16 Oct 2010

Geared up for late October

16th October 2010: 36-43F, windy, sunny. 21miles shopping trip before morning coffee trying to ride at right angles to the wind. I was freezing at times when in the shadow of the woods but a bit warmer in the sunshine. I am adjusting my clothing to suit the colder temperatures. Different hats, gloves, jackets and socks are all necessary.

Last year's experience will suggest when to put on overshoes and start adding thick fleece jackets as well as the normal windproof shells. It is vital not to sweat on climbs or one can become rapidly chilled later on. I wish I'd bought overshoes last year. They turned out to be far cheaper than I feared with a bit of shopping around.

Gloves are still a problem. None of mine are really good enough for sub-zero conditions on a bike. Fine for a long walk but they lack the windproofing and insulation necessary for the higher wind speeds generated by cycling. The good old wind chill factor is still working with a vengeance.

The CSI 43005 bike computer continues to fail to record distance and speed depending on its mood. Then it starts again without any obvious cause. The magnet and wireless sensor have been reset so many times I can do it with my eyes closed. It's a great shame because it is the only affordable cadence indicating device I can find online. The head is a fairly good size with all the information one could ask for. I have replaced the battery in the head to no effect. I had thought that removal of the flashing front light had solved the wireless problem. I was wrong.

I should have a Tiagra RD-4500GS 9sp. rear changer on the way to rural Denmark by snail mail. I bought it on eBay(UK). Danish online/retail prices are at least 25% higher than in the UK. There is no eBay(DK) Having an 8 speed cassette and a 9 speed indexed, bar-end lever finally makes a new rear changer quite a sensible purchase.

This longer cage, Tiagra GS model claims 37T total capacity. It allows a maximum sprocket size of 27T (lowest gear) but my 28T should be within its range. A spacer washer under the Higgins boss, which supports the Trykit gear hanger, should provide just enough clearance for the top changer pulley from the largest sprocket without spoiling the gear changes. The difference between 28T and 27T is quite small anyway.

I have 28, 38 & 48T chainrings and an 11-28T cassette.

Number of teeth difference changer capacity calculation:

Sprockets:               28T - 11T = 17T Rear difference.

Chainrings:          48T - 28T = 20T Front difference.

Capacity required:  17T + 20T = 37 Teeth total.  

The old Suntour ARX, which I am presently using, has the wrong cable length change per click ratio for the Shimano 9 speed indexed lever. Sometimes the ARX jumps two gears and then then nothing happens for the next two clicks. Provided the cable length change (per-click) ratio is correct the lever (shifter) itself does all the indexing. The ARX is obviously not compatible so I use the friction lever option. The problem then is the small lever movement required to change between any of the 8 gears.

The rear changer itself simply moves under the precise control of exactly measured changes in cable length. While still maintaining chain tension. In theory (almost) any Shimano compatible changer would work with an indexed Shimano lever. The spacing between the sprockets is quite closely matched between cassettes. The rear changer, end-stop screws can limit a rear changer to fewer gears but will not provide more gears than the lever itself can handle. (No matter how many sprockets there are on the cassette) 

We shall see how it fares when the new Tiagra changer turns up. A new cable and outer will probably be a good idea to reduce friction.

It wasn't worth worrying about indexed gears when I was still messing around with smaller numbers of gears and very old, recycled changers.

By a happy coincidence a secondhand set of tri-bars still had Shimano bar-end levers fitted. The right hand, rear change lever offers indexed or friction options at the turn of a simple, hinged wire handle.  This looks rather like a friction adjusting device for downtube gear levers but it actually switches directly between indexed and friction. Only the right, rear changer lever is furnished with the wire adjusting handle. The left, front changer lever is a friction device. The wire loop offers easy hand adjustment out on the road without the need for tools if the indexing should go out of adjustment.

I have two sets of Shimano RSX, double, brake/gear, road levers but both are compromised. One has a gear cable fitted which cannot be removed. The cable nipple is stuck inside the mechanism despite my attempts at partial dismantling. Both refuse to click and release cable on moving the smaller gear change lever no matter how hard (or little) I pull on the attached cable.  I am too mean to have an LBS look at them and would prefer not to wreck them by dismantling any further. Checking online found that they are only 7 speed shifters so I don't need try any harder to repair them.The advice offered on a forum was to soak them in WD40. As I am allergic to WD40 I'll just put them away in the old bike levers storage box. 

41F, still windy, but sunny pm. 11 more miles for 32 today.

