29 May 2014

29th May 2014


Thursday 29th 52F, 11C, breezy and sunny. A bank holiday. With lighter traffic it should be a good day for a ride. A 3 mile walk in bright sunshine. Going out for a ride after lunch. Hopefully the cross-headwind won't be too much of a hindrance.

I was going well despite the wind. A cuckoo was calling in the hedge just above me when I paused.  I glanced up and it took off. Grey back, barred chest, long, slim, tapered wings and travelling fast. Then I saw a Red kite hunting on a marsh. It kept circling and hovering low. As if about to attack something in the reeds. Then a heron took off screeching loudly and put the other bird off. I kept going in case I was spoiling their dinner. 32 miles.

Friday 30th 55-68F, 13-20C, light breeze, sunny. The forecast is warm, with lots of sun, but rather windy. A warm 3.3 miles in an hour and half walk. I watched a deer grazing for ten minutes as I tried to creep up on it. It heard me open the Velcro tab on my camera case and was soon gone.

Oh dear, is that supposed to be a picture of a deer?

Then I fought my way through head-high nettles, butter burrs and sticky burrs on the end of an unused track to get back to the road. It took me 20 minutes to do quarter of a mile! I shan't try to go that way again until winter flattens the plants. The variety of wild grasses seems to be unlimited. The wind has picked up now. Rode to Assens to shop. Warm but windy. 19 miles.

Saturday 31st 60F, 16C, rather windy [20-30mph] and sunny.  My new SPD 'Trial' pedals have arrived to replace the rusty ones. If only all online dealers cared as much about service as Cykelpartner.dk. Free next day delivery to a Pakke-shop near you and prices which make other's look like one armed bandits. Beautifully packed including original manufacturer's packing. Even a couple of boiled sweets thrown in for good measure.

I'm still waiting for the other bits to arrive, in a week or two with a following wind, despite the strong arm tactics on P&P! Have you ever noticed that the higher the postal charges the slower the service?  I think I'll fit the new stuff on the Trykit when I finally get it back. Rather than putting it on the Higgins. Only for it to rust away in the shed until I finally need it badly. I had allowed the Higgins to become too unroadworthy to act as a useful lifeboat. Only 7 miles. May was not a great month for mileage! Though I had a lot of early morning walks. Walking seems to help with my right hip pain. I had no walk today and my hip has ached all day.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

26 May 2014

26th May 2014

Monday 26th, 64-68F, 18-20C, sunny and almost still. No walk so far but at least I have been busy. One of the Shimano M520 SPD pedals is too rusted up to allow tension adjustment. My cleats have been pulling out when the gear indexing on the Higgins goes wrong and the pedals suddenly jump. I keep adjusting the indexing on the rear changer but it just won't behave properly in all gears with the Campag Ergo levers in charge.

I presume Shimano considers all their SPD pedals as cosmetically disposable. The finish and materials cannot cope with rain and road salt. Perhaps people are expected to clean and lubricate their pedals after every winter ride? The tiny, very shallow and rusted, hex socket of the adjustment screws are incapable of taking any real torque from the hex key. While the pressed steel body of the pedals and the tension springs rapidly deteriorate to a rusty mess. The chrome plating is very short lived so the initial cosmetic appearance is rapidly forgotten. You'd think that stainless steel would be the material of choice here. Being so tough SS could be made much thinner and lighter with no loss of strength. Perhaps they don't have access to SS in Malaysia? Perhaps Shimano simply deem their pedals as disposable in the gravy train, "performance" accessories market?  

Interestingly(?) the M520 pedals have always spun incredibly freely. Give them a flick with a finger tip and they just go on spinning for ages. While the more expensive M780 have always been too stiff to spin more than a turn or two with finger pressure. I suppose it could be that the seals are more efficient but have much higher drag on the M780s. So much for paying more for higher quality!

My Higgins [Trykit 2WD] rear axles and wheel spins very freely. They go on for several minutes with a good spin. The wheels will even rock back and forth to try and balance the valves as the come to a stop. Even pressing back against the double freewheel ratchets. These axles use oversize journal bearings with rubbers seals.

However, the Trykit wheels stop very quickly when spun. Again the rubber seals on the [even larger] journal bearings are likely to be responsible.

