23 Apr 2013

19th April 2013

19th 44-50F, 7-10C, windy, overcast. It feels perishing out there this morning! I was going to have another look at the trike but is was much too unpleasant to work outside. I need good light to be able to see clearly even while wearing my supermarket reading glasses. They call it "lack of accommodation." That doesn't mean I'm homeless but that my eye lenses are stiffening with age. This limits the ability of my eyes to refocus for near objects. Since taking up daily cycling my eyes have relaxed to distance viewing. I used to need glasses just to read a clock on the office wall.

I stopped in the forest to capture the slow change between drab winter and emerald spring.

The forecast is for sunny periods but it is solid grey. It never did brighten up and was blowing a steady 35mph gale. The stench of pigshit is everywhere! I was nearly taken out by a white van in one village! I got in the way of his planned run-up to a new land speed record for a built up area. I think both of us were shocked. We had just seen the first road sweeper lorry to grace the streets of Denmark in probably well over a decade! I expect the Prime Minister is spending all those cyclist's fines to confirm her environmental credentials. Or something like that. I am far too cynical to believe anyone reads my blog and acts on it.

Diims has suddenly found two more hits 6&4 days after the event. It is now Friday but the hits were recorded last Saturday and on Monday of this week. A weekly roundtoit download? Diims are showing circles on the map to suggest the radius of sensitivity from the actual recorded hits. One has to take into account that post office vans may be moving quite quickly while the Diims unit is sending its signal. The time/distance lag will affect the accuracy of the hit shown on the map. (There is no way to save the map as an image to show it here)

Where an item is stolen, along with its protective Diims unit, one would need several hits to be able to locate the item more accurately. Not by triangulation, in the usual sense, but by averaging the círcle overlaps from different angles. This may offer a distinct advantage to the moving van sensors. A fixed building sensor would not locate the item to an accuracy better than the entire radius of sensitivity. Though repeated hits would certainly help to confirm its location was within the circle. In a city this might cover a number of streets. One would then have to hope for a post office delivery van to narrow down the location. The postal vans cover many different addresses from day to day with variations in timing relative to the Diims unit's own transmissions. Though one might have to wait a number of days for a new hit to be actually shown on the Diims website. (Going on present experience)

Until now I haven't even bothered to fix the Diims to my trike due to the lack of hits. If the numbers continue to increase the system might (finally) be worth trusting with the potential added £40 cost of the Diims unit to the loss of the trike itself. Though the new Abus lock is obviously playing its part in the overall security system. Hopefully making it much less attractive to thieves. Though they would (probably) be more likely to steal it to scavenge the parts than any inherent interest in the trike itself. Which is sadly ironic. The "bits" are easily replaceable and subject to repeated updating. While the trike frame is the only irreplaceable items for me. 22 miles today.

20th 37-50F, 3-10C, breezy, sunny. Stinking of pigshit. An overnight white frost on the car and fields. It should be a fine day for cycling though with a maximum of only 10-12C. Wínds lighter now around the north. Suggesting I head north to enjoy some help coming home later. It's odd how I still see the weekend as having greater potential for a longer ride than a "normal" weekday. Old habits die hard.

I had already had breakfast but after very early coffee and rolls I headed north towards Bogense. The wind was far colder than expected considering my reduced clothing. Just before Bogense I turned left towards Middelfart. A pleasant, undulating country road but with rather a lot of traffic. Quite a few cyclists out training. There were some posh racing bikes on car racks too. Perhaps there was a race somewhere? They were all going the same way. I felt as if I was going rather well today. Climbing strongly despite the cold headwind. Keeping the pressure on and a high cadence all the time I was moving. Though I stopped at several shops along the way. 48 miles. Plus 7 more miles pm. Diims spotted me near Bogense via a post office van.

21st 53F, 12C, breezy, sunny. Another white overnight frost. The wind is supposed to increase to 30mph SE gusts later. I did a meandering and hilly ride of 28 miles. Lots of cyclists out training including several groups. I had reached the tolerance level of the Vetta SL after yesterday's ride. Putting the retensioned B17 'Select' back on, perfectly level, did not offer remotely the same supportIt also felt as if I now had all my weight on the bars.  So I had to stop and tip the nose well up on the Brooks while pushing it as far back as possible. Still not ideal but I rode on with steadily increasing pain in my right quad, hip and knee. My attempts to reduce the weight of the trike had resulted in the loss of a previously stable and comfortable riding position.

