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.


  1. I think manufacturer's ISO numbers on tyres are a bit of a moveable feast! FWIW my old (1995) copy of Sutherlands defines ISO section width as 'Distance between the beads, measured over the tread, divided by 2.5' No, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me either but does imply that tyre height is a factor too.
    Also FWIW I have Continental Gatorskin 25's on the Longstaff and 23's on one of the bikes. I just went out to the garage and put the calipers on them. The 25's (fully inflated) measure 25.4mm while the 23's come out at 24.1mm. Unfortunately the rims are different so it isn't possible to get an accurate height measurement.
    It will be interesting to hear what Bontrager have to say (if anything!)

  2. Hi Alan

    Thanks for the feedback. Bontrager's response was just waffle. I'd be prepared to accept a small difference between 23 and 25mm. Identical widths on the same rims really isn't a serious option IMO. I've asked for a technical response but I'm not holding my breath.

    The irony is that I punctured immediately on loose gravel carried onto the road from farmyards. The whole point of going up a size was to avoid this sort of thing.