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.

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