27 Jan 2014

27th January 2014

Monday 27th 23-28F, -5-2C, about 2" of overnight snow lying, very windy from SE. Further snow and drifting, with icy roads threatened by the DMI. It is supposed to improve this afternoon.  Which doesn't make an awful lot of sense if it mean more snow will have fallen by then. With a strong wind and ice particles in the air it wasn't very pleasant for a proper walk. So I limited myself to half an hour and some snow clearing. My wife has finally found my red balaclava! I don't wear it more than a couple of days a year but it is superbly warm when I do need it. Better for walking in cold winds than cycling I suppose.

I still hope to get out on the trike after lunch. The main problem on the largely uncleared roads is impeding the traffic. Which I try to avoid as much as possible. Unfortunately there aren't any obvious alternative routes to get to some places. Taking to the lanes would probably triple the mileage compare with the main road routes. Not a problem, per se, so much as the total time involved. Particularly when the lanes are in even worse condition than the more direct routes.

It had stopped snowing by lunchtime so I went looking for what wasn't in stock yesterday. Except that I went to another branch. This avoided both the dog and repeated disappointment. Despite the roads being saturated, with long strips of snow and slush there was the usual complete indifference to speed limits. I was overtaken on blind corners and on blind brows of hills. Tailwind going. Headwind coming back. I was too warm going both ways despite stripping off at half way. It has risen to freezing point now. Only 12 miles.

Tuesday 28th 28F, -2C, very windy from SE, overcast, hoar frost, more snow drifting, a bit misty. My cold is thickening up. Walkies! Where's my balaclava? Balaclavas are overkill when it is this "warm." A few degrees make a big difference in comfort levels in windy conditions. I was much too warm when I started climbing up to the woods. Too much nose blowing too. I had a bloodbath on my hands.  There was no desperate shopping, I wasn't feeling well and my hip was hurting. So another rest day.

Wednesday 29th 24-26F, -4-3C, windy, heavy overcast. Threat of light snow showers this morning. My cold and hip pain are dragging on. It snowed steadily during my walk. Light and dry much like the stuff drifting on the wind. I was able to complete my route where the flooding had subsided. The roads were dusted white at the thinnest with thicker layers. Even the traffic was taking it very easy for a change.

I was unable to get the new Dintex Heat Pax gloves back on the other day, while I was out on the trike. So I did an online search for the manufacturers. It seems that Dintex only refers to the wind and waterproof membrane. While Heat Pax refers to the air activated heat sachets. The difference in sizes is absolutely ridiculous! Last year's gloves are an inch/25mm wider and 1/2"/12mm longer.

These gloves are absolutely brilliant when they fit well. However, due to the wrong sizing of the second pair they are very difficult/impossible to put back on when my hands are the slightest bit damp. Even when they don't feel damp! Both pairs are marked L/XL and are manufactured in China. So who makes them? Dintex or Heat Pax? Thermafur? I'm really not sure yet. I have emailed the American suppliers to se if they can help.

An 8 mile ride in powdery snow with more snow falling continuously. The front mudguard was spraying road lying snow sideways but I felt no real extra drag. The trike ended up well coated. With almost an inch of powder almost up to the top tube. The balaclava helped to make me too warm again. Another day for breaking chunks of ice out of my beard.

I discovered that the more rearward situated axle on the Trykit did not offer as much tyre grip as the Higgins when I climb out of the saddle. It was easier to remain seated. The ShiftMate seems to be doing its job. No doubt a small adjustment on the cable would improve things still further. I really haven't spent any time (at all) fine tuning the gears since I fitted the Jtek device.

Thursday 30th 23-24F, -5-4C, overcast, windy. I still have a cold. I've also had to uninstall Google Chrome. Apart from the obvious privacy issues I was suddenly being completely swamped with adverts! Even with Firefox I can't escape from Google if I want to continue blogging and using the Internet.

How on earth did the world get it so wrong that they allowed such dangerous monopolies to exist? Because they were American? So they didn't have to pay taxes, like the rest of the world? Thus enjoying a massively unfair, commercial advantage to help them build their evil empires? Would the US have tolerated a Microsoft, Apple, Intel or Google under the flag of any other nation? Can you even  imagine the terrifying vulnerability of our entire communication and control systems when AI, China and the robots take over? Whatever.

It's that time to go out in the snow again and cough and snot all over the birds. I disturbed two hares who were just sitting in the middle of a field. They certainly explain some of the thousands of prints I see on my walks in the snow. (and previous mud) Padded feet and long front claws were unlikely to be deer.  I was thinking foxes. It snowed continuously and blew quite hard with 3-4" of snow underfoot and lots of minor drifting.

I left late afternoon for a shopping ride. Lots of snow and fluffy slush  on the roads. Saw a couple of snow plows scraping. Even dived into a field entrance to let one pass. Then spent ten minutes waiting for his entourage to go by. He must have traveled for miles to have collected so much traffic!

It was Fakta's turn not to have the special offers today. Just a large hole full of fresh air on the shelf on the first day of the offer. Get over it, Chris. It's a Danish supermarket. What were you really expecting in a country without any consumer protection? Hang on though.. they banned vitamins and Marmite. So somebody must really care on our behalf. 
I came back through the forest. Even more snow on the road in the lanes. It collected into a disk on the front wheel with the forks slicing thin circles. Or spraying sideways. Safe enough below 20mph but a bit wayward at the rear on the descents where the snow was a couple of inches deep. 10 miles.

Friday 31st 26F, -3C, overcast, windy. I still have a cold.

Going back to yesterday's rambling about dumping the Chrome browser.: Firefox now has Lightbeam to show who is tracking us around the web. You'd probably be shocked to see that every website you visit dumps several 3rd party cookies on your computer. Sometimes considerably more. What I have also discovered is that CCleaner is no longer needing to delete tens of thousands of Google files every single day. Firefox shows only a few hundred files to delete on every CC scan and a much reduced number of cookies.

So what was Google doing to produce such vast numbers of files? More to the point why are these numbers massively reduced despite Google still being the sole search tool via Firefox? I see Snowdon has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway. That would be a major slap in the face to the sociopaths at the NSA. Now all we need are real tools to undo the damage that unhindered commercial corruption is doing to our privacy online. If several hundred weird people in shabby raincoats followed literally everybody everywhere in the real world there would be a global public outcry. How ironic that it took the "Land of the Free" to bring us closer to 1984 than ever before.

Had my walk. Snow plows were scraping and salting again. The straight blades aren't very efficient on such steeply cambered roads. Leaving a strip of a couple of meters width of  untouched snow several inches deep along both sides. The traffic tends to avoid it unless something is coming the opposite way. So the snow hangs around much longer. Leaving me with no choice but to ride on the cleared tarmac. Which can hold up the traffic. When I'm walking I just plod along on the snow when vehicles are approaching. Fortunately this isn't too often on the lanes. It is very good exercise trying to walk briskly on snow. I usually choose to avoid the roads as much as possible. For variety I select a different route every day. Usually on a whim or wind direction.

