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.
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.
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!
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? :-)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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)
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. :-)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.