13 Nov 2010

Mellow November?


 1st November, 43-49F, almost dead calm, misty, weak sunshine becoming very cloudy. Another gentle tootle through the quiet, rural countryside. I'm fine tuning the circumference setting on the new bike computer to match the GPS loggers. It is more sensible to do this before a big mileage is built up. 2120 read too far. 2095 was just 0.4 miles further than both loggers which agreed exactly on 23. I'm going to try 2090 next.

Index gears working well but I need to take the cassette off once more to put the wavy washer back on. An oversight when I removed it to rivet the sprockets together. The largest sprocket can't sit flat against the Trykit stop-ring because of my protruding riveting. Grr. Now I have now found the missing original sprocket clamping screws which I had put safely away and then lost the pot plot!

I'm sure the autumn leaves are even prettier than last year. Beech woods are the predominant species on my travels.


Morning above Brydegård looking over Dreslette and Snave towards distant Hårby lost in the mist. Whadaya mean you can't see anything? :-)

Here's something I threw together in ten minutes to get the computers off the handlebars:

I hate having things cluttering up the handlebars when I want space for my hands on climbs. With one computer it can be strapped to the top of the stem well out of the way. With two clocks I needed a better solution: I need one for cadence and the other for speed and distance. Nothing I do will make the CSI wireless computer show speed or distance any more. And yes, I do know about flashing diode lights confusing the radio signals.

A simple strip of light alloy was drilled for the handlebar tightening bolt then bent at right angles in the vice. Then I clamped the other end of the strip in the vice with a slightly smaller tube (as a former) and put a smooth curve on the extreme end. The strip and a larger diameter piece of alloy tube were drilled for two pop rivets to hold them both together. I had turned the ends of the tube clean in the lathe. In retrospect I could have made the tube a bit shorter if I used standard handlebar end stops. These would stop the tie-wraps (zip ties) from falling off the ends of the tube without needing the extra length for added security.

The underside view showing the simple bent strip fitted into the slot in the stem. Ignore the untidy cables. I haven't done anything about them yet while I'm still playing with new ideas.

Assembly of the extension bracket on the stem is very simple: The Allen (socket head) handlebar clamping bolt was removed from the stem. Then the angled end of the drilled strip pushed up into the slot under the stem. The bolt was then fed back through the stem. (and the hole in the strip) Then the nut was attached, as usual, so the handlebars could be tightened securely again.

Another advantage of the forward position for the computers is that one doesn't have to look downwards and backwards to see them when down on the drops. Nor while resting on the elbow pads of a tri-bar extension. The normal position is downright silly because you are likely to be travelling at your highest speed and can't watch the road for obstacles at the same time. In fact the strip could be made as long as desired to put the clocks well forwards or downwards. The extra weight of a slightly longer strip of light alloy (US: aluminum) is almost irrelevant.

The view from the cockpit. Ignore the scruffy handlebar tape. I have been meaning to replace it for ages. By using a scrap piece of handlebar tube the supplied computer docking stations can be used as intended and the computers themselves angled to taste.

Something to watch out for, when tightening the bolt, is that the slot in the stem is not closed too tightly onto the strip. Which might leave the handlebars loose.  Conversely, if the strip material is so thin that it can rock in the slot then a washer or packing material (in the slot) can be fitted over the bolt  to stop the strip moving around.

I used the centre-pull brake cable hanger to fill the remaining space in the slot.  The fastidious could even drill decorative holes in the strip for lightness. The supporting strip carries almost no weight so does not need to be strong provided it is stiff enough not to bounce up and down on rough roads.

The tube shortened and the sawn ends tidied up in the lathe. (a file or emery paper will do instead) This image shows how incredibly simple the bracket is.

 A quick flash image with end bungs in place to stop the zip ties from slipping off the ends of the shortened tube. The bungs also help to avoid a forlorn whistle from the tube in strong winds.

A video camera could also be mounted on such a bracket without it interfering with the handlebars. As bike computers grow ever larger, particularly with the advent of GPS, computer extension brackets may even become the norm on touring and time trial bikes.

