6 May 2013

6th May 2013


6th 64-68F, 18-20C, almost still, sunny from a pale, almost cloudless sky. It should creep up by a few more degrees but may cloud over later. The forecast is wet and much cooler from Wednesday onwards. So I ought to make the most of today's fine, still weather. The usual stink of pigshit has been replaced by smoke from my neighbour's chimney. I went to get the trike out and had a good cough. I can hear tractors are busy just over the hill but I can't smell anything despite the wind blowing gently this way.

I left after morning coffee into warm sunshine. There was a slight headwind but the wind turbines were still. A couple of miles from home I was sprayed by a farmer. There was a strong smell of paint thinners whatever that means. The crop was 6" tall grass but most immature crops look like that. As I rode on I was being bombarded by different sizes of black flies. The wind had gone round to the opposite direction by the time I turned for home. Going rather well today. First Goldfinches seen this year. Greenfinches already commonplace.

My new Brooks saddle has arrived. I have to go out again after lunch so I will try it out. It seems I am getting stronger but not much faster. The new saddle was like trying to balance on a polished pebble. Rather strangely, it was not painful. Though it might benefit from being tipped slightly nose up. Which would ensure better location. The Proofide might take the shine off. I can already depress the sit bone area with my fingers after only 20 miles.

7th 60F, 16C, bright with a gentle breeze carrying an unbelievable stench of pig's diarrhoea. It is supposed to exceed 70F later. Diims finally spotted me in a village after four days. (and seeing lots of Diims-inactive PO vans in between) There was a strong side/headwind from about the 10 o'clock direction all the way to Bogense. I tootled around for a while and then headed back by another route. The wind was slightly behind me now. The new saddle was fine until towards the end.  When it became rather uncomfortable but not really too bad. The proofide had safely killed the unwanted slipperiness. The shoes were comfortable and never actually reminded me of their presence. Going well in both directions. I have caught a bit of sun on my newly bare arms and my legs are looking a bit red. Saw a Red kite and lots of noisy geese. I was sprayed twice today in the strong side wind. 47 miles.

8th 51F, 11C, breezy, overcast with showers. Hopefully the rain will ease off by the time I have enjoyed my morning coffee and rolls. I find I can keep going until lunch on my habitual morning snack despite all the energy I use up on my rides. The day always starts with a large bowl of homemade, organic muesli with organic, low fat milk. In my younger days I used to have a huge bowl piled high with mixed commercial breakfast cereals plastered in white sugar. I was always starving within an hour! I learned to detest the hype surrounding the lying TV adverts for kid's breakfast cereals. Their sugar-loaded crap offers nothing useful at all!

Eventually I was advised by a specialist to eat porridge oats with a little bran and milk. I could add a few sultanas and nuts to taste to break up the monotony of chewing wet sawdust. NO sugar! This breakfast completely changed my life's habits of several decades. Now I could survive until lunch without gnawing stomach pains and constant hunger weakness. I must have had the hunger knock almost every day before that. My days were filled with waiting for the next cup of black coffee with 2-3 spoons of sugar. Now we have no sugar in the house at all and coffee is only savoured as an enjoyable ritual.

The opposite end of the housing spectrum? 

We have no use for sugar now. Sugar-loaded fizzy drinks have never appealed and are never bought or consumed. I have repeatedly mentioned how the chronically obese can be instantly recognised by what they pile onto the belt at the supermarket. I spend quite a lot of time waiting at checkouts to pay for my organic produce. What I usually see on the belt will be guaranteed make somebody very fat and very sick. Perhaps their doctors should make morning muesli compulsory or refuse to treat them? My doctor cured me of 20 years of heavy smoking. Simply by threatening not to give me any more antibiotics for my endless "chest infections." He probably saved my life. Though I was shocked and resentful at the time.

I spent the entire morning clearing out the bike shed. More than 35 assorted wheels, some aero, mostly yesterday's HP alloys or MTB wheels, several mountain bikes and a few sports frames. All heading for the scrap bin at the village recycling centre! I checked online to see if anyone wanted old bikes but nothing came up. It seems such a waste! There was a time, not long ago, when one could pick and choose from the scrap bin. Bikes were often stacked up alongside to be perused before lifting the chosen model into the Danish citizen's ubiquitous trailer.

