26 Aug 2012

25th August 2012 Tour of Denmark race


25th Spent the day not avoiding showers watching Post Danmark Rundt. The Tour of Denmark in English. From three different locations, no less. Caught the breakaway on video and then the Peloton. Saw Mark Cavendish in a string of Sky riders. Drove to Odense to see the finish and presentations but a large area was cordoned off by the police. It took us ages to escape again without ever getting anywhere near the finishing line.

An image, taken by my wife, of the three breakaway riders taking the intermediate sprint points at Brobyværk. My wife was struggling with dreadful conditions and a camera with which she is very unfamiliar. It doesn't help that Canon cameras take forty days and forty nights to make an exposure after the button is pressed! My last Canon Ixus camera was just as bad in this respect. Hopeless for action shots.  

This image brings it home how hard a pro cyclist's working life really is. The riders have to go out regardless of weather conditions. Or how they are feeling on the day. Glamorous is certainly not the word for a life of pain, a high risk of injury and regular suffering. Not to mention the continuous, international travel from one race to another. From one stage to another. Is there any other sport which demands so much of the competitors? Or so often? Only an elite few can claim wages remotely similar to that of the mostly second rate, playboy footballers.    

I managed 50-odd videos with my Panasonic Lumix TZ7 still camera. Many of which were spoilt by a low sun while it was still raining hard. Which left a large blob of water on the camera lens. (unknown to me) There were also a few claps of thunder at the beginning of the time trial. Fortunately it dried up soon afterwards. Though the roads were still very wet and cornering hazardous.

We were forced to move half way through the evening Time Trial. Just to avoid the low sun shining on the wet road. Then it became darker and darker as the last last riders took their turn. IT was overcast when we arrived with heavy clouds spewing dark rain shadows from their undersides on the lighter horizon.

Not sure if I caught Cav on video in the TT. We were expecting his white World Champion jersey from his morning appearance. Somebody passed in a Sky skinsuit at about the right time. With his head down. The trouble was we didn't have the start times for the riders. We were spotting each rider's team jersey colours in the distance using binoculars. Then I would video them riding past. Until it became too dark and the camera battery had almost gone flat. The blinding headlights of the lead police bikes, following cars and marshals did not help at all!

Now I have the perennial problem of clipping and splicing the hopelessly unsupported format of AVCHD Lite! Panasonic provided clunky software to help download and clip the videos. But absolutely nothing to stick the pruned videos together. I also have a dark fuzzy blob in the sky on every shot and video. I can brush out the blob on still images but not on videos. Converting the format so something which can be worked on properly usually destroys the quality. The nerds who put video standards together should be hung in a line. As warning to the rest of the word to only buy equipment which is properly supported by free video handling software.

Panasonic sold a lot of the TZ series cameras and have done bugger-all to help those who want to simply splice their videos together. They sold cameras with fragile LCD screens without a qualm. Knowing full well that retailers would try to wriggle out of any manufacturer's guarantees. Usually by suggesting the screens were damaged by dropping the camera.   

We hoped to go into Kerteminde to see the presentations afterwards but a large area of town was cordoned off. We ended up wasting half an hour just trying to get out of Kerteminde again.This really ought to be looked into. Spectators on the route cannot easily move while the road is closed. Not being able to reach the presentations, by car and to be able to park for a relatively short time simply adds insult to injury.The countless police on duty were making no attempt to help reduce the traffic congestion caused by their road closure barriers. Not every spectator is fully familiar with every start or finish town on a race stage.

One thing I noticed from the side of the road was the extreme difficulty of recognising riders. A number on the back of the jersey is completely hopeless when seen from the front or the side. Even the team strips are foolishly over-fussy. Being almost impossible to recognise from any distance. Not even in Zeiss 10x 50 binos on a clear, straight road!

If riders are going to get any recognition for their outstanding performances it must surely require far more than a few seconds on the rostrum to entertain those who hang about at the finish.

Gear change levers have now moved permanently away from the downtube. So it would be easy to fill the area behind the head tube with a large, really legible, opaque number plate in some lightweight material. Something easily visible from either side of the bike when seen from a wide angle. Always in black numerals on white. Nothing else offers sufficient clarity and contrast in all lighting conditions.

26th 62-69F, 17-20C, windy becoming very wet at times. It was fun being the shuttle as swallows whipped back and forth between an avenue of trees. It stayed dry until I arrived at the first shops. I came out to find it raining but not badly. On with the saddle cover. Then on with the Aldi jacket to make some room in the Carradice micro-Camper saddle bag.  The Ventus GPS was misbehaving. i-gotU showed nothing recorded! Both are charged to the hilt and cleared after every ride.

Not sure whether my legs were any different from all the rest days this week. I keep expecting to feel stronger after a rest day but haven't noticed any change. Only 16 miles so far. I was going to go out again and then a downpour ensued.

It cleared up late afternoon so I had another ride to take in more shops. 20 more miles. It was even windier but stayed dry. Ventus logger fine. i-gotU managed only 2 miles before switching off in open country.

27th 56-70F, 13-21C, very windy, sunny periods. Only 12 miles to the shops. Both loggers failed to record. I'm going to try a wrist strap to keep the i-gotU pointing at the sky. It didn't work. 27 more miles trying to find a special offer which had already sold out on Monday. 3 branches. No stock. Bright sunshine. Slightly lighter winds. The harvest is almost over. It already feels like autumn. The Ventus logger worked as expected! I-gotU died after only two miles.

28th 66F, 19C, raining. It never did brighten up as promised. Only 6 miles.

29th 56F, 13C, thick mist until after 9am. I left late and rode to Assens. Going via the vicious golden retriever which runs loose and unsupervised at Ebberup Maskin Station.

There was no sign of the dog so I sped up to 20mph to ensure a safe run. Suddenly it came out of the side of the house. Barking like a lunatic and chasing me down the road. Lunging at me at intervals.

I sprinted up to 25mph into the headwind hoping to leave it well behind. It went quiet so I relaxed but then it came after me again. Still barking ferociously. We were both at least 200 metres past the house by the time it finally gave up. No sign of the retarded owner this time. It usually takes the dolt several minutes to drag his lazy arse out of his house. If it weren't so dangerous I would film the dog and put it and its dumb owner on YouTube. This has been going on for years! Still the dog is allowed to run free.

No fresh bread again. Nearly run down by a pick-up driver on the way back. He was too damned lazy to indicate his exit from a roundabout. He glared at me when I pointed to his indicator. It was lucky I hadn't attempted to cross in front of him. I expect he was too damned lazy to use his brakes as well. He must have been in a hurry to get to a take-away. He was just beginning to get that wrinkly look. Like a slightly deflated balloon. It's nice and sunny now. Believe it, or not, the Ventus GPS logger actually worked perfectly today!

I left the i-gotU behind. It is no longer worth bothering with. It's battery is permanently sealed inside and the battery is now dead! This logger cost about £50 quid less than three years ago. Still costs about the same. They removed my question about expected battery life from their support forum. Presumably worried about how it might affect their sales. It is called an i-gotU GT120 GPS logger if you want to avoid it. Still a great little device. Until the battery dies. 22 miles.The Ventus still costs ~£25 in Netto. Quicker to get a fix but never rests when you do. So it scribbles all over the map sometimes and then adds in the extra mileage. That is one thing the i-gotU never did. So I relied on it to be more accurate than the Ventus. 19 miles later on.

30th 62F, 17C, overcast, rain forecast all morning. It hasn't rained yet (11am) despite the sky turning navy blue. 11 miles.


After nine weeks I have finally stopped showing the Google Adsense adverts on my blog.

My viewing figures were dropping steadily. After more than two months, two thousand miles, 75 clicks, 13,200 page views and publishing loads of photographs I had "earned" only 158Kroner. Nearly £16 or $25. About 25p or 40c per day!

