30 Sep 2012

RANT: Circus Ringe? Or narrow gauge puncture magnet?

30th September 2012 

The Korinth-Espe-Ringe cycle path.

I was quite excited on my 20 mile ride to try the newly opened Korinth-Espe-Ringe narrow gauge cycle path. It runs along the bed of an old railway track which has been unused for 50 years. The Minister of the Environment did the official opening only yesterday with lots of fanfare, TV coverage and organised events in all the affected villages along the route. Great stuff! I am a keen advocate of converting disused railways into cycle paths.

The path itself is newly tarmacked but is only half the width it should be! Probably about 4.5' wide (1.3m) on average. With a steep drop off one side into the weeds. The other half is twice as wide and consists of flinty, soft sand for the horsey crowd to enjoy. Except they didn't and the animals would repeatedly get upset at approaching cyclists!

I promptly punctured. Not once but twice! The imported sand obviously contains many sharp flint points. These are carried onto the tarmac path by countless pedestrians escaping from the numerous cyclists. Or the sand is thrown over the tarmac by the horses hooves. Most of the length of the tarmac was more sand-coloured than tarmac only the day after the official opening! Whoever chose this particular sand should never be allowed to work on publicly funded projects ever again!

As I swapped inner tubes at least half a dozen cyclists stopped to tell me they had also punctured. Some had punctured numerous times! I met three different cyclists walking with their bikes because they had already punctured. Including one old chap with a shopper bike who had walked for miles pushing his punctured machine! He said he was grateful he hadn't punctured too far from home! Because he had been right to the very far end of the path in Korinth, nearly 20km away!

Imagine if the weather had turned foul? As promised by the DMI forecasters. There could have been a pandemic of hypothermia! Even a slow cyclist travels much more quickly than a walker. Walking effectively triples the time taken to cover the same distance. Particularly when pushing a bike through deep, soft sand! A ride of half an hour can turn into many hours of walking. Always assuming that the cyclist is even fit enough to walk that far!

The narrowness of the path made passing and overtaking very difficult indeed. By coincidence the path is about the same width as any typical, one-way, cycle path anywhere else in Denmark. Those cycle paths usually found running along the grass beside a busy main road. Exactly the same would be found on the other side of the road for cyclists travelling the opposite way! A two-way path would be twice the width of this pathetic attempt at [QUOTE:] "a cyclist's motorway." If only they had laid suitable paths for travelling both ways! Will the Minister return, red-faced for the two-way opening day in 2050 when funds finally allow an upgrade to a normal two-way traffic width?

Let's be be as charitable as possible and call the scheme designer a pig-ignorant clown. Obviously a non-cyclist. Nor even a pedestrian. Probably a big city-living, door to door snob who only eats at drive-in takeaways so they don't have to walk anywhere. (at all) They have never used a pavement or cycle path in their entire lives. Except to cross from their parked car to a nearby restaurant. The sort of knuckle-dragging moron who is totally unfit and unqualified to place a single flower pot in the middle of a public lawn without trained, adult supervision!

If they haven't been sacked already, for deliberately wasting public funds and impersonating a qualified landscape gardener, then every cyclist on Fyn should be baying for this person's blood! This scheme could have been so much more than the sum of its parts. But has been completely trashed by sheer bloody ignorance of everyday reality on a truly epic scale! It defies understanding!

Or perhaps it is destructive penny pinching from on high? Carried out by the sorts of morons who would deliberately build open-topped submarines and one-winged aircraft to save a few kroner. So that the money could be better spent on yet more Danish modern art (originals) Danish architect designer furniture (originals) and Danish lampshade (originals) for this year's, latest, palatial, council offices! Corruption always starts at home.

What makes me extremely angry is the utter waste of scarce public funds! The path runs through wonderful scenery. Much of it through rough and unspoilt marshy ground and peaceful farmer's fields far from habitation. The expenditure has all been utterly wasted! All because an ignorant fool has been allowed to polish his public ego well beyond his allotted talents and miserably poor abilities. I'm all for the educationally challenged to be encouraged to participate. But not on publicly funded projects like this! These schemes are far too important in getting people out of their cars and off the busy roads to ever be allowed to fail.

Where do I queue to claim a refund on my two, brand new, damaged tyres and my two, brand new, inner tubes? Somebody owes me sixty quid! (600DKK) Remember my last set of tyres lasted 3900 miles (6250km!) without a single puncture!

How will an ambulance reach those who fall off the vertical, unfinished cliff at the bare edge of the tarmac? Or who break their necks falling down the embankment to avoid a cyclist? How will the emergency services reach those who swerve onto the soft sand and immediately do a double header? The sand is so deep and soft it is completely unrideable. I was forced to try my luck when I was repeatedly pushed off the tarmac by wobbly, oncoming cyclists!

The sand should have been replaced by rolled and properly firmed, self-stabilising gravel over the entire width of the track. The sort of surface which has been commonly used in Britain for such schemes over the last 50 years! Though Denmark doesn't recognise even the humblest of examples  or working qualifications beyond its tiny borders) A broad, even surface would have provided for safe and relaxed passing and overtaking when required. It would have made a safe surface for pedestrians and cyclists to share alike. If tarmac was desired then it should have been made at least twice as wide. Or not at all!

I shall never risk my tyres on this puncture magnet ever again! Nor do I ever want to see the worried faces of oncoming cyclists wondering how on earth to pass me on my trike. The path is only just wide enough for two pedestrians to stroll side by side. Most walkers are completely unaware that cyclist are also using the same path!

You really couldn't make it up! Every few hundred yards (or often much less) another difficult passing situation arises. The walker's or slow cyclist's attention must first be obtained. Then they must take their time to return to reality. Finally they must be persuaded to step down off the tarmac path into the deep sand just to let another person pass! I was politely clearing my throat, so many times to attract people's attention, I soon had a sore throat! It would have been rude to ring my bell loudly and repeatedly every few yards, however tempting!

Speeds must be kept ridiculously low to avoid impending collisions. Not least with pig ignorant cyclists. Many joined the path without so much  as a single glance to see if there are other cyclists coming! I was baulked a dozen times in as many kilometres by these total ignoramuses! I would then overtake them all, with considerable difficulty thanks to the narrowness of the path, only to puncture again! So all those I had overtaken could enjoy the spectacle of my repairing yet another puncture. It would have been quicker to have walked! Many had to thanks to punctures!

Sack the moronic designer culprits now and burn their effigies in the council offices, reserved car park spaces! These spaces will always be empty as they enjoy endless paid sick leave, holidays and maternity leave.

I shall send a bill for new tyres and tubes to the Miljøminister, Ida Auken (Danish Minister of the Environment) with a letter of complaint! If nobody else does something then this scheme will  soon find itself as nothing more than a dog toilet, drug dealers haven and peaceful private horse riding track. Local cyclists will avoid it like the plague once the word goes out about the puncture magnet in their midst! What a waste of time and taxpayer's money! Neither cyclist, pedestrian nor horse rider can be happy with the present chaotic and miserly proportioned scheme!

Naturstien Ringe-Korinth - Naturstyrelsen


Google dansk translation:

Cirkus Ringe? Eller smalsporede punktering magnet? 

Korinth-Espe-Ringe cykelstien

30 sep 2012

Jeg var helt ophidset på min 32 kilometers tur til prøve det nyåbnede Korinth-Espe-Ringe smalspor cykelsti. Den løber langs bunden af ​​et gammelt jernbanespor, der har ikke været anvendt i 50 år. Det Miljøministeren gjorde den officielle åbning kun i går med masser af fanfare, tv-dækning og arrangementer i alle de berørte landsbyer langs ruten. Great stuff! Jeg er en ivrig fortaler for at konvertere nedlagte jernbaner til cykelstier.

Stien selv er nyligt tarmacked men kun halvdelen af ​​bredden det bør være! Sandsynligvis omkring 4'6 "bred i gennemsnit. Med en stejl drop off ene side ind i ukrudtet. Den anden halvdel er dobbelt så bred og består af flinty, soft sand til Horsey crowd at nyde. Bortset de ikke gjorde og dyrene ville blive ked af at nærmer cyklister.

Jeg hurtigt punkteret. Ikke én gang, men to gange! Den importerede sand naturligvis indeholder mange skarpe flint point. Disse transporteres på asfalten stien ved utallige fodgængere flygter fra de mange cyklister. Eller sandet kastes over asfalten ved hestenes hove. Det meste af længden af ​​forpladsen var mere sandfarvet end asfalt kun dagen efter den officielle åbning! Hvem valgte dette sand skal aldrig have lov til at arbejde på offentligt finansierede projekter nogensinde igen!

Som jeg byttede slanger mindst en halv snes cyklister stoppet for at fortælle mig, at de også havde punkteret. Nogle havde punkteret mange gange! Jeg mødte tre forskellige cyklister walking fordi de allerede havde punkteret. Herunder en gammel fyr med en shopper cykel, der havde gået til miles skubbe hans punkteret maskine! Han sagde, at han var taknemmelig for at han ikke havde stukket alt for langt fra hjemmet! Fordi han havde haft ret til den meget langt slutningen af ​​stien i Korinth, 20 kilometer væk!

Tænk, hvis vejret havde slået fejl? Som lovet af DMI prognosemagere. Der kunne have været en pandemi af hypotermi! Selv en langsom cyklist bevæger sig meget hurtigere end en rollator. Gåture effektivt diskant den tid, det tager for at dække den samme afstand. Især når skubbe en cykel gennem dybe, bløde sand! En tur på en halv time kan blive til timer Walking. Altid antage, at cyklisten selv er fit nok til at gå så langt!

Den smalle sti gjorde passerer og overhaling meget vanskeligt. Ved et tilfælde at stien er omtrent den samme bredde som enhver typisk, ensrettet, cykelsti andetsteds. Disse stier normalt findes løber langs græsset ved siden af ​​en travl hovedvejen. Præcis det samme ville blive fundet på den anden side af vejen for cyklister rejser den modsatte vej! 

En to-vejs vej ville være to gange bredden af ​​denne patetiske forsøg på [quote:] "en cyklist motorvej." Hvis bare de havde lagt egnede stier for at rejse begge veje! Vil ministeren afkast, rød-faced for tovejs-åbningsdag i 2050, hvor midlerne endelig tillade?

Lad os være så velgørende som muligt og kalder ordningen designer en gris-uvidende klovn. Naturligvis en non-cyklist og sandsynligvis en storby-levende, dør til dør snob, der kun spiser på drive-in grillbarer, så de ikke behøver at gå overalt. De har aldrig brugt et fortov eller cykelsti på hele deres liv. Bortset at krydse fra deres parkerede bil til en nærliggende restaurant. Den slags kno-trække idiot, der er helt uegnet og ukvalificeret til at placere en enkelt blomst pot i midten af ​​en offentlig græsplæne uden uddannet, voksen!

