17 Nov 2010

Grey, white and wet

17 November 2010. 38-42F, still but becoming windy, grey overcast, spits and spots of rain. A quick shopping trip provided some new (skiing) gloves from the local supermarket. Thinsulate 40g with three layers. I wore them home and they were much warmer than the Thinsulate fleece gloves but not at all sweaty. The attached blurb claims three layers make them waterproof, windproof and dry in use. At 1/5 the price of the GripGrab gloves in the LBS (local bike shop) I am willing to put up with the extra bulk. A snug but not tight fit in XL to match my orangutan style appendages.  I hope they don't shrink in the wash! 13 miles. Worked on the roof until after dark so no afternoon ride.

18th 37F, a miserable, dark, grey, raw day with rain. I worked on the roof all day and I'm aching all over. Some rest day! :-)

19th 37F, raw, cold, windy, dark with sleet from morn to night. Another rest day to recover from working on the roof.

20th 37F, overcast, still, quite chilly but dry. I had found some liquid chain grease in a spray can in a motoring shop. So I thought I'd give it try it. The chain was getting noisy and dry with poor gear changes before application. It seemed to do a very good job without making everything black. The usual light machine oil seems to make a hell of a mess even when the chain is run through a rag afterwards. I saw a large bunch of "racing" cyclists out training and lots of cats. Feeling quite strong today but only 20 miles.

21st 38-41F, still, overcast. A fairly gentle, Sunday morning ride along the rural lanes. 28 miles.

22nd 38F, overcast, turning to rain and wind later. Working on the roof all day. Only 15 miles.

How's this for a serious winter trike? Studded rear tyres, lots of lights and gears and waterproof luggage container.

Double sided pedals for cleated winter shoes, knobbly tyres and front suspension.  Hub and calliper  brakes for sure stopping power in all conditions. My thanks go to 'Dreirad' for his excellent images of his winter trike.

23rd 33F, overcast, northerly gales, continuous sleet and rain. 0 miles.

24th 29F,  -2C, a couple of inches of overnight snow, overcast, windy. Too good a chance to miss trying the 2WD in the first wintry conditions this year. With my eyes streaming, despite new cycling sunglasses, I struggled to find more than frozen slush even on the quietest lanes.

The trike behaved impeccably. Never a foot wrong. No wheel spin anywhere despite seeking ever patch of white stuff. Not even when I stood up in a low gear deliberately trying to get the rear wheels to unstick on some steep, uphill ice. If it wasn't for the crackle of slush under the tyres I wouldn't have known it was icy from the way the trike handled.

The Aesse jacket finally came into its own today, At just below freezing, it blocked the cold wind completely without a hint of sweatiness. I wore a slightly heavier set of skiing underwear, plus my usual racing jersey and shorts and Thinsulate hat. I was perfectly comfortable even pedalling into a 20mph wind at 15mph. The rather bulky gloves were fine. Even when my hand became cold from answering the phone, while riding along, my fingers soon warmed up again.

I wore the BBB overshoes and they kept my feet dry and comfortable without unwanted warmth. I still haven't decided whether to return these overshoes for a refund. Or try and repair them with some tough (cloth?) tape machine sewn around the all too fragile edges. The quality YKK zip and neoprene uppers are fine. The cheap, Aldi overshoes, skinny zips are already well beyond useless despite being treated with great care.  A comfortable ride brought me home safely after 17 hilly miles without any damp clothing at all. 

Another ride later for 22 more miles. The slow puncture finally gave out and the tyre was flat when I came out of a shop. I have used four new tubes on that one new tyre. I have no idea why they keep going down. I have turned the tyre inside out and examined every millimetre each time. I have checked the rim and tape for sharp bits again and again. Tomorrow I shall check the punctured tubes to see if there is a coincidence in puncture position. There may be a tiny piece of swarf or a shard of glass but I haven't found it yet. The other tyre has stayed rock hard from first fitting.

As I was out so late I followed the advice of a contact and bought some decent lights at an LBS. I had never even heard of Smart before yesterday but am glad that I do now. I was invited to check the performance outside the shop before purchase and was amazed at the power of these new LEDs. I fitted them outside the shop and was able to ride home at quite normal speeds along the rural lanes in the pitch dark.

These LED lights really are bright! I could safely manage 12 mph on the bumpy lanes and 18 mph on the bigger roads where there are white lines to guide me and a better surface. At 0.5 Watt the beam on the front light is excellent with a very even light distribution. Quite unlike an incandescent bulb. The light casing itself is tiny and lightweight. As is the back one. A choice of flashing or steady light on both. Since I already had flashing magnet lights I used a steady beam. I rigged the front one in the middle of the bars so I could see my bike computers in the dark. This also left the bars free for my gloved hands when climbing.

