24 May 2012

24th May 2012



I have been waiting for years to capture this old farm in the village of Strandby. Only this morning was the permanently parked car finally absent. Then I didn't seem to get the picture perfectly upright. So Mr Higgins was lost off the edge of the image in the subsequent crop. This was full wide angle, 24mm equiv. 16:9 on the TZ7. My back is already against the front of the cottage opposite. I'm not even sure I like the stark lighting from the bright, early sun. (I'll keep trying) :-)

24th 66-72F, 19-22C, breezy, warm sunshine. Just another perfect day. I took the tiny DV video camera back because it has never recharged properly. They had no new stock so I accepted a refund. I'm still considering whether to buy another one from another branch. £20 isn't a fortune but the picture quality is very dependent on a fast MicroSD card. I'd bought a Silicone Power 8GB Class 6. Reviews don't look exactly spectacular.

Sitting in perfect silence except for the birdsong and buzz of insects. Only a stone's throw from the sea. 
I took a closer shot but felt the surroundings were a large part of its gentle charm.

Still can't make my mind up about a new tyre choice. I thought Michelin Pro3 might be worth a try. My favourite (but distant) shop had no stock of Bontrager Race Lite last time. Which is why I ended up with the XLs instead. 31 miles.

Pm: Pulled the axles out and stripped the Trykit 2WD freehub. No sign of any problems. Still plenty of grease in there. So just wiped it off and applied more grease.

Pretty as a picture in the morning light.

Silly boy forgot to pass the chain over the cassette when reassembling! Grrr? Well, it was hot in the late afternoon sunshine at 72F. The pin and brass bush fell out of the new link extractor into the grass. Luckily the Head Gardener was able to spot the missing parts. I would never have seen them. Crappy factory tolerances. The link extractor. Not me! I tapped the pin and bush back in gently with a hammer. It seemed to help the retention. Forewarned is forearmed.

A skilled thatcher [tækkemanden] puts the finishing touches to his perfect work.

25th 66-75F, 19-24C, breezy, hot sunshine. I decided to go to Odense to look for new tyres. I intended to buy three folding tyres and was hoping for blue. 700x25C would have been a nice bonus. I could have bought a new set of Bontrager Racelite, in red or blue. But not in 700x25C. The 25s have proved much more reliable and more comfy than the 23s. Without loss of speed. I can easily get them online but resent the freight charges because they deny me a ride. Not to mention the pleasure of actually handing over the money. Then being able to take the toys home with me.

All the alternatives were unknown quantities except for the blue GP4000. Which are drop-dead gorgeous, have an enviable reputation but are a teeny  bit pricey for this particular pensioner. How long would they last? The shop would not move on their asking price even if I bought three. Which is fair enough except that they lost the sale.

I'm not usually a hard bargainer but this shop really gets on my nerves. The manager(?) spends all of his time talking loudly on his mobile phone as he struts the store. This has occurred on every previous visit too. So it must be a chronic habit. Thereby making real customers feel completely invisible. I was not alone in the perpetual queue for service in this spacious emporium of high end, cycling goodliness. They know who they are.

 I covered miles, criss-crossing the city, looking for more bike shops. Rather oddly, three different shops said they were expecting stock this pm. Not much help to me when their shelves were empty. Two shops told me that nobody buys coloured tyres any more. Thereby undermining a potential customer's near-£100 purchase. My taste in coloured tyres is not something I defend. Nor apologise for! I was stuck for decades with plain black tyres. I know what I like!

So I came back empty handed. Well not quite. One of the chaps at one bike shop had very kindly remembered I was looking for traditional cycling mitts. He had gone to the trouble of digging out some beauties from their stock room. Two pairs of crocheted perfection were tragically too small for my huge hands. So I was sold a pair of black, all-leather, track mitts in XL for under a tenner. Given a good soak they should ride up with wear. I'm sure Arnie would be jealous as hell. His mitts were secondhand!

 52 Miles. I'll be back! :-)

26th 66-76F, 19-25C, light breeze, hot sunshine. I decided to go window shopping for tyres in Middelfart and Fredericia. It was a good job I didn't have to rely on their stock. Because there wasn't much on offer. The cycle paths in the above mentioned towns are truly dreadful! One sunken drain was so deep there was a caving expedition camped around it with tents and ropes. They were holding a minutes silence for the three skeletons. Which they had already found at the bottom. Resting on the iron grill.

Loads of cyclists out enjoying the warm weather today. (sunken drains permitting) Most acknowledged me with a wave or a grin.  I was bit tired towards the end. Probably because I hadn't taken any extra food for a longer ride. I was able to refill my bottle at half way but it was soon gone again.

I had raised my saddle 1/4" to see if it helped my knees. It didn't and I had pain in the outer knee. Then the inner knee later. So it is probably too high now. I'm going to try a plumb bob to see if my position of the trike is all wrong. I always feel too stretched out on the hoods. I spend far too much time on the tops. The YouTube videos show how it should be done. I think my stem is too long and my handlebars too low. Goodness knows where the saddle is supposed to be for and aft. 63 miles. My new personal best for one ride in the last three years. Stop laughing at the back! :-)

It's 78.4F and sticky now, late afternoon, with thin, high cloud. I have to fix my mirror back on. My arms are sunburnt. Again.

27th 64-71F, 18-22C, breezy, full sun. Just a run before morning coffee to buy a loaf. 26 miles. Plus 11 more miles after coffee. My legs are a bit tired today despite the growing tan. My arms and legs were covered in tiny dead flies. I wonder how many I breathed in?

Having returned the saddle to its normal height I have been playing with the saddle for and aft adjustment. I read an interesting article online. I'm finding myself in agreement with his theory of balancing the torso. Moving the saddle fully forwards solved the reach issue but over loaded my hands and wrists. So I'm moving the saddle backwards in small steps. Half an inch from fully forwards feels more comfortable on the drops. There must be an optimal position where I can reach the hoods without strain and without pain. I may have to raise the bars from their fully down position. The boring part is adjusting the brake cables. The tend to take a "set" after being used at a shorter length.  

