18th October 47F, 8C Forecast to blow a gale and rain all day. What a change from yesterday's cool, sunny stillness. Unless it clears up I'll probably make it a rest day. Which means I have far too much time on my hands! (According to the Head Gardener. Who is always right)
I spent yesterday afternoon looking for a cycling helmet in the city of Odense. (pron. like: Oo-then-sa) I have an old helmet in the shed but never wear it. I hate the look of an oversized, oval, egg basket sitting high on top of my head. Particularly after decades of cycling bare-headed. Or with a knitted "bobble hat" when it was cold.
I rather like the look of the Abus Lane-U helmet. The one without a visor. I liked the rubbery, tough, matt coating on the black and white models. Being matt they wouldn't blind oncoming motorists with reflected sunlight. I also liked the chopped-off back with clever, tension adjusting wheel. Chopped tail sports cars were all the rage back in the 50s. So these long tails on TT helmets are at least 60 years out of date!
No fragile, unprotected foam anywhere visible on this model. Plenty of wraparound and (hopefully) lots of ventilation for my sweaty bonce. I know already that if it is hot in use I shan't ever wear it. Which is complete waste of a not-inconsiderable sum of money!
Taking it off would be a bore. I have enough things to carry as it is! How will I prop my sunglasses on top of my head as I do now? I would have to practice for hours in front of the mirror. Poking the arms of the specs into the helmet vents. Like the professional cyclists in the T-de-France. I wonder how they find time for training?
I'd hoped (in vain it seems) that the purple model would be a far more sedate, plain, matt, purple/mauve. Rather more like Mr Higgins faded, riding togs.
I couldn't find one in that colour despite visiting umpteen, city bike shops! Matt black is "sexy" but seems a silly colour because of its very low visibility. White might be a bit boring and too easily marked. Like trainers!
They had a pearl-effect one and a "titanium" but I really wasn't sure. I've never had the pecs to get away with pearls and (thankfully for my wife's sake and my own) have never owned a little black dress to do them real justice.
I suppose I'm rambling on here in a desperate attempt to convince myself I really need a helmet. And a purple one at that.
I have battered my poor old skull a number of times over the years. In my distant youth I hit a car head on at 30 mph+. It had pulled out suddenly from a traffic queue with nowhere to go as I was busy pedalling downhill. I did a somersault over the top of the car and landed upside down on my head. With my bike wrapped around me and my feet still stuck fast in the toe clips, straps and shoe plates. Happy days!
Quite a few decades later I fell backwards off the roof. Straight onto my head. My feet had started off about 10 feet or 3 metres from the concrete on which I landed. The cheerful 'quack' at the A&E told me not to sleep for a week in case I didn't wake up again! He also told me it was lucky I landed on my head. Otherwise I might have been badly hurt! It didn't half hurt when I laughed! :-)
Well, the promised rest day turned into 44 miles. The sun came out at 2pm. I set off after a late lunch to visit a couple of bicycle shops about ten miles away to look for Abus helmets. No luck there. So I sailed onto the next. And the next. In fact I did a complete tour of all the bike shops in Odense which I had missed yesterday.
Eventually I found a purple one but it was too small. It was also just a little too 'girly' despite my ingrained, 1960s tastes. I think I remember having a shirt like that. So I rode on (and on) taking in every bike shop which I could still remember. Including the ultra-helpful and knowledgeable and the total bullshitter in a large and posh city centre shop. It must have been the manager. The last time I was there I was treated with respect and courtesy by an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable younger, bike racer. This one told me Abus was a girl's range of helmets!
By which time it was beyond dusk. After the inevitable roar of the main roads, just to get out of the city, I took to the empty rural lanes to battle with the wind. With hopefully, fairer odds. The high hedges must offer shelter at times. Even if it was now far too dark to see which direction the wind turbines were facing. (My usual clue to wind direction)
As it was never my intention to stay out so long I had no food, drink or even a front light. So I stopped at a rural supermarket for some fair trade, organic bananas and a litre of low fat, organic milk. I really couldn't face the cold milk. So I stuffed a huge banana into my face and climbed back on.
There was a strong and gusty headwind every inch of the way home. Worse, I was in a great deal of pain all down the right side of my chest. Probably cramp as the result of lifting the trike so many times. Over high kerbs and steps to park outside bike shops. It felt just like a "stitch" that wouldn't go away!
All I could do was to plod on into the darkness. It was too dark to read my cheapo computers but I doubt I was averaging more than 9-10mph. We both know these roads very well and they had all been resurfaced this year. So Mr Higgins could probably find his own way home if necessary. With or without me! :-)
I finally arrived home at 7.30pm @ 45F! Five hours after leaving home. The traffic was so light that the 1/2W rear light was perfectly adequate. Like an idiot I had been carrying my posh rear light in the bag but not the 1W front one. Daft really, because it weighs almost nothing and the clamp is a piece of cake to fit without tools.
