1 May 2013

May 1st 2013


1st 39-50F, 4-10C, overnight mist and frost clearing to bright sunshine in a cloudless sky. Winds expected to be lighter today. Only gusting to 20mph on a 10mph base. I spent a couple of hours playing with the gear changers with the trike up on the workstand. The front changer wants to return to the middle ring instead of clearing the chain on the large chainring. The last click of the Ergo levers is not far enough out to ensure the chain stays on the biggest ring. I tried every possible setting and cable tension adjustment. In the end I used a wide bladed pair of special pliers to gently pull on the outer cage. It didn't seem to do anything visible to the cage but there was instant satisfaction with the gear change afterwards. I can now run in top gear without the chain rubbing. I'd probably have to be descending a vertical face of an alp to be able to use a gear that high but it was irritating not to be able to avoid chain rub.

Going well on the way there. Fighting a cold headwind coming back by a wandering, hilly route. Industrial quantities of pigshit are being moved onto the fields. Huge tankers are filling vast, modified 40' shipping containers for local distribution. The stench cannot be avoided even in the towns. 21 miles.

2nd 48F, 9C, sunny, with hardly a breeze. Another overnight, white frost. Stinking of pigshit as usual. It is supposed to be cloudy all day. So I shall be expecting a refund on my suntan cream expenses!

The search for new MTB shoes goes on. I still have to balance my walking comfort against riding efficiency. Though I'm not at all sure a full carbon sole would be an ideal choice for my use. My shoe choice last year (Bontrager 'Race') was a revelation in comfort, lightness and cycling efficiency over the former 'Tahoe'. Toes clips and straps, used with thin, flat soled trainers, are now but a distant, fading nightmare of regular foot ache.

I have even become quite used to clattering my SPDs around the supermarkets. So a slightly more extreme shoe is a possibility provided it suits my needs for comfortable indoor perambulation. Searching online is providing some candidates. Which can then be subjected to review searches and potential Danish stockists. I'm not sure I want to follow the safe black/grey route again this year. I have officially "come out" as an unashamed and unabashed cyclist. See me, see my trike, Pal!  I no longer feel apologetic for my chosen footwear. Though an all-white shoe would seem a poor choice for daily use, year-round in all weathers I am not completely averse to a nice bit of bling.

Would going upmarket provide greater quality and longevity? The "entry level" models are often very clumsily finished despite the high asking price. Though I am not particularly enamoured of fancy tightening systems involving silly cords. Will anybody stock EU46? Or even a <cough> a 47(!) where the shoe "manufacturers" (Chinese slave labellers) make shoes for a wholly fictitious, pygmy-sized audience? Should I choose a road shoe instead? Then spend some months learning to lean on a supermarket zimmer frame shopping trolley handle like the locals? Will I have to give up the deliberate choice of the handheld baskets? We shall see. :ø))

No luck so far. Though I did bring back an Orbea 'Rune' helmet in bright, pearly white. I had my mind set on a Swiss cheese, Catlike 'Whisper Plus' but it wasn't to be. The silly plastic harness block cut into the back of my head!

My old Abus commuter helmet looks absolutely filthy and won't respond to gentle cleaning. The picture I borrowed of the Orbea makes it look even worse than the Abus!  My wife said it looked just like the old one. But at least it has the racing pedigree DA (duck's arse). So there!

Only later, when I was admiring the Orbea at home, did I discover one of the glued pads on the harness had come unstuck and was lost. The glue on the other pad did not inspire much confidence and that pad would soon be lost too. Thank you Orbea! Now I have to return it to the shop  in the hope of a replacement helmet over a damned, fraction of a penny, stuck on pad. Or go without. That will teach me to have one off the display stand without a box. I haven't even worn it in anger yet! It came home in a supplied carrier bag so the pad was missing before it even left the shop! I also bought a new pair of GripGrab mitts. Pricey at about £30 but well padded with gel and make my Orangutan appendages look almost petite and  feminine.  In the image below the gloves have had a wash and then done 45 miles. Next time I might even pull my finger out and take a better snap.

I tried on half a dozen MTB shoes but nothing said "buy me!" The Bontrager 'Race' and 'RL' did  not inspire as they did last year. The Shimano 'MO77' was much too narrow. Gærne and Northwave models were much the same, of those available off the shelf in my size. None felt comfortable enough out of the box to make me want something similar but in a much brighter colour!

I don't buy the idea that cycling shoes should be uncomfortable because that makes them faster or more efficient. They often have to be ridden for many hours every day. A long walk back from a mechanical failure should not require a visit to the A&E. Nor cripple you for the rest of the season. Searching online for "wider fitting" shoes produced variable opinions on the forums. I'll see what Odense has to offer tomorrow. There are loads of bike shops over there and the sun is promised to shine on my already tea-stain coloured knees. Even my calves are pink today! That must be the Danish Ozone Hole at work. The accelerated "Tour de France look" can be yours at no extra charge. I don't suppose it could be spray drift from the constant pigshit spreading, could it? Not so much the black economy as a brown one. I was also sprayed with poison by a farmer today. It hardly affected me at AT ALL!! 21 miles.

3rd 55F, 13C, breeze, full sun. 15C/59F with 20 mph southerly gusts forecast for later. The first bike shop in Odense had a pair of Specialized 'Sport' MTB 2013 shoes @ £80 equivalent which fitted nicely. I was almost disappointed because I was ready to do the complete tour of all the shops. The young chaps in the bike shop were very interested in my trike. They are reaching the end of a college training course to become qualified bicycle mechanics. They told me they will be expected to braze a bicycle frame together themselves. They were snapping away and going on about the special qualities of steel bicycle frames.

