23 May 2013

22nd May 2013

21st 56F, 13C, heavy overcast, light wind. Spitting with rain. Only 7 miles so far. The Ventus GPS logger or its PhotoTagger software keeps crashing my computer! Talking of which:

The Danish politic-ooze have decided to make it harder to steal bicycles in Denmark There will be an online register of bicycle frame numbers. So a used bicycle buyer can check if the bike has been registered as stolen before handing over the cash. Mobile phones with internet access are now commonplace. Making an online register far more useful than before. Provided the buyer actually cares about the source of his cheap ride. What if the intended purchase proves to be stolen? Does the buyer beat down the price? Or get beaten up to ensure their silence?

The woods were full of birdsong.

There were 68,000 bicycles reported stolen in Denmark last year. The true number of bike thefts annually is believed to be up around 250,000! The population of Denmark is only 7 million!  Most owners don't expect the police to find their bike so don't even bother to report the theft. The police return rate for stolen bikes is reportedly less than 0.5%.  68,000 x 0.005 =340. But  a more realistic 250,000/340 = 0.136% clear-up rate.

I understood there was already an online bike register but apparently this is a new initiative. How will this affect the organised gangs of East European bike thieves? The police are too busy stopping cyclists for minor traffic and technical infringements to have time to turn out. Not even when several witnesses ring the police to say the gangs are clearing a whole bike rack into the back of a lorry with foreign number plates, in the high street, in broad daylight! Once they are out of the country the bikes will never be seen again.

The opinion on the street seems to be that the insurance companies like bike insurance because it brings in customers for other types of more profitable insurance. Bikes can be easily added to household contents insurance at relatively low cost to the owner. So the theft becomes (almost) a victimless crime provided the bike was insured. Though they are not usually replacing with new for old. There is also the matter of raised premiums of course. There is never any free lunch. (Except for the politic-ooze and the East European bike theft maffia) Plus 12 more miles late morning. The Post Office counter  (in a supermarket) doesn't open until 1pm. A wasted journey! My Carradice Junior saddlebag has arrived in the post! (See separate blog post)

22nd 47F, 8C, overcast, raining. Winds will be gusting to 35mph. The wind was supposed to blow to 45mph but this has been reduced. At the same time there is a DMI warning about potentially very heavy rain. It is a month since my last rest day so I'll use the rain (and gales) as an excuse to stay at home. It is exactly one month since I had a rest day. It rained and blew all day. Nul points. I see the killer of the couple on the tandem in Bristol has received 10 years in prison. So, he'll be out in 3 months for good behaviour. Because the victims were only cyclists. Not real people. Real people would be treated with respect and killing them would be serious crime.

 BBC News - Bristol tandem bike deaths driver Nicholas Lovell jailed

There were swathes of Forget-me-nots beside the Assens cycle path. I'm afraid I haven't really captured the electric blue which drew my eye. 

23rd 51F, 11C, cool, windy but sunny. The trees are already waving about. With noticeably lower temperatures. Back to a long sleeved vest and warmer jacket. It was so cold I decided to wear gloves and a thin scull cap. A headwind going. Blowing from 4 o'clock by the time I headed home. 19 miles. I watched as crows mobbed a bird of prey. Then a group of smaller birds joined in as they moved off across the fields.

Cyclists are not real people because they don't pay road tax? There is no such thing as road tax in the UK.

BBC News - Emma Way: Cyclist tweet 'my biggest mistake'

No, dear, your biggest mistake was admitting online that you knocked a cyclist off their bike and then failed to stop at the scene of an accident. #bloodycyclists, eh? (sic)

Wouldn't it be a wonderful irony if she was sentenced to several hundred hours of supervised club cycling as her personal community service? The Chinese call it re-education. I'm sure the Nazis had similar programmes. Always assuming she is ever found guilty of anything. She only has to don her best frock and roll her eyes at the magistrate and all her troubles will go away. (Until the next time) We shall see. It could run and run if she gets advice from an ambulance chaser.

The endless allure of undulating lanes between high hedges in bright sunshine.

24th 51-59F, 11-15C, sunny, rather windy, the air is full of birdsong. Blackbirds are competing with cuckoos for attention on all my rides at the moment. Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Greenfinches are all appearing in greater numbers. Quite a few Woodpeckers too. The forecast is bright, a maximum of 59F with 25mph gusts.

