29 Jul 2011

Ken Rogers on eBay

A tidy Ken Rogers trike is up for auction on eBay.

eBay - The UK's Online Marketplace

Ken Rogers 531 Racing Tricycle Trike

Too many bikes with too many wheels, so this classic single drive tricycle is for sale!

21 1/2" (54.5cm) seat tube (centre of crank to centre of top tube) and 22.5" (57cm) top tube (c-c).
The bike is shown set up for a rider around 5'10".

Frame is in good condition with no dents or rust and just a few chips. It has been re-coated in a red/orange finish and the lower forks are chromed with mudguard eyes.
1" threaded headset. Ahead stem conversion fitted with Koshi stem and PZ bars ergonomic bars.

Front wheel is polished Mavic MA2 front rim on smooth Campagnolo hub with 36 stainless steel spokes. 700x28c Continental tyre.
Rears are black anodized Rigida with 36 s/s spokes. 700x28c Michelin tyres.

Single wheel drive with drive to nearside rear wheel. Drive shafts are smooth with no discernable play, nor unpleasant noises.
Stronglight triple crankset with 170mm crank arms.
6 speed rear freewheel.
Shifters are stem mounted. 7 speed indexed, so mismatch with the freewheel.
All gears can be obtained, but a 7 speed freewheel upgrade would be a good idea.

Side pull and Shimano cantilever brakes operated by Shimano levers (right hand scuffed).

Suntour XC seatpost with a comfy 'bTwin Xsenium Lookin' gel saddle.

This trike is not a faithful reproduction of a classic era machine, rather a comfortable, practical bike that has been used for day rides and audax touring (with a bar bag and seatpost mounted pannier rack).

Collection from Yorkshire, but shipping possible if you can advise on a suitable carrier.




As usual I have attempted to improve the original eBay images:
Image size has been enlarged to 800 from 500.
I have also added a touch of Sharpen and Contrast using PhotoFiltre.

This trike sold for £270 after 8 bids.

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

16 Jul 2011

July '11 2

July 16th 2011  68-70F, 20-21C, breezy but increasing to windy, sunny. Another shopping trip taking in lots of villages. Going well. 25 miles. I may be allowed out again to find the special offers which weren't in stock at the last supermarket.

An army of hollyhocks guarding a thatched farmhouse. 
The picture was taken into the sun which wasn't a great idea.

Mr Higgins goes wild west. Wagons roll!

Some of the bison were curious and began to approach the fence. Tonto heap glad for fence, ke-mo-sah-bee. Or words to that effect.

I think I have discovered why all the bike lanes are so littered with debris. The government can now claim that rubbish landfill is reducing. Thereby gaining some desperately needed, green credentials! ;-))

10 miles later, overcast, windy, first spits of promised overnight rain.

17th July 59F, 15C, very windy, overcast, raining quite hard.  The rain is forecast to be continuous until 3pm. Should I don mask and snorkel and try my new mudguard flap under realistic conditions? Decisions-decisions. :-)

I see the The Tour de France as a wasted opportunity. If they sent in the men in white coats they could clear France of several hundred thousand raving lunatics in one fell swoop. Many of the spectators only seem to want to be on TV as one man talentless shows. They are on TV and I don't like it! It must be the open European borders allowing free movement. I used to believe there was a special amnesty during the race period for French, lunatic asylum inmates. No so much bums on seats as bums all over the roads!

Perhaps they should sell day tickets to hunters with rifles in helicopters? Anybody running up the road beside the cyclists is fair game for a clean head shot and 10 points. You can work out your own points system for impeding the cyclists, throwing water over cyclists, deranged flag waving, etc.

Don't even get me started on the media motorbikes. How about having them ceremoniously thrown down a deep gorge for impeding a cyclist on a dangerous descent?  As occurred repeatedly yesterday. It works for me and I'm normally a pacifist. It all adds up to a great race being spoilt by countless willing candidates for road kill. The climbers seem very well matched this year. Reduced opportunities for cheating?


Well, the clouds and rain eventually cleared though not the strong wind. The trees were moving about quite a lot. My triangular route put the wind always at a slight angle instead of straight on. 22 miles carrying an extra 10kg load of shopping. The weight didn't seem to make too much difference. It's funny when you think about it. It's like riding a really heavy trike. Except that the hard, narrow tyres help to reduce the rolling resistance compared with the usual low pressure balloon tyres.

 A Danish lateral moraine. This is the usual sight when passing this particular house. 

When I am heavily laden I get off and walk the trike through this minefield to avoid pinch flats. (snake bite punctures) The loose, black gravel is angular and about the size of an adult thumbnail. There is a matching neighbour, just a few yards earlier, with exactly the same aversion to keeping their "decorative" black gravel under control.

In case you were wondering the tarmac path is a cycle lane running in parallel with the pink, paving slab, pedestrian pavement. The main road going out of the village is on the left. Where 90% of through traffic ignores the 30mph speed restriction. So it's downright dangerous to use the road. The parking space on the right is the source of the "rubble".

The usual road-ready weight of my trike, with bag, is about 38lbs. Add 22lbs more for today's shopping and it's looking like 60lbs all up! A Trykit 953 trike, in race trim, can just scrape the 20lbs barrier. It's no wonder I can't keep up with these race fit, young chaps on their carbon, racing two wheelers! 

The wind seems more important than weight in reducing my speed. With a tail wind I was still doing 23-24mph on the flat today. The huge bag has a fair old frontal area despite being partially behind my legs. Perhaps it is acting as a tail fairing? :-)

I ought to take the bag and rack off just to see if I can feel much difference. I should also raise the handlebars slightly. I am spending far too much time with my fingers just hooked over the tops of the bars instead of on the brake hoods. Which suggests the stem is too long or the handlebars too low for comfort. It's not uncomfortable on the hoods or drops. Not like when I first started cycling seriously again. My knees were hitting my stomach when I was riding on the drops!

Final thought for the day: Don't try and cycle hard on top of bananas and custard!  I had run out of yoghurt and the supermarket grapes were all mouldy. So my wife made me custard as a special treat. Burp!

