21 Oct 2013

21st October 2013


Monday 21st 53-56F, 12-13C, breezy, overcast with sunny periods later on. An hour's brisk walk first. A rear tyre was punctured flat when I went to collect the trike. 8 months, 5000 miles or 8000 km without a single puncture from the Duranos is excellent. I think it was only the wet roads which caused a tiny flint to get a grip. The rear tyres are just beginning to show the canvas. Retirement beckons as soon as replacements (Duranos) arrive. Though I usually use alloy tyre levers I find a plastic lever much easier to slide round the entire rim to lift the bead right off. I can never get a plastic tyre lever to lift the first bit of bead as cleanly as the alloy ones. I always take the tyre right off and turn it inside out to ensure I haven't missed a tiny thorn or flint. You only ever need to put one brand new tube into a tyre with a still protruding spike to learn this lesson. Hopefully you won't do it far from home. Nor will you gash your fingers wide open by running them over the razor sharp flint! Only 12 miles today.

The B17 'Special' saddle is still holding up well after a few more thousand miles and remains superbly comfortable. Had I tried a Brooks B17 earlier in my cycling life then things might have been very different. For some reason (vanity?) I always sought a narrower saddle like some heat seeking missile. My first real racing saddle was a Unica Nitor! Talk about choosing your weapon!

At 17 I rode from Bath to Plymouth with a load of camping gear in one day and back the next on that damned saddle!  Half a century later I can still remember doing a lot of climbing out of the saddle on that particular trip! I would have been wearing knitted wool shorts with a real (thin) chamois liner. It is difficult to understand how I was able to survive and continue cycling with saddle soreness on every single ride over more than 50 years. I suppose I'm just a very slow learner. What's your excuse? :-)

A B17 and a really decent pair of padded bibs (shorts with braces) will remove all range limitations provided you have the strength to keep turning the pedals. I still prefer a thick cushion in the shorts despite the obvious advantages of the Brooks saddle. You will notice a blunt punch at the Brooks factory has left a slightly raised rim around the ventilation holes. Fearing the raised protrusions might rub I carefully filed these down with a small, clean, rat tail file. However the leather is so resilient to wear that it has still hardly worn down my DIY butchery over thousands of miles.

I am still wondering whether I want to drill and lace the skirts. They still don't rub but such modifications could extend the life of the spine of the saddle later on. Leather saddles tend to droop in the middle eventually under the weight of the rider. Re-tensioning has other unfortunate effects on the shape of the saddle's seating area. The increased tension tends to pull the flat areas downwards causing the rider to slip forwards if the saddle remains level. The same thing happened to my B17 'Narrow' and 'Professional.' I knew a tourist whose B17 leather had drooped into a flat, semicircular hammock. He claimed it was comfortable but the width from the spreading effect on the leather looked ridiculous.

I never got on with the Brooks B17 'Narrow' nor the 'Professional' despite the family similarities and small difference in width compared to the 'standard' B17. This B17 'Special' is by far the most comfortable saddle I have ever ridden. I have another brand new 'Special' in storage in case of theft or accident. At the present rate of wear I think this gorgeous tan one will probably outlast me.

It would be deliberately obtuse to want a hefty B17 under your bum for a hillclimb or shorter TT. But for touring and longer rides it would be difficult to find anything so completely free of irritation. The best saddle is the one you never notice beneath you. Padded vinyl might feel comfortable for the first 20 or 30 miles but what then? Assuming you rode away in a straight line you still have to get back!

Tuesday 22nd 53-60F, 12-16C sunny periods, rather windy. An hour's walk first. While out on the trike I was sprayed by an elderly farmer. There was a 20mph crosswind and he was right by the verge as I passed on a main road. His spray bar was a good metre above the ground. Later on a valley was filled with smoke. Rather than ride straight on I thought I'd better find the source in case an unattended house had caught fire. The smoke became thicker and thicker as I finally reached a village. It turned out to be another farmer burning something in his shed in the middle of the village. The chimney was black and cracked and black smoke still pouring out. Later still I was overtaken by somebody on a racing bike. He had the lowest handlebars I have ever seen in my entire life! 20 miles. Passed the 10,000 km mark for this year. I have ordered another set of 3 Durano tyres.

Wednesday 23rd 53-59F, 12-15C, overcast, breezy and strangely muggy. An hour's walk so far. Grey and windy once I got out on the trike. Though it stayed dry. Headwind coming back. 20 miles.