 The sky was badly painted today. It looked very amateur with an odd mixture of waves, Cumulus and funny little squiggles spoiling the otherwise perfect blue. It was one of those days when everything looks very sharp. Probably the 2" of rain that fell a couple of days ago. Climbing well today. It's a very good climb out of Tommerup Station village up to Vissenbjerg via Magtenbølle. Steeper in places than the much longer drag up to Skallebølle. Usually much less traffic too. The road was covered in sand and gravel in places where the heavy rain had scoured out the verges. Just a shopping loop for 26 miles against the wind. I never seemed to get a decent tailwind all morning.

I told you there was a lot of it about!

25th 48F, 9C, breezy, overcast. The forecast is wet all morning but clearing after lunch. I left at almost mid-afternoon. The countryside around Tommerup Stationsby is gorgeous at this time of year. Particularly in the Hesbjerg Skov  area. A bit windy with only late sun finally cutting through the overcast. I was sent on a fool's errand by the major commercial Danish map and route service called Krak. I did a 5 mile loop through the forest on very rough, double-rutted tracks. It was hard going in places and a private road to motor traffic anyway. I spent most of the time out of the saddle to protect the tyres and rims. I wish I'd had time to take some photos but I was trying to get somewhere in a hurry before they closed early.

It's a good job I didn't fall off! I could have been lying there for days before anyone found me. Being an optimist I kept expecting tarmac around the next corner. The track certainly looked light like tarmac on the satellite view. I finally escaped to an exit only 1/4 of a mile up the road from where I had first left it. Without the sun to guide me I was absolutely certain I was heading in a straight line. Yet I did almost a complete circle. Crackers! I can't explain it but my Ultegra 10 speed, bottom gear sprocket suddenly has a very sharp wiggle in it. Weird! 37 miles.

Memorial to an 18th century historian and instigator of a museum. He was born at a farm nearby. 

26th 64F, 18C, very windy, sunny periods. It is supposed to rain after lunch. I decided on a light day because of the wind. It must have been gusting to well over 30 mph. The annual ride for sporting cyclists was taking place today. Hundreds of clubmen and women going the other way. Singly and in large groups. All on racing bikes in full kit. Quite a few of them gave me a wave. It will be a tiring day for the longer routes, 80 & 130km, where there is a headwind. I retraced my route through the woods today but from the opposite end. The fork I missed yesterday was very obvious with the sun to guide me. It was a very pleasant  day for a ride where there was shelter from the blustery wind. Only 18 miles.

27th 56F, 13C, overcast, breezy. A grey start but brightening later. Windy without becoming very warm. 17C max promised. Which is only 63F. My digital thermometer was already showing 70F! The outdoor sensor sat in the open air but was exposed to morning sunshine. I would check the thermometer on the bike shed and find it often read several degree lower than the one on the house. Now I have moved the house sensor into permanent shade to avoid false high readings. Which would adversely affect my choice of cycling wardrobe. Having a sensor anywhere near a warm roof is hopeless for accuracy. While wood has low thermal capacity and insulates well. Dangling from a high ladder on a dormer is not the most fun in the world. Not after falling off one a few years ago and landing on my head!

Part of the old Tommerup to Assens railway line. Passenger traffic ceased in 1966. No traffic after 1980 except for hired pedal trolleys.

It was rather windy when I finally escaped. I timed it badly on the way back because of older kids coming out of school. They didn't give a damn about wandering along the cycle paths and even strolling out onto the roads without even a glance in the direction of the traffic. I was being bombarded with flies for most of the way. Still climbing well. 20 miles.

28th 60F, 16C, sunny, light winds. This morning's forecast has cancelled the expected rain. A light northerly wind is promised. Gusting to "only" 20mph later. So it should be a good day for a ride. My digital thermometer was still reading high last night after a sunny day. The outdoor sensor is in free air and in the shade but must still be picking up heat from the dormer roof. Perhaps I should put my shed thermometer outside so I can read it with binoculars? :-)

It turned grey and threatened to rain. So I waited for coffee before leaving. All the plans of mice and tricyclists. I rode up to Bogense against the wind. Looped around my places to visit and and then turned for home again. I was harassed by two farm dogs but luckily there was no traffic at the time. Took some more photos so I have some in reserve for the blog after a bit of a famine recently. It was spitting with rain all morning but only started raining properly when I arrived home. The Brooks saddle is still not really comfortable. It may well be me.

