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.

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