I was horribly short of breath at the beginning of my ride. Climbing a long drag up to the woods became rather hard work. Things steadily improved to the point where I was climbing out of the saddle for several hundred yards on a later hill. My chest is still wet and ticklish after the event but I'm not coughing as much as I was yesterday. 19 miles.

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20 Jan 2014

20th January 2014

Monday 20th 34F, 1C, gales, very heavy overcast. Wintry showers forecast. My hip is still painful and kept me awake last night. I also have a respiratory infection with constant clearing of my throat, burning, wetness and shortness of breath. That didn't help me sleep either. As the gales are only slowly subsiding, with snow or sleet promised, it looks like another rest day. The hip and back pain was caused by struggling to get a large and heavy object into the shed on a sack truck. It probably weighed 150 lbs but I still I haven't made a ramp to climb up over the threshold. So I had to lift the whole thing bodily including the sack truck itself. Which part of idiocy do I not understand? After a lifetime of getting away with incredibly heavy tasks I keep forgetting that I am now [officially] an old fart.

No doubt the chest problem is caused by the neighbour's continuously burning painted and varnished wood. The wind has gone around to his direction again and stayed there. It regularly stinks of burning both inside and outside the house. What a shame there is no environmental protection in Denmark. I have discovered that woodburning is a major health problem for many tens of thousands of rural inhabitants. (and even in the cities!) It is impossible to pass through many villages without noticing the stench of creosote. Or worse, from burning wet wood, demolition timber or pallets of completely unknown species of timber.

Many villages and hamlets suffer from chronic noise from chainsaws and circular saws as psychopathically selfish wood burners prepare their fuel without a thought for others. Not to mention the use of farm tractors in many rural gardens to drive hydraulic log splitters! And they wonder why the countryside is emptying as people move en masse to the cities! Leaving behind countless empty homes which are completely unsaleable. Many stand empty for literally years on end. With badly weathered sales signs merely advertising their owner's economic plight. Many are saddled with mortgages which greatly exceed the present value of these homes. Many were bought at inflated prices before the financial crisis. Over 1/3 of rural homes now end up in forced auctions. Which is destroying the property market. Instead of making an offer many buyers wait for the auction and buy the same house for peanuts. Now the lenders, who were bailed out with taxpayer's money, won't lend to anybody. Particularly the elderly.

Tuesday 21st 32F, 0C, overcast with wintry showers. Light overnight snow lying. Slept better with less pain. Woke with a chesty cold but quite not as bad as yesterday. An hour's walk in thin, wet snow. Frozen rain falling. Strong cold wind. Shopped in the car to give my hip a longer rest. Though the pain continues. My cold is becoming terminal!

Wednesday 22nd 32F, 0C, windy and heavily overcast. Another inch of overnight snow has filled in all the gaps. My cold is in the final stages of killing me off. I am having increasing difficulty reaching the keyboard over the mountain of tissues on the floor! <sniff>  If I survive you will probably hear about it before I will.<cough> Four straight rest days in a row is a new (four year) PB. <sniff> Will I still remember how to ride a trike? <cough>

Thursday 23rd 27F, -3C, very windy, heavy overcast. The DMI is warning of wind chill in the strong winds with sub-zero temperatures. Gusts to 15m/s or 35mph produce a chill factor down to well below -20C. My nose is still bunged up but not running quite so much. While my chest is wet and burning with shortness of breath but the coughing has subsided. At least I don't have that feeling of pressure in the sinuses. My hip is still painful but I will see if I can manage a reasonable walk today. Four days of rest from cycling hasn't changed the hip pain in the slightest. Suggesting that it probably isn't to blame. Not sure about a ride yet. We'll have to see how I feel later.

The 3 mile walk in an hour mostly on tarmac went well. I wore two charity shop Norwegian jumpers under one of my duvet jackets from the same source. I was perfectly comfortable apart from the crosswind chilling my face. A thick felt hat with ear flaps, visor and drop down neck flap helped. Though a balaclava would probably have provided more protection under a plain fleece hat. I sprayed my walking boots with Granger's footwear water proofer before leaving and they quickly dried as I walked in the cold, dry air.

The GripGrab Polaris gloves worked surprisingly well for walking today. Though I would never wear them on the trike below 40F. Which just goes to show how chilling cycling can be on the hands despite the many layers of tape on the 'bars. I never felt the wind or cold getting through the gloves while walking in today's conditions. (still -3C and 30mph winds at nearly 11am) I saw a Jay, two "buzzards" and a vast flock of Wood pigeons numbering at least a thousand all pretending to be Starlings. They snaked in dark clouds across the road and back as the traffic repeatedly disturbed them. Their white wing flashes brightening the display as they turned and alighted nervously on the fields. I shopped in the car again.

I still wasn't well enough for a ride in the cold and wind so I mended the puncture instead. The temperature in the shed was 25F, -4C.  Outside it was blowing a gale and perishing cold! I went indoors to wash the tyre off because it was covered in mud and flinty sand. When I came out again the damp on the tyre had frozen into translucent ice flakes by the time I reached the shed. I still couldn't find any flint or thorn which had pierced the tread. At least the tyre stayed up for the time it took me to clean the trike and fit new brake blocks. We shall see how the tyre looks tomorrow. The forecast is for slightly lighter winds and sunshine. I'll believe that when it happens.

Friday 24th 22-27F, -6-3C, breezy, pinkish sky in the low east with only a little cloud around the edges. The cold, easterly wind continues. It should gust to about 30mphtoday. Less than yesterday but it is much colder. Today I have a wet cough which burns my throat but at least I can breathe through my nose with only a little difficulty now.

I'll start with a walk to try and clear my sinuses. I was blowing my nose, with one finger, every hundred yards yesterday. A horrible habit which I resisted until I discovered the difficulty of using a proper handkerchief on a trike in thick winter gloves in a Danish winter. Brief glove removal for photography was enough to cause instant discomfort. Messing with cotton handkerchiefs when equipped with a beard and moustache was likely to make a far more revolting mess than achieve anything worthwhile! Talking of photography; I am badly in arrears with images again.

I wasn't so hampered by the marshy and wet bits of my route through the woods thanks to the ice. The snow had also dried to non-stick and I returned with my boots perfectly dry and clean. Normally I would be wearing huge, mud snowshoes as the soil built up all around the soles.

The tyre has stayed up so I'm going for a short ride to see if I am recovering. Well, that helped to clear out the plumbing.<spit> Bitterly cold headwind on my face going but comfortable coming back. In fact I was too warm climbing the hills on the way back thanks to being overdressed: Racing shorts over two pairs of skiing tights. Aldi rain jacket over Aesse windproof cycling jacket, over cycling cardigan over racing jersey over long sleeved vest. GripGrab medieval 'Pilot' cap over balaclava under helmet. Thick socks with knackered GripGrab overshoes and summer MTB shoes.

