16 Sep 2010

Bright berries and fallen leaves

16th September 2010 48-55F, showers, sunny periods, wind building to gales again. I got up early and was on the road by 7.30am taking advantage of a window of opportunity. The roads were littered with leaves and twigs from yesterday's gales. It rained a couple of times but I just put on my polyurethane, proofed jacket and pedalled on. I was getting quite tired towards the end because it had been so long since breakfast and the headwind was increasing rapidly. Then I punctured a couple of miles from home but only wasted five minutes before I was on my way again. 34 miles.

17th 48-55F, breezy, overcast, showers. It rained more or less continuously all the way round. Whenever I decided to take my waterproof jacket off it started raining again. Luckily my wife suggested I put on one of my long sleeved polyester vests before leaving. Under a shower proof  jacket and cycling jersey it kept me very comfortable and warm despite the jacket and other clothes (and vest) being wet.  My forearms had been getting cold when the jacket was wet on previous days. Which made me feel more uncomfortable than necessary. Time to adopt the layer principle again as temperatures sink.

Towards the end it started raining really hard with standing water right across the road and a road-wide rushing stream where there was any sort of an incline. The water was pouring through my cycling shoes and out of the perforated soles. It wasn't very nice being "pressure washed" by every passing vehicle but I was committed to getting home. The lorries were the worst and drivers didn't care that they were putting up a huge cloud of solid spray. This didn't matter much inside my waterproof jacket but it made my bare legs wet and cold. I was an idiot not to have worn my new overshoes today. They might have kept out the worst of it. The fingerless mitts will have to be replaced by gloves now.

I really need a proper flap on my front mudguard to stop water being thrown straight up at my feet. I must also be much more disciplined about covering the Brooks saddle than I have been to date. I am just not used to riding in the rain thanks to my remarkable luck so far. The problem is the saddle getting wet when I get off to shop. Not because it is uncomfortable getting back on when wet (it's not) but  it might deform. I carry a polythene bag for the purpose but it is often too much trouble to find it in a bag full of shopping.  It will have to go into the zipped pocket with the padlock as  matter of routine for supermarket stops.

I really need a longer ride to get my average back up after the rest days but the weather hasn't been kind with gales every single day. The rain I don't really care about. Though no rain is obviously better and sunshine a real bonus. I have noticed that my legs have lost their continuous feeling of "heaviness" since the rest days.

On a quiet lane I disturbed a large deer asleep in the overgrown verge. I didn't see it until I was right on top of it and it didn't hear me coming. It jumped to its feet and ran off across a bare, earth prairie as fast as it's legs would carry it,  zig-zagging as it went. Until it was so small as to be almost invisible.  29 miles today.

Sunday 19th September 50-57F, breezy but getting windy, sunny periods. Two shopping trips for 25 miles total. Half an hour of weight training with 24 x 10 kilo weights.  Loading and unloading a shopping trolley then into and out of the car into storage.

The I-gotU GT-120 didn't record anything at all on the second trip. My £7 CSI wireless bicycle computer is failing to register mileage or speed reliably despite careful adjustment of magnet and sensor. Perhaps the battery is flat? It has recorded 1860 miles since new. Equivalent to only two months worth of rides @ ~30 miles per day. I have now been caught on the last leg of my last three day's rides by very heavy rain. An odd coincidence?


Dreirad has kindly supplied further images of his immaculate Higgins:

The reflective side-walls of his tyres certainly earn their keep.

The rear tube cluster with beautifully radiused fillet brazing.

20th September 50-54F, breezy, becoming windy, raining. The cornflakes run found all the weaknesses in my waterproofing. The shower-proof and windproof jacket was only just. I donned an old polyurethane proofed jacket on top and became thoroughly wet to the core. I tried the Aldi overshoes for the first time and found them completely hopeless. No better than wearing a large pair of socks over my cycling shoes and probably less warm.

The final straw was waiting in a queue in the supermarket and getting cold. From then on I didn't warm up again and felt shivery. I had my long sleeved polyester vest on under a cycling jersey with the windproof jacket on top. Four layers which proved not to be neither waterproof, warm enough nor windproof enough for the conditions.

