1 Jul 2010

Blue skies?

1st July 2010 62-72F. Sunny, clear blue skies with only vapour trails hanging about for hours. Light headwinds.

Shopping loops morning and afternoon. 23 + 29 = 52 miles.  A good start to the month!

A rather sad, old, thatched cottage in a rural, coastal village was up for sale. So I took some pictures. It would have been better with a shadowless, grey overcast for this subject.

Tucked into the corner between two narrow country lanes it is offered for demolition or reconstruction. Romantic or tragic?  Pay your 300kDKK, £33kGB or $50kUS and you can make your own choice. The cottage garden (behind) was overgrown but still pretty. Thatch is expensive to replace but wonderfully warm, cool and quiet to live under. The ceilings of this cottage must be very low indeed and the chimneys look about to topple. I hope somebody tries to save it despite everything. The problem is that once somebody throws money at such a project it loses its simple, melancholic charm.

2nd 72-80F. Light head winds, blue skies, sunny. A sweaty 29 miles before coffee. Feeling rather tired today. It may be the heat. pm: 84F, breezy, full sun. Like cycling through warm custard under an infra red lamp but somebody had to fetch the ice-cream. ;-)  (I took a cool bag and cold block) Mission accomplished! 17 more miles for 46 total.

3rd 72-84F. Sunny, light winds. 27 sticky miles so far. Still more shopping to do. I replaced the 1/2" garden hose packing from the rear view mirror spacer. It had flattened itself out in the warmth and tension form the mirror's rubber band. I fitted a short piece of 5/8" underfloor heating pipe and this solved the problem nicely. Providing more spacing so I can more easily see over my hand on the brake hood. It is also much too hard to deform.

pm 86F! 34C! A trifle warm and very windy but I still made a circular route of it. Anything to try and keep the daily mileage up. 15 more miles for 42 today. The promised rain for this evening has been cancelled until tomorrow. 85F inside and out at 4pm and 5pm and 6pm. Another sweaty night! It's still 86F inside at 11pm but has fallen to 72F outside. The price of massive rockwool insulation. It acts as its own thermal heatsink but is completely transparent to radiant heat from the red hot roof surface! A white roof, or a reflective radiant barrier or thatch are the only real answers.

Sunday 4th 2010 65-76F, breezy, sunny periods. The rain we were promised did not appear. I pushed off into a head wind and a heavy overcast to buy some mature, Irish cheddar cheese some 20 miles away in Middelfart. Because of  the wind and the effort I was putting into the ride I was quite tired by the time I got there.

I was too early for the shops so I wasted half an hour wandering and taking tourist snaps. Then touring four supermarkets before heading home again. Only to discover that there was still a bit of a headwind but I was able to ride considerably faster.  :-)

I was overtaken by two racing cyclists out training but had no strength left to try and stay with either of them. I, in turn, overtook a sturdy chap bombing along a main road on a heavily loaded LongJohn. 45 miles today. The ride I promised myself for the afternoon was time spent watching the Tour de France on TV. 85F inside and out again.

The new Lille Bælt (Little Belt) suspension bridge. Motorway traffic only. Built in the 1970s. Just north of Middelfart it joins Jylland (Jutland) near Fredericia.

The old Lille Bælt girder bridge. Built in the 1930s it carries rail, road, cyclists and pedestrians. A full repaint was just finished last year and took quite a number of years. It was fascinating to see a library DVD of original pictures from the build. The giant, concrete caissons were cast onshore, launched, and then floated out to be capsized into place.

5th Cooler. 25 miles. The afternoon ride didn't happen.

6th Still cooler at 62F. Light winds. 26 miles. Mostly overcast. Just made it home before a short, very heavy shower. Right knee aching slightly. Showers forecast for later.

Where are all the hoverflies? The garden is usually knee deep in the little chaps but none at all this year. Did the long winter wipe them out?

7th 64-68F, sunny periods, breezy. 35 mile loop. Right knee still twinging. I'll try lowering the saddle slightly. This has worked before.

Later I changed the saddle to the Vetta SL and lowered it by about half an inch or 12mm. Stripped of all the usual accoutrements I tried to ride  as quickly as possible around the block. (about 2.5 miles) While the trike certainly felt much lighter to manoeuvre by hand it really felt little different once I was aboard. Except that I lifted the inside wheel much more readily on the corners. The wind was very strong so it became the most important limitation on my speed. Rather than the trike's overall weight. At least my knee seemed better.

