31 Aug 2011

August '11 Part 3


23rd 60F, 16C, breezy and sunny.  I bought a new gear cable inner because the present one is fraying at the lever. This seems to happen more frequently with bar-end levers. I only discovered the problem when I spiked my finger with the frayed strands and bled all over the place. I also bought a new Sram 8 speed chain. The cheap one I bought in the spring is beginning to make poor gear changes and jump into other gears. I'll still get a few more miles out of it yet.

Great year for plums. They are hanging and lying about everywhere. The butterflies like to feed on the fruit as it turns to sugar and rots on the ground. As do the wasps! I nearly ran over a swallow today! A flock was gathered on the road and one left it far too late to take off. I had to brake hard on thick mud from the farmer's activities. Missed the bird by millimetres! I have seen a few dead ones amongst the road kill. Later a daft young cat saw me coming along the lane and walked slowly across my path! Only 20 miles. I need to take some more pictures.

I just found this Longstaff trike testing video:

For some reason YouTube embedding no longer works. I tried old and new codes in both Chrome and Firefox. Error 404 Not found!

A secret passage in the deep, dark woods.

24th  61F, 16C, breezy, heavy grey overcast. It was spitting as I headed for the hills but it soon stopped. A large lorry wouldn't overtake me on the main road so I had to pull into a forecourt to let him go past. Then I saw him ten miles later unloading at a factory.

The gatehouse from the other side. 
It really is leaning all over the place. Just one of several entrances guarding a vast estate dating back to a now demolished, medieval castle. There is a similar arched building a couple of miles away on the far side. Well beyond the great house.

The other arched gatehouse.
Earlier image taken in winter.

The village supermarkets continue to struggle against falling sales and over-investment in new outlets and a lack of quality staff. I wish they'd spend some money on staff and training! Don't they know that only their customers can pay their wages? It certainly isn't evident in any of the supermarket chains I visit on a daily basis. The majority of managers are uncouth oafs. There are no other words which fit them. The staff are completely indifferent, regardless of whom they are addressing. The majority of checkout operators are now too young to abuse tobacco and booze themselves!

The same dreadful standard goes for service and reception, public office staff and banks. Sour faced frumps everywhere I go! When I meet a confident and cheerful person it changes my whole day for the better! Why do businesses and services choose the dour face that customers and visitors see? This person is their entire company or office frontage. Everything they've seen of the factory, office or shop, up until that moment, becomes completely irrelevant!

I don't demand model looks, high heels and plunging necklines. Human, competent and friendly will do for me. I'd actually prefer an ugly "fairytale" dwarf to most of the present lot! In many businesses and public offices a robot, or interactive screen, would be a vast improvement on the receptionist or service counter staff! How the hell do they get recruited in the first place and then keep their jobs?

On a warmer note: A young, confident, competent and very attractive young lady served me in my own bank this week! This, after nearly 15 years of utterly miserable counter staff! Many times I threatened myself with taking my custom and piggy bank elsewhere. The damned bank will probably go bust now! No pun intended! :-)

I nearly ended up in a hearse today. Quite literally! Some doddering old fool, of about my own age, driving a hearse, pulled out in front of me from a side road. He crossed the pavement and cycle path without even so much as glancing in my direction! Feeling quite strong today without any obvious aches or pains. 25 miles of absolute mayhem but still no pretty pictures to keep Gunnar quiet! (Tut-tut) ;-)

There's a set of Zipp, carbon, trike racing wheels on eBay. They look like Longstaff fit but without the auto extractor cups fitted. Start saving now but be quick about it! The rest of us will just have to try not to drool! ;)

eBay - The UK's Online Marketplace


25th  60-68F, 16-20C, overcast, still but becoming breezy, humid. Not really in a mood to go far or fast today. My chest felt as if it were full of fluids again. With a nasty taste into the bargain! So I explored some dead-end lanes. Even went off-road for a couple of miles looking for photo opportunities. Only 20 miles. I watched the Vuelta pm but it's hard to enjoy after having watched the TdeF. The pictures, sound, on-screen information and commentating aren't a patch on the French tour.

26th 70-75F, 21-24C, gales, sunny periods, humid. A sticky day. It tried to rain half-heartedly but gave up again. I couldn't even see the clouds responsible. Blowing hard from the east which is quite unusual for us. Though Easterly winds are not unknown. I made the most of it by staying in a low gear. Just pottering and enjoying the scenery. Not trying too hard. My chest seemed a bit better today but still more breathless than usual.

The peak stiffener in my TA cap has cracked i  half right across the middle. I was in the habit of wearing it. Then rolling it neatly around the peak when it became too warm before stuffing it flat in my jersey back pocket. The roll of cloth, thus formed, should have protected the peak. It didn't. Not impressed!

That damned golden retriever was aggressive again. I kept talking and crawled past at 1/2mph until I was far enough away not to be chased.

That's two days running that a racing cyclist has come up quickly behind me in the cycle lane. When I meet a slower cyclist I just take to the road without making a fuss.  Then hop back onto the bike lane at the next ramp.

The temperature is still rising: 77F now. South and east Europe has been having a real heat wave. 22 miles. I saw a single cylinder British motorbike today. I thought it looked like a later, all alloy, G80CS 500cc Matchless but I couldn't swear to it. The unique exhaust note of a single took me right back to my teens.

27th 65F, 18C, heavy overcast, breezy at times.  A tremendous lighting storm at bedtime with torrential rain. My wife reported that I quickly fell asleep and snored though the best bits. There is heavy rain forecast for earlier this morning. Though it is still dry here (and rather dark) at 8am CET.

I have just been watching BBC's Click programme. Talking about cyclists and pedestrians in the US risking their lives while texting and listening to music. I see joggers and cyclists with headphones and wonder why they aren't enjoying the birdsong.

I have also been watching some YT videos of cycling with headcams in the UK. It all came flooding back! Arrrggghhh! The nightmare of British roads! How could I have I forgotten so soon? It has only been 15 years! The standard of driving in the UK is absolutely appalling compared with Denmark. I know I keep moaning about speeding over here. But the average Danish driver is infinitely less aggressive and careful than those in the UK. I rate the latter as dangerous psychopaths until proven to be simple, selfish retards. 

It really takes some getting used to having drivers waiting at their exits while I and other cyclists, tootle gently around roundabouts. The same goes with pedestrians. Who are allowed to amble slowly across junctions and crossings. Exactly as they were all taught to do as toddlers by their minders. They have exactly the same right of way as in Britain once committed to crossing. It just isn't the lethal, totally one-sided, game of murderous skittles over here!

The Danes are far more likely to be cyclists (and pedestrians) than the lazy and impatient Brits. It shows in their far greater respect for each other on the roads. Despite there being far more British police patrols around, the average UK road user ignores the rules until brought up short by a patrol. Gets into a road rage fight. Or crashes.