My rear view mirror is broken.  None of those I have is flat enough to be safe in traffic. Only the gentlest curve is desirable. Cost is peanuts from Biltema but I'm going to look into helmet mirrors next. The reviews are very mixed.

The bag is driving me mad! It is too wide for the space between the wheels. Any bulge in the pockets catches on the spokes. It has hurled itself into the spokes several times on rough, tight corners. Completely locking the wheel! This is despite having a load of ugly hooked bungees practically flattening it against the cut-down rucksack frame. It looks hideous too!

28th 75F, 24C, windy, full sun. Already hot at 8am. Another bank holiday so the traffic should be light. With it being so windy I used the hedges and forest for shelter to put some distance upwind. Then I used the wind to cruise for miles at 20mph. Back in the lanes, a bunch of clubmen passed me at a junction. So I tried to match their speed for a while but it was hopeless. They were averaging 18-20mph into the wind. I couldn't manage more than 17mph. I gave up and returned to my intended route via a short cut.  

I spent most of my time on the hoods until about 30 miles. Probably thanks to raising the handlebars by ½". Then my hands started creeping back up the bends towards the tops. As I was experiencing some tiredness in my hands and wrists. So I moved the saddle backwards slightly. It didn't help. My legs were also tired again today. With a pain in my left calf. Though I was climbing well enough on the long drags. Which I had deliberately sought out. My tan is improving. 40 miles.

29th 62-59F, 17-15C, gales, overcast with occasional sunny periods. A hard, rough wind. Both going and coming back. I bought a new MiniDV video camera from Netto. Then found everything inside the pack had already been opened when I got home. So I had been palmed off with a secondhand, faulty return! Thank you Netto!! Too windy to return it today. 18 miles. Another 10 miles pm. Still blowing hard. My position on the trike has improved.

Mr Higgins shows his feminine side? Does my cerise pink bag look big in these shoes? It all clashes horribly, but note how the accessories match the tyres? (Bell and rack) Continental GP4000 tyres, all round, in bright blue. I wonder how Mr Higgins would feel about a respray? To make him more in keeping with the "trending" colour scheme?  A bright blue saddle would set it all off nicely. I wonder whether Fablon would stick to waxed hide? :-)) 

30th 48-61F, 9-16C, windy, sunny periods. The temperature has dropped 15F/10C compared with a few days ago. I took off the oversized bag and put a much smaller one on to see how I would manage. The tiny pink bag is the same size as Carradice's largest: The "Camper Longsleeve." Despite the strong wind I went to Odense again. It stayed rather grey and almost cold with very little sunshine. I had to make a detour for road surfacing. The last time I tried to run their messy gauntlet I ruined a jacket! Droplets of black solvent were thrown up by the tyres.

I bought a set of cheap, bike cleaning brushes and a replacement mirror in Biltema. I plan to keep Mr Higgins much cleaner than in the past. Meanwhile, my parcel from Cykelpartner arrived in the post. Flawless service and amazing prices! I didn't feel so guilty about buying online when I couldn't get the tyres anywhere for a decent price. Cykelpartner has free delivery in Denmark if you spend more than their set minimum. So I saved easily more than enough for a new set of inner tubes all round! 52 miles today. I have just reached 6000km this year. I feel much more comfortable on the hoods now.

31st 48-59F, 9-15C, windy, cold and overcast. The wind was blowing straight through me until I turned for home. I was freezing in the Giordano jacket. My favourite lanes have been resurfaced with 2" of large, loose gravel! It is horrible to ride on and very slow.

The GP4000s are amazing. Light and quick. They feel just like having suspension! I rode down the cobbled high street in Assens. The difference between the Race Lite and Continentals was unbelievable. The Bontragers rattled my eyeballs and the trike shook as if it were about to come apart. On the GPs I was hardly aware of the cobbles. Even the stretch of house-brick sized cobbles in the middle were incredibly easy to ride over. I used to avoid it on the Bontrager Race Lites. Not feeling at all strong today. Not even with a tail wind home. 24 miles.

Pm. I gave the trike a full wash with car shampoo and my new (cheap) Biltema bike cleaning brushes. Within seconds the rubber tip had fallen from one side of the forked brush. Giving the paint quite a decent scratch with the bare, twisted wire core! Grr! Apart from the new scratch the trike didn't look any different (at all) afterwards. 

Click on any image for an enlargement.

18 May 2012

18th May 2012

18th 52-59F, 11-15C, breezy, sunny periods. The forecast was cloudy all day but it was mostly sunny. I wanted to do another 60 mile ride to test my stamina. So at nearly 8am I headed off towards Faaborg. All the while hoping the forecast headwind was still light. Having got there I stripped down to jersey, shorts and mitts for the long climb back out. I turned north and uphill with the breeze behind me. Following my planned route all the way up to the motorway and main E-W road at Skallebølle. It seemed a terrible waste not to take full advantage of the south-easterly wind.

There were some fairly serious climbs along the way: From Hårby up to Jordløse seems to go on and on. Then the longer and steeper Svanninge Bakke drag out of Fåborg. Which continues on, ever upwards, despite my earlier turn-off towards Vester Hasinge. Then there's the climb up to Verninge from the soggy Nr. Broby marshes. Where I saw lots of gorgeous Shellduck and Oystercatchers. Finally I repeated the long climb from Tommerup Station up to Skallebølle. Where the motorway runs close to the old main road. The latter is furnished with separate cycle paths running alongside. It also forms a handy belt for the island of Fyn on the maps.

There is only one "bump" along the main road going up to the Vissenbjerg traffic lights. Then the long descent leading to the mainly flat stretch to Grønnemose. Where I turned sharply straight into the wind for the last 10-12 miles. The wind had built up to about 20mph making it tiring going. I was already starving by then! No excuses! Just moaning about my inability to parallel process the need for a very necessary snack. While wandering the isles of a modern supermarket. Most of which have even more shelf space set aside for sticky sweets and sugary snacks than they do for veg, fruit or booze. 

