8 Jun 2012

5th June 2012


 5th 54F, 12C, windy with a few sunny periods. Possible light showers. I was caught in a short shower but nothing to worry about. My left quadriceps were fine until about 25 miles. The it started nagging again. Just like yesterday. I managed the wind direction quite well. With a pleasant tailwind helping me home.

I was watching the stripes on the tyres again. Narrow, but gradually widening until I rode a couple of miles of thick gravel. This "cleaned" the tyres. The narrow stripe returned as son as I hit normal tarmac. Then spread again as I continued. I checked the pressures again before leaving. About 73-75psi all round. This pressure feels very hard.

There was a cuckoo in the garden today. I hear them everywhere I go. There must be tens of thousands of them. Lots of birds of prey about at the moment too. 42 miles.

6th 62F, 17C, windy, sunny periods. I was up in the middle of the night for the Venus transit. Pain in my right knee. So there were no tricycling heroics today. 10kilos of shopping. 10 miles.

7th 53F, 12C, windy, heavy grey overcast. My Topeak Sport II pump arrived just before I left. The pump was more diminutive than I had imagined. The GLS driver was pleasant and friendly. Not to mention having the competence to have overcome the portcullis, razor wire and machine gun towers to have even reached our door. It would have been rather churlish to have released the hounds from hell at that point. :-)

I thought I'd better put some more air in the tyres. Well, you have to try new toys, don't you? The twin head was superb. No effort at all to fit and lock. No air loss at all! The overall size of the pump proved quite sensible after I discovered how high the handle lifted. I was so used to the cheap pump that I was not using the full stroke on the new pump!

I do like the hose. Just the right degree of stiffness and "rubberiness" without flopping about like silicone. Nice and long too after the meanness of the cheapo pump. I used to have to rotate the wheels to put the valve low down when using the Aldi/Lidl pump. The Topeak's handles feel comfortable in use. The pump base is a hardened steel pressing and very stable. The Aldi/Lidl pump would fall over every single time it was parked!

Though the pumping on the Topeak was fairly effortless, the reaction on the manometer was not immediate. But at least it held its latest pressure from the last stroke. Which is more than you can say for the cheap pump. It usually went back to zero!

Two or three more strokes and the tyres were quickly up to 100psi on the dial. Not bad considering the enormous effort required on the Aldi/Lidl pump just to reach a measly 70psi. I whipped out the Topeak pressure gauge to check whether they agreed. 94psi all round. Close enough considering I hadn't tried for an exact pressure on the Sport II dial. Note the handy rotatable bezel with the red marker on the dial. I wasn't brave enough to try riding the trike on 110psi. Not yet anyway. ;-)

I even had a go at a car tyre later on. Just to see how the new pump coped. Again no problem at all. It just needed more strokes to make any real impact. Which is exactly what you'd expect given the huge air volume of a car tyre relative to a skinny 23mm bicycle tyre.

Overall I'm very pleased with the Sport II pump. I can see why it gets so many good reviews online. It does exactly what it says on the packet without any fuss. Thanks must go to ChainReaction for making it a pleasant and considerably more affordable purchase. The free P&P even included tracking. It was quick too, if you deduct the long weekend and bank holidays. Poor timing on my ordering as usual! 

Only a short ride to the shops again today. Rather oddly, the GP4000 tyres were no more uncomfortable at 94psi than they were at 73psi. In other words they felt rock solid but without the harshness of solid tyres! Difficult to explain simply. "Rubbery" is a good term. They did feel a bit faster than at 73psi. Though it was mainly free-wheeling downhill that they seemed particularly free running now.

My legs felt fine on the trike today. Though my knee was quite painful when I was hobbling around earlier. Perhaps the elastic bandage, which I wore for a couple of hours, helped? Only 15 miles. I'm slacking and it's forecast wet tomorrow! They keep doing that and no rain arrives. The farmers are irrigating all over the place. Even on the roads.

