16 May 2013

15th May 2013

15th 50F, 10C, breezy, heavy overcast. The promised warmth and wind have been downgraded slightly. A road sweeping lorry was busy this morning. It must be 10 years since I last saw one! Do you think the Environment Minister is reading my blog?

The Brooks B17 'Special' with just a thin smear of Proofide. I just use the residue from my fingers after applying a thicker coat of Proofide to the underside. It will be left on overnight and then buffed off with a clean soft rag before being ridden. The ventilation perforations are rather rough. Suggesting that they do not sharpen the machine punches sufficiently often.

I shall rebuild the Higgins and hope that conditions allow a ride later. I used brown soap gel instead of the usual engine cleaner. Rubbing the stiff gel in with a toothbrush. Then giving the parts a rinse in water. This achieved a bright, clean finish on the filthy and thickly begrimed cassette sprockets. A rub over with a clean rag was all that was required to finish. My wife suggested the brown soap when I found my engine degreaser container proved to be empty. The brown soap avoids the usual nasty smells, black brush splashes and wondering what to do with the filthy chemical residue.

Rebuilding cassettes has gone very quickly since I learned to ignore the splines and use the small holes of the long sprocket fixing screw as a guide. Both sprockets and spacers will only go onto the freehub one way. So it takes only moments to rebuild a 9 speed cassette. The sprocket ramps are easy to spot as orientation markers. The Trykit 2WD body and all the journal bearings are still in good condition after a couple years of continuous use and several changes of cassette. The Trykit 2WD system was fitted in September 2010 so it's done at least 22,000 miles so far. Internally the Trykit freehub body still looks like new. Mr Higgins is now well cleaned up and rebuilt to ride. The weather doesn't seem as bad as they had threatened. So I'm off.

It was blowing a gale! A steady 20mph with gusts to well over 35mph. I was cruising effortlessly at 20mph going to the shops. Then crawling back in a  low gear. And guess what? Farmer Environ-Mentally-Challenged is spraying the field just across the road! In this gale! Y'all couldn't make it up! We have a piece from a Danish newspaper where their insurance expert recommends not spraying if the wind is over 5m/s. That's about 11mph which seems quite excessive enough. Now ask yourself why our garden conifers are all turning brown and dying. Why is the Beech hedge all twisted like a Contorted Hazel? Answers on a postcard, please, to...  15 miles.

Pm. I chickened out and bought some Basta aerosol engine cleaner. This cut through the crap on the triple MTB chainset like a hot knife through butter. Then a dunk in water and more toothbrushing followed by the regulation wipe with an old T-shirt rag. Mr Higgins has scrubbed up rather nicely if you ignore the rust. Perhaps this is all too much like cruel and unnatural treatment? Particularly for a trike which rolled out of the Higgins workshop the year after Sherpa Tenzing climbed Everest and Lady Helen Mirren first took to her throne. I put a new 9sp. DMC chain on. No point in running a filthy chain on clean cogs and rings.

16th 54-66F, 12-19C, light breeze, overcast. A 10 mph northerly wind with 20 mph gusts promised. Shouldn't be a bad day for a ride. Cooler than yesterday afternoon's scorching 72F! I decided to fight the wind early and headed north. Though I was working quite hard with a high cadence I was struggling to reach 16mph on the flat into the wind. I spent a lot of the time on the drops. By the time I was heading home the wind had turned much more easterly than promised. My route was also looping further west now. Increasing the effects of the wind from nominally sideways to occasional headwinds. It was so warm that the windproof jacket came off early. My legs are getting quite brown, with clear demarcation lines at thigh and ankle but my arms have been mostly covered so far.

Here is the Brooks B17 'Special'  underside. Still dark from a fresh coat of Brooks Proofide. It is best applied with the fingers. Which can reach all the nooks and crannies without waste. Removing the saddle makes life a whole lot easier when applying Proofide. It allows a far more thorough job. Proofide goes a very long way. I still haven't made much of a dent in my original tin. The small tins supplied free with every "luxury" model of Brooks saddle should last a single saddle for years. Once the initial break-in period is over it only needs a fresh coat every few months. Though you can always add Proofide to your Carradice leather maintenance programme if you should develop a fetish for greasy fingers. I find it helps to combat the drying effect of using harsh hand cleaners after a session dismantling a filthy trike. No matter how I tell myself to use gloves I inevitably end up getting dirty hands!

The Brooks B17 'Special' is certainly not broken in but is still improving. It is already far more comfortable than the Brooks 'Professional' ever was at its very best. I have set the 'Special' more level than I had before. About an 1/8" high at the nose using an 18" builder's level on a level floor. Originally I had set the nose up slightly more to ensure a stable seat on the rather shiny surface. The Proofide cured the slipperiness but the convex curvature of the leather did not have any real sense of a natural seating position. I found myself slowly sliding forwards more than expected even with the nose up.

The leather is still showing increased flexibility to finger pressure. Though by any standards it is still hard.  I have the tension nut set at minimum to ensure maximum comfort and flexibility in its early days. It is, to my mind, a thing of great beauty. Luckily I had the waterproof cover on when a bird dropped a huge gob of white stuff right in the middle! The 'Special' has already done 273 miles from new on the 5th May. I had feared a long and agonizing break-in period. I need not have worried. The greater width of the B17 not only lowers the pressure per square unit of area but provides a greater acreage of leather suspension. A larger trampoline, if you will. 40 more miles today. I had better start increasing my mileage dramatically or it will be a very poor year! Nearly half way through the year and I haven't even reached 3000 miles yet!

