6 Nov 2012

6th November 2012


6th 35-45F, 2-7C, windy, with weak sunshine, cloudy becoming overcast. It rained briefly. Shimergo gears were fine without a single hiccup. I sought out the steepest hill I know to confirm how low a gear I really need in practice. I suppose this hill is about 1-in-6 and only a narrow, country lane.

My normal lowest gear is 22" (22 gear inches) on 22Tx26T. I'm ignoring the added 28T sprocket for the moment. Today I was most comfortable on the third sprocket in maintaining a decent cadence up this steady slope. 22Tx27"/27T=27". Had the hill been longer, than its several hundred yards, I would probably have used the next sprocket down for 25" when I began to feel the pain of climbing.

It's never just a case of getting up a hill any old how. It's about keeping up the revs to protect the knees and reduce rider fatigue. Reading online there are highly polarised opinions on gear range for touring. It obviously depends on how hilly it is, one's age, level of fitness, load being carried, having a good/bad day, headwind, tiredness and hunger. They all play a part. I've regularly climbed at well above 20mph when feeling good and a tailwind was aiding my efforts.

20" is arguably the lowest useful gear even on a trike. It feels absolutely ridiculous on the flat. Not so daft on a steep incline when one is already tired out after a long ride into a headwind. Try getting a 20" gear with a compact 50/34 road chainset! You'll be searching for a 43T rear sprocket made by Unobtainium.com!

The Shimano 105 triple chainset offers a 30T inner ring. 27x30/30=27". Not bad for a road bike. Provided Shimano bend their own rules and allow you to use a 30 tooth bottom sprocket with their 27T maximum capacity rear changers. Campag is playing the same catch up with cycling reality game for 2013. With triples (when everybody who was anybody said triples were dead) and larger rear sprockets. They say "The Hulk" and "Superman" still ride 53/11 (at the other end of their standard gear range) Only the dimensions of freehub preclude a "highly desirable" 10T sprocket for those who regularly pedal at 50mph wherever they go.

So a triple makes a lot of sense if you ride a trike on a bumpy landscape. Particularly when riding a trike which is usually loaded. A larger factor comes into play when one is fully qualified for a twirly's pension and actually cares for the longevity of one's knees.

Road cassettes are finally and grudgingly arriving with a 30T bottom gear. Using 27" in place of 700mm for simplicity: 27Tx27"/30T is still 24". 24Tx27"/30T =21". 22Tx27"/30T=20". Fortunately my chainset is an ATB type in the popular 22/32/42T size.  Except that I can't use a 30T myself. 26T is the maximum sprocket size without axle offset. So it's all a bit theoretical as far as Mr Higgins is concerned.

I find it best to ignore the small chainring completely while I still can. Only hurling the chain down into the murky depths when a wall, grassy bank or a kerb rears its ugly head. One can surmount a 6" step, or pavement, given a low enough gear. Without flattening the tyres in the process. Squareness to the obstacle is highly desirable on a trike.

I finally bought myself a chain cleaning machine and cleaner fluid in a LBS. I also bought a little bottle of winter chain oil. Legs feeling a bit stronger today but still not normal. I climbed the long drag up through Magtenbølle on 32x23 and 32x26 = 36" and 32"gears respectively, at 85-90rpm without much problem. Hardly getting out of breath. Though I really need a double downpipe for my nose in this weather! 26 miles.

Pm. Cleaned the chain. Quite a lot of friction using the machine and the right rear wheel got in the way. This would not be a problem on a bike. After a wipe or two on a clean rag between machine sessions the chain looked nicely clean. The fluid in the machine had all but disappeared and the residue was filthy with obvious grit content. Not much room for recycling the fluid there! Keeping the chain clean and lubricated ought to be a much higher priority for me as I seek to push the boundaries of usable gears with Shimergo.  The higher costs and wear rates of narrower chains should be respected by prolonging their useful life as much as possible. Regular cleaning would also reflect on chainring and sprocket life of course. It's a win-win situation. Except for the cost of the cleaning fluid. Why is a narrower chain more expensive when it requires less material? Is a narrower sprocket more expensive to make?

 7th 44-49F, 7-9C, windy, grey, dry. Sunshine is promised but overcast is the norm. Tire pressures are important! I gave them all a pump yesterday morning (85psi) and all the liveliness came back. Of we jolly well go! Rode to Assens to do some shopping. Dog shit, broken glass and countless cigarette ends everywhere I went! They are still working their way around the country installing the high speed, optical fibre, internet cables.

The coop supermarkets have stopped selling the wholegrain bread we have been buying for years. First they tried to ruin the bread. By stuffing it full of rye to make sure it was stale six days before its last sell-by date. So that when they finally introduced some texture-less, taste-less, worthless, paper-dry, stale-sponge-cake-like, cardboardy garbage full of cracks and holes there would be no choice but to buy it. Guess what? They have lost another customer! Now all we have to do is find some edible bread all over again. There are only two industrial bakeries in Denmark. Like everything else it is all about monopolies. Regardless of which supermarket you go to it is always the same stuff and the same bløødy names! Grrr.

Did I mention that the dog at the machine station had a go at me again today? I told the owner that this time I'm was reporting him to the police and had videoed the dog for YouTube. Only 21 miles with a stiff link on the chain hopping on every turn of the pedals! Am I having fun yet? :-)

8th 47-48F, 8-9C, overcast, windy and persisting with very heavy showers forecast all day. It keeps brightening up so I'll take a chance (and my overshoes) after coffee.

It rained quite a bit but I stayed dry and comfortable in my latest, charity shop bought, winter cycling jacket. This one is covered in advertising but I haven't a clue who or what these business names mean. I left my GPS logger at home but I'm guessing 16 miles today because I didn't check the computer mileage before leaving. The sticky chain link has cured itself.

It doesn't matter who you are. Nor how important you are in the world of cycling. There's always a white van man with a cyclist in their sights: Bradley Wiggins has broken ribs and hand injuries from a collision with a van which pulled out from a petrol station. SMIDSY "Sorry mate I didn't see you" is wearing a bit thin. Particularly when Shane Sutton GB cycling coach was much more badly injured in a crash on the same day. Though wearing a helmet, he still has head injuries.

Perhaps it'a time to make fixed HD cameras on bicycles compulsory? Prices could be reduced by mass production to a standard design. If the psychopaths, habitual drunks and knuckle-dragging morons know they'll be identified it might concentrate their minds wonderfully. Though I wouldn't bank on it. The police seem unconcerned with the footage shot by cyclists and posted on YouTube.

A green van nearly took me out today when the driver put his foot down into a narrow gap between double parked vehicle in a reduced speed shopping zone. What a shame his foot wasn't caught by the brake pedal instead! The only thing which some morons understand is fierce humps in the road. Gentle humps have no effect whatsoever. They are seen as a challenge to the resident psychopath's "driving skills".

9th 45F, 7C, overcast, becoming windy but mostly dry. If I don't get some miles in I shan't reach 9k for the year! Lazy git! I rode up the quiet coastal lanes to Nr.Åby and back in a wide loop. The weather was a bit cloudy with only occasional glimpses of sunshine. Later it drizzled. I had some odd aches in my legs but nothing serious. 48 miles. 11 miles later to run some errands for 59 miles total today. I felt much stronger this afternoon than I did all morning. I must remember to look at the stiff link. It keeps coming and going. I wanted to use rubber gloves to avoid getting filthy. The gears are still working fine when the chain is running free.

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