I even found time to remove the axles, dismantle the cassette and fix the sprocket retaining screws back in place. So I'm ready for the road again tomorrow despite the all-day, rain and gales forecast.

The wind had brought down a lot of freshly fallen leaves. Who could ask for a more beautiful route? What you can't see, or hear, is the falling rain and the head-on gale waiting for me just beyond the trees.

2nd 45F, windy, overcast, cold, then wet. An effortless loop until I turned straight into the wind. Despite my windproof jacket and the modest temperature the wind started blowing straight through me. I had to stop to put on another windproof-showerproof jacket on top. This was the signal for the rain to start. I pulled my knitted, pudding-basin hat well down over my orange sunglasses and pressed on towards home. Only 27 miles when I was really hoping to stay out much longer.

The BBB "Hardwearing" overshoes are already disintegrating around the edges of the soles! I have hardly walked anywhere in them except around supermarkets. The I-gotU GPS logger fell asleep half way round today. Crap!

At least the computer support bracket worked well. There is no interference with my hands anywhere on the bars now except for the rear-view mirror. I am still thinking furiously about where and how to fit it. At present I just straighten it up if it gets knocked awry. No harm done and it only takes a fraction of a second to straighten it on its flexible band.

I wouldn't be without a mirror now as it saves me turning to look behind me every few seconds in traffic. I occasionally get overtaken by racing cyclists out training. So I get an early warning that they are catching me. On the quieter lanes I can usually hear a car coming from over half a mile away just from the tyre noise. The mirror gives me the confidence to plough on while I watch their approach. Once they pass I can safely use more road to avoid potholes, puddles, boulders, mud and edge subsidence. It helps that vehicles must show dipped headlights in the daytime in Denmark. Though heaven knows what it costs in extra fuel and CO2!

How do you get 5 metre x 20cm (16' x 8" x 1.5") planks back home with a trike? You tie wheels on the other end, of course. Just like they do with windmill blades. The pneumatic wheels and axle are from a dirt cheap sack truck which rusted away. The journey was only a few miles. It worked well except for the sharpest corners at junctions and was rather hard work on the hills. I was a bit wary of the main roads with traffic belting past in the failing light but nobody seemed to notice. The wheels tracked perfectly to follow the trike. I was careful to suspend the weight on the seat post, with rope, to avoid local damage to the frame tubing. I reasoned that the seat post was the strongest part of the trike. Note the obligatory striped warning tape at the back. I didn't have a flashing orange light handy. Danger! Long load! :-)

 3rd 43F, sunny periods, slightly windy. Rain was forecast for all morning but only arrived at lunch time. So I had a pleasant ride along the coastal lanes after shopping. I was finally caught in a heavy, squally shower in the last mile but just kept going. 25 miles. Out again in the late afternoon for 13 more miles. My best cycling jacket is still too warm for 43F when wearing leggings. I have learned that the cold can damage my knees and I should cover them up. I like the cooling effect on the bare knees and don't ever notice the cold on my legs until they get wet. I can still remember the struggle to find a comfortable balance of warmth and cool, last autumn. Only much later did it become too cold to go out without skiing tights.

The best thing about the indexed gears is being able to keep changing down a gear at a time when a hill rears up. This maintains momentum far better than pushing a high gear until I stall and then simply dropping onto a smaller chainring. Conversely, when descending, it is  more efficient to push a series off increasingly high gears than my habit of shoving the gear lever right down. Then pushing a great big gear right from the very top of the hill.

Using a lot of different gears, all of which can be found reliably, is much kinder to my knees.  I now maintain my cadence (pedal rpm) in the high nineties (or higher) to avoid potential knee problems. If I hadn't completely changed my pedalling habits, from pushing to twiddling, I probably wouldn't be able to ride at all by now. I can tell when I have been pushing too much when I climb our steep stairs at home. If my knees hurt I know I really must keep spinning the pedals.

4th 45-47F, overcast, light winds. My legs are tired today. I managed 27 miles before coffee but it seemed to drag on a bit towards the end. Massaging my legs when I got home didn't seem to help. No obvious knots of pain. Perhaps I need a rest day? Rain forecast all day tomorrow so I might work on the roof instead. Another 8 miles in the afternoon.

