organic muesli every morning instead of half a bowl. My wife does keep complaining that I have begun to "hover" at the kitchen door just before meal times.

I still feel that my daily mileage is far too low. With not nearly enough long runs to build real stamina. At a miserable 12 mph I need at least four hours just to do 50 miles! I don't often have four free hours available. Not unless "I disappear all day" on Sundays to quote SWMBO. The only way I can increase my mileage is to increase my speed. It feels as if I am getting much faster all the time but my measuring devices simply don't  agree!

I used to average 12 mph when I was only doing a paltry few miles a day, was overweight and very unfit. Why hasn't my average speed increased with my increased mileage? Should I try thrashing round and around "the block" occasionally to see if I can radically increase my average speed? Perhaps I'm just a slow twitcher rather than a fast twitcher. I'm talking about muscle fibres here. Not bird watching. Which I also enjoy in a relaxed sort of way as I am riding along. 

It rained all morning so I used that as an excuse to rest my injured knee. Then out shopping all afternoon in the car. Home for a thick sandwich of organic multi-grain wholemeal bread, mature cheddar and sliced tomato. Washed down with hot tea then straight out onto  the trike.  Not the brightest idea as I set off to see if I could push my average speed up around an 8 mile circuit.

I was feeling quite dizzy as the blood rushed to my stomach to start digestion thereby robbing my remaining two brain cells of oxygen. I managed 8 miles at an average of 14mph with the trees bending double in the wind before I had to be home again for dinner. The gusts felt like a wall of air was knocking me about. Well, that's my excuse. I was riding a triangular course. One long leg straight  into the wind up a slight incline all the way. Where I could only manage 12-14mph on the drops. Then the wind was at right angle to me on the next leg. The final leg should have put the wind behind me but this leg is well sheltered by trees, houses and high hedges. 14 mph? What a joke! 

May 2nd. 52F, winds light, variable cloud. The temperature stayed about the same all day but felt both cold and warm and windy at different times. Rode to a supermarket to buy the new GPS device and some English beer on special offer. There was only room for 6 one pint cans plus the rest of the shopping. Rode home for a total of 22 miles.

The Ventus G730 GPS logger. The nose pulls off to reveal a standard USB plug. The blue ring lights up brightly. A secure anchor point is provided for the neck strap.

I played with the GPS device while consuming coffee and toasted rolls. Then set off again in the opposite direction, to another branch of the same supermarket , to buy more beer. I managed to get 10 one pint cans in the bag this time as there was nothing else to buy. I can't say I really noticed the extra weight on either occasion. About 12lbs for 10 cans. Knees okay. Saddle okay in the morning but hard in the afternoon. So it's me. Not the saddle. I have modified the bag fixing slightly with two zip ties to the seat stays. Now the bag no longer sways on sharp, bumpy corners.  21 more miles = 43 total for today.

At this point I was going to extol the virtues of my new Ventus GPS G730 device. I ran the disk and loaded the software and driver successfully. Then inserted the GPS dongle into the front USB port to charge its internal battery. The computer promptly crashed! The dongle LED was lit at first but soon went out. I rebooted the computer then tried reinserting the GPS device several times but there was absolutely no response or LEDs lighting up. I will now go through the supplied leaflet and FAQs to see if I can discover the problem. I'm wondering if there is some incompatibility with the I-gotU software which is very similar.Grrr!

The igotU GT-120 has some serious problems with registering speed. I was regularly doing 25-30+ mph on the bike computer today but the GPS device read only 22mph maximum speed for the entire route! I have great hopes for the Ventus GPS logger because it gets a fix every second. My hope is to run both devices side by side for comparison to check their accuracy and functionality. The GT-120 has become very slow at getting a first fix from a cold start recently.