The cyclist's headcam is unlikely to reduce the toll unless cameras are made compulsory for all cyclists and motor vehicles. Can you imagine the effect that would have on road safety? All it takes is a wifi connection to the patrol car, or a tablet, to read the speed and driving behaviour prior to an RTA.

"Sorry I didn't see you mate because I was driving like a raving, bløødy lunatic", isn't much of a defence in court. I liked the way some camera toting cyclists list off the registration plates of offending vehicles. Even using them in the title of their videos. An excellent idea!

Six paragraphs, 9am and I havn't been out yet. It has just started raining and blowing hard.

I eventually left after coffee and rolls into spitty rain. After a few miles in one direction to do some shopping I saw a bunch of about 15 cyclists out training. Lots of waves and greetings which is quite unusual. I took my shopping home and set off again for more. As soon as I hit the lanes I came up behind the same bunch ambling along at about 15mph spread right across the road.

I thought I'd sit in behind them and let them tow me up the long drag ahead. Before I knew it  the lantern rouge had spotted me and shouted that a faster cyclist was coming from behind. Well, I could hardly just sit there shaking my head and they were going quite slowly.

So, like the fool I am,  I overtook. Knowing full well that long hill was coming. I was soon drowning in my own bronchial infection and gasping like a tank engine on a similar incline. Pride being what it was I stayed on the middle ring and somehow kept it turning. I was neither leaving them behind nor gaining a yard. I think they were just being kind because they thought I was handicapped. I was: By 15 kilos of excess trike, baggage and rapidly advancing idiocy! ;-)

As soon as I crested the top I put on a bigger gear and raced down the other side. Just trying to escape further embarrassment. A couple of them had pulled ahead of the group and wished me "Go' tour" as I turned off gratefully towards the shops. The rest of the ride took place in increasing rain. 21 miles of damp fun and games.

Cycling thoughts for the day: Vanity  is running through puddles to clean the mud from your new tyres. Despondency is finding lots more mud on the road but no more puddles.

A danish roadside speed indicator. 
Found at the entrance to many towns and villages.
 Din fart means "Your speed".

Occasionally a trailer mounted board is set up to reduce local driving speeds.
The round sign beyond is a multiple white diode speed limit sign. Lit for a local school when there are kids arriving or leaving. 30kph is normal but sometimes as low as 20kph is possible.

The speed shown on the board is above the 50kph (30mph) local speed limit. So the two orange lights should be flashing brightly. I missed this with the camera As do most drivers! Because the idiot boards are often far too slow to react to vehicle approaching. The speed is shown and the orange lights flash well after the vehicle has passed. Far too late to draw attention! Logic suggests that their should be orange lights on both sides of the board. The the entire street can see when a driver is breaking the law. 

Even more stupidly most of these boards read far too low. Often as much as 5-8kph low. So anyone passing a speed indicator board regularly will get a completely false impression of their actual driving speed! This will certainly not have the desired effect of reducing driving speeds in built-up areas! Completely nuts!

The majority of these speed indicator boards don't react to a bicycle passing. Presumably they use radar to read the approach speed of any vehicle. The cyclist doesn't usually have enough reflective metal to trigger the radar. The best I have ever managed is a reading of about 42 kph on the flat. This was on one of the rare boards which do read a bike's approach.

There is no camera involved with these boards. So the majority of drivers completely ignore them. Many young drivers see how fast they can accelerate as they approach the board.

28th 57F-60F, 14-16C, gales, occasional sunny periods between heavy banks of cloud. Most of it was passing south of us.  Rain forecast early and at lunch time but it stayed dry. The rain and wind had brought down a few branches and lots of leaves. There was a large branch down on one lane lying straight across the road. I was about to stop and move it out of the way. When a car sped past like a lunatic. Using the verge and spraying me from head to toe with muddy water. So I just kept going.

I had some fun climbs today with the wind over my left shoulder. In fact I was climbing faster than I could manage at times on the flat straight into wind. Then I had to put my lightweight wind jacket back on to stay warm enough. Lots of Sunday cyclists out training. Most of them waved or nodded. Legs fine. Lungs not quite so obviously blocked up today.  Just starting to rain as I sit down to enjoy my morning coffee. So that was lucky timing. 32 miles.

29th 57F, 14C, mostly overcast, light showers and blowing a gale. It was blowing a strong headwind going. Then blowing almost head on coming back. Where do I queue for a refund? Another shopping chain unable to supply the goods advertised in their special offers comic and website. The scoundrels!

The new tyres seem more prone to wheelspin in the wet than the ordinary Race Lites. Only 16miles and five shops today. Nearly 20lbs of shopping! There ought to be a medal for this sort of thing. With wet hands from the rain I could have done with a proper pair of  gloves in the first few miles. The temperature hadn't changed on the way back but I was far too warm and took off my Belstaff jacket and TA cap. Contrary weather! Or contrary cyclist? (Choose one)

30th 54-60F, 12-16C, mostly overcast, gales. Autumn is upon us with lower temperatures now the norm. The forecast was showers all day but yet again I completely avoided so much as a single drop. It was blowing hard from the west so I headed north to explore. Limiting my exposure to head winds worked quite well. Though very often a side wind can feel like a head wind. Even on descents this can severely limit one's speed. 28 fairly gentle miles. A number of birds of prey were gliding on the wind. I saw a red kite not far from home and a modestly sized, brown bird like a scaled-up female Kestrel. Perhaps a hawk?

Though I have mentioned it briefly in the past I am now massaging my legs every day. No preparation or particular technique. With my fingers held stiffly at right angles to my leg I run the index fingers up my calf muscles to relieve any localised pain this finds. My thumbs, or knuckles, seem better for working at the quadriceps. Always stroking towards the heart of course. A detail I remember reading in my youth.

My relaxed muscles are incredibly soft and floppy these days. So respond well to such completely unskilled manipulation. No doubt it would be easier if I shaved my legs and used some oil. Given how little pain can be usually found in my muscles it hardly seems worth the effort to shave my legs. Considering my modest mileage I would feel a bit of a fraud.

My Tahoe shoes are finally showing signs of age. The rubber toe bumpers are slowly peeling away. The soles are now worn just enough to expose the cleats on smooth surfaces. The shoes haven't been wet enough times to do any serious damage. The Tahoes are one of my better purchases and far more sensible and comfortable than racing shoes with exposed cleats. Even now I can potter around the supermarkets with only gentle clicks.

I get enough stares, as it is, shopping year round in my racing shorts and all my colourful jerseys. It is that difficult time of year again. Finding a balance between needing extra warmth against the wind and avoiding sweating on the hills.

Mr Higgins was distracted by a mountain range of grain waiting to be dried.

Some farmers dry their own grain using space heaters and powerful fans. Often a fan driven by a big tractor going flat out! Several farms have built in tractor engines blasting away all day. The noise is deafening as I trundle past.