A timeless, thatched cottage nestling under a protective tree.
Which has caused a serious, moss build-up.

18th 64F, 18C, overcast, blowing a gale. The trees, bushes, grass and weeds were all flailing about. It was so windy my trike rolled away uphill, fully laden, across a supermarket car park!

Still going quite well. Knees fine. Breathing quite a bit better today without the thick, wet chest of the last week. 22 miles.

I have been reading the exploits of the serious tricyclists in the Summer edition of the Tricycle Association Gazette. So I am embarrassed by my pathetic mileage this year. I am already a full month behind last year's mileage. My daily average was up around 35 miles in July last year. This year I am only hovering about 20 miles a day. Mostly because I have not been going out again in the afternoons. Perhaps I should ignore the rest days in my averages? :-)

Unspoilt farm buildings on a steep hill in a small village. 

The steep roofs suggest earlier thatch but still cling to their age thanks to the weathered roofing. These are very typical in Denmark where thatch was so expensive that an industry developed to offer corrugated, asbestos-reinforced, cement roofing sheets. 

The factory was called Eternit and the name stuck. Eternit plader (plates) has become the common name regardless of source. Asbestos was eventually phased out in favour of safer, man made, fibre reinforcement. Though the modern boards do not last as well as the original according to some sources. Earlier colours usually fade and build up moss and lichen from the windblown soil. Particularly on the north facing sides. Away from the drying sun and under overhanging trees the moss can be inches thick.


I keep worrying about my knees. If it's a case of still being able to ride, rather than not at all, I'll settle for fewer miles. The Ventus GPS logger is already cutting my mileage in half. By going to sleep half way round my daily rides. Three days in a row now. It is fully charged and cleared of data every day. Fortunately I have the i-gotU GPS logger and my bike computer as backup to confirm my undernourished mileage.

19th 60-67F, 15-19C, very windy, overcast. The forecast is for sunny periods and 25mph gusts. It stayed mostly cloudy.

My legs were tired and aching from yesterday's hedge clipping on top of ladders. My kneecaps were still sore from leaning on the ladder rungs. While hanging over the 6' thick, ten feet high hedges with a long and very heavy, extension, electric, hedge clipper. Don't ever buy one of these without trying it first!

My knees were hurting from the very start so I have no idea why I chose today to go further than usual. A headwind all the way back from the 20 miles-distant shops didn't help. I curved back another way to give myself some shelter but it was much more hilly and still very exposed. I was really tired when I finally arrived home after four and half hours. (including shopping in half a dozen different shops) Only 43 miles.

A hilltop, memorial stone to success in ridding Denmark of Catholicism during a short civil war.  1534-1536.

Somewhat ironically, it was raised in 1935. Just a few short years before the German invasion and occupation of WW2. The situation is remarkable for its sense of isolation on top of a hill on a long ridge. With only a tiny, steep and rather rough lane passing close by the stone over the summit. An easier route over a nearby saddle would have made more sense. So the summit must have had some special meaning which brought people to this isolated spot.

The origin of the stone itself is unknown. It may have been an erratic from the ice age. Or brought there from elsewhere. There are a number of similar sized stones dotted around the Fyn countryside. A small stone standing at the bottom of the hill is covered in what appears to be an ancient script. This is only clearly visible in certain lights so has eluded a photograph so far.  

My rough translation follows though it loses the original rhyme:

Øksnebjerg 11 June 1535 
Here struck Jonas Rantzaus Lyn
Drove Hansa Well out of Fyn
Termination on the Hour
Papisman on Nordic grounds
In memory of the peasant farmers this stone was raised in 1935. 

The hilltop was the scene of a bloody battle. The leader of the successful army was Jonas Rantzau. "Lyn" means "lightning"."Øks" means axe.  Pronounced: Ooks as in Yeuk!

20th 70-73F, 21-23C, light breeze, bright, sunny and warm. What a difference without the wind! The traffic was also light. I was tootling along the lanes between ripe crops to the sound of birdsong. Lots of Yellow Hammers about in the lanes at the moment and different warblers singing in the shrubbery. All accompanied by butterflies and dragonflies and a constant rain of itchy insects. Cats were going quietly about their murderous business. A dog which had threatened me in the past was finally persuaded not to have me for lunch. It continues to ignore its owner with a vengeance. I would too if I was a dog. He hasn't a clue!

It was amazingly quiet today! So that quite ordinary sounds could be heard at a great distance. A startling and nostalgic reminder of the pre-traffic 1950s of my rural childhood. A pleasure probably denied to almost the entire population of the UK and Western Europe. It is only when something is taken away that you realise what you are missing. Traffic noise is not one of them!

My kneecaps are still painful from the ladder work but it wasn't affecting me much today. I was climbing quite well despite the shopping. 23 miles.


Geoff Booker, of Trykit, has a new trike on his website Home Page. Capable of being dismantled via special joints in under five minutes. Handy for making a far more compact object for carrying on buses, ferries, holidays, planes and trains. Or for easier home storage when not in active use.


Those who compete on a trike in far flung places have complained about airport baggage handling staff. Who have baulked at the sheer size of the crates carrying the trikes. They were always allowed on in the end but the delays and inevitable stress involved are no aid to being really competitive.

It might be useful to have some kind of Q/R clamp to locate the loose rear axle assembly firmly behind the seat tube. The bottom end, stub axle could then be located in simple, drilled, brazed-on bracket between the chainstays. Just behind the bottom bracket. This would reduce the number of loose components and possible damage to the paintwork.

It would be a tragedy to find the axle had been separated from the mainframe on the other side of the world! Who would put two and two together to make a trike? The luggage rack could be made to fold upwards. To allow it and the removable seat stays to fit against the main frame triangle snugly.

The wheels can be laid alongside the main frame triangle and all held in place with toe straps. A few bits of (newspaper?) packing rolled around the main frame to protect the paint from the wheels and stays would be useful. Newspapers or magazines are universally available almost anywhere on the planet. Often free of charge. This would save having to carry special packing everywhere.

