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.

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