31st August 54-61F, 12-16C, breezy, becoming windy, sunny, becoming overcast. Despite an identical starting temperature it was quite comfortable today in a thin, windproof jacket. I headed north again and enjoyed largely empty, country roads and lanes snaking through fields and woods. It was a superb day, despite the wind .. until my rear gear cable broke at the lever just as I needed a low gear. Only twenty miles from home!

The lazy git who was supposed to change the frayed cable had forgotten! So the lazy git climbed off and tried to see if the changer spring could be released. Without my reading glasses I couldn't see anything useful. Mr Higgins was turned on his back but remained indifferent to my probing his nether regions with a blunt tyre lever. Back in my youth, in the last century, the Campag Gran Sport torsion spring would release via a very strong thumb on a small projecting loop. The modern things have a huge coil spring hidden right inside the parallelogram.

In the end I pulled the cable inner free of its sleeving. Then tied the far end to the carrier while I was physically pushing the changer into second gear with my thumb. Of course it wasn't long before I was back in 5th, 6th, 7th and finally top gear again. So I stopped and tied the cable off even more securely. Making do with riding home in 4th gear with an option of 3 chainrings. The cable didn't owe me anything as it came with the bar-end levers on a used pair of tri-bars. Still no excuse not to have changed the cable a week ago! As my wife discretly pointed out on my return. "Yes, dear."

A huge lorry blew my TA cap off by driving the other way at 60mph+ in a 30mph village! I want a pair of titanium machine guns for Christmas. To go on the handlebars! But perhaps a simple chinstrap would reduce the potential for "collateral". Talking of which. A silly blackbird swooped right across my path straight into a car. I left it flapping wildly on the road with its head pointing the wrong way. Blackbirds are stupid like that. They dive across the road as if avoiding a bird of prey. It just doesn't work with traffic and many are caught out.

I was going quite well today and it is giving me the confidence to spend more time out of the saddle on hills. One of the downsides of a trike is the inability to rock the bike wildly from side to side while dancing on the pedals. I used to enjoy that bit. While Mr Higgins retorts that what I am actually doing has nothing to do with dancing. Sometimes I wonder how I manage such high revs on the pedals at my age. My wife describes my normal walking speed as like watching me walk through treacle. I call it 'being careful out there.'  I was a speedy walker and climber once. So I must be resting on my laurels these days. :)

As soon as I had eaten something I swapped the gear cable and chain. My memory is now so bad that I forgot that my wife had given me a banana for the journey. So I had only munched a few small biscuits and drank only water. Not really enough to keep me going on the last leg. Though I was in much better shape than in the past for the same distance.

I found the banana in the bag while I was clearing out the detritus prior to Mr Higgin's second inversion of the day. It is much easier to work on a trike while upside down. He usually takes these things in his stride. 40 miles, despite everything. I wasn't allowed out later to try and push up my maximum daily mileage for this year. So I had to make do with the Vuelta on TV and Bradley Wiggins taking the red jersey.  

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


16 Aug 2011

Aug '11 Part 2


A battery of smooth bore, 12 pounders on the fortifications at Fredericia. Accurate range 500 metres. (yards)

16th August  60-67F, 16-19C, mostly overcast, breezy. I set off at 8 o'clock to my favourite bike shop in Fredericia into a light headwind. No real drama except for a woman, with a car containing school kids, who came straight out of a supermarket without looking. Fortunately she braked before I had to take avoiding action!

This elephant was a regular sight on the way to Middelfart in the car.
Alas, all that remains is the armature after years of standing outside in all weathers.

The roads were remarkably quiet again but I was still glad for my rear-view mirror. Being able to see the traffic approaching from the rear is much more relaxing than turning my head at frequent intervals. The roads and bicycle lanes are too full of potholes, cracks, sunken drains and other potential dangers to be able to lose concentration for a moment. In fact the bike lanes in Fredericia were worse than I have seen anywhere! It must have taken years of neglect for them to become this dangerous! Every single drain cover was sunken below the tarmac. There were holes and cracks and weird camber everywhere. 

 Museum building at Fredericia. One of a cluster.

I reached the shop with 30 miles showing on the bike computer. We had a nice chat as he admired and photographed my trike before I left with a couple of new tyres for the back wheels. I was expecting a slight tail wind to help me home. Except that the wind was increasing and seemed to be coming from the side and still slightly ahead of my direction of travel.

The old road and rail bridge from the Middelfart side looking towards Jylland (Jutland). 

Note the two-way, cantilevered, cycle and pedestrian path on the left and the very slight hump to the bridge. I was afraid I'd meet a lot of bicycle traffic but there was only one racing cyclist following. I let him go past at the widest point. A couple of chaps who work on the bridge regularly have their own carrier bike and a box trike. This saves time reaching the site of the day's activities with tools and materials.

The ironwork of the bridge was recently repainted over a period of several years. This involved a huge amount of scaffolding, tarpaulins, traffic lights and a team of painters with pressure spraying equipment.

The bridge was once a popular attraction with a string of cafés on the Middelfart side. Now the traffic is far too noisy to make the crossing a pleasure on foot. The underside of the bridge over the land is a magical collection of sweeping concrete arches. The bank beneath the bridge has the appearance of a park which has become overgrown with mature trees. I took these images of the underside some years ago but I have added them for interest.


I suddenly became very hungry and incredibly tired at about 50 miles (total) on the way back. Foolishly, I had not eaten more than a couple of biscuits since a 7 o'clock breakfast of muesli. Fortunately I had bought some biscuits with the shopping. So I climbed off to stretch my legs while I stuffed a couple of digestives into my face. A swig of water to wash then down and I felt a lot better. Even the terrible aches in my legs were now gone. I had almost ground to a complete halt only ten miles from home!

The bridge took ten years to build from 1925-35. The marks of the countless planks, used to cast the structure, are still clearly visible.

59 miles is my longest out and back journey this year and the longest one day distance. I averaged about 12mph ignoring shopping breaks. I should have been much better organised with regular snacks to keep me going. The problem with cycling is that you have to keep riding a long way to be able to ride a long way comfortably. I haven't ridden very far, in any one day, this year.

Looking back towards Fyn. The view of the channel (Lille Bælt/Small Belt) is superb from this height. Boating is very popular here. 

Middelfart has had a complete waterfront transformation from a more humble and scruffy, industrial past. The inevitable blocks of luxury, waterside flats are not to everybody's tastes. Sadly these modern blocks have appeared like a rash in many Danish towns with a former harbour frontage. 

My purchase: Slightly lighter than my previous Race Lite tyres and with a 120TPI carcase. 

I reasoned that if I can get an easy 6000+ miles from a tyre, including over a very long winter on gravel-strewn roads, I can afford to go a bit lighter and hopefully faster. I have never had a single penetration puncture on Race Lites even when worn down to the canvas. (after thousands of miles)

I shan't make the same mistake as before and run them too soft. This only leads to pinch punctures on stray stones. (snake bites) Thankfully I now have a pump which doesn't hurt my RSI-damaged elbow above 5Bar. The X lites have a minimum 7Bar/100PSI requirement with the maximum pressure raised to 9Bar/130PSI.

