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.

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