28 Jul 2012

28th July 2012


28th 65F, 18C, breezy, heavy overcast, misty, humid. Overnight thunder storms with cloudbursts. Cloudburst warning for this morning. Heavy rain with thunder forecast for this afternoon. I'll call it a rest day. 12 hilly miles. Just to keep the circulation going. Made it home just in time before a downpour.

The BBC3 coverage of the Men's Olympic cycling road race was very poor. The sound was awful. There was no information, no captions, no timings, no rider recognition, nor subtitling. The commentators (Boardman and Porter) were left  treading water most of the time.  A complete disgrace! Poor Cavendish was left with not enough road left to do his own thing. Nobody was willing to help GB bring Cav to the line again. Least of all Germany. Who could have delivered Gripel into a classic sprint finish for the honours. Instead of sitting in the bus sulking throughout the race. 

Vinokourov was a worthy gold medallist. But the camera cut to watch him celebrate. So we completely missed who came in after that! Talk about amateur night! Will the person in charge of the TV coverage now do the decent thing and resign? Preferably before they are pushed and we all have to watch another total cock-up!

29th 60F, 16C, light winds, heavy overcast with showers and rain. Another lazy (rest) day. 15 miles before coffee. Brought frozen stuff home. Returning in fairly heavy rain. Overshoes and Aldi jacket duly donned. Then a shorter shopping trip for only 10 miles. I've seen a lot of clubmen out training and 'proper' touring cyclists recently.  

I have also been seeing a number of (almost) buzzard-sized, brown birds of prey. With high aspect ratio wings. As well as many buzzards. Both singly and in pairs. A baby blackbird has been bombing around the garden on foot. It's driving its parents crackers. It can't fly as it has no tail. But it would easily outrun Roadrunner. My wife was worried the cats would get it. So she put the pond net beside it and it hopped straight in. So then my wife could drop it on top of the tall beech hedge exactly where the nest was. :-) 25 miles. 

The women's Olympic Cycling Road Race was breathtaking. Everything one might have hoped for in the men's race. That wasn't, as they tried to repeat the well worn T de F/ World Championship procession. Today, some of the computer stuff was actually working and the commentators could easily identify the riders. There were even occasional captions but very few kilometres left to race signals. There were big questions to answer about the lack of information being fed to the leading trio. They didn't know how hard to race since there were no radios and no time checks!

There were endless attacks, incredible bravery and tremendous speed in appalling conditions. It poured with rain almost continuously towards the end Little Emma Pooley was absolutely tireless at the front of the peloton keeping the pace high and wearing down the opposition. A break was made by Zabelinskaya who was followed by Vos and Lizzy Armitstead. An American made it four but she eventually faded and dropped back.

They stayed away for what seemed like forever as the kilometres slowly counted off. Vos won Gold by out-sprinting Lizzy Armitstead who happily settled for Silver. Only Vos had anything left in her legs after such a long struggle off the front. Zabelinskaya earned a very well deserved Bronze. Absolutely thrilling from start to finish! British men's team, take note. 

Grubbe millpond

30th 60F, 16C, breezy, cloudy. A storm cell passed right over me. It was dragging its dark skirts across the landscape as if about to spawn tornadoes! I sheltered under a tree as it tipped down and thunder rumbled overhead. I remained seated on the trike in the hope of avoiding earthing myself. Not long afterwards a huge lorry came bowling along the lane just we both reached a huge puddle. A wall of water rose like an inverted waterfall. I was immediately made wetter than I had been by the storm! 28 soggy miles by bike computer. The Ventus GPS logger never got a fix! I left the now-useless, i-gotU GPS logger behind.  I really like the GripGrab overshoes. They kept my feet warm even though they were quite wet from the front wheel spray. I'm trying very hard not to walk in them.

31st 55F, 13C, heavy, rapidly moving clouds with heavy showers, windy. A day of thundery showers. Will I or won't I? I'd better put the mudguards back on if this wet weather keeps it up. Well, the mudguards worked their usual magic and it stayed sunny and dry all morning! Though very windy with nasty gusts. I was cruising uphill at 115rpm and 21mph going. When I came back the same way I was struggling for 12mph! Only 18 miles so far.   

There's something wrong with the blogspot editing again. The text is far too small. When I change anything from the usual, default settings, it looks like a kiddy's first reading book. :-)

Click on any image for an enlargement.

24 Jul 2012

24th July 2012

24th 64F, 17C, breezy, full sun. The forecast is southerly winds, gusting to (only) 18-20mph and warm. Promising 73F, 23C. Plastered myself in suntan cream, as usual. I'm not allowed out without it. The Head Gardener says I'll end up looking like a prune. I thought I was already! As an experiment I raised the tyre pressure to 100psi to see if it helped.

I decided to ride down to Fåborg. This would put me into the headwind while it was still light. Then I could have the benefit of the tailwind going home. Well, it was a good theory.

In a downhill village I was overtaken by a beanpole on a pretty Bianchi. He ignored my greeting so I sprinted up behind him and sat there until he turned off. We hit 27mph at one stage on the flat but I clung on.

Once free of hares to chase I tackled the long climb out of Hårby up to Jordløse. That went well enough but the headwind had picked upon the long descent down to Faldsled. I couldn't get above 25mph even pedalling hard downhill!

My knees were hurting at this  point so I stopped for a mature cheddar, cheese sandwich on whole grain bread. The Brooks was lifted by 1/8" (3mm) and my knees were fine after that. I stopped to photograph Grubbe Mølle. (Originally Wind and water) Though only the windmill is still highly visible and still workable judging by the superb condition of the sails.

An old Ford was sitting in the mill yard. The owners pottered about taking pictures of the car against old houses. I doubt the car was that old. Probably 1930s. Open topped and beautifully kept without any silly bling. They gave me a klaxon toot as they passed.

