24 Feb 2012

24th Feb 2012

24th 43F, 6C, heavy overcast, breezy. The run of strong winds continues. With 20mph average and 40mph gusts forecast for later. I'd better make an early start. 

I was watching YT cycling videos last night. It was fun to see the manufacturers paring square millimetres from their bike's frontal area with the hope of reduced drag. Seconds later we see the top riders of these fabulously expensive machines with huge folds and violent ripples in their racing jerseys. Jerseys with rucks and bumps over the chests which some lady cyclists might be grateful for. 

One manufacturer claimed that the UCI had forced them to increase the drag of their bikes! Another maker complained that the UCI had told them their ceramic bearings were far too free running! Welcome to the twilight zone!! Isn't racing supposed to improve the breed by trickle down? 

Men's racing bike to the latest UCI rules. (With thanks to Wiki) 

All women's racing has been banned forthwith. Until the UCI can agree on new rules to allow the ladies to ride side saddle. Apparently there is some delay while they overcome disagreement on how many layers of underskirts must be worn.   

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: 8:45am. 47F, 8C, windy. I had to go into town on business. Outside a charity shop I saw a bright green cycling jacket hanging from the rack. Still crisp, brand new and unworn. Even the zip pulls were still wrapped in tissue. Though heaven knows why anyone should wrap zip pulls in white tissue!

On the way home I was getting much too hot in my Belstaff 'Cyclone' jacket. It had also just started to spit with rain. This seemed like an excellent test for the new jacket. Being a waterproof rain jacket I imagined I would sweat like a proverbial wotsit at 47F. I did give the jacket half a chance by unzipping the handy armpit zips. Good quality zips all round BTW!

With the tail wind I should have been dripping sweat all over Mr Higgins within half a mile! I know I would have in my silicone proofed nylon cape. Rather oddly, I wasn't sweating. I stayed amazingly, unbelievably, completely dry and comfortable all the way home. This is beginning to sound rather like a deodorant ad! :-)

I could feel gusts from the cool tailwind through the back vent at times. Though it was not remotely unpleasant. In fact it made me feel even more comfortable! Full marks (except for the very slight tightness across the back when crouched over the bars) Without my long sleeved ski vest under the thicker racing jersey I will have slightly more room.

The jacket seems beautifully cut and made. It is fully lined with soft, woven netting including the sleeves. Rather like the stuff fish-friendly keep nets are made of. The reflective devices are well thought out and remarkably efficient. It has a soft lining to the high neck. This all reminds me of the Signal jacket sold by Wiggle. Which I had been browsing the night before. 

Guess what? When I arrived home I looked up the maker's name. Expecting that I had made a killing on a £50 jacket. Shock horror! I don't believe it! Crane clothing is an Aldi product! :o)))) I must look out for more of this clothing. The quality is amazing! I kept looking at the rain kit in bike shops and just couldn't bring myself to pay so much in the vain hope of breathable waterproofing. The label in this jacket just says polyester. With no claims to high-tech fabrics. Though check the Aldi catalogue entry below:

I swear the cloth was breathing without heat loss. It was bone dry inside when I took off the jacket at home and checked carefully. I know that all of my other jackets would have felt wet inside. They usually are. Particularly the Aesse when its upper temperature range is exceeded. My thin polyester ski vest would always be wet too.

It actually felt very strange that my vest was still cool and dry. As if I had just put it on. Quite often I come home feeling rather cold from being under-dressed on a cold, windy ride. Yet my vest is often wet down the middle of my back. I never felt the sweaty feeling all the way home despite some long uphill drags. I expected the worst and was delighted to be proved wrong.

I even undercut Aldi! Paying 1/4 of their normal retail price for a brand new £20 jacket. Though sometimes reduced. Mine has no black stripe up the front. Having a windproof, overlapping, closure strip instead. With Velcro fastening. This could be useful if I left the zip open for more ventilation under certain conditions.

Anyway, back to the SealSkinz "Activity" gloves. I fought the headwind for ten miles going there. My hands felt strangely neutral throughout. Neither warm nor cold. The Thinsulate would have felt sweaty and cold by turn. The Gel gloves simply cold in such a headwind! When I climbed off at the first supermarket I expected my hands to be drenched with sweat. After all, this was my usual experience. The gloves came off easily and my hands were perfectly dry and naturally cool. It actually felt really weird! I rubbed my hands together in disbelief.

Dexterity is really excellent. Far better than any of my other gloves. I found myself undoing zips and cords on my bag and jacket without a second thought. Normally I have to take my gloves off. Which is often a very unpleasant experience in cold, windy conditions. Though it wasn't that cold today.

The lack of cycling padding is very noticeable on the handlebars. Though I was able to ride on the hoods without the usual fight with the cramping wadding of the Thinsulate. The SealSkinz actually felt more comfortable on the brake levers than on the tops. I had become used to riding on the tops simply because the Thinsulate were so uncomfortable on the hoods. They would make my hands ache after a short while.

