29 Mar 2012

23rd March 2012

23rd 43-53F, 6-12C. windy, full sun. I tootled down near the unspoilt, rural coastline on hilly lanes. Saw a few hares bouncing about. The usual flocks of rooks foraging the fields. The all pervading stench of pig shit and chemical scent is everywhere. My clothes waft the stink every time I move. I can't explain it but my legs seem to have stopped hurting so much when I'm climbing. And no, I'm not taking pain killers. :-)

The head bearing has developed a nasty notch since I tightened it. So I'm going to have to take it off and fix the lack of seating for the bottom race. I never did use the Liquid Metal which I bought. Thinking I should wait for warmer weather to ensure quick hardening and dry surfaces. I can't believe how many head bearings I have got through in the last couple of years!

At last I have found a clear plastic pot for my thumb-sized video camera. A cocktail stick dispenser. Not optically perfect, but good enough. I tried the little camera as a webcam, with and without the pot, and the clarity and distortion  seems acceptable.

I'll put a bit of sponge in the bottom and top of the pot to keep the camera steady. Then mount the pot on the computer bracket. The screw top will make it easy to switch the camera on and off. Biggest benefit is killing the wind noise! I detest wind noise on videos even more than camera shake!  Pot size is 20mm diameter x 40mm tall. There is a bit of factory dust in the picture. It has taken me weeks to find a suitable container! All the glass pots were horribly wavy. 27 miles today.

24th 40-46F, 4-8C, breezy, heavy overcast, low cloud and rather misty. More pig shit. Despite the forecast for warm and sunny again it never cleared. At least, not until after I came home. Cold, with a light headwind in every direction. I set off in the Giordano jacket and had to return for the Aldi. Even wearing both jackets I never became too warm Not even on the hills. I deliberately wandered the lanes to try and increase my mileage. Now I have my camera pot I can't find an easy way of mounting it on the trike. I thought of a PVC pipe clamp but couldn't find one in the builder's merchant. I also need to be able to remove the camera or pot while I'm in the shops. 29 miles.

In the afternoon I stripped the head bearing and replaced them with bits from recycled bikes. I swapped the cheap centre pull for a classic Mafac from my junk bike collection. I also put another front wheel on. The £5 radial spoked Shimano wheel is still running perfectly true but the blade spokes are as rusty as hell. There must be a risk of breakage with so few spokes under such high tension.

25th 42-54F, 6-12C, breezy, bright sunshine. Yet more pig shit. I set off into the wind. With my eyes watering constantly despite the cycling glasses. The wind was roaring in my ears as I pointlessly chased a couple of young racers out training. I hadn't even warmed up and my legs were quickly aching badly.

They were standing, chatting at the top of a hill as I passed. Probably a meeting place for a Sunday club run. Having finished my first stint of shopping I headed uphill for the fun of it. I was going like a bomb! Well, by my own standards anyway. Then after chasing traffic along the main road I set off across country via the hilliest route I know.

Later, I heard raised voices behind me and looked round to see a gaggle of identically clad clubmen out training. Not wishing to make life too easy for them I picked up my pace. Expecting them to sail past me at any moment. They preferred to stay about half a mile behind me as I hovered around 20mph.

Then came my turn to my favourite hill. After the terribly rough approach I stormed up the first, steepest section. Then managed to keep it going as I reached my lung capacity without slowing. 20 years of smoking can never he recovered even decades after after the last puff. It is like hitting a wall. There is no reserve fuel tank of oxygen. Thankfully I still recover very quickly.

 A girl left the group behind me. Climbing out of the saddle to overtake me effortlessly. The club's honour restored.

I kept looking for higher gears and passing riders. I was panting hard now without gaining extra oxygen so there was no way for me to chase her on her multi-thousand pound, lightweight racing bike. Though I only had about 5lbs of shopping and probably 10 extra kilos of trike to drag uphill at that point. The rest of them stayed behind me stretched out on the hill.

As I turned off at the top the girl was waiting for her slower club mates. Then they regathered and followed me downhill and along an undulating lane through the forest. Where they joined up with a much larger group who passed me going the other way. I was still managing 18-23mph and they seemed quite happy to follow. As I finally hit the open fields the voices subsided and I saw they had turned off. Great fun! I was surprised how well I had managed to keep going. Though they were probably just nursing their slowest riders so early in the season. :-)

I really must do something about food on my rides. I'm losing all my energy long before I finish. It used to be the saddle and lack of fitness which limited the length of my rides. That is all ancient history with my present level of fitness and the Brooks Pro being close to perfect form. My usual small handful of biscuits, at half way, just isn't enough to keep me going for 3-5 hours from breakfast including all my shopping stops.

HĂ„rby, windmill capital of Fyn. 
Looking over a small part of the trading estate.
There are lots more wind turbines off to the left.

I start each day with a good bowl full of organic, home-made muesli. It just isn't providing enough energy to keep my strength up until I get home any more. I usually have a couple of rolls with marmalade with my milky coffee when I get home. By then it is far too late, of course! I have never taken feeding the active cyclist very seriously. This may well be my latest Achilles heel. I badly want to extend my effortless range. Until I do I shan't know how I will fare over my present 60 miles maximum. Only 28 miles.