When I reached Fåborg I browsed the charity shops for cycling gear as usual. Finally climbing out of Fåborg on Svanninge Bakke at around 10mph @ 95rpm. It was hot work climbing in the sunshine and I kept getting thirsty. The first real summer day, this year, was making serious inroads into my water bottle. Normally I return with it almost untouched.

My speed built up as I climbed until I took the side turning to Vester Hæsinge at 25mph. Then came another mill demanding to be photographed. Though this one was without sails and gently converted to habitable accommodation, I think. Window cleaning from that ladder looks decidedly "iffy!"

When I was within reach of Brobyværk I was overtaken on a long uphill drag by another beanpole. Not a youngster this time, but an old fart like myself. Except that he had decades of hard riding in his calves. He kept climbing out of the saddle on the hills. While I just sat there twiddling like a lunatic. I did my best but just couldn't catch him in the end. I know, I know. I'm completely crackers! Chasing cyclists is my intervals training. Or perhaps I'm just a recycled mongrel who habitually chases racing cyclists? 46 miles and a heavy load of shopping. Am I nearly there yet? ;-)

The problem with warmer weather is the little flies. I don't mind them landing on my newly stick-like arms. So they can die a quick death stuck to the glistening, sweaty, suntan cream. It's the ones which insist on landing on my face. Or get tangled in the helmet straps. Or find their way behind my sunglasses.

Whenever I stop I seem to be surrounded by hover flies. Pretend little wasps in stripy jumpers. They are harmless, beneficial but rather persistent. I thought they'd go for yesterday's yellow jersey in tribute to Wiggo. But they seemed even more enamoured by the blues and greens of today's Shimano jersey.

25th 61-81F, 16-27C. Forecast very warm with light Easterly winds and full sun. What's not to like? The heat? I decided to ride to Nyborg into the wind. A poor decision considering the later heat. My water bottle was frequently so warm I couldn't tell whether I was actually drinking anything. I refilled it three times in all. Luckily the Head Gardener had made me a cheese sandwich and that kept me going amazingly well. I never felt hungry after eating one half at 9am and the other an hour later. I had breakfasted on Muesli and tea at 7am.

 Peter's homebuilt recumbent. 

I saw a home-built recumbent right beside the road at Ellinge and stopped to photograph it. The owner came out and we discussed the design at great length. An impressive build with some nice kit on it. It is lighter than it looks thanks to thin wall tubing. Built large to fit its owner. Peter must have been around 6'6" or 2m. The trike will be shot blasted and painted in the near future.

Then we rode together into Nyborg by the quiet back roads and scenic cycle lanes. An unusual experience for me. I haven't ridden with anybody else for nearly half a century. Least of all on a trike with a recumbent trike for company. We were averaging 16-19mph on the flat. With me being blown by a hurricane headwind. While Peter was breathing exhaust fumes. He could have left me for dead if he had wanted to. His trike was incredibly stable on every kind of surface.

After a look around the large bike shop in Nyborg I took a wrong turning on the way home. As I do. I ended up going much further south than I ever intended. I was using the sun for direction and looking for any turning on the right which I recognised. I didn't because I was totally unfamiliar with the area. While I couldn't fault the scenery I ended up at Ringe and then Sallinge again. Where I took the Gelskov turning. Which eventually put me miles away from where I wanted to be! Maps? What maps? A quite unintentional 80 miles is my furthest distance on my trike so far.

It was quite hard work (at times) keeping my average speed up around 14-16mph in the intense heat. Thankfully the Brooks 'Professional'  saddle remained supportive to the end. Yet again I had forgotten to cut my toenails and this caused some pain. Otherwise I survived in fair shape. I could have ridden further if it was really necessary. Provided I had plenty of cool, fresh water. Am I having fun yet? :-)

26th 60-80F, 16-27C, breezy and sunny. As it was a token rest day I rode gently down to Assens.  The saddle felt like sitting on a pile of broken house bricks when I first set off. I was climbing at 20mph with a tailwind on the way to Ebberup.

A vast cloud of black smoke was rising from Assens as I looked back later. Just the usual, pig-ignorant farmers burning off their harvested fields.  The smoke must have gone half way across the North Sea! It was miles high and stretched right over the horizon! My own, much slower, journey was a more down to earth 23 miles.

27th 63-81F, 17-27C, breezy, hot sunshine. I rode down to Helnæs. Just enough air movement to keep things cool. Without impeding my speed too much. The wind turbines seemed unsure whether to rotate. Or even which way to point if they did. 40 warm miles soaking up the scenery. Being passed at frequent intervals by Philistines speeding though areas of natural beauty in their cars.

I have come to the conclusion that most people don't like driving. It is merely a form of transport. One which isolates them from their surroundings, reality and any sense of danger. Why else would they try and get every journey over with as fast as possible? Why do they leave late? So that they have to exceed the speed limit just to get anywhere on time? Because driving is downright unpleasant, time consuming and frustrating. They want A to B instantly without any of the fuss. They don't want to think, accelerate, corner or brake. Just drive in a cocooned, self-induced coma.

The alternative transport options are dire, more expensive, dangerous and even more unpleasant. Sharing confined spaces with people who can't afford a car? Waiting for hours for some sour lump, with a chip on their shoulder, to turn up and fleece you for even the shortest journey? Can you carry anything on? Can you bring your bike, pram or wheelchair on the bus? No thanks! This is public transport, you know!

I am now running the GP4000s at 100psi. It doesn't make them much more uncomfortable but they do seem a bit quicker at the higher pressure. I suppose I am just getting used to the harder tyres after riding for decades at rather lower pressures.

Nobody should be without a decent gauge. Or, preferably, a pump with one. A floor/track pump is  by far the best. It makes maintaining higher pressures so much easier. It becomes completely routine before each ride. Even somebody as psychopathically lazy as myself. Less than a minute for all three tyres? Why did I not invest in a track pump (with pressure gauge) years ago?

Click in any image for an enlargement.

23 Jul 2012

Continental GP4000 tyres

I thought I'd give an update of my experience with these tyres. I have covered 1800 miles on them so far. From the last day of May until the 23rd of July. Roughly eight weeks.