Hvis de ikke er blevet fyret allerede, for at spilde offentlige midler og udgive en kvalificeret anlægsgartner, derefter hver cyklist på Fyn bør sammenkobling for denne persons blod! Denne ordning kunne have været så meget mere end summen af ​​dens dele. Men er blevet fuldstændig trashed af ren og skær blodige uvidenhed om hverdagens virkelighed på en episk skala!

Eller måske er det ødelæggende penny klemme fra det høje? Foretaget af den slags idioter der ville bevidst opbygger open-topped ubåde og en bevingede fly for at spare et par kroner. Således at pengene kunne være bedre brugt på endnu flere danske moderne kunst originaler, dansk arkitekt designermøbler originaler og danske lampeskærm originaler for dette års, paladsagtige, nye, kommunale kontorer! Korruption altid begynder på hjemmefronten.

Hvad gør mig meget vred, er det totalt spild af knappe offentlige midler! Stien løber gennem vidunderlige landskaber. Meget af det gennem ru og uspoleret sumpet jord og fredelig landmandens marker langt fra beboelse. Udgifterne er alle blevet spildt! Alle fordi en uvidende fjols har fået lov til at polere sit offentlige ego langt ud over sine tildelte talenter og elendige evner. Jeg er alt for pædagogisk udfordret til at blive tilskyndet til at deltage. Men ikke på offentligt finansierede projekter som dette! Disse ordninger er alt for vigtige for at få folk ud af deres biler og væk fra trafikerede veje for at få lov til at mislykkes.

Hvor skal jeg kø for at kræve tilbagebetaling på min to, helt nye, beskadigede dæk og mine to, helt nye, slanger? Nogen skylder mig 600DKK. Husk mit sidste sæt dæk varede 6250km uden en eneste punktering! 

Hvordan vil en ambulance når frem til dem, der falder lodret, ufærdige klippe ved det nøgne kant af forpladsen? Eller der bryder deres halse falder ned af dæmningen? Hvordan vil redningstjenesterne nå dem, der sno sig ind på det bløde sand og straks gøre en dobbelt header? Sandet er så dyb og blød det er helt unrideable. Jeg forsøgte, da jeg blev skubbet væk fra asfalten ved vaklende, modkørende cyklister!

Sandet skulle have været erstattet af valset og korrekt bekræftet selvstabiliserende grus over hele bredden af ​​banen. Den slags overflade, der har været almindeligt anvendt i Storbritannien for sådanne ordninger i løbet af de sidste 50 år! Det ville have givet en sikker overhaling lane, når de passerer var påkrævet. Det ville have gjort en sikker overflade for fodgængere og cyklister til at dele ens. Hvis asfalt var ønsket så det burde have været foretaget mindst dobbelt så bred. Eller slet ikke!

Jeg skal aldrig risikere mine dæk på denne punktering magnet nogensinde igen! Jeg kan heller ikke ønsker at se de bekymrede ansigter modkørende cyklister gad vide hvor i alverden at passere mig på min trike. Stien er kun lige bred nok til to fodgængere at slentre side om side. De fleste vandrere er helt uvidende om, at cyklist også bruger den samme vej! Du kunne ikke gøre det op! Hvert par hundrede meter (eller ofte meget mindre) en anden vanskelig passage situation opstår. Den rollator eller langsom cyklist opmærksomhed skal først indhentes. Så de skal tage deres tid til at vende tilbage til virkeligheden. Endelig skal de overtales til at træde ned fra asfalten stien ned i sandet for at lade en anden person passere. Jeg var høfligt rydde min hals, så mange gange at tiltrække folks opmærksomhed, jeg snart havde ondt i halsen! Det ville have været uhøfligt at ringe til min klokke højlydt og gentagne gange hvert par meter, men fristende!

Hastigheder skal holdes latterligt lav for at undgå truende kollisioner. Ikke mindst med svin uvidende cyklister. Vær med stien uden så meget som et enkelt blik at se, om der er andre cyklister, der kommer! Jeg blev baulked en halv snes gange i så mange kilometer af disse samlede ignoranter! Jeg ville så overhale dem alle, med betydelige vanskeligheder takket være den smalle sti, kun at punktere igen! Så alle dem, jeg havde overhalet kunne nyde synet af min reparation endnu en punktering. Det ville have været hurtigere til at være gået! Sack de åndssvage designer skyldige nu og brænde deres afbildningerne i Rådet kontorer, reserverede parkeringsplads!

Jeg sender en regning til nye dæk og slanger til Miljøminister, Ida Auken (dansk miljøminister) med et klagebrev! Hvis ingen andre gør noget, så denne ordning vil snart finde sig selv som intet mere end en hund toilet og fredelige ridning spor. Lokale cyklister vil undgå det ligesom pest! Sikke et spild af tid og skatteydernes penge! Hverken cyklist, fodgænger eller hest rytter kan være tilfredse med den nuværende kaotiske og nærige velproportioneret ordning!


25 Sep 2012

25th September 2012

25th 52F, 11C, light breeze, darkly overcast with rain. A miserable day. I left it until late afternoon to go out. Luckily I wore the GripGrab overshoes and was glad for them. My bare legs don't mind the cold at all. I didn't even notice until the front wheel sprayed up on wet roads. I wore the Aldi jacket but soon overheated.

Had some fun avoiding two female zombies. One had parked her oversized people carrier across the gates of a school on a main road. (where there was no stopping allowed) She waddled off across the road as I approached at speed downhill. A real bus was coming the other way leaving me plenty of room to go through the gap. A fool could have read the road. But no, another female zombie decided to overtake me, then brake to a halt and block my route. There was plenty of room for my trike so I shot inside her and then overtook between the two buses. Had I not done so I would have had to do a rather quick emergency stop on wet roads from about 20mph. Once the road was clear the zombie then overtook me again and tapped her head to show that it was I who was a zombie. Sociopaths are everywhere. Most of them drive.

A good load of shopping to bring back as the sky stayed dark but only spitting. No organic fruit yoghurt or bread again. I have broken my only pair of yellow glasses. I hate wearing real sunglasses in these murky conditions. Even my palest grey make me feel all depressed. All my dirt cheap cycling sunglasses with replaceable lenses have lost their rubber nose pads. I can'rt bring myself to spend much money on rip-off eye wear. Only 15 miles today. Should be better weather tomorrow. Not!

26th 50-54F, 11-13C, light winds, overcast. I was going well on the way to Assens thanks to a gentle tailwind. It is a nuisance that the majority of shops don't open until 10am. Though the supermarkets are open much earlier. So I missed my routine visits looking for cycling clothing in the charity/recycling shops. Coming back was a bit slower thanks to a load of shopping. 10 kilos is about 20lbs. The promised rain started just as I left Assens and built up to annoying by the time I reached home. No problem with my Aldi jacket over my cycling cardigan. I thought I'd cut the legs off some waterproof nylon trousers to keep my shorts dry. Probably not a good idea. People might talk about me. The GripGrab scull cap under my helmet kept my hair dry again. I didn't overheat this time. Perhaps my knees were being water-cooled? I really need some more pictures but the heavy overcast does not inspire. 20 miles.

27th 51F, 11C, breezy, overcast and slightly misty. Forecast to be brighter this morning and rain all afternoon but it's still very grey and miserable. I ought to get a decent ride in today after a lazy week so far. I rode to Odense via the lanes and then onto Otterup via Lumby. The overcast never let up once.

I punctured at 3 miles and 63 miles. Small, razor sharp flints both times. Probably picked up in the endless farmer's mud. This is the end for the blue tyres. They can't be trusted any more. They have cracks and holes I hadn't noticed before until I started looking for the cause. Probably exacerbated by the wet roads and rain today. The roads were saturated in the afternoon. It was a good job I had the mudguards and overshoes on. I got the wind all wrong again today and had to ride back from Otterup straight into a headwind for over 30 miles.

Mr Higgins goes tilting at windmills and is victorious!
I have brightened up this picture but the sky is still grey. 

The Vetta saddle complained at around 50 miles and went on complaining on and off. I visited a bike shop in Odense which had Specialized test saddles and a test pad and pointers for measuring one's sit bones. It seems my search for a wide saddle has been entirely in vain. Apparently I need a 140mm saddle according to the Specialized test bench. Which is a simple pad of memory foam on the end of a seat for trying on cycling shoes. When sat on, the pad leaves lasting impressions of one's sit bones. The pointers are then moved to measure the impressions against a scale. I'm not sure what the device was measuring. Distance apart or the widest width? The central points?

I tried all their test saddles on a firm canteen chair and none of them was remotely comfortable. All of them felt as if they were trying to split me in half like two sides of a pig at the butchers! Two styles with different levels of padding in 130, 143 and 155mm widths from memory. There were lighter race models and heavier, more padded models. The race models were very flexible laterally. They charged £15 equiv. to borrow a test saddle. Presumably a nominal charge to fit and adjust the saddle to one's own machine. Fizik dealers were only interested in having one's details. With no charge for a week's loan of a saddle. Interestingly (?) climbing back onto the Vetta afterwards made it feel quite comfortable in comparison with the saddles I'd tried. Perhaps I was just completely numb by then?

It started raining fairly seriously on the way home. I could have done without the second puncture as I was nearly home. Luckily I had another tube in the bag but it's a messy business changing tubes when everything is wet and gritty. It also meant upending all the shopping to get it out. The Aldi jacket kept me very comfortable in the rain but my cycling cardigan sleeves were getting wet after a while. My socks were damp too despite the overshoes. Though I didn't notice this until I arrived home. The cheapo 'Gel' gloves were a soggy and unpleasant mess before long.

The scull cap was very welcome when I turned into the wind at Otterup. Particularly when it started raining. Riding for miles when it is cold and windy is no fun in a bare helmet. Despite being quite thin the cap seems to isolate one from the worst of it. I had finished my sandwiches and bag of seeds and nut mix by lunchtime. So I had to buy some more bananas to keep me going. It was nearly 5pm by the time I finally staggered in. Having left at 9am! Whoops. 67 miles.

