14 Oct 2013

October 14th 2013


Monday 14th 39F, 4C, almost still, sunny with thin, high cloud. Hint of mist clearing. An hour's walk in bright sunshine playing dodgems with the traffic.

I seem to have a strange effect on dogs. On foot I cannot escape by sprinting away from the danger. One dog charged across the lawn barking, as he always does, but suddenly choked and almost somersaulted with the shock. Then a big guard dog jumped up in a threatening manner against the front fence as I walked past. I called out a cheery 'hello' and he rushed off to get his ball to play! Dogs do smile! 

Many dogs don't seem to like trikes.  Horses and ponies often look up as I pass. While cyclists usually go unnoticed. I remember reading that working horses were more disturbed by tricycles than by bicycles in the past. That was back when carriages were the norm and the new-fangled cycles still unusual. I cannot easily imagine why a pair of rear wheels should worry them more than a bicycle. I wonder if this effect is still true of a tadpole trike? (Two wheels forward)

When I did get out on the trike I judged the wind completely wrongly. I should have gone clockwise but didn't. Then had a headwind all the way back. 21miles.

It ain't heavy. It's my erratic. Pre-Christian altar stone? It lies on the same raised mound now dominated by a 11th Century church. Though the present edifice is later with only some original stonework visible. No doubt the massive, original  wall construction replaced an even older wooden church. Which, in turn, may have taken over an earlier site with other gods in mind. Present interest in Sunday services is so low that there is discussion of demolishing unused churches rather than let them be used (or abused?)  for other purposes. Perhaps the church is afraid they will be turned into mosques? Taxpayer's contribute to the church so the buildings can usually get a new coat of distemper and repairs as needed. There is even discussion about turning off the central heating where congregations fall below a handful (literally) of elderly stalwarts per service on a rotating cycle. Ironically a large, modern church administration building has been put up in another village!        

Tuesday 15th 50F, 10C, breezy, heavy overcast with a misty start. Rain or showers forecast for later. There and back again. 15 miles. Returned to the stench of burning paint and varnish from next door's chimney. It stayed dry but no walk today.

Wednesday 16th 50-54F, 10-12C, very heavy overcast, quite still. Winds supposed to remain very light all day. A good day for a ride? Only if I fit lights! It was an odd sort of day. It brightened up for a while before resuming its uniform grey. Despite riding a triangular course it felt as if I had a 10-15mph  headwind from first to last. 40 miles. Laden on the way back.

The piece of shit Sony HDR-AS15 Action Camera has added another massive negative to its limp performance in its bundled software. PlayMemoriesHome has been right through my Pictures folder and added 5000 .modd file duplicates to every damned file! I have 84GB = 52,000 files in Pictures. I thought the camera was a complete waste of money but now there is no way to remove all these unwanted files. I checked on the Sony and other support forums.

Thank you Sony! I'm taking the AS15 back for a refund as not of merchantable quality. The AS15 is absolute junk! So is the supplied software. I wonder if I can sue Sony for gross incompetence and making my Pictures files practically unusable? 5000 junk Sony files which cannot be removed  by Windows normal deletion practice. If I try to delete them individually it tells me that the file is no longer there!

So I decided to uninstall PlayMemoriesHome to get rid of the 5000 unwanted files. Windows wouldn't let me uninstall it because it had already opened PMH to reconfigure it. So I tried again and finally it deleted PMH.

Guess what? The unwanted, un-deletable Sony files are still disfiguring Windows Pictures! An Adobe symbol in an empty white box sits between every single picture file! There must be rabid hackers who would give their right arm to be able to do this much damage to other people's computers. Sony did it with both hands behind its back!

After getting rid of the crap software I was then able to individually delete the .modd files in small groups. It took me ages to mark, delete and confirm each batch. Now I just need to unload the crap AS15 camera.

Thursday 17th 50F, 10C, breezy, heavy overcast. Rain and 30mph gusts promised for most of the day. Probably a rest day. In between blustery showers it brightened up and the wind dropped completely. So I went for a brisk walk. The Durano tyres are finally showing signs of small cuts and flattening on the treads. They have been marvellous for completely avoiding punctures over the last 8 months and 5,000 miles. Ideal for touring on any surface including flint laden Denmark. I have become so confident of their puncture resistance that I have stopped avoiding potentially damaging surfaces and obstacles. I have even (thought never deliberately) ridden frequently over broken bottle glass on the village cycle paths.