Dintex (Heat Pax) scooter gloves without heat packs. These gloves have been a godsend when all the expensive, winter cycling gloves proved to be complete and utter crap. I went through agonies every winter with all the other gloves I bought. Even when wearing two pairs the winter wind would go right through. The Dintex cost me £40 at a local motorcycle shop. Though they are only £25 on eBay(UK) I wonder whether theirs are the advertised size?

Best money ever spent on new clothing. They look like any other, black, nylon, winter gloves but are totally windproof without ever being sweaty. Despite being quite snug as new I can take my hands out repeatedly and they never try to turn themselves inside out. As do all the other membrane types, I've tried, at every opportunity. Including SealSkinz which were infinitely worse than £5 "skiing gloves" from the local supermarkets but cost 15 times as much!

The Dintex slowly stretch to a more comfortable fit on my huge hands but never go "out of shape" with age. I cannot recommend them highly enough if they fit. They don't have any of the fancy reinforcements of serious motorcycling gloves so can be worn for skiing, driving or winter walking. The rubber palms and fingertips remain intact too, unlike GripGrab Polaris. Which wore away to bare cloth in no time at all! Grabbing the brakes, hoods or bars while wearing Dintex is never a matter of whether they will slip. They just work. They are a bit stiffer than the GG Polaris but not unduly so for cycling use provided they fit. They do get softer with repeated wear but don't stint on size. The fingers are a good length for "piano players" too.

The uppers of the GG overshoes are fine but, as usual, GripGrab's choice of webbing is very short lived when walked on and quickly shred to useless pulp. I haven't worn the much thicker winter version yet because they haven't been necessary so far. Denmark has hardly had a decent frost until now. The trees were roaring loudly in the wind all day. Even louder and higher in the conifers. While I was heavily loaded with shopping but enjoying a tailwind on the way back. Only 10 miles in variable sunshine but it was good to get out again.

Saturday 25th 19-22F, -7-6C, thin overcast, weak sunshine, windy. I dressed up warmly again for my walk. Four miles in an hour and a half with lots of stops for photography and admiring the view. I still haven't solved the problem of my face getting cold. The balaclava doesn't cover enough skin but I'd look rather odd wandering the lanes in a full "bank robbers" ski mask. My face is windburnt now even before my trike ride.

The GripGrab Arctic overshoes proved to be massively undersized! XXXL but they took 10 minutes to put on over my EU46 NorthWave MTB shoes! The labels say they will fit EU48-50! What utter nonsense!  I managed it in the end but talk about a struggle! They didn't actually hurt but they were so tight they were restricting my circulation. So my feet were actually cold despite the extra thickness. While the very thin, GG, soft rubber overshoes weren't at all cold and were actually too big in a smaller marked size. 400DKK is over £44.40 (in Gravely Blighted quids) and I've worn them now. So they'll have to earn their keep! Hopefully the damned things will stretch or I'll be very, very cross. My toes are stinging now an hour after I have returned. This never happened with the thin ones.

It didn't get any warmer as I fought a cross headwind to the shops. I wore two winter jackets, instead of the Aldi on top, plus two pairs of skiing tights under my shorts again. The effect was much the same. Completely windproof but a bit sweaty on my back towards the end. I really need a pair of windproof goggles or foam rimmed glasses. I can't see where I'm going for tears most of the time wearing 'ordinary' cycling glasses. The cheapo supermarket one's don't last a week before the foam falls off. Plus, the lenses are usually far too dark- Probably intended for skiing in bright sunshine at high altitude. (Or whatever) A goodly wodge of shopping to bring back today though I hardly noticed my cold. Only 15 miles.

Sunday 26th 18-21F, -8-6C, windy from SSE, clear but rather a lot of cloud. Some sunshine promised. Still bunged up from my cold but improving. I'll start with a walk while trying to dodge the hunters. There were shots fired in the woods yesterday despite the cold and wind. Hardly a day passes without shooting heard from somewhere nearby. I walked 3.3 miles in one hour in bright sunshine. A brisk, cold wind, but I was warm enough to keep the extremities reasonably comfortable.

Lies, damned lies and Eurospar! I thought to take advantage of the special organic offers emblazoned across the front cover of their own newspaper.(More like a comic really since it is mostly fictitious and the pictures are hardly believable.)

So I rode for miles in the opposite direction from home, up and down hill, in a gale and horribly cold conditions. Only to find the shelves empty as I clomped around breaking large chunks of ice out of my beard.. Eurospar is a relatively new name in supermarket.monopolymoney.dk. Though they are obvious fast learners because they have seen that the short list of alternative supermarkets never have any stock of their special offers either. Eurospar had no bread nor another item from their comic. So I left completely empty handed.

What a shame that there is no consumer protection in Denmark You'd think the EU Circus Raffia Bosses would at least demand lip service to the consumer, wouldn't you? Perhaps appoint one of the local Danish Raffia bosses to a token head of gummint department at outrageous taxpayer's expense, or something. Daft suggestion really. Since they can't even protect the poor bløødy farm animals from institutionalised cruelty and OD'ing on antibiotics. Let alone protect the chumps who keep voting as they are bled white by the world's highest taxation. Just to subsidise economic immigrants, the non-tax paying elite and obscenely wealthy multi-nationals.

After that I carefully avoided a second run in with the Ebberup Maskinstations aggressive golden retriever. So I had no choice but to take a very long alternative route straight into the bitterly cold wind to get back to what passes for civilisation in rural Janteloven. Where I was able to break yet more large chunks of ice out of my beard as I clomped around yet more monopoly supermarkets looking for more, non-existent organic bargains in my undersized Dintex gloves and grossly undersized GripGrab 'Arctic" [infant's] overshoes. 19 miles. Am I having fun yet? You will let me know when we get there?

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18 Jan 2014

18th January 2014

Saturday 18th 37F, 3C, windy, overcast, raining.

I thought this image borrowed from the Danish DR TV News webpage was hilarious. The story was of the motorway in north Jutland/Jylland being closed for several hours because of snow. The police were using tracked vehicles borrowed from the army reserves to fight their way through to vehicles stuck in the snow drifts. All at god knows what cost to the taxpayer, per rescued driver, despite days of prior public warnings not to drive in the coming snowstorm!

Yet, oblivious to everything going on around him, a hardy soul on his bike just carries on regardless. Now we must all light a candle and pray that his lights were approved to the latest standards. Or he could have been stopped and heavily fined! No doubt the police have already set up a crack team of top forensic investigators to study this important example. Just in case it sets precedents for even heavier fines for cyclists. Surely there must be a rule somewhere about cycling in snow without due care and attention for stuck motorists?