My cycling shorts were so wet the chamois lining turned dark. My socks and shoes were saturated and squelching on every turn of the pedals. I leaned right over on a sharp corner and soaked my shorts in a second from the back wheels. No only cold and uncomfortable but it made the saddle wet.

Lessons learned: I need a much better top jacket for rain. No more bare legs when rain is threatened or already falling. They act as radiators to make me cold when wet. So I shall have to get all the long legged skiing tights out now.

I badly need a mud flap for my front mudguard. Proper overshoes for the wet. Perhaps a light wool jumper to go under the windproof jacket. Carry the waterproof trousers in my bag all winter. I left them at home thinking it wasn't cold enough to take them. They would have protected me from side-wind blown spray off the back wheels. They would have kept me warmer over the tights.

The cycling glasses with orange lenses were good for keeping the driving rain out of my eyes going into a head wind. Though they tended to mist up quite a lot inside the hood of the "waterproof" jacket. A peaked cap would have helped more than a sopping wet skull cap by protecting the lenses more. Yellow lenses would have been even better. Being a bit more cheerful under such a heavy overcast. The CSI bike computer is now malfunctioning constantly. 34.2 miles measured by both GPS loggers.

Another 10 miles later. Damp but not raining. My Tahoe shoes were still so wet I had to swap the cleats onto my Shimano road shoes. Okay for a short run but still too "pointy" for long term comfort. Awful to wear off the trike. I saw and heard a jay in the woods.

21st 50-58F, sunny periods windy. A completely different day from yesterday with lots of sunshine. The bike computer and the I-gotU logger both misbehaving badly. I'm going to try lifting the wheel sensor up the forks and moving the spoke magnet to match. This will reduce the distance between the wireless sensor and the display head on the handlebars.

The GT-120 logger is fully charged but refusing to turn on reliably, show any lights or record a trip. Yesterday it it failed to record then refused to clear the memory. My hip is hurting. Probably the "weight lifting" on Sunday.  Only 24 miles so far. I hope to get out later.

Moving the wireless sensor cured the speed and distance section of the computer. The GT-120 is also sorted thanks to repeated switching on and off.  Another 14 miles.

Mr Higgins stops to admire a serpentine fish ladder at Brobyværk.

22nd Sept 48-57F, light head winds, increasing, sunny. Perfect cycling weather. Rode to Fåborg. Disturbed a deer in the woods. Axle clonking again already. Pottered about in the shops for half an hour then back home again by another route. 45 miles.

A better view from the railings.

23rd 50-61F, light head winds, sunny. Another perfect day for cycling. Mist hung over the fields under a blinding sun. Very atmospheric. ;-)

Cattle grazing on top of the the second highest "mountain" on Fyn. 

My Trykit 2WD "kit" has arrived and needs to be picked up. So I shall have to go out again. Only 28 miles so far. Plus 8. Plus 5miles later testing the 2WD. See my separate posts on 2WD.

24th Sept. Overcast, 55-60F, light winds. A morning ride of 24 miles to test the 2WD and another of 17 miles in the afternoon. Very positive results. Once tried there is no going back to1WD. I saw another Jay. My "cold" may be finally on the mend. How many weeks are "colds" supposed to last? The roads are covered in mud pats from all the tilling, spraying and seeding. Very uncomfortable to ride over. A contractor is going around with a special machine cutting all the hedges to the ground. Hopefully this means they will regrow but it leaves the roads exposed to snow drifting and the fields to topsoil loss in a gale.

25th 48-54F, sunny, winds very light. I disturbed a pair of deer in a lane where they were sleeping in the overgrown verge. They seemed unsure what to do about me and hesitated before bounding off to a fold in the field. Where they stood and watched me in the brilliant morning sunlight.

On the same narrow lane the camber is quite extreme. Until today I always rode in the middle of the road to avoid the camber. Despite the delights of the quiet lane it was very awkward to pedal along on on the right because I had to lean over so so far to compensate. With 2WD I had no need to lean at all. I just sat upright and pedalled perfectly normally.