Mr Higgins insists on posing in front of an amazingly tall tower of firewood.

The X Lites are a bit pricey but time will tell if it was worth it. The oddly asymmetric, colour banding seems a bit pointless and almost put me off buying them! I shall have to remember to put the colour band on the outside of both rear wheels when I'm mounting them. No hurry yet as the Race Lites are still holding up despite a patchy strip of canvas showing through. Mostly on the right tyre.

Buildings associated with a farm museum.

Interesting that they should wear differently. Perhaps it is the downhill side which gets the most wear from trying to climb out of the gutter? The camber would tend to push the trike towards the verge putting more weight on this wheel. This tendency would have to be overcome by the 2WD system automatically applying the drive to the left wheel as the steering is turned slightly away from the verge. (The opposite of trikes in the UK.) So it should really be the left tyre which wears more quickly. Though the edge of the road is much rougher than 2' further up the road camber. So the right tyre takes far more of a battering from debris, sunken drains and tarmac damage.

Very unusual pink bricks.

I have ridden off-road far more than was sensible this year. Anybody who complains about Bontrager Race Lites must be doing something wrong! A trike scrubs the back tyres on sharp corners when taken quickly enough. Though mine doesn't have rear brakes to rapidly wear out the tyres that way. The really important factor is having the tyres pumped up hard enough to avoid pinch flats/punctures.

Don't you ever wonder where these enticing tracks lead? 
I do. Sometimes I even explore.

17th 60-70F, 16-21C, overcast with rain. The forecast is rain for most of the day. Heavy at times. Gusting to 20mph. I left after morning coffee into light rain. After a few miles it went off and slowly began to brighten up. Traffic still light. No real side effects from yesterday's longer ride except my legs were a bit tired. Particularly on the hills. Still a lot of dead moles on the verges. They all look young, are lying on their backs and are bloated. Quite a few hairy caterpillars running across the road without looking, as well! 30 miles.

Old, village smithy.

18th 60-67F, 16-19C, rather cloudy, breezy. Legs even more tired today. I think I need a rest day. 20 miles.

19th 60F, 16C, overcast, overnight rain clearing, quite breezy. I intend to go out after lunch but still no sign of the promised bright periods. Killed time changing the back tyres and cleaning the accumulated muck off the rear wheels. I tried highest quality, ultra-fine, 0000 wire wool on the braking surfaces. Only because they were looking so ugly in milky patches. It didn't make much difference. I followed up with Solvol Autosol but that made no real improvement either.

This probably means I'll have to keep polishing or they'll deteriorate even more quickly now. The rims probably just had some wimpy coating to keep them looking smart in the shop. With the interest in brakeless track bikes for the road (and track) you'd think Mavic would catch up. I like the smoothly curved, aero, Alesi rims without visible braking surfaces. They look superb on a trike. The braking surfaces on the CXP22s were just too flashy. Ugly as hell on a trike! Which is a shame because the rest of profile is rather pretty.  

Half an hour into my ride and it tipped down from a leaden sky for half an hour. My mood was not improved by speeding motorists giving me (and the kids going home from school) an involuntary shower. The reduced speed limit signs were lit but the illiterate bar stewards behind the wheel cannot read them! Or are too drunk to notice! I saw a police bike had pulled over a taxi in one village. They are by far the worst culprits at speeding. The taxi drivers. Not the police. Well, not usually. 

The new "X" tyres feel faster, more responsive and quieter than the previous Race Lites. Which probably means any difference is entirely subjective! I wish I was feeling strong enough to take advantage of any slight improvement. I remembered to put the red stripe on the outside but they still look daft. Not so much an added stripe as a red stripe missing!  Guess what? People buy brightly coloured tyres because they like the colours. From one side these just look plain, boring black! Wake up Bontrager! If I wanted black tyres I'd buy some. Not something that looks like a Friday afternoon cock-up at the factory! 22 miles.

One of the largest Poplar tree trunks I have ever seen.
Easily 5' in diameter.

20th 62-68F, 17-19C, mostly sunny, windy becoming even windier! Still tired but still going. My chest was rattling in the night and I was short of breath again today.

One gentleman (I use the term loosely) passed me alongside another car, going the opposite way. He was driving at about 90mph in a rural village with lots of side  turnings. His scowling, skull-like face was ornamented with the inevitable mobile phone. His sense of self importance was obviously right off the scale. Somewhere between Hitler and Charlie Sheen, I would imagine. We can but hope that when he meets his early demise the fuckwit doesn't take anybody else with him! 32 miles.

The Spanish Vuelta is on ITV4 but the pictures, sound and commentary aren't a patch on the Tour de France. It took me ages to decipher the accent of the live commentator. Keenan? At first I thought he was a drunken Russian. Then a slurring South African. Who knows? (Or cares) I was actually grateful when his microphone packed up at regular intervals. One of the talking heads in the studio has laryngitis. The other still hasn't learned how to pronounce Fuglsang. (Birdsong in Danish)

Sky team came a cropper on the team time trial but nobody had a clue what had gone wrong until the end. (a crash) The coverage out on the course was very poor. There were high end TT bikes falling to pieces on the start ramp. Total chaos! I'm not sure I can be bothered to watch the rest of this amateur fiasco.

21st Aug 64-73F, 17-23C, sunny, breezy. Just a quiet tour of the lanes and several shops. Getting quite warm towards the end. Legs fine. The harvest of the stumpy, fawn, grain crop is well under way. I'm hoping the absence of many square miles of this stuff will finally end our endless "flu" symptoms. 22 miles.

22nd 60-68F, 16-20C, windy, sunny. A very strange day! A parcel delivery lorry ran off the side of the road as he approached me but managed to get back on without damage. Then a kid in a car lost it completely on a sharp corner in a village back street. Why for heaven's sake? Drunk? Showing off to his pal? Lunacy? He just missed a girl with a pram. I had quickly braked and tucked in behind her to avoid being hit by the van. I was already alongside her pram. Half way though overtaking. (slowly)

Then my offside wheel fell off as I was coming home! Well, very nearly. You couldn't make it up! I was using a hooked bungee cord to keep the big bag in place on sharp corners. Somehow the hook parted company with the elastic. By sheer coincidence the hook jammed in the wheel spokes beside the hub. Then the coil, which holds the end of the elastic, caught in and unwound the outer bearing cup via its locking ring! 

I thought I had heard a strange noise above the traffic noise but couldn't see anything lying on the road. So I had continued. Somehow the outer cup had unscrewed itself completely. Without any form of restraint the axle was on the point of sliding right out of of the axle housing! I tried to loosen the outer wheel nut but the entire wheel and axle came away in my hand!