17th Hard frost overnight. Woke to 27F. 45F pm, mostly still, sunny. So still the wind turbines were not moving. Even spotted a rare hot air balloon. Out most of the day so only time for a late afternoon 12 mile shopping trip. 

18th 39-43F, windy again, bright start but soon became heavy overcast. 23 miles. Rain forecast.

19th 39-44F, light winds, sunny periods. Avoided the promised showers. I have seen a new Jay every day for a week on my various travels. Lots of birds of prey about and some small, fast flying  birds in flocks which I have yet to identify. Mostly light coloured. Nothing I am familiar with from Britain, I don't think. Probably migrants heading south. They are so shy I can't get a proper look at any of them.

Just a gentle shopping trip for 22 miles today. The CSI Bike computer is still misbehaving completely at random. Relying on the GPS loggers instead. I have been wearing a waistcoat under my beautifully windproof, cycling jacket until I warm up. Determined to stay comfortable this winter. I am much better equipped than last year with a variety of windproof cycling jackets and other kit to call on as necessary.

I'm also hoping the 2WD will overcome the problems of uncleared minor roads if we get a lot of snow again. The months of lying snow still seems like a strange nightmare. Even in Denmark it usually only lies for a week or two at the most. Trying to ride on snow was an extreme test of patience due to wheel spin and the front wheel constantly crabbing sideways.

20th Oct 39F, cold, windy, sunny at first then bitterly cold and overcast later.  I have found an affordable Tiagra triple front changer to go with the rear mech. I bought earlier. Mr Higgins will be getting a makeover soon!  Only 20 miles today.

21st Only 34F, cool, still, but becoming breezy, sunny. I wore the overshoes and waistcoat expecting it to be freezing like yesterday. Though it didn't  feel very cold riding into the wind. I became so warm on the way home I took off the windproof jacket and ended up riding in my cycling jersey over a long sleeved vest. Still wearing racing shorts despite the sympathy of old ladies at the supermarket. I keep telling them: My legs don't feel the cold. Not even when I can feel the cold wind on my chest right through my layers of cycling clothes. My new windproof cycling jacket is proving absolutely superb. Another excellent charity shop find. In perfect, as-new condition it was too and incredibly cheap! Though my wife gave it a tour in the machine as usual. She is very patient washing of all my cycling kit. I am never allowed out in yesterday's kit.

An LBS had found me a bottom bracket set with adjustable RH cup and locking ring. No charge either! What a gentleman! He had a Tiagra rear changer on a racing bike in the shop window. First time I have seen one in the flesh. 23 miles. My average is heading for only 30 miles per day! With the weather turning bad every afternoon I haven't been able to sneak out for an afternoon ride for ages! This will not do if I am to reach 10k miles by the end of the year!

BTW: I have been passed twice by Google Street View cars recently. I wonder how long it takes for the images to go "live" on Google Earth? Perhaps they weren't filming at the time?

22nd   40-45F, strong, gusty wind, sunny. I was being blown off the road in places but survived for 21 miles. Plus 15 miles later between showers. The wind had dropped a bit by then.

23rd 46-49F, very windy again, some sun. I am fed up  with the wind! No matter how I plan my route I always end up fighting the wind. 22 miles.

To test a theory that I had toughened up enough to ride other saddles I put the Vetta SL back on. So much for theory! From the first few yards I knew I was sitting on unwanted pressure points.  These were precisely where there were muscles needing freedom of movement which didn't want to be squashed between my bone structure and the lightly padded saddle.

It took me right back to my teens again and riding my Unica Nitor road saddle. It was rock hard, stiff, moulded plastic without any padding or even a vinyl cover. No matter the large mileage I was doing it always hurt at the start of each ride. Not to mention later during the ride. A long ride was a test of pain endurance. At 17 I rode from Bath to Plymouth one day and then rode back the next. The awful pain of that endless ride left a lasting impression.

I had treated the vinyl cover of the Vetta with silicone in the summer to make it more slippery. It tended to grip my shorts and cause discomfort in the summer heat. Now it is so slippery I nearly fell off the trike when turned round to double check for traffic. I went over it with a wet wipe at a shopping stop and this helped a bit. Just as well, because I nearly slipped off again on the next acrobatic corner.

 Despite going on the same saddle pin as the Brooks, without adjustment, the SL felt higher and my knees and my shins hurt most of the time. I couldn't be bothered to stop and dig out a spanner to lower it once I was out on the road. The Brooks Professional is going back on despite the Vetta feeling a lot quicker. Probably only because it was slippery.

 The Tricycle Association Gazette turned up this morning. As usual, I read it from cover to cover before doing anything else. There is always a funny side to many of the stories. I liked one letter to the editor reiterating how I feel myself about tricycling. We do it because it's so much fun.

