11 Nov 2013

11th November 2013 Mist!

Monday 11th 31-45F, 0-7C, first frost, white grass, no wind, clear sky, bright sunshine and stratified mist. A superb day for a walk or a ride. I went for a walk first to try and capture the mist and took 75 pictures in an hour. It's a shame that my resized images cannot be enjoyed full screen at original resolution. One completely loses the sense of "being there" once the picture shrinks.

There is no accounting for the sheer, mind-numbing idiocy of some people. A huge container truck passed with an equally vast, matching trailer, having negotiated the hairpin bends with the driver welded to his mobile phone. Driving with one hand as he headed into the low, blinding sun in the morning rush hour. It's the colossal sense of arrogance that their conversation has any meaning which irritates me most.

Like the parent at the supermarket, who arrives with a terminally ignored child, while they themselves talk endless inanity into their mobile telephone. Never drawing breath, even when passing through the checkouts and are still talking the same utter drivel as they leave the car park, driving one handed with their child still sulking for being ignored in the back seat. The mindless verbal diarrhoea these knuckle dragging morons spout into their handsets is unbelievable! How did they ever pass the driving test with a knee-high IQ? How do their children even survive without constant support from social services?

Going out on the trike now in search of some gaiters to stop my trousers getting soaked and covered in mud on my walks. I ended up in Odense and returned safely with my quarry. Lots of damaged trees even in the city. A cold headwind on my chest coming home so I put my scull cap back on again and pressed on. Not wanting to overheat often means a little discomfort. Or stopping to add or remove clothing. I hate stopping once on a ride.

The GripGrab winter gloves are comfortable at these temperatures but certainly no lower. I use scooter riders' gloves in the really cold weather. I can hardly believe the daily agony I went through for the first couple of years of serious(?) tricycling before finally discovering what really worked against the cold. Riding every day through the Danish winters at down to -12C requires specialist clothing to stop wind infiltration dragging the body's heat away. Whilst still ensuring moisture can escape freely. A wet back is an abject failure.

Fortunately, over a long period of searching, I found a whole series of cast-off winter cycling jackets in various charity shops. These allowed me to closely match my jackets to the air temperature and the day's wind conditions. Long skiing underwear provides the first layer under a variety of racing jerseys. The latter were trolled from the same charity shops and diligently (and frequently) washed by my wife before I was ever allowed out in them. Decent skiing underwear is very cheaply available now and even found in supermarkets on special offer these days. They are vastly superior to the overpriced crap thermal underwear once advertised heavily on British TV.

I fell for the lying bullshit and wore it all the time in winter. Finding myself repeatedly dripping with my own sweat and then getting chilled. Not a lot of fun in the mountains! Wearing proofed nylon jackets and cagoules didn't help. Mobile personal saunas would be a better description!

Wind-proof overshoes are essential to avoid a cold blast going right through the vents fitted to normal cycling shoes designed to remain cool in summer use. I have a whole series of inexpensive socks that increase in thickness then add a second layer as temperatures drop lower. The very high cost of winter cycling shoes has meant that I have never invested.

When I first started commuting the 15 miles to work, in my youth, I discovered a newspaper inside my jumper was infinitely better than a proofed nylon (sauna) jacket. Until it rained, of course. These days Gore-Tex is supposed to be the stuff to use but I still don't own a Gore-Tex jacket. It is the one remaining chink in my cycling armour. It is so much simpler, and cheaper, to avoid wet weather by taking a long overdue rest day. Fortunately, Denmark seems to get only a fraction of the normal British rainfall. 41 miles.

Tuesday 12th 41F, 5C, overcast and windy, with rain forecast all morning. They were right for once! It tipped down continuously. Though it should brighten up later. (Wrong!) It didn't. Another rest day.