Afterthoughts: I need a shorter stem! My hands and wrists were aching after riding so far (almost) on the hoods. I have tried to adjust for over-reach by moving the saddle backwards and forwards. Finding a shorter (70mm or less) quill stem is proving difficult. Perhaps the handlebars are just too low for my dimensions on this particular trike frame? The top tube is probably too long for me too. Forcing me to stretch too much. After three years and 20k miles I  should have found a comfortable position by now! My saddle discomfort problems are probably related to reach as well. Having been searching for advice on saddle choice online I have just read that saddle discomfort can be reach related. The Brooks Professional should be my best friend by now. But isn't.

28th 46-55F, 8-13C, high cloud, light winds. I must change the tyres and tubes before going anywhere. I like the new Schwalbe tubes because they have short, shiny valves. Many new tubes have ugly valves which look old before they are fitted. Getting the new GP4000S tyres on was no real problem. Given enough finger strength and patience lifting the last bit of bead onto the rim. Slightly inflated, undersized tubes are much easier to work with than the old 27 x1 1/4s. One must never use tyre levers at this point or damage to the inner tube is almost guaranteed.

One point I'm slightly concerned about is the waxy (silicone?) finish on the inside of the tyres. This must surely make it more difficult to fix patches on the tube? For the first trial ride I chose to inflate to 90psi on the floor pump. Just to see how they felt and performed on the road. The reading on my separate pressure gauge showed only 85psi. This pressure still felt hard with lots of feedback about surface texture and roughness. I'm not sure I'd want to go any lower in case of pinch flats. Nor is there any reason to go any higher.  It rained on me twice. Very localised showers though. Leaving the roads wet and completely dry in turn. I took off the Vetta and put the Brooks back on before leaving for the shops. Another mistake! 24 miles. Ouch!

Pm. I changed back from the Brooks Professional to the Vetta SL. The Brooks needs to be reformed. It has two very deep pockets for my sit bones. Which exposes the rear, cantleplate/rivet line ridge to an unpleasant level of discomfort within seconds of riding on it. It's (probably) all my own fault. I bought the saddle NOS. Over a decade in a warm store room had dried it out to the point where it would never break in.  It was also horribly lopsided thanks to an asymmetric (wedge shaped) piece of leather. Thick and hard one side, more flexible the other.

I have now slackened the saddle adjusting nut right off and bound the middle with an inner tube. When I have summed up the will I shall soak the saddle and stuff the undersides to reshape it back to a more normal form as it dries. It has carried me for thousands of miles and been mistreated with water, saddle oils and Proofide. The level of comfort provided has always been highly variable. It was better than the rest of my 20+ recycled saddles only up to a certain distance. Given that I can't even sit on most of the rest, for more than a few seconds, is still no recommendation of my Brooks. The Vetta came with the Higgins and provided a vital lifeline when the Brooks was misbehaving. I was amazed how far I rode on the Vetta yesterday!

I have also raised the handlebars by half an inch to see if it reduces the reach. My position is sportingly low for my relatively modest speeds. Even though I try hard most of the time I only manage 14-16mph cruising speeds in still air.  20mph+ is easy enough with a tailwind or 12mph into a headwind. I can go faster, when provoked, but that might/will make me slower fighting my way home into the prevailing Sou'Westerlies. The low position helps here.

Living on the bottom, left corner of an island is the least desirable place to be for a cyclist. With an almost guaranteed  headwind home on almost any conceivable route of interest. Even going north is fraught with cross-headwinds on the way home. As is heading east. Every fast ride out means a struggle coming home. Still days here are as rare as hen's teeth. Usually reserved for my middle-30s (of minutes) 10 mile TTs. Only because that is the only time my undulating, main road, TT route isn't exposed and foolishly windswept. The whole point of my rare and very solitary, solo TTs is to increase my (false) pride in my speed. Not to indulge in deliberate masochism! I'll leave that for my longer rides. :-)

Rain forecast for all day tomorrow! And for the next ten days. Grr.

29th 54F, 12C, windy, rain, overcast. I was treating it as a rest day but still had to go out. So I rode gently there in the pouring rain and then back in sunshine with a headwind and hills to climb.

I have fitted an old and ugly Brooks B17 Narrow on the trike to see how I get on with that. It took some tensioning to make it firm enough. This is the old saddle which I had to re-rivet because they were literally falling out. I also raised the handlebars another 1".  My hands now fall more naturally on the lever hoods but I still feel too stretched out. I'm trying to find a shorter (60mm) quill stem. They do not seem to be readily available any more. Not judging by my hours of searching online. I just worked out that I reached 3900 miles on the old blue tyres. Only in the last days did I start getting punctures. A remarkable performance and worth every penny for puncture resistance. While simultaneously,  not lumbering me with heavy tyres with high rolling resistance. The new 25mm tyres were more comfortable and quieter on rough gravelled lanes. Albeit running at lower pressures. Only 11 miles today.

30th 50-55F, 10-13C, windy turning to gales, sunny becoming overcast but remaining dry. I rode the 20 miles to Korinth to try the newly opened cycle path to Ringe via Espe. I have covered the pertinent details in the next post. I punctured twice on the flint strewn disaster area pretending to be a serious cycle path. The path is only half the expected width and has a very serious problems with cyclists passing each other. Pedestrians, horses, dogs and skaters only add to the cramped misery of this ribbon of tarmac through beautiful, unspoilt scenery.

I rode on from Ringe to briefly visit my fellow English tricyclist in exile and then turned back into the increasingly nasty wind to struggle the 35 miles home. The old, B17 saddle was acceptable until about 50 miles. When it increasingly became a medieval torture implement for the rest of the journey. 66 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

24 Sep 2012

Losing weight.


Another (long) rant: Nothing to see here. Move along, please! 

Much effort goes into the endless discussion of reducing weight on pedal driven transport. Usually meaning bicycles. Carbon fibre has largely passed by the humble trike as a frame material. The poorer cousin does not warrant the expensive research which is necessary to make a safe, but lighter trike. So we are stuck with high tensile steel tubing and steel bars for axles. So how do we try to reduce tricycle weight effectively enough to warrant the design exercise?

I have a recurring anxiety about trikes not progressing much over the last 50 or more years. Dragging the Longstaff conversion out of the shed (still fitted to its last donor road frame) was a real shock! It seemed to weigh a ton compared with the Higgins. Even without the rear wheels fitted! Together they must add an extra 7lbs. At least! I certainly wouldn't want to carry it far. And didn't! Longstaff is/was a highly respected maker of bespoke tricycles. What went wrong over the years that the trike didn't ever develop? Not even postwar?

The rear axles of a trike are the major area of weight increase over a bike. Apart from the extra wheel of course. Light, racing, trike wheels probably weigh about 3 lbs each complete with tyre and tube. (from failing memory) There is no escaping this extra wheel of course. Otherwise a trike would be a lopsided bike. Which would be absolutely no fun at all! :-)

Most existing trikes still use solid drive axles. The Longstaff axle is larger in all respects than the Higgins. Though "waisting" obviously helps, steel axles are almost impossible to make much lighter. Not without them becoming too thin and weak. The alternative is to make them much larger but hollow. (ie.tubular) Most of the middle of a metal bar is just excess weight. It contributes very little to the stiffness of the rod. The bare 1WD Higgins axles weigh 1.5 lbs without the cones. I can't remember how much the Longstaff axles weigh but it must be well over 2lbs. You can buy a complete bike frame that weighs under 4lbs!

If the axle diameter is made any larger then the axle casings must obviously be made much larger too. Though the axle casings can probably use modern, frame building, thin wall, steel tubing. Adding very little extra weight themselves. Tubing is available in a range of sizes suitable for road and MTB frame building. If the drive axles are larger throughout then the hubs must be made much larger too. As must their supporting, journal bearings.

Would much larger, thin-wall tubing make lighter and stronger axles than the present, relatively skinny, solid ones? I'm not sure much research has been done into larger diameter, tubular, trike axles. Smaller diameter stub axles could still be used for the lengths inside the hubs and 2WD double freehub. With only the length between the axle bearings increased in diameter to allow thinner-wall tubing to be used for this section. Larger, tubular hubs could use small, drive splines and a screwed ring (a là old-fashioned bottom brackets) to lock themselves safely in place. Flange size could still be kept quite modest. Hubs, being alloy, don't increase in weight too much due to having larger flanges. (within reason)

The short section, outboard of the outer bearing, is the most highly stressed area on a trike axle. Yet high performance motorcycles seem to be able to use a tubular axle and a one sided hub. The loads on those components, compared with a humble, pedal-driven trike, are simply enormous! Perhaps it would help to make the hub closer to the outer bearing? Perhaps with some compressive pre-loading against an axle flange inboard of the outer journal bearing? This would relieve the loads on the short, cantilevered section of axle between the bearing and hub. The bearing itself would be in lateral compression. As this would only involve the inner race I can't see any obvious problems with this. The bearings already sit on a step in a solid axle to resist side thrust during cornering.

Suitably narrow, journal bearings might be thin enough, laterally, not to increase weight too much. With the rider's weight and road shocks spread over a much larger ball bearing surface area they should cope. Asymmetric bearing sizes are also possible. The outer bearings carry the full weight of the rider. Plus road shock loads from the wheels. The inner bearings must resist only chain tension, drive loads. The rider's weight is a much reduced just here thanks to advantageous leverage. Weight could be saved by using smaller balls for the journal bearings themselves. Ball diameter being an important factor in overall bearing race dimensions.

The question is how best to size a tubular axle. One which can tolerate several hundred thousand miles, or more, without risk of early metal fatigue failure. Whether this balancing act between diameter, wall thickness and weight reduction, without loss of strength, is worth the effort, who knows? Something must surely be done to try and rid the trike of its present, rear axle, weight handicap.

There is a tendency towards using carbon fibre road frames with added trike conversion axles on the back. The problem I see with this is that the main frame section is not where the weight saving is required. It is with the rear axle. A conversion still needs the bike's rear stay triangles. So there is some material and weight redundancy here.

Modern conversion axles are now designed to increase the wheelbase. Rather than the classical conversion set which threaded through the rear stay triangles. Which much shortened the wheelbase. Leading, in some unfortunate cases, to heel strike on the axle casing. I fell foul of this problem myself with my Longstaff conversion on a short wheelbase road bike. I have large feet so other users may have more leeway in chain stay length. Crank length will also play a much smaller part in ensuring clearance for the rider's heels. My heels can also strike my Higgins' widely splayed seat stays.

But now I have digressed: Carbon fibre frames are designed for bikes. Not for trikes. The carbon chainstays are meant to resist vertical loads primarily at the junction of the stays and rear drop-outs. The trike conversion throws loads onto the centre section of the chainstays which were never part of the design brief. I'm not sure how long the chainstays would cope with such localised stressing in the long term. Paralympic riders may not ride the high training mileages typical of competitive time trialists and tourists. They seem to favour conversion sets more than other riders. Perhaps in the hope of weight advantages with their slightly lower power input?