The Ventus is much better presented in both the packaging, technical data provided and construction. The English in the instructions is occasionally a bit "iffy" with a few typos but easily understandable. The device is a bit heavier, is glossy black and almost one and a half times as long as the I-gotU GT-120. The Ventus has a decent, black, quickly detachable neck strap and a sliding, on-off switch. Which is very stiff! I have broken some nails on this switch. It can also cope with multiple rides without getting confused. It is also about half  the price I originally paid for I-gotU. I have no idea how much it will sell for from normal retail outlets. The I-gotU may be more waterproof but has a very poor USB cable with its own proprietary (suicidal) plug.  Simply reversing the special plug kills the GPS device stone dead! That they didn't think to make the plug and socket handed to avoid hara-kiri is completely unforgivable in my opinion.

The Ventus has a standard USB plug firmly attached under a neat, push-on cover and looks rather like a USB memory stick on steroids. (see image above) A bright blue light shames the i-gotU's very weak LEDs hidden right inside the white plastic casing. While they may have chosen this construction to make it more waterproof it almost impossible to see them in ordinary daylight. Which is completely daft because one often needs to check the device is flashing to indicate it had begun to record a route.

Cupping the device in  both hands while trying to ride the trike has caused a few nasty moments. With potholes and large gravel coinciding with my heading blindly for the verge! Clear inserts cast into the plastic case would easily have solved this problem of LED obscurity. Probably at very low cost too.

The big press button on the Ventus is for recording GPS date for photography with a digital camera. On the GT-20 the push button is for switching the device on and off. With a confusing array of flashing LEDS to tell the bewildered owner what is (supposed to be) happening.

We have a new guard dog. He's a real softy unless he's cornered. We call him Sal.

I have now un-installed the Ventus software and driver and downloaded and run the software direct from the Ventus website. It didn't crash this time so hopes are high that 4 hours of charging will give me a second (and hopefully better) GPS device to play with. One odd detail is that, each time I reinsert the Ventus GPS device, Windows reinstalls a driver. It now thinks it's a serial mouse!

Mr Higgins goes IMax. Note how the alien is hiding his pink knees to avoid clashing with the red hazard stripes. I told him that hat was far too tight! Scruffy git! :-)

3rd May. 46F light winds, overcast and rather cool. Tried out the new Ventus GPS logger alongside the i-gotU. Not only did it record the wrong elapsed time (20 minutes out!) but told me I had climbed 8000ft and descended again all in an hour and a half! It has crashed my computer twice more now so I'm giving up on it unless I can get it sorted out soon.  The i-gotU was fine and agreed with the bike computer on my mileage. 16 miles riding in circles to test how they each performed.

If you go down to the woods today...you'll see an explosion of spring greenery. One can almost see the light of summer at the end of the tunnel but only dimly through the undergrowth. I saw two large deer in a lane as I crested the brow of a hill. They ran away into the distance long before I could get my camera out. I need to work on a better way of carrying the camera for quick access. I also missed a great shot of a tractor pulling a giant shit spreader. The brown stuff was shooting out of the back amidst a huge cloud of steam. The back lighting from a low sun was absolutely spectacular. The tractor disappeared behind a hill before I could reach the camera bag. 11 more miles to the shops, later on, for 27 miles total today.

4th May. 46F with a gale blowing. More large deer. Crossing a busy main road this time. Probably flushed out by large machines clearing a long abandoned farmyard of trees. A huge wood chipper was feeding on 8" tree trunks dropped into it by a special tree harvesting machine.

22 miles battling the fierce wind.  Sprayed by two different farmers as I passed their fields! I thought there were rules about spraying and maximum wind speeds but apparently not in Denmark. Winds of 17m/s are over 35mph!

The Ventus GPS device crashed my computer the moment I plugged it in. That's half a dozen time it has happened now. I've had enough. It is definitely going back to the shop! Life is too short to waste on products which don't work and which actively risk my computer. It woke up from auto reboot with a buff coloured, blank screen for quite some time!