Emboldened by this discovery I experimented on other lanes with similar camber. There were many places where I would get angry if a car wanted to pass because it felt so dangerous in some places.  Now the fierce drops in the camber seem no worse than any other road. What is so surprising is that I no longer need to lean away from the verge. The trike keeps going in a straight line without trying to dive into the roadside nettles and hedges. You cannot imagine how much more relaxed this makes a ride along these lanes. Steep camber is very commonplace indeed on the minor roads and lanes. There are very few drains (at all) so the roads must be emptied into the verges when it rains. This requires a lot of camber to stop the road becoming a stream bed and causing damaging flooding at the bottoms of hills. 22 miles so far. Another 24 miles pm.

I just found this chart from the VTTA on the Trykit/Oxonian website showing standard TT times related to age.


It seems that as a 63 year-old tricyclist I am considered the same as a 74 year old cyclist. No wonder I'm feeling old!  It seems I am supposed to be able to do a 10 mile TT in 33.18. Are they kidding?!? My average speed is still only 14mph according to my bike computer. Whoops! That puts me in the 42 minute bracket! (blush) Now I can say;  "I'm 94, you know!" :-)  Isn't it odd they don't list solo shopping trolley times by age? :-)

26th September. A grey and wet morning with a dry window forecast for the afternoon. 54-58F, rather breezy from the NE which is quite unusual.

The proof of the VTTA pudding beckons: I have measured an 8km stretch of fairly smooth main road with a roundabout at one end. (I used Google Earth with a very large image scale to measure the route exactly but ignored the circumference of the roundabout)  A round trip of 16.1km = 10 miles. There is a cycle lane for the full length behind a protective white line. Which offers a reasonable level of safety from being shunted from the rear. Very few Danes keep to the speed limits.

There is unfortunately a fair old hill rising up to the roundabout which is on a hilltop. Though both ascending and descending should nullify its effect. The start is a good distance from home so I should be well warmed up before I start. There is a very clear landmark at the start to avoid any confusion.

The same main road offers lots of flatter, alternative 2 x 5 mile routes but none of these offers a roundabout turn. If the road is busy I could waste a lot of time waiting to turn safely. Unfortunately there is no perfectly flat, 10 mile, one-way route. The road is not a dual carriageway as these are rather rare in this part of Denmark. Though it is very wide. Easily wide enough to avoid problems with traffic. Sunday should be almost totally free from juggernauts.

I could put the trike on the car bike rack but it feels like cheating. I shan't bother with tri-bars for the first attempt. I'm curious to see how I perform against the clock. It would be better if the wind was much lighter but beggars can't be choosers. It will be at about 45 degrees to the road rather than head on or a tail wind. Though it will vary a little in its angle over the route. 

35 minutes dead by my watch! Not bad for my first '10' in over 45 years! The bike computer ticked over 10.1 miles just as I crossed the line. So I hadn't measured short. 15 minutes at the turn was a good balance and gave me a valid reason to go on trying on the return. Shame the course was anything but flat in reality. It was more like a very long slow descent then a steeper climb up to the roundabout. Then a long climb all the way back to the finish after the descent from the roundabout.

My trivial excuses for not doing better: I used ordinary dropped handlebars, great big 10lb shopping bag at the rear and a strong cross wind. I was being blown about quite a lot. At ~60F I was too hot in my long sleeved vest under my cycling jersey. I tried too hard getting there on the big hills and into the head wind instead of taking it easy. So my legs were already a bit tired from the last long climb. I should have had a rest but started off straight away. I was too full of sandwiches and fruit from lunch and got indigestion and then a stitch. Which is unheard of for me. Probably caused by riding on the drops for too long. The cycle lane was covered in small twigs and leaves. I still have a chest infection and snotty nose from my weeks long cold. Oh, and I had a full mudguard on the front. Whoops! I forget to mention the tyres were not pumped up hard. I couldn't believe how soft they were this morning when I checked them.