Meanwhile, Denmark's very own Bag Lady is fighting for her political life. While the opposition leader [L.L. Antoinette] snuffles around the other side of the same gilt guilt free, swill trough. So many empty election promises... but at least The Bag Lady will go down in history as the one who kept the cycle lights shining brightly in these darkest hours for Denmark, transport equality and lip-service democracy.  http://www.dr.dk/Nyheder/Indland/2014/01/18/0118064011.htm

Little did I know what was in store for me when I had finished my walk and was enjoying my marmalade rolls and coffee: I headed off to a 10 mile distant builder's merchant on my trike with a strong tailwind. Then, on the very first (blind) bend a four wheel drive had overshot the corner so badly that his nearside wheels were fully 6 feet over the double white lines! You could say that he was driving too near the kerb on completely the wrong side of the road! With no road left on which to to recover he smacked, head on into a coach full of young children!

The coach driver was so shocked that he swerved, rolling the coach twice into an oncoming petrol tanker. The collision ripped the tanks wide open! Causing a massive explosion as the petrol ignited. The sound could be heard 20 miles away in Odense. (But not in Copenhagen) The devastation was totally catastrophic! By some miracle one child survived in critical condition at the rear of the coach. Though the last Danish air ambulance could not reach the site due to government cut-backs and all the international press helicopters already filling the skies. The entire village, including the 11th century church, was completely razed to the ground!

Of course The Bag Lady flew in, with her entourage of spin doctors. To "assess the damage for herself" and to pose for a sound byte for the TV cameras evening news. (Let's not forget that an election is due!) She denied her government's decision to scrap all Danish speed limits had anything to do with the carnage. Though she did hint that a careless cyclist was probably responsible for this major national  disaster, she did not expand on this vague theory. Perhaps the national security services had insider information from listening to mobile telephone calls from survivors? Not to mention those hugely inconvenienced by the fire on their rat run car journeys to the shops?

Unfortunately the Prime Minister could not stay long before climbing back into her private helicopter to return to Gormenghast Palace in Copenhagen. Where an emergency debate on the introduction of swingeing fines for cycling in snow was already under way. The leader of the opposition could not attend as he had a first class air ticket with all expenses paid (and salary) to some weekly environmental junket in a 5 star hotel somewhere warm at taxpayer's expense. This despite there being no sign of any progress from any previous climate control banquet.

Of course none of this really happened. Or it would have been all over the international news. In fact the coach wouldn't reach that blind corner for well over an hour. This was due to a total lack of any discipline in Danish schools and the very high proportion of dysfunctional children. So the driver had stopped in desperation at a motorway rest area. Where he steadfastly refused to re-board his own bus until the children could be brought under some semblance of control by their completely unarmed, female supervisors.

By the same token, the petrol tanker thundered through the village at 15mph over the marked speed limit without obvious incident.

Somehow, I also managed to avoid the four wheel drive on my trike. While simultaneously twirling my pointed finger around my right ear to indicate my tentative diagnosis of the driver's lack of morals, lack of driving skills and serious mental health problems. Whereupon he blasted his horn angrily to show that he was a driver (of sorts) and thus completely outranked me as a humble cyclist. Particularly in today's Denmark. No doubt the same moron is now planning a major terrorist attack on his old infant school. In revenge for ever having his (lack of) driving skills questioned.

Meanwhile, the world continued to turn and everybody lived happily ever after. Whatever. 19 miles.

Plus 9 more miles after lunch. I punctured for the second time in two weeks! Probably the flinty sand strewn everywhere amongst the branches and twigs, compost and gravel moraines despoiling every village and country road.

I checked the tyre inside and out under a street light but could see no protruding flints. So I put a new tube in and promptly punctured again within a hundred yards. As I only had a couple of miles to go I rode home with a good tail wind and the inner tube valve bumping noisily on the road. Naturally I was showing more lights than a North Sea oil platform. Just in case the police helicopter was scouring the countryside for cycle terrorists riding without lights.

I still consider it my moral duty to continue cycling while the world burns around me. Every cyclist pushed back into a car by the heavy handed campaign against them is an increased CO2 burden. A further load on a changing world which now sets new weather extremes with each passing season.

The car takes up another space on the already overcrowded roads. All jam-packed with a yet more, one person, seven people capacity, people carrier. A car means a further drain on limited global energy reserves. An increased burden on the hospitals and health system and reduced life expectancy. More accidents to pedestrians and other road users. When did you last hear of a pedestrian or cyclist killing a car driver in a collision?

A car means a reduced need for local shops. Since the driver will shop in the out of town supermarkets and malls on their way to and from work. Which leads directly to the loss of local amenities for the elderly. Who become even more isolated and must rely on buses to reach the nearest shop. The loss of the local shop as a meeting place is a major loss to the social network of any neighbourhood or village. Inevitably leading to early admission to old people's homes and the village being taken over by commuters. House prices soar beyond the means of ordinary people. The village becomes a stone dead dormitory. Except on warm weekends when the lawns are tended by raucous, ride-on mowers.

The extra car means noise and pollution in the neighbourhood. As every car is run for 20 minutes every winter morning to de-ice the windows and make it toasty warm for the driver on their sleepy/road rage commute. With reduced air quality and increased road noise there is a loss of value to great swathes of roadside housing. Increased road wear, road and motorway building (at taxpayer's expense but journey time reduction only 'enjoyed' by a tiny minority in the absence of road closing accidents)

What about the loss of natural peace to every corner of every country in the world? A single vehicle can easily be heard from a mile away in quiet countryside. From how far away can an endless chain of mixed traffic be heard? How many children will grow up without ever having experienced the "peace and quiet" of the countryside? Or even in their own neighbourhood? What effect does this have on the mental health of all those growing up in the chaos of constant noise, constant movement and the nagging, potential danger when they must cross the road or go to school?

Most drivers consider it far too dangerous for their children to walk or cycle to school. I wonder why? Could it be their own behaviour behind the wheel which terrifies them into providing a private taxi service? How does that effect the behaviour of their offspring at school? And later, when they become car buying auto-fodder? Do as I say? Not as I do?

Are the occupants of the family car completely blind to the fact that the driver is constantly breaking the speed limit and jumping red lights? Are they deaf to the derogatory remarks made by the driver about many other road users and cyclists in particular? How does this affect their own driving behaviour, later in life, when their role model has been so tragically poor? You think I exaggerate? Look around you.

The only time you notice a cyclist is when they are in the way of your personal (and often illegal) progress. Your sense of superiority over cyclists and pedestrians is a complete myth. Even your journey times are longer than cyclists in cities. They have been for well over half a century! This is despite the destruction of many historical town centres as a "necessary sacrifice" to the car culture.