Thursday 24th 50F, 10C, windy, plates of cloud clearing to sunshine. A 70 minute, solitary walk along the boggy and overgrown fire breaks through the forest.
It remains fascinating to see our locality from completely different perspectives. Sticking to the roads gives one a very distorted sense of scale and direction. Turning a corner where the view ahead is blocked with trees can easily fool you as to which direction you are really travelling. The downside of walking is that one is limited in distance covered within a given time on foot. I seem to be averaging 3mph according to the GPS logger. Not bad for rough ground in non-hiking boots considering ow little walking I have done in the last decade.

Twenty years ago I used to run up and down Snowdon in my massive, leather climbing boots just for the fun of it. I badly need some trainers and a pair of decent, lightweight and waterproof trail boots. Searching online seems to throw up too many unavailable options. Denmark is hardly stuffed with mountaineering shops like Wales and Gravely Blighted in general. More online homework required to find something which can cope with miles of very wet grass and weeds. I have already worn out the tarmac potential within any reasonable radius.

The accuracy of my recorded (walking) track seems much reduced off-road compared with travelling the roads. Having all the free aerial photography software systems to make sense of and plan potential routes is good fun. Without them I would soon become bored with dicing with the traffic on the main road. It's a shame I got rid of the old mountain bikes because I could ride to a new base each day and then walk from there. There is no way I'm leaving my trike miles from anywhere and completely unsupervised!

I left late for the shops. A strong crosswind there and back but I missed the showers.  My new Durano Performance tyres have arrived. It is probably just superstition but I prefer 700C x 25mm for a bit more comfort and resistance to pinch flats than the 23mm. Provided they are inflated properly I doubt there's much to gain or lose and the weight difference is also hardly worth consideration when I'm carrying shopping most days. 16 miles.

Friday 25th 50-53F, 10-12C, almost still, high cloud clearing to sunshine. A 5 mile walk through the boggy woods in an hour and half. Picked up a tiny deer bug on my leg. The Head Gardener did the emergency operation to remove it. Despite this, I may still survive.

Here be monsters. Well one, anyway.

I tried a Campag Athena double front changer on the Trykit. Though the changer has loads of inward  movement it won't reach out far enough to put the chain on the largest chainwheel. I'm not sure I can fit a shorter axle without the inside of the Stronglight crank rubbing on the bearing cup. No, that sounds daft in retrospect. The crank fits on a standard taper. How could it possibly rub?

I have already fitted a 107mm axle which is the shortest normal Shimano axle in the 68mm bottom bracket width. Though there is a "track width" square axle available at 103mm. I'm not sure the extra 4mm inward movement (of the entire chainset) will be enough to allow the cage to remain clear of the chain on the largest chainring.

I hardly ever use the 46T so I could shrink to a double 34/24. Except that it will look rather foolishly MTB-ish in that size. I'll have to think about this some more. I could change the cassette to use (say) a 40/30 double chainset with a 12T top and 32 bottom.That would allow a 25 mph top gear with a decent cadence.

The Stronglight/TA triple chainset seems to push the chainwheels a very long way out from the bottom bracket. There is over half an inch clearance of the inner ring from the chain stay. When it (the inner chainring) could easily be "wrapped" around the bottom bracket by changing the axle offset.

What I need now to make a larger cable clamping washer which reduces the pull per click of the Shimano Ultegra changer. I also need to bend the cage straight as it seems to lean inwards at the bottom. The problem is that Shimano rivet their cages shut. So the damned 10sp chain has to be broken to do any serious work on the changer. Campag uses a screw to clamp the tail of the cage allowing it to be lifted straight off without effort. I don't fancy mauling the changer while it's sitting on a 0.3mm seat tube! Though I could take the changer off and clamp it to a bit of scrap tube just to work on it. The chain can be left threaded through the cage while I play.

I left late morning for a pleasant tootle around the lanes for 20 miles with light shopping. Blowing a gale and heavy overcast towards the end but the wind was now in my favour.

Saturday 26th 56F, 13C, breezy, heavy overcast. It is still struggling to become properly light at 8.30.Windy with showers possible. Blowing a gale, by the time I left, with fierce gusts. Not a great day for cycling. Only 7 miles.

Sunday 27th 57F, 14C, overcast, very windy. An hour's walk. Mild but a gusty wind. Today's ride was limited due to high crosswinds to 11 miles. It started raining 15 minutes from home. Driven by the increased wind speed the rain was lashing at me and I was quickly soaked.

Tomorrow has a severe storm forecast coming over here after battering Gravely Blighted. The forecasters are still unsure about strength, track and wind speeds but it could reach 35m/s or 80mph in the gusts.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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