5th 43-45F, blowing a gale, mostly overcast. Forecast rain was cancelled. 13 miles in the morning. Fighting the headwind in bottom gear! Spent a couple of hours on the roof.  21 miles late afternoon in lighter winds. Wore tights for the first time this year: Far too warm! My back was wet with sweat. I'll wait until it is much colder before I try again.

6th 37-43-39F, almost still at first, becoming windy. Quite cloudy at times but mostly sunny. Didn't notice the cold on my legs at all. Though it was blowing straight through my Ventour cycling jacket despite the lightly padded, woven waistcoat, cycling jersey and long sleeved vest underneath! 43 miles in the morning.  Saw a couple of groups of club riders out training. I was going well the other way at the time with a decent tail wind. I gave them my usual cheesy grin. Well, it seems rude to ignore them when they are all staring at me. ;-) Another 11 miles later on.

A view of the Trykit gear hanger. (arrowed) Showing how it it should be adjusted inwards along its slot towards the cassette. Until the chain just clears the vertical section of the gear hanger when in top gear.  I have drawn thin lines on either side of the Trykit hanger to increase its visibility. This should be the first setting whenever any gear hanger and rear changer are attached to the boss beneath the axle of a trike. If the clearance is not kept to a minimum then it may not be possible for the changer to reach bottom gear. (i.e. the largest sprocket) (Click on the image for an enlargement. Back click to return to the text)

7th 27-36F, -3+2C, still, white frost, sunny. The Winter Witch fired a first warning shot across the bows of the good ship Mr Higgins. Undeterred, Mr Higgins ploughed on through ice and salt crystals alike. A jumble of sunlit clouds on the horizon looked just like a range of snow covered mountains. My bare knees didn't notice the cold and I stayed warm and cosy in my Aesse jacket. The Thinsulate gloves were not quite warm enough for the first half hour. I really must find a more windproof alternative this winter. My feet were comfortable in the cheap Aldi overshoes over the Tahoes. 25 miles before morning coffee without breaking into a sweat. 15 miles later.

You are looking at the single most likely item of litter to be found on the verges of Denmark's roads and lanes. Not only that but I estimate that I see at least this many packets per day, on my daily rides. Discarded by consumers of this product. Many can't even be bothered to throw them onto the verge and just drop them in the middle of the road.

One could argue that by placing a large, returnable deposit on this manufacturer's packaging Denmark would enjoy a 50% reduction in litter almost overnight. Ladies and gentlemen: I give you cocoa flavoured Matilde. The most publicly discarded product packaging in Denmark. It's consumers obviously enjoy the 5% sugar content but it leaves them with 0% respect for the environment. I can just see the advertising: "Matilde: Drunk by sweet toothed, slovenly slobs!"

8th 34F,  cloudy, becoming overcast, later rain turned to sleet, gusty headwinds. 24 miles. Out all afternoon so I couldn't have a later ride.

Ever wondered what a Brooks Professional saddle would look like with a plastic cover? Well, wonder no more. A Brooks with its shower cap on. If this is the desirable result of thousands of miles of breaking in why doesn't anybody make plastic saddles this shape? None I have ever seen are remotely like this. Almost all have a dead straight spine and variations between flat and curved cross the back. It's no wonder they are so uncomfortable! Even if each Brooks conforms to its owner they all have a family resemblance. Once broken in they are nothing like a plastic saddle.

9th 34-37F, overcast, raining steadily, modestly windy, cold. I left later than usual and it only stopped raining  just as I climbed off two hours later. Using the layer principle kept me quite comfortable but the rain had finally penetrated right through to my skin by the bitter end. Which is why I headed home.

My Thinsulate fleece gloves were becoming very heavy and cold too. The polyester tights added quite a lot of comfort without too much extra warmth at this temperature. I didn't want to sweat on long climbs and then chill. They also protected me from spray thrown up by the psychopaths/retards just missing me as they overtook on the very wet roads.

BBB "Hard-wear" overshoes breaking up around the edge of the open sole after very little walking.

