13 Mar 2013

11th March 2013


11th 20-28F, -6-2C, winds slightly lower today, bright but cloudy. Thankfully there is no sign of the promised snow with heavy drifting. It fell further east of here causing lots of accidents. Particularly amongst those who think they are invulnerable and need not engage their brains before setting off in their cars to do some texting.

We've all seen them. Flying past at well above the legal speed limit into zero visibility. Thick fog, standing water, torrential rain, blizzards and heavy spray are all taken without a concern in the world. They know their amazing superpowers will save them from any risk to their comprehensively insured paintwork. There is absolutely no (obvious) risk at all.

And what if nature does conspire against the innocent to cause a "slight accident" at 90+mph? Well then they will have their impregnable collection of safety features to protect themselves from needing even so much as a manicurist. Though an emergency visit to the hairdressers might well be in order. A small price to pay for the convenience of mobility without responsibility.

Suddenly increased bragging rights at the office or pub are not something to be sniffed at. You'll want to look your best as you hand around your iSlave showing all the gory details. If you are really lucky there will be a slight dent in the exclusive titanium finish. So you can even claim it saved your life. When in fact the dent was caused as it shot out of your hand as the car rolled. It's still got be worth a few free rounds at lunchtime before heading off for your next appointment.

The latest model has much improved acceleration and top speed over last year's thanks to the new turbo management. A full racing pedigree is a vital feature of any car with sporting pretensions. It makes all the difference when you take that racing line through the chicane in the shopping centre.

It was well worth going for the optional low profile tyres and racing alloys. They'll look really smart as you shoot past the crematorium. Those idiots shouldn't have been driving so damned slowly! Or they would still be here now! Besides they were driving some old rust bucket. They should have a law against those. No protection when they are torpedoed from the side as they dawdle across at the lights. Bløødy death traps!

10 miles. The wind was just as cold. My front Durano Plus tyre keeps losing contact with the rim. Making it bump on the road as I ride along. I'm only using 85psi so it can't be that. I'll have to let the air out and try to reseat the tyre on the rim.

12th 12-31F, -11-1C, still, clear and sunny with a white frost on the grass. Just a mad dash around the lanes in the sunshine getting too hot. 15 miles.

Pm. I was working on the trike's gear cables and discovered something interesting.(?) Campag Ergo levers can very easily have the gear cables wrongly threaded if you are not very careful.  In fact it is far easier to get it wrong than to do it correctly!

The bare end of the inner cable is fed in from underneath through a 3mm hole provided in the underside of the lever body. The problem is that the lever body and innards are all matt black plastic with very poor visibility. The tough rubber lever hood also gets in the way unless you roll it back. I have rolled it into the midriff of the lever by lifting it very gently over the thumb lever with a screwdriver. There are several pips which must carefully moved out of holes in the plastic lever body. New hoods are expensive so be gentle with them.

The best trick is to remove the lever from the bars first. Though this may not be convenient if the bars are already neatly taped. There is a very small hole just inside the larger hole through which the bare end of the cable must be pushed. This is only possible if you have repeatedly pressed the thumb button until it will click down no more. Otherwise the black plastic ratchet disk, through which the cable inner is threaded, will have rotated completely out of the way. Offering no hope of threading the inner cable properly. Note that no cable tension is needed to click the thumb lever to the last position. It is not a friction device like most older gear levers. The ratchets can be activated by both thumb lever and long gear lever. Though not simultaneously or they will lock.

It is very easy to miss the tiny hole in the black ratchet disk unless one is very careful. It feels as if the cable has threaded through the lever correctly but it has probably gone around the disk instead of through it. Then as soon as you try to change gear, with the long lever, the nipple will simply bypass the internal mechanism and lodge above it inside the body. Except that you can't see any of this if the lever is still on the bars!

A mirror and torch may help as you start the cable on its journey thorough the lever. Though I highly recommend you take the lever off its handlebar clamp with a Torx screwdriver. Then you can see exactly what you are doing and where the nipple ends up whether you get it right or wrong. You must have the lever off the bars to be able to look inside the lever body at the black disk so you can see where the cable should go. And, to rescue the nipple from where it is lodged in the upper part of the lever body if you don't.

The bare end of the cable inner also wants to be neatly cut to get through the tiny hole inside the disk. Be careful that the forked, cream plastic insert is not dislodged and lost as the bare end of the inner cable rises through the lever. It is just pushed in as a cable guide. With a choice of two exit points to allow the gear cables to be arranged along the handlebars to taste.

