12 Nov 2012

10th November 2012


10th 45-46F, 7-8C, breezy, with heavy overcast. I finally fixed the stiff link. The Nidd is getting another chance to behave itself. Having set it almost perfectly level I had to stop and tip it nose-up some more. Only then was I relieved of sitting on a misshapen rock. Just another shopping trip for 25 miles. The 10 speed Shimergo gears are perfect now the chain isn't catching any more.

Having bought a cheap(ish) HD 720P helmet cam from Aldi for £70 equiv last week I have been struggling with it ever since. Lashed to the trike's handlebar stem, with the supplied clamps, camera shake was almost non-existent. Until, that is, I started rocking the handlebars on climbs. Burp! I also hit it with my knee when I stood up to climb. Worse still, the videos were so dark that it is all but unusable except in bright sunshine! Which is a great shame because the image detail is quite good. Though HD is a bit of a stretch.

The camera is nicely light and has a useful, cylindrical format with some clever details. It buzzes three times when switched on. Only once when it is turned off. Various LEDs tell the user what is happening. One very odd aspect is that I haven't found way of clearing the card of previous recordings. I'm having to put the card in an adaptor in my TZ7 to format it. I have a cheapo card reader on the way so that might help.

Then I moved the camera to the top tube but my knee still hits the camera when I get out of the saddle. The camera is also very prone to zebra-striped artefacts. I'm hoping a Sandisk 16GB Class10 Micro-SDHC card will solve this problem. I'll try fixing it to my helmet next to see how it copes with that. Prepare yourselves for another exciting edition of; "Noddy Rides His Tricycle." :-)

11th 46F, 7C, overcast, windy. I'm going to have to put the Brooks B17 back on. I can tell that I rode the Nidd yesterday just sitting here on my cushioned computer chair. I decided to ride across the SW wind down to Fåborg. It was mostly bright and sunny and I was feeling unusually strong. So I chose the hilliest route going both ways. Going there, I climbed up to Trunderup. Then over the hills above Svanninge past the golf course. This was part of the Tour of Denmark route except that I was riding against their previous traffic flow.

Fåborg was almost deserted as I walked the Sunday morning pedestrian precinct munching my cheese roll and keeping an eye out for Triffids or Zombies. Despite the almost complete lack of unwheeled peds I didn't dare ride the trike down there. Not after the recent spate of vicious, anti-cycling legislation by the New Empty Promises Left. Their latest threat is to hang, draw and quarter any cyclist with a light which cannot be proved to light for a further 5 hours continuously. Or should that be consecutively? Yeah, right! Whatever! They have decided they cannot afford to replace the wrought iron, garden gates. Which pass for free hire bikes in assorted, heavily traffic congested, polluted Danish cities. Denmark used to be the cycle friendly, environmentally conscious centre of the entire universe. Now they are frightening the children with stories of  imprisonment and torture for not having the right bike lights!

Presumably the Thought Police will now be carrying multi-battery testers? No doubt they will need to be issued with all new, black leather harnesses to cater for said apparatus? All at who knows what cost to the already overburdened taxpayer! It's nice to know that the politicooze are keeping their eye on the ball in the middle of this double dip recession, isn't it? I wonder why Nero springs to mind here. ;-)  

Coming back from the deserted streets of Fåborg was fun too: I turned off the Assens road at Millinge for Håstrup. Taking Hannelundsvej for even more climbing to Håstrup by a more roundabout and hillier route. Then on up to Jordløse. Which seemed like the top of the world as I looked out towards the autumn sun. With the sea far below, way over beyond the woods and fields. 46 busy miles. Quite a few cyclists were out training or just pottering.

12th 40-45F, 4-7C, windy, bright sunshine. I rode to Odense to see if I could have a look at the GoPro range of helmet cams in the flesh. Just to see what I have been missing. Out of the six (6!) stockists, which I had discovered on the internet, only one actually had any stock! (At all!) Do you know the most repeated phrase in the Danish language? "We can order it for you." If I just wanted to order it I'd do it online! Save myself a fortune and fifty miles of cycling, wouldn't I?

PhotoCare in Dalum Centret is the real deal if you're local and interested. They had a really good selection of Hero cameras on display (including the latest Hero3 Silver Edition) and huge range of GoPro accessories. All within easy reach for relaxed customer inspection. (And hopefully purchase!)