As I said before: The weight of the main triangle of a bike (and trike) is really not where the weight problem lies. Suitable choices of frame tubing in the best modern steels will not mean a serious handicap in increased weight. Not over a carbon fibre, aluminium or titanium bike frame. Admittedly the splayed rear seat stays of a conversion will help to resist lateral loads on the donor frame. Mass produced,  carbon fibre frames have dropped in price. So a conversion can save money over a fully fledged racing trike. Though probably by not very much.

Carbon fibre is not proving to be a long-lived material. The Internet is full of images and complaints of permanently damaged frames from simple mistakes. Forks and wheels in particular seem to be even more fragile. They are also very flexible under side loading from cornering on a trike. Which they were never designed to encounter! Crashes are usually fatal. For the machine. If not for the rider. New machines are two a penny to a sponsored pro. The weekend warrior may have to buy a whole new bike! But at least curvy, carbon bikes look really sexy. So that's all that really matters.

Even wheels need careful consideration for their ability to withstand the sideways forces endured through repeated cornering on a trike. Remember that every corner taken on a trike throws heavy side loads onto the entire frame, fork and wheels. Many R531 trike frames are reaching the official retirement age for humans. Yet most continue cheerfully on their way without visible complaint. I find it interesting that the most successful  trike time trialists are still using "classic" steel frames. Albeit with fragile carbon forks in some cases. Rider weight is another important issue. Of which; much more later.

I doubt that exotic materials like carbon fibre or titanium can provide the strength and longevity required in the actual axle assembly. The dangers associated with the loss of a trike wheel, on the road, in traffic, are too catastrophic to warrant clumsy road tests to destruction. Probably leading to the destruction of the rider!

There is now CAD software which can illustrate the local stresses on a component like a trike axle and frame through the use of colour change. All we need now is a 'tame' CAD designer/engineer to balance tubing diameter against wall thickness and the, hoped for, weight reduction.

A final thought is the obsession with weight saving on bicycle components despite the weight handicap of the rider. The forums are full of 20 stone riders asking for a 100g lighter saddle or brake suggestion. Or which expensive (Big Name) carbon or titanium frameset is the very lightest? Why does it even matter?  I usually liken being overweight to carrying a rucksack full of bricks. One which the owner dons the moment they climb out of bed in the morning. And only put back down when the rucksack owner finally climbs back into bed. A typical brick weighs somewhere between 5 and 6 lbs. How many bricks are you carrying everywhere? How many more bricks can you actually manage?

I managed to reach about 13.5 stones at my maximum weight. That's about 190lbs in New World parlance. Let's say I was carrying  at least 40lbs of excess weight compared to the optimum for my 5'9" height. Or 8 extra house bricks. How far can you carry 8 house bricks? I carried them from dawn to dusk every single day. Strangely, it didn't make me any fitter.

I was enjoying a steady diet of Danish pastries at work and drinking litres of milk instead of the industrial grade coffee from the machine in the cantine. I loved coffee but it upset my stomach. I felt constantly full! I had heartburn most of the time and blamed it on the works coffee. I would complain to my wife that she was making our meals far too large. I could not even lie down on my right side without regurgitating my dinner. Or having a horrible burning sensation in my throat, if I was more lucky. My colleagues began to jokingly point at my "beer belly." The fact that I wasn't getting much beer (at all) only made the jibes worse. Though I laughed it off. As you do when you are weak and fat.

Despite all of this I was in denial that I was remotely fat. Like a smoker addicted to the weed I could find all the excuses imaginable for being the shape I was in. Even the medical profession said that being well-padded was better than being underweight. So that's all right then. I checked my BMA and found I was borderline clinically obese. I look at the pictures of myself taken at the time and I didn't look particularly fat. Though my arms and legs were much larger they were still quite obviously muscular. At least they were to my eyes.

I was finally saved by two pivotal events. I suddenly rediscovered my passion for trikes. My brother kindly found me a Longstaff conversion and sent it over. Later, I was made redundant. Like many others in Denmark, as production was moved abroad. That meant no more free Danish pastries. Nor milk waiting in the canteen 'fridge. It also meant a lot less exercise. Unless I bothered to exercise myself.

So started the routine of riding my trike every single day. Forcing myself to go out even when I didn't feel like it. Even when it was bitterly cold or wet. Forcing myself to publish my pathetic daily mileages on my blog. Pretending anyone else cared if I could actually manage a ride to the nearest town or village. Suffering daily saddle discomfort for literally years on end as I fought to increase my range. Suffering constant leg pain and endless tiredness. And they say this is good for you? Ouch!

I had to learn which modern cycling clothes were most comfortable in different weathers. On a fixed income I could no longer afford to experiment. Not at bike shop prices for Chinese made cycling gear! So I collected older "racing" bikes and MTBs for a fiver each from flea-markets and recycling centres. To strip them for spares or as donor bikes for my Longstaff conversion.

I bought my entire cycling wardrobe from charity shops. Except for gloves. They came from local supermarkets. Most of the latter were a complete waste of money. Though not all. The flimsy road mitts in the bike shops were certainly no better. As I have said before: They remind me of Edwardian lady's gloves for a visit to the opera. And, just about as useful for palming off the gravel in a fall. I only fell off three times. (from rapidly failing memory) Always after coming to a sudden standstill on sloping ground. Nothing more serious than very sore hands and a bad shoulder or arm ache for several days. Not enough to put me off riding.

I was required to seek employment (of course) as a condition of receiving a fairly generous income from the government and my union. I used this as another string to my tricycling bow. Every day I would ride out to find a new business where I would ask about the chance of employment. Heaven knows what they thought of a properly dressed "racing" cyclist turning up on a trike in all weathers. Most of my cold calling interviewers were rather sympathetic. Gently amused and polite, but they never had anything suitable for me.

I was close to retirement age, English and had dreadful Danish grammar and pronunciation. With a rather limited vocabulary. I was also a tricyclist. One almost alone in Denmark. Where only the disabled and elderly ride trikes. I probably looked and acted like a walking time bomb. More trouble than was worth the risk of further investigation of the package. So I would smile, thank them very politely, get back onto the trike and continue my journey. Being able to smile at yourself is wonderful therapy. It helps not having to defend oneself daily against wild accusations of eccentricity. Or the abject silliness of daring to ride a racing trike in Denmark! :-)

Shopping used to be a strictly car-driven affair. Without the need to commute I wouldn't pass any shops with the car's enormous carrying capacity. So I developed the habit of attaching a sports bag to the rear stays of my trike. The bags came from charity shops too and usually enjoyed a short, but active life. Often dangling dangerously and loosely from the Higgins rear end. Not unlike the dog's wotsits in retrospect. The trike obviously had limited carrying capacity despite the size of some of my sports bags. Shopping gave me another valid and meaningful excuse to ride every day. It gave me a purpose in life when nobody else needed me to have one. The car cast a deep shadow and the grass eventually died where it stood unused. Often for weeks, or a month, at a time. The insurance company even gave me a discount for light use!

My trike mileages increased slowly but surely. My weight came down about as slowly. After three years of being a hapless job seeker and terminally forgetful shopper I was told to retire. For some reason this gave me a reason to ride further. I was free at last. Of what, I am still slightly unsure. My increasing fitness also allowed me greater range. Usually that range is still set solely by the level of comfort offered by the saddle.

There is a moral to this (endless) saga. Weep no tears for me. Except in laughter. Let's get right to the point: Being overweight is a personal choice. Being unfit is a personal choice. (medical problems aside) Though carrying a rucksack full of house bricks surely can't help any condition to improve! Being made redundant is not the end of the world. One adapts and one makes more beneficial life choices. All thanks to the greater freedom suddenly on offer. It is not something ending for good. It is another branch of opportunities opening up.

One has to try anything to improve the quality of life. Particularly when one has so much potential spare time on one's hands. Remarkably many people die off soon after compulsory retirement. I found that writing about it on my blog brought the self-discipline which was often lacking in the past. Even if only one or two other people read your blog it still demands some serious responsibility. When the numbers increase you had better perform!

Who cares if nobody else reads it if it makes you think for yourself? Few do. Most only regurgitate what they heard on the news. Or mumble the same tired, over-rehearsed comments about the latest sports result. Or nod approvingly at the neighbour's latest car purchase. Only the latest in the endless string of commuter boxes before the very last commuter box finally claims its owner. Did you see that programme on the telly last night? Sorry, I didn't. Don't elaborate though. You're not allowed to say you don't watch TV. It would be like making offensive comments about the enquirer's wife!

I was once addicted to Danish pastries without ever having to buy them. (One day at a time) I drank milk because I thought it was healthier than industrial strength coffee. Now, as I sink ever closer to 11 stones, 70kg or 155lbs I can stand up on the pedals for hundreds of yards on a climb. I can climb our 60 degree cottage stairs without becoming breathless. Back then I could only manage three miles, riding flat out around the block, before having a lie down to recover. And, the crazy thing is, I still thought I was fit!!

Now I eat all day and still feel hungry for the first time in decades. Feeling hungry is a wonderful feeling after years of feeling full! My weight is still dropping slowly. I feel more positive about life than I ever have. They said that dementia could be held off by exercise. I have the worst short term memory on the planet but I don't think it has actually got worse. As far as I can remember.

I give life greater meaning by deliberately giving routine tasks a multiple purpose: Greater fitness, greater range, money saving, avoiding depression, reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and skeletal problems. Fending off dementia, increasing skills or knowledge base. Or, just saving the planet. By leaving the car where it is for emergencies. Even giving myself something to think about in the absence of problem solving at work which no longer exists. For anybody at the present rate of industrial decline.

My wife used to call me Toffee Boy. In a kindly, bemused sort of way. Because I always walked like I was up to my knees in treacle! So, thanks to her kindness, I now choose to walk briskly when off the trike. Despite the racket from my MTB shoes clattering about in the supermarket aisles! Most people don't even walk. They amble on their slow motion visits to the supermarket. Rolling, often quite literally, from their cars to the trolley parking. Then rolling into the shop to buy their 55 gallon drum(s) of Coke for their daily fix. The wheelbarrow loads of fat-laden, semi-toxic, processed crap which is always sold in decorative boxes. Like aunty's Xmas presents from under the tree. Always so full of promise. Always ending in unmentionable disappointment. Nuts! (are filling and quite good for you)

Many shoppers are now so weak, from permanently carrying their personal loads of house bricks, that they lean heavily on the supermarket trolley handles. Rehearsing endlessly for their allotted Zimmer frames awaiting their twilight years. If they even last that long!

