10 Oct 2012

10th October 2012


As I walked the trike to his stable, after my ride yesterday, it felt very strange. There was an unusual knocking. As if the axle bearings were loose. I checked and one wheel nut was literally hanging by a thread! The wheel itself was slopping about unrestrained. I hadn't noticed it on my ride. It must have been when I fixed the puncture on the side of the narrow gauge, Ringe-Korinth puncture magnet. I had obviously failed to tighten the nut properly.

Go and check your wheel nuts or bolts. Do it now! Choose a particular day or time to check them so you don't ever forget. The consequences of losing a wheel are too awful to contemplate! Let's be careful out there!

10th 41F, 6C, heavy overcast with light winds. Promised to be brighter but with showers later.  It stayed dry and cleared to sunshine. Going quite well and the new position doesn't feel so strange today. The handlebars are about the same height as the saddle now.  Which they have never been before on any of my bikes or trikes. The bars are also nearer.  I have no problem (at all) lifting my hands from the bars or hoods. Neither when in motion or standing still. So I don't know why I feel as if I am leaning so hard on the bars. 

The gears seem to be messed up recently. I keep winding the adjuster in and out, on the rear changer, but it is still skipping between gears and failing to change. Having fitted a new cable this is rather irritating. I'd like to change from bar-end levers to dual action, indexed, road gear/brake levers. This seems like a logical progression now that the hoods are far more accessible. I've been getting the runaround by online dealers trying to flog old stock as new. Then bullshitting me that there's no difference between old and new. The internet cannot lie. (if you gather enough evidence)  Watch this space for interesting developments. 

The B17 'Select' saddle was okay again. Just odd moments when I noticed discomfort. Mostly it just feels supportive or goes unnoticed. The latter is always the desirable state. I emailed Brooks for care instructions as an attachment but no reply yet. I was surprised to see a pre-aged symbol on the packaging. So there is probably no need for a long break-in period. The leather is already turning darker and gently wrinkly in places. It seems (almost) a shame to sully such perfection by actually riding it. :-) 

Imagine being able to ride for as long as one's strength and patience holds out without the torture of a nasty saddle under you. I may yet manage a 100 miles in one day. Provided the wind is gentle with me.  

I have noticed small cuts on my new GP4000S tyres. I'm not sure whether they are new. Or the signs of the damaging flints on that disastrous day on the narrow gauge cycle path to Ringe!  The blue tyres took thousands of miles to show any damage at all. I much preferred the look of the blue tyres too. The black rubber shows every mark and spot of mud or debris! They look downright scruffy all of the time! With a brown, muddy  tide mark all up the sidewalls. The blue GP4000s seemed largely self cleaning and always looked very smart. Right to the bitter end.

I should add that anybody contemplating using wider 25mm should go ahead if comfort is their desire. They are far more forgiving than the 23mm on rough surfaces. They will also tolerate lower pressures without the same danger of pinch flats. If only Continental did them in blue they'd be absolutely perfect! I shall definitely change back to blue (or red?) next time. Blue is cool.  

Two days after changing to my thicker, winter socks they are causing sore heels!  My heels often get dry in winter since I took up cycling more seriously. I didn't know whether to blame the socks until now.  Thankfully the New Ventus GPS logger has behaved itself much better than the last one. 22.5 miles. Should I round up or down? 

11th 42F, 6C, overcast, dry. I was out in the shed before dawn to change the handlebars for something more modern. They came with a recycled racing bike. It has the flat section on the drops below the brakes instead of a gentle curve. It is also more shallow. So it should be much more comfortable on the drops into a gale or going downhill. The drops sections are also shorter. Making the bar-end gear changers more accessible so they fall naturally to the hands. Without bending the elbow or straining to reach them.  

I was also able to rescue the trapped cables from two pairs of rather old, dual action, Shimano road levers. Probably 7 speed. I could never get them to work. There is still one trapped gear cable which won't move in or out.  It's amazing what one can rescue from a discarded machine.  Somebody would probably be glad of the light, Cinelli Proxima 24" frame. They don't seem to fetch much in the online small ads services. 

 There is no eBay(DK). So it is more difficult to sell anything outside Denmark from over here.  A swap for something more useful might be possible. A better front wheel would be nice. As the £5 flea-market Shimano is getting too untidy.  I can hear the bearings 'roaring' continuously as I ride along. The blade spokes are also orange with rust and the vinyl rim graphics are lifting.

I want to try a longer ride today as the wind is forecast very light for a change. I can't see any movement even in the birches. I rode up the coastal lanes to Fredericia via Middelfart. Had a nice chat with several bike shop people. Bought a proper mirror (Zefal Cyclops), some gel strips for my new (secondhand) bars and my first ever pair of bib shorts with some serious padding. I can hardly believe how poor even my 'best' shorts are in the padding department.  A skimpy layer of foam under a bit of J-cloth would be a good description and much too flattering at that. It's no wonder I suffer for my cause. :-) 

Despite everything, I have safely passed 8,000 miles for the year and very nearly reached 13,ooo km. The Brooks was mostly fine today with occasions when it became uncomfortable. My weather stayed dry until I was within 5 miles of home but still wasn't actually raining. My wife said it had been tipping down for hours! No wonder the roads were wet. I had a perfect, sunny day. Even the windmills were standing still. So I must have been making my own headwind, as usual. 

I'll have to wait a little while for the saddle to settle down before I attempt a 100 mile ride in my new shorts. My new position on the trike seems to make more sense during each ride. It just needs fine tuning. With the saddle set as far back as possible I'm not getting the power down like I used to. Though I spent the entire day comfortably on the hoods there is not the same effortless momentum when I reach a hill. It's as if I come to a halt and have to start pedalling from scratch. 