I put the BBB "Hard-wear" overshoes on to protect my feet and they worked just as well as usual. Just a shame the "Hard-wear-ing" nonsense is just completely empty hype. The edges of the open "soles" are just thin sponge and the flimsiest of narrow, cloth tape. Totally useless for the shortest walk even on smooth surfaces. (as I have discovered after only a couple of weeks of ownership) The Aldi cloth overshoes at a 1/5 of the retail price (of the BBBs) are much better built around the sole. 20 very wet miles so far.

Close up of damage to flimsy cloth tape and neoprene foam from walking around a few supermarkets. The dirt is just from crossing the yard from the bike shed.

It stayed dry later so I went out again. Returning in the dark with a low, crescent moon for company. My new cycling gloves were not warm enough for 36F even if I was. I have now bought some snug-fitting, thinner  gloves to wear under the roomier Thinsulate ones. A usual, my wife insists on washing everything twice before I am allowed to wear it. 23 more miles.

There's a Longstaff Cyclon trike on eBay.  Starting bid of £150.

Longstaff Mountain Tricycle Trike - Rare on eBay (end time 18-Nov-10 08:41:38 GMT)

Longstaff Cyclon trike

10th 36F, almost calm, overcast, raining steadily. The forecast was dry with sunny periods all day! 19 damp miles in a polyurethane jacket on a trike is no fun at all. Even if I stay dry on the outside I am saturated from the inside. Once my vest is wet I can't taken anything off and must finish the journey in my own, personal, mobile sauna. Spent the afternoon on the roof.

11th 34-41F, overcast with rain, getting very windy. Even stronger winds forecast for later. 22 miles.

I have been reading blogs about training again. It seems that I must finally admit that going out and doing miles every day is not making me any stronger or faster. Quite the converse. I am feeling tired and getting slower. Five minutes of massage will get rid of the pain in my legs but I am losing the will to go out and try hard. I just wander along on the trike thinking about other things and my average speed is falling.

The weather hasn't been conducive. With more rain in a short time than I have enjoyed over the last year. The almost constant wind hasn't helped either. I am getting critical and angry about other road user's bad behaviour.

I have not had a rest day since September the 11th this time. Just over two months. Riding every day has become a habit which my wife calls an obsession. I deliberately ride a different route every day but I am still getting stale. Recently, I have made no impression when I have tried to chase other cyclists to check my form.

I seem to be using very low gears most of the time. Despite my high cadence (90s) it doesn't amount to much in the way of speed. I seem to be stuck in the 40-55 gear inch range and never use the large chainwheel at all any more. Despite leaving later I never stay out much beyond coffee time either. (11am) Worst of all I have been taking short cuts instead of extended detours.

Rather sadly I have been here before. A sort of shallow, cycling depression has descended. All the expert/experienced advice is to take frequent rest days to recover body, mind and soul. I have ignored this good advice yet again. Tomorrow is supposed to be windy and wet. Will I have the willpower to use the excuse and do something completely different? Or will I feel guilty, bored, depressed and restless if I don't go out as usual? Am I really addicted to my daily cycling fix? We shall see. :-)

12th November   I spent the entire day browsing on the computer and listening to music. Watching the trees bending double and listening to the rain against the windows worked for me. Though I nearly weakened as the sun came out, briefly, after lunch. It is now dark at 5pm and too late to go anywhere. Further rain and wind forecast for the weekend. 0.0 miles! Lazy git!

13th 41-47F, sunny periods, becoming much windier. I was caught in a couple of showers but ignored them and plodded on. I rode through a very large flock of what I assumed to be Redwings resting in an avenue of oaks. At least 500 of them too off complaining. They seemed rather shy and strangely untidy in flight as they hovered looking for a new perch. With non-musical chirrups which reminded me of snipping scissors. Still a lot of birds of prey in the fields. I passed close to one large bird with dark brown plumage, large eyes and a grey beak. It kept turning its head but didn't take off. It must have been very hungry and was close to breakfast.

The motorist psychopaths were out in droves today! Nutters behind the wheel. Driving on the wrong side of the road, overshooting and cutting corners and speeding everywhere they went. No police=No sanctions for road crime. Two cyclists were killed this weekend alone in Denmark.