17th 65-70F, 18-21C, temperatures rising rapidly, rather overcast, breezy. An easterly wind today but it should clear up to warm sunshine. I have been checking progress on the Diims tracker website. For some reason there was a 4 day hiatus from the 11th to the 15th despite a daily ride. If the tracker was attached to a stolen item it would probably find it if it was still within Denmark. Though it might take a couple of days before it popped up. I had planned to ride to Odense today but it is too late now. I shall have to be content with more modest ambitions to be able to return by lunch time.

In a sudden explosions of oil seed rape blossom I went shopping in Assens. Fakta are ripping off their customers with year-old Heinz beans. No sympathy (at all) from the staff. I had to walk back to the pile on the shelf to go through them all to find some up to date cans while the queue waited. Only 1/3 of their available stock had this year's date! Many of the others were flattened! I should have read the signs when the automatic door wouldn't open! What a way to run a business! I did find some small, zipped, poly bags for my cycling snacks. They were hiding in a stationery shop. 19 miles. Plus 7 more miles pm.

18th 60-72F, 16-22C, windy, sunny periods. It should be warm, dry, rather cloudy and windy all day. Blowing a steady 10mph with 25mph gusts from the east. The trees are already in constant motion. I set off into the wind to ride to Odense. Riding a lot on the drops using a high cadence. It stayed warm, sunny and windy all morning. The wind was turning more southerly on the way home but wasn't too much of a nuisance. It all helps the suntan on the knees. Quite a few cyclist out training including a bunch of about 20 all dressed in orange. The sun makes people cheerful. I was going well today. 43 miles. Plus 8 more miles in the afternoon.

19th 59-64F, 15-18C, heavy overcast, breezy, possible rain this afternoon. I haven't made any real plans for today. In the end I just rode in a large circle for 20 miles. A very grey day but with light winds.

There's a lot of it about!

20th 61F, 16C, overcast, light winds. It's a bit brighter than yesterday with even lighter winds. Ideal day for a longer ride? I decided to ride to Otterup. A small town at the top right of the island of Fyn. It is only about 25 miles away by the shortest route but feels much further psychologically. I pushed hard all the way there and back while maintaining a minimum cadence of 90 rpm.

A young chap on a mountain bike pulled out up the road so I used him as a moving target to press on a bit.  My revs went up to 110 as I fought to stay with him on several long uphill drags. Only when he slowed for a drink was I finally able to overtake after a five mile chase. 16 miles in the first hour isn't bad for a full saddlebag. Most of it seemed to be climbing as hard as possible within my comfort zone. An hour and half to reach 25 miles. I pottered about in Otterup looking for open supermarkets with decent bread on the bank holiday. None which I could use. So I headed back by another route.

I was just making a mental note that Otterup cycle paths should be nominated for next year's extreme mountain biking championships when a local peasant pulled up alongside. The passenger rolled the window down and a hillbilly bawled at me for not riding on the cycle path. I was struggling to consume a mature Welsh Cheddar cheese roll at the time. So I was a little short on inarticulate, monosyllabic conversation in rural Fynsk.

Had you seen the road we were sharing you might have found all of this quite amusing. Four buses could easily have driven side by side along this perfectly straight stretch of road as far as the eye could see. Moreover there was no other traffic except for ourselves. Having unloaded his entire vocabulary on the subject he rolled up the window and they departed at speed. I just carried on munching and pedalling happily along. There is no point in getting upset with such fools. Sympathy is rather more apt. Inbreeding is (almost) inevitable on an island peopled almost entirely in small rural villages and hamlets. Some people seem to make quite a hobby of it! Mostly they blame the Jante law. It's a popular excuse for (almost) anything in Denmark. I kid you not.

Law of Jante - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Later I caught up with a string of assorted girls in training kit on racing bikes. All seemed to be trying as hard as they could to maintain a high speed and keep up with those in front. I had to go up to 24 mph to get past smoothly and then kept up my speed for several miles to stay well ahead of them. Eventually I had to turn off while they rode on. It all helped me to shorten my journey time. A final short stop for shopping and then I made it home in just under four hours total for 54 miles. Under threat of dire circumstances by my lovely wife if I exceeded this margin of error! :-)

The Specialized MTB shoes are working out well. No discomfort at all. The expensive GripGrab mitts are comfortable but seem to be leaning towards fragility when I remove them from sweaty hands. The B17 'Special' saddle bit me quite a few times today. Physically I was still feeling strong right to the end of today's ride. Climbing out of the saddle is becoming much more relaxed and almost painless as I keep pushing my distance at this very demanding sport. Just standing up on the pedals for a few yards would nearly cripple me only three years ago. It was torture most foul!

The thought of duplicating the entire ride for 100 miles total would have been beyond my powers at present. I need the saddle to behave itself much better before I can raise the mileage that much. I would also need to pace myself far more sensibly than today's silliness. Chasing after much younger and obviously faster riders is daft at my age. Especially on a loaded trike. Though 60 miles is now quite a comfortable distance if the wind and saddle cooperate. I just need to repeat my present maximum distance a few more times before going for the full century.

80 miles would be a good next step. I did it twice last year but the 'Professional' saddle nearly cut me in half! Repeatedly pushing up the comfortable distance builds the stamina to go even further without suffering. More food and drink are essential factors in more than mere survival at these greater distances. I find it all too easy to lose too much energy and not recoup my losses in time. My tired mind tells me to keep slogging on when I really should stop and buy some bananas, some biscuits or even a cake. It's a bad habit which often reduces my speed quite drastically towards the end of a longer ride.

The time from the last meal (usually breakfast) often runs into six hours before I get home. I rarely drink anything unless it is really hot. Thankfully my wife has started making me marmalade covered rolls and milky coffee much earlier than usual before I leave. This is normally enough of a top-up for three hours of hard cycling without eating anything much else. It's no wonder I'm losing weight!  Or perhaps it is being sprayed by unknown chemicals (by farmers) for the 7th time in a fortnight?

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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