18 Oct 2011

5th October 2011

5th 58F, blowing  gale, raining: Rest day. I have been learning about lots of useful things on my computer course. Weather forecast is awful for tomorrow with 40mph+ gusts and rain all day.

Thatched chic

A very strange pair of houses stand completely alone on a hillside.

Entirely surrounded in fields, the style is incongruous and highly atypical for rural Danish properties. Once a mill, judging by an attached sign, but nothing is visible now. Perhaps there was a windmill standing on the low summit behind the buildings. The other house is in a very poor state with frost damage to the rendering and the decorative brickwork. They look almost abandoned but somebody is living there. I managed to hide the car parked outside by choosing a suitable angle.

6th 50F, 10C, a day of very heavy showers and fierce gales. I nipped out for a late ride but was very short of breath. I spent a lot of time clearing my throat. I was following a stumpy double rainbow for a while. The roads were very wet with deep puddle everywhere. It didn't rain on me until I was a couple of miles from home on the way back. Then it tipped down. So  I finally had a chance to try my "new" cape.  It flapped in the gusts unless I sat on it. My wife said I looked rather like a monster rolling down the drive on my trike. Probably because the cape was inflating like a balloon. There are miles of crackly beech nuts and thumping great conkers along the lanes. 13 miles.


7th 54F, 12C, windy, very heavy showers, sunny periods. It didn't rain but it was still blowing a gale. Not so short of breath today. 19 miles.

8th 44-52F, 7-11C, gales, mostly sunny.

Not a good day! My wife dragged a complaining Mr Higgins from his stall. To put him out to graze on the lawn while I readied myself. But Mr Higgins was having none of it! The damned Sram chain had parted company yet again! The broken link had jammed in the front changer plate. Pushing the entire mechanism aside and stopping the trike from backward movement.

Rather than mend the chain again I drove into town for a new one. The bike shop still wasn't open by the time I had finished my shopping. So I went to a car spares chain store and bought a 9 speed chain there.

When I returned home I removed the Sram chain and lay it along the shed floor. This was to measure the new chain length. The moment I opened the packet I could see the new chain was 1/8" wide. Only suitable for up to 9 internal gears! Aarrgghh! Stupid packaging where the chain is invisible and the writing is a tiny, stick-on label! Idiocy!

So I removed the broken Sram link and fitted a new one in its place from the unused spare tail. Then refitted the chain to the trike. Now I could take my rubber industrial gloves off. Finally I changed back into my cycling togs and rode back the way I had just driven. I might as well get a ride out of this disaster!

My brother had recommended a KMC chain. I found a Spectra with their initials on the links. I also bought a Spectra chain link extractor with an adjustable stop for a tenner, £10 equiv. I'm hoping that I could obtain a bit more riveting rather than just pushing the pin back into the side plates.

My collection of chain link extractors. The new Spectra has obviously been enlarged to offer more leverage. The large stop screw does not inspire confidence since the thread is already sloppy. It was the only one on the rack so I had no others to try. My camera had spent the night in the car so was cold and misted up straight away. This was despite it being double cased.

I returned the incorrect chain to the other shop and swapped it for a smart pair of 1/2W rear lights and QR clamps. Only a £5 each! That was even cheaper than the supermarkets! It will be just like "Close Encounters" but I'll be travelling a little slower.

The offending Sram chain stayed in one piece for this trip. The symptoms of a broken link were the same as last time. It felt, and sounded, as if the indexing had come out of adjustment. Fixing the chain immediately solved the false indexing problem.

Now I have to decide whether to risk the Sram chain breaking again. Or just fit the Spectra and put the Sram chain down to (a very bad) experience. The bike shop chap said I shouldn't expect more than three moths or 3000 kilometres per chain. I'm hoping the cheaper KMC chains will save me money.

20 miles by trike being blown all over the place! Plus 9 more, ditto, later at 46F. That was exactly 30 degrees cooler than just last week! It's now 37F and the first overnight ground frost is possible.

I wore my lightest, long, skiing underwear for the first time this autumn. (under my usual racing jersey and shorts) It was still cold riding into the headwind gusts with only a thin, "windproof" jacket on. With a tailwind I was too warm! The wind direction seemed to be constantly rotating all day. It was far stronger than the local forecast and ended up as a northerly.