They really are gorgeous little cameras. They shout "techy" with a capital T! Beautifully presented too. In a clear plastic box on top of the cardboard packaging. A stroke of pure genius IMO as it hints at the exquisitely clear, waterproof cases on the cameras themselves. Though this makes them damned difficult to to steal or even to photograph well!

Once seen, you feel you must have one of these little beauties. But which of the many versions on offer? It's a real shame that the "Top of the range" Hero3 Black Edition is so expensive and not even released in Europe yet. Best guess is end of November/early December. Even then it lacks essential software until a later update. This is all a bit silly at this (very) elevated price level! It's a helmet cam. Not jewellery. Oh, I don't know though. You could wear one almost anywhere. Except on your head.

The GoPro Hero3 Silver Edition. Images borrowed from GoPro's own website because my own pictures were such crap!

I was really quite tempted by the Hero3 Silver. Though basically it's really just a Hero2 repackaged in a smaller case and with a flat lens cover for underwater use. All for a £100 premium over the Hero2 at 2799DKK. I think I will have fitted the mudguards back on Mr Higgins before I feel a desperate need for that flat lens! The Black Edition does include the WiFi remote and extra performance capabilities. As well as being smaller than the Hero2 range. It also claims better low light ability and a redesigned sound system. Though both look a bit noisy on the YouTube videos!

One might have thought they'd have rotated the body this time. To put the lens on the smaller end face for a more "stealth" look. Instead of which they have just made the case thinner from front to back. Quite markedly so. It still looks like a house brick on a stalk on top of a helmet. All a bit 1950s comic book aliens with TV aerials on their heads. Perhaps this is a deliberate strategy by the GoPro company? One detail I would really like to see changed is a complete end to the hideous barrel distortion. I suffered from this annoying curvature of straight lines in a couple of my earlier compact digital cameras. So I really don't want it back again! It makes it impossible to photograph  many subjects without looking like a total amateur.

I also visited the Sony shop in the Rosengård Centre to have look at their new action cam. The HDR-AS-15. After I finally managed to work out how to unclip it I couldn't believe how heavy it was! I simply cannot imagine it dangling from a cycling safety helmet! You'd quickly develop those special neck muscles just like Arnie's!

No doubt it will have had all the daft touches ironed out by the third or fourth generation. Right now it is a very unfinished project. Sony probably wanted to get into the market as rapidly as possible to boost flagging camera sales. Probably in the forlorn hope of denting GoPro's dominance at the same time. Shame the Sony camera is only half thought out and GoPro released their 3rd generation of cameras almost simultaneously. Whoops there goes my Sony purchase! Next time they might actually ask somebody who uses one what is actually needed in an action camera. I expect the head of Sony R&D rules with an iron fist. So nobody in the lower echelons of the hierarchy dares to question his qualifications in economics. I doubt he knows which end of a screwdriver to hold after looking at the HDR AS15! It reminds me of a plastic version of the 1950s EverReady bicycle lamps. They were incredibly heavy and crap too! The Sony looks reverse engineered from GoPro's alien technology. ;-)

A GOPRO UPDATE: However tempting the sweet little GoPro cameras might look it seems the company has appalling quality control and poor reliability. I suggest potential purchasers check the Amazon customer reviews. Where they will find ~1 in 5 are extremely unhappy with their purchase. Many mention GoPro's pathetic, to non-existent, customer service.Customers complained of poor guarantee cover. So if the camera fails on day one your money is wasted unless your dealer will offer a refund. It seems hardly surprising that GoPro do not have a user forum of their own. I imagine the sheer number of complaining posts would seriously dent sales! There are other forums dealing with specific GoPro problems.

GoPro are constantly promising software updates and new hardware but routinely completely fail to come up with the goods. Or the software update actually makes things worse! It took them 2 years just to provide a proper diving case with flat lens cover which did not make inferior underwater videos.  This, despite GoPro bragging about a 200ft depth capability. The pretty waterproof cases often prove anything but. Even in rain! The batteries are considered feeble and routinely overheat. While the camera is reported to be prone to intermittent shut down and lock up. The claimed range of the WiFi is nowhere near. The camera build is considered cheap, plasticy and fragile out of the clear case.