My quadriceps were on fire as I struggled off Mr Higgins in the first supermarket car park. 20 minutes hobbling around the shops in Årup and then the final leg home. 5 hours exactly to do 58 miles (including stops). 4.5 hours of actual movement according to the Ventus logger.  Exactly 4 hours of active pedalling according to the converted cadence computer. The i-gotU GPS didn't record anything. Fortunately the Ventus did. Though only 58 miles. My bike computer said 61 miles! Where do I queue for my refund? :-)

Slightly more amusing(?) was the revelation that having left home and completed my circuitous ride I had gained (or lost?) several hundred feet in altitude. So said the Ventus route map altitude data.  You may also think that 11,500 feet of ascent and 12,00 feet of descent places me somewhere on the bottom of the North sea. I can confirm that my relatively new MTB footwear remains perfectly dry. 11.5k ft of ascent, in 58 miles, in a country renowned for its glacial flatness may also seem like a slight exaggeration.

I can confirm that according to the excellent and free Danish mapping and aerial imagery service (Grundkort Fyn) I would be 68metres above sea level in my sock feet when standing on the lawn. While according to the Ventus G730 GPS logger I am at least twice that height. As I have no real head for heights, when not on firm ground,  I decided to explore further (online). It seems that one can take vertical GPS information with a large pinch of North Sea salt. At least as far as these relatively cheap commercial GPS loggers are concerned.

One thing I do admire is the apparent learning ability of these clever little toys/devices. As new, they tended to wobble off to each side of the road with gay abandon. Nowadays they quite often stick to it over much of my route. Without them I would not have a record of my, now well over 700, individual daily rides recorded as reloadable files. Now, if only I could get the two loggers to agree, on my distances travelled, I would be in GPS heaven. Give or take a few hundred feet in altitude.

BTW: Except for a few protrusions, the island of Fyn is, very roughly, 40 miles wide x 40 miles high on the map. 65km x 65km.

19th 50-65F, 10-18C, breezy, overcast, light rain. The rain cleared to sunny periods. I took off the Aldi jacket, cap and gloves in Assens to put on the thin Giordano. A mile later I was so cold, from fighting a headwind, that I had to put it all back on again! There are huge numbers of birds about now. The verges are full of Forget-me-nots. (little bright blue flowers) A tremendous number of Dandelions too. Whole fields have turned bright yellow. Just a gentle 30 mile shopping trip. Brought back a large bag of sewing compost tied on top of a load of shopping.

20th 70F, 21C, breezy, mostly sunny. First warm day of the year and I heard the first cuckoo today. I plastered myself with suntan cream. Which may explain why my eyes were watering again. I went up the minor coast roads to Nørre Aaby via a circuitous route. Half a dozen large groups of clubmen were out training today. It may just have been coincidence that they were all in the same area but separated by time on the road. You can see the leaders of one group in the image above. There were a few solo cyclists about too but they were not stragglers. Lovely day for a ride except for the wind. Haven't done any proper shopping yet. 44 miles. 10 more miles pm. 293 miles this week.

 21st 69F, 21C, breezy, warm sunshine. Oh what a perfect day. Not! I was going to ride down Thinggyden (lane) to Ebberup supermarket. But decided at the last moment I just couldn't be arsed to waste time on the vicious dog at the farmer's Ebberup Maskinstation. Nor its moronic owner when he finally got off his arse to come and shout uselessly at his damned dog. As it continued to threaten me on the public highway. Just as it had done repeatedly over several years.

Ebberup Maskinstation

So I went along the noisy, usually windy and busy main road instead. Enjoying the pleasures of the blind rush hour drivers as they brushed past me at 30mph over the legal speed limit, as usual. Speed limit has no absolutely meaning in Danish. The road is dead straight for miles and so wide that three buses could easily pass each other at the same time and still leave room for a trike in each of the clearly demarcated bicycle lanes!

As it was beautiful, bright sunshine I thought I'd take a picture of the Øxnebjerg Mølle as I approached. It is painted black so needs the right light to make the most of it. The moment I entered the short drive to the windmill I was attacked by a vicious, grossly overweight, black Labrador. It was barking like a lunatic, frothing at the mouth and lunging at my thigh! I couldn't get off because it was too near me and might have taken a big chunk out of my leg as I struggled to unclip! So I kept turning away from it as I rode around in circles on the loose gravel. Just trying to put the trike between me and the bløødy dog!

Lilac hedges are remarkably commonplace on Fyn.
Not a great shot due to the high contrast.

Then the moronic owner came wandering out of a shed and told me her dog was harmless! I was then advised to start the day with smile! And why did I not carry something with which to feed her dog? To which I retorted that it was a perfect day until I met her dog and its idiot owner.

I wonder whether the Assens Kommune (Council) knows she lets a vicious dog run loose at a local tourist attraction? They seem proud enough of it to mention it on their website. It it also shown on various historic windmill resources online. They even have open days. No mention of vicious dogs anywhere. Since I am a guest in this country I seriously doubt (from previous experience) anybody would be interested in a formal complaint. Least of all the police! But there is always Google Earth!

Øxnebjerg Mølle. Mind the vicious black Labrador!

Having escaped, I quite enjoyed the novelty of the rest of my ride. As the wind picked up from the completely opposite direction to the usual South Westerlies. Which made some stretches much quicker than usual. Even allowing a route I would normally ignore as it was uphill and usually straight into the wind. The climb went very well! Almost exhilarating.

As I entered one sleepy rural village with a very wide, straight road I saw a lone car approaching from a considerable distance. But it seems I had no right to be taking up his private tarmac. So had to be duly punished. By having my arm brushed by his wing mirror as he sped past at well over the (completely imaginary) speed limit. I assume the driver was showing off to his equally psychotic passenger. Why else would they tolerate such sociopathic behaviour without looking back to see if I had survived?

Or was it one of the many, habitual driving drunks? The ones we read about in the papers? Those who drive while drunk with total impunity until caught at a random police check point. Then, for the umpteenth time, they are fined a pittance for driving while disqualified. Then go straight out and drink drive until stopped again. And again. And again. Am I having fun yet? 30 miles. What a lovely day for a ride!

22nd 68-74F, 20-23C, windy, sunny with thin, high cloud. Windier than yesterday. Just another day going to the shops. The i-gotU GPS logger is misbehaving.