I expect Continental must be wondering how to copy such puncture protection when all they can offer is hype and pseudo-techno-bullshit. A single puncture makes the fastest cyclist by far the slowest. A single puncture is the difference between being a star and sad loser. Avoid Continental 4000S like the plague if you don't want to be a loser. Puncture magnets by any other name would be as sad.

One day, when the present "leadership" maffia is publicly shamed out of of cycling, to be replaced by those who actually care about the sport, it will be illegal to change wheels, or even bicycles, during a race. Not even in the event of a crash. There is nothing like sensible rules to hone manufacturer's activities towards reliability, safety and performance. Rather than how expensive they can be sold for to amateur wannabes with delusions of grandeur.

The present rules are sending cycling down a withered cul-de sac of ridiculously expensive designer toys. Often with a lifespan of a few months or even one race. Most of it seems to be aimed at the hordes of copycat, weekend warriors. Overweight and unfit hippos riding a ridiculously expensive collection of built-in obsolescence with a constant need to upgrade to this week's latest and greatest piece of jewellery priced tat. With constant adjustments required to keep it all rolling between pubs, chip shops and takeaways.

Standard gear ratios, which only a top professional can push for the first half of a mountain pass descent before running out of legs, are the norm. Lower gears too high for anybody but a pro to turn on anything more than a gentle, dual carriageway slope. Snobbery and idiocy in equal measure well lubricated with snake oil and all mounted on a pile of hype and bullshit.

Seconds per mile "improvements" in the design of rich boy's cast-offs. Yet nobody can show you a graph of rolling resistance measured against rider weight, tyre pressure, puncture resistance and speed of even a few of the most popular "racing" tires? Only a religion makes things up as it goes along and then calls it fact.

Friday 18th 41-50F, 5-10C, breezy and still very dark at 7.15am. I've been up for ages already. Time for a walk! I wonder if I can get my wind resistance down by wearing a GripGrab scull cap instead of my cheapo supermarket fleece? It might make all the difference on the uphill leg back from the village.

Perhaps I ought to be weighing my walking boots? I could sandpaper the deep treads off a bit for more speed on the descents. I could also save a few grammes by shaving my legs and wearing really short shorts. Lower friction into the bargain if I get some really shiny material! With the awful traffic situation I really should be considering a better helmet too. Streamlined, of course, but which one? Why am I the only one walking (in Lycra) to the village?

There was a surprising headwind as I set off with the low sun at my back. It must have been at least 33% above the DMIs local model for wind velocity. I was able to overcome this by temporarily adopting a skier's tuck during gusts. Though I wasn't very happy about the increased strain on my quads and an inability to put any real power down on the road from my glutes. I will have to invest in lower boots to overcome the hinge stiffness at the ankles if I persist with this.

This needed some quick thinking on my feet. (so to speak) In repeated tests I found the best performance was obtained by tucking my trousers into my socks and flattening my torso into the "superman" position. With hands forwards in the (non-UCI) approved manner. Keeping my walking cadence high seemed to help provided I ignored the flash of grinning teeth behind the windscreens of every passing commuter. No pain without gain, as I always say. I wish I'd taken my sunglasses.

Following these initial walking experiments I have decided to build a full carbon fibre, racing Zimmer frame/rulator with mono-blades, tri-bars and upgraded elbow pads to full UCI specs. Provided I get it right I think I can break the 5kg barrier with ease. However, I'm torn between disks and fitting low profile callipers with concealed cables. I'll also have to look out for some low drag 12" carbon, full disk rims for tubs.

No point in messing with HPs at this level of performance even with hollow titanium Q/R axles for easy wheel changes if the weather should turn nasty. I certainly don't want to be caught out on slicks when a fine file pattern will add enormously to that feeling of security on the faster corners in the wet! I shall be choosing Schwalbes as a matter of course to cope with the adverse camber on Bend 6. I'll have to ask on the forums if they can recommend a good GPS wireless computer with advanced features including cadence, full Blue-tooth automatic updating and a heart rate/calory counting monitor...