I'm glad I found these user reviews as I was seriously considering a GoPro camera purchase to record my rides. (Despite GoPro's high prices) Denmark does have a 2 year replacement or repair consumer law. Though how much protection this would offer in practice I have no idea. It might take forever just to get the camera back! With no guarantee of a long term fix. I had my Lumix TZ7 screen crack and the camera has never been right since its repair. This came on top of a very short lived, high-end, Panasonic video recorder. I shall never purchase another Panasonic product ever again!

Life is just too short to get involved in such an obviously unreliable product as GoPro. Particularly when videos and stills are often the only record of a unique event. It is this, which puts me right off GoPro, after reading these Amazon reviews. As they (GoPro) are still considered the best product by far (when working) I have no plans (at all) to look at the Sony again. It has too many very obvious flaws. As do the opposition in this field. Particularly in poor light. Including my grossly under-performing Medion MD86543! Expensive toys are supposed to be fun! That's why they call them "toys". The expensive part is supposed to mean they work straight out of the box and continue to keep working!


I was fine riding to Odense and raced around town as usual. Coming back, hours later,  I was absolutely knackered, hungry and saddle sore. I could still feel yesterday's hilly ride in my legs. Silly to go so far today. I should have left it until tomorrow but the promised forecast was too good. Except that the headwind coming back felt twice as strong as it was meant to be! Where do I queue for a DMI refund? 50 more miles today.

Did I mention that my gears went haywire? I pushed the trike backwards outside a shop and the chain fell off the back of the cassette. By the time I had the chain back on the rear changer had rotated the bolt-on hanger. Luckily I wasn't too far from home and rode it home as it was. So I saved myself another hand cleaning session with the very inferior Ecover hand cleanser.

9000 miles is now within easy reach. But is 10,000 for this year? A month and a half to do a thousand more? It's just doable but not if I keep riding the Nidd. It does more harm than good at the moment. Leaving me with a legacy of sit-bone soreness which the Brooks cannot easily undo. Perhaps I should chop the braces off my expensive bib shorts and have my wife put some elastic in the waist? The bib braces are just too silly to use when I'm overdressed for winter.

Here's one of my many test videos but with a bit of sunlight: I'd still class it as disappointing:

13th Grey, 42F, grey, 6C, grey, windy and overcast. I've left it until after morning coffee in the hope of some daylight. Can't take any chances of having a sub-5 hour light battery reserve! The rear changer had just twisted on the hanger after yesterday's reversing debacle. A matter of moments to fix up on the work stand. That vast, 28T sprocket was my downfall. There was literally nowhere for the chain to roll back onto the cassette. Bodily lifting a heavily laden trike to turn the pedals, to lift the chain back on, was not conducive to immediate success!

By the time I left it was drizzling. The sort of drizzle that makes you wetter than if you had gone arse over tit into one of those water-filled potholes on the now-infamous, narrow-gauge, Danish, cycling superhighways. As it was so inclement I lost all ambition in achieving an annual PB and settled for an out-and-back instead for 15 miles. It should have been dry according to the DMI. My wife is now referring to this year's weather as The Dark Ages. I cranked on the B17 'Select' tension nut some more. Just following (the dealer's) orders. ;-)

Alan, my fellow tricyclist in exile, has sent me an update on the narrow gauge cycling superhighway between Korinth and Ringe. It seems that horses have been banned until they can find the correct sand.  My thanks to Alan for sharing these images of these warning notices. His recumbent trike can be spotted on the left.

Left:  We apologise that at the moment there is a risk of punctures on the Nature Path. We are working hard to improve the problem.
Right: The horse riding track is closed to all traffic until further notice because of sharp stones in the sand. There is a risk of puncturing when riding on the asphalt path. We apologise and are working on a quick solution.

Alan reports that the path has been swept clean and that there seemed to be no problems with punctures. He enjoyed his ride through the countryside and even saw a Kingfisher, amongst other delights of the unspoilt countryside along the route.

14th Grey, very grey. 46F, 8C, windy, misty and very, very grey. Shopping = 13 miles. Plus 15 more later for 9000 miles this year. It was so dark at 3pm that I felt I needed lights.  I fed some ducks with some of the awful experimental bread purchases.  The ducks just ignored it! :-) The wind had dropped to nothing by the time I returned.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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