Brand new GP4000

After running for a short while at 80-85psi they were then inflated and held close to 90-92 psi for most of their active life. This pressure was chosen as the most comfortable and tolerably quiet while completely avoiding pinch flats. Buying a quality track pump aided the routine of applying the correct pressure prior to every day's ride. A couple of strokes of the pump handle was usually all that was required. The Topeak pump has a handy, red dial marker. Saving the spectacle wearer having to read the numerals. 

 GP4000 after a couple of hundred miles from new.

These Continental GP4000 road tyres have suffered their (unfair) share of off-road riding. On rough farm tracks for quite a few miles. A few hundred yards of nasty, granite cobbles are regular features of some rides. Mostly, though, they have been ridden on normal roads. With all that means in the way of poorly maintained surfaces, potholes, patches and mixed debris and detritus.

Many local roads have been resurfaced with larger (rougher) gravel than is remotely comfortable. This caused heavy vibration and much increased tyre noise. Had the tyres been ridden only on smooth roads I doubt they would have shown nearly as much wear and surface damage as they do now. (Little as it is) Our own access drive involves at least two rides of 200 yards, on very rough, loose gravel per day. It all takes its toll. After all, these are light, high performance, road racing tyres not MTB knobblies!

GP4000 rear left after 1800 triking miles.

Being used on a trike means that the tyres present only one (flat) face to the road surface. They do not lean on corners. Nor constantly weave to maintain the rider's balance. Nor suffer from asymmetrical camber wear. As they would on any bike. Which raises interesting questions about tyre pressure versus the width of the contact patch. Would higher or lower pressures wear them out more quickly? What would be the cost in comfort and rolling resistance? There must be an optimum pressure which minimises rolling resistance. I like 90psi on my trike without offering any scientific proof of this being an optimal pressure for all these variables. 

Initially, the darker contact stripe was very narrow. Only about 6mm wide at 90psi. This usually broadened on every ride to about 10mm on smooth surfaces. The "stripe" formed a darker, central ring on the blue tread of the tyre as it rolled along. Rougher gravels removed this darker stripe. Or spread it wider. Running on smooth surfaces the tyre would sometimes get its initially narrow stripe back again. For a while. Running over damp patches on the road showed that the central contact stripe was very real. The tyre would take on its narrow, darker stripe again until it dried off.

This all came as quite a shock to someone who has spent his entire life noticing how all tyres flattened themselves onto the road. The side walls of high pressure bicycle tyres still do look flattened at the bottom. It's just that the tread width in contact with the road remains very narrow. Much narrower than the tyre wall distortion near the ground would suggest.

 GP4000 rear right after 1800 triking miles.

I used to have a simple trick with the Bontrager Race Lites. I would look down at the outside of the rear tyres. Looking beyond the rim through the whirring spokes as I was riding along. If the tyres were hard enough I could not see the side-wall bulge. The tyre wall distortion would be masked by the rim at the particular angle I was viewing. This was a handy trick when changing road surfaces made it feel like yet another pinch flat had occurred. It saved stopping to press the tyre with an exploratory thumb. The trick was doubly handy when the tyres were wet or muddy! I cannot see the bulge of the GP4000 through the spokes either.  

It must be remembered that there is quite a lot of tyre scrub on corners on a trike. Pedalling hard out of corners can induce temporary wheelspin as the rider's weight shifts. Taking sharp corners with any degree of "over-enthusiasm" produces clear sounds of tyres scrubbing as the trike drifts smoothly outwards. The trike is also being steered "uphill" out of the verge due to more or less constant road camber. Though the problems of OWD (One Wheel Drive) are a thing of the past thanks to the Trykit 2WD freehub system. It is just that one is no longer aware of constantly having to steer gently away from the gutter.

The wear indicator dimples shown in the three images here suggest that there is still plenty of meat on all three tyres. Any "flattening" wear of the tread crown is minimal and subtle. I deliberately photographed the tyres with the sun sinking towards the horizon to one side of the trike. This was meant to exaggerate any uneven wear but failed to do so.

Three tyres spread the weight of this particular 12 stone, 168lb, 76kg rider (plus his occasional 20 lbs of shopping) rather better than only two. Though, as on a bicycle, the rear tyres of a trike carry more weight than the front.

GP4000 front tyre after 1800 triking miles.

My conclusions: These tyres wear well and evenly. They feel very light and "quick" in motion. They are fairly noisy at 90psi. Though this is surface and speed dependent. Going faster makes them much noisier. Often giving a sensation that a car is following when it isn't. I haven't tried them at higher pressures so cannot confirm that they really "sing" at the usually recommended 110psi. They "ping" on loose gravel well enough already. Anybody who has experienced the peloton passing by knows the roar road racing tyres make en masse.

Interestingly, the front tyre has a constant lower, metallic "ring" compared with the roar of the two rears. This reminds me (oddly enough) of butchers' bacon slicers from my childhood.

I would be very surprised if there isn't another 1000 miles in them before the dimples completely disappear. How long they last after this will be interesting and money saving.

The GP4000s are rather expensive at roughly £100 for three delivered. (At present Danish online prices) Assuming ~3000 miles per set probably means at least three sets per year. £300 is a not inconsiderable sum to lay out annually for a tricycling pensioner. Against that is the reduced cost of frequently replacing inner tubes with the Bontrager Race Lites. Plus the time wasted repairing tubes. Or replacing tubes at the side of the road when you'd much rather be moving fast. But you can get the Bontragers for £20 each or even less. Or (say) much less than £120 per year for a trike doing 10k miles.

Bontrager Race Lite after 6200 miles!
The visible debris is just dried leaves and grass.

I wish I had run the Bontrager Race Lites at 90psi. If only to have some valid comparisons to share. Buying the Topeak pressure gauge and track pump certainly proved that one cannot trust the (uncalibrated) MkI cyclist's thumb. No matter how many decades one has ridden a bike or trike!