Sunday 19th 35F, 2C, severe gales, heavy overcast, but dry. The forecast is that it will gust up to 45mph all day. I have a puncture to mend but first I shall walk for an hour. The walk did not go well. My hip is hurting like hell today! The wind was already fierce despite not being expected to peak until this evening. I wore my cycling sunglasses but still the white horses in my tears were crashing against my cheeks hard enough to cause subsidence. My hands were cold from the wind despite the thick winter gloves. I was bullied uphill only to fight for every yard coming back down. There will be no cycling, nor walking, today!

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13 Jan 2014

13th January

Monday 13th 33F, 1C, windy, heavy overcast. Google Blogger is broken again. No editing buttons this morning. Wintry showers are forecast but it should clear up this afternoon. The wind has gone around in circles over the last 12 hours. Now blowing from the east after an overnight frost. Did you know that secondhand wind surfing masts make cheap, elegant and excellent wind vane supports? Being so light, despite being suitably tall, they won't damage anything if they should fall in a storm and are very easy to support. Not a lot of people know that. Any cyclist will recognise the relevance of wind direction and speed to the daily grind. I haven't had anywhere suitable to put up my simple wind vane until now.

I hadn't gone more than 50 yards along the roadside verge when a senile, habitual drunk with poor life skills and a heavy dependency on prescription pharmaceuticals aimed his large, black and chrome people carrier straight at me. I saw the steering wheel turn towards me as he made his final approach. He only turned away when I started waving frantically at him. I swear the old bar stewards are out to get me! I'm just trying to think of a suitable weapon to fend them off. Perhaps a Chieftain tank would do it?

I wore my yellow-tinted, winter cycling glasses for my walk. Just to try and reduce water loss through my eyes in the rather cold wind gale. Not with a great deal of success, I might add. Nothing presented itself for photography except for two tubs full of grain for any passing, aquatic pheasants. Though I'm really not sure the common pheasant is prone to wading out to a takeaway on tick. (Anything it eats now is paid for later with its life to hunters) It didn't look as if the surface ice would support even a slightly damp sparrow. (This image was taken a few days ago so you'll have to imagine the thin veneer of ice)

Apart from a few fluffy balls of hail the promised wintry showers haven't done anything daft yet. So I'll probably go out after coffee and marmalade rolls as usual. Famous last words! It snowed or sleeted all morning just as forecast. Then continued all afternoon as sleet and rain. A rest day.

Tuesday 14th 40F, 5C, misty, overcast but dry. Rather than plod around feeling glum about the endlessly grey weather my walk was spent trying to find pictures in the mist. I left after coffee for my ride. The mist had mostly cleared by then. Only 17 miles.

The simple bow and reef knots I had tried were not holding on the saddle lace for long. Then I remembered that the Spa Nidd saddle lace had used a small loop to tension and then tie off the end securely. So I made a loop using a figure of eight knot and then tensioned the loose end before tying off firmly with multiple half hitches. This time the B17's saddle skirts remained firmly held in.

There is no sign of the leather being cut by the lace so far. There are dents where the lace runs through the holes but that is to be expected. The saddle now feels rather amazing. Firm but comfortably broken in at the same time. I must have been wasting a lot of energy when the B17 rocked from side to side like a hammock. Though I was not aware of the skirts rubbing my thighs they must have been to some extent. Such friction would absorb more power. I can almost understand the desire to own a modern plastic saddle from the sense of speed a firm saddle gives. What I can't understand is the level of discomfort this usually entails.

Plastic saddles are not remotely made for the human skeleton and its load bearing sit bones. There is no attempt to dent the sit bone areas to spread the loads more evenly. Just the same old regurgitation of the original Unica Nitor plastic shell with variations in padding along with large dollops of snake oil blended with the finest bullshit all topped with a veneer of pseudo scientific hype. The manufacturers's really aren't taking saddle design seriously as they grin all the way to the bank. Their countless victims cheerfully spending hundreds of pounds only for the damned things to fall to pieces after a thorough torturing of their chronically naive owner's only useful interface with the bike.

They see the sponsored pros using a particular saddle and it instantly becomes a must have. Usually without a thought as to their own needs and uses in comparison with the hard working pros. The big names are probably riding a one-off anyway if they have enough charisma. If Guantanamo prisoners were forced to sit on racing saddles there would be an international outcry. Yet millions of cyclists willingly invest in totally unsuitable ornaments for their mobile showcases for all that is the latest and vital to prove their seriousness at the sport. Eager volunteers for worse tools than even the inquisition psychopaths could ever dream up in their sickest fantasies. Cycling may be a very public form of sado-masochism but let's at least try to do it in some comfort.

Wednesday 15th 37F, light breeze, heavy overcast. A windy, grey, soggy walk followed by a triking shopping trip. 21 miles not (quite) out.

Note to self: Do not make "replace the handset" telephone hand signals at raving psychopaths approaching a side junction at high speed (with their family aboard) while they are using their mobile phone, just before I cross their intended path. Yesterday's psychopath overshot the cycle path by a full 6' (across my own path and that of the traffic on the main road) while on the phone. I am beginning to feel a bit like a skittle!

Today's stopped just before he hit me. But then made up for missing me the first time around by trying to push me off the road while blasting his horn continuously outside a school yard full of small children.

Well, even a law-breaking, butt ugly, shaven-headed psychopath has his pride, doesn't he? No doubt his pride would have soared to new levels to find himself starring on YouTube with all his crippling inadequacies on show. But only if I had been wearing my hopelessly inadequate Sony HDR-15 Action Cam. Trouble was, it was anything but bright sunlight. Nor my pathetically tragic, utter waste of money, total piece of crap, Aldi Medion MD86543, really real, plastic action camera. (Sorry for the ads.) I think I just broke a new year resolution not to complain.

Whoopee! The  blogger's quick edit button is back! The evil NSA has been defeated! All is well with the (virtual) world. Well, nearly. ;ø))

Thursday 16th 36F, 2C, windy, heavy overcast, wintry showers. It was so wet I decided to avoid the rough stuff on my walk. I managed to get quite wet on the outside in one hour. The only time I went off-road was to take to the verge to avoid being sprayed by the traffic. Not looking too promising for a morning ride unless the sleet stops soon. Perhaps this afternoon? Though it will be even windier. Gusting to 30+mph.

I left mid afternoon with a full complement of lights for the return journey. I don't get to ride very often in the dark, but I knew the roads (mostly country lanes) like the back of my hand. So no real problem. Apart from the gales! I wore the Aldi rainproof jacket over a mid weight winter cycling jacket, expecting rain and wind chill and was quite comfortable throughout. 18 miles.

Danish police were having a Razzia /Raid/Campaign(?)week of targeting traffic infringements in early January. Of the 5244 total number of "vehicles" stopped 2844 were fined. Out of which a staggering 2329 offences involved cyclists. Jumping red lights 747 fines! Riding on pavements and pedestrianised streets 530 fines. Breaking lighting regulations including lack of lights and non approved lights were also common problems with 686 fines.


