16 Jul 2010


16th July 2010 77F, trees thrashing about in the wind, full sun. A 21 mile loop. My knee doesn't like hills but I'm still twiddling as much as possible. 10 more miles later on. 79F. Blowing a gale. Hot and sticky. Knee felt better but still not mended.

Mr Higgins buries himself in a verge of wild flowers near the Empty Quarter. These are chicory but the verges are resplendent with all sorts of wild flowers at the moment. I am not sure whether they are deliberately planted. Or simply take advantage of  passing traffic to waft their seeds further along the road.

I see more and more of a very worrying and highly invasive wild plant. The Japanese Knotweed is almost indestructible with deep runners and capable of growing through concrete and tarmac. When rough soil is imported to a new site the plant seems to spring up and spread like wildfire.

It was very common in Britain but the colder climate of Denmark seemed to have kept it under control until recently.Though it is reputed to be hardy to -35C! The warming Danish climate no longer seems able to contain it and the plant marches onwards in many half-wild places. Though not unattractive, I would hate for anybody to plant it in their garden out of ignorance! The owners of one garden I pass regularly cut down a lot of dense, foolishly overgrown conifers when they bought the house. It certainly let the light in but the Knotweed immediately took over the entire garden!

I remember a riverside, fishing club, car park in the UK which had tarmac over rough gravel. The club members had a constant, losing battle trying to get rid of the plant. They attacked it with poison, fire and brush cutters. Nothing worked! It started coming up right through the tarmac of the road beside the car park!

Another slight oddity at the moment is the very large number of dead moles lying beside the roadsides. They haven't been run over but just seem to have surfaced and died. Often lying on their backs. There is no obvious sign of the verges having been poisoned.  Certainly no sign of the usual "agent orange" herbicides which are so incredibly popular in Denmark. These dead moles are mostly rather small. Before the dead moles I saw lots of dead voles and shrews along the sides of the roads. None of them looked as if they had been run over. Very odd!

17th Cooler. 72F, slight breeze, mostly sunny. Rode a 30 mile loop. My knee pain keeps coming and going. Sometimes I can be on the big chainwheel bombing up a long hill without any pain at all. The next I am crawling up a short hill in bottom gear and trying not to use my right leg at all. Sometimes it feels as if I can clench my knee to stop the pain. Then pressure comes on my knee to climb another hill and the pain comes straight back. It isn't serious pain but it does slow me down. Last time the pain went away immediately when I dropped the saddle slightly. Not this time.

18th 62-67F, breezy, sunny. Much cooler than it has been lately. My knee didn't bother me very much at all today. That is until I was about to overtake a Michelin Man on a racing bike who was just dawdling along. He was completely unaware of my presence and suddenly started pedalling strongly just as I drew alongside him at twice his speed. After I got past him going uphill I had the occasional twinge in my knee but not too painful. Quite a few cyclists were out training and enjoying the sunshine. Smiles and waves all round. 25 miles so far. I'll probably go out again after lunch. I did 12 more miles later on. Knee showing definite signs of improvement.

19th 68-71F, sunny and breezy. Just a quick run to the shops and back. 18miles. I'm still trying to avoid overloading my knee though it is definitely on the mend. It still hurts off the trike which is an indication that all is not well. So riding as "aggressively" as usual is not possible. I have to go out again later so today's total should increase. By only 13 more, very sweaty miles.

My knee is still improving but I have to change down early for the hills. Despite this knee setback I am still (almost) matching last month's mileage. I keep trying to pedal fast but don't have the elasticity or fitness to maintain a high cadence for long enough to maintain my speed on hills. It's as if I hit an rev limiter whether on the flat or going uphill.. This is probably just a lack of practice. Until now I have been pushing as  hard as I can (all the time) but with relatively modest pedal rpm. (usually 75-85)

This  may be why my knees are proving so fragile when I try too  hard. I really ought to concentrate on a high cadence rather than trying to constantly ride as fast as possible for the conditions and within my still limited ability. If only I wasn't so competitive I probably wouldn't have the knee problem. Every time I see a cyclist ahead I have to try to catch and overtake them. It was my habit when I was young as an extra incentive to train hard. These days they call this "intervals". It is a habit I still haven't broken forty years on. I'm practically a pensioner and riding a trike of at least twice the weight of most modern racing bikes. And still chase anything that moves like a badly trained dog!