The ping which hard tyres make when flicked with a finger nail is highly rim dependent! They sound much higher in pitch on Mavic's CXP22 than on the Shimano of very similar cross section. After two months of daily checking I still don't think I could hit 90psi consistently by feel alone. The tread deflection to a pressed thumbnail is far too subtle to judge accurately.

I haven't had a single pinch puncture thanks to the much higher pressures I'm now using. The Bontrager's were unfairly disadvantaged by being run at (probably) 70-75psi (max!) So almost inevitably suffered from pinch flats on farm and forest tracks. Which they might well have avoided at 90 psi on even the roughest of surfaces. The Bontragers had a hard central rubber strip which provided 5-6k miles each at 2/3rds the Continental prices. They did not feel as fast as the Continentals but that is hardly surprising given the large difference in inflation pressures.

I'm sure the Race Lites offered more grip than the GP4000s. But here again the lower pressures probably made all the difference. It's all about contact patch size even on a trike. The Bontrager Race Lites had a flatter 'top' as well as a bigger contact patch at lower pressures. They were also much more comfortable at those lower pressures.

You can't argue with physics. A harder tyre is not going to deform like a soft one. That really takes some getting used to! At lower pressures the GP4000s felt much more comfortable than the Bontragers! That was down to side-wall flexibility and suppleness of much higher thread counts per inch. (TPI) As soon as I pumped them up hard they became hard and uncomfortable on rough surfaces. On smooth roads they are worth every penny in energy saved and the exhilaration of being able to ride faster. The Continental GP4000s  are also very pretty in blue. Are they worth £6 per week in running costs compared with £2 for the Bontrager Race Lites? Only you (and time) can tell. I have heard that the GP4000 can usually manage 3000 miles without puncturing. They may do much better than this.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

22 Jul 2012

Wiggins, Froome and Cavendish

The dream actually came true:

Wiggins won the Tour de France. The first Briton ever to do so.

He also held the Yellow Jersey for longer than any other British rider.

He led out Cavendish twice to help him win stage sprints. A fitting tribute to the World Champion and a public show of thanks for the help he gave as a team mate and super domestique.

Froome came an excellent 2nd just behind Wiggins by only 3 minutes. Froome is a great rider in all disciplines who should be very high in the GCs in the cycling classics in future years.

Cavendish broke yet more records by Winning the last stage in Paris. For the fourth time in a row. Completely Unprecedented! He also won the sprint as the Rainbow Jersey wearing World Champion. Again this has never occurred before.

He is working his way steadily up the list of cycling greats as he wins more stages and more sprints than past heroes. Doing so as a British rider into the bargain.

The only criticism is that they all made it look far too easy. Particularly Wiggins. Who sat in the front of the Peloton making it all look much too effortless. Perhaps he can be persuaded to take acting lessons in struggling against insurmountable odds?

At least/last Wiggins proved he has a real sense of humour. On the rostrum he suggested they were going to announce the winning ticket holders. I imagine his win must be rather like winning the lottery. Probably against very similar odds with rather similar rewards.

I'm sure I have forgotten some aspect of the historical importance of all these British riders' performance in this classic race.

Let us hope that it leads to a resurgence in interest in cycling in Britain. 

20 Jul 2012

20th July 2012

20th 56-66F, 14-19C, windy, sunny periods. Showers forecast all day but mostly dry. An errand before going out again. Only 7 miles. Time for toast and rolls. 10am is a long way from breakfast at 6.45! Another shopping trip for 26 miles total today. I was feeling quite strong. Even into the wind. With another large, banana box on the back acting as a huge air scoop! :-)

Talking of which:

I was thinking about the cycle rider's torso angle again and noticed that a line through the hip joints is very near the saddle. This reduces the possible variations in the angle of the pelvic girdle and of the Ischial tuberosities in particular. Which are the bony protrusions upon which the body rests on the saddle.  This may explain why one gets so little relief from an uncomfortable saddle from changing one's hand position on the handlebars. The pelvis hardly rotates while the torso changes from bolt upright to a fully prone TT torso position. Which is unfortunate for the saddle plagued rider but handy for sponsors advertising on the backs of the rider's shorts.

It never ceases to amaze me how many TT riders completely fail to achieve a low torso angle despite the considerable investment in a multi-thousand Pound/Dollar/Euro specialist TT machine. Or even bother with the rather less expensive, but still pricey, carbon TT "Triathlon" handlebar sets. Many riders seem to completely miss the whole point of giving the torso a minimum frontal area. Which means it must be low enough to hide behind the shoulders/head of the rider.

Having a large belly does not help of course. Depending on one's proportions the knees can hammer the sagging belly when pedalling. A very uncomfortable experience. Tried that. Didn't like it!

Some riders have the fortunate proportions to allow a low position without the knees contacting their unsupported stomach. A case of having your cake and eating it, so to speak. Others cannot obtain a low position without knee contact. So must raise the bars/arm rests to achieve some clearance. Taller riders like Wiggins and Froome seem to have loads of clearance between their knees and their torso/belly.

Having somebody photograph one on one's bike/trike, in the fully prone TT position, ought to be be an absolute must for anybody seriously competing in a TT.

A glance at any of the galleries of online images will show that many amateur riders don't get low enough. Many are more upright than normal riders with their hands on the brake hoods on road bikes. Why even bother with a low drag bike/trike, skin suits and disk wheels if your own body is the largest object  causing drag? Often at a ridiculous 45 degrees into a self-made headwind!


In the Tour de France, Wiggins helped Mark Cavendish reach the dying remnants of the breakaway. Edvald Boassun Hagen finished the lead out. Cavendish looked baulked for a while and had to ride right around several other riders. He had to go very early indeed but still showed how incredibly fast he is.  He looked to be in a completely different league to the sprinters Goss and Sagan. (2nd and 3rd) Cavendish winning easily by several lengths!

21st 54F, 12C, overcast, grey, windy. Forecast is dry and brightening later. It stayed dry but was very windy with powerful gusts. Four people this week have stopped to chat about the trike. I'm also getting waves from strangers in cars.