One oddity was the enclosure of the annual mileage form. It runs from September to September! I kept changing my computers to the latest model in the local supermarket and didn't seriously record my mileage before January 1st of 2010. So I'll be 3 months short of a full set! And, it was the worst winter snow for years in Denmark with some minor roads impassable for weeks at a time. I feel so inadequate! :^)

24th 40-42F, breezy, overcast. Rain forecast for the whole day. I managed a short ride before the rain started. I had decided to test my "new" Aesse jacket for waterproofing. So I knew what to expect in future.  It didn't do too badly but I was starting to feel cooler from the damp coming through on my forearms, shoulders and upper back after half an hour riding into a rainy headwind. I'd describe the jacket as shower-proof but no better. When I arrived home my cycling jersey felt slightly damp in places but I still remained warm despite the rain. Which is good enough considering I carry a fully proofed jacket for heavy rain. It is always best to know in advance how clothing will perform rather than waiting until it becomes a matter of survival at worst. Or prolonged misery at best.

I wore my new 'BBB' neoprene overshoes for the first time today. My feet remained completely dry and cosy without the slightest sense of overheating or restriction. They were much easier to put on too compared with Aldi's cheapos. They didn't look remotely so huge or as ugly as Aldi's baggy cloth overshoes. I was hoping to get out later but the rain is now more or less continuous. Only 14 miles today. Plus 14 later in a much stronger wind. Now my right knee is hurting slightly from that Vetta SL saddle experiment yesterday. I fitted a new 12V battery in the wireless computer sensor but all it did was produce random figures for speed.

I'm hoping the Tiagra gear changers will arrive in the post tomorrow. There is no packet delivery on Saturdays in rural Denmark. I'm thinking of making an HD video of the indexed gear changing with the trike on the workstand and my TZ7 camera on a tripod. I know, I know! I have far too much time on my hands. :-)

Here's a good selection of trike "porn": 

Flickriver: Most interesting photos from Racing Tricycles pool
The mere mention of the P-word should bring in a few more visitors: Most (all?) of whom will be "sadly" disappointed! :-)

25th 33-42F, started almost still but wind building, cloudless sky. No gear changers in the post! A tyre went flat on the ride. A patch had lifted on one side where I had replaced a Superpatch. Possible incompatible glue residue? 21 miles.

26th  29-42F, still at first, but breezy later, cloudless sky. More sympathy from old ladies about the frost on my bare knees! It didn't feel particularly cold despite the grass being frosted white. I wore the knitted waistcoat again until I warmed up. The sheer weight of the shopping made the front wheel feel light! Still no sign of my gear changers. Grr! 27 miles. Plus 15 more later.

27th Oct. 43-46F, windy, constant rain. I thought I'd chosen a brief lull but the rain started again soon after I left. Still comfortable in assorted jackets, shorts and over shoes. Only 14 miles.

28th Oct 43-48F, overcast, windy. I paid the price of an easy first half by having to return into the teeth of a gale! With the rain stinging my face like riding through hale on a motorbike! Having put on my fully proofed jacket I arrived home soaked with sweat and rain in equal measure. I have added a polka-dot shower cap to Mr Higgins' inclement weather, saddle accessories. King of the Mountains style. 24 miles.

As usual, visiting multiple Danish supermarket chains failed to provide the special offers they claim to have in their weekly advertising comics. How much longer are the politicos going to put up with these crook's lies? Year after year they tempt the shopper to travel ever further to another supermarket only to find the offer shelves completely empty. When is fraud not fraud? When it's carried out by a supermarket chain? I went in to buy four specific items and came away empty handed! It may have cost me no petrol but finding the next supermarket would mean a long ride in the pouring rain and a howling gale.

I might as well have another good moan while I'm at it:  If only, the damned (industrialised) farmers hadn't been subsidised by the EU to rip out all the roadside hedges the journey home would have been far more comfortable. Instead of which it took me three times as long as my jacket rattled like a sail in a hurricane. But that's the result of yet more corruption for you:

The hedges provide habitats, food and nesting sites for endangered species of birds. Hedges act as wildlife corridors for endangered species of mammals and amphibians. The hedges provide shelter to cyclists, joggers and walkers alike. Don't they bang on about obesity and getting us all fit again? How much taxpayers money do the powers that be spend on promoting cycling? The hedges soak up toxins from traffic and absorb loads of CO2. Remember global warming and CO2, anybody?