As an Adsense user I was never given even a hint about the type of adverts being shown to my visitors. I only rarely saw any cycling relevant ads myself. Most were unbelievable, repetitive crap. Which I only tolerated because Google said it increased potential earnings. I have to keep myself in inner-tubes somehow! ;-)

The system works by Google auctioning off advertising space. So if a firm will only offer a pittance to have their ads shown, in a particular space, then the blog 'writer' only gets a fraction of even that miserly pittance. As is evident in my case despite my allowing three generous blocks of ads on each blog page.

I have given the Google Adsense system far longer than I should have done. It has had more than a fair chance to show what it can do. It has proven itself to be a pathetic joke in the context of my tri-cycling and Danish cycle travel blog. Perhaps Google's bottom trawlers couldn't identify the cycling-related from the pretty pictures of thatched cottages?

Perhaps I should have sought sponsorship from the Danish tourist industry or government department instead? If I only get 25p a day from Google I ought to be able to auction myself out to a much higher bidder:

Roll up! Roll up! Get your cheap, tricyclist and good all-round, chocolate-box cottage, photographer bod here! I do extras! :-)

Perhaps I should start searching rural litter bins for recyclable bottles? I can outdo Google's Adsense megabillions best efforts by returning only two empty bottles per day! Am I feeling lucky? Well are you? :-)

31st  56-65F, 3-18C, breezy, rather cloudy. Having read the forecast I wore my darkest sunglasses. Not a good idea under an overcast. Just another tour de shopping. I finally found a matching replacement for the dodgy bike computer. It kept changing to a scrambled screen despite being constantly fed with new batteries. The old one cost a fiver and had 9 functions. The new one cost a tenner and has 25! But still no cadence. Most of the 25 are repeats of exactly the same thing but reworded! 21 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

18 Aug 2012

18th August 2012


Cat Street, Kerteminde.

18th 65-72F, 18-25C, light breeze, sunny and warm. It was supposed to be an easy day. No ill effects from yesterday's ride. So I rode down to Assens. Then onwards via the tiny lanes to other village shops. Taking in a few private flea-markets along the way. Nothing of interest there, I'm afraid.

I crossed the old railway line several times on my journey. Just as I do most days. What an utter waste not to turn it into a wonderful cycle path! A railway is almost always level. With never any road-like gradients. It gets the cyclist away from the traffic. The traffic isn't impeded and the cyclist can travel in greater comfort and safety. A win-win situation, at very low cost, compared with road maintenance. Or the costs of mending injured cyclists in collision with impatient traffic. There were two, totally unnecessary, cyclist's deaths, this week alone, in Denmark.

A slight problem is that Denmark automatically uses tarmac for cycle paths. So initial costs must inevitably be higher than using self-compacting gravel. Which is/was most used in the UK. Where volunteers were often involved in the initial conversion of disused track beds into cycleways. Tarmac may have lower maintenance costs in the longer run, I suppose. Weeds don't have such an easy life getting established. Volunteers and tarmac don't really mix very well. So tarmac contractors are usually involved. Considerably raising initial costs to the taxpayer.

I can still remember the wonderful peace, avoidance of inclines and directness of converted cycle routes. They had a totally unique atmosphere. Nothing ever impeded the original train routes. So they usually went straight from A to B. Unlike most roads. Which often wove to catch villages or go around fields. So converted railway tracks are ideal for cycling commuters. There is a special closeness to nature when riding converted track bed cycle paths. The cuttings, embankments and tunnels all add to the excitement and interest.

I am spoilt rotten as I enjoy the little-used, rural lanes of Denmark. Though one still has to be constantly vigilant for fast moving vehicles appearing from nowhere. One can never truly relax on a shared road. Not even if I may only see one or two cars per hour on some rides. Hence the mirror. It saves an enormous amount of craning of necks and rotation of ears. Stopping is always an anxious moment in case I haven't noticed one of the few, ridiculously fast moving vehicles coming from behind me. On a bike path one can just stop and soak up a view. Or admire the attractive, old station buildings. Many of which have been converted into desirable homes.  

During the last week there were lots of classic American cars about. Yesterday it was the turn of hundreds of motorcycles. All heading east individually and in small groups. Today there was a convoy of classic European and American cars going through one village. Don't they have fun when the sun comes out? It should easily reach 80F this pm. And did.

I tried the i-gotU GPS logger again today. It failed to record anything and promptly crashed my computer when I plugged it in! The Ventus recorded a couple of miles and then fell asleep.(again)  So now I have no functioning GPS loggers to record my rides! 34 miles by bike computer.

I smiled at this scene on a quite, rural lane. A glance at the windows suggests that they were filling the whole building with grain.

19th 70-80F, 21-27C, sunny, light winds, already feeling very warm. Replaced worn out brake blocks and reattached the mirror. Using aluminium tube to reinforce the mirror base now. Well taped to keep it all in place. The stalk has to be a certain length to allow me a clear view past my hand on the hoods.

It's going to be even warmer today. I rode up to Søndersø and circled back around Morud though the forest lanes of Langesø and onto Vissenbjerg and the shops.

Unless I am mistaken this is a very early Morris Minor. Split windscreen of flat glass. Four doors dates it at no earlier than 1950. So it is probably about the same age as Mr Higgins.

Coming back there were literally hundreds of cyclists. All going the other way! In small and large groups. Only when I arrived home did I discover it was the Fyn Rundt Cykelløb. [Round Fyn Cycle Run]

Run continuously since 1894, with the only breaks for the world wars. It used to be only for elite cyclists. Now anybody fit enough can compete at 3 possible distances. 65, 110 and 180km. Or 40, 68 and 120 miles in old money. The vast majority of riders I saw were on racing bikes. With only a few mountain bikes visible. Some riders waved or called out as I rode against the stream. Trying to make a good impression at 20mph on the flat. A remarkable number were older riders. Neat white beards being as visible as grinning, bared teeth in the heavy shade of the beech woods. 44 warm and sunny miles. A great day for a ride of any kind. Most surprisingly, the Ventus logger actually worked as intended today! Still using the Brooks.

I saw 37mph come up on the descent from Vissenbjerg. When I checked my mirror at the top there was nobody behind me. So I was using the road rather than the rather rough and narrow, pavement/cycle lane. The tyres were singing so loudly I thought there was a car right on my tail! I didn't dare look in the mirror in case I hit a pothole or debris.

20th 70-80F, 21-27C, windy, full sun. First I headed for Nr.Åby. Then decided to ride on to Middelfart. Then on to Fredericia. It was hot, sweaty and tiring! I could often feel the sun burning through the back of my racing jersey. As I hadn't really intended to stay out all day I didn't have anything but a banana and a small bag of mixed nuts, raisins and seeds. I drank three bottles of water or about 1.5 litres.  I've drunk that much water again since coming home. Plus tea and coffee.

The foolish distance I rode today (On an intended rest day!) was to find a Zefal HPX3 frame-fit pump. I had seen them in a bike shop in Fredericia and assumed they would be available everywhere. Not so. I found only a couple of size 4 in other bike shops. So I ended up riding all the way back to where I had seen them in the first place! Where I was lucky to find a NOS pump in a scruffy display box for a fiver [£5] off the usual price. It was indistinguishable from the new stock except for the price label. 

The reason for spending nearly £20 on a pump was that the Zefal plastic ones couldn't give me the high pressures I now need for the Continental GP4000s. If I puncture on a ride I would be limited to about 75psi. I've had the cheap, plastic Zefal models for years so they don't owe me anything. The HPX has a valve clamp lever and smaller diameter barrel to allow higher pressures for the same applied effort as the standard models. A smaller piston will allow higher pressures. Since force = (tyre) air pressure x (piston) area.