Lots of dead moles on the roads. Probably young,  forced out of their runs on the road verges by the adults. I saw a dead owl too. The most common road kill is the blackbird. But there are sparrows, swallows, goldfinches, greenfinches, amongst others. I saw a thrush in the garden the other morning. Who would have thought thrushes were so rare? I don't think I've seen one in several years. 

I didn't intend to go far today as I am trying to rest my legs. Unfortunately, Mr Higgins has a mind of his own. ;-) 31 miles.


Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome proved to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field in the Tour de France. Wiggins allowed himself the first sign of emotion so far by punching the air. Well he might, considering he is the first British rider to wear the Yellow Jersey for so long. And, he has almost guaranteed himself the first British winner of the Tour de France. (In 99 years!)

With World Champion, Mark Cavendish showing such superb form and the Tour de France British duo so dominating the race, the Olympics should be more than interesting. 

Hopefully this will give British cycling a boost. Perhaps reducing the number of totally unnecessary cyclist's deaths on the roads. This would be rather amazing. Though Britain has a very long way to go before cyclists enjoys the same respect as in other European countries. The ignorance of the law, psychopathic selfishness and lethal aggression, shown by drivers in Britain towards cyclists, is appalling. Not helped by the overcrowding on Britain's roads and lax attitudes of the British courts to vehicular murder and mayhem. When will they accept that cars are licensed weapons of mass destruction?

Can you imagine three and four year-olds riding their tiny bikes alongside their bike riding parents, on busy public roads, in any British city? This is a fairly common sight in Denmark. Whole school classes routinely ride together along busy roads. Vast numbers of cyclists, of all ages and classes, routinely ride to work in much colder conditions than is typical in Britain. Danish car drivers wait patiently at their exits for cyclists to trundle past on roundabouts. Danish car drivers wait patiently for cyclists to pass before turning at a junction.  

22nd 56-70F, 13-21C, breezy with a bright start. I rode up to Bogense, turned right along the north coast and then rode back via the lanes. Taking lots of pictures along the way. Coming back was mostly into the building wind. Which made it rather tiring. I relied on only a few biscuits and a box of apple juice. It's no wonder I'm getting thinner! 

Not far from home, with some shopping in the bag, a couple of young club persons were bombing down a big hill, crouched low on their triathlon bars to catch me up. I thought I'd better give them a run for their money. So I belted up the following hill at 115 rpm leaving them well behind. They only managed to catch me at the bottom of the next big hill by using their TT bars. I said 'hi' as they finally struggled past but they completely ignored me!

So I promptly overtook them again going up the next hill. At which point they decided to turn left without looking. They obviously couldn't hear me above their panting! Are they having fun yet? :-) It was lucky (for them) I had just done 55 fairly hard miles. Or I would have left them well behind. 


23rd 60-70F, 16-21C, very windy, full sun. It was so windy I had to drop onto the smallest chainring at one point. That was during a detour to put me upwind so I could work my way across country with the wind over my shoulder.

It seems the monopoly on goods in Danish supermarkets extends to organic produce. I visited all the supermarkets in three different villages. (9 large shops from four different chains) All in the forlorn hope of finally finding carrots and spuds which were not from Klokkehøj. I wish this company would go bust. So that organic produce wasn't given a bad name! I shudder to think how many people have tried their stuff and turned up their noses. Would you eat carrots which are already turning black before leaving the shop? Or potatoes which stink through the ventilation holes on the bag? Probably not. Neither will we.

Why is that those who speed in built up areas always have enough time to slow down, wind down their windows and should obscenities at cyclists. If they were speeding one assumes they must have been in a hurry at some point! (?)

My wife made me laugh today. Apparently, Wiggins has flown straight from the Tour de France to a "secret location" in Surrey to train for the Olympics.

My wife asked: "Won't people notice a tall, thin bloke, in a yellow helmet, dressed entirely in yellow, riding a yellow bike with a yellow lion tied to his handlebars?" :-))

The Brooks saddle hasn't bothered me since I refitted it. I expect it's terrified of ending up with all the other junk in the bike shed. So it's on best behaviour from now on. Both GPS loggers died half way round today. I had to rely on the bike computer for my mileage. 32 miles. I'm a martyr to wind.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


16 Jul 2012

16th July 2012

16th 57-60F, 14-16C, very windy, overcast with sunny periods. Rain and showers forecast all day. I was going to treat it as a rest day but with a gentle ride to avoid seizing up. The new saddle had branded itself into my undersides over the last week. So I swapped back to the Brooks after giving it a slight tension. With great relief! After three years of struggling the saddle is still the limit on my range.

The gear change cables have been getting creaky and stiff. It didn't help that I had used soft, low grade outers borrowed from an old bike.  After oiling the cables I noticed that the cassette was moving an 1/8" to the side when I tried to change gear at a standstill! So I will have to strip the rear axles to find out where the play is. It won't do any harm to check the lubrication in the Trykit double freehub at the same time. The cassette is also filthy.

Glavendrup Stones near Skamby. Part of a very large, ship-formed, standing stone memorial from Viking times. An earlier, bronze-age fort is at the Westerly, prow end. Many original stones were lost in the intervening period to unsympathetic quarrymen and builders. The largest stone is covered in over 200 Runic letters and was almost lost. An archaeologist saved the stone from being broken up by buying it. The trees give the site a unique atmosphere, year round.

As I was calling this a sort of rest day I resolved to stay on the 34T chainwheel and keep the revs up. 133 rpm for a half mile felt a bit excessive. So the rest of the time I just kept twiddling freely above 95 rpm. I was still doing 15 mph + so it was hardly a dawdle.

It poured with rain at the halfway point when the saddle bag was already full and the sports bag was too. Remember to put the waterproofs on top next time! Yes, Chris. But it didn't look like rain!  What sort of excuse is that? Only 16 fairly gentle miles.