The cable end must then be bent gently downward to exit though yet another tiny hole. Use only the very end of the cable to achieve this. You don't want to kink the inner cable anywhere else along its length. Or it will spoil the gear change. Which will almost certainly happen if you make a loop to get some slack and then pull the loop tight. Low cable friction is vital with multiple indexed gears. The more gears the more important the cable runs smoothly to achieve crisp and positive changes.

Until I discovered the tiny hole in the black disk I made a complete mess of threading both levers while they were still on the bars. I had to go right back to the beginning after fitting them right through all the outers and adjusters and then clamped off to both gear mechs. The nipple pulled past the internal mechanism in both levers as I tried changing gears!

I had to take both levers off the bars and play with the long gear change lever and thumb button. Just to allow the nipples to slide back down past the internal mechanisms and out of the bottom of the lever bodies again. Only then could I completely withdrew the inner cables and thread them correctly. Before fitting both levers back onto their respective handlebar clamps. It's easy when you know how! ;ø|

Workshop: How To Fit Campagnolo Ergo Levers - BikeRadar

13th 33F, +1C, heavy overcast, light winds and an inch of overnight snow lying. Probably a rest day while continuing to work on the poor old Higgins. I had to work on the brakes as well as the gears. Everything has been attacked by road salt and is either stuck or rusting.

The Schwalbe Durano Plus tyre on the front is very odd. The bead was actually hanging over the edge of rim in one place!

The image alongside shows the results of trying to even out the tyre eccentricity. The inner edge of the tire was quite literally visible. That is not brake block wear. It is just how the tyre looks right now. 

I was alerted by the tyre suddenly bumping badly just before I reached homePresumably the bead was still just tight enough that the inner tube could not quite escape and burst.   Which would have been very nasty on a quick descent or in traffic! The tyre actually seems to be asymmetric. As if the whole thing had rolled from one side to the other all the way round. There are two raised rings clearly visible at the rim on one side wall. Only one ring can be seen on the other side. Which is just normal. (see image below)

I let most of the air out and tried to roll the tyre back again but it had absolutely no effect. It seems to be stuck in this strangely unbalanced state. My guess is that the flexible bead has weakened, broken or is growing longer on one side. This is allowing the tyre to lift off the rim on that side alone without affecting the other side at all. Which is still seated normally according to the ring.

Re-inflating to 80psi lifted the bead again. So it looks terminal. The tyre is rated to 115psi. I think it would go bang long before I reached that pressure! Better not to risk it! I'm not having much luck with tyres, am I? I returned the Continental S tyres in the post and never heard a thing from the dealer! The snow evaporated of its own accord during the day despite it hovering around freezing. The sun came out later and I was able to work outdoors without gloves. A rest day off the trike. 0 Miles.

14th 23F, -5C, rather cloudy with light snow falling. The bleached, pale yellow grass is white with frost rather than snow this morning. I have to go out today to catch up on the shopping. I hope Mr Higgins is now more roadworthy. From an efficiency rather than a safety point of view. Though I still have to buy new brake blocks and change the front wheel or perhaps just the tyre.I really have run the poor old Higgins into the ground.

Without the mockery and critical eye of others my cleaning and maintenance discipline have never really developed. I would much rather be riding than sloshing about with soapy water and cleaning rags. And it shows! It may make theft less likely but I get filthy every time I touch the trike. I never want to change the chain because the salted roads immediately tun the new one rusty. It hardly seems worth bothering provided the old chain doesn't jump over the rear cogs. So every year I wait in vain for spring to arrive before I make the change.

I removed my £5 (flea market) Shimano front wheel and fitted a wheel from another flea market, £5 "racing" bike. Careful examination of the side-wall on the Durano Plus showed the bead was trying to escape over the edge of the rim again. The weird thing is that both back tyres have the same double rings as the front one. The Durano Plus have now done 2760 miles with very mixed puncture performance over time. Wear and tread damage seems quite reasonable. There should have been a couple of thousand more miles in it at this rate of wear. The substandard Continental 4000S looked worse than this after the first ride!

