6 Oct 2012

6th October 2012


6th 48F, 9C, heavy overcast, breezy. Showers forecast all morning. I have to go shopping anyway. Continuous rain was more like it! I had the equivalent of three full carrier bags worth of shopping too. The Aldi jacket kept my top half dry. My cuffs, shorts and socks are a bit damp. My overshoes were buried under the shopping in the saddle bag.

My short, Ahead, riser stem has arrived in the post. 4 days from ordering online from SJS in the UK is pretty good by any standards. It took less than 5 minutes to swap from the straighter one from the LBS. Which I had only fitted temporarily. Imagine how long it would have taken to change a quill stem! The new stem has four screws on the faceplate. I shall now see what can be done about a better brake hanger and computer bracket.  I haven't been able to put any handlebar tape until the handlebar set-up is finalised. Only 15 miles so far. The bare handlebars feel awful!

The Brooks 'Professional' already feels bone dry to the touch after a day indoors. Note how straight the spine has become. I tried the Brooks spanner on the nut and all the lost tension in the leather is back again. Remember that I slackened off the nut completely before soaking. I wasn't going to risk it tearing itself in half! Provided you don't blame me for your own disasters it seems that soaking can rescue a  misshapen saddle. Even a well-oiled one like mine. After it has aired in the (all too rare) sunshine for a while I'll give it a coat of Proofide underneath. Just in case I have removed too many essential oils. When it finally stopped raining it hung for hours outside in the sunshine with a good coat of Proofide top and bottom. NOTE: This was all wrong! I should have allowed the saddle to dry out for a week in warm conditions to ensure it would not change shape by being ridden. Nor should I have touched it with Proofide. Do as I say. Not as I do.

7th 43F, 6C, light winds, sunny. Will the brightness last? The forecast is for showers. I re-soldered the broken computer wires and fitted the computers direct to the handlebars. The resurrected Brooks Professional can go back on for a while until my Spa Nidd arrives.  I gave the Professional a good polish with a coarse cloth before leaving. It came up a treat.

I haven't had a decent ride all week! Dare I go out without handlebar tape? I feel so inadequate! People may even point and giggle! :-)

With no shopping to do I rode to Helnæs peninsula. The wind grew quite strong and steady. Which made some of the route quite hard work. There were a couple of dozen kite surfers having fun on the sheltered side of the causeway. I went almost to the end of the peninsula, circled round and then headed back home by the least busy route.

The saddle had become somewhat uncomfortable again at 30 miles. With much more pressure along the spine than before. At least the high ridge over the cantle plate had now gone. That used to hurt most before I gave it the ducking stool treatment. My soaking of the saddle lacked the stuffing I had promised to do as it dried. This means that the backbone of the saddle now protrudes well towards the rear and there is no flat area on the rear to properly support my sit bones. A new Brooks saddle has quite a lot of free and level acreage to sit on. Mine no longer has this facility. So my crutch is now taking some of my weight. Exacerbated by the more upright position due to the shorter stem.  

I think I will remove the 3/4" of packing rings from below the new stem. The reach is fine now but I'd prefer a slightly lower handlebar position. There was a shower on the way back but it soon went off again. The wind became stronger all the time.

As I fought an uphill headwind on the climb off Helnæs I was overtaken by an old bloke on road skis! Somebody should have told him that four, bright orange, 5" polyurethane wheels are absolutely no match for GP4000s! Nor should he stand bolt upright facing into a gale when I was worrying about my aero tuck! He was doing a steady 15mph to my twelve and my speed was dropping steadily to 7mph as condensation from my breath built up on the crossbar. Then he crested the climb and went into a skiing tuck on the final descent to the causeway and left me miles behind. He had turned around and was on his way back up the hill as I rolled down in a tuck of my own. It must be that shorter stem slowing me down! Or he'd had Kornflakes for breakfast. :-) 40 miles.

Pm. Removed the Ahead adaptor (with difficulty) and lowered the bars. The Higgins forks were never reamed properly so stems jam before they reach very far down the steerer tube. They also forgot to put a proper, bottom bearing seat on the outside. So head-race bearings never remain properly adjusted. Leading to stiffness and/or shimmy. Sadly, I cannot recommend the '54 Higgins special reserve. BUT NOTE: Forks steerer tubes are butted. So they are not meant to be the same internal diameter all the way down to the crown. I was just trying too put too long a stem in a short steerer.

But I digress: Why do I have this problem with reach? The Higgins frame is quite small at 22" for a 5'10"(ish) rider. (I'm shrinking slowly with age) Most people's stems are at least 3" long and often much more. Both of the Ahead stems, which  I have just bought, are 55mm despite claims to a relatively astronomical 60mm. That's about 2.25" in old money. They must measure the spacing between centres. Rather than linear forward projection.

Are my arms dimensionally challenged? Well, my fingertips seem to reach within 4" of my knees when standing erect. Perhaps it is my thighs which are too short? The forward projection of the handlebars is not remarkable. About average in fact. I have slowly raised the brake levers on the bars to try and make the reach feel slightly less extreme.

You can buy jeans with a certain inside leg measurement but do mass produced shirts come in a series of incremental arm lengths? I haven't personally bought a shirt since I was about 17 years old. That was in the last century! Why isn't cycle position reduced to a series of simple rider measurements then reduced to standard bike dimensions by now? Shouldn't there be an iSlave app?

Can you state your inside arm measurement without cheating with a tape measure or chippy's folding rule? How do you measure hip to wrist length when leaning forwards at various angles? I've seen computerised bike fitting systems. (online) Which use  a camera to identify the ideal rider position and bike dimensions. They can even identify a shorter leg! Fortunately both of mine reach the floor while I am standing upright. So that's one less thing to worry about.

8th 48-51F, 9-11C, windy and sunny. My riding position felt really weird. I had the allen key for my saddle pin in my back pocket so I pushed the saddle right back. This helped but it was still very strange. Too much weight on my hands. So I'll lift the bars back to where they were yesterday on top of the Ahead adaptor packing rings. The Professional saddle is still very unpleasant. My Brooks 'Select' has arrived! 18 miles.

9th 43-52F, 6-11C, windy. Showers forecast but promising to be bright. Like a fool I rode to Odense to have a look around the bike shops. The foolishness related to the wind speed. It was blustery with vicious gusts and kept getting worse by the time I turned round and headed straight back into it. I was forced to use the small chainring at times just to keep moving. The forecast shows a steady 20mph with 35mph gusts. So much for my plans to dump the unused inner triple and use a compact double instead. I was knackered by the time I reached the hills nearer home.

The B17 'Select' saddle was fine going but reared its ugly head at about 30 miles and 40 miles. Any of my other saddles would have been worse. I am delighted with it so far because my sit bones were already rather tender from riding the Professional. Quite unbelievably there are sit bone wrinkles forming already on the 'Select.' The saddle top feels quite soft to the touch now. My riding position still feels all wrong. I pushed the saddle right back before leaving but there is still too much weight on my hands and wrists. 46 miles.


As I walked the trike to his stable, after my ride, 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 punctured on the side of the narrow gauge, Ringe puncture magnet. Go and check your wheel nuts. Do it now! Choose a particular day 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!

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