1 Jun 2012

1st June 2012


Ist 52-57F, 11-14C, gales, mostly sunny. The gusts were incredible! Fierce and strong. The forecast was gusting to over 45mph. I did a shopping loop which used as much shelter as I could find. Inevitably the last leg was straight into the wind. Much of the time I was resting my nose on the socket head tension bolt on the handlebar stem. My lightweight jacket was rattling so hard it made my arms sore. At least it wasn't only pretending to be windproof. So I stayed much warmer than yesterday.

 I'm still enjoying the new tyres. They travel lightly across every roughness in the road. Making riding much more relaxing and less tiring. My new Topeak "Smarthead" D2 pressure gauge has arrived from Wiggle. Which brings me straight back to where I started questioning my tyre pressures. I cannot get the tyres much above 55psi with either the hand pump or the track pump! I even greased the pistons to ensure friction wasn't causing a problem. Both gauges agree. The one on the track pump is analogue. The D2 is digital.

So it was over to the car to double-check the pressures with the new gauge. Seems accurate enough. How on earth can I possibly get my new bike tyres up to the recommended 110psi? They feel rock hard already! I can barely dent the side-wall with my thumbnail let alone the tread.  I'll have to do some more homework. I think the problem lies with my crap pumps. Two, cheapo, plastic, Zefal, frame fitting models of different sizes and ages just managed 70psi. I should have worn industrial gloves to protect my hands!

My Aldi floor/track pump has a fairly large diameter metal barrel. Which means lots of airflow but limits its top pressure potential. Probably aimed at the low pressures/MTB market. Putting all my weight on the handle I only just managed 90psi. Out came the car foot pump to check the car tyre pressures again. Spot on. All three gauges agree to within a fraction of a psi.

Can you smile, pose and hold a camera at the same time? Apparently not! :-)

I have traditionally pumped all my bike tyres hard. When it was difficult to dent the tread with a thumbnail that was good enough. It seems I have been wallowing in perfect ignorance for half a century! Just hard is not nearly hard enough! No wonder I suffered from pinch flats! No wonder I can't keep up free-wheeling downhill after little old old ladies. They leave me standing on their sit-up-and-beg roadsters with their plump tyres! I suddenly feel so inadequate! :-)  

My complete isolation from other cyclists, for most of my life, has left large gaps in many areas of common knowledge. Coming back to tricycling has been quite a steep learning curve. My knowledge was completely out of date on equipment and clothing alike. I have wasted more money on cheapo supermarket crap than it would have cost to buy something more sensible in the first place! The new tyres cost me less online than shop-bought Bontrager Race Lites. Which had to be replaced anyway. I just hope they last.

It's time to get real on tyre pressures! I couldn't reach 40psi when I tried my cheapo mini-pump and bent a brand new valve head! Which I carefully straightened with fine nosed pliers. We live to ride another day.

Having searched the net for "best track pump" I found the Topeak Joe Blow Sport II. Available most cheaply from Chain Reaction Cycles of the UK. Further enhanced by free delivery! Claimed pressure range is up to 160psi. This pump has incredible reviews online. Nobody else came even close on price compared with CRC. Most online dealers were asking at least £35 + P&P. Nobody had them in the shops anywhere around here. Mostly names I can't even find online.

Topeak Joe Blow Sport II Track Pump | Buy Online | ChainReactionCycles.com

I was quite tempted by the classic Silca Pista. Except that the new ones don't have remotely the same reputation as the old ones. Nor did I fancy ripping valves out of their tubes just before a ride! The Silca valve fitting device seems to be its Achilles heel. With many negative comments from unhappy owner-reviewers. This is supposed to be a simple device for putting air in tyres before the daily ride. Not some meaningful, religious ritual!

The Topeak has a dual valve head with many favourable comments. At my age a ten year useful lifespan will probably outlast my daily use. Being bright yellow it may even be quite easy to find in the clutter of the shed.

It will probably be a full week before I see the pump. It is a hell of a lot of money just to pump up some tyres. Hopefully it will be a saving in the long run. A few less pinch flats should help to pay for it. Less wear and tear on the idiot doing the pumping wouldn't go amiss. Lower rolling resistance will hopefully save time and energy. Perhaps even extending my ability to shop on a daily basis without expenditure on petrol. 

26 miles. Just making the new tyres go around. Comfortable, Sir? Suits you, Sir. Will you wear them home, Sir? Would you like some air in those, Sir? LOL

2nd 55F, 13C, gales, sunny periods. The wind was so strong it made it colder than the thermometer suggested. I wore a light, knitted cycling jersey under the Giordano and it made a comfortable combination. I had a look at some track pumps in the local bike shops. They all seem narrower than my Aldi example. The tyres felt rock hard and made my teeth rattle but were still strangely comfortable. At least, compared with the Race Lites. I saw two Red Kites a couple of miles apart. Both struggling to hunt over the fields against the gusty wind.

The Ventus GPS logger crashed the computer again. The i-gotU logger keeps falling asleep. My cadence-converted, cheapo, bike computer keeps losing the plot. The screen goes blank and produces random blobs. I remove the battery and replace it and all is well. Until the next time. 27 miles.

3rd 50-59F, 10-15C, very windy, mostly sunny. The wind was so strong and gusty that it felt like a headwind. No matter which way I was headed it blew. The further I was away from home the more my leg hurt. I lifted a heavy metal stand yesterday so that must have caused it. My left quadriceps hurts like hell on the hills. Not so much on the flat where I was cruising at 110rpm and 25mph, without much effort, for several miles.

The new tyres are still feeling rock hard and quick. Not the sort of thing you'd want, at all, for touring. Cobbles are absolutely vicious on these tyres now! Nearly shook my sunglasses off and the bottle out of the cage!

It is interesting to watch the stripe on the tyre surface which is in contact with the road. It is usually a darker shade of blue than the rest of the tyre. When I left this morning it was only 1cm wide and very sharp edged. When I returned the stripe was half an inch wide and softer edged. All three tyres matched each other both before and after my ride. Loss of pressure? Wear? It seems unlikely. 48 miles.

The walls of an old water mill weave in and out.Why the foundations should follow these curves is a mystery.

4th 52-59F, 11-15C, breezy, overcast, rather cold! Light showers possible. Off we, jolly well, go. My thigh was a bit better today but still hurt on climbs.

It's odd to think that Mr Higgins is exactly the same age as this old motorcycle.(Puch 250cc)

The tyres showed the same behaviour as yesterday. A narrow, dark stripe to start. Then much broader. It could be a temperature effect. The GP4000 are certainly very quick compared with the (lower inflated) Bontragers. Loose gravel is still noticeable but there isn't that constant fear of a pinch flat. I was bombing along a main road at 20-25mph fairly effortlessly. The Continentals get quite noisy over about 12mph depending on road surface smoothness. I keep checking the mirror to see if a car wants to overtake. Only to find there is nothing there. They ping well when they throw loose gravel aside. Sounding just like tubs on loose gravel. (tubs are tubular racing tyres)

My Topeak pump has been despatched by Chain Reaction. I must remember never to order anything on a Friday. The weekend has added three days to the delivery time. 34 miles.  

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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