I just realised my first racing/touring trike had a similar arrangement but with much less sophisticated joints. Mine had nickel plated, screw ferrules for adjusting the chainstay length. With pinch bolts for the clamps under the chainstays once adjustment was complete. This was in a era of rather soft, slotted head, steel screws. Today's tough, stainless steel, hex socket head screws would have made clamping very much easier and more secure.

Unusual compact bike. Toothed belt drive and single sided brake hubs.

Note the similarity to the Pedersen in the widely spaced head bearings. It was very light as demonstrated by the owner before departing for the marina. Quite a sophisticated machine! Ignore the disaster area around Mr Higgins in the background. I had just dumped the shopping to take a few pictures of the bike before the owner returned.

21st 60-66F, 16-19C, rather breezy, cool start, sunny periods but becoming overcast. I woke with a thick chest which felt wet inside. Just standing up made me breathless! For the first half hour on the trike I felt as if I was suffocating with a tight band around my chest. Then I reached a big hill and just kept going. Soon I was back to my normal degree of breathlessness. I was panting up the hill at a fair rate of knots in a medium gear. A bit odd. Perhaps it was an allergic reaction to something? I carried on as normal after that. The chest pains from panting too hard went away. 24 miles.

A 7 mile errand later at 20mph being chased by a tractor. A lay-by came up so I pulled off without slowing. As soon as he passed I sprinted onto his tail and rode at the same speed for half a mile without pedalling. The drivers in the following cars were cross and were overtaking in the village high street blasting their horns. :-)

The GPS loggers have been behaving themselves today. Until I tried to clear the data on the i-gotU. After numerous attempts I finally managed to clear it. Of the two the i-gotU is by far the most accurate. Expanding the route map will show that I travelled out on one side of the road and returned on the opposite side. The Ventus was all over the place! Taking long detours into the countryside on each side of the road.

Mr Higgins turns his nose up at the pong from the seaweed.

22nd July 59F, 15C, windy, wet, overcast. It rained quite heavily for every moment I was out. I had put on an old fashioned, polyurethane proofed, nylon jacket and it was soon completely drenched inside and out. The trick is to ignore being very wet as long as one is warm enough to be comfortable and can change on arrival. The TA cap was useful to keep my sunglasses reasonably dry. (with orange or yellow lenses)  Dark glasses are purgatory in a heavy overcast.

The mudguard flap was excellent. Even when riding at 15mph through 3" deep standing water. My feet were still dry even though everything else was sopping wet. I had also put on my neoprene overshoes. The Tahoe shoes are very open on the uppers.  So the rain runs right through them and out of the holes in the soles. One zip on the overshoes has given up completely.

I think this is the first time I have deliberately chosen to go out in heavy rain. The jacket was rattling like a bivouac tent on a high ridge in the mountains. It's main and only real advantage is in providing a completely wind and waterproof shell. If the wind can't get to your wet skin it can't chill you by evaporation. The fact that the clothing had made you soaking wet to the skin in the first place seems like a rather poor deal  IMO.

Wearing a polythene bag would be no different if it was tailored to the same shape as these jackets. Exercise produces sweat which condenses on the inside of the cold, wet nylon coating. I was an early adopter of proofed nylon jackets back in the late 1960s. Blacks of Greenoch had a local branch near where I worked. What a disaster in the mountains! On a bike I could strip and change at work. Camping in the mountains was a whole different matter! Wearing it while climbing ensured overheating and getting soaked in sweat. Then what? If you took it off to cool down you'd die of hypothermia in seconds flat with the wind chilling you to the core.

Modern sports clothing should breathe. Keeping you warm and dry and still dry inside the clothing. The breathability varies enormously from one jacket to another. The level of physical activity and the prevailing temperatures are also variables. I usually choose clothing from my inexpensive wardrobe to match the conditions. Today's choice was a very poor one. Skin is waterproof so bare legs in shorts are fine in the summer. Not nearly so comfortable in the wet in the colder months. I have ridden in shorts down to near freezing point in the dry. Great for keeping cool while riding hard in an unsuitable jacket. The length of the ride is another factor. As is the ability to dry (or rinse and dry) wet clothing at your destination. 18 miles.

One of the few remaining, unspoilt, timber-framed town houses in Assens. The leaning chimney is real. Not an illusion. A black painted base is usually reserved for stone-built plinths. Note the deliberate siting of street furniture to spoil the view of the house for photographic purposes!  

Note the appalling choice of positioning for the no parking sign! Here's somebody with absolutely no respect for the town's history. I doubt they even noticed the old house was there! Or thought it should be knocked down and replaced with a "nice" bungalow!

23rd 56F, 13C, very windy and very wet. The forecast is for rain all day and tomorrow. I am going to try my Belstaff "Cyclone" jacket today. I'm not very sure of its real waterproof qualities. I think of it as wind and light shower proof for cool, winter use. It's a bit of a bum-freezer too for heavy rain. What were the designers thinking of? Golf? Perhaps it needs to be re-treated to make it more waterproof again? No doubt I shall find out later.

It seems very odd that I have had so remarkably little exposure to heavy rain over the last couple of years of cycling. The retail price of the really serious, breathable rain gear is well beyond my pocket. Most of it is designed for walking and climbing. It doesn't have the correct cut for cycling or is far too bulky. Though I haven't even examined the serious, wet weather, cycling wear for lack of funds.

The supposedly breathable, cheap, lightweight cycling clothing in the big chain stores is hardly windproof let alone waterproof. I have tried several different jackets and have given them a descending hierarchy of usefulness: Slightly useful in light mist if not windy or cold. Medium mist only in cool conditions without wind. Slightly sweaty. Very sweaty. Crap! Perhaps I should tun them inside out? I have tried wearing a pair of jackets together but they are no better than one and twice as bad in the rain. The combination of wind and wet eludes manufacturers. Even if simple comfort, enough to get home safely, is all that is asked. And you wonder why people give up cycle commuting?

A village on a busy main road has decided to decorate the verges with brightly painted bikes. They are dotted throughout the length of the village. The speed limit is very low but nobody bothers to adhere to it.