A delightful old thatched house. Still for sale beside the main road.
Access is all but lethal up a steep ramp from the yard on a blind corner. 

A fascinating detail of this incredibly winding, country road is the absence of speed limit relaxation signs from the north! Somehow the road engineers completely forgot to erect such a sign! So, officially, no driver may exceed 50kph (30mph) going south from 50kph/30mph Ørsted. For at least ten miles through several speed-limited villages! But not this one! 

Those going north may legally drive at 80kph/50mph as far as Ørsted. A large number of drivers cannot stay on their own side of the road on the many sharp corners. Despite endless double white lines. I have seen at least 50 vehicles leave the road completely in the last 10 years. It is treated like a Scalextric track by most drivers. It's crackers! 

I was able to find some "proper" handlebar tape in a bike shop in Odense. They had two rolls left of traditional, sticky backed, black cotton tape. So I bought both. At another shop they had some stock of black, track mitts in real leather. Just like real track mitts used to be. Sadly they had nothing in Size OU3. (OrangUtan XXXL) I liked proper leather mitts in my youth. (in cream not black) They eventually moulded themselves to ones hands and were as tough as..  er .. old boots. They could even be used as a brake on the front tyre in an emergency.

Right next door is another charming old house, this one has a placard showing 1777. Also up for sale. Both are hideously close to the heavy traffic. Which thunders up and down this road ever since cheapo, car-type, GPS units showed the East European, transcontinental lorry drivers where the handy, short-cuts lie. 

Serious transport companies use specialist HGV, GPS units. Which are much more expensive but show only the suitable routes for their large and heavy vehicles. Oddly, no EU laws seem to apply to this utterly ridiculous situation. They care about bent bananas but not bending the rules on traffic? I suppose they'd argue that it it might hamper open trade, people trafficking, or something like that.

This road would be infinitely worse were it not for a wonderfully low railway bridge on a tight hairpin bend. Situated about 8 miles up the road at Aarup. So many HGV drivers were coming off the motorway, trying to use this short-cut south, that the kommune had to erect height sensors on posts. With loads of flashing, orange warning lights and large exit road signs. To turn the heavy goods vehicles off the road before they met the low bridge. Hopefully sending them back in a circle of minor roads. Back to the motorway. 

So keen were many drivers to go south, by any means possible, that even the farmers on this detour had to erect GPS ERROR signs in their farm entrances! Anything to stop huge, 6 axle lorries trying to use their yards as short cuts to the south! 

In their infinite wisdom the road planners put the only south-going (new) motorway on the far side of Odense. Another 20 miles further on the motorway. Handy for heavy traffic coming from the East. (Sweden and all of Eastern Europe) But highly irritating for those coming from southern European motorways. (France, Holland, Germany, et al) There really are no sensible, south-going routes on Fyn. Apart from the new motorway to Svendborg. 

Thanks goodness there is still no bridge between northern Germany and southern Fyn. Or even from South Jutland to Assens! Otherwise the island would be completely swamped in intercontinental lorries! All taking a short cut. Which didn't involve driving half the length of Jutland to the Fredericia-Middelfart bridge and then East. Which they have to do now. Assens is quite close to SE Jutland and would seem an ideal place to put a bridge. 

I have marked the map with various road-bridge options.(in red) Fortunately, for us, there are no SW-NE motorways, or even existing main roads, on Fyn. None which would make any of these potential short-cuts viable. The most southerly route marked is a planned bridge. Direct from Germany to south Sjælland. Safely bypassing Fyn altogether and likely to earn a vast fortune in toll fees to pay for the huge building costs. Imagine the enormous savings in time and distance for the intercontinental traffic going east!

These days track mitts are all like Victorian lady's, opera gloves! Far too thin to be useful for anything. Particularly in a crash! I'd like to see the fixie craze bring back proper, tough leather, track mitts. Nothing visible so far. Wherever I look it's all GripGrab and other flimsy little things. Probably aimed at "girly" weekend warriors. They are more suited to gentle flower arranging. (the gloves not the weekend warriors!) :-)

Back in the golden days of cycling, road mitts had crocheted string backs and leather palms. Half a century ago I preferred all leather. When my all-leather cycling mitts became too awful to live with they were washed in soap flakes. As used for real cycling shorts: Real wool and real chamois. 23 miles.

23rd 66-72F, 19-22C, windy, full sun. Found a cheap pair of cycling mitts in Aldi. £5. They should last a few months until it turns cold again. I'm trying another pair of cycling sunglasses to see if my eyes watering is due to my darkest pair of glasses. It seems to have worked too.

Why does Chinese plastic stink so badly? I was going to buy a cheap picnic cool bag in Netto but they stank to high heaven! Now I shall have to find another way to bring frozen stuff back from the more distant shops. I sniffed the top of a cycling bottle and that stank too! I'm using a recyclable, mineral water bottle for the moment. Only 24 miles. I couldn't carry enough water to go any further and had frozen stuff in the bag. ;-)

Pm. Had a closer look at my rear tyres after noticing some canvas on the tread. Fortunately (?) I found this cut and swapped the damaged one for an old tyre: I mentioned this cut a while back but hadn't noticed the damage it was doing to the sidewall in the meantime. The original cut was dead straight and closed up so must have been the result of a knife attack. These tyres were 700 x 25 Bontrager Racelite. Bought in October of last year. They have almost 5000 miles on them now. Given that I have been along a few rough, farm tracks I don't think there's very much to complain about. 

The Race X-Lite 700 x 23 were not reliable for my use and at least an ounce heavier than the ordinary Racelite 25mm! I punctured far too many times with pinch flats. Nor would they fit evenly on the Mavic CXP22 rims. Not even when I lubricated the rim and tyre bead. A complete waste of (my) money IMO. I looked at them again and was not even tempted to put a few miles on them until I can get some new tyres. I never liked the silly asymmetric red stripe either. As if someone was desperate to make their mark.