The Vetta saddle had proved acceptable only up to a point but had then damaged the sit bone area just enough to force me back to the B17.  The B17 'Select'  leather is so flexible (and twisted) that I constantly feel the need to retention it. When I do, it becomes uncomfortable further forward as the spine takes over support duties as the seating area slopes steeply downwards and forwards due to the added tension on the leather. The spine pushes up (in completely the wrong place) just as the seating area loses all its power to support the sit bones.

The sloping flanks throw me forwards onto the spine. Further exaggerating the loss of the soft and suspended sit bone support area. Not to mention the increased load on the hands and wrists. The rider (me) is no longer balanced for and aft over the bottom bracket.  This goes completely against our fuzzy logic. One might think that pushing the saddle forwards would place it under the rider to carry more weight and reduce wrist and hand pain. Nothing could be further for the truth. The saddle's vital support area needs to be pushed back to balance the rider's weight comfortably between bars, pedals and seat. When the rider tires of leaning heavily on his hands, or grows tired of working hard for too long, he sits up. Which throws all the rider's weight on the already uncomfortable saddle. An inescapable catch 22.

22nd 45-51F, 7-11C, windy, wet start, sunny later. Rest day.

23rd 45-55F, 7-13C, windy, sunny periods becoming overcast. Forecast for 40mph gusts later. Lots of birds of prey soaring slowly over the fields. Including a superbly colourful Marsh harrier. I wish I was better at recognising the more unusual birds of prey. Without being able to stop safely and whip out a pair of binoculars many of the recognition details are lost to my view within seconds. In Britain I usually only saw Kestrels and Buzzards. Over here in Denmark there are so many more kinds and so many more of them visible all the time. It often feels as if there is a bird of prey to every field. We often get them perching in the garden too. Their flying skills are absolutely amazing. They can sail through the densest forest trees completely effortlessly when disturbed. Smaller birds of prey can zip through the thickest of hedges. 21 miles today.

I found some pictures from bikeradar of Geoff Booker's gorgeous, R953 stainless steel, TT/race Trykit on display at Bespoked Bristol 2013:

This Geoff Booker 953 trike was a stunner

More images here:

Geoff also had a tandem trike, a trike conversion axle and some of the many unique trike parts he makes at the Bristol show. I was interested to see that his 2WD freehub is popular with the four wheel racers too. There can't be any other handbuilt cycle builders with such a huge range of skills and products.

24th 51-57F, 11-14C, sunny, rather cool and windy. Stinking even worse of pigshit! It is supposed to gust to nearly 40mph later with top temperatures of around 15C/60F. My knees are already pink after only a couple of days without tights. I rode to Assens against a cold headwind. Then stripped off the jacket for the return trip.

On the way back I missed a high speed accident by a hare's breadth! The daft animal was grazing a front lawn behind a hedge on the other side of the road when it was startled by a noisy car overtaking me. The hare shot along behind the hedge and then turned sharply across our respective bows about two feet in front of my front wheel on a steep descent. Diims saw me via a post office van in the lanes. 19 miles, not out! :-)

25th 51F, 11C, winds lighter today, sunny. Stinky! I really ought to make the most of it today. Rain is forecast from mid afternoon and all day tomorrow.

Brooks has a new saddle coming out called the Cambium. A long lived mixture of rubber and cloth with a B17 shape. I am now seriously looking for a replacement for my far too soft and badly distorted B17 'Select'. It's quite tempting to try a B17 Special next. Copper metalware, to avoid the usual unsightly rust, but a standard, non-softened leather top.

The Spa Nidd still seems much too hard despite being locally pressed with G-cramps. I have the Brooks 'Professional' back in a useful shape but it's still too narrow for my sit bones. Nothing will change that simple fact of life despite its good looks. The B17 'Select' was wonderful from new but flawed by its extreme softness and badly asymmetric leather. Buying a new 'Select' every year in the hope of finding a good one? It seems a bit wasteful and spendy. I wonder if I could get an annual replacement under guarantee?