Pm. Put Mr Higgins up on the Lidl workstand to allow easy access at a comfortable level. Pulled the rear axles out, stripped the Trykit freehub, dismantled the entire 9sp cassette and cleaned it all really well. For some reason there had been an increase in the end play of the axles. So the freehub and cassette were floating from side to side. Making gear changes slower than usual. Or even unpredictable.

The Trykit freehub still looked as good as new internally. I removed both journal bearings. Then ran a toothbrush through the ratchet teeth while well loaded with car engine cleaner. Much easier than trying to work with either bearing in place. The clicks were also given a good clean and appeared as new. Everything was carefully wiped dry with a clean cloth and thoroughly re-greased during re-assembly. I use a large Allen key as an axle substitute to ensure the clicks have been inserted the correct way round.

Only the outboard journal bearings on the axles showed signs of surface discolouration. Though they had been well greased externally on each assembly. To provide some protection.  Rainwater is obviously able to get past the modified bearing cups around the exposed axles. Both bearings spun smoothly and well so were re-greased and returned to their support cups. Perhaps a short length of hose on each of the bare axles will help to keep the water out. The axles are a little large for ½", common or garden, hose.

Mr Higgins baulks at the Glavendrup stones approach avenue. 

I also adjusted the inner, right side, bearing cup to take up the end play. Using an Allen key to set the prescribed 4mm between the bare, inner ends of the axles. Access is poor for adjusting the cup. So I used my usual technique of 90 degree offset circlip pliers on the adjustable cup. I checked carefully for just a little end shake to both axles. To avoid the bearings binding or wearing the freehub central spacer. The special Trykit double freehub still had just a little end float. Which does no harm. After replacing the wheels I spun them up via the drive train. They continued spinning for ages and stopped almost together. A good sign of very free running. After a good wipe down with clean rags Mr Higgins is ready for another day.

17th 58F, 14C, windy, cloudy, but mostly sunny.  Took only the Ventus GPS logger and it went to sleep! 18 miles by bike computer. Came home early with two huge cardboard boxes. All it needs is a length of cord through the boxes to hook around the saddle. Then the boxes rest against the rear axle and saddle pin. The saddlebag keeps the boxes aligned against cross winds. Going out again. Second time lucky. The Ventus stayed awake. The i-gotU didn't. 14 more very windy miles for 32 today.

 Two noisy hedgehogs by the pond.

18th 56F, 13C, westerly breeze, sunny. Rain forecast for this afternoon. I used the tailwind to go to Odense. Had a look at saddles in most of the bike shops there. The nearest saddle, to the one I bought recently, was the 'Avenue.' The Selle Royal looked quite promising being flat, wide and the padding relatively soft. As soon as I perched on one I quickly got off again. I have been routinely asking for a "canteen" chair on which to rest the test saddle. So I can more fairly simulate them fitted to my trike.

A forward lean is useful. Careful study of my posture on my trike shows an average, upper body lean of 45 degrees. On the move, I use my reflection in empty shop windows. At home I use a very large convex traffic safety mirror. My hips are not rotated remotely so much as my torso. Which makes sense if you think about it. If ones hips rotated one would find the saddle needed raising or lowering depending on body lean.

My present saddle problem may simply be that I don't get enough rest for my own good. So any saddle discomfort is reinforced with each passing day. Hopping from a broken-in Brooks 'Professional' to any modern saddle it is bound to feel very different.

This is a very odd situation with regards to cycle accessories. One can't (easily) find a new saddle without spending a considerable sum. Then discarding all those saddles which don't suit one's particular anatomy. There is even talk of a seasonal change in saddle comfort for those who ride less over the winter Yet even the race orientated, cycle shops seem to have no facilities for matching the enthusiast to their intended support.  

Today, I brought home a complete but empty banana box for storage. The Ventus GPS logger stayed awake. The i-gotU fell asleep at half way. 50 miles.

Yet again, Tommy Voeckler was truly magnificent in the Tour de France. He really is great value. Nibali is proving to be all mouth and shorts. Meanwhile, Britain has a competent, yellow-painted robot and his African slave. Where's the love? (He asks) Where's the humanity? Where's the drama? Where's the entertainment? I see the French are having austerity measures with their police presence on the big climbs. At one summit, I counted four plods taking up valuable space (ab)normally reserved for escaped lunatics. 

19th 57F, 14C, overcast, grey and breezy. Showers forecast all day. It stayed dry. 27 miles.

The Maroon Newton is back on eBay:

Hand Built Lightweight Racing/Touring Trike. | eBay


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14 Jul 2012

15th July 2012


15th. 58F, 14C, light winds, showers forecast all day. I needed an excuse for a ride so I went back to Ringe. The chap in the bike shop couldn't tell me much more about the cheap saddle I had bought. He said it came off a bike they sold. The buyer had selected another saddle. I'm still coming to terms with the new saddle. Most of the time it's fine. But when it's not, it's not. 273 miles in the week since I bought it suggests that it can't be too awful. Or, I am adjusting to it.

The wind was at 2 o'clock all the way there. I found I could place my palms on top of the brake hoods to get a nice low position. Then I could cruise at 19-20mph on the flat. Though it was beginning to hurt my legs to keep it up for ten miles of gentle undulations. Twenty four miles in an hour and half isn't bad for me. Particularly considering the wind and a couple of stops to take off my jacket, look around a shop and find something to eat in the bag. I saw yet another Marsh Harrier hunting over a field. That's four different birds this week alone. 

On the way back the wind was at 10 o'clock! Only now it felt much stronger but so did I. Then I became lost on the way back again. Trying to use a short cut. Which wasn't remotely. I have come to that same village before without a clue how to escape.

After that I got caught in a cloudburst! I whipped out the Aldi jacket and pedalled on for a couple of miles desperately looking for a tree under which to hide. The rain was pouring through my helmet and into my eyes. Making the suntan lotion sting my eyes horribly. My pale sunglasses were soaked too. I couldn't see a thing by the time I found a big chestnut tree at a minor junction. Only to have a string of traffic all wanting to turn right just there!

