16 Mar 2011

Marching on

16th March 2011 29-34F, -1+1C, gales,  sunny. Both knees hurt from the off! I was really beginning to lose my confidence in finding a comfortable saddle height. I had lost my original setting and nothing seemed to work. So I stopped in a bus pull-in, loosened the saddle screw and lifted an arbitrary amount. I took off the second jacket while I was there and then jumped back on. Quite unexpectedly I had hit the "heel on the pedal" position to perfection. I was just able to take my weight off the saddle with either foot horizontal in the fully downward position. The knee pain vanished and did not return.

The headwind was cold and gusty as I struggled to make headway. Then suddenly the wind seemed turn off to one side and I looked down at the computer to find myself doing a comfortable 23mph! On the return journey (on the same main road) it had gone round to a 45 degree headwind. The trees were thrashing and thickets roaring like a train was passing. At one stage the lilac hedges disappeared and I had to lean almost horizontally just to stay on the edge of the road as heavy traffic roared past!

It was one of those days which seem startlingly clear. As if the atmosphere had been washed clean. Sadly, I could find nothing interesting to photograph on today's route. 14 miles and I forgot my GPS loggers in my rush to get out. Just for a change I had checked my computer mileage reading at the gate.

17th 34-37F, 1-2C, windy, overcast. Though I wasn't feeling very strong today my knees only twinged a couple of times. The wind was colder and stronger than was comfortable. Not quite as bad as yesterday. The forecast is for slightly warmer conditions but there is still some snow lying in patches. 15 miles.

18th 34F, 1C, overcast, light winds, fine rain. I went out for an hour around the quiet lanes, slowly getting wetter. Though I was quite comfortable in the Belstaff jacket. No real knee pain but for an occasional twinge. 13 miles.

19th 34-43F, 1-6C, winds light, overcast and misty but clearing slowly to sunny periods. My knees ached for a while as I started out. Then the pain went away and I could increase my speed. I was going quite well today except for the last bit straight into a wind that felt below freezing. I was quite surprised to see the temperature when I came home! It certainly didn't feel that warm even in the sunshine. 17 miles.

My computer had crashed overnight. (despite being turned off as usual) I had simultaneously lost the internet. I rang my ISP to check if there were problems at their end. Like all moronic companies who hate their customers they played a message suggesting I visit their website online and read the FAQ.  Dugh! After several false starts it finally cleared the pale blue screen and started. so I just left a full virus scan running and went out. Everything back to normal when I returned and no virus found! Weird. I wonder if it was the new eBay bar for Firefox which I downloaded yesterday? It has gone now. Or, rather,  can't be found.

Stink is in the air! The culprits.

20th (Sunday) 34F-42F, 1-5c, overcast, light winds and very misty. I put off an early ride because of the thick mist. Many drivers make absolutely no adjustments for mist. So I wasn't taking any unnecessary chances despite all my flashing lights. Visibility is improving slowly so I may go out after morning coffee.

I spent an hour cleaning Mr Higgins. The chain grease I used so generously in the winter is awful stuff to get off! I tried neat washing up liquid, Cillit Bang and finally car engine cleaner. I've given everything a good scrub all over with a washing up brush. Then rinsed repeatedly with lots of rainwater using a watering can. It still doesn't look much different despite my best efforts. The mauve paint really needs attention now but I'm not willing to lose the transfers/decals.

I was beginning to worry about reducing the salt impact on the bare metalwork. There is still salt blowing up from passing traffic. I can taste it sometimes as I pass through the cometary tail of a speeding truck. It has only rained once or twice which isn't nearly enough to clean the roads properly. That said, it will probably turn into a monsoon next.

It usually turns wet just as the farmers get really serious about coating the roads with thick mud. Ploughing has hardly begun despite a few exploratory trips. They were trying to saturate the fields into deep puddles of stinking pig shit and cheap chemical scent. The latter is worse than the shit itself.

I passed one chap out ploughing yesterday. He was using the adjacent road to turn his tractor around at the edge of a vast prairie totally devoid of hedges for miles. Was he bloody minded? Bitter and twisted? Retarded? Perhaps his sat-nav had fallen asleep through boredom? Make your own judgement.

After putting the bag and frame back on the trike I set off for the shops. My knees hardly bothered me today so I must be close to optimum saddle height. I have been thinking about the geometry. If dropping my heels helps my knees then the saddle must still be slightly too low. Dropping my heels on the pedal stroke straightens the knee angle. Which is the equivalent of raising the saddle. The wind still felt cold and too strong for comfort. The promised sun has made no impact on the overcast. Though the mist has reduced to a haze. 15 miles.

46F, 8C, later in bright sunshine for 11 miles. I raised the saddle slightly and my right knee suffered for it.