It was incredibly lucky that I had glanced down after running over some big pieces of gravel. The trike just didn't feel right after that. So I thought I might have punctured. Luckily I saw the real problem immediately. It only took a minute to screw the bearing cup back in by hand and then refit the locking ring. Only 21, rather busy, miles today.

It was much bumpier than it looked! 

The rear wheels bridge the smoother tracks and run on the bigger stones on each side. Riding on the grass is very uneven and fraught with danger from hidden rocks. These never receive any tractor traffic to push them down. Much like the stones on either side of the tracks. This is more sensible fodder for mountain bikes. If a bit tame. Some tracks are a handy shortcut well away from the traffic for a two wheeler. Too unsafe to ride at speed on a trike due to the rocks.

10 Aug 2011

August '11 Part 1

August 1st 2011 60-66F, 16-19C, breezy, overcast. I reached the supermarket checkout  at 10 miles then found I hadn't taken any money. Dogh. That's the only benefit of Alzheimer's. Every day is a surprise. That's the only benefit.... 21miles so far. (I think) :-)

I rode 19 miles later to do the shopping I couldn't buy earlier. 74F now. 23C and sunnier. The strange thing is that, despite the load of shopping, my legs seemed much stronger on the later ride. I was even getting out of the saddle, to sprint over short rises, without ill effects on my knees. Took the mudguard off.

Shimano R550 wheel with new, red, 23mm Race Lite.  

The wheel cost me a fiver (£5) in a garage sale with seized bearings and slight surface rust on some of the blade spokes. The bearings were just overtightened. Loosening them with a thin, 17mm cone spanner and lubricating them did the trick.

Weird looking, Shimano, radial, 16 spoke hub.

2nd 72F, 22C, breezy, misty, mostly overcast. Warm and extremely humid. I missed the heavy showers. Going well. Knees fine. Only 19 miles today.

New 23mm Bontrager Race Lite on Shimano wheel.

My 25mm front tyre is suddenly down to the canvas all the way round. It was strange how pumping them all up rock hard kept the air in. Though it may explain the sudden centre wear on the tread. No complaints. These Bontrager "Race Lites" have always lasted well. They stay looking good as well.

Blue 25mm Race Lite on Mavic CXP22 rim. Note attempt to balance the wheel and a tubular spoke reflector. Note the absence of brake block damage to the rim. Not nearly as pretty as a proper track rim though.
I have now replaced the worn tyre with an unused, red, 23mm, Bontrager Race Lite. It was my plan to run the red 23mms in summer and blue 25mms in winter. Until I discovered I could not measure any difference between the two sizes at the time. (But see note below!)

I wish they did a medium length valve!

I think I prefer the blue against Mr Higgin's faded mauve paint but they aren't always available in the shops. The 25mms were all bought at the same time so I can't understand the sudden signs of wear on the front. The back tyres still look fine. I should be able to match the purchase date with my mileage since then. I fitted all three at the same time after buying them online. No 25mms available locally. It's not something I'm overly worried about. Three local bus fares would buy a new Race Lite tyre.

A brand new 700x23mm red Race Lite fitted today. 22mm width.

BUT NOTE: The original agreement over tyre width measurements must have been due to the tyres being newly fitted. Out of curiosity I just measured them again with a large vernier calliper. The long, fat jaws ensure no compression of the tyre while measuring. The well worn 25mms both now measure 24mm in width. (23mm when new on CXP22 Mavics) The new 23mm on the Shimano rim measures 22mm. 

A blue 700x25mm Race Lite rear tyre fitted 4th October last year 2010. Ridden over 6200 miles with Trykit 2WD. Both tyres now measure 24mm width.

Large flocks of sparrows are everywhere. Yellow Hammers foraging on the roads. Birds of prey calling as they circle on thermals overhead. Clouds of mink vultures (gulls) plying back and forth. Great year for fruit too. The Rowans are full of bright berries. Apples and pears weighing down the branches. The verges are stuffed with wild flowers. The hedges, which were hacked right down, are all regrowing strongly. Middle of the grain harvest right now. With tractors endlessly carrying straw bales home on trailers.

Max pressure indication for Race Lites. Reaching these pressures has eluded me until recently. Finding an unused plastic pump in the shed was all that was required. It makes a real difference to have well inflated tyres. Not least in avoiding pinch punctures on stones. 

3rd 70-74F, 21-23C, breezy, started sunny but becoming cloudy. Going well except for occasional left knee pain. Still climbing well. A few cyclists out training. It was fun climbing a freshly resurfaced hill! I was glued to the road. It sounded and felt like I was pulling 1/2 mile of wide sticky tape off the road. 27 miles.

4th 60-72F, 16-22C, windy, mostly overcast. Hard work at times into the wind. Roads very quiet. I did 9 miles without seeing a single car. 42miles meandering down to the coast and back via several shops. Legs okay today.

Our hero (Mr Higgins) on Google Earth Street View!
Fame at last! :-) 

Mr Higgins labouring up a steep hill. Note supermarket sponsorship! ;-)

Does my bag look big on this trike?

Google Street View scene from last autumn. (2010) I saw the camera car coming rather quickly down the hill towards me. So I have been waiting patiently to see if they'd show me on my trike. Or if they'd blur me out!  Because of the speed of the camera car I only appear very briefly. I have captured and cropped the two nearest "frames" which include me. Then sharpened, resized and increased gamma and contrast to make the most of these two images. I haven't yet worked out how to remove the Google SV yellow lines. So I have just sprayed them out in PhotoFiltre.

It is very odd to see myself riding my trike. Previously I have only very distorted, posed images in roadside mirrors. Which I have taken myself. Oh, and one by Alan taken on a visit. Considering I rode 15,000 km (nearly 10k miles) last year I would have expected to have been snapped by the Street View cameras somewhere on my travels.

The only other place I saw a camera car it was standing at a road junction. I do not appear on any images there. It would take forever to follow all the roads in SV just to see if I was captured without noticing the camera car.  Some of the main road Street View scenes are several years old. As can be easily spotted with local knowledge. The aerial images are even older!

The bright yellow shopping bag comes from a popular, discount supermarket chain. High visibility and really strong bags! They last for months. Handy for carrying fresh, sliced, wholegrain loafs and rolls and curly leaf lettuce. Which would all get flattened in the main bag. It must have been quite cold that day because I'm wearing one of my winter cycling jackets. It usually ends up in the main bag as soon as I  warm up.

 Rural idyll. Contented cattle keep a wary eye on me.

There are records of the area having a royal castle in the 1250s. With probably prehistoric fortifications before that. It burnt down in the 1740s and was never rebuilt. Later it was cleared for terraced park lands for the great house. 

Off to the right of the picture above there is a prison cell in the side of a raised mound. Consisting of a deep, open topped, stone-lined well with only a low, tunnel access! As it is in the grounds of a stately home one must assume that the landed gentry were also magistrates. Here are some pictures of the grim underground cell:

The entrance tunnel must have been rebuilt in brick to avoid rock falls.