Now I have lowered the saddle I will have to adjust the handlebars downwards to match. Or I will be sitting too upright. I always felt remarkably comfortable on the Higgins until I lowered the saddle. It felt just right. I have discovered that the handlebar stem/extension won't go any lower. So I shall have to look at shortening the pipe section (with expander) which fits inside the fork steerer tube. Unless there is a blockage inside the steerer tube which prevents the stem from being lowered? There's something odd about the present situation which I haven't examined properly yet. It could be the expansion bolt is simply too long and hitting something on the inside of the fork crown.

The head bearings keep working loose too. Which causes violent (no-hands) steering shimmy. So I really must look into this. I also need to replace the handlebar tape. I bought some new tape ages ago but still haven't fitted it. Being completely isolated from other cyclists there isn't any pressure (at all)  to maintain the trike looking like new. So I tend to overlook the cosmetic problems as long as the trike is safe. Though I did take the sticky rubber, brake lever hoods off and gave them a good wash. They were so sweaty they were literally too horrible to touch. Like those nasty, little, silicone rubber, kid's toys but worse.

I was shocked to see Andy Schleck lose his chain on a Tour deFrance mountain stage today. Dreadfully bad luck or poor equipment, maintenance and/or adjustment? Why weren't we told which seriously overpriced equipment to avoid in future? The copycat, fashion victim, amateur cyclist always wants the latest gear even if they don't train enough to notice the difference. I remember, in my youth, going from the superb Campag Gran Sport rear changer to Campag Record only to discover it  was complete crap. Long and heavy, with a dreadful gear change. Amazingly I still have a Gran Sport in my gear changer storage box. It is not pretty though.

I wonder how many racing cyclists suffered in their careers from having to use substandard (but expensive) equipment just because the sponsor made the gear? Or insisted on a particular product? What do Schleck's bikes cost? £20k+? What an advert for the latest and most expensive cycling equipment!

Does anybody remember Bjarne Riis throwing his bike away when the gears went wrong? Had he grabbed any old bike from the roadside the gears would probably have worked better. In a recent series of UK road races one chap broke his carbon fibre frame when he pulled out of his pedal clip and sat heavily on the top tube! So much for longevity.

20th 72-78F, hot, bright sun, breezy. Late start from swapping head bearings. I discovered that the Higgins fork's steerer tube was only reamed half way down. It proved impossible to push anything beyond that point.  So the handlebars stayed as high as they were. I suppose I could have sawed the stem off at the same angle to allow it to go lower. Though there was just no way to hold it steady enough to saw with all four cables and computer wires still connected to the trike. I presume the thicker wall of the lower end of the steerer tube was to resist heavy side loads when cornering hard.

I was riding much more strongly today. I didn't really notice my knee except on one short steep hill at 22 miles. It doesn't hurt off the trike now, thank goodness. Nor when I get out of the saddle. Though I still have to be careful because it is easy to get a warning twinge. It will still pay me to take it fairly easy for a while to avoid aggravating the injury. 28 miles so far.

So much for resolve. I went out later for 22 fairly quick miles being buffeted by the warm wind regardless of my direction of travel. I was trying hard most of the time and (thankfully) my knee did not complain.

Both GPS loggers have been behaving themselves until today. Now the Ventus G730 is starting to wander about after I stop. The i-gotU GT-120 fell asleep half way round. The propriety plug on the GT-120 USB cable is wearing out and becoming unreliable!

My computer had to have a factory reset because Vista was locking up on start up. Brown screen of death?!?  I suppose it make a change from XP Blue. So I lost 180 recorded rides from the i-gotU. All thanks to the POS Vista OS and the POS Seagate Go external hard drive. The drive completely refused to Restore the files saved on it. I unplugged the drive while I did the Reset. Afterwards the Seagate listed the files but would not offer Reset as an option. The screen button was dead. May both companies burn in hell for believing their own shitty hype and foisting their crap on the consumer for empty profit!