You can't change the colour of your skin. But you can certainly change how big it needs to be to house your inflated ego. They say that junk always grows to fill the space available. How many house bricks are you carrying today? How many more can you possibly manage?

Hi. I'm Chris. I'm a greedy pig. I am addicted to chocolate and biscuits and cakes. I am (still) carrying two extra house bricks. One day at a time. ;-)


17 Sep 2012

17 September 2012

17th 55F, 13C, windy again, overnight rain clearing to sunny periods. I have a wet cough with a bad taste. Probably from all the dust in the air from farmer's mud on the roads. There are brown clouds rising every time a vehicle runs over it. The tractors have been on the fields for several weeks now. First there was spraying, then harvesting, then carrying the grain away, then bailing. Then more spraying. Then pig shit spreading. Before raking and then ploughing. Probably with more spraying in between. Then getting a fine tilth. Finally the seed drills. Probably with more spraying to follow.

Every time they work with tractors and implements they have to return to base. Along the roads. Leaving a thick layer of mud behind them. Without rain, to soften the mud for the traffic to slowly  disperse, it just sits in countless thick lumps all down the road. Riding over it on a bike or trike is very uncomfortable indeed. The mud is always full of stones and probably flints as well.

I'll probably go out later when the forecast is for sun and lower wind speeds. Which is just as well with forestry machines cutting all the hedges and trees right down to the ground. I'm spending more and more time on the drops to fight my way into the constant wind. I seem to be getting pains in my right shoulder and buttock again. Must be overdoing it. Though the rest day seemed to make it worse. That may have been carrying the trike up those steps in Middelfart the day before. Going well today despite the wind. 19 miles.

18th 56F, 13C, very windy, overcast with showers. Rain forecast all day. It's not looking very promising. It brightened up so I went anyway. Was caught in a couple of showers but still survived for 22 miles. It poured down for hours after I arrived home. The Velo saddle felt like a wedge today.

The Tour of Britain was won by Jonathan Tiernan-Locke. First British GC winner in 19 years. World Champion Mark Cavendish won stages including the final sprint. After riding back to find a tired Cav, T de F winner Bradley Wiggins went sick. The shots of Wiggins smiling before he dropped back for the Cav rescue mission were the first I've seen of Wiggins actually enjoying life.

The anonymous online cowards are talking about Tiernan-Locke as if he were doping to win. Simply because he won! I wonder whether the recent British successes aren't due to others no longer being able to cheat. Perhaps the British are simply proving they always had the talent but couldn't show it against the countless crooks.

Isn't it time the UCI was stripped of its monopoly powers as being totally unfit to rule the sport? While Nero fiddles, over the minutiae of saddle position, Rome, Paris and Madrid have all burnt to the ground several times over! The British cyclists are now rising above the ashes of international Professional cycling. As the UCI continues to try and paper over the mess with technical and mechanical irrelevancies.

Anything to try and distract us from the awful truth. In case it affects their own status, privilege and income. They want us to forget, that no race, under their jurisdiction,  has ever been won cleanly. Until now. Not because of them, but despite them. Even when the US anti-doping case against Armstrong was overwhelming they were still trying to ignore it. Doping apologists are as dirty as the crooks who dope. They all do so for greater financial reward. That is fraud. Apologists for fraud deserve no support and certainly no corrupt power to make rules for others. Not even if the French and Spanish lunatics still drool down their flags and g-strings. As they caper like apes at the sight of the Big C and his doping cronies climbing through their drunken midst.

Vantinge Kirke

19th 46-52F, 8-11C, gales, sunny periods with rain. Rode to Ringe to look at saddles again.  Going was fine and almost effortless. I felt strong and was doing 20-24mph much of the time. Coming back was straight into the wind and took three times as long! The Velo saddle was awful after only 30 miles. The problem with saddle discomfort is that one cannot ride as fast as usual. This prolongs the agony because the journey takes much longer!

In the bike shops there was a whole range of saddles but all of them had considerable lateral curvature. While it may be true that the curve is mostly top padding the plastic chassis is still curved. The Fizik saddles were by far the lightest. Those available seemed rather narrow and put me right off borrowing any of the test samples.  I'm guessing that narrowness is the major problem with all of the saddles I have tried. With lateral curvature the reason why I feel as if I am sitting on a wedge. The more curved the saddle the more uncomfortable they feel.

I have a large box full of assorted saddles  and most of them are strongly curved laterally. Sitting on any of them produces instant pain.  Those saddles, in the shops, which were flattest were also the cheapest but also the smallest and narrowest. Otherwise I might have had something better to ride home. After three years of riding almost daily and for tens of thousands of miles I'm sure I would be broken in by now. If, indeed, that was the problem. I just seem to have no worthwhile padding over (under) my sit bones. Wearing well padded racing shorts helps but not softly padded "gel" saddles. Nor real or fake chamois lined, modern shorts. Nor add-on, 'gel' padded, saddle covers either. I have tried them all without success.

The Vetta SL ATB (?) is the most comfortable of the plastic based saddles in my collection. This saddle came with the Higgins and has the flattest lateral curve. How can all those saddles in the box be so uncomfortable? Somebody must have ridden them and survived to tell the tale. Why is the Brooks so uncomfortable after (about) 50 miles? I have no obvious saddle sores otherwise they would hurt from the start of every ride. I have no problem sitting on an antique wooden chair without a cushion for several hours. I have tried low and high saddle positions. Tipped forwards, level and tipped back makes no obvious difference. Slightly nose-up helped on the Brooks. Though only for the first 50 miles. 50 miles today. Yet again it stayed mostly dry for me. Despite heavy rain back at home.

20th 44-52F, 7-11C, windy with weak sunshine. A contiuous deluge is forecast for today and tomorrow. Though it only looks like showers arriving this morning on the DMI radar. The sky is now filling with huge banks of clouds from the SW.  In the end it only started to rain as I brought the shopping home. 16 miles. Now it has brightened up again. 14 more miles.

Only one light shower. I had to put my long fingered gloves back on because of the latent heat of vaporisation. ;-) Which, in layman's terms, means that wet hands are cold hands. The wind speeds up evaporation causing increased  heat loss. The higher the wind speed the greater the heat loss. Rather like wind chill factor but with "knobs on."  Meat safes were once covered in wet muslin. The water in the cloth evaporated in warm weather taking heat way from the contents of the safe. Thus prolonging the life of the food contained therein. Then they invented the refrigerator and meat safes largely fell out of favour.

21st 51F, 11C, overcast, very windy and wet. A stationary front is wriggling from the UK over Denmark and beyond. Promising lots of rain today and all week. The last few days have been slight false alarms with much less rain than promised. Most of which I have safely avoided.  Now it seems it has been saving it all up. At the moment it looks like another rest day. It's not that I mind riding in the rain. More that I need to use every possible excuse to take a proper rest day.

Having had such success with the Conti GP4000 tyres I have ordered three more online. 3500 miles without punctures is tremendous insurance and reassurance of being able to finish any journey. Well worth the extra cost of the larger investment in relatively costly rubber.

I have found another online dealer, here in Denmark, which undercut the last one by enough to buy three new Schwalbe inner tubes free of charge. The postal charges are also waived over their minimum of ~£50 total. Further reductions to 259DKK (£27.75) each were offered for multiples. What's not to like? (as they say)

This time I have chosen the all-black, 4000S in the 25mm size. I shall sorely miss the decorative, bright blue 'bling' of the older tyres. Though I shall continue on with these tyres until they prove too unreliable. The idea of trying the 25mm is to allow lower pressures. With the blue tyres I deliberately pushed the pressures higher. Right up to maintaining the 110psi manufacturer's recommendation. While this seemed to reduce rolling resistance (subjectively) it greatly increased the discomfort of riding on rough surfaces. Particularly cobbles! It may also have speeded up the noticeable flattening of the treads.

Increasing the inflation pressure would tend to push the crown of the tread out. Forming a very narrow contact patch.  Which is then rubbed away by the abrasion against the road surface. The high pressures would continue this trend as the thinner rubber lost its resistance to the pressure inside it. Eventually thinning the crown more than the shoulder. So high pressures and trike use would further exaggerate this flattening. With my 11½ stones distributed fairly evenly over three wheels I don't really need such rock hard tyres. There is also some loss of grip when sprinting, or climbing, out of the saddle.

Slightly fatter tyres will tolerate lower pressures. Slightly reducing the risk of pinch flats/punctures. Lower pressures should further reduce tread flattening. The S model of this tyre is supposed to be better than the standard GP4000 in several respects. So is likely to offer longer life. We shall see. Just don't hold your breath. It will take several months and more than 3500 miles to clearly differentiate between the two models of this well-respected tyre. Given that this wear test is likely to occur over the winter it will take slightly longer going on past experience. Even longer if the rubber is supposed to be of better quality.

22nd 48-52F, 9-11C, windy, overcast. Rode up to Brenderup via the back lanes as much as possible. A lot of the route was very rural. Pretty winding lanes with woods, ponds, fields and high hedges. Ponies and horses everywhere. The headwind felt so cold it was blowing right through me. After 24 miles I could turn left  and loop back towards home. Still the wind was nagging me. It was if it was coming from all directions. Bought a load of shopping at Nr.Åby. No wonder I felt slow on the hills!

I had the Vetta saddle on to see how I coped. It was okay until nearly 30 miles and then started hurting. I tried moving backward and forwards but it made no real difference. I  tried almost lying down on the drops, sitting upright and leaning forwards on the hoods. There is something odd about the two modern saddles which doesn't happen with the Brooks. I get weird aches in my legs. Indeterminate aches with no particular location. Neither muscular nor skeletal. I presume it has something to do with trapped nerves due to these saddles. The Brooks must spread the load (little old me) much wider. 44 miles so far. Couldn't buy a couple of items so I'm off out again before the promised showers arrive. First glimpse of the sun today! 6 more miles. Yet again I missed the rain as it belted down while I was in the shop. I was doing 24mph with the wind.

23rd 48-56F, 9-13C, breezy, sunny but cool. A superb day for a ride provided one was wrapped up well. I put on one of my winter cycling jackets over my usual racing jersey and shorts. A GripGrab scull cap kept my hair warm under my helmet. The GG cap is excellent. A perfect fit without any tightness and cut long over the ears for warmth. The wind was in a weird nor'westerly direction again. So I headed in a general north-easterly direction. Skirting the western side of  Odense without leaving the unspoilt rural delights of this area.

