30 Dec 2011

23rd December 2011

 23rd 43F, 6C, heavy overcast, breezy, dry. Only a 6 mile errand.

24th Christmas Eve. 37-40F, 3-4C, bright and sunny with a cloudless sky, a cold and strong wind. I did a loop but seemed to be struggling against the wind whichever way I rode. My hip feels rather better today. Heavy overnight rain had made big puddles on the roads and fields again. The drainage streams were swollen into brown, rushing torrents. 17 miles.

25th Christmas Day. 45F, 7C, overcast, breezy, light rain. I dressed for the rain and was far too warm. 10C, 50F is forecast for tomorrow but with 40mph gusts! Lovely. Only 8 miles today to clear the cobwebs. Which meant I couldn't even scoff a whiskey-flavoured chocolate before going out. Now I can enjoy a tin of English beer before our traditional Christmas, roast chicken dinner. Lots of Everard's Original Ale suddenly turned up in the supermarkets at an unbelievably low give-away price of 7DKK per tin. That's only about 70P in real money! Sometimes life smiles upon you but mostly it's a self-made headwind.

I struggled to find a suitably Christmassy picture. So you'll have to make do with this one from Christmas Eve last year. Back then I rode 13 miles in deep snow with a howling gale and drifting! What a difference a year makes!

Merry Christmas to all my readers. But particularly to my followers for their interest in my slightly eccentric activities. And to Steve, my gratitude for literally giving me his Higgins mudguards and stays. Not to mention those who have commented on my blog.

I must thank my wife too. For her patience in putting up with my infinitely variable absences on the roads and lanes of Denmark. The endless cycle of having clean cycling clothing ready to cope with the ever-changing conditions. Not once in two years have I been allowed to leave the house without fresh clothing from head to foot. Usually 7 days a week with only occasional rest days.

The number of viewers to my blog is becoming ever more astonishing. As are the repeat visitors. I still find it odd that anyone should find my triking worth following. I hope I give something back in sharing my love of the countryside, the wildlife and the historical architecture.

I started writing my blog to force myself to ride when I was too lazy, in too much pain or the weather was too bad. Without my virtual watchers I would never have become fit enough to ride more than a few miles. Tricycling is so unlikely a means of transport. It boggles the mind that more than half a dozen people could possibly find it interesting enough to come back again. Thank you, all, for your support. :-)

One of my Christmas presents from my long-suffering wife was a set of electronic luggage scales. A sort of T-shaped handle with a hooked strap and digital readout. Much easier to use than my old fishing spring scales with my long eyesight. This "sad" blogger will now be able to easily weigh and record each day's shopping for posterity. Don't panic just yet! With my memory it certainly wont be every day! I Promise I shall limit myself to the exceptional rather than the mundane. :-)

26th UK Boxing Day or the Danes' 2nd Christmas Day. (Anden Juledag)[pron:annan yool-uh-day]

45-49F! 7-9C, heavy grey overcast, mild, windy and increasing. More, extreme weather records being set!

9kg/18lbs of shopping. ;-)

The drainage streams have returned to gentle clarity. A Jay whizzed right over my head and a Buzzard looked down on me with apparent contempt as I rode beneath its perch. My hip has stopped hurting. I wonder why? It can't be all the digging. (the broadband, fibre optic trench is now reaching halfway)

 Only 14 miles today. I've now reached 12,000 km since Jan 1st. Only another 35 miles for 7.5k this year. Every mile/km of that entirely on "Mr Higgins". My 1954 Reynolds 531 Higgins "Ultralite" trike. (with modern additions and accessories)

27th 46F, 8C, overcast, gales reducing. First "normal" day after the holiday. It is supposed to be cloudy but dry but hasn't stopped raining since I got up! It finally stopped raining after coffee. I did a quick loop for 10 miles. It was so mild I was dripping with sweat wearing only my thinnest jacket over my usual cycling togs. I could have worn just the racing jersey without any jacket.

28th 40F, 3C, blowing a gale, rain increasing and heavily overcast. I had things to do in the morning. Looked at the weather forecast and decided to finish my trench along the drive for the broadband optical fibre. Just a few feet to the house across a flower bed to do now. I have buried and backfilled the conduit and warning tapes. 0 miles. An exhausting sort of rest day.

Has anyone seen the Lucozade video advert with the rock band rolling down a steep hill? Unless I am mistaken the drummer is riding a Roman Road tadpole trike:

29th 40F, 3C, rain and gusts to 45mph forecast. The rain has stopped and it is brightening up. So I had better get some miles in!

The cross wind really picked up at 10 miles. It was roaring loudly in the trees and hedges and pushing me about in the gaps. The final leg was straight into the wind. Despite their seemingly sparse growth the Lilac hedges offered remarkable shelter. I chose a route to minimise my exposure to the vicious gusts. I managed a nice rear-end, sideways drift exiting a roundabout with wet road surfaces. It felt completely safe and under control.

 Only a couple of miles from home it started bead blasting me with stinging hail. Then it got really serious and the rain was so heavy I couldn't see more than a few yards. It was being driven straight at me by fierce winds.  No point in putting on any extra clothes so near home. So I plodded on in near bottom gear in a wet cocoon of pain and misery. With the help of passing cars I was soon soaked to the skin from head to toe.