The hedges provide sound barriers and sound absorbers to ever increasing traffic noise. The hedges make the roads seem narrower which slows traffic. Cheaper than chicanes and traffic calming measures. Nobody sets fire to a hedge like they do to speed cameras. Greatly increasing road safety. Particularly when the rats can't see around corners on their daily, high speed  runs through areas of outstanding natural beauty. Remember road safety, anybody? How much do they spend campaigning about it? How much does each RTA cost the taxpayer?

What do the psychopathically greedy, stinking rich, terrifyingly corrupt, parasitic farmers do? They rip out all the hedges! Aided and abetted by the corrupt politicians. The EU is demanding increased subs yet again from the rich member countries. They can't even explain where a fraction of this taxpayer's money goes! Paying the East European farmers to grub out their hedges. no doubt! Then paying them yet again to put them all back.

And no, I haven't finished moaning quite yet: Finally, 8 days after being posted, my Tiagra rear changer has arrived. Beautifully packaged but the item is not unmarked as claimed by the vendor. There are scratches and marks all over the body and pulley cage which certainly didn't happen in the post. Not that the changer will be easily seen while hidden right away underneath my huge shopping bag, but still...

Okay, it's time to get out to the bike shed to shelter from the rain.

It didn't take long to swap rear changers and by then the rain had stopped and it had brightened up. So I made a quick HD video of gear indexing in action on my Trykit 2WD converted trike using my Panasonic TZ7 camera in video mode.

As I said in the YouTube video blurb  the indexing works much better when my hand is in a more natural position on the bar-end, gear change lever. I had a short ride and was delighted with the indexing. It looks rather awkward on the video but the leverage was all wrong with the trike set up up so high on the workstand. I took the wheels off because there isn't much room to turn the pedals by hand with the wheels in place. The down jacket was to compensate for the wind chill while working outside.

Notice how invisible the Trykit 2WD system is and how silent the axle system is in action. Even with the volume turned right up there isn't anything to hear except the distant traffic. With cup and cone bearings it would have been very noisy indeed. I have adjusted the bearing cups, with their journal bearings fitted, so that there is only a tiniest amount of end play (or shake) on each axle. This should ensure the longest possible life for the bearings. Though new ones are easily obtainable if they should ever wear out. 

Now I'm looking forwards to receipt of my Tiagra front changer in the post. There is nothing inherently wrong with my old Suntour ARX changer but it can sometimes fail to move the chain onto the inside chainwheel. Which is a real pain when one wants to maintain momentum with a high cadence on a hill. If the changer is adjusted to push the chain just a fraction more then it jumps right over and onto the bottom bracket shell. With my feet flailing round but going nowhere it is then a case of applying the brakes not to run back downhill! Then I have to find a way to get the chain back onto the inner chainwheel without turning round and losing the height I'd already gained. :-)

29th 50F, overcast, breezy. I was too warm most of the time and kept swapping jackets.  The gear indexing is working rather well. Not quite perfect, but then I haven't spent any time, at all, getting it right. 29 miles.

30th 50-52F, weak sunny periods, rather windy. I took a new route across a flat bottomed valley with flooded fields full of birds. There were large flocks of geese, oyster catchers and gulls. 26 fairly gentle miles just enjoying the countryside in the golden light. The postman delivered my Tiagra triple front changer just before I left. It looks to be in as new condition despite having covered a few hundreds miles. The vendor must really look after their kit!  I was running home made TA triples back in the 60s but this is my first "proper" triple front changer.

 The Tiagra front changer in place. I had a seven mile trial ride and it is much more positive than the old Suntour ARX. The cadence magnet can be seen on the back of the left crank.

 31st 43-51F, cool, almost still, becoming cloudier.  I thought I'd better put in a good mileage to bring the month's total back above 30 miles per day. The gear indexing seemed to be going well. There is an easy learning curve to applying a gentle squeeze to the bar-end lever. This provides a positive change. I have bought another cheap wired bike computer for a fifty kroner (£5 equiv). The CSI just doesn't want to register speed or mileage even when I hold the head right beside the transmitter on the forks! Changing the battery again had no effect. Worthless tat! 47 miles so far and I have to go out again to do some more shopping.

Plus 13 miles. The new computer is working fine with nice big digits. I've put the other one on the other side of the centre of the bars to keep the cadence reading. I was reading about adding cadence to an ordinary bike computer with the magnet and sensor counting crank revs. Which I already have, of course. I'll have to do some more homework though to find out the circumference setting required. I may have to splice the cable too because the cheapo computer only has a short sensor wire and it wont reach the crank.
Click on any image for an enlargement. Back click to return to the text.