Almost immediately the rain redoubled its efforts and the tree was leaking all over me. So I dashed across the road and into a farm entrance archway. Where I sat on the trike under wormy boards. While a river of rainwater collected in the yard behind me. Before pooling all around me. Finally gushing past me in a deep torrent out onto the road. Where the rain was continuing to lash down in massive drops. Bouncing back up in huge splashes on the standing surface water. Like an over-the-top,  film version of a Piranha attack.

Finally it slowed and I pressed on. Only for it to start tipping down again! I dived into a perfectly placed bus shelter and managed to get Mr Higgins in too. I must have lost about 20 minutes, in all, after waiting for the rain to subside for a second time. It gave me a chance to relax and enjoy a carton of apple juice and a biscuit or two.

Back on the road there was a loud clap of thunder and then suddenly the road was completely dry beneath my tyres. The cloudbursts must have been extremely localised. A couple of cyclists went past going the other way in their normal cycling kit. Despite the sunshine, I was still wrapped up and pretty well soaked! My mitts were far too wet to wipe the glasses.

I added a few silly miles by heading north instead of west. Though I was climbing incredibly well thanks to the tail wind. Eventually I found a turning to a village I knew. Then on to the shops and home. Still in good time. 49 miles. The i-gotU GPS device died half way again. Its days are definitely numbered! 

The Carradice 'Camper' saddlebag is proving to be embarrassingly undersized for shopping. I am having to carry an ultra-lightweight sports bag to carry the fragile stuff home. One large, sliced loaf and the Carradice is full. Two litres of milk and there is no room for the bread! And what do you do with the eggs? Pulling down the Longflap assumes the stacked items are indestructible! The Camper is becoming a decorative toy. Fine for a day out to carry a light jacket and snacks. Camping? You really have to be joking! Unless your idea of camping is B&B with a credit card.  

15th 57-64F, 14-18C, light winds to start, overcast with brighter moments. The i-gotU GPS logger wouldn't wake up so was left behind! I decided to push the boundaries even more and headed for Otterup. A town in the north east of Fyn. With an over-the-shoulder wind I was cruising at 20mph on and off. The traffic was so light I kept to the main roads some of the time. I got right up to 26mph for a while. Then had a clubman go past me like I was going backwards! Grr.

The shops were closed in Otterup so I turned back into the wind. This wasn't half as much fun! It was a constant struggle. The saddle became my enemy after 30 miles. It was agony on and off. I climbed out of the saddle as much as possible and stretched my legs to give my nether regions a rest. Some of the time the saddle was fine. The sun came out quite a lot. It was one of those very clear days as well.

Uggerslev Mill.

Major bindingsværk repairs. Replacement of old, oak timber-framing. The intervening spaces will be filled with brick using lime mortar. 

I managed to get lost despite having a list of villages which I was meant to pass through. Except there were no road signs to my next goal in some of the villages! When will I learn to carry a map of Fyn?  I used the forests for shelter as much as possible on  the way back. Though they are very much hillier than the exposed roads. Despite having enough food I was getting really tired by the end. It has been a hard week! 59 miles today.

Tacks on the road in the Tour de France? I said the raving loonies had been let out! One of the riders crashed after puncturing and has a broken collar bone. That raises the crime above mindless vandalism. The guillotine may be far too good for the perp. A lynching is much more apt. 

On a happier note: Google Maps now has cycle routes marked: You need to activate the service by ticking the drop down box in options under Satellite/Traffic etc. at top right. (Still in beta as of today!) 

I think this service is also available as an App on some mobile phones. One point of confusion is that the Danish motorways are show in green as if they had cycle lanes running along each side. I really must try that! ;ø)  

Google maps will also draw a route for you. I'm not sure if this is new. I have always relied on the Danish Krak mapping service for route finding. In fact I shall continue to use Krak. Because Google Map wont allow insertion of points along the way. Krak allows multiple "via" points which is absolutely essential for a cycle route! I wouldn't be without it. Google Maps take note.

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11 Jul 2012

11th July 2012


Just one of quite a number of thatched timber-framed buildings in Føns.

11th 63-66F, 17-9C, windy, rather grey with only occasional sunny periods. The forecast was rain all day but I took a chance and was rewarded. The leg stiffness and pain continues but not so badly today. I actually had cramp in my calf yesterday. After climbing a single step indoors. One which I use all day, everyday. Weird. It may be a virus. I left the Zero "bath salts" out of my water bottle today. It seemed like too much of a coincidence that I should suffer leg pain and then cramp only the day after first adding it to my bottle.

The cheapo saddle was okay until about 30 miles. When it made itself felt again. I think it helped to tilt it slightly forwards compared with the previous setting. Who knows what level is when a saddle has no flat surfaces?

I hardly noticed the extra weight of the mudguards. I only seem to notice the weight difference when I take them off. Still managed 39 miles before morning coffee. I returned home just in the nick time. It has just started a torrential downpour. As heavy as I have ever seen and blowing like mad. I just made it back indoors after settling Mr Higgins down in his shed. It would have been no fun to be caught on the road in this cloudburst!
One of the most isolated houses I have come across.

For the umpteenth day in a row the i-GotU GPS logger died half way around. It is charged until the red light goes out every single day. It seems to fall asleep in a shop and then not reawaken. I am always careful to place it in my jersey back pocket facing outwards to get a good view of the sky. Fortunately the Ventus GPS logger is still working well.

A memorial to the women's movement from 1915.The engraved stone is at the top of the steps beyond the font/birdbath. Somebody obviously cares enough to keep it all maintained. Rather oddly, I feel, since the entrance is only a small unmarked gap in a high hedge on a busy road between two small villages. Rolund and Viby on the Gl.Assensvej to Middelfart. Cars couldn't possibly stop anywhere near it. Nor will most drivers even notice its existence. This is my first visit as curiosity was further fuelled by a break in the traffic . This peaceful sanctuary, from quite another time, has two circular paths through the enveloping trees. One on each side of the head stone. I cannot confirm the rather obvious, anatomical symbolism to this layout.