The Vetta felt like a soft couch compared with the Brooks Pro. I'll leave the Vetta on tomorrow, for my normal ride. Just to see how I get on. Though it feels very strange at first being "glued" to the saddle. Rather than being able to slide freely about on the Brook's polished leather. I think I'll try some polish to see if it helps. It did! By far the best/slipperiest was car, vinyl bumper, black restoration polish. It is useless on faded car bumpers but amazingly slippery on the Vetta's vinyl cover. I buffed it really well but no black dye (at all) came off on the cloth. We'll see how it behaves once I get

8th 68-72F, breezy with sunny periods. The Vetta SL's immediate sense of comfort proved to be an illusion. I'm not sure whether it was causing trapped  nerves but my right thigh hurt and I had odd aches, pains and twinges in both legs. I was going to return home for a rest day but continued to complete a 24 mile tour. Then I changed back to the Brooks Pro as soon as I got home. A quick, 3 mile loop confirmed that the Brooks was still as hard as ever but at least it fitted where it mattered.

I shall just have to fine tune the saddle angle and height to avoid knee injury. It's an odd situation. When I am riding normally I feel (almost subconsciously) as if the saddle is a little too low. Then when I raise the saddle my knees hurt. I can still depress my heel just below the horizontal at BDC but the knee angle must still be a little too straight.

Other than that the Higgins feels perfectly suited to my dimensions without any conscious effort to tailor it to fit me. The bars and stem I chose, by chance, caused the reach to match my needs without the need for any adjustment. I pushed the stem down into the steerer tube until it would go no further shortly after choosing the handlebar set from another recycled bike. I wonder if a more forward saddle position would bend my knees just a fraction more without my needing to lower the saddle quite so much?

I am struggling now to maintain my higher daily mileage with all these new aches and pains. I have noting on which to base a decision. Am I tool old for this level of physical stress? Do I need more rest to recover instead of riding every single day?  Or does the trike need more careful adjustment to fit me in some way I haven't yet discovered? I remember that I liked a fully forward saddle position on my bikes in my youth. That may simply have been the result of using a 23" frame size and much shorter extension on the handlebar stem. The Higgins is 22" frame size and more compact than my old Jack Taylor. My Claud Butler was a little too small at 21.75".

9th . 85F. 51 miles. Hot and very sweaty! I have a new, cooler water bottle.

I did a factory reset on my computer and seem to have lost all my files. 23GB of mostly my own images. This was despite having an external USB drive constantly backing up.  The damned thing would not offer me the option of restore! When it finally did it had been backed up too many times to get a historical back-up. I had to do something because I was getting a blank, brown screen every time I started up. This didn't happen until I tried to install SP2 on my Vista machine. I'm sick of computers. Without them I can't do many of the things I now take for granted. Why should anyone have to have any experience just to use one? The idea is ridiculous!

10th 85F. 28 miles. Hot and sweaty! Lowered the saddle by another 1/4" (6mm) to try and stop my right knee from hurting. My knee feels loose sometimes as if something was detaching itself.  I watched the Tour de France  a couple of days ago and was quite amazed how bent the knees were of many of the riders. My knee problem didn't start again until I did a fair bit of walking on a shopping trip. Probably because I tried to run up an escalator. I don't learn. I feel fit but I'm not young any more. The knee seemed to have stopped hurting completely for quite a time. Ever since I lowered the saddle last time. Now I am right back to worrying about long term injury. How do I judge what is best for me? Keep riding and hope for the best? Stop completely and hope for a permanent cure? Or ride more gently and the problem will go away? 

11th 82F, humid and sticky. My right knee is hurting when I push. No pain if I can keep the cadence high enough. It seems I have the answer to my dilemma. Pedal quickly or not all..  Two fairly easy rides for only 29 miles. I don't much like this weather.

For me, the Tour de France is completely spoilt by roadside retards. Knuckle-draggers hoping to steal some glamour from the great athletes on the bikes. These moronic extras on the stages of every race run a bare few yards when the riders have ridden hard for hours on end to cover hundreds of kilometres. The retards risk nothing for a moment of reflected glory. The cyclists suffer endlessly, constantly risk their lives and crash all too frequently. Perhaps the escorting motorcycles should be fitted with long blades to clear the worst of these spectator scum off the road? The spectacle of these roadside creeps makes me angry. They ruin the unique sport of cycling and should be banned from attending. Like known football thugs are banned from attending matches.

12th 76-78F. Breezy and sweaty. Knee okay except when I'm climbing. I'm practising riding constantly with a high cadence. (high pedal rpm)  The sky was black when I left but it did not rain for  the first hour. Then I had to shelter in a carport at a seaside village as it started raining stair rods.

Later, I was nearly wiped off the road by a psychopath in a battered, old, estate car being driven at high speed. He blasted me with his horn as he passed and then nearly broadsided his car when he jammed the brakes on. Why? It certainly points to an obvious lack of maintenance suggesting that he was not having periodic safety checks as required by law. Where, incidentally, they also check for road tax and insurance. Quite possibly a banned drunk?

