16 Jun 2010

Second half


No, the title is not some reference to football. Which I detest just as much as politicians and religion.

16th June 2010. A warm, beautiful day completely devoid of any cloud except the one hanging over my immediate cycling future. Instead of enjoying the empty lanes on my trike I spent hours tidying up the workshop. I saw the wooden surface of my bench for the first time in years. I rediscovered things bought from car boot sales which I had completely forgotten about. They say one should throw away anything not used in 10 years. That wouldn't leave me much in the way of junk! Having so many hobbies is not a burden on one's storage tubs if one has enough of them and enough strong, shelf space. It is more a financial burden because there is always something desperate to be bought in order to make further progress. So one becomes a butterfly. Flitting from hobby to hobby as funds and burning interest allow.

My leg did not enjoy crouching on the floor to sort through the heavy tubs under the bench. Straightening up became increasingly difficult. My upper calf/back of the knee hurt like hell! If this is what is meant by a rest day then I may take up serious cycling again! ;-)

Will I have the strength of will to stay off the trike tomorrow? Read the next exciting instalment!

17th 54F Cool, overcast, still. A quiet tootle to the shops. No real change. 10 miles. I feel as if I could keep going for another 50 miles now. It is too tempting to just get back on and start riding again. Obsession or habit?  It hurt as I rode gently away from home but the pain soon went away as I increased my speed. I was cruising at 16-20mph without pain on the flat.  Once I got going the discomfort in my upper calf only showed up if I pedalled fast. I deliberately rode up some quite steep but short hills just to see how it coped. Unsure really but I'd better rest it for another day. If I just lift my foot off the floor with my knee bent it hurts just below the knee at the back of my leg. So there is obviously some injury which should be allowed to heal. I'll just have to be patient. And avoid making it worse while spring cleaning the shed.

Another excellent TT video from MECcyclingUK on YouTube

Trikes at:  1.11-1.16 Adrian Perkin

At: 2.54 Rider TBC 

Rare footage of a tandem Trike! 7.32-7.42. Martin Badham: stoker TBC.

18th 54-60F. Overcast but becoming sunny. Blowing a gale and 17m/s forecast. (over 35mph) I set off slowly into the wind  to warm up before putting too much effort into my ride. The odd thing was that the pain had moved above the back of the knee into my thigh. It felt tight and my legs were generally achy. When I tried to spin the calf complained. I pushed it a bit on the way back even with the tail wind I wasn't doing much more than 20-22pmh. No real problems on the few climbs but I was being gentle rather than attacking every hill as I usually do. 18 miles so far. Going out again after coffee to some more shopping.

I ended up going in the afternoon. Taking it very steadily to avoid aggravating the injury. I passed a moronic farmer spraying his soft fruit bushes in a 16m/s gale! Fortunately the wind was blowing towards him from my direction. It was the GT-120 GPS logger's turn to get it right today. The G730 fell asleep half way around. I have been clearing their memories but it hasn't always helped. I see Netto is selling the G730 off at 100DKK if anyone in DK is interested. Make sure you download the latest driver from the Ventus website before plugging the device in. 16 more miles. No real pain once I'd warmed up.

19th 54-57F, cool, grey and with a blustery headwind regardless of my direction of travel. I decided to ignore the leg problem and ride as normally as possible. I set off to a target over 15 miles away to buy some organic corn flakes for the "Head Gardener". Since I wasn't in any serious pain I kept pushing myself harder to see if anything broke. The leg did not complain too loudly so I kept going in the hope that it just needed some exercise to put itself right.

I saw a Viktor tricycle outside a village shop and stopped to have a pleasant chat with the elderly owner. He had been provided with the trike by the Kommune. (Council)  and had been registered as handicapped because of his balance problems. He was full of praise for the Viktor and delighted with the mobility it offered. He had visited all the local villages for miles around and chatted about the deer and birds he had seen on his travels. He was full of stories about the delta being too dangerous for old folk and how easily they tipped. How nice it was that traffic made allowances for the Viktor's width and low speed.