I could have ordered an HPX3 online but wanted to ensure it was exactly the right size to fit Mr Higgins. I probably saved even more money by not paying for postage. The GPX3 is surprisingly heavy compared with the all-plastic variety. I have tried it and found I could keep adding air to a 110psi tyre. This is where the Topeak pressure gauge will finally come into play. I haven't needed it since buying the Topeak track/floor pump. Which has its own gauge.

I'm slightly unhappy about the frame fit top/handle of the GPX. It lacks the deep indentation of the plastic models. Which means it can be more easily rotated out of place under the top tube. Though it didn't fall off for the very rough miles along the Fredericia and Middelfart area cycle paths on the way home. I see the Fredericia council is finally removing the thistles! They must be reading my blog! NOT! Otherwise they would send the respective mayors along these same paths to see how really awful they are! There were potholes which were literally the size of my head! Massive cracks, troughs, sink holes, vicious step-ups in level, gravel moraines, ridiculous ramps, huge weeds and massive camber changes. 

The Brooks spanner makes light work of tensioning the 'Professional' saddle. Turning the nut is effortless compared with trying to use an open-ended spanner. The jaws of an ordinary spanner rub against the inside of the saddle nose which makes it hard work. The proper tool is highly recommended should you need to adjust the tension over the lifetime of a Brooks saddle. Don't overdo it or you may pull the leather away from the rivets. I wonder whether you shouldn't slacken off the adjustment nut if you ever try to soak a leather saddle to make it more compliant. This can be used to speed up break-in but risks stretching the leather. Now I'm wondering whether a good soak without tension would restore a saddle to its original shape. It would need to be thoroughly dry before being ridden again.

The Ventus GPS logger recorded only 5 miles today. The i-gotU only 10. I had reloaded the software and driver. Then Reset the i-gotU as suggested by the manufacturers. I'll give them both a few more hours of recharging and hope for better things tomorrow. Ever the disappointed optimist. The saddle started hurting at 50 miles but went away again when I had a short break in the shops.

My arms are rather sunburnt now, despite already being brown. I felt better after a cool shower and a short nap. Because I felt so thirsty I have risked taking another Zero rehydration tablet with a large glass of water. Last time I tried these, in my water bottle, I had strange cramps in my calves. Probably coincidence but I haven't had cramp before. We'll know tomorrow. 62 miles.

Barry Charlton has set a new solo trike record of 20:51 for a 10 mile Time Trial on the V718 course. Congratulations, Barry! A superb ride! A lot of TT bike riders would like to claim such a fast time! On a trike it is even more astounding! A trike has much greater weight, much higher friction at the rear end due to the axle bearings and higher rolling resistance due to having three tyres on the road. Somebody obviously forgot to tell Barry!  :-)

21st 63-65F, 17-18C, overcast, light winds. Completely different from yesterday. Much cooler, thanks goodness. Went to the shops for some new batteries for my bike computers. 12 miles. Going out again after coffee. The Ventus logger recorded the entire journey. Quite inexplicably the i-gotU stopped half way back home! It was charged until the red light went out as usual. The memory was cleared as usual. Another 13 miles. The Ventus worked properly. The i-gotU went to sleep in a shop and didn't wake up again. I keep the loggers facing outwards in my jersey back pockets. They should have a good view of the sky. No problem with cramp from the Zero rehydration potion. 25 miles today.

22nd 58-65F, 14-18C, windy with heavy, thundery showers forecast. Brighter later. It hardly rained all day but I decided not to face the wind. A rest day. First since the 9th July.

I see the C-word is riding in the Vuelta. Along with his fellow drug abusers. I wish they'd give the ITV4 commentator a Librium. His one pitched, over-excited voice gets on my nerves. I keep turning the sound down only to lose what the dour Scot is muttering in between. Somebody should tell him it's not football.

23rd 58-70F, 14-21C, windy, wet. I should have gone out yesterday. Today's forecast is showers again. Unlike yesterday we've just had a short, tropical downpour. I had  cramp in my calf in the night. It woke me up. I'm throwing the free, Zero rehydration tablets away! I was intending to ride to Odense. With a tailwind I'd get there pretty quickly. Coming back might be a tedious affair. Particularly if it pours.

It actually stayed dry again but I still kept my plans modest. 18 miles with heavy shopping. Just like the DMI, both GPS loggers failed miserably, again.

I had a SMIDSY from a long idiot on a mountain bike. He came onto the road from a rough track with hardly a glance at my rapidly approaching form. I overtook him with a wide berth as he used the whole road to accelerate. Then he sat on my wheel for a while at 20-23mph in a very gusty wind. Before cruising past, when I got bored with towing him. He turned off towards the forest. No doubt to play in some more woods.

24th 58F, 14C, still, overcast. A grey, quieter day forecast after yesterday's wind. I plan to ride to where I want to stand tomorrow for the Tour of Denmark. (Danmark Rundt) There is a long straight, gentle hill which will maximise the time when the riders are in sight. There are no serious hills which would slow pro riders significantly except close to Fåborg. Where competition for roadside places will be much higher.

I also need to be able to park the car somewhere tomorrow. So I can take my wife along. My chosen spot is in the "middle of nowhere" between two small villages with very few houses. She has become quite interested in cycle racing and still has a water bottle from a few years back. It landed right at her feet. I'm not worthy to be allowed to use her trophy. :-)

We have tried standing in three different kinds of places to watch the tour riders pass. Usually it is all over within mere seconds if the bunch is still together. Standing in a crowd always spoils the chance of photography. Because some idiot will always hold something up unexpectedly. Or the sun is shining straight into the camera. Or buildings throw heavy shadows. One cannot always foresee these irritating problems unless one scouts things out first. Preferably at the same time of day and conditions as the likely timing of the race passing the spot.

There is an evening time trial as well tomorrow. Running from 6pm to 8:30 in a loop between Kerteminde and Munkebo. Access to the route may be difficult unless one can get there and park early. Or arrive by a very minor road which joins the route. Though even this is very likely to have unseen traffic problems and nowhere to park. The forecast is for wet afternoon and evening!

Failing light becomes a serious problem for photography towards the end at this time of year. It wouldn't be kind to fire a flash from short range at a GC rider concentrating on his ride. The race leaders usually ride last. At the Middelfart evening TT the later riders could well have used lights! Which was a bit silly.

I did a loop out to my intended place on the road tomorrow. My memory of the hill was faulty. I was riding home tired at that time and it seemed worse than it really is. The steepest part is on the wiggly bit at the top. Still an incline and a nice long viewpoint to watch the riders and caravan approaching. No problem with parking. 27 miles so far. I stayed in later and sought a better place to enjoy the race. The area around Svanninge looks most promising for hills. Whether it will be possible to park nearby I have no idea. Plan A seems the best option. We can sit in the car and watch the riders passing in the rain.The weather forecast is offering a band of rain set to cross the country.

The Lance Armstrong saga seems to have come to a dreadfully weak ending. The damage it will do to cycling is incalculable. Every rider is inevitably tarred with the same brush. Those who are likely to be awarded with his many wins, of which he has now been stripped, may be even dirtier! What a mess! Every time a rider earned a fan base he has let them down. Their loyalty thrown back in their teeth. A lifetime ban for cheating is the only answer now. Nothing else will clean up the sport. It would be much better for Contador to crash out of the Vuelta. Hopefully taking lots of the other cheats with him.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

13 Aug 2012

13th August 2012


Lord Bradley of Wiggins' Tour de France ride for 2013 to the latest UCI rules.
The change to unequal wheel sizes is supposed to slow him down so a Frenchman has a (remotely) better chance of winning. The cobbles are in preparation for the next Olympics cycling track in Rio. To try and reduce the chance of the British team getting any more bløødy medals. The UCI are hoping for 'Nul Points' for Team GB. Or a Pendleton of medals as it is now better known in track circles. Power corrupts. UCI corrupts absolutely. Non?