5th May. 48F, cool, breezy, cloudy. Full sun was forecast. Took the Ventus G730 GPS logger back and swapped it for a new one. Yet to load the software or test the device. Crashed the computer the moment it was plugged in!!  I was sprayed again by another farmer out spraying in the strong wind. No idea what was being sprayed. No wonder I'm losing weight and getting cold symptoms!

Just to rub it in for Gunnar: ;-) I am now 11st 2lbs, 156lbs or 72kilos still damp from the shower. :-)  38 miles today. Most of it seemed to be into a headwind. I'm still waiting for the weather to warm up. I'm fed  up with wearing jumpers, windproof jackets and winter gloves! My motley collection of cycling jerseys has yet to be warmed by the summer sun.  Despite daily exposure for at least a couple of hours, over a period of at least 3 months, my legs are still officially off-white and pink. (i.e. Not remotely tanned) Where can I claim a refund?

6th May. 46F, cool and blowing a gale. Both GPS loggers behaved themselves but failed to agree, by one mile, on the distance travelled. They bracketed the bike computer with a tyre setting of 2120 for 700x23. 28 miles today, judged by the GT-120. 29.5 by the Ventus G730. The G730 seems to "wander aimlessly" much more when I'm in the shops whereas the GT-120 has almost completely stopped behaving like this. (which it did a great deal at first) I may be able to reduce this random wandering with the options in the supplied software.  It is very irritating to have a childish, wobbly star drawn around my stopping places on the route map. I heard my first cuckoo of 2010 today.

 I was overtaken by a chap out training on a posh racing bike. Can't pass up a chance to measure my speed and stamina but I really struggled to try and keep up with him. He was going well (and effortlessly) at ~24 mph to my previous 22mph on the flat road. That is until he made the mistake of taking to the bicycle path and promptly punctured on the countless pieces of large gravel and glass strewn there!

At first it was a slow puncture so he was able to recover, pull alongside, then ask about local bike shops. Then pulled away on a big, steep hill as I panted along behind him as best I could. His tyre went completely flat at the top so I had to guide him to the nearest bike shop for repairs.

Later, I had a nice chat with a lady outside a supermarket who was interested in the trike. She was a member of a local group of cyclists who enjoyed a weekly exercise ride of about 18-20 kilometres. Rain forecast for the next few days. Right knee aching badly on the stairs. More a result of tidying the shed than cycling, I think.

7th May. 40F, overcast, blowing a gale and raining on and off all morning. Supposed to be a rest day but I still went to the shops. No problems with my knee today. The G730 GPS logger is drawing long, random side trips and counting the extra mileage! 14 miles by GT-120 and bike computer. 19 by G730!

8th May. 40F. Rain. Cold. Not much time for more than a quick shopping trip today. 14 miles.

9th May. 52F. Still felt cool at first. Sunny periods, winds light. Rode to the shore then wandered the lanes. The pictures show a particularly attractive village pond just as the leaves are bursting out of the trees. The ducks came over to say hello but I had nothing to give them.

Outside a village shop an elderly chap dressed as  a Danish farmer came up and started chatting. He seemed to think I was a real Viking for having bare legs when it was so cold. My Danish must be improving. :-)

The G730 GPS logger is still misbehaving by drawing silly squiggles and adding the extra mileage.  I have changed the settings to 3 seconds per fix to see if it helps.  28 miles today (on the GT-120)

10th May. 48-50F. Breezy with sunny periods. 22 miles by GT-120 and bike computer. 29 miles by G730! 8-(

11th. Just time for an early ride to the bakers in bright sunshine. 17 miles.

12th May. 40F, blowing a gale and raining from morning to night. Family members were visiting from England so there was absolutely no pressure to go out. (at all)

The 13th lived up to its name. The chain came off just as I was sprinting away from home in a high gear. I hit the handlebars really hard just above the knee. I rode on for 12 miles to finish my shopping trip but I'm still in a lot of pain 8 hours later. I should probably have returned home and put some ice on it. No sign of swelling or bruising so it may be better tomorrow.