While on the ride I trashed my legs on the long climb up to the halfway roundabout. So had not much left for the descent. My back hurt from being bent over too long on the drops so I had to sit up for quite a while going both ways. Tri-bars would have saved my back. I'm not used to riding on the drops for more than a mile or so.

I can solve most of these problems by leaving an hour after breakfast. Pick a day without wind. Lose the big shopping bag and fit the add-on tri-bars to the drops. I shall have to learn how to use the trip timer on my bike computer for  greater accuracy in timing.

10 miles to get to the start, 10 miles TT, then 10 miles back home again. Plus 10 later for 40 in total. I am learning to massage my own legs from watching YouTube videos. Though I haven't tried oil yet.

27th 48-53F, heavy overcast, windy. Just a 15 mile shopping trip am.. 28 miles later. I found some steeper hills climbing out of a valley which were good fun with 2WD. Then I climbed a long and even steeper gravel drive up to a garden centre. With the 2WD it was effortless despite the potholes and general roughness.  Not a very nice day with strong winds and dull grey sky. Cooler too at 53F but at least no rain.

28th 48-52F, mostly sunny, very windy. So cold I put on a thicker jacket. Kept it on until half way around today's loop. The tyre which was on the drive side is down to the canvas for most of the circumference. Only 24 miles. I was out in the car in the afternoon but couldn't get hold of any 700x25 Bontrager Race Lites in blue. I fancy a slightly wider tyre for the winter and have nothing to criticise about the Bontragers. 7.5k miles one wheel drive with only a couple of pinch punctures on 700x23 all round is an astounding performance. Particularly considering the dreadful state of the roads I ride every day. I  regularly go off  the tarmac on gravel paths and unmade roads with embedded rocks.Many supermarkets have a 2" high step out side the ramp up the pavement to their car parks. I'm sure this is the cause of my pinch flats.

29th  44-54F, fairly light winds, sunny. I stripped the rear axle again trying to solve an intermittent drive problem. I felt a sort of tick or knock through the pedals every so often which I couldn't explain. I lifted the trike onto the stand and tried every gear but couldn't find the problem. While I had the axle dismantled I double checked the end clearance of the half axles with a 4mm rod. It was still perfect from the first time.

The axles seem to have freed up a bit in use. Any worries about journal bearing seals binding were groundless as the trike will still run away on the slightest incline. I found nothing wrong but just as I put the last wheel on I noticed a broken link on the chain! One side plate had severed across the middle! It was a cheap 7 speed chain I bought from a chain store to save wasting money when there was still a lot of salt on the roads. So today I bought an Sram 830 8 speed chain while I was in town. They were having a sale on all their clothing so I bought some foam overshoes for half price which would go easily over my size GB11/EU46 Tahoes.  

Either I am getting stronger or the trike is running better than ever. Though I'm still coughing and clearing my throat all to frequently from the never ending "cold". It is that difficult time of year when temperatures are falling and it is all too easy to overdress and get sweaty. Then removing the windproof jacket exposes me to chilling by the damp clothing underneath. It doesn't help when it has been so windy at the same time since it is easier for the cooler air to penetrate my thinner clothing. Then conditions change rapidly when I turn in or out of the wind. At least I have a much wider choice of modern clothing than I did last autumn. Only 25 miles today.

30th September 42-52F, breezy, sunny periods. I rode to the city to try and find some tyres. Shop after shop and none had Bontrager Race Lite in 700x25. But nothing even in boring black. I've ridden on black tyres for nearly 60 years. If blue is made then I want blue! I went to about 10 shops. (I lost count)  Now I'll have to buy them online. Which is silly. Next time I want a real bicycle shop there won't be one there!

This was the first time I've been to Odense on the trike. The cycle paths were not ideal for triking with lots of sharp turns, narrow sections and weird inclines and ramps. Large potholes too! Perhaps the intention was to keep cycle speeds down? Unbelievable how many idiots rode two abreast or in the middle of the cycle path. I had a blister on my thumb from dinging the bell! ;-) I got some odd looks and smiles as well.  51 miles and still no shopping! 

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