This  link is from the Danish TV news website so just right click on the page and choose Translate if you are using the Chrome browser.

New cycle light regulations came out recently so I hope mine are acceptable. They are certainly very bright and firmly attached. I know there was some concerns voiced about lights dangling uselessly from straps, clothing, pockets and bags. Which would make a mockery of any ability to be seen at a regulation minimum distance. 300m in clear weather at night. I could see the reflections from road furniture from a far greater distance today using my Smart front light in flashing mode. Only three car drivers failed to dip on their approach. It can't have been my front light so it must have been their tiredness or drunkenness.

It seems that lights must flash at least 120 times a minute. I am a strong advocate for flashing lights. Believing that steady beams are almost worthless at bringing the cyclist's presence to the attention of bored drivers.(and others) It also seems my voluntary fitting of two widely spaced rear lights on my trike is actually a requirement by law.

I also supplement these with a Smart 1/2W seat pin rear light since it is much higher and helps me to be seen when a large bag may cause the lower lights to be obscured if a vehicle is very close. Or a following driver is raised in a very high lorry cab. I have also fitted approved, orange spoke reflectors to the Trykit. Hopefully this will improve the chances of being seen by all those psychopaths overshooting junctions while using their mobile telephones. Sadly a very common occurrence in these here parts. Three in the week so far and counting.<spit>

Meanwhile, it has been promised that in future radar speed traps will only be set up on known dangerous stretches of road. It was considered unfair that so many drivers should be fined (unduly) for speeding!

Friday 17th 36F, 2C, overcast, breezy, misty, light rain falling on 2"/ 50mm of overnight, wet snow. Went for my walk. Wetter than ever but no real hindrance. I was getting well off the road each time a vehicle passed and still being sprayed from head to foot. My plans for a ride to Odense have been put on hold in these foul conditions. I'd get a brine spray from every passing/speeding vehicle.

I was right. Empathy is yesterday's news. The word has already trickled down from the politic-ooze. Speeding is no longer a crime in Denmark but god help you if you are cyclist! Only 6 wet miles dodging total fuckwits driving at 60mph through a shopping street with a 25mph speed limit. It's survival of the thickest out there! At this rate I may have to move to a small island without any roads. I'll put the trike on a set of rollers in the garage, black out the windows and never go out again! (Provided I have a good reserve of batteries for my lights!)

Click on any image for an enlargement.

11 Jan 2014

Bob Jackson trike


Here's a very pretty trike from the hands of Bob Jackson. The owner has kindly shared some images of his new purchase:

Both the paint and lug work are unusual and very attractive indeed. Twin front brakes. Campag down tube shifters.

The rear axles sports a differential with "square" reinforcing loops to allow plenty of room.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


6 Jan 2014

6th January 2014

Monday 6th 38F, 4C, windy, overcast, raining. The early rain is supposed to peter out to showers. Possible clearing up in the afternoon. Gusting to over 30mph all day. I'd better wait a while to see what happens. It let up mid afternoon so, finally,  I headed off into the fading light. Only for it to start tipping down again. Only 7 miles, with lights, no walk.

Tuesday 7th 47F, 8C, incredibly mild, very windy, overcast but dry so far. Had an hour's walk around waterlogged fields. Rain forecast for all afternoon. Went shopping and punctured on the way back. Couldn't be bothered to change the tube beside the main road so kept pumping the tyre at intervals to get home. The Lezyne alloy mini pump works remarkably well using an overhand motion. Though one would need to be careful where one did this to avoid a case of road rage amongst the guilty paranoid!

With the wind  blowing a gale at 45 degrees it was very hard work coming home. 15 miles. It is still dry at 4.30pm but let's not complain.

I repaired the flat tyre with a new tube. There were a lot of small flints buried deep in the tread surface. I patiently picked them all out with an awl just in case they decided to bury themselves more deeply. But (yet again) I could find none that had actually penetrated.  Not even when I could accurately locate the puncture in the tube relative to the tyre. It helps to always place specific tyre labels beside the valve to ensure the inner tube and tyre positions can be compared. It is possible to have two punctures simultaneously. With a second going unnoticed even in a water bath once the first one is found.

I don't remember the last set of Durano tyres showing remotely so much damage even after far greater mileages. So perhaps Schwalbe suffer from major material variations as much as Continental do with their 4000S? The rubber really does seem to soften in wet weather. So comparing them with tyres run only over a dry summer may offer completely different results.

Wednesday 8th 45-46F, 7-8C, breezy, overcast. Showers possible. I went for a walk after an early shower. Still grey and windy but dry at coffee time. Still dry at lunchtime after a ride to Assens. Headwind going tailwind coming back. 19 miles.

Thursday 9th 42F, 6C, very windy, raining and overcast. Rain forecast for most of the day with the wind gusting to 40mph. It doesn't look very promising. Winter arrives next week. It blew and rained hard for my hour's walk. I wasn't very waterproof but remained comfortable in some recycled waterproofs which I had originally bought for cycling. Hardly a problem when I was still near home. It's blowing harder and tipping down now. Windier and wetter still! A rest day.

Friday 10th 42F, 6C, cloudy and windy with showers and brighter periods. It stayed dry but windy for my walk. The fields, woods and tracks are getting wetter and wetter with minor flooding in places. Two shopping rides today for a total of 23 miles. Still very windy with the trees and hedges roaring. I keep hearing Jays in the woods but don't usually see them.

Saturday 11th 43F, 6C, overcast, breezy. Rain forecast for most of the day. It was already spitting when I left for my walk and slowly increased without becoming silly. I cut through the woods to avoid being exposed to the wind and the rain. There I caught sight of a Jay in flight as it squawked raucously just above me on its way to hide in some conifers.

The first ShiftMate has just been dropped into my postbox. The reason it didn't turn up? It took its summer holidays in Australia! How on earth does a registered packet get sent so far off course? Why did it never register in the British Post Office track and trace system? Why did it take six weeks to be delivered? Now I'll have to return it and I bet it is a flawless example. Without all the dents like the one which came last. Bøøger!

The light was fading as the rain died out.  I was overtaken by a convicted drunk/ registered blind/ incurably insane/ banned  driver with advanced dementia at the end of a long wide straight. The old fart brushed past only two feet from my handlebars with no oncoming traffic anywhere to be seen. I had three 1/2W 'Smart' flashing red lights showing. One on the seat tube and one on each rear axle. I was wearing a bright green-yellow, day-glo Aldi jacket with highly reflective safety strips and a large bright pink sports bag hanging at the rear. It wasn't even properly dark yet.

As usual I was monitoring overtaking traffic on their approach in my Zefal Cyclop mirror. This old clown completely failed to change direction as he caught up with me.