Now I'm home the wind has dropped and the sun has come out. Grrr? :-)  I managed 19 miles. My aching hip still keeps coming and going.

30th 33-39F, 1-4C, breezy becoming very windy, mostly overcast. I went against the wind while it was still light. Then enjoyed a strong, variable crosswind on the way back. Is it supposed to work like that? Just another day in (cycling) paradise. 21 miles today. 7500 miles and 12k km safely achieved. Not as good as last year but I'm older now. ;-)

The second Assens sugar silo before demolition in the early new year. This is much closer than I would be allowed on the big day. My back is to a brand new fitness centre building so I hope they get it right next time! 

Mr Higgins is still sulking. He demanded a distant position in the picture, hidden behind a wall. Anything to avoid having his brand new, bright orange, spoke reflectors flashed all over the Internet. Oh the shame! I told him that there's no way I'm paying an £80 fine just because he doesn't want to look like a kiddy's trike. ;-)

I'd like to share some pictures of Alan Schmidt's warm-up rollers. They might inspire somebody to make some for themselves. Handy for those wet days. Or when there is no open road handy to warm up for a time trial or road race. Or for when one doesn't want to leave the start area. Naturally, these rollers are designed specifically for a trike. And 2WD trike at that. They are probably unique! Most training rollers are designed for a bike. I like the elegant simplicity and ultra-low profile. He says they are also handy for fine adjusting his gears. Having independent rollers for each wheel makes the most of 2WD. Providing more natural resistance to pedalling.

And a close-up of the rollers themselves.

Of course there is far more to Alan's international success than these clever training rollers. We wish him continued success in competition again this year. 

31st 30-35F, -1-3C, still, promising brightness. The weak sunshine stayed for a couple of hours and then low cloud followed by mist moved in. It was odd to see a wind turbine with the blades completely vanishing anywhere above horizontal. The cloud base was sharply defined at the middle of the nacelle. I'm sure there is an air moisture relationship to how cold one feels. Before the mist arrived my hands were fine in ordinary Thinsulate gloves. As the mist thickened my hands started feeling cold. I had to keep clearing my rear-view mirror and computers every few minutes right from leaving home.

Long load in 2010. 5m or 16'.

The wrong way to do it! Long loads should be hung from the saddle frame. As shown above the rear seat stay triangle severely limits the turning circle. Which makes it very dangerous (impossible!) to turn at a junction! The planks also tend to hit the seat tube. Which can easily cause damage.

 2011 was an even longer year for Mr Higgins! 7m or 22'.

Here the planks are correctly hanging from prusik loops tied to the seat frame. The ends of the planks are restrained from forward movement by the seat pin. Longer prusik loops of cord are pulled tight around the plank. Then drawn back to be tied off at the saddle frame to ensure the load does not slip free under acceleration or hill climbing. The sheer weight of heavy planks is still hard work uphill. The plank shown here was almost too heavy for me to lift. The pneumatic wheels are the axle from an old sack truck. They roll well but get very noisy above 15mph. The wheels follow the trike perfectly as if on rails.

I learned this rope technique from rock climbing. Prusik loops rely on the friction of repeated insertion of a free loop end through the main loop until it is wrapped around an object several times. Prusik loops can even be used for unscrewing pipes or climbing traditional greasy poles. As soon as the tension is taken off the free loop end the wrappings can be moved up, down or along an object with one hand. Or easily freed in seconds. As soon as the tension is put on the free end of the loop it locks firmly onto the object. The loops can be any desired length.

I should state that I do own a car trailer. But such long loads are impossible to manage safely without special frames to support the planks so that they extend over the roof of the car and hang out of the back of the trailer. For short rural journeys, of a few miles along quiet lanes, using the trike for transport is actually much easier. I certainly wouldn't recommend it for town use. Not unless you live in China.

My chest is bunged up again. Making me feel very short of breath on hills. I'm almost constantly clearing my throat when I'm out on the road. My nose drips constantly too, but that's just the cold weather. I saw a bunch of cyclists out training. Quite a few called out as they passed. I could make no impression on their speed with the trike being already heavily loaded. They quickly disappeared up the road.

Over 20lbs of shopping! A hilly 27 miles to end the year. The roads, lanes and cycle paths are already covered in literally thousands of dead fireworks. Just for once they won't have nice weather for their fireworks tonight. Rain is supposed to start after lunch and keep going.

The Winter edition of the Tricycle Association Gazette has just arrived in the post. Perfect timing!

Happy New Year. 

Click on any image for an enlargement.


  1. I continue to enjoy your reporting and images. Images of the Higgins in the snow and towing loads are remarkable, but those of tradional buildings and country roads remain my favorites.

  2. Hi, Thank you for your kindness in responding so positively. I really appreciate such comments about my occasionally eccentric activities. Sometimes, I think that I may have overdone the thatched cottages. So I hope I can continue to keep the cycling lobby happy. As well as those who share my daily enjoyment of my beautiful scenery.