Which brings up the perennial problem: Should I choose another make of tyre? I have wasted hours online trying to find an alternative. Cheaper, lighter, lower rolling resistance, puncture proof.. Surely it's not too much to ask? :-) 

Click on any image for an enlargement.


15 May 2012

15th May 2012

15th 55F, 13C, breezy, overcast with showers. Leaving after morning coffee in the hope of a clear window between showers. The promised continuous rain did not turn up! It was mild and breezy becoming more windy. I forced myself to ride a third of a greater distance almost straight into the wind. Otherwise it would have been a straight ride home again after shopping.

Buyer beware! Not all is rosy with this idyllic, historical property.

The new rack clips were hopeless. The rack kept moving. So I removed the clips. I shall have to make a flat alloy strip to rest on the chainstays. Probably pop riveted to the rack with inner tube sleeves to protect the stays. I may hang the top bar of the rack on a strip of alloy too. To get rid of most of the nylon cord.

The sad result of not renewing a thatch. Not only have the original timbers disintegrated but the dried mud bricks have suffered catastrophically from the constant exposure to rain. This is the back of the building on the left in the image above.

I have resolved to try and ride 100 miles in a day. I have studied lots of route options on Krak. (The excellent, free, Danish, mapping, aerial photography and route service) Initially, I was tempted to ride a big square route of exactly 100 miles. The much greater distance from home would make it more likely for me to finish the ride successfully. Rather than just give up when I was tired. Then I thought I might get stuck a long way from home with no chance of a lift home. (except in an incredibly expensive Danish taxi)

The old house overlooks the lake-sized pond at Sønderby near Ebberup, Assens.

So I tried several routes which would add up to three or four laps to make 100 miles in total. I know all the roads well and would never be more than 10 or 12 miles from home if I really had to walk. There would always be short-cuts to get home if I was forced to leave my route through exhaustion. This offers valuable security. But puts far more pressure on me to continue when I am very tired but still quite near home. It may become more of a psychological battle rather than merely physical. My longest trip in one go has been 60 miles in each of the last two years. I don't think I was quite as fit back then.

I haven't had any real mechanical breakdowns in two years. Punctures are only a matter of carrying spare tubes, a pump and levers. Probably over 90% of my punctures have been pinch flats. Only very rarely penetration by thorns or glass. So keeping tyre pressures high and avoiding going off-road should avoid any nasty surprises.

The final problem is time. If I average 10mph with my usual bag load of shopping I shall take 10 hours to compete 100 miles! I could strip off the rack and bag and carry only the bare minimum tools and tubes, in a tiny bag. That would probably save over ten pounds of weight Which I usually drag around with me like a snail's shell and comfort blanket combined.

I'm not sure it is worth the effort of adding clamp-on TT bars or a full set of tri-bars. I would certainly need food and drink though. My wife could hand something over if I passed close by home several times. I could call ahead on the phone to save her hanging about at the end of the drive.

I can't find any circular route which avoids lots of fairly serious hills yet remains within easy reach of home. Saying Denmark is flat is a joke around here! Though the wind would probably be the worst factor psychologically. It is becoming difficult to find a single day when the wind isn't gusting to over 30mph! 34 miles today. My cadence computer screen went blank again. Removing and replacing the old battery obviously isn't working for long enough. It didn't rain until 5pm.

pm. Riveted an alloy strap, with the bottom stay clips screwed firmly in place, to the rack. Tomorrow's forecast is wet all day with over 40mph gusts for the next two days!

The rack can only be freed by removing the blue cords and then taking the saddle pin out. It can then be lifted off the four, white, plastic, pipe clips gripping the seat stays at top and bottom. The zip ties hold one cloth handle to the rack. All the paint damage to the seat stays has been caused by the various shopping bags. I bought some mauve Humbrol paint to retouch the paintwork but it's another roundtoit job. 

It is difficult to believe, now, but many of my bags hung so low that they were often cut by the largest, gear sprocket. I hope I have finally fixed the bag support problem. From the very first I had bags swinging into the wheels on bumps and supermarket pavement ramps. Particularly the latter when taken diagonally at high speed! Which was not only dangerous but highly embarrassing as I was often brought to a complete and sudden stop. Only reversing would extract the bag from between the wheel and stays.

I could have stumped up £150 for a new rack and brazed on my own screw bosses, I suppose. I'm not sure my rack isn't lighter than most of the commercial offerings out there. Being made almost entirely of light alloy, it is also perfectly rust proof.    

 16th 44F, 7C, windy, overcast. Back to a winter jacket! The rain turned up early today but wasn't a problem. Apart from not being able to see through my sunglasses. I enjoyed the climb from Tommerup St. to Skallebølle today. It's no mountain pass but is good fun as it snakes and undulates out of the valley bottom. One corner has the most evil camber I've ever come across. (while going down the other day) The inside line is definitely one to avoid on a trike!  A bunch of riders were coming down as I went up. I got a shout and wave from them. Fortunately I was going well and holding a high cadence at the time. There was another bunch later as I was fighting the increasingly gusty, westerly wind along the main road at the top.

The rack was fine today. The new alloy strip and clips stayed put as did the very full and very heavy bag. Suddenly there are lots of Goldfinches about. I also saw a bright orange, immaculate, Karmann Ghia sports car. Some of the cars of the 60s(?) had the strangest colours imaginable. There was a greenish-gold E-type on a trailer outside a specialist, classic car garage. Very odd looking, but presumably original. I wouldn't like the fuel bill at today's prices! 30 miles.

Our hero at 45 miles. What on earth do I look like?!? I am all hunched up trying to smile into the mirror and take a photo, at full zoom,  at the same time. 

The winter jacket fits like a glove but looks like an old sack! 

The sun's shadow of my (apparently) huge, white nose is giving me a Hitler moustache! 

Finally, the trike looks far too small thanks to off-axis, convex mirror distortion. 

This is serious! Stop laughing at the back! :-)

17th 44F, 7C, windy, sunny periods. Showers forecast all morning. I wiped the trike down with an oily rag and changed the battery in the cadence computer. The sky went very dark just now then brightened up without raining. Will he or won't he go out? It's a Bank Holiday but most of the supermarkets are probably open. I finally left at 8:45.