13th 60-70F, 16-21C, windy and sunny. I rode to Odense to take back a Swann Pro655 security camera. A Birthday gift for my wife. Outdoor picture quality was pathetic. Like watching a colour cartoon. Even in bright sunshine the trees and bushes were simple blocks of colour like a child's drawing. How one could possibly recognise an intruder is anybody's guess. My cheapo webcam left it for dead!

To add insult to injury Computer City charged me £5 for the "privilege" of taking their substandard goods back. They have a minimum charge for returned items. I dread to think how much I have spent in that shop over the years. Computers, monitors, keyboards, mice, cameras, hard disks, internal and external computer cards, GPS logger, endless cables, etc.

Of course I pointed all this out to the salesman but it was water off a duck's back. This merely confirms that there is no consumer protection in Denmark. In Britain there is the Sale of Goods Act. Goods not being of merchantable quality and all that sort of thing. Each city council in Britain has a local Trading Standards Office.

That's the last time Computer City will ever see me in there. It wont change anything but this is just me enjoying my democratic freedom to have a good moan about it all online. Off topic? I rode all the way there and back, didn't I? What more do you want? ;-)

I'm still persevering with the Vetta SL saddle. It loves me. It loves me not. It loves me... NOT!  I'm trying Tea Tree oil on the pimples on my bum. Probably too much time spent at the computer than actually sitting on a saddle every day of the year with a "y" in it. Perhaps I should make up a bar stool with a bike saddle on top? It might help to drag me away from the computer. Though the Velo saddle couldn't drag me away from the trike. I just crossed the 10,000km tide mark for the year so far. 46 miles today.

14th 56-65F, 13-18C, windy and sunny. After two rides of around 50 miles in the last few days it was supposed to be a short loop to the shops today. But, no bread at the Coop.(again). Sloppy ordering! (again) There was no stock there last time. No choice but to ride to another, much more distant, village. A nice day for it in bright sunshine. The headwind was brisk but the road was mostly downhill and the tailwind helped me home afterwards. It needed to. It was all uphill and I had a Carradice "micro-Camper" saddlebag load of cans onboard! I ought to have air brakes. So I can make a racket outside the shops.

I rode onto the verge to let a vast, lane-filling harvester pass. I had no idea there were so many harvesters in the entire world. Let alone our backwoods little area of impoverished Fyn. With its part-time peasant farmers. The problem with harvesters is that the farmers need huge entrances to their vast fields. So hedges are usually vulnerable. It all looks so peaceful as the harvester slowly crosses the field. Until, that is, they come closer. It is no use trying to sleep when they are working around the clock and around your own home. What a racket!

Later, a moronic, kid in a tarted up Eurobox, came flying through a winding village. I had just passed a peloton of gently exercising pensioners on their ski sticks. I waved to the idiot to slow down but he put his foot down instead as he took a blind corner! How did the mug know I wasn't warning him of a random police checkpoint just around the corner? Then I saw a half-flattened tabby kitten on the road. Fresh road kill thanks to an immature retard travelling at twice the speed limit. Some shoulders will never carry a wise head. With any luck his early demise will involve a solo accident. Let us hope no trees are stepping into his path. Nor pensioners for that matter. 

I'm still consuming seeds, nuts and raisins on my rides instead of biscuits. Have stopped eating biscuits at home too.  So I'll soon be thinner than Lord Bradley of Wiggins. The Vetta SL saddle is still behaving itself too. Though I haven't seen anything remotely like it in the bike shops. The Vetta is a bit scruffy where the vinyl is coming unstuck and also has a small depression. Probably where something was left pressing hard onto the top for a long time.

Perhaps the Velo saddle will find favour when I try it again after a while. I bought it in haste when I was suffering from soreness on the Brooks 'Professional' on longer rides. It may not have been a fair test of the Velo at that time. There are shops full of very similar saddles to the Velo. Usually fitted to lightweight commuters and affordable racing bikes.

It is still a complete mystery to me how anybody serious about cycling chooses a comfortable saddle. Slavery to the pro rider's choices is just daft. Not only are some teams having saddles made for them alone. Some top riders have saddles made specifically for themselves.

All their kit is paid for by the team or the 'sponsoring' saddle makers. All cashing in on the silly money now slopping about in pro cycling. The amateur, or weekend warrior, is facing rapidly escalating costs to play let's pretend we're a pro for a day! (Well, perhaps an hour or two)

A good frame builder has always been able make a great steel bike to suit almost any rider. Try getting one made out of carbon or Titanium to match your idol fantasies! I have been doing a lot of online research into frame materials. It seems most cyclists could not recognise the frame material by riding it while they were blindfolded. Now there's a review method to sort the men from the boys! :-)

I was looking at the Brooks only yesterday and was surprised how much wear there was on the impressed side skirt logos. Yet I have never sensed any rubbing there. So I wrapped an old inner tube around the middle of the Brooks. To try and pull the skirts in while it is resting. A little more tension may help. I'm probably paying for my earlier butchery with wet leather. It was a desperate attempt to speed up breaking-in. It worked wonders but was not without its risks.
I'll really have to find something else to photograph. I've run out of pretty thatched cottages within a wide radius of home. There are many others but they are not photogenic for one reason or another.  Usually a permanently parked car. Or two huge dustbins permanently parked on the verge. I can paint out some blots on the landscape in PhotoFiltre but not all. I have added some insect pictures of my wife's to break up the text. Only 31 miles today.

15th 60-70F, 16-21C, light winds building, sunny and promising to be warm for a few days. Where shall we go today? Fåborg! I' really am as daft as a brush. I overtook another cyclist and he just sat in my slipstream. So I went faster and he still sat there like a leech. I did about 5 miles at 20+mph into a headwind.

A pretty house spoilt by two cyclists and a parked car. All of which arrived just as I struggled to compose from the shelter of a shop doorway facing straight into the sun! Bing-bong! Can I help you, Sir? Arrgh! :-)
The rest of the pictures from Kerteminde are arranged below. They all took quite some framing and later cropping to remove the modern hideousness of parked vehicles. The TZ7 is a poor camera for architectural photography. I really need a shift lens or a very (very) tall stepladder. A decent lens hood wouldn't do any harm either!

Meanwhile, on our way to Fåborg: Eventually we both had to stop for a red light. He was about the same age as me and seemed impressed with my 110rpm to his 50. He overtook and I followed. Though I was soon leaving him far behind on a two mile hill. Then my wife rang me and I had to stop pedalling to avoid breaking the law. He passed me and then disappeared down the road. I never saw him again. First moving cyclist I have ever spoken to over here.

Got to Fåborg, wandered about the shops for a while and then headed home. I explored a small lane and ended up going miles on a winding, heavily rutted, gravel track. Then I came to a tiny tarmacked lane in a valley in the middle of nowhere. No road signs or recognisable landmarks. I turned right (fortunately) and ended up even more miles from home! Had I turned left, which seemed like the sensible direction, the lane would have stopped dead, after a mile. Right in the middle of a field. The Vetta saddle became sore after 30 miles again. Am I having fun yet? 44 miles.

16th 56-64F, 13-18C, heavy overcast, windy. The forecast was rain and light winds but it hasn't rained yet and the wind was much stronger than yesterday. I re-tensioned and put the Brooks back on but it didn't feel right. Rather like sitting sideways on corrugated roofing.

My legs felt weird today. No strength and a strange feeling of detachment. No pain either but I glanced down at the cadence counter and was doing 65rpm! That wont do at all! The headwind didn't help.

Sloppy restocking of supermarkets meant a visit to two more villages in turn. What those without transport are meant to do I have no idea. No organic low fat milk, oranges or yoghurt. Am I a moaning Minnie, or what? Still not inspired to photograph anything. I'm probably going to put the Vetta saddle back on.