A lot more than these are going in the skip. 
A warning to hoarders everywhere!  

Then the kommunes completely lost interest in the public aspect of hands-on recycling but still kept the old title. Now one has to climb the steps to hurl any scrap into a huge, deep container. Totally inaccessible to the pickers over and not easy to get up there when loaded down with the heavy stuff.

I suppose I could park the trailer outside the recycling yard and put a 'GRATIS' sign on it but somebody would probably ask if they could have the trailer! I asked several local bike shops but nobody knew anybody who would be grateful for some of my junk free of charge.

More shed tidying pm before a late ride of only 7 miles. I made it home just before the heavens opened to a thunderstorm! The banana shaped, Brooks B17 'Select' is finally winging its way to the online dealer for inspection. Rather than a replacement or refund I suggested they let me have an antique brown B17 'Special' in exchange. I'd lose on the deal but would be perfectly happy to have another, longer lasting saddle in reserve.  I was getting RSI cranking on the tension nut of the 'Select'. Today was the official greening of the trees. Two warm days and they have all exploded into colour! Welcome to spring. The birds are happy.

9th 56F, 13C, overcast, breezy, light showers. Threat of showers and wind at any time today. Another three hours tidying the bike shed! I'm trying to hang the few remaining bikes vertically from their front wheels.  BTW: Don't ever try to save money on cheap, thin, metal shelving units. Every single shelf has buckled and sagged. If I hadn't screwed the flimsy uprights to the walls the whole lot would have collapsed by now. I once had tons of Dexion but it was stolen by our removal man when we moved over here. Along with a lot of other stuff. Unfortunately that was before the Internet or I could have hoist him from his own (crooked) petard.

Just a ride into the wind for some shopping. It was a bank holiday so most of the shops were closed. Easy going on the way back. 22 miles. Despite all the cloud it managed to stay quite bright.

Another few hours sorting the shed out in the afternoon. The floor is finally clear of boxes of old bike bits. Though it has all moved onto the buckled shelves in new boxes. It is a total illusion that any of this stuff has any value. Its value on eBay would be greatly exceeded by the postal charges just to get rid of it all. So, if it has no value and I have no further need of it.. then it can safely be scrapped!

Most of it was attached to bikes bought incredibly cheaply from recycling yards and charity shops. I was buying a whole bike for small change just to obtain a better chainset, front wheel, brake levers or gear changer. It quickly added up to over 20 bikes! I haven't even ridden a bike in several years. I have no real interest in riding bikes any more. I am a tricyclist. (An almost full time tricyclist if you believe my wife)

Since I upgraded to new stuff all the junk is just hampering movement when I want to work in the shed. I have a box the size of a small suitcase full of dead inner tubes! All of them have been repaired at least once. Some of them twice. (or more) Now I just buy a new tube if I puncture. Which isn't that often any more. Inner tubes are cheaper than the lowest wages you might allow yourself just finding, marking and mending punctures. So why do I need so many old inner tubes? Why did I keep so many worn out tyres hanging up in there? Insecurity? Or because I am a hoarder?

The bottom line: Hoarders should not watch TV programmes about other hoarders! They see their own reflection all too clearly in the screen afterwards! Goodnight.

10th 52F, 11C, sunny, breezy. Why did the tricyclist walk around his trike in the shed? Because he can. :-)
I fought the south easterly wind going and then it had turned to the southwest for my return. I really wasn't warm enough on the way back. It suddenly felt about 10 degrees cooler with the threat of rain. I spoke to a scrap man and he agreed that old bikes and parts had no value. I was passed by a convoy of very mixed VW minibuses, vans, etc.The Abus Mini-U fits almost perfectly in the side pocket of the Carradice Camper Longflap. This saves the usual excavation of the shopping to find the lock at each new supermarket stop. A useful discovery. Anything which hinders the will to use the lock is bad news for security. I wish Carradice would spend another halfpenny per bag on stainless steel buckles. Mine look as if they are rusting away after one winter of salted roads! The waterproofing on the nylon longflap sleeve has almost gone too. 17 miles.