In the end I did the full  tour de shops anyway but just window shopped. A headwind going and a headwind coming back. I just kept the revs up and pressed on. My tan must be coming along nicely because the sun never went behind a cloud today. My best bib shorts and B17 'Select' did their thing properly today. Perhaps I have finally recovered from trying the other saddles? The new GripGrab mitts are easily the most comfortable I have ever worn! I never once had to shift my hands to avoid fatigue or pain. I was the target of two different dogs but had a match for their speed. Sadly one of them then went for an elderly man's dog while walking with the lead attached to his zimmer frame. The ensuing racket (finally) brought the owner out to do his best elephant seal impression. If only I'd had a helmet cam, eh? YouTube's finest would have lapped it up.

The Specialized 'Sport' shoes are much better finished, smarter and far stiffer in the sole than the Bontrager 'Race'. So a bit of an upgrade for no increase in price.  Longer and narrower too. Though it didn't seem to hurt the instant sense of snug comfort. Tragically, they have much the the same dull colour scheme of overall (matt!) black as last year's footwear. So I was even denied my first taste of cycling shoe bling. Unless you count the pale grey undercarriages. They also have a noticeably lower heel. Which feels a bit odd when walking. Though not a particular hindrance to forward motion. Not if you don't mind looking like a duck waddling in oversized wellies. But I walk like that anyway.

It all started with my sister telling me I was pigeon-toed as we walked past a girl's school. Thereby completely destroying my already fragile teenage confidence. It took me months of intense training to perfect my new, cartoon-like, "bobby on the beat" gait. The intervening years have only amplified my involuntary affliction to something more akin to "keep on truckin!"

Having fitted new shoe cleats I found I could not unclip! It was only because I had not tightened the SPD cleats hard enough and they were rotating on the shoe. So I remembered to add some copper grease to the screw threads and cranked well on the allen key next time around. Then went round again and tightened the slack as the cleats bit slowly into the soles. I just hope the new shoes last. And if they don't? Then you will the first to know!

My early success with a rechargeable razor was badly undone with the shearing I received from a severe misjudgement of the settings. Instead of the regulation 1/4", normal to such rare occasions, it ended up more like a 1/4 of a millimetre! I was sorely tempted to keep going and do my legs as well. Except that The Head Gardener has expressly forbidden it!  Power (always) corrupts! 44 miles.

4th 57-62F, 14-17C, breezy, sunny. Yesterday's forecast has been upgraded to brighter and less windy. So I will only have to face 30mph headwinds instead of 40+.

My being sprayed with poison by farmers has  reached the headlines. Apparently, 99% of Danish children have such quantities of organophosphates in their bloodstream that it can be measured in their urine. This nasty insecticide affects their brains and reduces their communication skills. So the young are being sacrificed so that farmers can enjoy their newly EU-subsidised "environmentally friendly" status in this "environmentally friendly" country. At least the mud plastered on the roads and the stench of pigshit being spread is highly visible. I know why I'm coughing all night because I can see the brown dust clouds as I ride through them! Diims has failed to register my several hours presence in both Assens and Odense. I saw umpteen PO vans but none saw me on the Diims network.

I returned to Assens to shop. The wind picked up steadily but fortunately it was matched by the temperature. It stayed sunny. The new shoes were a superb improvement on the sloppy Bontragers. There was no sense of movement between the soles and my feet no matter how hard I pulled up on the pedals. The tops of my toes became a bit "warm" at 15 miles so I tightened the ankle straps more firmly. That solved the problem nicely. I'm very pleased with these shoes including the ease of walking. 22 miles with more to come after lunch.  Still no Diims hits. 7 miles later. It is blowing a gale now! The new shoes are excellent for dancing on the pedals. I suddenly feel 50 years younger! Though that may only be due to the shorter beard.  :-)

5th 46-58F, 8-15C, misty, overcast, already windy. It is supposed to brighten up but blow to 35mph from the SW. So I ought to be heading SE or NW. Having spent a few minutes outside I can confirm it is rather cold with spots of rain in the air. Where's my sunshine? It took until 11am before the first glimpse of sun. Only then did it start to warm up a bit. I ride down to Korinth. There are some spectacular historic houses there. With several large lakes there and on the way. Though always at some distance from the roads. Traffic was quite light. I saw my first swallows of this year in the narrow, winding lanes between tall hedges. Greenfinches are suddenly everywhere. A gaudy Yellowhammer lay dead beside the road.

I went briefly onto the start of the narrow gauge cycle path but it was deserted as far as the eye could see. I measured the path width from my trike track at 60" or 1.5 metres. Signs of fresh horse droppings suggest they must be back after a temporary ban. There was lots of sand of the tarmac just like last time.

This very attractive round house at Old Stenderup may once have been a windmill. It enjoys a raised position overlooking the village on the side of a small valley.  

I checked my tyres very carefully as I returned to the road in Korinth. Absolutely no sign of damage from the flinty sand. So it must have been the substandard Continental 4000S which caused the puncture problems on their first ride. It was weeks before the dealer responded to my email requesting an update on the returned tyres. Weeks later now and I have still heard nothing! The new shoes were fine again today. They have even changed my riding style. I spend much more time out of the saddle. 46 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


  1. Well spotted - the round house is indeed the base of what used to be Gammel Stenderup windmill. A long time ago however, as the mill went out of use as a mill sometime around 1912, following the death of the last miller. The mill had been owned by the same family for three generations.

  2. Hej Alan

    Thanks for confirming my diagnosis. I have a soft spot for round houses.

    Gammel Stenderup is a most attractive area for cycling. Plenty of hills!