A strange, wave formation, cloud caught by my wife while I was out on my trike on Sunday morning. It was even more dramatic nearer the sun but did not take so kindly to photography.

9th 35F, +2C, still at first, with occasional sunny periods. Slight frost on the fields. First wintry morning this year! I tried my mustard yellow Ventour jacket. It proved to be transparent to the cold wind but too warm for climbs. So I'd sweat going up and then chill on the descents. Removing my hat helped to even things out.

A Stanley 60 1/2 block plane for £2! It will scrub up nicely with a gentle rub with 0000 steel wool on the bare iron. Then a little oil to stop future rust. Not their top model but still handy and a nice addition to my collection. I dreamed of owning these fine tools in my youth. They were always well beyond my pocket back then and my woodworking skills unworthy of the investment. The shiny snake-like device is for fine adjusting the throat. (after loosening the brass locking knob)

I stopped at a couple of flea markets/garage sales. The antique block plane (above) wasn't too heavy. The antique branch pruners weighed a ton! I just lashed it onto the top of the bag carrier and fortunately it stayed put. Having the pruners out of the way I was still able to stuff my bag with loads of shopping.

Forged pruners. They look almost as if they were made by a blacksmith. Another irresistible bargain for £2 equivalent.

The temperature climbed slowly to 50F, 10C as I plodded on, uphill and down. I removed the jacket and put on my fingerless track mitts at half way. I took the opportunity to sit on a bench and eat my biscuits. Though I was never comfortably warm after that. The wind suddenly arrived from nowhere at 28 miles. Quickly becoming a niggling head wind for the last few miles. I can't say that I was feeling very strong today. It felt as if I had banged the edge of my knee cap, but hadn't. I'm sure I would remember that. The Sram chain stayed together for 35 miles and counting...  

BUT, after further consideration, I may have been unfairly criticising the Sram chain. The fault lies not with the chain itself but the tools I used to break and replace links.

Here's my new, Spectra link extractor. Notice the extreme asymmetry of the Sram links at the alignment ears. The Spectra overcomes end loads with the conical end face of the large, adjustable screw on the right. It supports the face of the side plate directly around the pin hole in the side plate. The ears just arrange the links lengthwise across the tool. So that each rivet is presented accurately to the pressure pin on the left. The alignment ears should not be expected to resist any side loads at all. 

Here's a cheap-shit, chain link extractor typical of chain store fodder. The Sram chain has literally sheared off the ears. Against which the links rest when a pin is being pushed out. The tool is now completely useless! The cause was the narrowness of the Sram 9speed chain. The heavy shoulder on the right is simply too far away from the ears to take up the pressure loads applied by the rivet pin extraction.

The link side plate is stretched or bowed sideways in this outdated design. The ears are being asked to resist the enormous pressures applied to the rivet. A task for which they were never designed. Though the crap materials used on this tool didn't help. This design should not be used for modern, narrow chains like the Sram 9 and 10 speeds.

At first I was blaming the pin cut-outs for not supporting the Sram side plates properly. The cheapo on the right is worse than the older one on the left. But if the supporting shoulder cannot reach the outside plate on narrow links this becomes completely irrelevant.

Both tools here would probably work fine with the wider 1/8" chains.The one on the right provides more leverage but falls to pieces due to poor thread tolerances and crappy materials.

Ironically, I saw an identical model to the one on the right with an adjustable end stop, pressure resisting, screw. Similar to the Spectra's. This was after I had bought the Spectra. The Spectra provides even more leverage and greater comfort in use. It also feels remarkably light despite its greater size. Naturally, I will report here again if it fails to live up to expectations.

  Close-up Sram 9sp chain.

10th 55F. 13C, rain all day. Nul points. (to be read with a Eurovision accent)

The good life!

There is a new Danish rule that the postperson must be able to deliver post without ever getting out of the van. Nor dismounting from cycle or scooter. So the post box must be accessible from the road and should be between 1 and 1.2 metres high.

The silence of the deserted, and completely undeveloped, Danish coastline. 

Only a ten minute ride from quite a large town. (by Danish standards) I  suppose the lack of commercial development is due the absence of a large, working class population. Where there are beaches the tendency is to build estates of summerhouses. These can range from modest wooden "sheds" to sprawling, modern mansions. Though these two are rarely found cheek by jowl. Summer houses sold (before the recession) for more than normal homes.  

 Click on any image for an enlargement.

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