14th May. My leg is still hurting. I have probably just bruised the muscle but there's no discolouration or swelling. It is locally tender to the touch and hurts when I'm climbing the stairs. 43F, overcast and winds lighter today. The chain has come off a few times under exactly the same circumstances. I am wondering if the chain derails on the 46T (biggest) chainring because the teeth are so worn. The problem is that I have quite a number of chainrings for larger PCDs but not for the existing triple. The advantage for a triple chainset is always having a "granny gear" available when one is too tired to push hard up a steep hill. This is vital insurance in such a hilly country. Climbs may be very modest, in comparison with parts of the UK, but the island of Fyn (in Denmark) is very rarely flat.

My luck isn't improving. I rode ten miles to a local town and was ripped off at a supermarket. I only discovered this after I had ridden half way back home when it dawned on me what they had done. So I had to return (on my bike) and ask for a refund of the overcharging. This went easily. Now I am home again I have discovered I have left my jumper in the shop! Then I discovered that the supermarket doesn't accept direct phone calls so I had to go through central office. They rang the shop for me but they said they hadn't seen my jumper. I had to insist they put me through and there it was by the checkouts where I had left it! It was a nice jumper so I didn't want to lose it. I shall have to ride back to fetch it tomorrow. My memory has now become so poor I'm going to have to ask the doctor to check me for Alzheimers. 

This is the third time in three weeks I have been ripped off by a supermarket chain. I'm wondering if there is a scam going on where the checkout operator pockets the cash if they can get away with overcharging. Or whether the shop is instigating overcharging to increase their profits. The system is completely against going carefully through one's receipts while at the checkout. No ink, a very short conveyor belt, nowhere to load one's bag and no recycled boxes available to make the task easier.

There are always long queues at the tills because of a lack of staff. There is constantly high staff turnover with new faces on every visit. It all adds up in favour of the dishonest supermarket or checkout operator! Many supermarkets even have a notice by the checkouts that one must discuss errors before leaving the shop! What a bløødy nerve! My close vision is just a little too out of focus to read the till receipts easily without my reading glasses. When the ink is always fading to pale violet it becomes even more difficult.

The office I was supposed to visit in town was closed because it was the day after a bank holiday! They normally close early on Friday anyway so they had obviously decided not to bother opening today.

Though my knee didn't hurt at all during the ride it is aching now I have stopped.  The i-gotU GT-120 GPS logger keeps going to sleep during a ride. Or is very slow to lock on from a cold start. It is always fully recharged every day. Meanwhile the Ventus G730 seems to be learning not to stray too far from my route. 25 miles. (Or so I hope)

15th Just another day. (Cold, with rain and wind) Fetched my mislaid jumper from the supermarket. An ancient lady who wa sin fornt of me in the supermarket queue asked me if my legs were cold. She had so much shopping I imagines a large lorry was waiting outside. Imagine my surprise to find that she and her friend were loading a bike trailer as I came out! The GT-120 missed three miles by not waking up from a cold start again. Only 18 miles.



  1. Thanks.
    I wasn't blessed with the a bicyclist body, even when it's in shape. I weigh 250 pounds, which is "only" 40 pounds overweight. I don't know what that is in stones, but I'll bet it's a big box of rocks.

  2. Gunnar

    A big box of rocks = 40 lbs = about 3 stone. (all three are imperial measures) 40 lbs = 18.2 kilogrammes. (Danes measure in metric quantities)

    All sorts of people ride bikes. I'm sure you weren't deliberately singled out for exclusion.:-) All it takes, to get in better shape, is an obsession and strongly masochistic tendencies. ;-)

  3. I'm turning 65 next week. I've been through my masochistic phase. Most of my masochism now involves food. Which may be the issue. :o)

  4. :>) Congratulations. I don't mind masochists...
    but I couldn't eat a whole one. :>)