At least my Specialised Tahoe shoes are continuing to be very comfortable indeed. Never feeling heavy or hot. I am usually completely unaware of wearing them. They still look like almost new despite zero maintenance and a few thousand miles. I have only made them really wet twice. The rainwater from the front wheel pours in at the top of the shoes and out at the bottom. The soles have not worn, as I feared they might, to leave the cleats foolishly exposed. Though I rarely walk very far in them except around the supermarket aisles. It's quite fun to see the struggle other cyclists have to walk in their "proper" racing shoes with their exposed cleats.

 Mr Higgins stops to stare at a field full of yellow daisies in the back lanes. Probably grown for the seeds but not sure why or what they are yet. Certainly not a common sight. They had gone over slightly in the heat so weren't quite as crisp as they might have been. My wife, The Head Gardener, thinks it is Yellow Camomile or Golden Marguerite. It was once used for dying fabric apparently. [Anthemis tinctoria]

21st  78F, windy and sunny. 24 mile shopping trip. My knee behaved itself until I was almost home and then started aching slightly on a big hill. I was twiddling/spinning quite well in a low gear at the time. I managed to find the last of the cheap bike computers, with cadence sensor, at another supermarket . For only £7 (equiv) it was worth a trial. Anything which will remind me not to push at lower revs is a good thing. On the way out I was cruising at 25 mph for a couple of miles without complaint from my knee. I was pedalling fast (for once) rather than using the highest gear I could push. A bad habit is seems.

The Ventus G730 crashed my computer on plug-in today. I thought I had the latest driver having downloaded the software direct from the Ventus website.

I fitted the new bike computer but the crank magnet was much too far away from the sensor. So I replaced the bottom bracket axle with a much shorter one. Interestingly (?) the thick wall adjustable cup left hardly any room for the crank to fit on the square taper. No such problem with the chainwheel side. The axle change also solved the lack of outward movement on the front (gear) changer. So now I will have easier changes at the front once I get used to the new lever positions.

Having my pedal rpm/cadence read out for me was fascinating after years of counting revs against my watch while trying to stay on the road and do mental multiplication at the same time. I have discovered that my idea of pushing was sub-85rpm. My most comfortable rpm range has been between 85-95. I found 110rpm was easy enough downhill, against no resistance, but required more conscious effort to maintain on the flat or uphill. I managed 125rpm for while but began to bounce on the saddle. I'm probably not supple enough yet. In my teens I was an admirer of the great climbers like Federico Bahamontes and Charly Gaul. I used to try and emulate their high pedal cadence on every hill I could find.

Thanks to the mew computer I found that I tend to drop back to 80rpm (or even lower) when riding uphill unless I force myself to drop a gear. The problem then was maintaining the rpm instead of lowering my speed to match the new gear ratio. BTW: I'm using the manufacturer's suggested setting of 2096 for 700 x23 tyres.

For mere pocket money I now have a wireless, front, speed sensor. Though the cadence sensor is still hard wired to the head. The complexity of the readouts available is mind-boggling. With all sorts of averages, changes in averages (tendency) with accelerations and decelerations shown. I would prefer larger numerals for ease of reading but that would require a much larger (or longer) screen. What an amazing improvement on the awful, mechanical speedometers and odometers of my youth!

I rode 12 very sweaty miles later on today to try out the new computer. I'm still only one day behind last month's mileages despite the knee problems. I keep reading about the necessity for rest days and wondering what to do about it. Would a day completely without riding reduce the risk of injury or allow me the chance to recover? Would it lead to improved performance? My last, true, rest day was the 16th of June. The day after that I did only 10 miles. Since then my daily minimum distance is 24 miles with two maximums of just 61 miles.

Would I be able to go further and faster if I had a rest day (say) once a week? My mileages are still paltry compared with many keen cyclists of my own age. They compete regularly at 100 miles,  at 12 hours and even at 24hours! I haven't even managed 100 miles distance at my own  miserable pace yet. It is more than 40 years since I rode over 100 miles in a day. (and the 120+ miles back again the next day) For twenty of those intervening years I was a heavy smoker.