The bed doesn't look very comfortable.

Though it might break your fall if you were tossed in head first.

An ancient tree ring is close by.

This is truly the stuff of nightmares! :-)

5th 66F, 19C, blowing a gale, rain and overcast. I waited until after coffee when it stopped raining. Then set off for a garden centre 20 miles away. It started drizzling and kept it up for ten miles. Then it stopped again. With the wind behind me I managed the journey in 1 hour exactly. 20mph! After wandering about for a quarter of an hour I set off back into the wind. My knees were complaining but they soon went off again. It took me an hour to do the first 11 miles towards home! Then I took on a load of shopping in three supermarkets and finally headed back home. I have solved the reach problem by doing a lot more of it. I now spend most of the time on the brake hoods. Only resting my hands on the tops of the bars when I'm climbing. At first it seemed hard on my wrists but now I'm used to it again. 40 miles.

 6th 60-74F, 16-23C, breezy, mostly sunny. Warmed up later. Legs a bit tired and "distant". Tried a different route in places and was rewarded by unspoilt countryside. Largely traffic free with woods and isolated farms and cottages. First signs  of wear on back tyres. Probably the higher pressures I'm using now. It is bound to put more wear on the centre of the treads. 38 miles. I may be allowed out again after lunch. 11 more miles. Overcast and cooler but felt warm and humid. 49 miles is my highest daily mileage this year. Pathetic, even by my standards.

7th 66-70F, 19-21C, blowing a gale, overcast but clearing. Overnight rain went off. 12 miles so far.

After stuffing down some rolls with marmalade and a milky coffee I set off again. Only to become very fuzzy. I really thought I was going to pass out but kept going. It took great concentration to stay on the road. Particularly downhill. It felt as if my head was swimming and I was in a cold sweat. Fortunately the dizziness passed after a few more miles. Probably just the blood rushing to my stomach to begin digesting my elevenses. Forgetting to leave enough behind to keep my last two brain cells ticking over.

Later I passed under an avenue of trees with swallows swooping in and out. One of them did three complete loops around me as I continued along. Then three young chaps overtook me on racing bikes. So I thought I'd try and tag along. They were cruising at 22mph and so was I. Until we hit a steep hill. They just stood up and pedalled effortlessly away from me. Despite this I was climbing well again.

It was blowing really hard today. I was down on the drops some of the time. Just trying to hide behind the head tube. About half way around I saw about a hundred shiny motorbikes in a car park. I thought I'd take a picture after visiting the shop. Soon I heard the thunder of 100 bikes as I was waiting to be served. Whoops! 28 more miles. I'm still a thousand miles behind this time last year!

8th 58-63F, 14-17C, breezy, sunny periods becoming overcast with showers. 16 miles.

9th 63-58F, 17-14C, gales, rain clearing. I'm waiting until after morning coffee to take advantage of a forecast window in the weather. It has already stopped raining and brightened up.

Well, it rained on and off for the first ten miles. It blew and it blew. Until I was mostly wet and beginning to get cold. Which is rather unusual for me. Air conditioned supermarkets are not the place to get warm again! 

After the shopping it started to brighten up and now I had a tail wind back. A kid on a racing bike went past and I tried to stay with him. I was doing between 22 and 24mph but still couldn't quite hold my distance. After only a mile or so he turned into a farmyard. So I continued on my way. Just hitting 29mph on the flat but with nothing in reserve! Then turned back into the wind for the last leg home.

It was then that I was caught in the first of two fierce cloudbursts. I only had my shortest and lightest windproof jacket over a racing jersey and shorts. With 2" of standing water on the road, passing vehicles imitating fountains and a roaring wind I decided to dive under a roadside tree. With a carrier bag perched on my head and one over my most exposed shoulder I waited it out under a dark and angry sky. Before long the tree had become a sieve and was emptying itself all over me with every nasty gust of wind.

Finally it went off and I pressed on again. Then it started to rain even more heavily! I found another tree. I searched in the renewed gloom but there was no sign of my waterproof jacket in the bag under a pile of shopping.

Finally, I limped home at 10mph into a buffeting headwind and soaked to the skin. I had even taken off the front mudguard because the last promised week of rain hadn't materialised. I found my jacket rolled tight under the organic milk cartons as I unloaded the bag. Am I having fun yet? :-)  They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Can't I just cut to the being stronger without the soggy bits in between? 25 rather damp miles.

10th 62F, 17C, gales, overcast. A short, but tiring, outing to the shops being buffeted by the wind. It was supposed to be raining all day and the next few too but stayed dry. I was climbing one of the steepest hills in the area when my TA cap blew off! Fortunately it was rescued by a young couple as it flipped repeatedly down the road. I may have to grow dreadlocks to keep the cap on. Or make a chinstrap.  Only 14 miles.

11th 54F, 12C, overcast, breezy, persistent heavy rain coming down in visible sheets. Even the blackbird has water in his whistle! I left after lunch into heavy drizzle. Had fitted the front mudguard back on and wore the Belstaff 'Cyclone' jacket and overshoes. The jacket was evenly dark with wet within a couple of miles but stayed warm and almost dry without overheating. Just beginning to soak through to my back and forearms on the way home. I really must try and find some waterproofing agent. There just aren't any proper camping shops that I know of over here. It's all pre-proofed nylon tents in discount chain stores these days. Only 14 miles again. The forecast is much better for tomorrow. 

12th 60F, 16C, windy, overcast. Rode to town to do some shopping. I found some clothing waterproofing spray but it was £10! An old boy was wandering along the middle of the road on his bike completely oblivious to anything around him. A tail of traffic was following him into town. I pointed behind him but he didn't seem to care! 19 miles but I have to go out again. Advertised stock not in the shops! 62F, 17C, overcast clearing to sunny periods. Windier. Chest bunged up. Constantly clearing my throat. 19 more miles, several villages, half a dozen more shops and probably 10 extra kilos on board by the time I was finished.

13th August 60F, 16C, overcast, breezy. Spent a couple of hours lopping an oversized tree in the garden. Me Tarzan. You Higgins. Left after coffee. Just avoided the rain. Chest still congested. 16 miles.

14th 65F, 18C, breezy, overcast with light showers. My chest still feels "wet". I was aching all over from yesterday's hours of tree lopping. So I decided to do a circular tour without pushing too hard. It felt very humid today but not particularly cold. When it started to rain more heavily I stopped to put on my rain jacket only for the rain to stop again. It stayed dry after that.

As I was passing through one village there were hundreds of "racing cyclists" of all ages (with numbers attached) going past me. They weren't really racing but they were all going faster than I was! I just found the details online. "Fyenrundt." (Around Fyn) The course was about 48 miles looping SW away from Odense.

I was bitten on the knee by a large gnat while unloading the shopping. I slapped at it and there was blood everywhere! Followed by a large white patch under the skin. A quick wash in neat tea tree shampoo and then a spray of "Myg" (Midge) worked wonders. Only 24 miles before coffee. Then back to the tree lopping.