After 30 miles I started warming up so the jacket went into the Carradice bag and I put the thin Giordano jacket on instead. The thin and sweaty Sealskinz gloves were swapped for the far more comfortable supermarket "Gel" cycling gloves. These only cost a fiver (£5) per pair but have earned their weight in gold. The scull cap was finally removed to help keep me cool on the endless hills.

The Vetta SL saddle was mostly okay with occasional discomfort after forty miles. I overtook a couple of mountain bikers who swung out in front of me. Sitting on their tails was almost perfectly sheltered from the headwind. As soon as I pulled out I could feel the wind but was committed by then. On a long drag I even had the weight disadvantage but kept ahead for a couple of miles by keeping a very high cadence. Then a clubman went past on a racing bike as if I was standing still. I used him as a target to try and maintain my speed.  The supermarkets Sunday special offers were anything but. No stock by 12 o'clock. Two outlets. Again! What a bunch of Krooks they are! 59 miles today.

A dickhead with a wooden sign, advertising a bar in Maastricht, nearly took off Mark Cavendish's head in the 2012 World Championships! Cavendish was leading the peloton (for a 100km!) when some idiot lowered a wooden sign to get it into camera shot. Right into the path of the defending 2011 World Champion's head! The culprit  should have arrested for assault with a deadly weapon! How much longer is the cycling world going to put up with these brain dead lunatics pretending to be fans? When all they want is self-publicity!

24th 48-50F, 9-10C, windy, overcast, cold. The forecast is for 35-40mph gusts and heavy rain all day. I went out early to catch the shops and returned home unscathed. Only 13 miles. Later the trees were bending in the wind and the drive was awash.

My new tyres arrived from Cykelgear.dk in good time. The weekend got in the way but they still delivered within 2 working days. Excellent communications and service and the best prices I could find anywhere and with a direct link to the GLS tracking. This was clear, informative and worked well. I have added Cykelgear.dk to my useful links above. The GLS delivery chap was polite, helpful and cheerful . Which all cheered my wife up no end. She is sick of wasting time having to listen out for the non-existent post.

I'd have Chain Reaction up there too but their website is an awful mess. When I'm browsing I will often see a CR advertising link for the item I'm looking for. Which link will always lead me to anything but the item I was interested in! Usually their messy front page with inscrutable and endless index on the left. This feels just like all these other crooks who offer product reviews when all they are is sales outlets. I won't deal with links crooks like this as a matter of principle. CR should really tidy up their act!

What a shame Post Danmark only employs lazy miseries. We used to to be able to tell which day it was from whether we had post. Now we don't even know what week it is. Or what time they will arrive. If ever. Half the time we don't even get the supermarket's weekly offers newspapers when we should. By the time we get them the offer is over. I plan my shopping routes by the special offers. Then when I get there they never have any stock. Aren't monopolies wonderful? Denmark has lots. Or cartels fixing prices.


Barry Charlton has added the 25 mile TT trike record to his recent 10 mile record with a remarkable 54:18. His new record is 30 seconds faster than the previous record held by Carl Saint. Barry averaged just over 27.6mph. Many TT bike riders would love to be able to claim a 54 for a 25. On a tricycle, with its greater weight, air drag and rolling resistance it is an amazing feat of power and endurance. Well done, Barry!


Click on any image for an enlargement.

11 Sep 2012

10th September 2012


10th 63-68F, 17-20C, breezy, overcast with sunny periods. A wobbly loop for 28 miles. It rained lightly for a while. Going quite well today. I overtook a couple of clubmen and stayed ahead at 18-20mph, into the wind, on undulating roads. Though I'm not kidding myself that they were doing anything but dawdling and chatting. I just used it as a long interval to push myself harder than usual.

11th 63F, 17C, overcast, sunny intervals, windy turning to gales. It started raining half-heartedly but not enough to force me into a jacket. It became progressively more windy and wet as I neared home. Luckily Mr Higgins had been settled down into his shed just before it absolutely tipped down. Only 24 miles today.

Here are links to three superb Flickr galleries from the Stan Spelling 2012 Weekend in England. The National Tricycle Association '10' and a '25' time trials took place in fine weather with a good number of trike riders taking part in both events. The photography beautifully captures the atmosphere. With a wonderful hint of September softness to the sunlight.

The machines are beautifully prepared and show just how competitive the riders are in their selection of fine racing components and wheels. Many trike riders compete regularly in evening or weekend, club time trials at 10 or 25 miles. Probably riding against lightweight TT and road racing bikes. Some tricyclists compete at much greater distances of 50 and 100 miles. Or even in 12 or 24 hour time trials. Though these are more specialist, extreme endurance rides. With many hundreds of miles covered.  Riding throughout the night in the case of the 24 hour race against the clock.

TA National '10' Trike TT 2012

TA National '25' 2012

Campsite: Atmosphere and preparation

Time trialling has always been a uniquely British sport. Many cyclists are naturally competitive. However a corrupt few, rich a powerful men, objected to cyclists frightening their horses. So cycle road racing was soon banned by law in Britain. Even riding quickly was liable to result in a fine. Those seeking a serious test of their skills, speed and stamina would race incognito and solo against the clock. Often dressed in 'stealth' black in the early hours of the morning. This had the singular advantage that every rider competed against him or herself regardless of geographical location. The only tactics were riding as hard as possible without blowing up.

The very many, local TT courses, with their strangely coded names, developed fastest times and records to be broken by new arrivals. Often aided by the slowly improving equipment and road surfaces. Some hard riders held course records for decades. Their names became legendary in TT circles.

Tricyclists competed too, of course. They had their own record holders, handicap system and heroes under the auspices of the Tricycle Association. Some important TTs have their own cups, shields or awards named after a legendary TT rider of yore. Seconds, and even fractions of a second count where every rider is competing hard against the clock. Personal bests are reward enough for those who manage to shave a second or two from their previous best time. Sometimes due to perfect conditions. Or thanks to careful training. There is no better preparation than to race regularly. To get one's "race legs."  Which probably means the rider has developed lactic acid tolerance.

Some TT riders will drive for hundreds of miles to compete on courses known for their fast times. Usually run on flat main roads with the draught of passing lorries helping the rider to exceed his normal speed. Though these fast roads are not without their dangers. Inattentive drivers have maimed and killed a number of cyclists and tricyclists competing in TTs over the years.

The odd thing, IMO, is that they usually ride in the same lane as the much faster moving traffic. When there is often another free and completely empty lane next to the verge. In Denmark this lane would probably be designated for cyclists. For which I am very grateful. Even with a handlebar mirror to monitor passing traffic it is not unusual to be closely brushed by a vehicle even in the marked off cycle lane. When trying hard in a TT one cannot always concentrate on the view in the mirror. Otherwise one can miss seeing the dead cats, foxes, hedgehogs, frogs, stones, potholes and branches. All lying in wait for the unobservant cyclist in the designated cycle lane.

Having glanced at the results sheet for the TA '10' my humble 32:20 on Sunday morning wasn't too bad at all.  I could even call it my personal best after a 34.30 last time out. One day I might even take my time trialling seriously and leave the saddlebag at home! Riding on the drops is comfortable enough for my back now now but made my hands numb.

An earlier iteration of the Longstaff conversion in TT guise. Complete with whirling magnets and flashing lights!

I have already dragged out the Longstaff conversion and compared it side by side with the Higgins. It seems to weigh about the same fitted to a sports bike as the Higgins with the saddlebag still attached. This is going to hurt like hell when I'm  climbing up to the roundabout! Now I have to fit the 3T bars and gear changers. Adding another five pounds at least!

12th 48-56F, 9-13C, windy, sunny becoming overcast with rain. It started well with sunshine but rather cool for the first time this autumn. I wore a cycling cardigan over my racing jersey and under the thin Giordana. Having proper back pockets the cardigan is handy for the phone, GPS logger and small, mixed bag of seeds, nuts and sultanas.

Fortunately it isn't nearly cold enough to require full gloves yet. I have a selection of gloves at the ready for the first time this year. Anything to get away from the bulky and very inferior, supermarket Thinsulate offerings. I have struggled with these cheap gloves for several years now. Their only advantage is very low cost. The trouble is they lack any useful wind or rain proofing.

I rode down to Assens in bright sunshine to do some shopping. There was a lot of activity in the harbour so I stopped to take some pictures. I had an informative and pleasant chat with the supervisor. Who explained what was happening. They bring huge piles of logs in by ship. Then grind them into chips for onward supply to Danish power stations and paper makers. A small number of workers, with suitable machines, can handle vast quantities of raw logs and wood chips. The machine drivers were incredibly quick and skilled as they scooted around picking up great shovels full and dumping them in enormous, box-shaped, lorry trailers.  I was promised the arrival of another timber carrying ship but the forecast bad weather was just arriving. The blue and sunny skies suddenly turned black and it started to spit with rain just as I climbed quickly out of Assens. Only 21 miles today. With a following wind home helping me to avoid the rain drops. Again I made it home just in time to avoid the worst of the following deluge. Now it is back to full sunshine again. Though not for long. The forecast is for a very wet afternoon. Which it wasn't.

The Head Gardener's thought for the day: 

Cav gets his GCSE in British Cycling: 

General Classification, Sprint Edition. :-) 

13th 41-65F, 5-18C, almost still and sunny. A cheese sandwich day! Rode to Middelfart and Fredericia to visit the better cycle shops to see the pretty toys in the flesh. Nice day for a ride. I was going fairly well today. A gentle headwind going. Which increased to help me come home. The saddle started complaining at about 50  miles but went away again after a pause to shop. The replacement Ventus GPS logger is working well. Battery life seems to be a problem with these sealed devices. The Ventus, at only £25, is cheaper over three years of battery life than the i-gotU at £50. Remind me not to carry my trike up a steep flight of stone steps. Lazy git! I should have retraced my route and gone by road. I was going to ride up the side but it was far too loose to get any grip. 64 miles today.

14th 54F, 12C, heavy overcast, gales with rain forecast all day. A proper rest day unless it improves later.

My new Park Tool CT-5 chain tool has arrived from Wiggle. I can't complain about 7 days delivery with free international postage. I could have chosen express delivery but was in no hurry. The tool is more compact overall than I had imagined. Neat, crisp construction. The whole thing oozes quality. Easily small and light enough to take on the trike despite being made of real steel. The replaceable pin is held firmly in place with a screwed collar. This was the Achilles heel of the Spectra chain link extractor. If the pin doesn't stay in place it can't possibly withdraw itself from the chain! Life is too short to mess about with such corner-cutting, pointless idiocy! I wish I'd had a CT-5 years ago.