The more I read and hear about cycling and nutrition the less happy I am with my lack of food intake on the trike. I drank only about a cupful of water and ate two bananas and a very small bag of mixed seeds, nuts and raisins on a 5 hour ride. (In total duration including short stops)  As I left very late I missed lunch as well. Though I just ate that at 3.30pm when I finally reached  home. Not very clever at all!

The problem is usually making a very late, often spontaneous, decision about the length and goal of a ride. Mood, wind, weather and how energetic I feel all come into play. Then making a decision about suitable food to take with me. I have never been a snacker. Nor a pub or café eater. I tend to eat only what I have with me. Though I bought organic bananas today simply because I was in the shop anyway. Otherwise I wouldn't have had anything but the tiny bag of seeds and nuts in all the time I was out. Even buying  a packet of digestives would have been quite sensible  (The only biscuits I eat these days) 

I don't ever dawdle when I'm riding and attack every hill with enthusiasm. So my energy needs are quite obviously far higher than holding down the chair at the computer. I really must try harder at this food thing. I tried some free 'sports' sachets of salts for my drinking bottle but they gave me muscle pain and cramp! So that isn't what I need in this relatively cool climate. I never get pains or cramp when I drink only water. Perhaps I should start experimenting with energy bars? Just to see if I like the taste and texture. Or even if I can tolerate them. Though reading online reviews doesn't suggest they are anything but compact and convenient at considerable expense. Chewing jelly babies for carbohydrates, my DIY seeds/nuts/fruit (in a bag) mix and bananas are probably equally useful. I just need to take more of them. 50 miles.

29th 54F, 12C, overcast, very windy. Getting darker with  rain forecast until mid-afternoon. It never really let up. With showers on and off all day. Blowing a gale so it was hard work going. I couldn't be bothered to go far in these conditions. So only 8 miles.

BBC News - Meet the man who cycles nearly 100 miles a day, every day

Three brand new Continental 4000S tyres turned up in the post today! Apparently the dealer felt responsible. Even though he was only the unfortunate middleman in Continental's corrupt distribution of substandard crap. These tyres punctured twice on the first proper ride. (Day two) Then went on to puncture five times in all before I gave up and fitted Schwalbe Durano. What was much worse about the GP4000S was that microscopically tiny flints left huge, gaping holes in the treads. Which filled with sand and gravel. Apparently this is the norm for Continental 4000S. At least it is according to Continental's speak no evil, see no evil, say no evil, desk jockeys. Perhaps they should have made them of real  rubber instead of a mixture of liquorice and empty advertising hype? The tyres, not the desk jockeys.

Continental GP4000S
Continental GP4000S
Continental GP4000S

Continental GP4000S

So it's nul points to Continental but many thanks to the Danish bike dealer. I'm getting on so well with Schwalbe Durano that I will not rush to fit the 4000S he kindly sent me free of charge.

30th 56F, 13C, windy, cloudy but bright. The promised warm and sunny day has been downgraded to showers. With a maximum temperature of 20C/68F and 25mph gusts with a headwind. It became warmer all the time I was out. So off came the jacket and I started swatting flies. The warmth seems to bring them out in swarms. If I had been a plant I'd be in serious trouble. At times I was covered in greenfly and larger black flies. Several attempted to be swallowed and I had to spit them out. Followed by a gargle and rinse from the water bottle.

Only one lady owner?

I passed a family group of cycle tourists going the other way out in the lanes. Including a SWB recumbent bike. It was an interesting morning by my usual standards: First I was nearly run over by a dustbin lorry at the beach. Then I became trapped in the old town gate, pedestrian door. It has a very strong closing spring and swung closed behind me while I was only half way through! For the first time ever, I should add. Luckily my acrobatics went unwitnessed as I dismounted and extracted the trike with as much dignity as I could still muster.

My new Carradice Junior saddlebag has arrived! I'm very pleased with it so far. This one was signed by Susan. The Junior is just the right size for a long day out on the trike in fine weather. While maintaining strict discipline on what extras to carry. The bag smells wonderfully of leather and something else. Probably the wax proofing on the cotton duck.

Carradice Junior hanging from an equally classical Brooks B17 'Special'.  A perfect match.