I saw a couple of racing chaps out training yesterday in just their cycling shorts and jerseys. That is a recipe for a very unpleasant ride! Particularly with no mudguards as well. The heavy spray was being thrown straight up their backs! At least a trike throws the back tyre spray past the rider. Provided the rider remembers not to lean over into the spray on a wet corner! Yeuk! 

I know I'm going on a bit about this matter of clothing. Rain just hasn't cropped up seriously until now. If you want proof of the inability of manufacturers to make anything useful for wet weather cycling just look at the Tour de France! A multi billion Euro, industry showcase. What do you see the absolute elite of cyclists wearing? ? Silly little, flapping waistcoats and newspapers shoved up their cycling jerseys on long descents! I mean, really? I was doing that myself nearly 50 year ago and thought it extremely amateurish even then. Even if it did improve comfort to the merely tolerable on my daily, winter commute between cities.

Perhaps the UCI rules tyrants should insist on a standard, black, bin bag for wet weather? Then dictate the exact size of the permissible, arm cut-out holes to be worn by all professional cyclists in competition. The standard, UCI approved, black bin bag could become the clubman's fashion garment of the 21st century! The more daring could try a clear bin bag for informal wear. To show off the advertising on their expensive cycling togs. Provided, of course, that they weren't actively participating in a UCI rules competition! ;-)  

Well, after all that, the remaining drizzle petered out a couple of miles from home. By then it was far too warm for the Belstaff jacket. Too warm in fact for a cycling jersey and shorts! Probably high humidity rather than the 58F. The BBB "Hardware" overshoes are now embarrassing themselves by becoming impossible to get off! The zips are unzipping from the bottom but wont go back down. They were also dripping wet inside. Presumably condensation from my feet. The Tahoe shoes felt damp right through. My socks were still warm and dry today. Wet yesterday. A very fast chap overtook me on a racing bike. He was wearing a close fitting, translucent, white jacket. Ending abruptly at the waist. 14 damp and windy miles.

Thatched, timber-framed rural farm buildings in bright sunshine to cheer things up.

24th 56F, 13C, windy, wet, overcast. A repeat of yesterday but without all of the words. :-) It rained all day but I saw a break at 6pm and managed a dry ride for 8 miles.

Congratulations to Mark Cavendish on his Green Jersey and 20th stage win in the Tour de France. A well deserved Yellow Jersey to Cadel Evans. He worked really hard for his victory and proved himself by far the best all-rounder. All he has to do now is work on his interview technique and his smile. :-)

Poor Tommy Voeckler deserved a higher placing but wore himself out defending the Yellow against all the odds. The Schleck brothers were the climbing specialists but were yet again unable to show the absolute superiority expected of 2nd and 3rd IMO. The race was handed to them thanks to the massive climbs but there was no real drama or excitement.

Contador lacked the form to prove his own superiority and has a drugs enquiry hanging over him. It would have tarnished the race with doubt for yet another year had he won and he may have known this. Professional cycling needs to get away from its appalling record of drugs abuse and doping. Until it does it will remain a minority sport with a dark shadow hanging, unfairly, over every single rider.

I also think they should do something about putting the more lunatic roadside "participants" and flag wavers behind bars. Permanently might be asking too much but one can hope. Reducing the sheer number of vehicles and motorbikes involved would go a long way towards avoiding the accidents which marred this year's race.
George Longstaff Tandem Trike on eBay (end time 28-Jul-11 21:49:37 BST)

The auction closed with no bids. 

Given the asking price one would have expected some tyres to allow it to be ridden away. How else could it be collected? These things are far too long for the usual car, tow-ball fitting, bike racks. Even a normal car trailer would struggle to contain a tandem trike. I'm not sure of the legality of towing such a thing behind a car with the front wheel or handlebars supported on a car rack. You'd certainly need a spare number plate to hang on the back of the tandem trike. Ordinary trikes go comfortably sideways on a car rack. I've done it several times with three different trikes.

25th 57F, 14C, overcast, light winds. No fresh bread at the first shop so I had to do a complete tour of lots of different villages before I finally found some. The i-gotU GPS logger went to sleep half way round. I saw a family of four Greater Spotted Woodpeckers on a quiet road. They shot up into the overhead trees at very the last moment. I could see them looking down, around the branches as I passed underneath. A flock of (what I thought to be) Oystercatchers took off from a field puddle formed from the last few days of heavy rain.

It was one of the few days when I kept my (lightweight) jacket on to keep the wind out. My chest was a bit bunged up and I had to keep coughing to clear it. A bit short of breath but I was still climbing okay. My right knee was niggling when I stood up on the pedals. So I stopped doing it. :-)

View from the bridge at Nr.Broby. (Literally: North Bridge-Town)
It was rather odd to see 4" round holes bored right through the road and the bridge open to the river below.  

It drizzled on me several times but I carried on for 30 miles. I was running out of energy towards the end. Thank goodness for thick marmalade covered rolls and milky coffee to revive me when I arrived home. I must take some more photographs. The continuous overcast has rather taken away my enthusiasm. The national holidays also means that a lot more cars, than usual, are parked in front of photogenic houses.

Rivers are not very visible in the landscape of Fyn. 
This one meanders across marshy, valley bottoms.

26th 59F, 15C, winds light, dry with sunny periods promised. It remained overcast and crawled up to 66F, 19C.  The winds stayed light making it far more pleasant to ride on the more open roads. It seems to have been blowing hard for months. There were lots of tiny, brown frogs sitting upright on the roads. 25 miles before coffee.

Thatched rural idyll on an unmade road right beside the sea.

27th  68F, 19C, light breeze, sunny periods. As it was such a nice day I looped round by the unspoilt coast. This included a couple of miles of unmade road covered in gravel and stones. Thanks to the newly hard tires I did not suffer  any punctures. Though I wonder about the large group of cyclists going the other way! They appeared from nowhere. All in matching racing gear with a couple of adults supervising this horde of about 30 young people. The leader was intent on taking them down this awful road! In fact it was more of a private drive since all motorised traffic was prohibited.