This is how many half-timbered buildings once looked. The lime wash was carried over the timber-work to give a more uniform (solid wall) appearance. The alkaline wash also helped to protect the timber from insect attack and rot. Painting the timbers a contrasting colour is a much later fashion. The social shame of owning an outdated, timber framed house changed to a more positive view with arrival of the romantic movement. 

Many older half-timbered houses were skinned in brick or block to show increased wealth and status. Thatch was also lost to tile and slate when these materials were actually much colder, hotter and draughtier before the arrival of modern insulation. But then the house owners rarely visited the roof space. It was reserved for lowly servants and farm hands. Whose comfort was of little interest to the socially aspiring landowner.  

Windows grew in size and number as glass became more affordable. Avoiding the use of foul-smelling or expensive indoor lighting methods. Or forced early bedtimes which followed the seasons. Hell wasn't just some invention. It is more a true reflection of the past. Life was often hard, miserable and short-lived compared with our affluent and comfortable lifestyles today in the West. 

Now I have to decide what to wear on the trike today. With a low sun @ 13 degrees maximum altitude and breezy at only 44F the Watts/m^2 at inclined angles of incidence at 5000K colour temperature it's hard to choose between wearing tights and thicker socks. Better not to risk fingerless mitts despite the (marginally) increased free-loading of Ds and theoretical increase in red blood cell count to compensate for my (unusually) low average altitude. I'd hate to be caught cheating in a dope test!

Left after coffee on a shopping loop. 17 miles against a low, blinding sun and a thin, cold wind. It warmed up on the way back despite the headwind. So I was glad for having divested myself of my cardigan and hat. Lest you think my cardigan is of regulation grandpa style with leather toggle buttons you are mistaken. It is a modern,  body hugging garment of tightly knit man-made material with proper cyclists rear pockets. Very handy for extra warmth in the early stages of a ride. It usually ends up in the saddle bag but can be worn over a jersey to avoid that overwhelming "I'm a real cyclist" appearance under more normal social conditions.

No, my aim has not faltered, the old farmhouse is actually sunk well below road level. 
I cropped out the road to avoid spoiling the illusion of originality.

The Autumn issue of the TA Gazette arrived in the post and has been duly absorbed from cover to cover. If I had my way they would stop embarrassing me by no longer listing the extraordinary achievements of tricyclists both now and in former times. Almost anybody with the necessary skills to ride a trike seem to be able to average speeds over many hours which I would count as my lifetime PB, maximum terminal velocity. (While free-falling from a mountain pass with a following wind likely to cause structural damage and the closure of major bridges)

Basically, it's not fair that I should be singled out just for simulating the riding of a tricycle while simultaneously immersed in a bath of treacle. Perhaps the altitude really is my only handicap? You often hear of cyclists training and racing at altitude. Nobody ever brags about training in lowly Denmark! It seems that all I really need to do to increase my speed and duration is to return to Gravely Blighted. Where I can train on real ale and bread pudding and then take full advantage of the increased Coriolis Effect. Somehow I think that ending my exile needs rather more to overcome my natural revulsion at being dumbed down by the BBC.

Saturday 19th 41-46F,5-8C, light breeze, overcast. Walked for an hour. Rain forecast for most of the day. It started spitting not long after I left on the trike and got worse as the morning dragged on. A headwind going. Over 30lbs of shopping but a tailwind coming back. I should have taken overshoes and my peaked TA cap, but didn't. 17 rather soggy miles making arcs of spray and defying gravity.

Sunday 20th 54-56F, 12-13C, windy and dull grey. The DMI says lighter winds today but the trees are already swaying. It stayed dry so I stayed out rather than just doing the shopping run. I overtook a couple of MTB chaps. One of them tried to stay with me but I kept going and he gave up. Took on another load of shopping at half way. A bit breezy at times but not too bad. Rather warm too so I stripped off the wind-proof jacket and hat. My hip was nagging a bit towards the end. 28 miles.

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