The track was certainly much wider than either of my trikes. While the steering seemed very light and responsive. He even had a parking brake on the left lever. I tried lifting the machine. The rear was about the same as any roadster but the front was rather heavy though not impossible to get off the ground. No doubt the weight added to the excellent stability. The owner seemed completely unperturbed by the weight and said it was very easy to handle. He kept emphasising how much use the trike was getting. How nice it was to come to a stop without having to do a balancing act or dismount. A mobile armchair and limo combined with a perfect view of  the countryside without the expense and rigid timetables of bus travel.

I bid him farewell and thanked him for the nice chat. The rest of the journey went well despite a minor detour for a vintage American car rally which had closed a minor road on my normal route. 35 miles so far and the leg is feeling fine. Lifting my foot backwards with my knee bent no longer hurts.  I have to go out again to do some more shopping. The promised rain (and earlier sunshine) is still holding off. Both GPs loggers worked normally today with a half mile difference in distance recorded.

15 miles round trip to the shops pm.  My leg is feeling better with each ride. Ventus worked okay. i-GotU dozed off half way round. Total of 50 miles today.

Sunday 20th June 62F, light head winds, sunny periods. My calf complained as I set off but I kept going and slowly built up my speed. I was climbing quite strongly when I hit the first hills. After that the slight pain subsided but I was always aware of my leg for the rest of the ride. Finding the supermarkets in three villages closed I was forced to ride much further to find the next. Then meander again back to take in further options. I was really trying hard for most of the time.Though my legs don't feel very strong I was cruising at 20mph as often as I was able. The odd thing is that my leg doesn't hurt if I push myself hard but I do notice it when the effort comes off and my pedalling rate increases. Not that I'm ever pedalling slowly. 42 miles so far. I hope to get out again after lunch to try and recoup my mileage losses from the rest days.

I went out again in the afternoon for a twenty mile loop. I was caught in some heavy summer showers and sheltered a couple of times under roadside trees. The lanes were criss-crossed with streams but it was strangely warm with steam rising from the road surface. My leg seems much better now. Though it still feels "tight" at the top of the calf muscle.

Three young retards on scooters thought it would be fun to ride three abreast across a narrow lane as they raced towards me. I wasn't going to get out of their way. Personal Darwin awards no doubt await them.

A couple of van drivers thought it would be fun to clip me at high speed on the sodden main road. Giving a cyclist a free shower is a driving offence in the UK. As is driving at twice the speed limit. As there are no police in rural Denmark there are no driving offences. A few, beautiful American cars were cruising around today to coincide with the "Bedrock" meeting in a sand quarry up near the Motorway. I passed along that way again this morning between shops. That road would make a good time trial route with a good, wide cycle lane on either side but I'm not sure about the hills.

The saddle seems okay for most of the time recently. My computer told me this morning that the i-gotU software was incompatible with Vista! Both loggers managed to record today's trips for 61 miles in total. It is a great relief that I can get on with normal cycling instead of having to worry about injury.

A quiet rural scene probably unchanged in character for nearly a century. Except, perhaps, that the crop has been treated to maintain a specific height for harvesting. Straw shortener is a direct translation of the Danish description. I seem to have lost the wonderful sky in preparing the image for the blog. If you look carefully there is an old, thatched farmhouse, or cottage, nestling in the corner of the field hard up against the trees. (centre of the picture)  Mr Higgins tries not to run backwards into the wild verge on the steeply sloping lane.

Swans and signets enjoying the sunshine in Monet style.

21st 63F, light breeze, mostly sunny. A beautiful morning though slightly cool. A gentle 17 mile ride before coffee. Not feeling very energetic so far. Added another 20 mile loop after coffee. Still feeling tired. Energy and tiredness were coming in waves. It was a good day for birds. With buzzards circling high overhead. The lanes were full of small birds. I believe they feed off insects knocked down by the traffic. Roads certainly seem to attract birds like a magnet. Wagtails seem to outnumber all but the sparrows with chaffinches a close third. goldfinches and yellowhammers were much in evidence today.