As can be seen above the lack of tarmac adds an original flavour to the rural scene. No doubt all roads were like this before the motor car demanded a smoother surface. In order to go faster to nowhere much at all.

I'm still bunged up including my nose and ears. So is my wife. Another summer cold? Or a reaction to rural affairs? 29 miles.

A smiley, dinner plate sized fungus all on its own on a traffic island.

28th 64-69F, 18-20C, breezy, overcast. Knees a bit achy today but not enough to be a real nuisance. At one point I thought I was taking a short cut through a village. Anything to avoid riding along the busy main road. The village ended suddenly with a flight of shallow steps. Which I had badly mistaken for a bicycle path. So I rode on down. Each step being only about 4" high and just long enough to allow the trike to drop quite gently. Having reached the bottom I discovered I was still high above the main road with no way down. So I had to drag Mr Higgins all the way back up the steps again! Nobody could ever accuse me of lacking enough exercise! :-)

Having eventually reached my goal I took the very rural, very hilly route back towards home. Isn't it awful how the sound of a motorway carries? Even behind a wood and beyond a hill it was still unpleasant from over a mile away. How anyone can live with this constant racket is completely beyond me. Yet some very smart farms and houses exist here in the corrugated folds of fields and woods. Most of these homes had horses grazing in the paddocks which always seem to go with such properties. To think that I resent the sound of an occasional lorry on the nearest road! If we hear a plane it is unusual yet people pay millions for homes near airports! 34 miles today.

 A pretty car I saw on my travels.

29th 60-70F, 16-21C, windy, mostly sunny, warm. 22 hilly miles, heavily loaded. It's amazing how one can carry plants in large pots just by hanging a black bin bag from the saddle pin of a trike. (well tied on of course) I saw a few racing cyclists out training. Despite the loads I'm still climbing better than I ever have. No photos today. 10 more miles after coffee. It's up to 72F now but still blowing quite hard.

 Thatch, timber framing and hollyhocks.

30th 68-72F, 20-22C, windy, sunny. A different loop today. Legs a bit tired and achy but no problem getting around. 30 miles.

31st July 2011  68-76F, 20-25C, breezy, sunny periods. Right knee hurting before I climbed onto the trike. Struggled to get out of the saddle. Lots of cyclists out and about. The distant garden centre which I had intended to visit was closed for the holidays. Not so much a goal as an own goal. Lots of motorbikes too. They are remarkably seasonal here in the north. They like going along in large groups. Sometimes up to 50 or more. Mostly big bikes with full fairings. 42 miles.

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

13 Jul 2011

July '11


Wild Verbascum [thapsis] or Mullein.

1st July 2011 60F, 16C, very windy, mainly overcast with fleeting glimpses of the sun. Every circle comes back into the wind! 20 miles.



 Hand powered racing trike sitting in a bike shop.

I have tried to reduce the fussy backgrounds using PhotoFiltre.
It wasn't the cycle shop's fault I wanted to take some snaps of the trike.

2nd 55F, 13C, breezy, overcast with continuous rain. No plans to go out today unless it clears up. 6 miles in drizzle on very wet roads.

A link to some pictures of Belgian trike riders cornering with some enthusiasm:


Traditional, village thatched farmhouse.

3rd 69F, 21C, breezy, overcast, humid, warm. I went shopping in one town and then headed home. Going along the main road a racing cyclist steamed past me like I was going backwards. As I was feeling quite strong I thought I'd try to follow him. Or at least stay with him.

I was a bit handicapped by my bag full of shopping and two 1m (3'3") wide rolls of garden fleece. Which were tied sideways across the top of the bag. The rider kept getting slowly more distant despite my giving it fully 90% for 6-7 undulating miles to the next town.

I was doing between 17mph uphill and 23mph on the flat with quite a strong side wind. Even going down a long hill and pedalling hard at 100rpm I could still only manage 27mph. I was sweating like mad and took my TA cap off. It still felt as if I was riding in a sauna. As I came over a rise he had completely disappeared. Then I had to turn straight into the wind to potter the last few miles home as I slowly cooled off. 26 miles.

It's not all chocolate box and the middle classes living under a thatched roof:

Thatch is hideously expensive to replace and has a finite lifetime in comparison with most alternative roof coverings. Being saddled with a massive bill for re-thatching means that the alternatives are usually sought. Corrugated, fibre-reinforced, cement sheets are the most popular. Being relatively inexpensive and light enough not to need new roof timbers. Though usually the roof is re-battened to modern standards. Tiles require massive reconstruction or major reinforcement to cope with the greatly added weight.
PS. This old house has been recently re-thatched.

How do you build the country house of your dreams where planning permission would never be given?  You buy up a dilapidated cottage, demolish it and build a new house. This beautifully situated, rural home is in better taste than many built with new money. The majority of new builds are stock bungalows.

A Higgins trike on Flickr:


Lurking behind luxuriant shrubbery is an unspoilt, old, thatched and timber-framed farmhouse in Swedish red. One of the most popular traditional house colours alongside variations on yellow ochre. Original windows had slender glazing bars and were built of very long lasting, well seasoned heartwood. Not the heavy, mass-produced, knotty trailer trash sold today.

4th July 65-70F, 18-21C, breezy, overcast, warm and rather humid. My legs were rather heavy after yesterday's foolishness chasing younger racing cyclists. I stopped to take some picture to fill up the empty spaces. 20 miles.

A bold, road-side stand of Rosebay Willowherb with an underpinning of perfectly matching mallow.

5th 63F, 17C, light breeze, overcast, wet, with occasional rain. I ran through some roadworks in the rain and splattered myself with black tar thinners. Which had been put down as a primer. My windproof, day-glo jacket is now covered in permanent, jet black spots! My legs took quarter of an hour of scrubbing. Using a strong hand cleanser, with abrasive grains, before I was decent again. 10 miles.

Tadpole front end with Ackermann steering.