I noticed the finishing inside the finger and thumb tips of the SealSkinz is a bit uncomfortable at odd moments. I have long fingers. My nails need trimming slightly. This might be a factor but hasn't been with any of my other gloves.

There was never any sense that the inner liners would pull out with my damp hands every time I stopped. They remained perfectly cool and dry on the way back too. Which is important when you consider that hot hands can make one feel too warm all over.

I am really beginning to appreciate the remarkable breathability of these gloves. The temperatures are now too high to probe their cold weather performance. Though frosts are promised for next weekend. It's a still a long way off and might not happen. I am turning the gloves inside out as far as the base of the fingers to air in a warm room overnight.

The sheltering trees beside the Assens bypass, cycle path have been decimated! Talk about clear felling! Cyclists and walkers are now subject to the full onslaught of the roaring traffic alongside. It used to be so quiet and beautiful riding up or down the hill between dense growth. It was a favourite walk with the elderly, families and kindergarten children alike. Birdsong will be absent for years. No Silent Spring. Just roaring juggernauts. The once-quiet housing estates behind this former shelter belt will suffer too! 

The gears are still behaving themselves. I like the new arrangement of ratios. Changing from one ring to the next is effortless. Having a much wider range of gear ratios on the 32T makes the 22T seem almost redundant. Until I really need it. 20 effortless miles. Parading like a catwalk model in my Aldi jacket. ;-)

 25th 40-45F, 4-7C, very windy, occasional sunny periods. There was a small flock of long tailed tits in the garden before I left.  It has occurred to me that I should have dropped the saddle by half the extra length of the cranks. I actually raised it slightly when refitting the seat post through the coiled bag handle. I can't say for certain that the longer cranks are having any effect. I haven't found my regular gears yet and am using the large chainwheel quite a lot. I lowered the saddle by 1/4" (6mm) later.

The Aldi jacket is fine. Not quite as breathable as yesterday's ride might have suggested. Still pretty good with the underarm, side zips open. I managed to stay cool in all the shops. The promised all day rain did not arrive. The gloves are okay too. No sweat or cold fingers yet. I'm still missing the palm padding. I may have to foam the tops and tape over.

13 kilos of shopping! 29.6lbs! I didn't like the way the heavy bag sagged without the rack. It made loading much more difficult. So I fixed the rack back on again. It weighs exactly one extra pound. It would be helpful if it had an extra crossbar. So I could cut off the top section and lift the rack by a few inches. Then the foot of the rack would support the bag properly. Instead of only when it is unhooked from the saddle. Without the crossbar there is no way to shorten the rack because it would lack fixing points on the seat5 stays. 20 miles. Mostly against a fierce headwind. Tomorrow promises much better. With sun and lower wind speeds.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


  1. Interesting post about the Aldi jacket: isn't Aldi the European equivalent of WalMart? It's funny to think of WM making good cycling clothing. Wish their stuff was available here.

    29.6 lb -- I've carried a total of 45 (including weight of panniers and regular kit) on my former 1973 Motobecane Grande Record fixie conversion, up a 12% grade in a 67% gear; but my grocery rides are generally only 12 miles rt at most. My Ken Rogers is laid up waiting for new half-axle bearing cones; Chris Hewitt says he is in the final stages of producing a run of much better quality (than the original Higgins) cones. If I had $1,000 I'd order a Trykit conversion but alas, that is not the case.

    I've got a Rivendell Hoss saddlebag on the KR: largest saddlebag in existence, I think -- certainly bigger than the Camper Longflap in which I've carried 29 lb. Can't wait to get the trike on the road again especially as the weather is warming up here.

    Best, Patrick Moore, ABQ, NM, USA

  2. Hi Patrick

    Good to hear from you.

    Aldi is a discount supermarket chain. German billionaire owned I believe. They have outlets in the UK too. Apart from food they sell a whole new range of different items each week. If you miss a good offer on the opening day you may never see it again. Their overshoes were absolute rubbish but I do like the jacket.

    Your uphill weightlifting sounds like fun. I hope you checked your brakes for the downhill run? :-)

    I don't like to brag but I carried 112lbs of sand in a cardboard drum on my trike in my youth. Uphill and down for 15 miles. It broke a chainstay! So I sold the trike for peanuts. Worst decision ever made but I didn't know any frame repairers. I taught myself to braze a couple of years later. Alas too late! No wise heads on young shoulders.

    Interesting news on Chris Hewitt's progress on new cones. Mine gave up too but I reasoned it was better to go 2WD with sealed bearings from Trykit. 2WD was the best investment ever on my trike. It made hill climbing almost a pleasure. Much safer on ice, snow and mud too.

    That saddlebag looks like a really high quality bit of kit. The cheap sports bags I use are never good for more than 6 months of wear. First the cloth wears thin and then the zips die. Luckily they cost only pocket change at charity/thrift shops.

    Enjoy your trike when you can.

    Take care out there,