I was turning left at a junction with loads of time to get off the main road.  When a young madman put his foot down from half a mile away and shot past me at well over 80ph in a 50mph limit! Another fool in a light van completely overshot a blind corner in the wet at well over 60mph. This was in a village with a 30mph speed limit. He only just managed to correct the car and miss me before putting his foot down hard along the following straight. Still well within the built up area and the lower speed limit.

Over 90% of drivers totally ignore a 30kph limit in one particular village, shopping street. The speed limit is only 18mph! Many do well over 50mph! Literally hundreds of schoolkids and pensioners cross this road every day. A speed camera would pay for itself in only one day.

I was feeling a bit stronger after my rest day. My Aesse jacket was far too warm or not breathable enough to keep my polyester vest from becoming soaking wet. I shall have to reserve the jacket for much colder weather despite the protection it offers against the high winds of the moment. 24 miles so far but I still have to go out again to do some more shopping to catch up on yesterday.  I'll have to wear something more breathable though as it's still hovering around 49F.

44F and still windy later. The rear gear cable broke near the bar-end lever while I was out. It was the original cable which came with the secondhand lever so it didn't owe me anything except reliability. Then I discovered that I didn't have the cross-head, gear adjusting screwdriver in my tool kit! Grrr!

So I bought a pack of six different electrical screwdrivers in a supermarket for small change. Eventually I was able to adjust the H-screw on the changer until the chain ran on a middle sprocket rather than top gear. This is not easy on a 2WD trike loaded with shopping because it is difficult to lift the rear end. So I applied the brakes and pushed hard so that the rear end lifted with a little help under the saddle. Then I shoved the pedals round to change gear with one foot while balancing on the other. I had to ride straight home because my usual detour is far too hilly without gears. 11 more miles of endless fun. :-)

14th 43-45F, almost still, heavily overcast, raining steadily. Replaced the rear gear cable just in time for the rain to start. A gentle ride to the village for some milk. I hate polyurethane waterproof clothing! Returned so wet I might just have fallen in a pond. I need a new strategy (and clothing?) for wet days. Only 8, very sweaty miles.

Plus eleven more miles later in the rain again. I wore a windcheater jacket from last year and was much more comfortable. That is until my shoulders and forearms stating feeling damp and slightly cold. Not for long journeys in the rain then. There were hunters shooting in the forest. A deer dashed out of the woods onto the road, took one look at me and dashed back in again. Probably to meet its fate. I know I'm ugly but not that ugly! :-)

Further on I saw a couple of mountain bikers coming the other way. They ignored my greeting. Most of them do. Probably afraid of the third wheel. They can't cope with it. :-)  I passed 14,000kms today from Jan 1st.

15th 40-47F, sunny periods, light winds. Another cool/warm day requiring less wind protection. I must have hurt my knee riding home without gears followed by a day fighting waterproofs.  Only 20 miles with a shopping trip to do later. I passed within a few feet of a Great Spotted Woodpecker in a hedge. 9 more miles later shared with a half moon. I'm getting quite used to riding the lanes in the pitch dark with only my magnet-powered flashing lights to let others see I am there. They provide no light on the road worth a candle. Orange lenses in my cycling glasses make for some spectacular sunsets. :-)

 A Bob Jackson trike has come up for auction on eBay: Believed to be a 21.5".

Trike Racing Trike BOB JACKSON Bicycle RARE Trike on eBay (end time 24-Nov-10 22:06:50 GMT)

Thanks for the tip, Bill. I have now added a saved search for Bob Jackson trikes. This is the first Bob Jackson trike I've seen on eBay.

16th  29-38F, -1C+3C, still, sunny. I wore two pairs of gloves at first but my hands were still cold. I looked at motorcyclists gloves (too heavy) and in a bike shop. (far too expensive) So I'll keep looking. 21 miles.

I have had a tip-off that a Roberts trike has now come up for auction: Thanks Peter.


Roberts trike from 1983 with a Rogers axle.

It seems to have a wide track for good stability.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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