I saw some interesting (?) silver, frame-fit pumps by Zefal in a bike shop. They were long and remarkably narrow. To allow pumping to very high pressures. They claimed something like 175 psi! I have "normal" diameter Zefal, black plastic pumps in various sizes already. I found they couldn't manage higher pressures than 80psi even with a struggle. At least, not with me using them. The mini pump I bought is a sick joke.

BTW: I found I had a non-standard valve on one of my trike inner tubes. The valve screw locking 'twiddly bit' is so long it leaks air before the Topeak can get properly latched on! I was blaming the pumps and pressure gauge. The rain cleared up later but ground mist is rising outside. 24 miles today. The promised heatwave passed south of us.

Opposite Munkebo

17th 56-72F, 13-22C, thick mist burning off to hazy sunshine, hardly a breeze.I decided to use the light winds to get to Kerteminde. Which is a coastal town on the opposite corner of Fyn from Assens. A little over 30 miles away as the trike flies. The Tour of Denmark will be holding a short time trial there on Saturday 25th August. So that was a reason to go there again. I have never tried to reach it on my trike before now. Though it was once an occasional goal for the car in the past.

It was delightful at the start of my ride with beams of sunlight shining though the trees into the mist. Getting towards Odense it became much cooler, overcast and very misty. In Odense centre the mist had cleared but remained overcast. I had to pass right through Odense and pass Munkebo going both ways.

Munkebo is a largely a dormitory town for Odense. It has a few older houses along the old main road but the rest is largely countless bungalows. All very neat but there is nothing much here to attract visitors. The "beach" seems almost an afterthought and is isolated from the town by the incredibly busy bypass alongside.

It once had a large wharf for ship building. This has closed with massive job losses. The top of the vast crane was lost in mist this morning. A shame it was too far away to capture well from the main road. Munkebo's quiet little, low level shopping centre seems to go from bad to worse as the years drag past. A peculiar mix of very narrow, pedestrian walkways seems to hide the possibilities rather than expose anything of interest. It seems strangely intimidating rather than inviting. 

Denmark's villages and shopping towns are dying even faster during this long recession. They could never have competed forever with the supermarkets serviced by a couple of sour teenagers. Even some charity shops have closed. They are usually the first sign of the rot setting in when they arrive. To lose them again paints a very dark picture of centralisation, by car journey, in the bigger cities. The small, village shops, which hung on well beyond their sell by date, are now rows of blind windows. Even the estate agents have given up the struggle in many places. Adding to the air of misery for the land-locked pensioner without private transport.

I believe Kerteminde is an old fishing town. With many streets of attractive, little old, terraced houses. With some much larger timber-framed buildings. Though very little thatch remains. If there ever was. I spent 3/4 of an hour in the centre of town. Just taking pictures and exploring the narrow back streets. Much of it completely spoilt by parked cars for my taste. Even the gorgeous, enclosed and cobbled yards had resident's cars spoiling the view. Destroying the utterly unique, timeless character for simple convenience. 

The Ventus GPS logger fell asleep just after I left Kerteminde to retrace my earlier route! This time it was more into the wind. The main road was much busier and noisier on the way back. The cycle path was also much rougher. With many sink holes and jarring, sunken troughs right across the paths. Plenty of glass too. Given the huge number of cyclists who use this road the desperate need for the council office workers to have modern art, architect designed, "classical" office furniture and really nasty sculpture must still have outweighed any morals or conscience. Denmark becomes ever more shabby without any of the former chic.

I chased other cyclists going both ways to try and keep my speed up. The Brooks behaved itself better than it ever has on a longer ride. With only slight discomfort at around 60 miles. A bike shop in Odense was kind enough to sell me their own Brooks, tension spanner. I presume it saw little use and I was grateful for their generosity.

I finally made it to the big bike shop near the Tarup Centre while they were still open. S-works, Cervello and many other tasty makes decorated their spacious floor and windows. I was tempted to ask for "three of that one, please" but decided I probably wouldn't be welcomed again. The staff seemed young, knowledgeable and polite. Many Danish bike shop staff and owners are anything but! If this was England I would ask if they were trying to provoke me!

Fuel consumption for the day was a breakfast of home-made organic muesli with low fat, organic milk and a cup of tea without milk. An organic banana at 9.30am. A round of mature cheddar on wholegrain bread at 11 and 12am. A small box of apple juice and a litre of tap water. And, a small bag of home-mixed organic seeds, nuts and raisins. I never felt hungry, nor particularly weak, but I wonder whether there was enough energy in all of that?

I had my usual "elevenses" of two toasted rolls with lashings of high fruit content marmalade when I arrived home at 3.30pm. Followed by two rounds of wholegrain toast with organic honey at 5pm. Perhaps I should have taken the toast and rolls with me and consumed them on the trike? The honey and marmalade might have made a bit of a mess, I suppose. Mr Higgins handlebars are already horribly sticky. A healthy dinner was at 8pm as usual. I'm struggling to drink enough to stop my thirst now I am home despite extra cups of tea.

68 miles by bike computer. 35 miles by the Ventus "Narcoleptic" GPS logger. I'm almost tempted to break open the GT120 i-gotU GPS logger with a lump hammer and cold chisel. Just to see if the internal battery can be changed. Though it is a sealed, plastic box, glued shut. It was bought on Tuesday, the 26th January, 2010. Only two and a half years ago. Talk about built-in obsolescence! That came from Computer City too! 

Click on any image for an enlargement.

7 Aug 2012

6th August 2012

6th 60-70F, 16-20C, sunny periods. Forecast to pour down all day! They were right so far. Then it cleared up.  Quite windy on the way back. 13 easy miles as a token R&R day.

Pm: The promised rain stayed away with warm sunshine all afternoon. I tried fitting my clip-on, tri-bars but they were too high. They wouldn't make me any lower on the trike. Which is pointless. I would have to lower the dropped handlebars far too much for comfort.

The other pair is much heavier and wider. So I would have to remove the handlebar tape to fit them. My "proper" 3T tri-bars are completely unsuitable for normal riding. They would need a complete new set of cables for brakes and gears. I would have to remove the bar-end levers from Mr Higgins. Not to mention too much fiddling about.

It has occurred to me to put a specialist TT "iron" together using my Longstaff conversion. It would inevitably be heavier than Mr Higgins. Though I could dispense with all the usual junk. Which I carry around as insurance like an oversized snail. This trike could be put on the car rack when wind and weather conditions were right for another informal '10'.

I left the trike on the lawn for an hour and a  snail crawled up the wheel! It had obviously heard of my snail-paced '10' on Sunday and wanted to rub it in! :-)

Early days when I tried the T3 tri-bars on Mr Higgins for fun. Still running sprints and tubs back then. (Disastrously with regards to punctures!) Amazingly, these handlebars weigh 4lbs without the Shimano, bar-end, gear change levers!

The British cycling team is still attracting Olympic medals like bees to nectar. Incroyable! As the UCI and Olympics officials say in their 5 star hotels while plotting to change the rules retrospectively to show how badly power corrupts.

Hansen of Denmark won the Omnium after a nasty crash in one event, getting back on and chasing down the field. Well done, Lasse!

7th 57F, 14C, windy, raining. Rain forecast all day again. I'll go out as soon as it brightens up. It's not so keen to dry out today. Another cloudburst! And another. The last few downpours had blasted all the moss of the north facing side of the roof. This settled unseen in the gutter. Until it finally managed to block the downpipe. Then the gutter overflowed and dumped the whole of the next cloudburst straight onto the roof of the shed. Which promptly decided it was about time for a good leak! Now I have to clear all the moss of the shed roof as well. To stop it happening again. Grrr!

The heavy showers kept up so I left late afternoon. It poured down twice while I sheltered under a tree and later in somebody's carport. Blew hard too. Only 10 miles but I passed 6000 miles for the year so far. The new computer bracket has sheared off already! Shortened it and drilled a new hole.