With the old stem (and more forward position) I would pedal hard in a high gear until I needed to change down slightly. Then kept changing down until the 34t chainring was needed.  Fuzzy logic suggests that a slightly longer stem needs a more forward saddle position to balance things out again. I keep looking but I haven't found a suitable stem yet. I went back to my usual spring-summer-autumn socks and suffered no discomfort today. Proof enough of the unquestionable guilt of winter socks, methinks. 

I missed my mirror today. Having removed it during the handlebar swap and not refitting it.  The cheapo mirror tended to vibrate and  rotate regardless of my efforts to cure it. It still worked though if I kept adjusting it.  My old fart's reactions are so slow that just glancing behind me is not enough. Turning round to look properly is even more dangerous! Many of my favourite lanes are too narrow for much more than a trike and a car. Some of them are bus routes. I usually pull into a house or farm drive if one presents itself to let large vehicles pass. Only 66 miles today.  

12th 41-46F, 5-8C, clear, dark and misty with light winds. Another early start. A neighbour started his engine outside our house before 6am. Then left it running while he banged the car doors repeatedly. Nothing like the peace and quiet of the countryside. My usual, cheapo, Gel gloves were borderline too cold. 

I nearly didn't survive the first five miles today. As I was riding through the woods a builder's lorry came speeding the opposite way. He was carrying a mini-excavator on a four wheel trailer which was making a hell of a racket! Just as he drew alongside me the violently rattling trailer wheel came right off! It arced over to my side and then turned right and crashed out of sight into the woods on the opposite side.  Had I arrived two seconds later that wheel would have hit me at over 60 mph! I believe the speed limit for trailers is only 40mph. The national speed limit is 50mph. How ironic that my trike wheel was loose only days before. 

The Zefal Cyclops mirror really is excellent.   It has just enough curvature to be able to see cars approaching from a distance. While being able to monitor if they are overtaking safely. The view is slightly smaller than life-size but it is a perfect balance between a wide view and image size. It helps that Denmark has a law requiring headlights on in the daytime. A mirror makes for a much more relaxing ride. 

I have been promising myself one of these mirrors for three years but always baulked at the cost. It looks an awful lot smarter than my £2.50 kiddy's round mirrors which I have been using.  The joints on the articulated pillar work well too without any vibration being transmitted to the view. I just hope the screws continue to hold without coming loose. By taping a short section of thin-wall alloy tube just below the left brake lever I could use the bar-end expansion plug provided.  This nicely avoids any obstruction to my hands. Neither while on the hoods or on the drops. 

I had their much smaller mirror with the rubber band fixing a few years back but it had deteriorated quickly in bad weather. Particularly as it is perfectly lined up with spray from the back tyre. That mirror was rather small for use on dropped bars. The Cyclops is much larger but rather more egg-shaped.  It can be folded neatly out of the way into the curve of the bars. I have added Gel strips to the bottoms of the bars. I'll save the tops for a couple of days as I'm expecting something in the post.

Talking of which: Still no answer from Brooks in response to my request for a saddle care leaflet. Or even a link to the care instructions on their website. (I couldn't find any) Perhaps they have been reading my blog? 

After 150 miles

My saddle now seems to have become asymmetrical in form and much softer only on the left side. With the left skirt sticking out from the rail!  It may not be long for this world if this continues. It's such a shame when it looked so perfect in the box.  It is already the most comfortable saddle I have ever ridden. I'll see how it goes before I start panicking. Leather is a natural material so it may just be settling down from first use. I have only put 150 miles on it in four days. It should be able to cope with that.  If the worst comes to the worst I could lace it at the bottom of the skirts.  Though it would be a tragedy to sully such beauty. Only 17 miles. 

13th 46-52F, 8-11C, windy, overcast but turning brighter. I rode to Ringe to look in the bike shops while keeping a safe distance from the narrow gauge cycle path. It is difficult to tell how wide a blast radius WMD flints can reach in a gale. As I felt my throat had been cut I had to have a Danish pastry in Ringe. I wore two pairs of thinly padded shorts and they worked very well with the rapidly softening Brooks. No discomfort at all until the very last couple of miles.  Still no word from Brooks to my email requesting care instructions. The saddle is looking only slightly more asymmetric after 200 miles. Though, so far, I don't notice it when riding along.  

After 205 miles

Coming back into the wind was very hard work. Six hours to do 55 miles including photography and lots of shops. I was doing a quick change act with various jackets, cardigans and gloves. I saw my third black squirrel in as many days. This one was road kill. I hadn't seen any squirrels for ages.

I also saw a medium-sized  bird of prey with long, narrow, 'fingered' wings.  Slightly smaller than a buzzard.  It flew very low over me and landed in the field alongside the road. Mostly shades of brown with a white base to the top of  its tail. The Hen Harrier looks rather like this but I have no idea how big they are. Another bird was slightly lighter in colour and fell out of a tree as I passed underneath on a remote rural lane! It hardly had time to glance at me before it darted through the hedge and disappeared. I'm not sure which of us was more surprised! Perhaps it had dropped onto some prey but hadn't seen me.  

I bought a nice big set of  T-shaped Allen and Torx head tools for about a £tenner equiv. in Lidls. I've been wanting a set of these for ages. Plus a nylon cover for the car for the winter. Both then had to be carried all the way home of course.  Luckily I had my big, lightweight, zip-up bag stowed in the Carradice micro-Camper. The poor car never gets any exercise any more. Which is more than I can say for me. I was starving by the time I reached home! Haven't stopped eating since. Still no 70mm stem. Safely past 13,000km for the year. 

Click on any image for an enlargement.


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