I rode up to Middelfart and Fredericia by the main road to have a look in the bike shops. The traffic was very well behaved and all gave me a wide berth. The cycle lane road surface is superb if rather narrow for a trike in places  I straddled the "high tech" dotted white line to avoid vibration.  Putting the front wheel inside the line when I spotted a vehicle coming up behind in my excellent Cyclop mirror. When the road was clear, which it was a lot of the time, I put the front wheel outside the line. This helped to avoid the rough edge of the road. The cycle lane surfaces in Middelfart and Frederica are absolutely appalling! Some of the potholes are so old I swear I can see Ichthyosaurs circling in the murky depths!

The Vetta saddle proved itself only good for under 30 miles. It was nothing but pain and misery from then on. I'm a hopelessly incurable optimist when it comes to saddles. I don't know how it manages it but it was a 10 o'clock wind going. Then a 2 o'clock wind on the return journey. I was starving on the way back. Having had only a small bag of mixed seeds and nuts for the six hour outing. Daft really. I should have bought some bananas or digestive biscuits. Or taken sandwiches. Saddle pain and hunger knock are poor bedfellows in a near headwind. My face and legs have caught the sun! The DMI is warning against a temporary thinning of the Ozone Layer over Denmark. I was spotted four times by Diims while I was out. This is very encouraging.  60 miles.

26th 42F, 6C, breezy, heavy overcast, damp. It is supposed to rain all day. Though no sign of it yet. (11am) No ill effects from yesterday's foolishness. I might as well go shopping instead of the expected rest day. It was a bank holiday so some of the shops were closed. It didn't start spitting with rain until late afternoon. So the day wasn't wasted after all. Back on the B17 'Select'. The cantle plate is now making itself felt as the seating area sinks again. Time to crank on the Brooks spanner, again! 18 miles.

27th 42-53F, 5-12C, sunny periods, windy. I went for a tootle down to the coast to find something new to photograph. Tried the Spa Nidd saddle again. It suddenly reminded me of its presence at 20 miles. Not really too awful after that but it didn't let up. The 60 mile ride on the Vetta SL may have sensitised my sit bone area. 32 miles so far. Have to go out again. Put the B17 Select back on with more tension. Painful at first but it eased on the way back.

Either I am psychic or the local kommunes/councils are reading my blog. Yet another village's cycle lanes have been swept! Whoopee! Cyclists are no longer forced out into the traffic by deep moraines of gravel, rocks, glass and years of accumulated debris. Now all they need to do is fill in the bløødy potholes!

8 more miles avoiding ancient potholes. If only there was a bright pink or garish yellow filler for potholes. It would be worth filling a few of the worst to gain public attention. Or perhaps I should get one of those aerosol marker sprays that the roadworkers use to mark areas for resurfacing? Nah. I'd be probably be accused of trying to overthrow the government... or something. They have enough problems already.

I'm getting quite used to lifting a rear wheel over them. Like a dog having a leak. I used to pull a wheelie and straddle them but the holes grew so wide I couldn't avoid dropping at least one wheel into them. The unlikely container gardening idea has merit. Transplant some daffs into a barrow load of soil and water well in.

You never see plastic road cones over here so I can't borrow them and use those to mark the worst repeat offenders. I'm half hoping they won't send Tweedledee and Tweedledum around to fill the damned things. They will stick up instead of being avoidable hollows. There are more than enough raised drain covers on the cycle lanes already! It will end up looking like a BMX track at this rate!

28th 45F, 7C, a breeze picking up, rather cloudy but clearing to sunny. An overnight frost  and thick mist cleared quickly.  I'm going to try my best bib shorts on the B17 'Select'. Having sensitised myself by using the Vetta SL I need time to recuperate without taking rest days. I just found a review of the Velo Orange Model 3 touring saddle. It is almost identical to the Spa Nidd but with a textured top. Again it has the underside reinforcing cloth. I doubt the two would behave any differently to each other in practice. I cannot believe how soft the leather of my Brooks 'Select' has become. It is easy to flex every part of it with light finger pressure. The combination of decent shorts and 'Select' was perfectly comfortable today. I headed into the (cold) wind  with eyes watering just wandering.