8th 56-65F, 13-18C, very windy, cloudy with sunny periods. Rode into the wind while I was still strong. Except that I wasn't. Legs a bit heavy and aching.  The wind was very gusty but at least it stayed dry. Saw a family (?) of four birds of prey surfing high overhead. The wind was so strong they had their wings almost folded up most of the time. The Vetta saddle is proving quite comfortable for these shorter rides. Only a 23 mile shopping loop today.

9th 56-65F, 13-18C, windy and sunny. 20 lbs of shopping. 27 hilly miles.

The DMI is blaming false image, radar, rain forecasts on the little guys in stripy jumpers. Two-banded hover flies, no less! This one has three bands. So is probably blameless.

All these flower and insect images were taken by my wife in her wild flower garden.

10th 56-65F, 13-18C, breezy, overcast. The discussion on compulsory wearing of cycle helmets continues. Before I paid quite a lot of money for my latest helmet I literally hated them. The new one was so light and comfortable I found myself forgetting I had it on. I would find myself at the gate and having to tap my head to ensure my head was protected. While it remains a personal choice there will be those who don't or won't bother.

Like the teenage kids on their way to school wearing headphones on their bikes. They haven't a clue what is going on around them! They rarely indicate as they turn so effortlessly. I hate drivers who don't indicate. Or indicate half way round the corner. Many cyclists are just as bad!

Drivers sit patiently waiting for the cyclist to cross a junction. Only for the rider to turn sharply without even reducing speed. How many times will that occur in a driver's journey before they get thoroughly sick of cyclists? How long before they stop showing any respect to cyclists? How long before they push past too close? Or drive across their path in expectation of the cyclist turning without indicating?

Let's make it compulsory for cyclists, wearing headphones, to also wear a tall, pointy, dunce's cap. Or one covered in bright warning LEDs. Instead of a fine, for failing to ride sensibly, which their parents will probably pay anyway, make offending cyclists wear a ridiculous helmet with goofy ears. Or one with lots of bright red flashing lights for at least the next month. The sight of the idiot in the "flashy" helmet will warn other cyclists of the dangers of being an idiot themselves.

Car drivers have largely got away with murder and mayhem because they are usually completely anonymous. Even when they go out of their way "tarting up" their "ride" they aren't individually identifiable.

What about a highly visible compulsory indication of previous wrongdoing when they are caught out? Why should a potential killer get away with anonymity? Let's stick a very large, self-adhesive, florescent, warning triangle on each door of their car.

Younger drivers are completely fearless in their haste to main and kill. Let's make absolutely sure everybody knows a potentially dangerous driver is highly visible. Let's see that great big, "L" sticker firmly attached on the driver's door for their first year behind the wheel! Basic human rights? What about their bløødy (and broken) victims?

I rode up the west coast to Nr.Åby. It was very hard work into the wind! The Vetta saddle was okay until 30 miles. Though it wasn't too bad.   Lots of classic  American cars on the main roads this morning. Must be a meeting somewhere towards Middelfart, or beyond. I saw a Red Kite at Gamborg. It was sailing along the tall, vertical, cliff face of a beech wood.

I tried nuts and raisins today instead of my usual "Junk Food" biscuits. They gave me a tummy ache for a while. Though I didn't bonk. 46 miles by Ventus GPS logger. 49 miles by bike computer. No sign of summer yet.

I managed to chop off the masts in all the shots I took of this sailing ship. It lies so low in the water because of the crew. I kid you not! I waited for them to lumber back on board before I could take a picture. By the time the masts had stopped rocking the hull had sunk below the edge of the dock! :-) 

11th 54-65F, 12-18C, sunny and breezy. Rode down to Assens to see the jelly fish in the harbour. Quite chilly at first. I stopped at Aborg to watch the wash from an invisible ship come ashore. There was complete silence except for the birds and insects. It was incredibly clear today. Only 22 miles so far. Plus 12 more. Warmer now.

My Panasonic Lumix TZ7 has yet another fuzzy blob in every picture! I had the last one removed under guarantee. That was just after they changed the broken screen. The repairers obviously aren't using a clean room for assembly. Perhaps dust or insects can get in around the lens housing? The blob is not on the outer lens surface.

The view from the north coast of Fyn towards the Fredericia-Middelfart suspension bridge.

12th 60-70F, 16-21C, breezy, sunny periods. Put 110psi in the tyres. Then I set off to a distant target. I did half of my '10' on the drops, in 15:30 for some practice on the way. Then found the local shops weren't open until 10am. So I rode down to a local beach to kill some time. Did my shopping and then rode home again. 40 miles before morning coffee.

Going out again. Where I found that a "Special Offer" at a chain of supermarkets was anything but. The shelves were empty. (as usual) Don't they have any consumer protection in Denmark? The whole country is riddled with monopolies and broken promises. From butter to DIY stores there is never any choice. The only difference between supermarkets is the colour of the trolley handles and their often filthy, plastic baskets.

10 more miles later. The farmers are now well into the harvest. It looks like a bumper yield. Despite a load of shopping I managed to sprint into the draught of a huge grain trailer. I was doing a comfortable 25mph until we hit a long rise. Then I slowly dropped off until I was in the headwind. Fortunately it has been dry enough to keep the roads largely clear of mud.

Back left, back right and front tyres in descending order.

All three GP4000 tyres are showing definite flat surfaces on the crown of the tread now. The wear marker dimples are still visible @ 2500 miles/4000km from new. Still no punctures.  The front tyre is suffering the most cuts. This is a flint strewn area of the world. I ride off-road much too often and many junctions and cycle lanes are littered with sharp gravel. I am delighted with these tyre so far. Apart from the price of renewal when that moment arrives.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

5 Aug 2012

5th August 2012 & a '10' ?

5th 60-70F, 16-21C, sunny, light winds. Off we, jolly well, go again. I brought the tyres up to 102psi before leaving. There followed a 10 mile warm up, including a 2 mile climb. Then a 10 mile, very individual, time trial. Then ten more miles winding down. The Vetta SL saddle was fine today. Albeit with the same weird leg pains again. 30 miles so far.

My time over the ten miles, in the middle, was a rather tragic 34:47. My legs were hurting like hell all of the time. So I couldn't really go much faster today. Not even if I was being chased by rabid dogs. I was sweating profusely in the humid warmth. I don't like hot weather and never have.

"My" 10 mile Time Trial course is a gently undulating, out and back. Very little of it is really flat. The only steep bit is the seemingly endless climb up to the roundabout in the middle. All of it on a fairly smooth, marked off cycle lane each side of a (normally) busy main road. A Sunday morning ensures minimal traffic. Some might argue that traffic is a good thing. Because it offers some assistance as the rider is dragged along by the passing lorry draughts. I prefer to suffer in relative privacy.

So few roads are flat around here that I chose a route at right angles to the prevailing SW winds. I measured it out repeatedly on several competing, online mapping services. My cycle computer confirms it is close enough to 10 miles. If only for the purposes of showing off my personal inadequacies at time trialling.

I won my first ever time trial at the tender age of 16 on high pressures. They gave me a generous 3 minute handicap in a club field of about 20 riders. It was all very odd. I had just ridden 15 miles flat out. (as I always did back then)  Including climbing the truly massive Box hill up to Corsham. There I found these cyclists milling about beside the road in a leafy, rural village. They suggested I ride. I can't remember what I did with my ill-gotten gains because I had absolutely no pockets.

I only ever competed once more. I overtook the rider ahead of me and he promptly sat right on my wheel for the rest of the route. Then sprinted past me at the finish. I was so angry that I never competed again. Nor even joined a cycle club. I do realise that it did not affect my time but that wasn't the point. It felt like I was dragging an anchor around the entire course.