I spent the morning in the shed changing my worn out tires for a new set of 700Cx25mm Schwalbe Duranos.[NOT Plus] The last lot did me proud for thousands of miles without any punctures even when they were worn to the canvas. I had a puncture at 5K miles so decided it was time to let them retire gracefully.  I'm in no hurry to seek pastures new in the tyre department. BTW: For those unfortunate enough to care. They measure 23.5mm wide inflated to 90PSI, when brand new, but reach 25mm exactly after 5K miles. Not a lot of people know that.  BTW: They went on without needing tyre levers provided the inner tube was not inflated.

I also removed and attacked the undersides of my Honey B17 'Special' with a smidgen of Brooks Proofide wax. Now I am becoming ever more sorely tempted to drill (or rather punch) the saddle skirts and lace it to maintain its shape. If it all goes horribly wrong you will be the first to know. Then we can all blame Alan! ;-)

The problem I am discovering with tensioning the nose bolt (even by the slightly amount) is the leather top taking on the dreaded delta form. The rear seating triangles, where the sit bones should rest in dimples, develop a forward and downward slope. This makes you feel as if you are sliding forwards. Throwing more of your your weight onto the saddle spine where most of us are sorely equipped to be so supported.

I tried to fix this problem with my Brooks "Professional" by soaking and reshaping with padding underneath and even by the application of G-cramps. I don't think I waited long enough to ride the Professional again. The very thick leather must still have been slightly moist and it soon sagged into the unwanted delta form. It would have been better to wait some weeks. Or have taken it indoors but I had no other saddle at the time. Then came the revelation of discovering the wider B17.

I thought all would be well until I grew too old to cycle any more but it wasn't to be. The wonderfully comfortable B17 'Select' was far too soft, the skirts were permanently flared and the spine soon twisted.

I obtained a replacement under guarantee in the form of a B17 'Special.' This needed breaking in but eventually became very comfortable. Particularly with the  better quality bib shorts I had bought to replace my very dated collection of non-bib shorts.

The problem now is that I am wearing skiing tights under the bibbies for the increasing cold. I try to put this off as long as possible but eventually it has to be done. Despite the seams being nicely flat they are spoiling my comfort. This coincided with an increasing change in shape of the 'Special' to a delta form despite my not having touched the tension screw.

I have just put a leather strap around the skirt area and this flattens out the sag in the spine quite nicely. But, even more importantly, it also flattens the seating area again. So lacing has the potential to achieve eactly what I need rather than adding more tension.

Piercing the superb leather of my 'Special' requires great care and forethought. I have researched the matter extensively online with rather mixed results and feelings. It is reported that lacing makes the saddle harder. This is almost inevitable. Normally the sides flare outward slightly as the rider sits on the leather top. A laced saddle cannot flare easily because the skirts are now firmly restrained. My fuzzy logic assumes that the saddle will revert to an earlier condition. Perhaps even requiring being broken in again. Hardly the end of the world if it saves the saddle from death by delta.

There also is the issue of the saddle rails. Piercing too low (or too high) will place the laces in direct line with the rails. Tying and lacing would then get unnecessarily clumsy or untidy. Moreover, the impressed Brooks model badges are not always perfectly aligned with each other. So one cannot safely assume that the laces will pull straight if the badges are used as reference points for punching the holes.

Opinions online vary as to the ideal position for the lace holes and their number. There is also the danger of exposed laces rubbing on the inner thighs. Grooving the leather to allow the laces to be made flush is possible but must increase the risk of a tear. So that the laces break out of the bottom of the skirt as a rectangular chunk is ripped along the cut groove.

Lifting the lace holes to the indented Brooks skirt badges offers greater safety but obviously spoils the cosmetic appearance of the impressed badges. Though using matching leather, flat laces would hep to increase invisibility. Once pierced the saddle is already wrecked from the eBay resale point of view. The idea is to add a strengthening suture (tummy tuck?) rather than lose the patient on the operating table. "Et tu, Brute?" <Gulp!>

Click on any image for an enlargement.


  1. That pretty picture, could be Yorkshire

  2. Hi log,

    Sadly I have never (knowingly) visited Yorkshire.

    I lived mostly on the left (wet and windy) side of Gravely Blighted.

    Ground hugging mist is unfortunately quite rare over here.