Fortunately I was passing a wide farm entrance and was able to avoid being mown down by using their concrete drainage channel. Only 7 miles. Nearly my last. How unfortunate that my HDR-15 Sony Action Cam is complete crap in anything but bright sunlight. Nor when it is steamed up in its diving case. Otherwise I could have had a number plate to share on YouTube.

Sunday 12th 37F, 3C, breezy, clear sky. The forecast is windy at first with a few showers. Bright but cool in the wind for my walk. Three young deer and an adult were approaching the same corner of a field as I sneaked along the hedge at right angles hoping for some pictures. The hedge was far too dense to take a picture through it but I was downwind with the sun behind me. First one, and then another young deer popped out of the corner, stared at me and then vanished. At full zoom on my Lumix TZ7 I wasn't really expecting much. This was the best shot despite the daft thing pretending to be a three legged stool. It had four legs in all the other pictures. Perhaps it was surprised I only wanted a picture instead of blowing its head off with a double barrelled cannon.

It stayed dry and bright but windy for my ride to the shops.I was cruising at 16-20 mph going. There I was robbed by the Coop/Super Brugsen. Two special offers but they tried to charge me much more. I had to queue four times to get a refund and that was like getting blood out of a stone! What a shame Denmark has no consumer protection laws. I remember shops in the UK being massively fined for charging more at the till than the displayed price. That was decades ago. It happens all the time over here. To visit a Danish supermarket is to be robbed. Or denied the advertised goods. Hard work coming home uphill, fully laden and into a cold headwind. The ShiftMate is performing better now. It seems to respond to smaller variations on the cable adjuster than without the device. Only 16 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


5 Jan 2014

The Jtek ShiftMate No4 finally arrives!

The Jtek Engineering ShiftMate No4 finally arrived from St John's St Cycles after waiting 40 days and 40 nights from my initial order. Less than half the length of my little finger and weighing a mere few grams, the ShiftMate arrived in a box of about 10" x 5" x 5". More to follow when I get a chance to fit the ShiftMate. I'll take some decent photos tomorrow in daylight.

It is a remarkably small, light and smart little mechanism. It works by using two pulleys of different diameters which are machined from one solid piece of metal. So no slippage is possible between the pulleys . Around these two grooved diameters is wrapped the gear change cable. A flat is machined on one side of the pulleys to allow the cable to "cross over" between the two different diameters. The cable being wrapped twice around the pulleys. The pulleys run on a miniature, rubber sealed, journal bearing hidden and protected within the ShiftMate mechanism's body.

The difference in the two pulley diameters effectively changes the pull per click ratio of the gear change lever. It can thus be used to match a lever to another "alternative" gear changer and cassette. By this clever method (and the correct choice of pulley wheels) almost any gear lever, cassette and changer combination can be made to work.

The twin pulleys can be easily reversed by removing the centre screw to increase or reduce the pull per click. A whole range of pulleys are manufactured to cater for different combinations of gear lever, cassette and changer. The supplied chart lists 4 pulley sets offering no less than 29 lever/ changer/ cassette options! These are almost entirely different combinations of Campagnolo and Shimano products. Only Sram is largely ignored.

The most obvious use of the ShiftMate is when indexed gears would hop over, or fall short of the required lateral chain movement, when changing gear. The more gears involved the smaller the possible error before gear changing becomes a nightmare. In my own case it was the 4th largest sprocket which could not be reliably selected using a 10sp Ultegra rear changer and a 10sp cassette controlled by Campagnolo Ergo 11 speed levers.

With the trike up on the work stand and the ShiftMate in place I was able to click solidly from gear to gear without hesitation. The previous problem with the 4th sprocket seemed to have vanished.

One slight oddity is that the ShiftMate mechanism has a flat machined on the low end of the body where the gear cable exits. This flat rests against a supplied nipple which is inserted into the rear gear changer, cable adjuster. The flat on the bottom of the body makes the rest angle rather critical. This angle is controlled by the angle of the rear changer itself of course. But also by the short length of cable housing (outer) between the ShiftMate mechanism and the usual chainstay cable stop.

Since the mechanism "bends" the cable approach to the rear changer by quite a large angle there is no longer a need for the usual high cable curve to ensure low friction. The shallow curve of the cable can be seen in the attached image. (More images to follow in better light)

If the machined flat does not lie tightly against the nipple then there is space for cable slack which alters with cable tension. It might have been better if the bottom of the housing had also been bored like the top. Then a longer nipple could physically join the body to the rear changer's cable adjuster to remove the potential cable slack from any rest angle error.

Even when the cable was tensioned as hard as I could pull with my hand there was still slack on the bare length running beside the trike's down tube. I took out the slack with the cable adjusters but it still needs work to avoid a dead click when changing from top gear. I may need to shorten the curved outer slightly more.

I don't think there is any risk of damage to the rear changer or the ShiftMate from a more rigid fixing between the two. There should be enough flexibility in the final length of outer cable. The rear changer can also rotate about its pivot screw. I'll see how things look when I shorten the cable outer slightly more tomorrow. The image alongside shows how close the pulleys are to the trike's reinforcing loop. This would never occur on a bike.

I think you will agree from these initial images (taken in half light under a heavily overcast sky) that the device is very compact and really quite attractive in appearance. While the success of its gear changing ability is the the main criterion the unit cannot be said to mar the appearance of any cycle. It is certainly a fine match for my (rather filthy) R931 stainless steel trike. Though one wonders how long the device will keep up its pretty appearance without detailed cleaning. We shall have to see how it copes with salt spray from winter roads, . I can see the rust coming through even on the chromed axles of the Shimano SPD pedals.

The only real disappointment with the device is the cosmetic "ding" on the edge of the machined body. The ShiftMate is priced at £38  plus P&P by SJS. At this price level (and over a month's delay) I would really have expected cosmetic perfection. Fortunately the damage is quite difficult to see in normal use on a trike because of the rear wheels. It would be very obvious if it was fitted to a bike. The damage must have been perfectly visible before packing in bubble wrap and air bags within the cardboard box. It certainly didn't happen in transit. Perhaps they didn't believe that I hadn't received the first one? So were unwilling to trust me with a blemish free "second"?

The first ShiftMate never arrived and their quoted track and trace number never registered on the Royal Mail website. When this was pointed out to them at SJS Cycles they asked that I wait (for nearly a month!) before contacting them again regarding non-delivery. I consider this totally unacceptable behaviour from any online dealer. Non-registration of a tracking number from day one should have sounded instant alarm bells that something was very wrong. Either with their own despatch system or their delivery agent's!