It would take me all of 8 hours to cover that distance at my present, miserable, 13mph average. I ought to be doing it in half that to be remotely competitive at time trialling! Though having checked the results of 100 mile [trike] time trialling (on the TA website)  it seems somewhere around  6 hours would be more normal for my age. While I struggled to manage 10 miles only a year ago my progress still has some considerable way to go before I am remotely in that league.

I feel I should be doing much longer rides, at least once a week, by now. This would require my knee(s) to be working normally, completely without pain. The Brooks saddle problems seem to be behind me at last. :-) There are no limiting mechanical problems requiring my immediate attention. The only thing left is the time required to achieve the distance. If I start very early it would help. A circular  route would keep me safely within riding distance of home in case of disaster. It would preferably take place on a cooler day when the winds are light. (oh, and I'd need a nose bag full of food to keep me going)  Now my knee is on the mend I shall make this my next goal. Though still some way off.

22nd 73F, breezy, humid and mostly cloudy. Throwing caution to the winds I decided to test my legs with a slightly more distant goal while maintaining high pedal rpm. The two loggers agreed on 35.8 miles total but the new computer thought 40 miles exactly. This doesn't make sense considering I'm using the manufacturer's suggested setting.

I was really quite tired on the way home (into the breeze) with both knees aching slightly and my legs feeling heavy. I was using the rev counter (cadence) instead of my speed to guide my efforts. I was trying quite hard most of the time except for a rest halfway while wandering around several supermarkets. I found myself staying on the middle chairing (38T)  except for downhill runs to avoid my rpm dropping too low.

Normally I would spend most of my time on the 48T chainwheel probably pedalling in the 80's rpm.I just don't seem to be able to pedal fast and produce enough power to go fast at the same time. So I was definitely going more slowly than usual. Since the loggers agreed so closely I will have to reset the new bike computer to match the two loggers. I was using a setting of 2120 on my last computer. The new computer recommends 2096 in the instructions. Should I adjust the setting up or down? If it is counting revolutions the computer should multiply wheel circumference by rpm. A  bigger wheel will travel further but slower. A smaller wheel will whiz round but travel less distance. My head hurts. :-)

23rd 72F, breezy, sunny periods. I continued my training at higher pedal rpm. (cadence)  Damned hard work it is too! I seem to do a lot more gear changing than before. I'm also using the small chainwheel which was previously reserved for only the steepest hills when I was tired. It definitely feels as if I'm working much harder for slower speeds. Where before I would push the highest gear I could manage at 80-90rpm I'm now pedalling like mad and going nowhere fast.

My legs feel much more tired after a ride. Long hills are torture at 90-100rpm in a low gear. I vaguely remember club runs in my teens where older, more experienced riders told me to twiddle not to push. It seemed much easier back then but I would always revert to pushing if I wanted to go fast.  My legs are still aching three hours after today's ride. This feels like going backwards. My legs haven't ached as badly as this for a long time. I think the problem is the combination of trying to go as fast as usual and pedal really quickly at the same time.  My muscles haven't developed for this sort of exercise! 29 tiring miles.

24th 68F, breezy and mostly cloudy. I set off into a headwind using a high cadence again trying to maintain 100rpm. After loading the shopping bag to the gills from a couple of supermarkets I set off up one of the longest hills in the area. I expect I was carrying an extra 10lbs of shopping.

Despite the 50kph (30mph) speed limit most cars are usually averaging 50mph or more both up and down. Fortunately it was fairly quiet today as I rode up between the avenue of mature oak trees. Very few of the many hundreds of trees are completely unscathed from speeding, drunken and/or inadequate drivers. In fact there are several gaps where the motor car has taken a severe toll over the years. One saving grace is a fairly low railway bridge at the bottom of the hill. This blocks the largest of the lorry traffic from the motorway which crosses the top of the hill.