"I'm a lumberjack...." (Monty Python)

The highest I could reach with a hand bow saw must be about 25' or more. Even if I miss the shed the tree would still hit the house if felled straight from the base.

Birch trees are very pretty but seem to shed seeds and twigs all year round. The seeds stick to the flowers and the foliage of other plants leaving ugly spots. Birch trees also shower loiterers for hours after rain. The car was constantly covered in brown drifts of birch seeds! The over-long branch stumps were to give me a platform to work from. Not to mention somewhere to tie the ladder safely.

I finally discovered the problem with the McCullock chainsaw... which has never started from new...  Crap design! Waddya mean I needed the exercise anyway? My poor arm was in a sling for weeks after the last attempt to start it!

I took the top moulding off the saw to check the (totally irremovable) spark plug. Then saw the plastic choke lever pin had fallen out of the hole in the carb linkage. Grrr! The spark plug is a weird size and refuses to budge even with a long lever on the plug spanner, tommy bar. It bent the tommy bar instead! So crap design and crap materials! It starts easily now and goes through hardwood logs like they were butter!

15th 66F, 19C, overcast but brightening, breezy becoming windy. Legs rather tired today. Probably the ladder work on the trees but that is now all but finished. The traffic was amazingly light. 21 miles.

The loose gravel on the 200 yard drive is very uneven after the last application of chippings. I've often seen garden tractors running up and down gravel yards and drives with a large rake on the back. So I'm thinking of making a rake for the trike. Nothing fancy. Just a wooden batten cross bar fitted with 4" nails and a drawbar to tow it along. I'll probably need a rope to lift it at the turns. I'm getting quite domesticated in my old age. ;-)


Getting swiftly back on topic: There's a trike conversion set fitted to an old Falcon lady's bike on eBay:


Ignore the Falcon. Take the conversion set off and fit it to the bike of your choice. Instant trike! Hopefully at a much lower price than a full trike frameset and matching wheels. The conversion set is a Rogers (or Higgins) I think. I haven't studied it closely. Though it has visible wheel nuts so is certainly not a Longstaff. Rogers galvanised the seat stays.

A previous Rogers conversion on eBay.

The conversion fitted to the Falcon (above) has no reinforcing crossbar and is fitted to the furthest holes in the support brackets. This makes for a very short wheelbase and limited heel clearance. The trike may be quite twitchy in use and the chain line in some gears extreme.

Shame it's attached to a bike because it forces collection only. A conversion set and rear wheels alone could easily go in the post. Potentially much bigger sales area, including abroad. I can never see the point in selling a conversion axle with bike attached unless the frame is something very special. With its own intrinsic value. Most attached frames would not suit the buyer due to size or style. So the attached bike will usually end up as scrap or rusting away in the bike shed. If the bike frame is a collector's item the trike conversion ends up redundant. A no-win situation IMO.

The auction was ended early by the seller on £150 after 8 bids. All bids were cancelled.

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


8 Aug 2011

Longstaff Tandem Trike in 531


eBay - The UK's Online Marketplace

(The seller has used enough words to make any of mine completely redundant)

Longstaff Tandem Tricycle / Trike
Reynolds 531 tubing

A very nice tandem tricycle by George Longstaff.

Built from Reynolds 531 tubing and with high specification components.
Little used and in excellent condition.

Approximately 6 years old with just 2 owners from new.
Copies of original sales bill and workshop plans included.

Seat tubes are 56cm and 49cm (centre to top).
Top tubes (centre to centre) are 52.5cm (f) and 73.5cm (r)

On the original plans, the height of the saddles (as measured along the seat tube from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the saddle) are given as 716mm and 664mm for the pilot and stoker respectively.
Photos show seats positioned for riders 5'10" and 5'9", with saddle heights 76cm (f) and 72cm (r),
so you can see there is room for adjustment for quite a range of heights.
Reach (from centre of handlebars to rear of saddle) is 76cm (f) and 72cm (r)
We like it because the stoker has plenty of room (some tandems can be quite cramped at the rear).

Features :

Sugino XD Triple chainset with 9 speed  Ultegra gears and STI shifters.
Double Shimano Deore V brakes to forks
Shimano disc brakes to both rear wheels.
700c wheels.
It is lightweight with drop bars for racing, but it also has a rear rack and full braze-ons for touring (bottles/panniers/dynamo).

There are only a very few, very small chips in the paint, which have been touched in,
and the paint on the rear rack has been rubbed in places by luggage.
There are no dents or scrapes and no rust at all.

We are the second owners and have had it since 2010.
Now selling because we really cannot justify owning this beautiful machine.
We are more comfortable on a two wheel tandem and having bought a new one, need the space and funds.

Can e-mail more photos, please get in touch.

Full specification :

Frame:                   George Longstaff Reynolds 531 fillet brazed tandem tubing with braze ons for 3 bottles and rear rack, metallic red paintFork:                      531 Tandem forks with braze ons for low rider, dynamo and mudguard, metallic red paintHandlebars (f):      3TTT Morpheus alloy ergo drop bars 25.4 x 460mm, black with black synthetic cork tapeHandlebars (r):      3TTT Morpheus alloy ergo drop bars 25.4 x 440mm, black with black synthetic cork tapeStem (f):                3TT 'THE' alloy, 110mm, blackStem (r):                Custom made steel - approx 160mm length,  100mm rise, metallic redHeadset:                FSA Orbit Xtreme cartridge 1 1/8th Ahead, blackSaddle (f):             Selle Italia Turbomatic 4, 143mm wide, blackSaddle (r):             KCE with built-in plastic suspension rails, 195mm wide, blackSeatposts:             Selcof alloy 54 27.0mmFront brakes:        Twin Shimano Deore BR-M510 V brakes, black, operating on front and rear of fork bladeF Brake lever:       Shimano Ultegra Flight Deck Rear brakes:         Twin Shimano Deore BR-M515 disc brakes cable operated (left and right)R.Brake Lever:       Dia Compe 287v aerolevers on stoker handlebarsChainset:               Sugino XD Tandem cross-over chainset, 170mm crank arms, polished alloyChainrings:           34T crossover chainrings, TA Specialites Zephyr 48-36-26 final drive, silverFront Mech:          Shimano Ultegra Triple FD-6603Rear Mech:           Shimano Ultegra RD-6600Rear cassette:       believed Shimano Ultegra 12-26Final drive:           Longstaff 2-wheel driveShifters:                Shimano Ultegra Flight Deck 9 speedBottom bracket:    unknown sealed square taperPedals:                  noneFront hub:            Shimano XT HB-HF07 tandem, 48 hole, silver, QR skewerFront rim:             unknown believed Mavic 719 48 hole, silverFront tyre:            Panaracer Pasela Tour Guard Kevlar, 700x32CRear hub:             Longstaff tricycle, disc specific, 36 hole, silverRear rims:            2 x Mavic 719, 36 hole, silverRear tyres:           2 x Panaracer Pasela Tour Guard Kevlar, 700x32CLongstaff handbuilt fillet brazed carrier, metallic redSKS Front mudguard, silver3 x Elite alloy bottle cages, silverStoker-operated bell, black

The auction ended on £1150 after three bids.

