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.  

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