1 Oct 2010

Stinky October

October 1 2010 40-53F, breezy, sunny periods. The farmers are spreading pig shit again.

The postman did not call with my new tyres. The front tyre was punctured this morning. I must have happened yesterday. Again it was a pinch  puncture. I tried a Park Tools Superpatch which were a gift from Alan on my last visit. The tyre stayed up all day pumped up hard.

Aluminium spoke nipples are a waste of space and should be banned! I have a fairly decent 32 spoke front wheel which keeps breaking its spoke nipples in half. They are all seized onto the spokes and disintegrate when I use a spoke key on them. Grr!

I went out looking for a spacer ring to go behind the fixed cup of my bottom bracket. Hoping to improve the chain line. No luck at 2 LBS. I will just have to turn one on my lathe. These packing rings used to be as common as muck in my youth. We used them to set the chain line on fixed wheel. The same size spacer ring fits a wheel hub behind a fixed wheel sprocket or the bottom bracket cups. It is exactly the same thread of course. A fixed sprocket or freewheel can be screwed onto adjustable bottom bracket cups if desired. I used this arrangement on a home made grinding machine when I was younger. Only 28 miles today. Not a great start to the month.

I stripped the back axle again this afternoon to dismantle and clean the cassette sprockets and fit the brass spacer ring which I had turned up in the lathe. The single, top sprocket was swapped for a double top again for 8 gears. Now I have 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 24, 28.  The new, wider spacer ring freed up the two thinner rings. Which I can now fit behind the fixed cup of the bottom bracket. The sprockets are much easier to clean with a paintbrush in a tray of degreaser when they are separated. It seemed a shame to put a new chain on a dirty gear block. It came up as bright as new with no sign of wear.

And she said: "If you don't get home by coffee time you'll turn into a pumpkin!"

2nd 42-53F, gales, occasional sunny periods. 21 miles. My new tyres didn't turn up. £6 for delivery inland and a four day service if I'm very lucky! So  much for ordering online. Pathetic!

The whole country stinks of pig shit again. Tractors running for half the night but not during the day. Except when they are standing still. More weekend farmers on the EU gravy train. Brand new tractors and machinery everywhere you look. Shitting up the roads and the air.

The cycle lanes in the local village had smashed bottles in four different places overnight. How many years before they are cleared away? On past form: Never. Cycling and the environment are just hot air for the mutually parasitic media to endlessly regurgitate.  I seem to be turning into a grumpy old man. What I need is a decent broom and a wheelie bin for a spot of street cleaning DIY!  Can you imagine the reaction tom my towing a wheelie bin around the village cycle paths behind a trike? I suppose there would be plenty of room to sell advertising space for broom sponsorship. :-)

Should I have a black wheelie bin or a green wheelie bin? What a difficult choice for an active "Keep Denmark's Cycle Paths Tidy" campaigner! :-)  What if my campaign leads to increased vandalism? It could be counter productive. Should I extend my sweeping to the school playgrounds where smashed bottles are a routine chore for staff to clean up before the little kids can go out to play? Will the Kommune be driven to use the expensive path sweeping machinery which is no doubt sitting idle?

3rd 54F, gales, heavily overcast with showers. Somebody forgot to turn on the lights again this morning. It was almost pitch black at 7am. So much for my plans to do a Sunday morning '10' with all my previous "multiple counts of sloppiness in preparation" tidied up. The forecast is brighter later but with winds gusting up to 15m/s. Over 30mph! Will I go out later...? You're sure to be the first to know. You can let me know how I got on. ;-)  Pm. 59F, very windy, occasional sun. 16 miles with the wind roaring in my ears. Some days are just not so much fun.

Brooks Professional saddle.
This is after 6.4 thousand miles of use. I am hardly aware of the saddle these days. The tension adjustment nut has never been touched. The saddle has got a bit wet at times but only recently. It seems to recover quickly. The beautiful finish is its normal appearance. I certainly haven't polished it nor have I waxed it for months. Nothing except for sitting on it in racing shorts almost every single day since mid March when it was bought new. I imagine it had been lost in the stock room for well over a decade. As hard as wood at first it took a couple of thousand miles of daily pain to earn its keep.

4th 54-58F, gales, sunny periods. Tour de (organic) Cornflakes. The only tour without drug abuse. Though I did pig on some biscuits mid morning. Going was good fun with 20+mph easily managed. Coming back was straight into the teeth of the gale and I struggled in a low gear. 40 miles exactly but it felt much more. 10 more miles pm.