11th 55F, 13C, overcast, breezy. I loaded the trailer up high with a dozen bikes and frames and the 35 wheels. Then delivered it all to the nearest village recycling yard. Almost every Danish village of any size has a Genbrugsstation. We are not talking about a scruffy rubbish dump. They each have a full complement of containers. All marked with large, clear signs as to the expected contents of each.

It would have taken ages to carry each item up the steps to the container. So I asked the driver of the giant digger to park by the scrap bin. It took two huge buckets full to clear the trailer but at least it was very quick. I feel free of a heavy millstone but still have more junk to get rid of. It's all down to the terrible inertia of living in the same place for too long. It negates the vital clear-out at short enough intervals for efficient removal of the nest to a new site.

A rather grey, cool and breezy day. I did a hilly, shopping loop for 26 miles. Climbing well despite a heavy load of shopping. Plenty of cyclists out training. Convoys of noisy, fairweather motorcyclists. The Brooks 'Special' is doing very well even this early in its life. First signs of sunken sit bone areas already. It hasn't been really uncomfortable from new. Though not as obviously comfortable as the very floppy 'Select'. The difference in hardness makes the difference. Width is everything and the B17 provides the perfect seat for my particular sit bone spacing. I wish I knew why I persisted with narrow saddles. I am not convinced that leaning forwards onto low handlebars from a higher saddle makes any difference in desirable saddle width. At least not in my case.

I wish the supermarkets would stop removing stock items from their shelves! Just as one gets used to something it is no longer available. Special offers never become stock items. Many Danish supermarkets have more Chinese junk display areas than food. Except for the usually vast sweets and snacks display areas, of course. A 1950s Coop counter assistant wouldn't recognise our very strange retail world. First cuckoo of the year. How very appropriate.

12th 49F, 9C, overcast, already windy. Showers are forecast. They were right! I re-found an old black saddlebag on my tidying expedition to the darkest corners of the bike shed. The (formerly) white leather hanging straps are much thicker than the modern Carradice examples. (As previously suggested by Alan. My cycling technical consultant and fellow tricyclist) So much so, in fact, that the bag straps really struggled to enter the Brooks 'Special' bag loops. I am quite tempted to resurrect this old bag for my longer rides without any preordained shopping target.

I tried hanging it (the bag) from the 'Special' loops but it just swung back and forth with the opening facing more or less downwards. That's not the way to do it! So it ended up being exercised on my "horizontal bars" despite the potential slight increase in wind resistance. Though I have my doubts about increased drag when it comes to bags hanging in the untidy air trailing from my flailing legs. Talking of legs: My right calf has remained well defined, sinewy and floppy. When not in active use. I know it sounds strange but the right calf was once quite unlike the left. Stiff and swollen in appearance and texture. Though there was never any pain. Nor the slightest sense of greater strength or weakness. Let us hope it remains that way.

This old saddlebag is the same size as the modern Carradice 'Cadet' at ~35cm x 20cm x 20cm. Roughly 13.75" x 8" x 8". Note the lack of wind catching side pockets.

This bag may actually be rather too big (and old?) for my "dirty stopout" longer ride needs. The problem is finding somewhere to put spare clothing out of sight and mind in changeable weather. Hopefully without crushing the mature cheese sandwiches and bananas already ensconced therein. Do I see a Carradice 'Junior'  in my stars? (30cm x 18cm x 15cm) Hmm.

I have been trying all sorts of bags, bought cheaply from charity shops, over several years. Sadly none look nor play the part well. Nor remain stable (like a proper saddlebag) when cornering sharply on a trike. I'm sick of bags dragging in the spokes after I hit supermarket pavement ramps diagonally at speed!   

My breathing efficiency has improved to the point where I actually struggle to become completely breathless. Yet I often have to spit out thick, yellow/fawn goo when I cough in the morning. (Airborne mud?) I used to think I had a permanent, low level lung infection due to this discolouration. Though this hardly tallies with my ability to climb hills without becoming hopelessly breathless.

My former lack of 'wind' was always the limitation of my ability to ride fast or climb hard. I would always hit an oxygen starvation wall. No matter how hard I panted it made no difference. Then I noticed, after a time, that I recovered my breath more and more quickly.