The one problem I discovered is the lack of extreme range when gaining speed rapidly on a descent. Despite careful adjustment, for best range, one can run out of clearly lit road unless one is a bit careful. These Smart Polaris lights do seem quite expensive. Particularly when used to a diet of  £2-3 supermarket flashing LEDS but the extra light power is well worth it. The supermarket LEDS and the magnet lights have no beam to avoid potholes and debris but are quite handy for being seen.  I noticed that oncoming cars were dipping their headlights much earlier thanks to the brightness of the beam on the Smart front light. The rear light is best left on continuous beam, rather than flashing. It just seems much brighter like that. While the flashing LED light can draw attention the steady light can be seen from a long way behind.

25th 29-31F, overcast, moderate wind, snow flurries. A gentle shopping trip for 22 miles. I saw some 1/2W LED rear lights in a Coop supermarket very similar to the Smart! Only a fiver each! Grr?

26th 27F, -3C, overcast, overnight snow, still snowing, winds light... will he or wont he? Well, I couldn't miss a chance to try the Trykit 2WD on a decent bit of snow and ice. Only there wasn't much of it. More like a lot of slush and standing water on the main roads. With every brainless moron overtaking as if  it were dry and sunny. I was soon wet and filthy from being sprayed with wet slush! My own rear tyres were contributing. With the wind blowing the filthy spray sideways onto my legs and back. So if you are ordering a hand built trike take the removable mudguards option.

I managed to find some hard packed snow in the back lanes but the grip was so good that I might just as well not have bothered. Not once did I experience any wheel spin. I deliberately rode with one wheel on the snow and another on wet tarmac. I rode over every bit of hard packed snow I could find uphill and down but the trike ignored it all. I could deliberately manage a bit of wheel spin if I turned the handlebars at a sharp angle and pedalled hard. Though it was easily controlled and keeping the handlebars straight was a guarantee of excellent grip on all surfaces.

Three cars had fallen off the road and lay on the verge at various odd angles. The present conditions did not seem likely to have caused this. Not unless they were driving far too fast. 13 mostly wet miles. The clumsy great Thinsulate gloves were not warm enough going out, but my hands warmed up after visiting the shops.

Dreirad's winter Raleigh-Longstaff trike conversion enjoying the unusually wintry, UK weather. Much easier to get about town on one of these than in a car under these conditions. Very much safer than a bike! Where a wheel can shoot out from under you in a flash.

27th November 24F, -4C, 2" of new, overnight snow,  misty, sunny variable cloud turning to snow and overcast, quite still. I managed to find a lot more packed snow today on the lanes. The trike was as stable as a Land Rover. No skidding or wheel spin at all. The clumsy Thinsulate gloves were too cold on the journey out. Okay coming back. A woodpecker flew to the roadside hedge to watch me pass. Probably the same one as last time.  Lots of different birds of prey about but I'm really not good at recognising any of them. Lots of hunters shooting in the woods and gathering by the roadside to turn and watch me pass by. 19 miles shopping trip.

Here is a typically narrow rural road where the traffic has formed typical clear lanes and hard snow ridges. It requires care to ride on the changing surfaces when they are frozen hard. Often the clear tarmac lane is too narrow for the trike's back wheel track width. This sometimes causes a tramline effect where the back wheels try to centre themselves suddenly. Snow and slush can build up into a large ball around the front brakes. The best way to remove it is to stop occasionally and bounce the front wheel hard on the road. 

28th 30F, -1C, snowing lightly, overcast, no wind visible in the birches. Fieldfares, hare and deer in the lanes. The lines of slush are freezing which makes progress feel much less safe. With occasional sideways shunts by the back wheels. It doesn't help when one can't see the edge of the road beneath the snow.  It is harder going against the resistance of the crunchy, refrozen stuff. Otherwise no real problems. Only 11, quite hilly miles.

29th 26F, -3C, overcast then sunny periods, blowing a gale with drifting and snow blowing about. I was quite comfortable but the conditions were much more difficult today. Same old story. Where there were roadside hedges the roads were black and clear. Where there were no hedges the roads were full of drifting snow. Just think how much the cash-strapped councils would save on road salting if there were more hedges! Another 11 miles. It doesn't look as if I'm going to manage my target of  ten thousand triking miles this calender year.

30th 20F, -7C, mostly sunny, bitterly cold with an even colder breeze. That wasn't a problem but I had to work on the house instead of going out. It will be too windy 15m/s (35mph gusts) over the next two days to get anything serious done. 0 miles.


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