There is probably little need for the inner seals where they face into the sealed axle housings. Only the exposed seals need to keep the bearings clean, dry and lubricated. I'm not sure whether it is safe to try and remove a single journal bearing seal from one side.  I remember Chris Hewitt saying the cup and cone trikes will leave journal bearing trikes behind on a descent. He was right! I have asked Geoff Booker to look at the freedom of my axles while he has my R931 trike back at his workshop for repair.

Lubricating the seal lips nearest the axle with light oil makes no discernible difference to their drag. Nor does time and many thousands of miles polish the inner race to reduce seal drag. There has been no change from new. Perhaps metal seals would be better than rubber as far as drag is concerned? I remember skateboarders used to swap the supplied, cheapo, rubber/plastic sealed bearings for metal sealed examples. That was probably over 30 years ago and I expect the practice is still the norm.

Journal bearing, seal drag might explain why many other cyclists can just freewheel away from me downhill. While I am literally turning myself inside out trying to keep up! It certainly isn't tyre drag which is slowing me down as my nose causes condensation on the handlebar stem. I run narrow, slick 700 x 25C HPs at 85-90PSI. Yet I am still dropped on descents by freewheeling pensioners on upright roadster bikes. Fitted with balloon tyres, with deep treads and voluminous mudguards. While they are wearing huge, flapping, polyester, winter jackets! No criticism of pensioners intended. I qualify as one myself. I even seem to wear almost as much polyester as they do. Except that mine is garishly coloured and doesn't flap!

Left late to shop. Three hours to do 22 miles including visiting 8 shops and two libraries. Forgot to take water and was parched. Seemed to be going better today despite the headwind. With improved cadence on the Higgins "beam engine." I might just fit the 160mm crank triple from the Trykit while I wait for its return.

Tuesday 27th 58-64F, 15-18C, windy and bright. I had followed the track right until the end of the woods and then was baulked by a drainage ditch. Having become completely disorientated in new surroundings I eventually found my way back to the main road thanks to the traffic noise. I hate walking along this busy road. Which is frequented by mammoth, East European lorries using their car GPS to take short cuts along completely unsuitable roads.

Why should I have to walk defensively because the road is dominated by the registered blind, drunks, psychopaths, drug abusers and social inadequates? 5 miles of mostly overgrown forest tracks and vast marshy fields with very long grass, wild flowers, reeds, Marsh marigolds and nettles. Plus two miles of busy road. I disturbed a small deer almost at my feet in the dense undergrowth. I'm not sure who was more surprised! Quite a few hares along the way too.

I went out on the trike after lunch in to a strong crosswind. It felt more like a headwind. The 160mm crank chainset has transformed the Higgins. It even improved the indexing.

The sea of yellow is now an ocean of tangled seed pods.

A great load of heavy shopping and I still overtook a young chap on a long uphill drag. I also fitted a water bottle cage while I was at it this morning and was able to take frequent swigs.  It clouded over and become even more windy on the way back. 15 miles. Tilting the B17 saddle slightly nose up has stopped me sliding forwards. It isn't necessary on the Trykit because of the different geometry but I am more stretched out on the Higgins.  

Wednesday 28th 48-54F, 9-12C, blowing a gale, overcast. 20 degrees (F) cooler than a couple of days ago! It's enough to make my eyes water. And did. Enjoyed a quiet walk to watch hares racing around. The daft things were so engrossed in playing tag that they came quite close to where I was standing. Not sure how riding in this wind could be considered constructive or even sensible. In fact t wasn't too bad when I set off before lunch. 14 miles wrapped up as if it were (almost) a winter's day. Despite another heavy load of shopping I even detoured up a long hill just for the fun of it. My endurance, when climbing out of the saddle, is increasing steadily. Just as my quads are growing in sympathy. Odd, considering that my knees were hurting earlier in the ride. I'll have to check the saddle height.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

19 May 2014

19th May 2014

Monday 19th. Forecast to be wet for most of the day. Though it wasn't really.  Another rest day.

I forgot to mention that I solved the Higgins' creaking headset problem with lots of oil after inverting the trike. Those who have been paying attention will know that I lack a proper lower bearing seating on the original Higgins' forks. I had smeared the steerer tube with Liquid Metal. Then smoothed it off to a tight fit on the lower race. It made a terrible racket when ridden until I oiled it!

The bearings themselves were well greased prior to assembly so the race must have been creaking on the Liquid Metal. This was despite it being months since I carried out the repair and not being ridden since. The Liquid Metal seemed more like ordinary car body filler than something special. As purchased the Higgins had what looked like Araldite on the lower end of the fork steerer tube. The head bearings have never been free of rock when the front brake was applied and the trike moved back and forth by hand.