Then I had my all-Campag Record, Jack Taylor stolen. It was returned trashed from outside a local prison a couple of weeks later. Probably a prisoner late back from weekend leave needed a free ride. I couldn't afford to rebuild it properly and the insurance had lapsed. The TA Professional crank promptly sheared off at the spider after I had made the bike roadworthy again. Neither the bike shop nor the wholesaler would accept responsibility for selling me such substandard garbage. 

I was so disillusioned with cycling that I took up smoking. Immediately trashing the most amazing lungs my PE master had ever come across. In my final year at school I could run flat out over any distance and recover in seconds. Without any training, whatsoever, I was competing (in PE classes) with school athletes. If only for a while. I had been completely crap at running before that. I was also one of the smallest and skinniest kids throughout my school years. A hospital specialist had me blowing up balloons when I was little. Because I was so thin and weedy. It always made me dizzy so I had to give it up.

I still believe that my seemingly miraculous transformation was all down to chasing an older kid to school. He on his lightweight 531 racing bike. Both of us riding right across town in the morning rush hour. I was riding an undersized boy's bike with low pressure tyres and all steel accessories. It had cost me all of £2 of advance pocket money from another kid at school. I was robbed!

The route to school was horrendously hilly. Probably as steep as one-in-5 in places with hairpin bends. I turned myself inside out every morning. Just trying to stay with this bigger lad through the heavy traffic. Watching his chain hop effortlessly from cog to cog on his 10-speed Campag dérailleurs. As he held a high cadence in toe clips and straps and probably cycle shoes with plates. I had a decidedly dodgy, three speed, Sturmey Archer hub and rubber pedals and a heavy satchel full of books on my back.

I doubt he was even aware I was making myself nauseous chasing him like a lunatic every morning. I would be wringing wet with sweat for at least the first hour at school after riding flat out in full school uniform. The odd thing is that I grew almost a foot that year. After a lifetime of being bullied at school I was suddenly normal-sized for my age. Just in time to leave school.

Anyway, enough of the regression therapy: 49 years later, the wind started very light. Increasing enough for the local group of wind turbines to start moving. The wind was almost perfectly at right angles to the course but felt more like a headwind on the return leg.

The split time at the roundabout was exactly 17 minutes. So what I lost going one way, I also lost going back as well. I should have had slightly more shelter on the return thanks to rather scrappy hedges. It certainly didn't feel like it!

As is my wont, I stretched out to place my palms on the hoods throughout my ride. Rather than bothering with my tri-bar add-ons which were lying back in the shed. Or using the drops. I already doubted that riding on the drops made me any lower than the palms downward position. The pictures below prove me right.

I had the Carradice Camper saddlebag on. With all my usual junk: Waterproof jacket, windproof jacket, full tool kit, several spare tubes, cable bike lock with heavy padlock, camera, etc. The all-up trike weight was 15.5kg or 34.2 lbs measured when I returned home. I must be able to do better than this!

I wish I could find somewhere safe, at the beginning of the course, to leave my saddle bag. So I could save considerable weight and drag. I was expected to shop on the way home so couldn't leave the bag at home. I suppose I could take the trike on the back of the car. Though I would still need a proper warm-up after I got there. 10 miles tends to iron out all the unlikely aches and pains which always seem to crop up when one deliberately tries to ride fast.

A glance at the Veterans Time Trial Association website suggests a 65-year old should manage a '10' in 29.48. So the saddlebag, 20 years of smoking and a complete lack of race fitness cost me five whole minutes!

It was suggested on the tricycle forum that wearing a number would extract the maximum motivation. So that is Cancellera's secret? Not an electric motor in the seat tube, after all. Sadly, my preparation did not extend to this detail.  

There were quite a few clubmen out training today. All going the other way. (which saved some embarrassment from being easily overtaken) No doubt some of them were wondering why my face was contorted in agony as I rode flat out at 13mph on the long uphill drags. Somehow I seriously doubt that Mr Wiggins will be greatly troubled by this particular "performance." ;-) 

The images alongside are meant to represent my four standard handlebar positions. Don't say I didn't warn warn you. I said I was a pedant! I have it in writing at the top of every page!

For some reason, it bothers me (greatly) to see people spending a fortune on a specialist TT bike. (or trike) Only to set it up as if it were a (sit up and beg) 1920s roadster. I suppose I most resent not having the cash for such a beautiful machine. Or even having a proper time trial to compete in, for that matter. Practice makes perfect. Even competing in a humble club TT every week gives one a chance to improve on each ride.

In TT racing the basic idea is to get as low as possible. To minimise one's frontal area exposed to the headwind. What is the point in worrying about the frontal area of a back brake when the biggest blot on the landscape is the rider's own body? It's like worrying about grammes on the weight of a carbon fibre, racing saddle when one is 20-odd stone! As I was reading, with some incredulity, on a bike forum only yesterday! 

In each picture I have roughly drawn a line through my torso to show a guesstimated, body lean angle. A horizontal line is also drawn parallel to the top tube to help indicate this body angle. Ideally, my torso should be horizontal too. It's an imperfect world. Now you know why I wasn't invited to complete in the Tour de France Prologue TT! :-)
In the top picture I am riding on the tops of the handlebars. This is my hill climbing and relaxed riding position. It feels very upright. Probably a 50 degrees body lean to the horizontal. Certainly not as upright as a roadster bike but still very high in air drag. My head, shoulders and torso present my maximum possible frontal area to any headwind. Even one of my own making. I'd have to let go of the handlebars to make myself any bigger, as a drogue parachute, trying to slow myself down.

The next picture down shows me riding "on the hoods." I'm still fairly relaxed but slightly more stretched out. The torso angle has dropped considerably to only about 40 degrees. I present a much smaller frontal area to the wind. With much reduced drag. This position will  save a lot of energy on a long ride. Particularly at higher speeds. Where air resistance (drag) is the greatest hindrance to forward motion. Drag increases as the cube of velocity. Which is why we can't just go faster and faster on a bike the harder we pedal.  

Picture 3 shows me more stretched out. Palms on the brake hoods. My wannabe, mock TT position, if you like. It actually feels very low. I am stretched out enough to make this position quite uncomfortable for an extended period. Though not too painful to maintain for a few miles when pedalling hard. The effort on the pedals probably helps to lift the upper body weight against gravity. Oddly, this position feels as if my upper body is completely flat. The picture shows it is anything but! All is illusion, or, more likely, deliberate delusion, in cycling.

The 4th picture below shows me on the drops. This, again, does feel very low when out on the road. Yet my torso angle has hardly changed (at all) from the 3rd position. It may even be that my, more vertical, upper arms produce even more drag than the, palms on hoods, "superman" position. This riding position makes my racing jersey flap in the wind. My back is really quite humped. (instead of Wiggo flat!) So my shoulders and torso are still acting like a big, thick, blunt, stalled aerofoil. No serious car or aircraft designer would ever be daft enough to build anything which looked like a cyclist! Even motorcycles, with 100+bhp on tap, insist on fairings and smoothly curved, windscreens. Those control freaks at the UCI won't allow cycle fairings. So we have to try and work with the MkI human bod.

I deliberately kept my head low for these images to avoid a major cause of wind resistance. Normally I would be wearing my helmet. Which greatly increases my head's frontal area. Not to mention the amount of air drag compared with my (near) naked head. (silly haircuts notwithstanding) Unfortunately, naked heads tend to get damaged in any scrap with tarmac, trees and vehicles! I speak from long experience. 

What is surprising is the physical strain of maintaining a low position on the drops. Without any real reduction in air drag from position 3. Body lean hasn't changed but it is harder work supporting my upper body on my hands for very long. Tour de France riders can manage hundreds of miles in this position. My arms may be getting thinner and thinner (like theirs) but it doesn't get any easier for me!