I was hoping to link to a Longstaff trike auction on eBay but apparently Firefox no longer accepts its own bookmarks!!! Copy and Paste a Bookmark? NOT ON FIREFOX 3.6.8.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Firfefox has now crashed half a dozen times!!  AAAArrrgggghhhh!

You'll just have to make do with Chrome. Which, for some reason, likes to shrink everything to microscopic proportions. I need an electron microscope just to read what I'm typing! Ctrl+ then! Can you read it now?

George Longstaff tricycle trike 531 (higgins/rogers) on eBay (end time 19-Apr-11 11:40:02 BST)

As this is a commercial business selling the trike I won't do my usual, full chapter coverage. I wonder whether anybody will be put off by the astoundingly high reserve? £749? No wonder it's a 30 day sale! Many of us will need a month to raise that much loot.

I suppose the lack of a proper rear view shot is because it's a lady's trike? Whatever. This may seem a bit harsh but isn't the rear axle the only thing which is really different about a trike? Everything forward of the rear axle is just a bike in all but detail. It can all be changed at a whim. A full width image of the rear axle can tell you a great deal about a trike.

Is it a conversion or a real trike? Look for the duplicate seat stays and screw clamps of a conversion set. One or two wheel drive? (OWD or 2WD) Is there an empty gap between top gear and the nearest axle bearing? Then it's one wheel drive. Is there an axle? Then it's some kind of 2WD.

Does it have an old-fashioned fixed wheel? Only a hardy few will enjoy fixed wheel these days. Particularly if you have to learn to ride a trike so severely handicapped.  Differential or double freewheel drive? Are the gears a modern cassette or old fashioned, four speed, screw on block? Or even a Sturmey Archer hub? Does it have a modern rear changer? Drum brake or disk or neatly bereft of either?

Alloy or rusty steel rear hubs? Track nuts or self extracting hex socket? Stainless spokes or rusty, coated steel? Alloys or low pressure steel? Modern rim profiles or square? Sprints and tubs or HPs? 26 x 1.3/8", 27 x 1.1/4" or 23 x 700C?

All of these clues will tell you a great deal about the trike. Whether it is just what you are really looking for. Or not. You may love vintage or you may want a stripped, time trial lightweight. A sleek racing machine with disk wheels might look a tad silly on a veteran rally. Unless you have a time machine and press Fast Forwards.

21st 40F, 4C, cold, overcast, windy. I was going quite well until I turned for home. Then I never thought I'd make it back. The headwind just kept getting stronger. Then it drizzled for while.

I kept to the lanes trying to get shelter from the non-existent hedges. A huge tractor overtook me towing a huge trailer. So I sprinted up behind it hoping for a draught. I hit 27mph and could feel the still air. But he was still accelerating and I quickly fell off the back again.

20 unintentional miles. There was no cream or yoghurt in either supermarket so I tried to reach another village. The wind was just too strong to make it practicable in the time I had available. So I gave up halfway there and turned into the wind towards home.

My knees ached occasionally but not too badly that it slowed me down. Last time my knees played up I thought my cycling was all over. Fortunately lowering the saddle slightly cured the problem completely. This time it hasn't. I don't know whether to have more rest days or keep going in the hope of an improvement. Both my brother and sister have plastic knees. Have i inherited the same problem? The pain is still not too serious. Though it is certainly uncomfortable at times. Oddly, my knees often ache as I pull away but it quickly goes off as I continue riding. Perhaps I need an oil change in the gearbox?

Tidiness in the countryside. Firewood neatly stacked in piles.

22nd 42-51F, 6-10C! sunny, lighter headwinds. Warmest so far this year by about five degrees. The wind still annoyingly strong enough to make it feel quite chilly into the wind. Every time my knees complained I just dropped a gear and adjusted my level of effort. After shopping I headed home with a tail wind but without my Belstaff jacket. That's a first again this year. 18 pleasant miles in the sunshine. Nothing to complain about except the reek of pig shit and chemical scent.

23rd 51-47F,11-8C, mostly sunny, strong side wind. Afternoon ride leaning into the wind. Too warm for a jacket again.

I am allergic to my cheap cycling sunglasses. My forehead has become pink and flaky. It is not an improvement. I had the same problem with my first pair of glasses with plastic frames. Except that my cheeks and nose went red and flaky instead. I have worn low allergy metal frames ever since. Though of late I have not needed glasses for distance. Probably because I spent so much time out of doors over the last year. 13 miles.

24th 54F, 12C, sunny and windy. First time out without the long underwear or jacket this year. Blowing too hard to enjoy the last half. Knees not too bad today. 12 miles. 