I have found a new way to fix my little mirror to the handlebars so that I can see traffic approaching from behind me. Just a short length of 1/2" hose wrapped in foam pipe insulation and a few bits of tape and then the rubber mirror "bracelet" is fixed firmly around the lot. It has worked fine for the twenty miles of  testing so far. Without the extra packing for outward extension it was impossible to see the mirror because my hand blocked the view when I was riding on the brake hoods. 

The plastic protective surface over the mirror had become badly pitted over time. So I tried Solvol Autosol and a soft cloth. This brought a superb shine back again. Though not without quite a few pits remaining. I had previously discarded the mirror as hopeless for use on dropped handlebars. Though it was perfectly usable on my tri-bars due to their extra width and geometry. All it needed was to move the mirror outwards. Preferably by a couple of inches (50mm) to allow me a clear view of the mirror surface over my hand. Being so small, the mirror does not provide wide views at such a distance from my eyes. Though it is adequate and far better than no mirror at all. Or worse; one of those steeply curved and extremely dangerous "kiddies" bike mirrors. 

It is absolutely essential that nothing gets in the way of one's hands as they shift rapidly from one position to another on the bars while riding. Nor does one want an odd position for the hands when riding normally. It could easily lead to cramp in the hands or arms. Or worse; being unable to reach the brake levers quickly enough in an emergency!

I may shape a piece of wood to replace the sponge and hose packing. Or even try to modify an old hooded brake lever for greater neatness. I consider it essential to tape the packing to the handlebars to ensure it does not fall out of the bottom of the mirror's stretchy, rubber "bracelet" (or belt)  Should the packing drop out the tension will disappear and the mirror will fall off straight onto the road. Probably to be crushed by the next passing car.

The little mirror has the absolutely vital quality of flatness and a reasonably sharp image. So vehicles do not appear smaller. Or in other words; much further away, as they approach at high speed from behind to overtake me. The ability to see behind me without repeatedly turning my head, as I constantly scan the road ahead for new potholes, allows me to relax far more on rougher roads. I can choose a much wider path if necessary and without the fear of being mown down by drivers who do not concentrate 100% on reading the road ahead.  (as I was taught to do in an intensive, professional driver training course in my youth)

On a more cheerful note; A pretty Longstaff trike has come up on eBay(UK). The reserve is set at £350. It should fetch a good price with all that quality kit already fitted. UK bidders only.


22nd 58-62F. Winds light. Sunny but becoming cloudy. It was one of those strange mornings when only the vapour trails show in a clear blue sky. Without a windproof jacket it was barely tolerable but I carried on in the hope I would warm up.  In some woods I saw my fist Jay of this year. As I rode along I was thinking it was an unusual, but not exactly rare sighting. Then two hundred yards further on a very scruffy jay came down and landed on the road in front of me! I presume it was a juvenile because it hopped about trying to hide in the roadside vegetation instead of flying away. Once it had managed to hide properly in the undergrowth I rode on. I didn't want one of the loony rat-runners to run it over.

I passed these chaps preparing to take down the wings of a turbine. Both turbines had ropes attached to the upper wings. A worker was fitting big slings to the hub and wings for the crane to lift the rotor free. It is not until one sees a person up at the top that one realise how big these things really are. Though only small turbines, by modern standards, the chap in the nacelle was dwarfed by the scale of the thing.  I have noticed that the gearboxes on these two whine loudly in a good wind. Normally one hears very little from a modern wind turbine unless the wind is very strong. Then sometimes one can hear the sound of the blades passing the tower. It sounds not unlike waving a long stick rapidly through the air.

The nacelle must be about the size of a delivery van. There is an enclosed ladder and three doors at intervals up the tower. These older turbines have been sitting at the top of this hill for years with a superb view all round.