My new Bontrager 700x25 Race Lite tyres turned up while I was out. I had been doing some homework online and found a forum post by someone claiming their tyres were undersized.  Before changing them I measured the old tyres carefully with a large-jawed, vernier calliper to avoid any deformation of the side walls. 23mm exactly. Then I measured the new tyres fitted on the same wheels. Also 23mm exactly. So all 6 tyres measured 23mm wide when fully inflated.

Which doesn't make any sense at all! Why label a tyre 25mm when it is no different from a 23mm? Is there a difference in height from the rim? If I had known there would be no difference I could easily have bought 23mm over the counter in Odense or Fredericia. The whole point of the exercise was to increase resistance to pinch punctures. With large pieces of gravel strewn everywhere I needed an extra margin of protection. I'm going to rattle my cage until I get an answer on this.


The results of the 3rd October Blenheim Palace World Championship Trike Time Trial have been published on the CTT website. Also on The Tricycle Association website Results page showing Handicap times.:

Result Details

The Tricycle Association - 2010

The Tricycle Association - World Championship Gallery 2010

Congratulations to all who took part. Carl Saint seems to have been in a league of his own. Winning by a margin of 2:31 at 32:04  is a truly remarkable performance.

It seems to have been very wet and windy on the day with leaves strewn about on the course. I must admit to being terribly shocked that mudguards were not made compulsory for the day by the UCI. Shouldn't they have been physically blocking the route to ensure strict conformity with one of their snap decisions? 

Links to the the official photographs follow:

(Pages 60-106, yellow numbers, cover the vast majority of  the trikes to save you searching)

Direct link to page 60 yellow numbers:


All yellow TT Numbers:


Here's the link to the full Blenheim image website. (I couldn't find any trikes amongst the orange numbers images)

Rather inexplicably, one of our jolly chaps in wellies and sporting town and country tyres can be found on page 11. Obviously sent out as an early scout to see if the tricycles were being badly impeded by those young upstarts on two wheels... Many of whom seem to have stopped half way round to play conkers! Absolutely no sense of decorum! ;-)

5th 52F, gales, overcast. A shopping trip for only 22 miles. No answer from Bontrager about tyre width yet. Another 10 miles later on.

Bontrager  Race Lite 700 x 25mm

The arrows indicate where you should read the vernier calliper. It reads 23mm. This is one of three, brand new 700x 25mm Race Lite tyres. (Blogspot won't let me insert a vertical format image)

6th 54-58F, windy, overcast. I am fed up with fighting a head wind! It's too warm to wrap up well but wind chill makes me feel cold. It is exhausting and takes ages to do only a few miles at reduced speeds. We have been stuck in a strong easterly rut for at least two weeks! A different 22 mile shopping trip today. 13 miles later. Rain forecast overnight then the wind should finally drop.

7th 49-55F, still at first, misty, overcast. Forecast sunny but still dull grey. I had a reply from Bontrager US about the width of their tyres. Not much help really.  Yet another 22 miles. This is becoming a habit.  Saw a chap ahead on his racing bike.  Thought I'd better see if I could catch him. He was free-wheeling downhill but he was leaving me behind. Rolling resistance? The extra wind drag? I don't know but there was a big difference in his speed and mine.  I overtook him going uphill and just kept going at around 105rpm into oxygen debt. Totally breathless on the climb but recovered instantly once I crossed the summit. My chest still isn't clear and I'm doing a lot of throat clearing.

Another 23 miles in the afternoon. Punctured a brand new rear tyre and tube on the giant gravel left on the road by a giant pig farm. The road has been strewn with gravel since they first started building the industrialised colossus. The promised sun never appeared. My CSI bike computer died after 2500 miles and had to be reset from scratch. I have no idea why. I didn't touch it. Just glanced down at a blank screen prompting for a wheel circumference.

Mr Higgins feels the ancient magic under the spreading oak tree. 
At four feet in diameter it must be several hundred years old. Warning! 500kB enlargement!

8th 50-57F, overcast but clearing, breezy. The Superpatch had lifted off the tube overnight which I had used to replace the punctured one. Then the patch on the second tube lifted as I pumped up the tyre. The patches had gone white and the air had found its way out to the edge and leaked away. Okay for emergencies, then, but not for long term use at high pressures. (I had sanded the tube lightly as recommended) I managed to get one Superpatch off and then used glue and a normal patch. This time the tyre stayed hard.

There is something odd about one of the new Bontrager Race Lite 700x25 tyres. It has a flat spot which seems thinner and more flexible than the other parts of the tyre. Only 21 miles due to a late start replacing and repairing tubes three times before I could leave.