But let's be charitable and assume he was just late returning to the local prison from weekend leave due to a bad hangover. We were both travelling along an absolutely dead straight, main road with virtually no traffic at all. He would have had to be registered blind to avoid seeing me riding along  in the cycle lane for around 3 miles or 5 km ahead as he came up behind me! I was riding a trike (an eye-catcher for most people) and wearing a bright orange-yellow Telecom jersey and white baseball cap. The trike was carrying a large, brightly coloured, nylon shopping bag fixed across the rear triangle. How in hell's name could he not have seen me and why was I in his way?

Probably the same reason that another young retard nearly hit me 200 metres further on coming from the opposite direction! Again driving at very high speed he swung wildly out around a speeding lorry and then ran over my cycle lane! On the opposite side of the road on which he should have been travelling! I bet both retards complain about the high cost of insurance. If they had any. 29 otherwise uneventful miles. Dogh.

A new TT video with two tandem trikes at the beginning and Adrian Perkin on his trike maintaining a good  speed on the roundabout at 4 minutes.

13th 70F, breezy and getting windier. Right knee not improved but fine if I can spin. This is  okay on the flat but dropping gears on hills can mean my speed matches the gear and I end up pushing anyway. Not to mention pedalling harder for much longer because of the lower speed. The mechanical advantage of the lower gear doesn't amount to much.

I set off late today without my usual enthusiasm. Fortunately the wind was behind me and I warmed up cruising at 20mph to the first supermarket at 8 miles.Turning and climbing into the wind proved easier than expected and I kept going well enough onto the next village shop. I chose to climb the biggest hill for miles around and was promptly overtaken by three young racing cyclists out training hard. Despite my chest feeling slightly congested I tried to stay with them by twiddling like mad! They were out of  the saddle on lightweight racing bikes and, of course, they dropped me on my 40lb trike + shopping + 3sq.ft. shopping bag, drag chute. Though I suppose the drag didn't count at hill climbing speeds.

I was delighted at my climbing ability and quickly recovered as soon as I gained the summit. The congestion may be a slight allergy to all the ripe grain crops or Cladosporium.  It's odd to think I was once the victim of severe hay fever every year. Perhaps the organic food and vitamins are doing me good after all. Only 23 miles so far but I'm deliberately taking it easy in the hope of my knee getting better without having to stop cycling altogether. 

After watching the 9th mountain stage of the TdeF I chose to go out again. A 21 mile thrash reminded me that my right knee still hurts but that I seem to be able to get away with it if I twiddle fast enough. I overtook a party of 20-odd cyclists out for a ride going uphill. Which was fun because they were spread all over the road.

Then I was overtaken in a narrow lane by 20-odd cars all desperate to get to some sort of meeting at a rural brick and tile factory. They rather spoilt my line for my favourite sweeping corner but I didn't  lose too much speed. Feeling more confident I pressed on to a local hill and it seemed to have flattened itself out compared with previous attempts. 21 more miles for 44 total today. I'm now 2 whole days behind last month's mileage. Gaining mileage seems to be more like a hurdle race than a smooth progression. One problem to be overcome after another. My daily average is also well down.

14th 78F, sunny and windy. It was time again for the sugar-free, organic cornflakes run to a shop 17 miles distant. With the tail wind I was cruising at 28-30mph for a while! Right knee hardly noticeable. I did my shopping, stuffed my snack of biscuits and dried apricots into my face and then headed home. Straight into the wind! Despite choosing a better route home, with more shelter, I hardly used the big chainring. It seemed to take forever to get back though it only took 1.5 times as long as going. My knee hurt on the inclines where I was also struggling into the wind. 35 miles at an average of  only 12.5mph. The latest computer is still showing 13.2mph average over nearly 3k miles. I still have another shopping trip to do today.

They had a new, cheap, bike computer in the supermarket with cadence sensor. I am quite tempted except for all of the wires dangling all over Mr Higgins. The poor old trike badly needs a spruce up, a repaint and all the brake and gear cables swapped for new. Given the time involved I would have to rebuild the Longstaff conversion trike to make it roadworthy again. I still haven't visited the local car sprayers to get some idea of price for an oven-baked finish. Nor have I asked Chris Hewitt for the price of a set of  reproduction, Higgins transfers.

Near 85F and windier later when I did a quick 14mile shopping trip. My knee hurt every time I pushed instead of twiddling. I will lower the saddle a bit more tomorrow just to see if it helps. It should be cooler for a couple of days.

15th 75F breezy. Saddle lowered by another 3/8" (10mm) Knee still hurting on hills. 28 miles. 80F. Another 9 miles later. Knee hurting on the stairs now.

Click on any image for an enlargement. Back click to return to the text.

No comments:

Post a Comment