With the gales blowing from the west I decided to head north. A spur of the moment decision eventually found me on the north coast of Fyn at Bogense. 25 miles in an hour and a half battling with the wind all the way with lots of climbing. I was treated to a couple of showers too. A 5 mile section of road had been resurfaced without gravel. So it was like the fountains of Rome! Bright arcs of spray from my wheels were catching the sunlight against the jet black road. Most of the cars gave me plenty of room. Except for one moron. Who brushed past and gave me be a free bath. There were no other cars in sight! So he could have used the full width of the road.  A fair number of cyclists out training today.

After buying some battered, but cheap, organic bananas in Bogense I turned east towards Otterup. Just cruising with the wind. Enjoying an effortless 20-25mph for about 10 miles along the undulating north coast road. Before finally turning back in the general direction of home at Nørre Nærå. (Pron: Nurruh nerroh) Signposting in Denmark is absolutely hopeless!

I had no map so was guessing my route at this point. The other problem was that I had also put myself well down wind. So had to fight more of a headwind all the way back towards the south west. It really was blowing hard at times so my (I'm lost again!) detours didn't help! I was actually going back north at one point! I was using my shadow on the road to guide me most of the time.

One can never tell which direction an unknown lane will turn just a few yards after entering it. I certainly found some winding beauties today. I was studiously watched by sheep and lambs, ponies, horses with young foals, Jersey cattle with babes, and long horned shaggy coated cattle with newborn calves as I passed. Animals seems to sense trikes where they would completely ignore a bike. It's true! 

At one point I was riding along with the headwind roaring loudly in my ears when I heard a plane flying low overhead. I turned to look up just as some young idiots came blasting past at high speed in their car! The passenger shouted something out of the window but it was lost on me. I'm 65 you know! ;-)

I was tiring towards the end of my ride but still had some miles left in my legs. 60 miles in exactly five hours including stops for shopping, bag rummaging for biscuits, bananas, drinks and photography. Four and half hours of constant pedalling according to the converted cadence computer. The journey timer only starts when I pedal and stops instantly when I don't. I don't freewheel much, at all. Not even downhill. An interesting insight to actual travel time. And time wasted when I should be pedalling!

Without the exhausting wind it would probably have been more miles in less time. 100 miles in a day doesn't seem completely beyond reach any more. I will wait for still, dry weather and for it to be much warmer to avoid overdressing and carrying unnecessary gear. I shall also avoid riding slowly to avoid the "fountain" effect on very wet roads. I knew I should have put the mudguards back on! :-)

Moated, rural, stately home with very photogenic outbuildings.

And finally, just in case anybody is still reading this nonsense: My legs have gone completely lopsided in the last week or two! My right calf is a good half inch bigger than my left. The left calf muscles are always extremely supple and well defined. The right calf is becoming bigger, rather stiff when squeezed and almost shapeless in comparison with the left!

 Can you imagine if I took this "problem" to my GP? He'd probably tell me to take my silly "triker" action pictures from the other side! Oh the awful shame of it! LOL. 

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6 May 2012

May 6th 2012


 6th 46-53F, 8-12C, breezy, occasional sunny periods but mostly cloudy. A white frost when we woke up! Not forecast either. I decided to dress appropriately today. I put on my latest winter cycling jacket from the charity, recycling shop. It looks brand new! A scull cap under the helmet and medium weight, £5, supermarket cycling gloves. I was glad for them all, too, as I headed into the north-easterly breeze up the West coast of Fyn.

The cap came off when I turned back at half way but the gloves and jacket were still necessary. A banana and some biscuits kept me going. Washed down with apple juice. I felt no fatigue at all even at the end. So my increased mileage is beginning to show benefits. Quite a few solo riders out training. They were all wrapped up well for the cold. 42 miles.

 A difficult subject. The drive (Jomfrumarksvej:Virgin Field Road) is slightly askew. As are the distant gate pillars. The twin roof lanterns/spires are mostly lost behind the decorative barns. The approach is too flat to give the necessary, higher viewpoint. The private road warning notice, out of sight just beside me, claims their dogs bite! Mr Higgins wisely refused to go any further. The image at the top was taken with a lot of zoom.

7th 46-52F, 8-11C, light breeze, occasional sunny periods. Just another hilly shopping trip. Going well. 21 miles.

There is rain forecast for the next couple of days but the quantity keeps shrinking. If it does turn really wet I should use it as an excuse to take a rest day.

Cavendish was brought down by a Ferrari in the final sprint of Stage 3 Giro d'Italia in Denmark!

Mike Dixie 10 mile Memorial Tricycle Time Trial:


8th 52-56F, 11-13C, very breezy, mostly sunny. After spending several hours working on the roof yesterday, pm, my legs were very painful this morning.  Apart from my knees hurting, when I stood up to climb, I didn't really notice anything on the trike. Must be using different muscles.

The farmers are working overtime on pig shit spreading and poison spraying! Totally regardless of wind speed, as usual. Blowing an easterly gale later. I brought back a bag of compost lashed onto the rack and a load of shopping inside the saddle bag. 25 miles.

9th 54F, 12C, light winds, overcast, wet. Rain forecast for most of the day. My right knee and hip are killing me. A rest day.

10th 54F, 12C, windy, overcast, continuous rain. Knee still hurting badly from roof clambering activities. No point in going out. Another rest day.

11th 54-59F, 12-15C, blowing a gale, raining. Already blowing hard with 45mph gusts forecast all weekend. It is supposed to be dry today! My knee has recovered thanks to two days sitting on the computer with an elastic bandage on my knee.

Oil seed rape or "Raps"as far as the eye can see.

Well, it was very windy but dry when I left. I seemed to have found the perfect route to avoid the worst of the headwinds. It felt quite warm. So I was soon stripping down to my jersey and shorts. There was even a period of warm sunshine. Loads of shopping. Legs fine except for a dull ache in the knees. I don't know whether I shouldn't try raising the saddle slightly. A few clubmen out training. 24 miles.