I did a tour of more bike shops later on but came up with no wider Continental Gatorskins. The word from one shop is that they are rather thin and vulnerable on the side walls. Since he seemed to be trying to push GP4000s one must assume that his criticism was possibly biased. The advice from another expert was that I should pump my Bontrager tyres much harder! The problem is that I can't use my right arm with a frame pump because of an RSI industrial injury. My Aldi sourced track pump resents pumping much beyond 5 bar. One bike mechanic suggested 8 Bar for the 23mm Bontragers to avoid pinch flats. (snake bite punctures).

  Hub gear, lay shaft to double freewheel, two wheel drive delta? A much heavier version of the double freewheel, 2WD, popularised by Longstaff and Trykit for racing and touring trikes. This assumes that the red body actually houses a double freewheel rather than a differential. 

More general view of the same trikes parked outside a city bike shop.

6th 72F, 22C, windy, sunny, hot. 13 miles. I'm leaving far too late to get any miles in before coffee and rolls! Lazy git! I'm not being allowed out for afternoon rides either.

I dismantled, rebuilt and then tried the track pump again but it loses interest at around 5 Bar. So it was back to the frame pump and I did my best despite the pain in my elbow. The trike went like a rocket afterwards. So I must have managed a few more pounds of pressure over normal. Though I could still easily dent the tyre tread surface with my thumb.

It may be the brass Presta-Schrader valve adaptor on the track pump which is causing the problem. It has just occurred to me that the adaptor will fit a car foot pump just as well. I'll experiment with this to see if it is simply operator error. I wonder whether better track pumps fit Presta HP valves without an adaptor?

I tried the car foot pump but it neither registered much pressure nor provided any more air. So it was back to the track pump. With all my weight bearing down on the handle I could just reach 7 Bar or 100 PSI. The right tire still doesn't feel as hard on the right. At 5 Bar I could just about flatten the tyre to the rim with my thumb in a firm squeeze.

I glance down at the rear tyres, occasionally, while I'm riding. If I can only just see the the tire beyond the outside edge of the rims, while seated normally, I know they are almost hard enough. When pumped really hard they just about disappear from view where they are flattened on the road by my weight.

Despite the brand new new inner tube and very careful fitting, without using levers, the right tire is still not holding high pressures. I have checked and double checked that tire for fine wires or debris both inside and out. It will still not stay rock hard. The left tire stays rock hard for what seems like weeks without any attention.

As usual the Bontrager Race Lites are lasting well with no sign of wear or damage after many miles. I had a look at a Race Lite Hardcase in the shop but they weigh a ton compared with the foldable Race Lites!

An overall view of the tadpole.

I see the Tour de France and UCI officials are polishing their crooked egos again. Poor Mark Cavendish must have great difficulty not saying what he thinks about these corrupt bar stewards. Hushovd practically pushed Cavendish off the road but Cavendish loses points as well? What a corrupt farce!

Today in the intermediate sprint the leading riders crossed from one side of the road to the other and then back again but still lost no points or a disqualification? Another farce!

The bar stewards have fixed the race to make it near impossible for the sprinters to dominate this year. Had I been Cavendish I would have given the Tyrants de France Commies the V sign from the winner's rostrum! V for Victory, of course. :-)

A solitary, roadside windmill just began to turn very slowly and serenely as I approached. What's not to like?

7th 70F, 21C, winds light, sunny, warm. It was almost dead still as I set off to get a few more miles in and do some shopping. I took the scenic route nearer the coast on my way there. Once again I saw some fairly large birds of prey with dark, square, wing tips. Not red kites despite their wing span. I'll have took them up.

A gentle breeze had picked up by the time I headed back. Riding down the main road was no fun at all with huge lorries roaring past my elbow. So after a few miles I turned off again. Along the quiet lanes full of butterflies and birds. Why do walkers and joggers wear headphones instead of enjoying the birdsong? Crackers! 44 miles.

8th 70F, 21C, breezy, rain clearing, warm and sunny. 13 miles.

Blogspot has a completely new composing format! It's crazy. When I Publish I don't get to see the results of my labours! There is no "View Blog" from the composing page. Which is completely nuts!! "Publish" takes me to yet another page listing posts. Where do I have the option of viewing. Why do it like this? If I'm editing an older post I have to search an index for older posts before I can click on the newly edited post. Which is crackers! If it ain't broke. Don't mend it!The last time they played with the code they broke the whole darned thing! I never did get back the missing posts.

I see the four hundred year-old bike shop in Odense has closed down.
Look at the Philistinic "No Waiting" sign placed right in front of such a beautiful  old building! Such street furniture obscenities should be sackable offences for all involved! The standard, white, Danish postbox is also completely inexcusable! Grrr!

9th 70-75F, 21-24C, becoming very windy, sunny but becoming cloudy. Hot and very sticky. (humid) I am blowing my tyres up before every ride now. The outside temperature is up to 76F now on my digital thermometer! Warmest this year.

Windier than ever after coffee and rolls.  Great fun cruising effortlessly at 20mph. Dripping with sweat in the warm, humid conditions. I am getting out of  the saddle a lot more now that my knees have stopped hurting again. Mr Higgins feels rather flexible when I try to sprint uphill. Like riding a blancmange. Another 13 miles.

I wonder whether the bad crash on the T de F was due to those silly, deep rims they all have now? Bit of a coincidence that they had just warned about cross winds! Delighted to see that the sprinting cheats have been docked points for blocking Cavendish out. The race Commies wouldn't have leg to stand on if they had allowed the results to stand. (or words to that effect)

Rural mansion with lake, water mill and farm buildings.

10th July, Sunday. 72F, 22C, windy, sunny, warm. Cruising at 20mph I was able to go quite some distance from home in no time at all. Then I followed a big curve back towards home through narrow and bumpy forest lanes and undulating, hilly countryside. Traffic was delightfully light.

I was feeling remarkably strong today and was trying hard most of the time. Quite a few groups and lots of individual racing cyclists were out training today. Two bunches overtook me on the narrow cycle path in one village. Which was a new and interesting experience. Then one of the groups held me back on the next big hill.  My knee caps started aching around halfway but I ignored them and they went away again. An enjoyable day even riding uphill into a head wind towards the end.