The view from the hill looking North East towards three much larger and more modern wind turbines. The way turbines are arranged here in Denmark is very attractive IMO. Their scale remains in keeping with the landscape and without intruding as a cluttered wind farm would.  Normally it is difficult to see more than a couple of groups of three wind turbines from any one spot. Obviously more would be visible from a high vantage point but these are not common in the undulating Danish landscape.

I was only feeling a little stronger than yesterday but was able to increase my cadence without discomfort. I can now put a lot more effort into my rides without worrying about my calf playing up. The mirror is still hanging on and very handy it is too. The Bontrager tyres start roaring suddenly and loudly above 15mph. It sounds just like a car is trying to push me along  instead of overtaking. A glance in the mirror and I can see there is nothing there. 36 miles before morning coffee.

21 more miles after lunch. When I turned out of the wind it was warm enough to take my jacket off! 68F. Lots more buzzards out and about today. What looked like a kite glided over very slowly just above my head. Except that it was very dark all over. It seemed not to see me as a danger.  It was smaller, with a square tail, but had the kite's high aspect ratio wings.

I just remembered the small, slender bird of prey I saw on an earlier ride. It may have been a hobby, a merlin  or a harrier. I think it was too big for a sparrowhawk. A previous neighbour's kids shot a sparrowhawk with their air rifles and left it in the drive. That one was tiny. (if indeed it was a sparrowhawk and not something smaller) Despite the huge variety of birds at our last home in the UK it was rare to see anything but owls, kestrels and buzzards amongst the birds of prey. Kestrels hovered over our garden most days.

23rd 62-66F, cloudless sky, breezy. At 8.30am I set off for Fåborg (pronounced Faw-borg) a pleasant coastal town. I was feeling quite strong with 17 miles falling to the first hour despite all the hills. I pottered about town on the trike for half an hour. Just admiring the buildings and doing a little window shopping. A gentleman called out that I had a beautiful machine as he and two ladies turned to admire my progress on a cobbled back street.. Which was nice. I called my thanks but did not stop.

I don't know why but I love round buildings. This beautifully designed and executed example is a small district heating power station in Fåborg. I'm not sure what Mr Higgins is looking at. Probably thinking about having to go all the way back home again. 

Eventually I headed back by an even more hilly route further inland. I was pleased with my speed as I climbed out of the town quite strongly. Averaging 14mph with bursts up to 26mph bear the top of the hill.  I wish this big hill was nearer home despite the traffic! To climb! Oddly, I didn't notice the camber so much this time.

Just like last time, though, there was a headwind all the way back. I varied my route a little from last time to take advantage of shelter from the hedges. Though my leg wasn't hurting I was occasionally aware of it as a tightness behind the knee. Because I was pushing hard all the time I was really quite tired by the time I arrived home after 44 hilly miles. My quadriceps were quite painful until I applied some fingertip massage to try and remove the waste products built up in the muscles.  I've never bothered much with massage so haven't a clue how to do it properly. All I  remember from reading my youth is drawing the fingertips through the muscles towards the heart. Perhaps I should do some online homework on cycling massage?

Both GPS devices worked well today and even agreed on the distance. My daily average is hovering close to 40 miles again despite taking 1.5 rest days. I'll see if I'm strong enough, after a rest, to go shopping. (after lunch) Unless I stress myself at the new distance I wont get the full advantage from the greater mileage. Though I can already feel a new level of strength and stamina. (most of the time)

Even my breathing efficiency seems to have improved remarkably. With less obvious panting despite my greater speed on the flat and uphill. There was a time when my inability to get enough oxygen was the limit on my climbing ability. I would literally run out of breath before my legs hurt too much to carry on at the same climbing rate. Now it seems as if my legs are matching this limitation because I don't run out of breath as much as I did. I'm still struggling with the saddle. Probably because the weather is much warmer than it was. Friction is now the problem. Perhaps I should go back to the Vetta SL for a while to give another part of my nether regions some grief?