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

UK Road design lunacy rant!


I needed an excuse for a good moan so I'm going to pick on British road planners: What do they call those people who draw in the pavements, drains and street furniture? Highway engineers?

What sparked my derision and outrage was watching a YouTube video of a tricyclist commuting near Barnsley. The poor chap was faced with 14 miles of completely unnecessary hurdles! They have absolutely no excuse because there are numerous successful examples of cycling-friendly countries in Europe.
Okay, so the poor chap in the video is riding a recumbent trike and there's too much wind noise, but I do feel his pain! I rode a similar distance, morning and night, 6 days a week in my distant youth. I never forgave them for building a bypass without considering cyclists. (Not even for one fleeting moment in their entire, miserable, working lives!) They saved me from several nasty hills but exposed me to completely uncontrolled, driving psychopaths! Not even a lousy white line for me to hide behind. Let alone a proper cycle path. Or protected lane.

Had road planners/engineers been hand picked from the educationally challenged they might have some pathetic excuse. Logic suggests that they aren't all of carefully selected, low IQ and thus completely lacking in any formal education. Otherwise anybody could do the job! [Allegedly!]

So one is forced to the conclusion that they are quite simply the most miserable bunch of deliberately ignorant and bloody-minded jobsworths on the entire planet! They must actively seek confrontation with the cyclist and introduce extra dangers for the sheer pleasure of it! Perhaps they compete with each other to make life more difficult for the cyclist? There is no other reasonable explanation. IMHO of course!

As I watched the video I realised that exactly the same situations exist, over here, in Denmark. Roads are roads whichever side you ride on. Except that the Danish road designers are trained professionals. They actually think things through properly over here. Over here they don't just routinely waste millions on pointlessly high kerb stones. At least not every last inch of rural bypasses and the like!

When did you last see anybody walking along one of these raised pavements on a bypass?  To share the traffic noise as it races by would be almost intolerable! Not so for the humble cyclist. Who is forced to make some allowances for the greater speed afforded by his mount. Presumably industrial noise regulations do not apply to cyclists exposed to traffic noise?

The rural verge in Denmark is usually marked with a white line about a metre out from the weeds or grass. It is within this line that the cyclist progresses without impeding the traffic. Quite remarkably the line is naturally respected by almost all drivers. With only occasional obstructions by thoughtlessly parked motorists. Or occasionally thoughtless groups of cyclists riding more than two abreast! But lets not be too picky! You just don't see drivers using the marked off, roadside cycle lanes. Not unless they are agricultural vehicles.

The lack of kerbs and reasonable camber in Denmark means that road drainage is spread over a vast area of naturally absorbent soil. The rural verge absorbs rainfall without the drainage system so typical of the UK gutters. The hedges on the Danish verges do their bit too. Even if I do occasionally complain about their absence.

In Britain, main road hedges seemed to be totally lacking. What about the absorption of traffic noise afforded by the roadside hedges? Whoops! I forgot. The British road planners don't give a shit about road traffic noise! In Denmark they put up earth berms beside all new housing to block traffic noise. Before they build! Then they grow a mixed hedge and shrubs on the earth berm as well!

On the video I saw how the white lines moved,, almost arbitrarily, in and out. No thought (whatsoever) was given to how a cyclist might be suddenly forced out into the traffic without warning!

There seemed no rhyme or reason for many of  the obstructions. Pavements reared up where a Danish pavement would have a reasonable access ramp for cyclists. The ramp would lead naturally to the dedicated cycle lane. The cycle lane would continue right round the roundabout in the correct direction without the daft, counter-intuitive shambles I saw on the video.

The Danes show truly remarkable discipline with regards to cyclists on roundabouts. It's not the aggressively British "every man for himself". They will actually stop on the roundabout and wait for you to take your rightful route before proceeding themselves. They will wait before taking their exit off the roundabout to let you roll past. This confused me a great deal when I first came here. I would try and cut across the roundabout instead of taking the longer route via the marked cycle lane. Anything to escape the decades of British psychopaths in cars and lorries ASAP!

Then I discovered that the Danes were quite civilised. At least in this respect. They also look automatically over their shoulders for cyclists coming down the inside at junctions. This can be a bit unnerving! In Britain a car driver is well up the pecking order. He, or she,  will take your space, and your life, if they think they can get away with it. Or rather they don't think about anything except themselves. This stems from the time when only the rich and powerful owned motor vehicles. And carriages before that. The pedestrian was completely beneath contempt. The cyclist only slightly more difficult to brush aside. Both physically and mentally. 

Why would you deliberately force a cyclists to travel the wrong way around a busy roundabout? As we saw in this video. Do the planners really think the cyclists need more exercise? Would a driver really expect to see a cyclist approaching perpendicularly on their (blind) nearside? Recumbents may still be be quite rare but they are not unknown. (Except to UK road planners it seems.)

Why were these major roads not planned with suitable bicycle lanes from the very first, hand drawn line on the map? Or, rather, the highways planning office computer screens. The Danish roads are no wider. Nor narrower. Yet they usually accommodate a cycle lane on both sides of the highway. Or sometimes a dual cycle lane marked suitably for opposing cycle traffic.  As on some existing roads without a suitable verge due to steep roadside banks, gullies or slopes.

In the British case it seems a colossal waste of land resources to build a road with high, fixed pavements and no cycle lanes.  Not to mention increased worries about flash flooding. A soft verge with a parallel cycle lane is an asset instead of a liability. A suitable grassed ditch can be used to contain and restrain heavy run-off from cloudbursts. The hedge on the other side of the ditch helps drainage, reduces noise travel and protects the road from snow drifting and the cyclists from the wind.

The secret to British failure seems to be the total lack of imagination by the UK road planners. They cannot see beyond the rain lashed windscreen of their boring commuter Euroboxes. They quite obviously haven't ridden a bike (or trike) since they were four years old and terminally grazed their left knee. Thereby putting an end to any further countenance of the bicycle as a safe means of transport. So they might as well make it as dangerous as possible for cyclists! To teach those damned tree-huggers that cycling is not a suitable adult pursuit!

Or it may be an outdated, British class/caste system thing. Anybody who rides a bike is obviously unemployed and far too impoverished to afford a car! So all cyclists are parasites and non-contributors to taxes or the local economy.

This completely ignores the physical and and psychological benefits of cycling. Not to mention the massive reduction in health care required by being fit. Provided, of course, that you don't get run over negotiating the crackpot British road system!     


No truly professional road planners were hurt in the making of this rant. :-)