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.

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