There was a tasteful, very professionally produced, Carradice pamphlet in the packaging. "Carradice Stories" with some excellent pictures of real  cyclists crossing deserts, climbing mountains and what have you. It subtly numbers and lists lots of the many Carradice bags in the images and even shows some of the factory staff. What more could you ask from a quality, traditional saddlebag from a legendary name like Carradice? I wonder if it guarantees year-round, constant sunshine as well? Perhaps that's just asking too much. 24 miles.

31st 56-69F, 13-21C, breezy, sunny. The forecast is for 23C/73F with a cloud morning but the sky is almost clear. I changed the chain and found it would not grip on the 32T worn-out (aluminium) middle ring! The teeth look more like a serrated bread knife. With barely any angle left on the flanks. The pedals just spin noisily when I turn the cranks. Fortunately I can achieve forward motion on the other chainwheels. I hope I have a temporary replacement, of the correct PCD, in my old chainset storage box. Never throw anything away! Famous last words. It clouded over to a heavy overcast and the only middle rings were for 5 arm cranks.

It was a good excuse to ride to Odense. I found a matching chainring in the second bike shop I visited. Selling for about £11 equivalent. It brightened up to lots of sunshine after that. A helpful wind coming home kept it cool. The new Carradice saddlebag is superbly light. I was hardly aware it was there. There was still room for a couple of 1 litre boxes of milk as well as my carrier bag full of vital junk and Abus Mini-U lock. The B17 'Special' is coming along nicely. Without the need to constantly re-tension as I had to with the very soft 'Select'.

I overtook a girl on a heavily laden touring bike. Huge panniers, saddlebag, et al. I was going to say 'hi' but she was wearing headphones. So I just waved as I passed. It was quite funny climbing the long drag out of Odense. I was nearly overtaken by an older chap on an MTB. Who took advantage of a pause to tip a bag of mixed seeds and nuts down my throat. I sped up and left him miles behind. Only to be overtaken by a  young chap on a racing bike. Nothing I did would let me stay at his pace and he was soon a distant blob. There's a slow-motion hierarchy of fitness on the bike paths of Denmark. 41 miles.

Pm: I fitted the new chainring in bright, warm sunshine. What a pleasure it is to work on Hollowtech 2 chainsets compared with square, tapered axle. When freed of the chain the Shimano bottom bracket bearings ran incredibly smoothly and freely. As do the Trykit 2WD rear axles. Give the wheels a good spin and you might as well set your watch and come back later! The old Shimano SPD pedals are still super smooth and very free running too. Though the cleat clamping is very tired and has huge amounts of slack. This is with new Shimano cleats fitted to my latest Specialized MTB cycling shoes.

A 1950s Pontiac is the same age as Mr Higgins. It makes you think, doesn't it?

I gave the Brooks another coat of Proofide underneath while I was playing at bike mechanic. The warm weather had made the 'wax' almost runny. Again I gave the top a smear with only the Proofide left on my fingers. The saddle will rest overnight before being buffed with a clean., soft cloth prior to my next ride. The B17 weighs 20oz on my ancient spring scales. My Vetta SL ATB Ladyboy only 11oz. They are almost the same width but the Vetta throws away much of the potential support available. With too much transverse curvature and steeply sloping outer sides. This was the only saddle I could ever live with amongst my large collection of man-made saddles. It arrived fitted to the Higgins.

I saw a NOS Brooks lady's model, 'Professional S' saddle in a bike shop recently. Rather foolishly, I immediately assumed it was the same width as the men's. It is actually the same width as the B17 but rather shorter. I wish I'd seen it a couple of years ago when I was searching for a more affordable, copper riveted, leather saddle. It might have saved me the cruel and unnecessary torture of breaking in the narrower NOS men's Professional! BTW: 'S' just means short. Some argue that a bike is steered with the thighs so a full length saddle is vital to safety and stability. They should look at some of the saddles used in Holland. They are oval and shorter than they are wide!

It occurs to me that the 'S' models might make life easier for extreme cornering acrobatics on a trike. Hanging off the side with a knee hooked over the saddle is easy enough with practice. Hanging off the top tube is far more difficult. Returning to the saddle after the corner feels as if one's thigh is trapped under the saddle nose. It is here that the shorter nose of the 'S' might offer a distinct advantage. Perhaps hanging off the  top tube is best left to the young and daring? Those fit and skilled enough to overcome the difficulties of regaining the saddle with grace and (apparently) effortless ease.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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