25th 50F, sunny periods, windy. Rest day. 0 miles.

26th 36-39F, 2-4C, sunny and breezy. A pleasant 13 mile shopping trip with occasionally aching knees. I'm still very short of breath and snotty. That's over a month this virus has lasted.

 Brutality in the countryside. Roadside trees hacked off at the ground. The undulating lane here is dead straight for miles with only occasional farms.

27th 40F,4C, breezy, sunny periods. Rest day. 0 miles.

28th 40-44F, 4-7C, breezy, full sun. Despite initial knee ache it soon passed off and I was going quite well considering I'm still breathless. I chose a hilly route to the shops and was climbing well. A bit harder on the last leg into the increasing wind.

The same lane as above but looking in the opposite direction. Straight as far as the eye can see.

I had my cheapo, compact, wind speed indicator (anemometer) on a lanyard round my neck today. Underway the average headwind was 4-5 m/s. With gusts to 10m/s maximum though averaging 7-8 m/s peaks. 7-8 m/s felt strong and 10 m/s like a wall of wind and very hard work. I was doing about 10mph (4.5m/s) myself at the time. Multiply m/s x 2.2 to get mph. Forecast was 5m/s average gusting to 10m/s later.

Interesting how wind resistance seems to increase so rapidly in gusts.  While only slight headwinds still feel quite strong. I believe wind resistance increases as the cube of velocity.

I keep wondering when my chest is going to clear. My wife has had a sore throat and congestion for well over a month too.

21 miles was no real effort today. Though my average was only 9mph with several stops for shopping. I am never sure how well the GPS loggers will do on stops. Sometimes they seem to draw a squiggle all over the map when I stop and keep measuring the squiggle!  Other times they stop recording. Reliability is not their middle name and they rarely agree to within half a mile of each other.

29th 41F, 5C, overcast, windy, stinky. The pigshit shifters have been out again. Talk about "takes your breath away!" I can smell the foul stench on my cycling clothes after I come back home. Rather surprisingly, my knees were okay today. Not a twinge. I rode a hilly route for an hour and 11 miles just to show willing. Only one stop for a village shop and a French loaf.

The crocuses are finally out but still waiting for the sun to open. Snowdrops and Winter Aconite are everywhere. Lots of birds of prey about. Skylarks and plovers are defending their nests on the fields. With only low rows of grassy tufts for cover so far. My chest is still bunged up and my nose running. I wouldn't be surprised if it's the pig shit causing the flu-like symptoms. Every field seems to be saturated with it. We daren't put washing on the line. Or it will need repeated washings to rid it of the stink of pig shit and chemical scent.

30th April 44-48F, 7-9C, mostly overcast, breezy. Another reprieve on the knees. Not a twinge today. Though my right hip was complaining now and then. I even climbed out of the saddle a few times to test my joints. My chest still feels wet inside and my nose keeps running. I'm feeling more optimistic about my knees again. The hip may have been aggravated by my carrying bags of compost and blocks for the stove. Getting in and out of the car does it no favours either. I shall have to learn to get in and out of the car like a lady. :-)
No bread in the supermarket I visited so I had to do a ten mile detour to find some. Saw more hares, more plovers and more skylarks. Constant stench of pig shit spreaders wherever I went.

The trike is making an odd noise in very low gears. It sounds rather like sharpening a scythe. Perhaps it's the spokes? I'll have to check it out. Definitely not the front changer. I only noticed it because there was no roar of wind in my ears at the time. Nor traffic, as I climbed in a quiet lane through some woods. Tremendously steep with a incredible sideways camber at the top. That was just before it turned into a rough and rutted gravel track for about a mile. I'd been that way before so knew what to expect. There was a large patch of blood on the road. Deer, dog or person? Who knows? 26 quite comfortable miles today.


The Newton-Raleigh trike on eBay now has its own chapter.

31st March 2011 44-47F, 7-8C, heavy overcast with rain, light winds, stinky. A late morning clearing seemed worth a try and was rewarded. The roads were very wet so I headed for the lanes to avoid the heavy, traffic spray.

I rode a 3 mile rough track, out of curiosity, after spotting it on Google earth.

Legs fine now and I'm getting stronger again. Particularly with a tail wind when riding downhill! :-)

More hares, more pheasants, more birds in general. I was quite lucky. The rain started just as I headed for home after another detour.  15 easy miles under a grey sky. The wind is picking up, too, now I'm home and dry.

Now I just need an amusing name for my April chapter and March will be over.  Not a great month from the mileage point of view. With rather a lot of rest days. I still haven't a clue why my knees start hurting and then behave themselves. The pain in my hip must be muscular or nerve related. The pain is several inches above the hip joint and comes and goes.

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