I did 14 miles later. No problems apart from tiredness. My legs felt better after the ride. Probably helped to clear the lactic acid out of the muscles. Whoops! Having just checked online it seems that lactic acid build up in the muscles is now considered a myth.



24th 64-70F, breezy, clear blue skies. 28 miles taking in several supermarkets. GPS loggers okay. Saddle okay. Legs okay. Feeling rather tired.

Mt Higgins looks curiously at the nacelle and concrete foundation pad of the dismantled wind turbine.

25th 59-65F, light breeze and overcast. Feeling a bit stronger than yesterday. Only 21 miles but I might still get out again.

The two wind turbines have been taken down including their towers. It just goes to show how the scale is so difficult to judge from the ground. Even the electrical installation has been removed so they obviously aren't going back up again just here. I wonder whether they will be replaced with one or two larger models?  This raised site is bare of obstruction and has a clear horizon in most directions.

Pm. 68F, sunny. 27 more hilly miles for 48 miles total today. I saw a jet black polecat/mink/ferret/weasely sort of thing running across the road with a young one in its mouth.

26th 58-62F, blustery and overcast. Left late so only 22 miles so far. Still have shopping to do. Just avoided a suicidal shrew out jay walking. I saw a superb, open, two seater Jaguar in the lanes on its way to a vintage rally. It reminded me of a lift I had in my teens in a rag-top, D-type when we did well over the ton on a new bypass in the dark and the very wet. I saw a couple of other old cars going in the same direction as the Jag when we met the main road. Ironic to think that Mr Higgins is of a similar age. (1954)

When I see cars from my childhood years I am always shocked how old fashioned they look. Except for Morris Minors which are still very popular. I had a ride in one as a child because the rural, district nurse was a family friend.. She used to slip it into neutral going down the steeper hills!

Another 18miles before lunch for 40 total today. I wonder whether it is illegal to use a mobile telephone on a moving bicycle? The telephone has proved a valuable tool for updating shopping lists and checking my remaining distance from coffee and marmalade on toasted rolls. :-)

Mr Higgins admires a huge, old rhododendron in a sunken garden near a stately home. One of several similar  plants, all flowering within a few yards of each other. One can well imagine the number of gardeners employed by the big house in a bygone age. The ranges of buildings which provided  accommodation for the workers still exists not far down the lane. Complete with moats, lakes and other tastefully landscaped features designed to satisfy the needs of the landed gentry. Sadly the modest, lean-to conservatory over the moss-covered back wall fell into disrepair and was removed. It had a wonderful air of Victoriana about it until its disappearance. The grounds have some wonderful, mature trees. Though the tree-lined avenues are slowly being decimated by suicidal car owners.

Sunday 27th 2010. 58-65F. Light head winds with sunny periods. 46 miles before coffee. I averaged 14mph despite shopping in a supermarket and a couple of minor stops for photography. And once to and to find my biscuits and dried fruit doggy bag.

My right leg was completely free from any pain or tightness today and I felt a lot stronger and braver than normal. Taking a ride up to and along the north coast road for the first time. I could have stayed out longer but I had to draw the line somewhere to get back for coffee at a reasonable time.  

The Longstaff on eBay went for £360 after a couple of very late bids. A very nice trike at a very reasonable price IMO. Particularly considering the nice quality kit attached. I thought it would fetch much more than it did. Perhaps the high reserve price frightened people off bidding?

Alan Schmidt, the Danish racing tricyclist, has yet more important prizes under his belt. Gold and Silver medals at the World Cup in Segovia! Alan beat the current world champion and vice champion in the road race and came second in the time trial. Well done Alan! All that training is paying off handsomely! Alan is the Danish correspondent for the WTU. (World Tricycle Union)


28th 64-75F. Sunny, light head winds.  Hottest day this year by far already at 12 o'clock. 37 mile shopping trip. The cheap, blue, sports bag is showing obvious signs of strain at the seams. The problem is going to be finding a worthy replacement.