This one arrived via UK ParcelForce and GLS five days after despatch including the weekend. Three to four working days is normal for packet delivery from the UK to Denmark. Tracking on the Royal Mail website consisted of an unchanging "In progress". Only when I checked the GLS website did I get the full tracking details. The reason the original didn't turn up? See below:

On the first ride it seemed that the gears were shifting much better when moving the chain to the smaller sprockets. Less precise coming back to the lower gears. (Larger rear sprockets)  I put this down to remaining slackness in the cable. Tightening the down tube cable adjuster resulted in a mess. With all the former precision changes gone. Slackening off again did not reproduce the desired effect. I was having to double click to get some lower gears.

I'll just have to put the trike back on the stand and have another fiddle. There must be some difference between letting cable go slack and reeling it back in again. This suggests backlash in the system is spoiling the symmetry of the cable length when going up and down the gears.

After the final length of outer was clipped a little shorter the change seemed a bit more crisp. I played with the cables adjusters a little and left them in the best position. It occurred to me while I was changing up and down the gears that the adjusters don't alter the cable tension. They change the cable's nominal position or length. The tension remains the same throughout the range of cable movement since it applied by the spring on the changer. Indexing results from the cable being let out and rewound in accurate steps. The changer doesn't care how the steps are applied and is incapable of stepping itself.  The cable length slightly alters the lateral position of the changer at any one point in its travel depending on the gear selected.

The present position is that the chain is probably quite worn. Which is affecting the gear change. I just tried the chain measuring tool and a new chain should really be fitted soon.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

1 Jan 2014

January 1st 2014


Happy New Year!
I hope you like the new format.

Wednesday 1st 39F, 4C, breezy at times, heavy overcast, early rain drying up to a few puddles. As is my habit I went for a ride on my trike. Saw a couple of riders out training and we exchanged seasons greetings on the fly. Several cars passed with mountain bikes attached to rear racks. Presumably heading for a New Year competition somewhere.  The laced B17 saddle is still pleasingly comfortable. I really wish I had tried this sooner.

A nearly all-white woodpecker crossed my path and landed on a tree right beside the road. Presumably a Lesser spotted rather than the big chaps [Great spotted] we often see in our garden. A buzzard passed low overhead but I don't think it saw me as potential lunch.

I ran a rag over the Trykit to clean off the slight accumulation of  winter crap. Thanks to the excellent Crud front mudguard and Reynolds R931, stainless steel frame, cleaning is now only rarely required. It seems obvious, but a front mudguard is beneficial in so many different ways. Of course it keeps one's feet dry but it also offers the ability to cross puddles and run-off without a qualm. This freedom should not be underestimated in traffic. Where one does not wish to swerve nor brake hard with nowhere to go. The long and slender Crud has proved an excellent purchase.

A 'normal' mudguard rattles, catches the wind and is usually rather heavy thanks to the metal stays. Tempting one to either leave it off permanently. Or to remove it again at the earliest opportunity when fitted. Which leaves one open to a drenching in unpredictable weather. Not so with the Crud RR Mk2. It has become such a desirable feature that I had quite forgotten its presence. The avoidance of the crust of road filth underneath the down tube and bottom bracket makes it even more worthwhile. With billions of slugs dying on the roads each year the muck was often difficult to remove without mechanical aid. On a painted, steel frame this inevitably removed the finish and vital rust protection. Not to mention the crap which adhered to the gear cables. 16 miles.

Thursday 2nd 39F, 4C, breezy and overcast with rain expected all morning. It never stopped raining all day. As there was no pressure to go out I took a rest day. SJS Cycles tell me they have sent another Shiftmate. This one actually registered on Royal Mail track and trace!

Friday 3rd 40F, 4C, overcast, breezy. Windy with rain forecast after lunch. An hour's walk in a stiff wind but it stayed dry. Then a heavy shopping trip for 17 miles. It tipped down in wind blown sheets on the way home. Fortunately I had worn the Aldi jacket and my overshoes in anticipation.

Saturday 4th 42F, 6C, windy, overcast but dry. Walked for an hour and a half through soggy fields and woods. Rain is forecast for later so I'd better not hang about if I'm to avoid it. It didn't rain. I saw a surprising number of birds of prey today.  The rear gear changer cable broke 10 miles from home! I whipped out my trusty old Mechano screwdriver to adjust the Ultegra Hi screw. Though I only  managed to get the chain onto the 3rd smallest cog when it was screwed right in. Still not a lot of fun in such a high gear on a hilly route into a headwind. 20 miles.

Replacing the cable was easy enough provided the small gear change lever had been pressed repeatedly to put the lever mechanism in top gear. (I had already moved the chain onto the top gear sprocket) The old cable was badly frayed where it had broken about 2" from the nipple. This would put the damage at the lever cable exit where it joins the outer on the bars. Without removing several layers of handlebar tape I wasn't going to be able to examine this area properly. The outer fits in a deep hole in the lever body anyway.

The Campag outer sleeve, (longitudinal) core wires were also rusted (?) off at an angle where the outer fits into the down tube adjuster. I snipped the end off straight with the cable cutters before threading the new inner cable through. Oiling the adjuster sockets regularly may help since water collects here as it runs down the cables. A small puddle was still sitting in the adjuster body socket from yesterday's rain.

I need to find a neat way of tidying up the long length of spare computer able. I have it wrapped loosely around the brake and gear cables and it looks very scruffy and amateur. I didn't have any luck with a wireless bike computer and the cadence models are very silly money. I removed the Cateye Cadence head and discovered a white mess in the shoe and on the back of the computer. It looked like bird shit but how would it get there? I kept getting intermittent readings so had recently polished the contacts with a clean cloth. It wasn't visible dirty last time. All very odd.

I found a 3W rechargeable diode headlamp very useful for working on the trike in the semi-darkness of the shed. It would make a very decent front light for the trike provided the weight of the battery pack wasn't a hindrance. Though the manufacturer says it is not officially approved for cycle use. Presumably they mean that it hasn't been examined by the regulating authorities and given a pass. I can't see how the broad spread of light would be a serious disadvantage in visibility on the road. Though the lamp body could take a simple collar to narrow down the floodlight beam if necessary. A bit of PVC plumbing tube would probably do.

Sunday 5th 39F, 4C, overcast, calm. Rain promised for late morning. I have to reach a shop about ten miles away which has a 10am opening time. So the Aldi jacket may come in handy again. I'd better check the gears with the trike up on the work stand before leaving. No time for a proper walk and it is still quite dark now at 8.30am. I was allowed early coffee and rolls after checking the gears and then trundled off at about 9.30.

It was spitting with rain most of the way there and gradually increased to steady rain after the shops. As I was already wet but not particularly uncomfortable I detoured for a more hilly route back to the last village shop. By which time I was really quite wet but not particularly bothered. I'd forgotten my Aldi jacket and could feel my winter jacket leaking cold at the shoulder seams. Even one of my Dintex gloves began to feel a bit damp inside but it may have been because of inserting a wet hand. 26 soggy miles. The sun came out just after I put the trike away and headed indoors. It is brightening up nicely now!

Click on any picture for an enlargement.