26th 36-53F, 2-12C, cold, still, grey, stinking and very misty. It remained rather cold and grey until after I came home. A breeze had cleared the mist by mid morning. I didn't go out until after morning coffee. I spent an hour cleaning the trike and another hour tidying the bike shed.  Despite a bag full of shopping I had to add a 25 litre bag of compost to the load. My clothing reeks of pig shit. I have just broken the 100,000 page views barrier. 21 miles.

There's a Jack Taylor trike for sale on the CTC website: I shan't do my usual full coverage as there may be copyright issues.

Jack Taylor for sale on CTC

Jack Taylor trike.

27th 40-57F, 4-14C, sunny, breezy, stinking, with a cool start. Lots more dead toads on the road despite it remaining dry. Saw a couple of noisy Jays and quite a few geese out on the fields. I chose a different area to explore today. Very rural and avoiding main roads as much as possible. Plenty of climbing and descending. Another heavy load of shopping. Warmest day this year by at least a couple of degrees. Rain forecast for the next few days. 29 miles.

3pm: 63F! 17C! I drilled out the holes in the mudguard stays again to fit larger M6 x 30mm stainless steel screws and Nyloc nuts. These new screws will hold the stays firmly with very little torque. Smaller screws need to be tightened very hard to hold the stays in place. Though they still tend to rotate around the back axle clamps. The Higgins stays work well with this very large bag in keeping it in place. Without the mudguard stays the corners of the bag kept rubbing on the spokes.

After that I was up a tree for several hours. Cutting off massive, overhanging branches. It goes against the grain, but trees can get a bit silly if left to their own devices. If only we could have some strong south easterlies there are a couple of 40' high birches which have long outstayed their welcome. They are so tall and wide they could do some very serious damage to house and home. Not to mention the bike shed! Which they lean up against as if they owned the place.

28th 41F, 5C, sunny, stinking and still, stinking. The forecast rain has been cancelled but it will gust to over 40mph this afternoon. Just another day in paradise. Go west young man. Enjoy the free ride home.Well nearly. It felt much colder than the 40 degrees F would suggest. It was lucky I had my Gel gloves because my hands were still cold and the Giordano jacket felt about as warm as a string vest! The hat, jacket and gloves all came off at the shops. Back in just the helmet and fingerless mitts. It's no wonder I get odd stares!

I wonder how long it will take to get my knees brown this year? I still had a tea stain, tide mark, a couple of weeks ago, from last year. I always laugh as I pass the sports centre to see a row of sweating bods pedalling furiously away. With a little imagination they could be as cold and miserable as I usually am. Only joking.  19 miles? It felt twice that just going into the wind. :-)

 Pm. They came around to spray poison and pig shit on the surrounding fields again this afternoon. The wind was gusting to 20m/s! About 45mph! With the trees bending back and forth too much to put a ladder up against them. There were kids playing in the neighbour's gardens at the time. We were cutting overhanging branches again but decided to go indoors for our own good.

29th 44-49F, 6-9C, very windy, heavy grey overcast, stinking. The promised rain did not appear. Which is almost a shame because it would have helped to damp down the universal stench of pig diarrhoea.

The gusts were truly fierce at times. When I was hit by side winds between exposed fields it felt as if my helmet was going to be ripped off. I managed my route quite well to reduce the distance I had to travel into headwinds. I went off road into some woods to practice on vicious slopes. The firewood, tree fellers had messed up the route with tractors so I had to backtrack. 21 miles.

30th 44-51F, 7-11C, mostly overcast but clearing to full sun, stinking. Blowing a gale! I wanted to avoid a headwind but ended up doing about 12 miles straight into it. I set off down two different farm tracks trying to avoid the headwind. By the time I'd reached the point of no return the track had turned straight into the wind!  Talk about rough! I must be flaming mad! I was crawling at 5mph up 1 in 5s trying to avoid stones on rutted, heavily cambered gravel. My eyes were watering so much, despite the cycling specs, I couldn't see where I was going. Uphill and down dale between isolated farms and cottages. Ended up almost where I'd started but on the wrong road! Grrr? 32 miles.

31st 38F, 3C, yet more gales forecast with sunny periods, stinking of pig shit. Tomorrow's forecast is for snow or sleet! With gusts up to 20m/s (40mph). For yet another day in succession.

All the plans of trikes and men! I set off into an icy gale. Ten minutes after leaving home I was being scoured by vicious, icy hail as fine as sand. My poor, bare knees turned  bright red and were stinging like mad! Clouds of hail were being blown across the road in stripes by the fiercely cold wind. I thought it couldn't last and pressed on. The roads were still dry at that point.

Then it started snowing! Shooting diagonally across the road in a wall of white. Soon the fields were white and still it snowed. The Aldi jacket was fine but my feet were soon saturated and aching with cold. My shorts and gloves were patchy white and sopping wet. My hands started to ache so badly I had to turn back. There was no point in continuing. Am I having fun yet? :o)

I had no overshoes, no over-trousers, no front mudguard, no serious gloves. So you could say I was quite well prepared. I would have been had the forecast been correct. Only 6 miles. Now the sun has come out and the white covering everything has completely vanished! Should I go out again? Eeny meeny miny .... no-no-no-no-yes.

10 more miles pm. Still blowing a gale! Still stinking of pig shit. I opened the window after my shower and it was like a muck spreader was in the garden. I see the government is paying out millions of taxpayer's money to support gas extraction from pig's diarrhoea. Odd how they manage it in India and Africa decades ago.

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