I started in too high a gear and was soon pushing the low-to-mid 80s rpm. Dropping onto the small chainwheel (28T) I began to spin more freely. Before long I was doing 16-18mph and spinning at 100+ rpm on the 38T chainring. I finally topped out at 115rpm and 20mph into a headwind as the trees finally fell away to the roar of the motorway. I suppose the hill is about two miles long with some sharp bends in the middle. I shall have to measure it one day. (if I remember to)

Just over 20 miles so far. My legs are really noticing the effort I'm putting into a higher cadence. They are more tired after 20 miles than if I'd just done a ride of 50 miles or more at much higher speeds. In fact it is like having a rest to pedal at only 80-90rpm. Now I know why serious cyclists need a rest day! To rest from having their legs flailing round at 100+rpm! I might take the whole week off! ;-)

I went out again in the late afternoon under a heavy sky though no rain was forecast. I caught the heaviest rain this year! Stair rods were falling for ages. It was still quite dry under the beech trees as I found my jacket but under the others it was wetter than out in the open. I kept going. The windproof  jacket was about as much use as a chocolate teapot! Except that it gave cars a clearer target for the pressure washer effect as they passed!

Soon I was as wet as I've ever been that didn't involve holding my breath! The water was running down my legs and straight through my shoes. My hands were so wrinkly they looked as if I'd spent far too long in the bath. I waited for a while under a garage awning but it was obvious the rain wasn't going off. So I had no choice but to ride home as fast as possible trying to dodge the raindrops. Of course it didn't work and every car that passed at high speed was giving me a free shower anyway. In places I was riding through patchy ground fog from the rain falling onto the sun-warmed road.

In other places the road was an inch deep in water and every drive entrance was a rushing stream crossing my path. Then there was the headwind. The spray disk off my front wheel was blowing straight back in my face! My wet clothes felt really quite cold in the gusts. Now you know why I only managed 11 miles! "Rain stopped play," as thy say in Cricketing circles.

Sunday 25th July 65F, windy, sunny periods.  I really need to relax my legs much more when I'm twiddling. I only realised today that I am clenching all my leg muscles as I spin. Which quickly leads to pain. I should just let my legs flop up and down without conscious effort. I was cruising comfortably downwind at 25mph at 110 rpm for a while. When I tried spinning on the hills I am often going slower than normal because I am turning too low a gear. Hopefully it will become natural to spin faster uphill over time. My habit has always been to push the highest gear I can manage. (normally at 80-90rpm) Only 25 miles so far.

There is a brazed-on, Longstaff trike conversion on eBay at the moment. Quite a bit of interest being shown. Item number: 220631434351

26th Much cooler, 64F, light breezes, overcast.  No longer trying to pedal as fast as possible all the time. Just avoiding low pedal revs to save my knees. 23 mile shopping trip. 12 more miles later on.

27th 70-72F, sunny, light winds. Mr Higgins had a puncture overnight so I was a bit late leaving.  23 miles again but another route in the opposite direction. Feeling a bit stronger today. 27 more miles late afternoon. 74F, sunny, more breezy. Going well until I turned into the wind and an uphill drag.

28th 70F, overcast, humid, light winds. Regaining my strength. 28 miles.

29th 64-67F. Grey, overcast, continuous light rain. I set off for a 40 mile ride but the front gear change cable broke at the bar-end lever only 1 mile from home. (the cable had been fraying for weeks but I was lazy and put off replacing it one day too many)  It didn't take long to ride home and fit a new cable but by then it was too late for a longer run. So I did a hilly shopping run for only 22 miles and back for coffee. It was warm and the rain too light to bother putting on a jacket.

My knee problems seem to be over and I was able to ride with my usual "enthusiasm".  The fast pedalling practice seems to be paying off and I am pushing far less and twiddling far more. The 48T chainwheel is getting much less use than before but I'm using smaller rear cogs on the 38T. I was averaging 18-20mph for quite a lot of the time today.

I saw a couple of pensioners on their bikes in town riding rather too rapidly uphill. Their secret was the remarkably compact, electric motor, front hubs fitted to their sit up-and-beg style roasters. A brilliant idea which must give them far greater mobility as well as greater range. The freedom to overcome the psychological block of struggling uphill must be worth every penny! The irony is that one can buy a complete motor scooter for far less money than a simple and heavy electric bike. This is from the same discount dealer chain! Profiteering at its best.