The Ventour jacket was a little cool at times without actually being too cold. I could easily have put my thin windproof jacket on top but didn't want to overheat on the hills. Apart from my racing jersey and shorts I was wearing the usual thin, long, polyester underwear. I kept the neoprene overshoes on because the roads were still wet when I left home. Though I had soon changed out of the Ventour into the thin jacket. As I had warmed up in the sunshine and tail wind. The Ventour went back on as I left the last shop. The helmet box fitted easily into my saddle bag provided I stuffed all the detritus into it first.
I wore the TA cap under the new helmet and still found it rather chilly at times. So it bodes really well for the degree of ventilation on offer. The helmet is incredibly light and fits absolutely perfectly. I was hardly aware of it. Though I/it was described as something out of Star Wars as I was welcomed home with a thorough scolding! Not another Darth Vader (thankfully) but more like one of the empire's storm troopers. Better than my old (unused and uncomfortable) egg basket any day!
After a shower and dinner, with an unusually large helping of chocolate cake to follow, the pain in my side has gone. It has still been an incredibly long day! My wife has just noticed that the white helmet finish is covering more squiggles! I'm too tired to know whether I really care. Goodnight!
The new helmet was fine with and without the TA cap underneath. The helmet dripped onto my new £5 cycling sunglasses when it rained. The ventilation holes in the new roof made my hair wet but I didn't care as I was on my way home. A gutter to the brim might seem like a good idea but it would probably pour down the back of the wearer's neck!
I took off the Ventour jacket and put on the thin windproof one on the way back. It's better to be cool than too warm. Chilled sweat is against the skin and feels colder than a lot of rain. A ton of shopping today. Only 18 miles.
20th 40-44F, 4-7C, breezy, sunny. The helmet has become routine and unnoticeable in use. Lots of chores to do so I came back early today. Only an 11 mile shopping trip.
It rained in fleeting heavy showers in the afternoon. I managed to have another go at the tyre with soapy water and a toothbrush. It still refused to run perfectly concentrically. I lost count of how many times I let the air out and put back in a little or a lot while rolling the tyre sideways on the rim. In the end it was better than it was. I can see a tear on the surface, side-wall, cloth cover but am undecided if it is merely cosmetic. I wish I'd stuck to the ordinary Race Lites. They served me very well.
I have swapped the old Olympic mudguards for new ones. Getting a nice discount for two pairs. I fitted them on the Higgins stays using the mudguards own stay brackets. Though they are quite thin they still seem well up to the job and don't rattle. I gave the Higgins fixing clamps an extra tighten. Just to stop any tendency for the mudguards to rotate bodily around the rear axle.
It was lucky I hadn't clipped them off, because the mudguard's top stay brackets provided handy fixing points for plastic, Q/R light clips. I had bought a neat pair of cheap, 1/2W rear lights for this very purpose. The intention was to mark the outboard limits of the trike to make dozy motorists aware of my extra width. The lights came with clamps to fit the seat pin but I have stored those away for a rainy day. I replaced the original screws with fatter ones and Nyloc nuts. The lights can live safely in the bag when not in use.
I waited until it was dark to take a few photos of the lights. My Smart 1/2W rear light is still attached high on the seat pin where it is not obscured by the huge saddle bag. The Smart light can be set to flash brightly in the centre to attract attention. With the 3 diode, outboard lights set to a steady beam.
It's not as if I go out riding in the evenings or on dark mornings, very much. At least, not until now. If I do ride in the dark I think I'll feel much safer. The extra lights might make me want to go out in the late afternoons for long enough to be returning in the dark. At least I now have that option.
I bought a dinky little multi-diode torch for small change in a supermarket recently. It fills a whole room with light! It would make a handy front light on a bike for a bright forward glow. 3" long x 3/4" diameter with 9 diodes it cost about £2.50. (less than $5US equiv) It runs on 3 tiny AAA batteries, weighs little and has a smart, crisply knurled, metal body in black. The light is gives out is amazing! Pure white, with a good spread to avoid narrow, spot beams.
To think of the hopeless levels of light we suffered for decades at the hands of Ever Ready and others. Eating expensive, leaky, heavy, short-lived batteries and their heavy, steel bodies constantly rusting away. Or heavy dynamos slowing us down or needing constant fiddling. The latest diodes would be like alien technology if they suddenly popped up in the past! Thankfully the monopoly on batteries is long over. I grew sick of Duracell after decades of childish adverts in every damned TV break around the clock! Good riddance if they go broke!