It seems extremely unlikely that I am still clearing out the filth of my former industrial engineering environment after a four year interval. That always produced black or rust when I blew my nose. Until I finally lost my sense of smell completely! I stopped smoking thirty years ago now. So I doubt there are any tobacco stains left to clear out. A search online suggested all sorts of dire reasons for discolouration. So that's alright then.

I have had a recurrence of the sciatic pain of four years ago but am doing some exercises I found online. Usually the pain follows lifting heavy loads. I find that pulling my right knee tight up to my chest quickly relieves the pain for a while. Four years ago I couldn't even lift my foot off the floor to change my shoes! I was breathless from climbing a single flight of stairs! So I'm not doing too badly for an old fart of 66 not out. Albeit a newly skinny one. Since I haven't had my blood pressure measured since taking up cycling more seriously again I probably don't have much to worry about. If I am wrong I shall be probably the last to know about it.

If I wasn't so lazy I would try much harder to go much faster. I would really enjoy doing a club 10 mile TT on a regular basis. Just to get some 'race fit' legs and a measure of my fitness relative to other tricyclists. The logistics of doing so, at this distance from Gravely Blighted, means that I will probably never get the chance again. Doing a TT on your own, without the pressure of friendly competition, just seems too much like masochism. There is no obvious reward. Not even the half-mocking banter for setting the slowest pace of the day. [Lantern rouge: Pronounced with a Peter Sellers, French accent. Nothing to do with red light districts or being a dirty stopout!]

It is brightening and coffee is being made at this very moment. So you (and I) shall soon be able to escape from any more of this verbiage. It stayed dry but cold and very windy. The Carradice Camper went back on for shopping. Another heavy load in the large sports bag hanging off the back. I wore a more porous jacket to avoid overheating but it wasn't warm enough. 24 miles as the trike flies.

13th 50F, 10C, windy, sunny periods. Another cool day with showers promised. Go early and miss the rain? Or ignore the forecast and go after coffee when it is even windier? By the time I got out it was heavily overcast, with continuous spots of rain and blowing a gale. Marginally too cold for fingerless mitts but I wrapped up well and was much more comfortable than yesterday. Only 14 miles. It rained for most of the day after my well timed return.

After a number of false starts I finally ordered a 'Junior' saddlebag from Spa Cycles (UK). I just wish UK online dealers would gear up their websites for automatic postage pricing to Europe. Niggle doesn't do the 'Junior' and ChainReaction do no Carradice at all. There are no serious Danish online dealers for Carradice. Nor have I ever seen their bags in the many bike shops I visit on a regular basis. Panniers are practically the only choice over here. Unless you want a girly-sized, overpriced purse to stick up the bum of your plastic racing saddle. And then where would you keep your 8 kilo U-lock and chain?

I wonder if this is why most serious Danish cyclists go out in groups? Somebody can always be watching your bike while you are choosing your Danish pastries at the bakers. Though without a musette I can't imagine where you could keep them until you got a bit peckish. Can't you just imagine the reaction of the "voluntary" laundry worker at home if you stuffed your greasy pastries in the back pocket of your racing jersey? Fortunately I am "excused cakes" these days. I carry a small polythene, zipper bag of mixed nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Or have done until the bags became completely unavailable in any of the supermarkets. Just another conspiracy to deprive me of the simple pleasures of life. I shall miss inhaling the inevitable dust in the bottom of the plastic bag.

14th 44-56F, 7-13C, overcast, breezy. Overnight rain is supposed to clear but it will remain very cool and windy. (Max 12C and 25mph gusts) Tomorrow it is supposed to reach 23C with 50mph gusts! Heads you sweat. Tails you lose control. I was working in the shed while I waited for the showers to go off but 45F is not remotely comfortable! When I did get out it was slightly warmer but very windy. Fortunately I managed my route to match the wind direction rather well today. It remained mostly sunny. 21 miles.

Pm. With a poor weather day promised for tomorrow I took the opportunity of completely stripping the Higgins rear axle, Trykit 2WD and the cassette. The BB taps which I had purchased would not go into the bearing housings. Having tried suitable BB lockings on both  taps, L&R, I believe both tap threads are grossly oversized. I shall have to return them to the dealer for a refund. Had I persisted with these taps I could have ruined the already perfect threads on my trike. I have decades of experience with taps and dies and have quite a collection of my own. I know how they should behave and the obvious signs of non-matching threads.

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