31 more miles later. I was asked, for the second time in just a few days, where somebody could buy a lightweight trike. For somebody who can't manage a heavy, invalid model. Earlier, I saw an old chap on a bike as I turned onto a road. Expecting to leave him standing, I was surprised that he could almost stay with me. When I stopped at a junction he finally caught me and I could see the electric motor hub. If it gives him greater mobility I think it is a brilliant idea.

In my postwar childhood my father had an add-on, two-stroke motor for his bicycle. It drove the front tyre through a friction wheel. I was given a ride on the crossbar once. I can still remember (even after 60  years) the streaming eyes, the cold wind and the agony of perching on such a narrow "seat" as we raced along a deserted WW2 airfield! Here's a link to the cycling time machine.

1952 Cymota on Raleigh Superbe. MOT’d & Taxed « www.Oldbike.eu

9th 47-54F, breezy, sunny. Just a 20 mile shopping loop so far. 19 miles later.

10/10/2010 Sunday. 39-49F, still, sunny. With a date like this and perfect conditions I decided to go for another 10 mile TT. So I removed the shopping bag and left home at about 8.30. It was so cold my fingers were aching in my fingerless mitts. I was determined not to overdo the hilly, 9 mile ride to the start and took it fairly easy at high rpm in low gears.

It came up to 9.15am exactly as I approached my intended start line so I just went without waiting for a rest. The cheapo CSI bike computer died (again) just as I crossed the start line. So I was riding "blind". I went down onto the drops and stayed there until the last bit of the climb up to the roundabout. 17 minutes at the halfway point was not promising as the slight breeze and beneficial incline had been in my favour.

Now I faced the long climb back up to the start with just enough headwind for the windmills to have started turning steadily. I never even made it onto the 48T chainwheel on the return half. Just maintaining bearable pain and turning roughly mid 90s rpm. My time was 37:30 which was 2:30 slower than last time! A bit disappointing considering the perfect conditions and much better preparation of the trike.

I still haven't fitted any tri-bars and completely forgot to remove the front mudguard. The Bontrager Race Lite 700x25s tyres were pumped up hard this time. I had remembered to fit my cheapo Aldi overshoes over my size 46 (UK 10.5) Tahoes. Which made me look as If I was wearing moon boots! I had removed the front light but left the back one working for safety reasons. I don't think there is much drag on these flashing magnetic devices and it was a bit misty when I left home.

There was an odd sensation when I finally sat up from being on the drops for half an hour. It felt as if I was riding a sit-up-and-beg roadster! I felt slightly too folded at the hips, on the drops and would have preferred to be a bit more stretched out. At least my knees weren't hitting my stomach. BTW: I seem to have settled on 11.5 stone (73kg) in my cycling clothes. 

No back problems this time but the undersides of my thighs were where I felt the pain most during the ride. Normally I am completely unaware of these muscles on ordinary rides. I recovered in only a couple of minutes on the the ride home though my legs are aching a bit now.  I am practising massaging my legs regularly at bed time to remove any residual muscle pain. Though I still haven't tried using any kind of oil or shaving my legs. My legs don't hurt these days until I find painful spot in the quadriceps muscles by using my knuckles.  I don't seem to find any pain anywhere else.

28.2 miles in two hours and home early for coffee. I'm obviously kidding myself that I'll ever be competitive at time trialling! The VTTA Standard Time for a '10' is 33:18 for a trike rider of  my age. So now I'm four minutes slow of the mark. Must try harder! Or find a flatter course!

I fitted a lightweight, alloy, clamp-on, aero/tri-bar later. It felt  nice and low compared with being on the brake hoods. The elbow pads make a huge difference to the comfort level compared with riding on the drops. Then I found the wireless sensor range can't reach the new position for the head. Which I'd moved to the aero bar loop. Now what? Am I likely to find a fully wired, cadence reading computer at an affordable price? I really don't mind the wires as long as the damned thing works and keeps working faultlessly!

11th 39-50F, overcast, light winds. After a lot  of wheel spinning by hand I finally managed to get the wireless computer working by lashing it on the handlebar stem with zip ties. The wireless sensor is as high as it will go on the forks. Disappointing, because I wanted the head on the tip of the aero bar loop. So I didn't need to keep looking down while riding along.Now the foam rubber sleeve is damaged for nothing.

I just spent a lot of time on the aero bars on a short 13 mile shopping trip. I was surprised  how much more I sensed the wind slowing around me when tucked down low. Downside of these aero bars  is not having anywhere useful to put my hands on climbs. The wind also blows over the top of  my cycling sunglasses.