Mr Higgins pauses to admire a chain-driven, private, suspension bridge from 1850. Over 100 years older than Mr Higgins himself. The moat and adjoining lake are covered in flowering water lilies. (Pale pink flowers)

Another 24 mile shopping trip later pm. 76-78F and much more breezy than earlier.

With 20 miles already under his wheels Mr Higgins is keen to go onto the Helnæs peninsular. (Pron: Hell-ness)

29th 72-77F, sunny with light headwinds building slowly. 45 miles before morning coffee. Mr Higgins was buzzed again by the three young scooter retards. With every journey they grow nearer to a well-earned Darwin Award. Action and consequence.

The lady at a garage kindly filled my water bottle with fresh, cold water. I'm drinking gallons of the stuff these days! If I don't drink the bottle dry quickly enough it warms to hot bath level.  I might try a white bottle because the clear plastic one is a becoming a rapid, batch, solar, water heater.  It's still wet but you know what I mean. Solved this particular problem by putting the bottle in a cool bag with a cold block. Downside is the lack of easy accessibility.

Mr Higgins wonders whether the water is warm enough to go in. The wonderful silence is broken only by the cacophony of a clapped out lawn mower. The villagers at this tiny seaside hamlet work to a strict rota to ensure the gulls and skylarks can never be heard. There is a busy camp site just up the hill behind me but little effort to make the beach attractive for tourists. I have never seen hawthorn bushes growing out of coarse gravel on a beach before! The Danes have little tradition for beach holidays. Unlike the Brits. Where every bit of sand is squeezed into a juicer to maximise its potential as a money spinner. I'm surprised they don't have ice cream vendors on golf course bunkers over there.

30th 62-68F. Windy, overcast. A bit achy today. 36 miles. Finished the month on 41 miles per day average despite a rest day and a half due to the calf injury. Still a 13 miles per day increase on last month. My goal was 50 miles per day but it is proving difficult to reach because of the time required to cover this distance. My wife resents how long I am gone each day when there are unfinished chores! My average speed has only increased by perhaps one mph. Even though I am climbing much more strongly than ever and regularly see much higher cruising speeds on the bike computer.

Both GPS loggers are still proving unreliable and reporting inaccurately into the bargain. I would trust the i-gotU GT-120 before the Ventus G730 any day. Each has its advantages in the software. The i-gotU detects the logger automatically once the software has been opened. But still needs 9 clicks of the mouse before it can show the route on Google Earth. I would always prefer the route to be drawn on  a map rather than the satellite image. It doesn't zoom in and frame the route like the Ventus either.

The Ventus has to be told the logger is present but can often not find it! My record, so far,  is 5 failures to detect its own logger before it could download the recorded route files. Once it has found the logger it is very much slower to download the files but requires only three clicks to show a map, zoom in and draw the route. Sometimes it displays the route in a colour which is completely invisible on the map! A yellow trace on yellow roads for example. Easily changed but a bit silly!

The information the Ventus provides is more useful than the i-gotU but it still records daily climbs and descents of truly alpine proportions! My very fuzzy logic suggests that returning to exactly the same spot should produce a similar gain and loss in altitude. Not leave me hovering 1000' above the ground. Or worse, 1000' below it! Neither logger can be trusted to record maximum speed on the route. I regularly see 30mph+  during daily descents but this has never yet been shown by the logger. I am sure the length of the descents should be easily enough to record  something much closer to the mark. Hovering the cursor over the Ventus' route map shows the details at that particular time and place. Though it always seems much slower than I remember. :-)

The Ventus doesn't save the route automatically which is very silly indeed! The i-gotU provides a dated route name and is a one click save which can be brought up easily. The Ventus requires a route name to be entered manually and after saving manually there is no full route list to choose from next time! Weird! The i-gotU also has an auto delete logger memory choice. The Ventus has to be manually cleared. Neither logger is by any means perfect. If one could pick features from one and software from the other....  but life just isn't like that.

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