A 'proper' TT position on tri-bars would provide far more body support on my forearms. Helping to carry the weight of my head and upper body. Much easier than resting on my outstretched arms. It would also reduce the unpleasant loads on my wrists. Which is why so few bother with resting on the drops when they can afford a tri-bar (or clip-on) in TT competitions. 

In practice my knees are not remotely hitting my chest in these lower positions. Though my quads are gently massaging my stomach when I pedal. This factor would probably set the lowest possible, comfortable, tri-bar position for most riders.

The ideal, truly-horizontal, torso angle (typical of Cancellara, Froome, Wiggins, et al) may be impossible to achieve for most normal riders. At least for the less than skeletal athlete. Perhaps we should all be doing sit-ups? Just to allow a lower tri-bar position?

Personally, I'm now a martyr to munching biscuits to keep up my strength on my rides. It seems my actual fuel consumption greatly exceeds my energy needs! I try to compensate by eating lots of fruit, salad and veg. I can certainly "pinch an inch" but pensioners aren't exactly known for their 6-packs. Unless we are talking about beer. Fortunately (?) decent beer is usually 600 miles away across the North Sea. 

Of course, bending my arms is possible in all four hand positions shown here. This would allow a slightly lower, "racing"  position. But this only makes supporting my upper body even more tiring. In practice I only tend to bend my arms a lot when descending a hill on the drops. To obtain maximum speed. Or when being buffeted by strong head winds and gusts. Or to provide some suspension over rough surfaces. Resting on my hands, like a quadruped, never came naturally to me. I have never been much good at press-ups. It must be the size (or weight) of my head. Or perhaps it's just a lack of practice at press-ups? 

Now it's time to go shopping again: 14 more hilly miles. Going surprisingly well now. It was rather warm and sunny!

Click on any image for an enlargement.

1 Aug 2012

Ist August 2012

1st 60-70F, 16-21C, breezy, overcast, dry. I felt the need for a longer ride again and chose to go to Middelfart. Then on to Fredericia across the iron bridge. I was trying quite hard right from the start and kept pressing on all the way there and back. The magic mudguard weather insurance is still working. The greyness eventually lifted and it became quite sunny towards the end. Not a drop of rain.

Lots of cyclists out and about today. Several larger groups near Gamborg. A favourite, minor coastal road for cyclists and usually fairly devoid of traffic. I saw lots of smaller groups of cyclo-tourists. Quite a few individual racing club persons were out training. Including three different blondes on carbon bikes. They did look happy, tanned and healthy!

I tried to chase one of them uphill but was caught at every single traffic light of five in a row! She slipped through all five as if by magic. It wouldn't have made any difference but it is maddening to accelerate as hard as possible. Only to be pulled up every few hundred yards! The same happened going into Fredericia. You'd think there was somebody watching on camera and deliberately changing the lights! And, no, I'm really not that paranoid. :-)

The cycle paths in the Middelfart/Fredericia area are still absolute crap! With every damned drain sunk below the tarmac. Massive changes in level, steps and crazy camber changes, potholes and cracks. In some places the thistles lining the cycle path, right alongside the immaculate main road to Middelfart, are 6' high. They run for a continuous mile at Erritsø! I was hitting them with my wheels as I rode along because the path was so narrowed by the weeds!

Under one bridge I nearly fell off the pavement/cycle path because the path was down to only a foot wide! How the hell would a wheelchair or mobility scooter get through? Lazy council gits! Blew their entire annual budget on Danish designer furniture, modern art, sculpture and fancy new offices! (again)

In Middelfart I was nearly mowed down by a car driver who wasn't concentrating. He overtook me and then turned straight across my path at a junction. A shriek of brakes and he stopped just in time! This is the first time this has occurred since I started riding seriously on the trike. Which says a lot about the Danes as drivers.

A British driver would just have mown me down. Then would  been fined £2 and banned from driving for a week had I been killed. Probably not even prosecuted if he had the right golfing partners. Cyclists in Britain have less status than road kill. Thanks god I don't have to ride over there any more. I'd come in a rage after every ride! 

My knees were hurting now and then. And still do. I'm obviously just not cut out for riding hard for 6 hours. (with a few stops for shopping in between) It was into a headwind all the way back. A teenager on a racing bike overtook me on the way back but I was too tired to chase. He did a few hundred metres and I did over a hundred kilometres. Reminded me of the brain dead shite running along the side of the road in the Tour de France! 67 miles.

My wife snapped these butterflies.

Wiggins wins gold in the Olympic Cycling Time Trial. Beating Martin of Germany into second place and Silver by a huge margin. Froome retained his good form to claim Bronze. Poor old Cancellara (Gold medal winner at Beijing) was riding with his injuries from the crashing out of the Tour de France. He only managed eighth and was in obvious pain after the event. Sanchez crossed himself before setting off and his chain broke on the start ramp! Then he punctured. I'd find a much friendlier god if I was him! And a better mechanic.

What a shame they closed the roads for the Olympics cycle races. Had they had to race against typical British traffic then Cameron (who?) would really have been able to call them heroes. (Had they survived!) Afghanistan is probably safer for British cyclists and everybody gets a medal for going over there. 

Well, it's happened already. A 28 year old cyclist has been killed by an Olympic bus outside the Olympic stadium. Luckily the 28 year-old was nobody important! Just another hedgehog cyclist. The road kill didn't even have a name according to the BBC Olympic Breakfast TV. So that's all right then.

An interesting response to the Olympic badminton disqualifications. (for failing to compete under the broken, self-defeating, rule system) What a shame the gutless cycling "governing bodies" didn't do the same to the national teams sitting in the Peloton in the Men's Olympic Road Race.

But then, the self-appointed, cycling control Nazis are usually worrying about millimetres of seat sizes. As "their" sport collapses under the sheer weight of drug cheating. It amazes me that Campag never made handlebar syringe carriers to fit racing bikes. Perhaps somebody should take away these dead body's right to govern anything?

2nd 65-70F, 18-24C, breezy, humid, warm and sunny. I thought I'd better have a wind-down day but ended up fighting the wind on the hilliest route I know. Feeling rather tired today though my knees were okay. Thunderstorms and cloudbursts forecast for later. 20 miles.

3rd 65-70F, 18-24C, windy, sunny. 20 miles.

Wild flowers beside an Assens cycle path. 

I tried going back to the Velo saddle but it still doesn't like me. I'm going to try the Vetta SL now. Interestingly (?) I saw a couple parking their Trek touring bikes. Well set up with large panniers and handlebar bags. Both had what I took to be Bontrager saddles. Vinyl looking, but quite broad and very flat at the rear. Quite noticeably so. Hardly any curvature crossways at all. So they wouldn't try to wedge the Ischial tuberosities apart. As do the vast majority of saddles on the market.

Well, the Vetta was much more comfortable than the Velo. I can't explain why but it felt much quicker too. Though I had some odd pains in strange places after thrashing both ways, uphill and down, to more shops. Probably because the Vetta is rather too high. Quite oddly, it has slightly curved rails. So any for-and-aft movement in the clamp tips the saddle. I've dropped it 1/4" or 6mm to see how I get on tomorrow. 15 more miles.

The British Cycling Team are doing amazing things at the Olympics. Isn't it peculiar, though, that despite hosting the Olympics, one still cannot access the BBC iPlayer from outside the UK? What a load of cobblers! This must be another UCI-nazi-inspired decision. Thank goodness Victoria Pendleton wasn't robbed of her next Gold Medal by the jumped-up, cold blooded, UCI dinosaurs.

4th 56-64F, 3-18C,very light winds, rather overcast with occasional watery sunshine. Turned to rain later just as I came home. I got on rather well with the Vetta saddle, comfort wise, but had the weirdest pains in my legs and knees at times. It may be that I am sitting on muscles, or nerves, which are being pinched. 25 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.