11 Sep 2012

10th September 2012

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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.

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