12th 46-44F, 8-7C, gales, rain clearing? Waiting for the rain to go away.A mixed bag of shorts sharp showers and a very gusty wind. I headed north and returned by the same route to avoid westerly head winds. The Aldi jacket was perfect for today. I may go out again. Legs fine even climbing out of the saddle. The rest days have shed the heaviness. I have to do something about the cut-down rack. It is moving forwards at the bottom. So that the pipe clips are catching my heels. A bit of batten should fix it. 15 miles so far.

I was able to escape for another ride in the afternoon. Blowing much worse than earlier. Almost at a standstill in some of the fiercest gusts.  I only managed 16mph on my usual 30+mph downhill run. That was on the drops and pedalling hard! The wind was strong even in the middle of the forest! Another 14 miles for 29 total today.

Just passed 3000 miles for the year so far. At this rate I'll be lucky to see 7,500 total! I fixed the heel contact problem with a length of alloy tubing to keep the rack in position. Now I need to find a way to keep the pipe safely in place. My size 11(GB) heels barely clear the seat stays. Anything sticking forwards, even by a millimetre or two, is bound to catch my heels. I suppose I could move the shoe cleats backwards slightly for a bit more clearance.

13th 54F, 12C, windy, mostly cloudy. Cold headwind despite riding in a circle. I was deliberately trying to stay above 100 rpm as much as possible. Not always with success. It seemed to cause pain in my lower calves unless I dropped my heels and ankled. I left it too late to eat my biscuits and felt rather weak after 30 miles. Though I soon recovered. Quite a few riders out Sunday training.

The alloy tube supporting the rack seems to stay in place due to friction. Though it is a bit unkind to the seat stays. It rests on the pipe clips so cannot fall. I'll try some fine cord lashing before I go out again. Just to ensure it can't slide endways. IT would be nasty if it fell out and went in the spokes! 41 miles.

14th 52-57F, 11-14C, windy turning to gales, occasional sun. The wind was very gusty. Often difficult to tell where it was coming from. I was hiding behind the handlebar stem for the last ten miles! Rain is promised all pm.

A builders merchant had some smaller pipe clips for my rack supporting tube. A perfect fit and nice and tight! This will avoid metal to metal, point contact between the tubes. I'll add some pictures later. I'm very pleased with the new level of bag stability.

Under the motorway.

My constant need to replace worn-out sports bags had me searching for a "proper" saddle bag online. I have a normal sized Carradice but it is on its last legs after years in storage. It has no real capacity by my demanding standards.

Nobody does a decent saddle bag suitable for trikes. Side pockets on a big bag are completely useless. They rub in the spokes when stuffed even lightly. I don't think any of the commercial bags are remotely big enough for my shopping needs anyway. A trike bag wants to be really deep and boxy without any extra width. Large pockets are very useful but should point backwards.

It's lucky I only pay a couple of quid for my used (but as-new) sports bags in charity shops. They only seem to last a couple of months despite my taking good care of them. The zips are the usual weak point despite my waxing them with a candle. It's a shame most sewing machines can't cope with leather or webbing and cotton duck. Or I'd try and run one up myself. :-)

My present sports bag is 50cm wide x 30cm high x 26cm deep. Which equates to 39 litres. Carradice's largest bag is only 24 litres! Mine has large but shallow side pockets with limited usefulness. Stuffing anything in there just makes them fatter! The bag could be shrunk to (say) 45cm wide without much loss of useful capacity. Plus a bit more freedom between the trike rear wheels. 27 miles.

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1 May 2012

May 2012


1st May 46-62F, 8-17C, windy, full sun. Having been inspired (deluded?) by pictures of trikes racing on the IOM I stripped everything off Mr Higgins. Just to see how it felt without all the extra weight. Then I set off towards a 20 mile-distant target. With only a tiny bag to carry my tool kit and other essentials. There was already a nagging wind off to my right. It kept it up and increased in strength all the way there.

Having completed my shopping I was faced with an ever increasing, 10-11 o'clock headwind all the way home. I had a choice of following the main road for the shortest route. Or seeking some shelter from the hedges in the lanes. The lanes won easily despite adding several miles Since I could almost guarantee a lack of traffic. And so it was. Except for one moron in a black Golf. Who was driving at over 60mph on the wrong side of the road, through a completely blind corner, in a village, with a 30mph/50kph speed limit. 

There were lots of insects about again. The warm weather produces an abundance for the nesting birds. I saw quite a few butterflies as well.

The trike was going well but my hip/buttock was aching all morning. Probably the sciatic nerve having a grumble. It would have been a superb day if it were not for the wind. Spring is definitely confirmed.

My ride was completed in the spray cloud from a moronic farmer. The wind by then was at least 30mph 15m/s! He was spraying a crop just beside the road. I could only see the tractor driver in silhouette. Dragging on a cigarette! 43 miles.

13 miles later to add to the bright pink sunburn on my arms! And to do the shopping. Which I could not without a serious shopping bag. Several "fair weather" clubmen were out training in the lanes. I hit over 30 mph several times today. All downhill with a following wind. On the last occasion I caught a fly with my left eye. Look! No hands! :-)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: I finally figured out how to lose the top bar of the rack. The rack now supports the bag underneath and doesn't get in the way of my fully straightened legs. Whereas before it would get in the way if I straightened my legs to stretch my calves. Or when cornering hard while hanging well off the saddle. I had to remove one set of retaining clips but I don't think it matters. The rack is well lashed on. So shouldn't move even if a clip does slip out of place. I'll take some photos tomorrow.

These images were taken with the bag empty. So it hasn't the usual, neater, boxy appearance. What do you expect for £4 for both bag and rack? I'm not sure whether the diagonal arrangement doesn't offer reduced drag over a squarer one.  (purely accidental!)
 I also bought another dirt cheap sports bag in a charity shop today. I needed one which would clear the wheels when I had no Higgins mudguard stays fitted. Which usually help to limit bag movement. The last (huge) bag would drag on the largest sprocket when fully loaded. So the rack wasn't doing much good anyway. Now the bag is supported well above the rear axle. Which reduces air drag because it is in my own slipstream. Frontal area is much reduced in headwinds.