I just hope that the blind and corrupt political parasites don't start taxing electric bikes and kill a resurgence in cycling. Nor play the usual, dumb retards by insisting on helmets for all cyclists. Cyclists are only as safe as the psychos behind the wheels of motorised vehicles allow them to be. I doubt very many cyclists fall off without any extra help form the motorist. I do my best efforts not to impede the traffic. Yet the number of driving zombies who use the same roads as myself does not grow smaller.

The Ventus G730 GPS logger crashed my computer twice in succession, again today. This, despite having downloaded and reinstalled the  Prolific PL2303 driver. Even then I had to open the driver file and do a repair and computer restart before I could use the logger again. No wonder the Netto supermarkets were flogging these GPS loggers off for only £10 equiv. just to get rid of them!

A great toy with many more useful features than the i-GotU GT-120 (thanks to the better software) but still badly flawed. It still hasn't a clue about changes in altitude! The memory seems to be completely inadequate too. Unless cleared regularly it falls asleep in the middle of journeys. Yet ironically it goes on long wandering paths across the fields as soon as my speeds drops or I come to a complete halt. Yet after every download of the latest route it tells me there was no stop time! Despite knowing I have visited several supermarkets or stopped to take photographs. Dogh.

26 more miles in the afternoon. 68F, mostly overcast, squally showers.  I overtook (with some considerable difficulty) a lady dressed in racing shorts and jersey riding a racing bike.  The first mature, lady cyclist I have seen out training so far.  Though I did see a teenage girl out training some months ago. Despite the huge numbers of cyclists in Denmark few women seem to go in for race wear and racing bikes. Perhaps they go out training in the evenings when I am very rarely out myself? The last time I did a Thursday evening ride I saw lots of cyclists out training in the lanes.  Given the quiet routes I tend to follow during the daytime the chances of crossing paths with other keen cyclists is probably slight.
30th A thoroughly miserable, 58F, overcast with continuous rain and very windy. Some choose to take a rest day. Others have a rest day thrust upon them! ;-)  Unless it clears up later I'm not going anywhere in this! Not unless I can find a snorkel and mask!

It has been a hotter and drier July in Denmark than normal. So I have been very lucky not to have to battle with cold and rain this summer. My arms are tanned like mahogany and my knees and calves are distinctly rusty. With odd white stripes above the knee where cycling shorts reach much lower than normal shorts. I have spent so much time on the trike that I haven't walked anywhere. I never sunbathe either.

Despite my weight having increased slightly to 11.5 stone my wife still accuses me of looking like a POW.  I have no idea where the extra 4 oz in weight is coming from. Unless it's my newly bulky thigh muscles. I'm incredibly skinny all over! I look thinner now than I have been since I was an underweight teenager. It certainly can't be my increased brain mass because I'm rapidly becoming an airhead!

A link to an interesting website:  cargocycling.org | Archive | tricycles

The rest day ended with our hero doing a 12 mile ride for shopping. It was gusting so hard at times that I had to hide under the crossbar!  At least it didn't rain.

31st  70F, blustery winds, dry with sunny periods. A fairly relaxed 22 miles so far. Plus 8 later. I finished the month 5.5  miles per day short of last month's average. Equivalent to about three days of riding. Not bad, I suppose, given the poorly knee. If I hadn't lowered the saddle and taken it easier I might not be riding at all because of the pain. Another potential disaster averted. In retrospect the higher cadence is also helping to avoid knee problems. I have a brother and sister of my own age with replacement knees. It may be sheer luck that I have not been brought to a complete halt.

Overworking my shoulders, while landscaping my last garden by pick, shovel and wheelbarrow left me in considerable pain for many years. Eventually the pain wore off. I hope my knees aren't going to react the same way. I take a range of vitamins and fish oil and avoid red meat as much as possible. Lots of fruit, fish, veg and dairy products, organically grown where available, may be helping. A beer each day, at the weekends only, helps to keep me lubricated.

All images may be enlarged by clicking on them.
Back click to return to the text.  
Do the same with links.

No comments:

Post a Comment