No further problems except for one moronic car driver. Who came speeding through his own village at twice the speed limit. Then blasted me with his horn before driving right across my bow into his drive by crossing the the cycle path. My clear hand signal left him in no doubt what I thought of his illegal and pointlessly immature behaviour. 40 miles before morning coffee isn't bad for me.

11th 70F, 21C, very light winds but building, sunny. Despite a light cross wind I was managing 19-23mph on the way to the shops. The windmills were just beginning to move as I reached the shops. Only 13-16mph on the way back into an increasing headwind with a heavy bag of shopping. Legs a bit tired after yesterday's longer romp. Particularly the lower calf muscles. (despite trying to massage the pain away) I've never had a problem there before. I must be trying too hard. 15 miles.

I had another go with my track pump. I was careful to unscrew the Presta valve tip completely. Then tapped the tip to be sure it would open under the pressure of pumping. You know how it is with a normal bike pump. The valve sometimes refuses to take any more air unless you free it up first with a tap of the pump head.

Then I screwed on the Presta adaptor as far as it would go. It was still very difficult to reach 7 Bar with the track pump. My feeling is that the piston may be experiencing too much friction under high pressure. The larger bore of the track pump (compared with a frame fitting bike pump) would require much more effort to achieve the same pumping pressure.  It can move a lot more air but the larger area of the piston experiences much greater resistance as the tyre pressure rises.

Just as in a hydraulic jack: The pump piston area is relatively small, compared with the lift piston. This arrangement provides considerable mechanical advantage. Thus a puny man can lift a a heavy car a relatively short distance with very little effort. So a track pump with a long narrow cylinder should be better (in theory) than a short fat one. I'm thinking aloud here so feel free to correct any blatant errors.

I put half a turn on the Brooks Professional saddle adjusting nut to try and take out some of the droop. I have been getting a bit saddle sore in the recent warmer temperatures. The saddle felt a bit firmer today though the "saddle back" droop hadn't changed visibly. The Brooks has about 12k miles on it now.

My Brooks Professional after 12,000 miles. 

Though it marks fairly easily the thick and stiff leather is almost perfectly self-healing. Its appearance is very much a matter of taste. It does need shelter from the rain. But then, so do we all.

I knew one very keen cycle tourist who used a B17. His saddle, after many thousands of miles over many years resembled a flat, curved hammock. Almost like a wide leather belt sagging between two support points. As he owned a bike shop, stocking Brooks, I presume he preferred the look and feel of his old saddle.

The Brooks Professional saddle after about half a turn on the adjusting nut.

From previous experience, I could soak the saddle with water. Then stuff it hard with rags to bring up the ridge again. Then let it dry slowly and thoroughly. Whether this would increase or reduce comfort would be a bit of a lottery. After the slight discomfort of yesterday's ride I actually fitted a modern saddle on Mr Higgins. Then took it straight off again after sitting on it for just a few moments. As usual I put a builder's level along the saddle and then the top tube to ensure both were level. Then repeated the procedure all over again for the much heavier Brooks.

I wish Brooks would fit a proper badge in stamped copper or (worse) brass at the back. The printed alloy thing is hideously cheap and nasty and incredibly short lived no matter how well looked after! It is completely out of character with the claimed quality of a classic objets d'art. One skilfully hand crafted from natural materials. Can you even imagine a Mercedes with a crappy alloy label riveted askew to the boot lid? At least the copper rivets don't rust!

I noticed that the bike shop where I bought mine still has a couple of un-boxed NOS Brooks Professional saddles on the display rack. Going for ~£50 equiv. (500DKK). Note: These are NOT the later Team Pro with the huge copper rivets. They are rather more modest in size and probably longer-lived for it. At a glance these saddles looked exactly the same as mine. Which probably means they are over ten years old. They are very dark brown like mine (NOT black) and have never been fitted let alone ridden.

Mine took forever and a lot of post-natal treatment to become remotely comfortable. Had I known, I could have cut short the torture with a quick bath. (The saddle, not me!) It is not until I try something else that I realise what an amazing, long term investment these saddles really are.

The contents of my saddle storage box. 
I have no idea why I bother to keep most of them! 
I have several more, old leather saddles for my work bikes and LongJohn.

It must be an age thing. I used a shiny new Unica Nitor, bare black plastic, road saddle as a keen teenager nearly 50 years ago. I can still remember that saddle hurt too! Trying other people's Brooks was even worse! Those cutaway leather saddles were straight out of the Inquisition's favourite tool box!  :-)

Mr Higgins pauses to admire a swathe of wild blue Chicory flowers on the verge.

12th 68F, 20C, breezy, sunny, warm. I fitted in a few bike shops on my shopping trip. Looking for track pumps. I was hoping to find a Bontrager Charger because it has a good reputation amongst hundreds of users. Plenty of alternatives available but not that one. All my tyres seem to be staying up now I have them pumped up really hard. Perhaps the harder tyres are the reason for my hitting 20mph so often. I was climbing a long drag and the gears suddenly changed up without my help. I shot up from 17 to 23mph! Even with a 10 o'clock crosswind I was cruising at 20mph on the flat.

I was nearly wiped off the road by a mobile phone moron coming towards me in a 4WD. No sign of intelligent life in the 4WD as the telephone user overtook another vehicle going into a village with a 30mph speed limit! No police. No crime. 25 miles.


Spraying oilseed rape with fungicide prior to harvesting. Midday, wind 10m/s in the middle of the holidays. With kids playing in the gardens of surrounding houses. I have seen kids walking right through the spray drift numerous times. I have seen spraying going on right beside a rural school playground while it was full of kids.

I myself have been sprayed several times while cycling past a field being treated. Leaving me with the choice of riding home to shower the sticky, stinking residue off my skin. Or to continue with my ride. I was usually quite a long way from home. 
Oilseed rape has taken over from sugar beet production as the new gold rush. Avoid the oil like the plague! You'll find it in everything these days. Which part of toxic don't you understand? Wikipedia has a page on the subject if you have a strong stomach. 