It is only a matter of moments to refit the mudguards and stays using a 10mm socket wrench. (I increased the size of the original screws and used stainless steel to avoid rusting)

I regularly check the local weather forecast before a ride and on previous days. When the weather forecast is settled, well ahead, I can leave the mudguards off. This saves unnecessary weight and air drag. Denmark is not nearly as wet as the UK. It is certainly very much drier than the West and North of Britain. Copenhagen is only supposed to get a couple of inches of rain a month on average. I doubt our local weather is much different. There are no mountains to force updraughts.

The cut-down, rucksack carrier frame is simply held on with pairs of plastic pipe clips. Which are held together, back to back, with short screwed rods in the threaded brass inserts. Tie wraps/zip ties are used to secure one bag handle to the carrier frame. This offers some security against theft and lots of stability. The second handle is lifted over the saddle, after loading, to help support the weight of up to 20lbs of shopping. Without the frame the bag would just roll into the spokes on every corner. This is not a good thing in traffic! Proper carriers/racks are available from the racing trike builders. They require brazed-on threaded bosses on the trike seat stays but offer massive bag stability.

2nd 55-61F, 13-16C, breezy, bright sunshine. I had to keep my Giordano jacket on to protect yesterday's sunburn. It was windy enough to stay cool. My favourite Mature Cheddar cheese has been discontinued and all the bread was old. So I ended up going much further to find some. They have a Danish Cheddar instead but it won't be the same. The Dutch can't make proper Cheddar either. Tasteless rubber whatever English name they tack onto it. My hip/buttock is still nagging and my knees are aching. Otherwise I'm going quite well. 31 miles.

3rd 60-67F, 16-19C, sunny, warm and still. After getting sunburnt on my arms I thought I'd better buy some suntan cream. The sun was getting quite hot towards the end. I would have liked to stay out longer. Going and climbing well. Not as short of breath as usual. The bag and carrier are working well together. Perfectly stable. Only 19 miles.

 CLASSIC Ken Rogers 531 racing TRIKE 531 on eBay 

"I am selling this 22 inch KEN ROGERS Lightweight racing trike.It is used but complete and has 6  gears and 2 Mafac brakes (on front wheel) I have ridden this several times and had fun but I prefer 2 wheels.

This is a real classic and should suit a trike enthusiast so I don't know what else I can say."

The auction ended on £205 after only 4 bids.

4th 50-57F, 10-14C, breezy becoming windy, mostly overcast. It felt surprisingly chilly for 50F. So I went back in to put my Aldi jacket on over the Giordano and a scull cap under my helmet. Even my fingers felt cold and I should have taken gloves instead of mitts. The Aldi jacket came off after about 10 miles when I had turned out of the wind. As it was a bank holiday traffic was quite light. The first supermarkets were closed so I rode on. My route ended up looking like a cross or a star. I was just wandering really to put some more miles in. The headwind was getting a bit silly at the end of my ride. 35 miles.

It is difficult to capture the sheer scale of this vast sand and gravel pit. The sand was as fine as dust on top of the cliff I was standing on. Mr Higgins became bogged down even in bottom gear trying to ride over there. Presumably the lake was once solid ground but has filled the earlier excavation.



Pm: I put the trike up on the Lidl bike stand. The chain had been hopping over the largest sprocket. Not a serious problem because it could be recovered onto the cassette sprockets simply by continuing pedalling and reversing the lever movement. I fixed that little problem using the limit adjusting screw on the Tiagra rear changer.

I have noticed that the 2WD pawl clicks are becoming slightly more audible again. As one straightens up after a sharp turn a metallic "ping" can be heard sometimes. This is the sound of the pawls dropping back into the internal ratchet teeth.

So I spun the rear wheels and listened carefully with my ear close to the cassette. The right side is certainly louder than the left. In fact the left is as inaudible as when the system was brand new. It is 5k miles since I last stripped, cleaned and greased the Trykit 2WD freehub assembly. That was back in September (11th) of last year when I described it and posted some pictures. It might pay me to strip, clean and lubricate the freehub again. 

A beautiful 2-seater glider at the gliding club's airfield at Vøjstrup. (Pron: Voi-stroop) Gliders are called svævefly in Danish. Mr Higgins keeps a safe distance in the background. In case somebody thinks he's queueing for take-off and hooks him up for a tow.

Here is an excellent, four minute video of their activities on a warmer and brighter day than today:

5th 50F, 10C, windy, getting much windier and ridiculously cold. Sunny periods. I saw my first Swallows of this year. Two Oystercatchers were paddling in a puddle by the road. They seemed quite unmoved as I free-wheeled past. Lots of Plovers cartwheeling about and a few timid Hare dashing off.

I never did warm up properly with only the Giordano over my jersey and shorts. I could have done with a long sleeved vest! When I swapped to mitts at half way I quickly resented it. My fingers were quite numb with cold for a while in the nasty wind.

The supermarket staff levels and standards are getting worse. Almost every checkout has long queues these days. You hardly ever see the same face twice. As a constant stream of part time, under-16, checkout operators move quickly on. There are regular items missing from the shelves or freezer cabinets. Nobody cares. Just to add to the pain a report in the news says that over half of customers have been ripped off when they check their till receipts. Only 25 miles.

Pm: I cleaned the trike (again!) I also rubbed the rusty spokes of my £5, secondhand, Shimano A550 wheel with steel wool. When I had finished I dipped the steel wool in bicycle oil and rubbed some more. This seemed to provide a more uniform black finish on the blade style, radial spokes. The oil will also resist further rusting. (for a while at least) So, having cleaned the rim and hub I fitted the wheel back onto the trike. I'm not sure where this new interest in cleaning is coming from. I hope a spoke doesn't break and leave me with a long walk home!

I also used some wide, cotton, sticky "sports injury" tape on the handlebars. The Fyzik tape had no glue on it and slipped all over the place. So I wrapped it in a couple of layers of the black "sports" tape. Looking online, it seems the original cotton handlebar tape is still available. I'll have to see if any of the local bike shops has any. Appearance didn't matter much to me before. Now I suddenly feel as if I ought to make more of an effort.  

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