Each of the three tri-bars, I own, has its own individual problems. None is actually universal for normal riding as well as TT. Each has different clamps and elbow pads which are unique to the bars and cannot be swapped with the others to make something better than the sum of the parts. All of them block access to the centre of the bars where the hands fall naturally on climbs.

It would be far better to have the aero bars clamped under the "normal" dropped, road bars. Preferably with the clamps wide apart to leave the centre of the dropped bars completely free. Why not have the elbow pads attached to short sleeves on the rider's arms to rest on the centre of the road bars when the aero bar is in use? Or use simple clips/clamps/rings/ to allow normal elbow pads to be rotated to the top of the bar when actually required?

There is no need for the elbow pads to be rigidly fixed on top of the bars. Their angle could be self-adjusting to the rider's own arm angle. Forearm gauntlets with carbon fibre pads on the underside could just just rest on the centre of the road bars. These would spread the loads just as well as conventional, rigid, foam-topped, elbow pads. The riders hands holding the forward extension of the aero bars would manage arm/elbow location. (Just thinking aloud)

31 miles later. 48F, winds light. Still playing with adjustments to the elbow pads on the aero bars. Too narrow and it hurts my shoulders. Too wide and I can't reach the road bars. The drop on the bottoms of the road bars is about the same as resting on the aero bar pads. Though it feels completely different.

12th Oct. 39-50F. Light winds, mostly cloudy. I set off for a town to look in a garden centre. Returning with a black bin bag containing a large, spiky plant lashed onto the saddle frame. No doubt I had some odd looks from passing motorists at the sight of a huge bag almost scraping the ground and sprouting branches a couple of feet long out of the top.

Despite the pleasures of reclining on the elbow pads the aero bars finally drove me to distraction. So after a few miles I stopped, unscrewed the clamps and stuffed the bars it into the shopping bag. The elbow pads got in the way of my hands even on the brake hoods. There was nowhere sensible to hold the road bars on climbs. So I ended up holding the elbow pads and sitting bolt upright.

The moment I removed the aero bars the trike immediately felt light and responsive again. It is unbelievable how the inertia of aero bars kills the handling stone dead. Not to mention stealing the handholds one needs for fast cornering when hanging off the inside. I'm now looking for a more modern, more shallow road race bar amongst my recycled collection. 30 miles so far.

 Mr Higgins demonstrates how to carry a large, very spiky Pyracantha 13 miles safely home from the garden centre. We paused to recheck the ground clearance of the bag near a busy sand quarry.

A closer look at the modestly sized, sand and gravel quarry. Others in the area are are ten times as large and several times deeper.

13th 39-51F, still, cloudless sky. A tour down to a coastal town via empty rural lanes. Lots of  glass on the town cycle paths midway. Another very bad day for the CSI wireless bike computer. Some online homework suggested a clue to the bike computer problems. Flashing diode lights confuse the wireless signal. I use magnetically actuated, flashing diode lights. 26miles.

An afternoon shopping trip (in the car) denied me an afternoon ride but I was compensated by a pretty sunset.

14th 48-42F,  sunny periods, wind building. A ride to the city of Odense trying to avoid the main roads. I had removed the front light and this immediately cured the computer problems. A comfortable ride going with the wind but hard work coming back via a very hilly route. The city cycle paths are no better than the local ones. With smashed glass, potholes, raised drain covers and loose, coarse gravel commonplace. How ironic that most roads are in much better condition. Where the motorised traffic has strong tyres and suspension. 42 miles.

Mr Higgins suffers from vertigo on steep lateral inclines. Though he could manage to arrive and leave at right angles to the track. Here the Odense outdoor cycle track gives one pause even on the shallowest part of the banking. I was able to climb aboard, very gingerly, but did not dare move forwards for fear of tipping. I am not exaggerating either!  I was leaning right over towards the banking just to keep the trike stable.  Just after I took the photograph Mr Higgins panicked and did a sharp, but graceful, exit to the paving inside the track.

 The steepest and highest banking on the curve looks to be a terrifying 45 degrees! Sadly there was no flatter lane on the inside of the track to do a gentle lap. The speed required to maintain stability on a trike via centripetal forces must be well in excess of 30mph. It looked more like the "wall of death" at a fairground in places! The Odense track appears to be open to anybody to take a tour on a bike. I imagine quite a lot of practice and a hell of lot of nerve is required to climb the highest banking! One of those moments and places where a helmet should be considered compulsory.

15th 48-52F, still, sunny becoming cloudy. 2 trips x 14miles =28 total.

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