13th July  56F, 13C, windy, heavy showers with almost continuous rain and heavy overcast. Oh good grief! Now I have whacked myself hard on the knee with a lump hammer! I can hardly climb the stairs! Nor stand up now! Fortunately(?) I hit the Vastus medialis muscle rather than the knee cap itself. I have been provided with a wet pad of cotton wool with some Witch Hazel added. Then left to recoup by watching the Tour De France on TV. It looks like my first rest day since 13th April. Three months to the day. Unlucky for some! But not for Cavendish. Who took his 18th stage victory on a very wet day!

14th 56F, 13C, very windy, rain lashing down. A rerun of yesterday's rain with extra big helpings. The Danish Meteorological Institute has a severe weather warning for very heavy rain over most of southerly Denmark. Nearly two inches will fall today with more rain forecast for all week. Regardless of the torrential rain and wind a blackbird is trying to sing out there!  

 Here's a picture to cheer things up. A Dahlia grown and photographed by my wife, The Head Gardener.

Amazingly, my knee is almost recovered with only very limited, localised pain if I prod it. Last night it was agony to walk on that leg.

The rain finally stopped late afternoon so I went out for 3/4 of an hour until it started raining again.  My knee behaved well provided I didn't get out of the saddle. I was able to manage a steady 20mph on an off on the flat. Only 10 miles.

There are a couple of trike conversions on eBay(UK) at the moment:

This modern one is slightly unusual by the classic trike builder standards:

 And a Ken Rogers conversion set:

Dawes Racing Tricycle Ken Rogers Reynolds 531 Tubing on eBay (end time 13-Jul-11 19:26:13 BST)

The World Tricycle Championships gallery is up with some great action pictures: 

15th 68F, 20C, breezy, sunny periods. It rained all morning so I busied myself in the bike shed. I wrapped the handlebars overt the top of the old tape with Fizik tape. Having been in storage in the shed for a couple of years the sticky paper strip pulled the glue away with it! So I had to hold the tape firmly at each end with electrical tape starting at the ends of the bars. The tape is very grippy now instead of greasy and rather sticky with years of sweat. Yeuk!

Then I discovered a Zefal plastic pump which I had used only once. I bought it in an emergency when my old pump split. The new pump was too long for the Higgins seat tube so was lost in the detritus of the shed.

I tried the new, longer pump on my tyres and they went up rock hard in a couple of easy strokes! Absolutely amazing! My other pump is an identical, but slightly shorter, Zefal. It really is very hard work to get any real pressure with the worn one. Likewise the cheap track pump. Problem solved and hopefully I will have no more pinch punctures. I'm also faster on the harder tyres.

The rain forecast for the entire coming week meant I ought to put the front mudguard back on. I still wanted a reasonable flap to stop the front tyre throwing water onto my feet. With the very low bottom bracket on trikes the feet can get very wet indeed. My brother suggested bricklayer's DPC plastic strip. Which would have been ideal except that it comes in rolls which I did not have. Nor any great desire to buy a whole roll for just one flap.

Then my wife (The Head Gardener) suggested a flexible, black plastic, flower pot. Not the usual kind. Which are harder, stiffer and very prone to splitting over time. I then noticed that my plastic front mudguard had moulded folds at the edges for stiffening. So I cut a section of flower pot and then carefully trimmed a 1" long tab. One which would just go between the edge slots in the stiffening folds when the tab was curved to match the inside of the mudguard

Once it was slid firmly into place, I drilled through both and pop riveted the two together. Using a carefully fitted washer to accept the rivet shank expansion as it was drawn up with the riveting pliers. Once the flap was safely fitted I could then trim it to an aesthetically pleasing shape.

It hardly rained much as I had a trial run around the local lanes. It seemed to work well enough without ever contacting my toes. Being black and matching the mudguard it is hardly noticeable. Cost was nil as I already had the tools and materials. The curve helps to stiffen it against the strongest head wind. I may trim it further after trying it on really wet roads. 15 miles today.

Blowing a gale later with the trees roaring and thrashing about. 12 more miles with a very strong crosswind. Legs a bit tired and lungs bunged up with fluid. I've been clearing my throat a lot lately. Rain stayed off and roads mostly dry. Tires remained rock hard. The mudguard and flap have already collected a lot of road debris. Mostly damp seeds brought down by the heavy rain. The sides of the road are also laden with brown slugs.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

3 Jul 2011

Restored Higgins


John C has kindly sent me some images of his superbly restored, Higgins trike. 

Looking downright gorgeous in a beautiful red with classical, white, seat tube bands. Red was always my favourite colour.

The larger frame sizes always look particularly sleek. This is a 24" racing thoroughbred. Note the neat front hub brake. Which avoids the usual clutter of twin brakes in front of the forks on a trike.

A close up of the smart, Shimano 105 drive train. The rear wheels sport Trykit alloy hubs, Mavic CXP22 black, aero rims and Schwalbe Stelvio tyres.

 A new "Built by Higgins in 531" seat tube badge looks superb against the crisp white banding. I have just realised that these badges must come in various colours to suit the paintwork.

The essential Higgins 'Ultralite' downtube signature in flawless italics oozes quality and adds the vital touch of originality. 

A closer view showing a tasteful selection of modern, dual-action lever technology. A classical, light tan, Brooks Swift leather saddle and matching handlebar wrap. The saddle bag is a Carradice Barley.

Regular readers of my blog may recognise this trike as having been plain, dark green at one point:


I must say that I much prefer the restored trike by a very large margin. The white detail set against timeless red and the new transfers are simply beautiful. Bob Jackson of Leeds is responsible for the superb finish and varnish-affixed transfers. The transfers themselves came from Chris Hewitt (Cycles) the Higgins expert and spares supplier.

The Tricycle Association - Higgins Spares

Bob Jackson respray webpages:

Prices:          Bob Jackson Cycles
Colours:       Bob Jackson Cycles
Shipping:     Bob Jackson Cycles 
Respraying: Bob Jackson Cycles

If anyone else would like to share some images of their trike they can attach them to an email. To:  triker@nypost.dk 
Click on any image for an enlargement. Back click to return to the text.