I am sorely tempted to buy some more Bontrager Race Lite if I can find them. They lasted for thousands of miles with only pinch punctures because I ran them at too low a pressure. That was due to an industrial repetitive strain injury. Which made it almost impossible to pump my tires really hard. I never had a flint or thorn get through them despite regularly going off road on horribly rocky, gravel farm tracks. The dealer where I usually bought them hasn't had any new stock for ages. Otherwise I'd still be riding on them and not desperately searching for something better. The far more expensive Bontrager X-lites were dreadful things. I could never get them to sit straight on the rim. I didn't like the gimmicky, one-sided stripe either.

This is how the Durano Plus looked when I got home! It had lifted itself over the edge of the rim all by itself.

The expectation of a sharp exit after coffee is on hold due to a blizzard! It has all turned white again in under 10 minutes. Bøgger! The sky is now alternating between blue and blue-black with watery sunshine. The wind is supposed to pick up this afternoon so I ought to go now. It kept trying to snow so I left after lunch. Came back with three things missing from my shopping list. No stock. The lumpy Schwalbe Durano Plus tyre had fallen off the rim and the inner tube exploded while I was out. It is just as well I didn't leave it on the trike! 21 miles.

This is what it did to the inner tube! I had inflated the tyre to 85psi using my Topeak floor pump and then double checked with the digital pressure gauge. Just in case the dial on the track pump was faulty. It wasn't.

15th 24F, -4C, sunny, still. Snow and strong winds forecast for this afternoon. Worked on the brakes with new brake blocks. I was fed up with sawing lumps off brand new brake blocks. With the risk of them falling out of their shoes. So I moved the front centre pull brake forwards using a longer brake bolt and spacers. The pitch seems the same but brake bolts have a larger diameter than similar metric threads. I didn't want to risk the front brake pulling out of the Higgins hex bar extension. Finally I can fit standard brake blocks side by side without them interfering with each other. Bright sunshine but still a bitterly cold headwind. 23 miles.

16th 32F, 0C, overcast, blowing a gale! Snow forecast for this afternoon. I went out early and it was horrible! Eye wateringly cold thanks to the wind chill factor. It was so unpleasant I came straight back home instead of adding some miles. No tyres were hurt in the making of this journey. Only 10 miles. The snow was quite light and late to arrive but with the strong wind it looks like a blizzard.

Brown topsoil coating wave-like drifts off the fields.  Note the deliberate mistake in forgetting to refit the rear mudguards! 

17th 33-36F, +1+2C, 45mph gales, sunny. There must have been 3-4" of snow yesterday but it had drifted and been scoured away in many places. Plenty of snow on the roads where it had been blown off the fields. Long runs of standing water, mud and slush. The wind was fierce but not so cold as it has been lately. There is 4"  more snow forecast for tomorrow and a real snowstorm on Tuesday! With up to a foot of snow possible and high winds causing drifting. The forecast keeps changing with Monday offering serious snow and high winds. 19 miles.

18th 32F, 0C, overcast, severe gales, snow forecast. Even without the snow, 35mph steady winds with gusts to 50mph do not a happy tricyclist make! It is late arriving but the DMI's radar shows a large area of falling snow just south of us as it  moves north. The snow finally arrived at 8.30 but was travelling so fast it never reached the ground! The snow finally petered out late afternoon and the wind dropped after dinner. Another rest day. Mudguards back on.

19th 28F, -2C, overcast, windy. It is supposed to blow to "only" 30mph today with continuous light snow and drifting. I don't need to go out shopping so will probably take another rest day. The forecast is for another week of freezing temperatures and windy with occasional snow showers. The snow stopped falling after morning coffee so I went out. Some drifting on the very wet roads. Glad for the mudguards today. Only 6 miles. Got very sideways on a hard packed snow drift but just managed to correct! I was only doing 12mph!

The leader of a political party in the Danish parliament suggests that police should stop giving cyclists a hard time. They should concentrate on the shooting war between armed gangs in the capital. Parts of Copenhagen are becoming battle grounds. With the locals afraid to go out for fear of flying bullets and missiles.

Meanwhile the police are stopping cyclists for having improper lights. It's always a matter of priorities and failed attempts to win dirt cheap votes. The police react to political pressure from their masters. Their master, or rather mistress in this case, prefers to swing her collection of very expensive, designer handbags at cyclists. She travels everywhere by private plane. Setting new records with each outing. Meanwhile the shootings, beatings and stabbings go on, and on.  The headmistress now has the lowest level of public support of any leader in Danish history. So much so, that in local elections they were desperate for her not to turn up in support of their campaigns. Let's be careful out there! ;-)

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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