I was nearly taken out by an ancient fuckwit driving too fast on the completely wrong side of a straight, empty road entering a busy village. In heavy overcast he was wearing his blind man's glasses. As black as an MIB's standard issue. As a result he was barely able to see through the steering wheel let alone over it. Always assuming senility wasn't a major factor in his lunatic driving behaviour..

I waved my arms frantically, as he accelerated hard towards me and (finally) he veered off just before I was ready to hurl myself into the shrubbery. By then he was travelling far too fast for me to check whether his white stick was propped against the passenger's seat. "I've been driving for 97 years and never had an accident, you know!" 27 miles not (quite) out.

Another short ride in the afternoon. The soles of the Bontrager 'Race' MTB shoes are now seriously detaching around the edges one year to the day since I bought them. They have done 9,659 miles/ 15,551 km  in perfect comfort. I have no idea for how long they are guaranteed. Does a year and nearly 10k miles seem fair? Dunno. I was never keen on how open the netting was on top of the toe. This made them rather cool at times. They also let the rain run straight through on those rare occasions when I wasn't wearing overshoes in wet weather.

The soles always felt rather detached when I pulled up on the them when climbing out of the saddle. Giving a rather sloppy feel. Perhaps I never tightened the straps enough? Though I'd still have no hesitation in buying another pair based purely on comfort grounds I will do my homework before a new purchase. They were excellent for walking in. Only towards the end did they get really noisy with the cleats now reaching the ground. Crunchy when walking on concrete. Tap shoes in the supermarket. The Shimano M077 looks more solid in the toe yet claims to offer a roomy toe box. I didn't find them comfortable last year. Another tour of the bike shops for trial fittings now seems inevitable. Déjà vu. 8 more miles.

29th 44-50F, 7-10C, rather windy but bright start to the day. It is supposed to be gusting to 40 mph later, with rain around lunch time. It turned grey and started raining before 11am so I put off today's ride until pm. There were fierce gusts all afternoon so I had no desire to go far. No Diims for 4 days now. April has followed March as an unusually cold month. The DMI had to go back 25 years to find a similarly cold April. Though sunshine was about average. Only 8 miles today.

30th 50-53F, 10-12C, windy with sunny periods. I rode to Ringe to look in the bike shops It was a pleasant ride going but a cold and variable headwind or gale all the way home. They didn't have a pair of MTB shoes in 46. The MO77 in 45 were so small and painful that I nearly crippled myself getting one on! EU45 is my normal shoe size! The MO87 look much better made and less plasticky. With no obvious glue leaking around the toe caps as seemed to be common on the '77. The next step up in Bontrager MTB shoes from the 'Race' are the 'RL' at about £100.  Some review commentators complained of the glue coming unstuck after only a couple of months wear on those! Which is a shame. Because I couldn't find any shoes remotely as comfortable as the Bontrager 'Race' last year. The Mavic MTB I tried last year were unsuitable for walking and rather like wearing a pair of narrow wooden coffins.

I sat on the various Selle and Fizik test saddles while I was there but nothing felt remotely comfortable. Even the Brooks B17 'Select' was occasionally uncomfortable today despite my wearing my best bib shorts. I have ordered a Brooks B17 'Special' online to give me something to ride when I return the 'Select' to the dealer for replacement under guarantee. The 'Select' has twisted sideways and shown other asymmetric behaviour almost from new. One skirt used to stand up sideways while the other clung to the rail.  The leather is so soft that it doesn't hold tension for more than a day or two before sagging into a flat hammock. It is now getting the raised cantle plate syndrome of an overstretched leather saddle. Brooks claim it as their finest saddle for long distance riders. I have to disagree based on my own experience with this particular example. As new it looked so gorgeous. A real work of art. Perfection is every detail of its craftsmanship.

However attractive the new saddle might be I am certainly not looking forwards to breaking in yet another saddle. I have never liked the rust-prone, hollow steel rivets. So chose the 'Special' for its hammered copper rivets and copper plated chassis. 44 miles.

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