The wind is still gusting strongly (at 2pm) but better than this morning when the trees were visibly bending backwards and forwards half way down their trunks. The heavy, grey overcast may finally be lifting. Sunshine at 2.30! The rain has gone off. There is still hope for a ride! Though if I was sensible I'd stay in to recover from yesterday. Not that I feel any need. My legs are absolutely fine today. Null points, then. A rest day it is.

15th 50-58F, 10-14C, windy, overcast. Autumn has arrived rather suddenly. It has that cold, windy, desolate feeling about it already. Particularly out in the exposed countryside. I punctured on a flint again. In the other tyre! So that's two new tubes gone already. I found the flint point in the tyre. Exactly the same as last time. Except it was in the middle of the tread rather than the shoulder. Less than 6mm long, 2mm wide at the fat end with a needle sharp point. Just unlucky? Or have the GP4000s finally reached the ends of their useful lives? They've had a damned good run without a single puncture until now. 3520miles spread between 3 tyres. That's over 10k miles total if you look at it that way. I'll have to get cracking on inner tube repairs! 41 miles so far. I have to go out again. 7 more miles riding flat out on the drops.

16th 55-60F, 13-16C, very windy, cloudy with sunny periods. Almost cold enough for the full finger gloves again but I soon warmed up and took off the Aldi jacket. I saw a peloton out training but couldn't catch them into the wind. Saw what I took to be a red kite. Long, high aspect ratio wings with 'fingers' extended. Only saw it against the light so couldn't see any colours. There are huge numbers of small birds including swallows moving about in large flocks. Chaffinches, goldfinches and sparrows are most common. Only 12 miles before morning coffee. Going out again after stuffing my face with marmalade on wholegrain rolls.

Brighter than earlier. Instead of sticking rigidly to my lifelong rule of a completely level saddle I'm now tipping the nose up about 1/8"". For some reason it seems to considerably aid comfort. I also tipped my handlebars up a fraction to make the levers more accessible and reduce the reach slightly.

This made me smile for some reason. Two tiny bikes neatly parked in the bike rack outside a supermarket. 

I haven't been able to find a slightly shorter stem in the old fashioned style. The present one is 80mm. 70mm would make me far more likely to ride on the hoods. Instead of around the bends with my fingers curled around the top of the hoods. It's not a matter of handlebar height but of reach. I suppose I could use my Ahead adapter and change to different bars and extensions. I bought it to fit the secondhand, alloy, 3T aero TT bars but never used them (or the adapter) seriously. At 4lbs they made the steering feel very heavy for normal use. I wasn't so fit or trike-worthy back then when I was still using the Longstaff conversion.

32 more miles later on the Velo saddle with no ill effects. I cannot explain it but I seem to go faster with this saddle than on the Brooks 'Professional.' It can't be just the weight difference of about a pound. My saddlebag is often ten to fifteen pounds heavier with shopping. This doesn't seem to slow me noticeably. In fact I often forget that I have shopping on board as I chase after another cyclist or attack a big hill. (Or both!) So many senior moments. So little common sense. :-)

Click on a any image for an enlargement.


7 Sep 2012

6th September 2012

6th 56F, windy, clear, but becoming cloudy with rain later. I need to change the chain. I'm wondering if I should also change the cassette this time. I have no record of having changed the chain in over 5k miles! The casette is a year and 9.4k miles old! The Continental GP4000 tyres are still going well after 3.2k miles. Still no punctures despite lots of off-roading and dreadful roads. It is all down to running at much higher pressures. I knew most of my puntures were pinch flats and this just confrírms it. I can still see the wear check dimples on the front tyre. Despite the flattening of the tread crown they still seem good for quite a few more miles. My £5 radial spoke, Shimano front wheel has very rough bearings now!

I rode to Odense to buy a new 9 speed, Sram cassette. It took visits to several different shops before I found one in the same shop as last year. I was also looking for a flat, racing saddle or I could have bought the cassette online. The flattest lightweight saddles I have seen so far are Selle Italia. Mostly seen in white but black is also available. They are usually fitted to affordable Scott racing bikes. Several shops suggested they could order one for me from the wholesalers. Another shop suggested they would soon be available off the shelf. The staff at another shop were adamant that loose saddles were not available.

Having visited the last bike shop I suddenly became upgraded from tricyclist to "spasser" at a traffic light. I was turning left at a multi-lane crossroads. I had glanced behind to see there was no traffic for miles. So I joined the left turn lane on the right hand side. The lights changed and I set off at a good pace having indicated my intentions to the car which had suddenly arrived behind me. He revved up and started honking his horn loudly. Shouting "get off the road spasser" at the top of his voice through his open window.

I parked the trike in the middle of the traffic lane to inhibit his further progress and approached the driver's window. Still he kept up his tirade of "spasser this" and "spasser that." He was probably in his thirties and totally nondescript. As was his little car. The teenage girl in the passenger seat looked really worried. She should have been far more worried to be in a car with an idiot than to expect any risk from me. I'm just an old fart who rides a trike, from choice, and takes pictures of old houses before they are ruined by easy credit at negative interest rates.

Even had I been handicapped it seemed totally unwarranted for this moron to keep shouting "spasser" out of the window at me. When I told him that he should not call anybody a "spasser" he kept repeating it like a child in the playground. Why did he feel it was necessary? I noted he was overweight and wore glasses. Are all spectacle wearers considered handicapped because they are optically challenged? Or gravitationally handicapped by their deliberate, long term overeating? It seems not. This, despite the obvious risks to taxpayer's pockets in their endless care and maintenance by the health service. There was no point in arguing with him in my version of Danish. So I climbed back on and joined the cycle path.

I was puzzled and perplexed by his strange behaviour. I admit that it all seemed completely surreal at the time. Do all drivers see all trike riders as handicapped? Should I care? Or is my usual racing garb simply a personal attempt to distance myself from the handicapped triker image? Obviously I can tell that I ride a racing trike. But, who else in Denmark would recognise the difference? A number of highly experienced cycle mechanics have shown considerable interest in my trike. It is nothing like the trikes they usually fix or sell. Most trikes don't come fitted with 27 gears and racing handlebars.

Should I have retaliated in some way? Perhaps removing his windscreen wipers and hurling them over the nearest hedge? Or even onto his lap? That would probably have been construed as a minor crime. Possibly leading to deportation. Hardly worth the effort, no matter how much fun it would have been at the time. Being called a "spasser" (spastic) by an ignorant nobody was probably not a crime. Since mention of race or colour was not involved. Is there such a thing as a hate crime against the disabled? I was never much good at thinking up witty responses in such 'heat of the moment' situations. A childhood of being constantly bullied takes its toll. A form of mental paralysis kicks in. Probably a survival mechanism. Like a puppy rolling on its back to have its tummy tickled. Though I had no immediate plans to do likewise in the middle of a large and busy crossroads.

I browsed for the Danish rules referring to cycles at traffic lights when I got home. My only flaw, as far as I could discover, was failing to physically stop to check behind me having passed the stop mark. The rules are much more vague where multiple lanes are involved. In fact they were very vague about the cyclist's rights and responsibilities at any traffic lights. I must have been looking in the wrong place or not using the correct search terms.

Note that the right hand lane is for right turn only. How else would a cyclist turn left except by following my purple track? Would you really expect a cyclist to cross straight over? Then make a U-turn, wait for the lights again and then finally turn right? It seems I should have done my homework before heading to the big city in search of  fame and fortune. Well, a cassette actually, but it hasn't got the same ring about it.

Under normal circumstances I would have reached the far cycle lane going left without inhibiting any other vehicle. It was only this strangely childish bully who was determined to get his psychiatric problems publicly aired. I don't think he was even indicating before he chose to try and intimidate me. So he may have been going straight across until he chose to follow me into the left turn lane. He was not held up for even a fraction of a second by me. His own behaviour caused him a far greater delay than if I had wandered across like a slowcoach. Though I seriously doubt he was expecting my reaction of stopping to speak to him. He was probably hoping for the frightened rabbit stereotype. What a damned shame I hadn't a helmet cam. It never occurred to me to get my camera out and video his tirade. That might have provided food for thought on YouTube.

When Danish cyclists want to turn left at traffic lights they tend to ride straight cross. Then either do a U-turn somewhere down the exit road. Or turn in a slow wobble across in front of the traffic and cyclists waiting at red. Both ploys are very dangerous IMO.  Manoevering slowly in front of an impatiently waiting queue of cyclists and traffic at low speed is asking for trouble. Timing is crucial for survival!

Being a country bumpkin I have been use the British method and turn left as if on a motorbike or in a car. Though I do ensure that I give traffic, in my lane, plenty of room by taking a very wide arc. I also move quickly off to ensure they are not obstructed. I can usually out-sprint cars dawdling normally away from the lights. 44 miles.

Two possible options. The danger from right turning vehicles and bicycles is much higher in the right lane and its matching cycle lane. Using the center lane, as if crossing straight over, but pulling well off to the right and waiting there may be the most sensible option on a trike. If there was no traffic coming I could then proceed to the left. Though this might be construed as jumping a red light. 

I would have get out into the centre lane first of course. Then get quickly away and move well off to the right (blue track) to allow the traffic to cross straight over. Sitting in the right side cycle lane on a trike will impede the cycle traffic turning right. Somebody hasn't thought this crossing out properly IMO. 

I can still hardly believe a country, which respects cyclists, forces them to wait twice at the traffic lights just to be allowed to turn left. There is something incredibly illogical about all of this. All it takes is a little patience on behalf of drivers to accept that a cyclist may turn left just like any other vehicle. British cyclists have been turning right for over a century. They get much less respect than cyclists in Denmark.

Pm. Removed the chain. Then pulled the axles out enough to drop out the Trykit 2WD double free-hub and old cassette. The worn cassette was quickly removed with the splined socket and chain wrench. A check round and a good clean up and I could fit the new Cassette to the, now bare, free-hub. I used a torque wrench on the splined socket to tighten the locking ring on the loose, top gear sprocket to 40Nm. Then I quickly matched the new chain length with the old using my two, height-matched panel pins in the shed door frame. Much better than handling the chains on potentially dirty floors or even the ground. I fed the new chain though the changers over the sprockets and chainrings and I was roadworthy again. The Tiagra rear  changer, tension pulleys are knackered and will need to be replaced. Opinions vary online as to the effectivity of Shimano originals (cheapest) compared with some outrageously silly prices for ceramic. I wish I'd known that I needed them while still in Odense.