Pm: I tested the new pump to 110psi on a spare wheel. No effort at all. Checking with the pressure gauge showed only a very small discrepancy. A couple of psi difference at most. The earlier, slight lag between pumping and showing pressure readings on the dial must be due to the volume of the hose. The dial can only read the pressure fed to it. There are a couple of strange knobs on the pump with springs inside. No explanation on the packaging as to their exact purpose. Safety valves? Over-pressure release? I'll have to think about it. They could explain why the needle shot up to the correct pressure without hesitation on my later tests. I bounced my test wheel on a concrete slab and found the rock hard tyre was very _er_ bouncy indeed! BTW: The yellow locking lever can be turned 90 degrees in either direction. It locks both sides simultaneously. So can be turned whichever way is easiest or most convenient. Reviewers have expressed concern over using the head on very small wheels. Where's the Head Gardener's wheelbarrow? I must have a try.

What is surprising is how small a loss of air there is on disconnection of the smart twin head. The Aldi/Lidl pump sounded like a boiler safety valve blowing and the head would literally fly off. The Topeak twin head works extremely well. Better in fact than the Topeak pressure gauge. Which loses more air than the pump on both connection and release. Though it's easy to add a couple of extra pounds if one wants to be pedantic on exact pressures. No doubt a little practice will help reduce pressure loss when using the gauge. It's still nice to have both items to cross check there are no nasty hidden errors anywhere.

If I get really bored I can watch the stripes on the tyres growing steadily wider. The darker stripes started at only about 6-7mm wide on 95psi. Then spread to over half an inch wide as the ride progressed. (on all three tyres) There was no loss of pressure during the ride. (I checked with the Topeak gauge both before and after)

What is surprising is that it has taken me 50 years to finally have any idea (at all) of my actual tyres pressures! I think I can say, with 100% total confidence, that I have been running my tyres at well below optimum pressures. That is an awful lot of totally unnecessary snake bite punctures! Not to mention the wasted energy.

The question remains whether the tyres will now wear rapidly on the crown. The Bontrager Race Lites wore very evenly at the rather low pressures I was using. Trikes don't spread the wear like bikes do. Since trikes don't lean on corners. At least I don't have rear brakes to scrub off the tread on lightly loaded tyres.

Overall: 5 stars for the Topeak Sport II pump. Four stars for the Topeak Smart Head II pressure gauge. I find the latter irritating because it switches itself off too soon! Then one has to wait for it to wake up gain.

If only I was up to maximising the potential extra speed the higher pressures might bring. All I need now is a rubber gum shield to stop my teeth chattering! :-)

 8th 56F, 13C, breezy, continuous rain from 9am, heavy overcast. Which explains why my pump review is growing longer and longer. Hopefully, there should be a launch window after lunch.

I tootled off all wrapped up and protected from any rain. Soon I was trying to find space in my bag for spare jackets as it became sunny and warm. Going well. No pains in the legs today. It started to thunder and rain just as I arrived home. What a perfect coincidence! I bought lighter tyres with higher pressure requirements. Just as they resurface the roads with thick layers of huge gravel! On deep gravel the tyres feel like bacon slicers. 21 miles.

New thatch

9th 60-57F, 16-14C, windy, occasional sunny periods. Just a wobbly shopping circle. Quite a few hare and birds on the rural roads. Mostly Wagtails, Yellowhammers and Chaffinches. Traffic very light again. A few cyclists were out training. I'm getting used to the hard tyres. They are certainly quicker but rougher roads are quite hard work. The trike sounds very different on corners. I'm not sure what I am hearing. It could be end thrust on the axle bearings.

I deliberately sought out as many hills as possible to test my strength. Even taking detours off my intended route. My legs seem okay now. The supermarkets aren't maintaining stocks of essentials again! So I had to retrace my route to try and find other sources. 31 miles. Just passed 4000 miles for this year so far.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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