12th 58-63F, 14-17C, very windy, showers. Just a run down to Assens and back. It stayed dry. Going out again. 22 miles so far. Legs back to normal today. 10 miles later on. Still blowing hard but remaining dry. It was supposed to pour down all day long.

It's odd how hills on which I'd get exhausted in the past seem almost nothing these days. Agonising pain in my legs is a rare event these days. Hitting a wall of oxygen starvation almost completely forgotten. I just wish my overall speeds were noticeably higher. Perhaps I'm not trying hard enough to stress myself to previous levels? Or unwilling to do so.

13th 56-65F, 13-18C, cool, sunny, rather breezy. The forecast rain has cleared. I set off towards Nr.Åby via the coastal lanes and villages. As I had run out of photos I decided to explore as much as possible. So I followed a tongue of land which goes for miles out to sea. Known as Fønsskov. I also found a few thatched timber framed houses in the coastal village of Føns itself.

My legs were getting a bit tender after 40 miles. Particularly my quads. So I am still not free of whatever caused my leg problems. A bit of a drag into the wind for the last 15 miles home without enough to eat. The saddle is still not very friendly. Though I'm quite surprised that I have managed 200 miles on it so far without switching back to the "safe" Brooks 'Professional'.

Part of today's GPS logger track superimposed on Google Earth. 
I prefer a map but can't save an image of the GPS trace map itself.

An old moron towing a caravan drove right around me on a sharp right angle bend in a village. Total lunacy! Totally unfit to drive!

Erholm mill is always wonderfully atmospheric on its knoll.

The i-gotU GPS logger died at half way again. I don't think it's the battery. It has simply lost the will to live. Its mapping software has crashed my computer for two days running now! Total freeze-up! My legs are still hurting this afternoon. Which they should not be after a leisurely 4½ hours for 50 miles with several stops for photography and shopping. 

It seems that the French government's readiness to empty the lunatic asylums for the Tour de France has backfired. Bradley Wiggins was slightly injured by a Roman candle firework thrown by onlookers. Apparently the peloton threw water bottles at the culprit. Update: It may have been a flare rather than a Roman Candle. I didn't know that flares were still popular with deranged lunatics. It seems the race organisers legally own the road while the riders are using it. All they need to do is ban these escaped apes from running alongside the riders. If I want to watch performing apes I'll go to the bløødy zoo!

"Retard confuses bike race with delivering the Olympic Torch."


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10 Jul 2012

10th July 2012 Higgins mudguard stays revisited.

 Mr Higgins dons his waders for the forthcoming deluge!

10th 57-65F, 14-18C, very windy, overcast. Off we, jolly well, go again. Possible showers. Will that new saddle cure me of OCTD? Read the next exciting instalment.

(later) It blew like mad and showered fine drizzle on me several times. I had to keep putting on the Aldi jacket. Then taking it off when it became far too warm in the sunshine. The forecast was for lighter winds today. I want a refund!

My legs were as stiff as hell! They hurt so much I couldn't reach 100rpm for the first few miles!  I haven't felt this bad for a couple of years. Perhaps I should have put in just a few miles yesterday to keep my legs in shape. My hamstrings were hurting badly too. I can't ever remember them hurting before today. Weird.  I haven't had a problem after a rest day before this.

The saddle kept changing between unnoticeable, comfortable and downright painful. The Carradice saddlebag shed rainwater nicely while I was in the shop. It was beading as well as any waterproof material. The new vinyl saddle was easy to wipe dry with only a track mitt.

Haarby high street has been resurfaced. There had been bare cobbles visible at the bottoms of the largest holes for quite a while. An interesting insight into the past. They haven't resurfaced the worst stretch of the cycle lane though. An international caving expedition is still camping around the worst pothole. 

Rain forecast for the rest of the week. I had better put the mudguards back on! Summer has been cancelled. They say June was the worst for 20 years.

The three mudguards and stays weigh 3lbs altogether when fitted. They make life so much more pleasant in wet weather. They are very quick and easy to put on and remove. So there is no point in having them fitted during long spells of fine weather.

I have only worn my overshoes a couple of times from new. Which shows how dry it has been. I found that the central Higgins mudguard stay just clears the Carradice Camper side pockets when both ends of the rear mudguards are level.

The secret to a good fixing of these original Higgins stays is 6mm stainless steel screws, Nyloc nuts and a small ratchet socket set. I also wrap a short length of 1 1/4" inner tube around the rear axle casing to obtain maximum grip for the clamps. The original fixing screws are rather small and need very high torque to hold the stays fast. It is only a matter of running a slightly larger drill through the original holes to make room for larger screws. The screws are fed in from the bottom and the nuts go on top.

I am still experimenting with saddle adjustments. It doesn't look it but it is horizontal. I always check the crossbar is level first. The 18" builders level was then placed on the nose and between the two "stealth fighter" tail fins. This point is where the bony protrusions of the pelvic girdle rest. Rather than the tops of the tail fins. Which would tip the saddle nose too high if set the level here. This may explain why the saddle was more comfortable when sitting upright. It is now slightly more nose down than before. Though I did notice more weight being thrown onto my wrists.

When levelling the crossbar I usually wheel the trike around the lawn. Eventually I can find a place where the bubble leans on one of the indicator lines. Rather than central between the two. This avoids any reading errors in the builder's level. As long as it is is not reversed end for end of course. Even reversing the level the bubble should still read identically. If it is accurate.

Interestingly (!) the Higgins top tube is bowed down a little in the middle! Which seems rather odd. The rider of a trike rarely has any need to sit astride the machine with their feet down. Why own a trike and not enjoy the armchair comfort at the traffic lights? One must take every chance to show one's superiority. Particularly over those absurd machines which insist on falling over when at rest. They will never catch on! Just another of those overnight fads. 25 miles.

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