The Spectra chain link extractor has now been downgraded to junk. The drive pin keeps falling out and I have now lost its loose, brass bush in the grass. They should both have been a tight fit but fell out the first time I used it. And quite frequently ever since. It is a miracle they have not both been lost long before now. The cheapo, supermarket, link extractor with adjustable stop screw, which I bought at the same time, can't cope with narrow chains. All thanks to a complete lack of understanding of what the tool is actually used for. Probably copied from other products without a clue as to what they were doing. It's all alien technology to some Chinese factories. They can't even manage a decent screw thread! Spectra and the supermarket copies certainly couldn't! My previous cheapo link extractor was so loose in the threads that it could self-disassemble in seconds to a pile of scrap metal of doubtful origin and quality.

So it looks like a Park Tool 'Mini Brute' (lifetime investment) is in my stars. Just ordered one online from Wiggle. Thanks to their free delivery (even to Denmark) their true price is much lower than most other online vendors. Many vendors like to compete on base price then add ridiculous P&P charges! One eBay vendor wanted £18(!) to deliver the same tool from the UK to Denmark. For £18 I'd want a personal courier who did extras. (Like cleaning my trike properly before leaving) ;-)

I like to take a rivet extractor with me in the tool kit after a chain broke while out on a ride. It was entirely my own fault for not using a tool designed specifically for 9-10 speed chains. The 9 speed Sram chain and cassette have been amazingly long -lived and reliable. Only recently have gear changes become a bit slow and sloppy. This despite an almost complete lack of maintenance and lubrication. The chain wasn't even hopping as they usually do when badly worn. I'm going to try a KMC chain next. Thanks, Dave.

7th 58-63F, 14-17C, very windy, overcast. Rain was forecast but I took a chance and it hasn't rained yet. (11am)

After my bragging about the total lack of punctures I actually punctured this morning! I whipped the wheel off and changed the tube. Then, guess what? I had left my new pump in the shed! I had stripped the trike to change the cassette and chain! I could clearly remember propping the pump against the shed wall. Being able to remember anything is usually quite a feat for me.

The cause of the puncture was a short, stumpy flint or thorn. I couldn't identify it precisely without a microscope. Somebody who forgets his pump is highly unlikely to have brought his microscope with him. I do carry a magnifying glass for reading antisocial labelling on food packaging. It is often easier to get that out than to rebuild a pair of £6 supermarket reading glasses. (They tend to self destruct within a week or so of purchase but the optimism that they will perform, as expected, never really dies)

Nothing else for it but to walk back to the village which I had just passed through. Most of the private garages were wide open with lots of cycles visible. The problem was the lack of cars in the drives. Which suggested the owners were out. I plodded on and was soon rewarded by the sight of a gentleman in his garage. Moments later he was pumping up my tire for me! Then he insisted I took his pump with me. To be returned when I was passing again. What a nice chap! With my profuse thanks still ringing in his ears, I headed back home. To fetch my pump, have a snack and return the pump within the hour. Off we, jolly well, go again. :-)

Sunny later, but still windy. Bought some BBB rear changer, tension pulleys and new inner tubes in Assens Fri Cykler. While I was there I had the chance to ask about light controlled crossings. It seems that cyclists really are expected to wait twice at traffic lights. Once to cross and to hover over on the far right. Then to wait again until that lane is given the green light. I'm still deciding how to proceed on my trike. I think I'll just avoid Odense traffic lights altogether! Or only ever turn right!

It's that pig shit and cheap, industrial, scent time again! The head gardener has had to come back indoors to catch her breath! Though we can smell it both indoors and out. As soon as the harvest is in they dump the shit on the land and rake it over.  Mile after mile is covered in thick, black, wet, fermented pig's diarrhoea and urine. We have to wait until it has rained well before we can even breathe again. Putting out washing is an invitation to rewash the clothes several times without being able to remove the stench. Taking the government's advice to open the windows to air the house is seen as decidedly self defeating in this neck of the woods! Who cares about radium, house dust mites and pollutants form the wood burning stove? Obviously not the weekend farmers.

They have finally put a tent over the mink farm shit tank now. It could be smelt several kilometers away if the wind was right! The foulest stink you will ever experience. A mixture of sweaty animals, suffocating vomit and rotting fish all rolled into one odorous WMD. They must wash the furs to death to get rid of the stench! Ironic that all it takes is a brainless, kept tart to forgive the mink farms for stripping the animals of their fur while still alive. Using road kill would be more animal friendly but slightly harder to sell to the tart's owner and keeper. Simply because it would push up the price of mink furs.

I think this is a Polecat but opinions are as varied as names applied to pictures of the same animal.

The vicious dog at Ebberup Maskin Station was nowhere to be seen today. That made a change. I was planning a full feature YouTube video with great production values and a star cast. 30 miles today by Ventus G730 with a very heavy load of shopping. It's lucky I have crawler gears.  Waddya mean I crawl everywhere?

Pm. Changed the pulley wheels on the Tiagra rear changer. An easy task provided one has the correct Allen key of good quality and length. 3mm I believe. Many Allen keys in the past were as soft as butter and ruined more screws than they undid. These days one can buy quite decent, long series Allen keys quite cheaply in some supermarkets and DIY stores. They are usually pressed through holes in a solid plastic block for safe storage. The small drive ball formed on the long end should only be used when the screw is already loosened. Trying to undo a tight screw with the ball may well break the head off at its slender neck.

First, the chain should be placed on the smallest chain ring and middle of the cassette. This helps to take the tension off the chain. Particularly with a triple chainset. Lifting the trike onto the work stand makes life much simpler too. I sat on a box while I worked. My wife accuses me of never standing up. She obviously hasn't seen me dancing on the pedals like the Big C.

The BBB pulley pack was provided with a number of 'top hat' spacers on a plastic tree. The spacer bores varied in diameter as did the thickness of the shoulders. I found the thinnest shoulders and smallest bores worked best on the Tiagra.

The pulleys have 11T and are very much larger than the worn pulleys. Thankfully my fears that they might be too big were unfounded. I had already removed the new pulley wheels from the display card at that point. A plug unscrews from the back of the card with a screwdriver or small coin. There was plenty of room in the cage for even larger pulleys. Larger wheels may offer lower friction since the torque is applied at a larger radius. The BBB pulleys are hard, black plastic with sealed journal bearings. The rubber seals help to keep the dirt out but still allow the pulleys to spin freely. Despite the pulleys looking identical they are clearly marked as to which is the Upper and the Lower. There were no rotation marks. Nor any instructions supplied other than the clear drawing. This is not rocket science, people!

I learned a simple lesson in alternative chain threading. Sometimes I have forgotten to thread the chain properly through the rear pulley cage. Usually I would break the chain with a link extractor to re-thread it. This is completely unnecessary if one simply loosen the pulley screws and removes the cage side plate. The chain can then be threaded correctly around the pulley wheels in the cage. The cage side plate is then replaced and the pulley screws tightened well. The side plate itself is threaded for the pulley screws. There are no separate nuts involved.

Removal of the cage side plate also allows easy cleaning of a rather inaccessible area of the rear mechanism. The Tiagra cage seems unnecessarily heavy and crude. The electroplating/galvanising  is not at all pretty after a while. It could easily have been made of thinner, pressed material with raised flanges for stiffness.

It ain't pretty. It's my Tiagra?

The new pulleys seem quiet and smooth in action with excellent gear changing on the work stand. No time to test on the road right now. Despite having lost some air earlier, the old patched tube, which I fitted this morning, stayed airtight all afternoon. The tread depth dimples on the rear SP4000 tyres are becoming more difficult to find now. When I had the tyre off the rim to check for thorns it seemed remarkably light and thin. I shall press on until they prove too unreliable. They have 3280 miles on them so far.

I have just broken the 7,000 mile barrier for this year. At this rate I will easily beat last year's figure of 7542. Even 8k is within reach. Though there's now no chance of reaching my 2010 total of 9360. That was mainly due to taking afternoon rides as well as most mornings. I'm not allowed out in the afternoons any more to try and save my knees. Talking of which: I'm wearing an elasticated sleeve on a painful knee this morning. Which is why I'm wittering on so much. I'd better go out before I get another Dostoevsky award.

The Head Gardener's thought for the day: "Cycling jerseys: May contain nuts."

8th 50-65F, 10-18C, windy, cloudy but quite sunny. I had a 2 o'clock headwind going. By the time I was on my way back the wind had shifted more westwards and I had a much stronger 10 o'clock headwind. A chap stopped outside a supermarket. He'd seen me about on my trike but never had a chance to chat. Said the trike looked very elegant underway. So now I'm an elegant spasser? Better than an elegant basser. Which is a Danish, greasy cake term used for podgers. Often with a degree of affection. What's in a name? Sticks and stones. 15 miles elegantly fighting the wind. The problem knee is okay now. :-)

Dave Stone has won Gold in the Men's Road Race at the Paralympics. He was baulked by slower traffic in the time trial and had to settle for Bronze. T1-2 road cycling is obviously not a priority with the organisers. They put everybody on the road at the same time regardless of ability or disability.

It is proving difficult to find any video or TV of the road cycling. There are a couple of short sequences of the trikes inexplicably sandwiched between the tandems on this video. The HD quality pictures rather spoilt by severe camera shake. Still, at least somebody captured the trikes when the TV companies didn't care.


9th 56-65F, 13-18C, breezy, mostly overcast with rare sunny intervals. It was so dark for much of the time that it felt like the film: "The Road." I wore yellow sunglasses but still it was dark. I rode hard for 10 miles, including a three miles hill. Then did a 10 mile TT in 32:20 complete with heavy saddlebag. I wound down by tootling on around the hilly countryside. Before taking on a huge load of shopping for the last leg. Lots of cyclists out and about today. Some waved or called. Nothing offensive as far as I could tell. 48 miles.

The Big C seems to have the Vuelta wrapped up. It's not all bad news. It saves me bothering to watch the last stage in the vain hope that he falls off. Isn't it ironic that the Big C rides for a team sponsored by banks? No. Not really. Birds of a feather... When will the sponsors draw the line at employing known cheats? When their sponsors stop cheating on us? Or the UCI stop being apologists for endemic drug abuse. Or hell freezes over. Whichever comes last.

So Rodriguez won, with Froome second in the 2012 Vuelta for Clean Cyclists! Congratulations! Well done!

How long must we wait this time until The Big C has his 2012 Vuelta win taken away from him? Heads he wins. Tails we (all) lose.

Pm. Fine tuned the gears with the trike up on the work stand. I adjusted the front changer to its lowest possible position. Then oiled everything well. Chainring selection is now much crisper and reliable with better lever positions. The rear is quieter too.

Click on any image for an enlargement.