Tuesday 20th 55-70F, 13-21C, light breeze and sunny. The forecast is for more of the same. With a possible high of 22F or 72C with light winds.
Traffic control authorities admit that they have abandoned any attempt to control the speed of users of the bridge overt the ├śresund Straits between Sweden and  Denmark. Those with season tickets do not need to stop at the toll payment booths. So they often drive through at high speed. Endangering the staff and others in the area. So now they have installed an "intelligent" automatic speed bump. More intelligent (allegedly) than those driving over it. The plate which drops, rather than rises, when a vehicle travelling at excessive speed is detected. The effect is to give a physical shock to drivers who deliberately exceed the speed limit.

No doubt we can look forwards to the first Audi owner suing the authorities for damage to his car when he crossed the fall trap at 200mph! Audi owners, in Denmark, consider ownership as an open license to unrestricted speed. It's probably an effect of driving in a sensory deprivation tank. Perhaps somebody should look into this factor in aggressive driving behaviour?

Danish traffic authorities have given up any attempt to control drivers' speeds. It was recently estimated that 2 million drivers exceeded the speed limit per year on one particular road with a low speed limit. Drivers are often travelling at three times the legal speed limit! The Danish papers are full of stories of drivers passing roadworks, with very low signed speed limits for worker, cyclist and pedestrian safety. With drivers often travelling at completely illegal motorway speeds!

Traffic cameras are considered an infringement of privacy in Denmark. Drivers have to be warned in advance (with adverts in the local paper) that there is a police radar unit working in their area. While Danish children killed in traffic by speeding drivers, are valued at only a couple of hundred pounds equivalent in fines. Far more than a cyclist can be fined for a couple of simultaneous but minor infringements. Welcome to the Bag Lady's Twilight Zone!

My cynical mood has improved with a walk through the woods in warm sunshine. With lots of loitering while trying to spot the source of the countless bird calls. The majority were probably warblers including a Nightingale, Garden warblers and Chiffchaffs. I saw a fox and a young deer and lots of hares. Including a rather damp leveret which came right up to my feet! Then a Crested tit arrived and foraged on a conifer right beside the track. The hare took off like a rocket and ran 200 yards along the track until it was out of sight.

The still unidentified, orange breasted (thrush like) birds by the field pond had gone to be replaced by Plovers. The number of Shelducks had grown to six. A hare was sitting amongst them for company in the short, grass-like, immature crop. Only 4.2 miles in 2 1/4 hours.

Went shopping on the Higgins after lunch. Warm and sunny with light winds. Only 15 miles.

Wednesday 21st 67-71F, 19-22C, quite breezy from the east, bright overcast. No walk.
Warm and sticky on the Higgins with a headwind. I had no real energy today. Only 10 miles.

Thursday 22nd 67-76F, 20-25C, windy and sunny. 5 mile walk.
It feels like an oven out there now!  Only 7 miles.

Friday 23rd 57F, 4C, heavy overcast, rain, thunder and lightning. Big thunder storm in the night with golf ball sized hail falling not far away. Flooding in S. Jylland. Doesn't look very promising right now. With the sky darkening menacingly. A mixed morning but mostly dry after the early rain. A short ride after lunch. Only 10 miles. It has just started raining again so I was lucky to get home still dry. The wind was surprisingly strong for a day when the wind turbines were standing still.

Saturday 24th 64F, 18C, warm, humid, mostly sunny and relatively still. A 2 mile stroll to start the day. An after coffee ride of 15 miles. There seemed to be headwind whichever direction I travelled.

Sunday 25th 58F, 15C, cloud clearing, still. The forecast is quite promising. Should be quite sunny with more comfortable temperatures (20C/68F) than recently. Another day with headwinds in all directions. Only 7 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement. 


18 May 2014

Pass the thumbscrew, please?

I was reading a fascinating piece about the nasty psychological effects of sensory deprivation. There may be something of this when solo cycling over longer distances. I saw a coach and four horses approaching while cycling across Dartmoor alone as a teenager. When I looked up again it had vanished. Yet it was so real I could easily have described the coach driver. That was also my longest return ride by far and I was carrying a heavy cotton tent and kapok sleeping bag. Bath to Plymouth and back again the day after. The hallucination may have been due to a lack of sleep of course.

Riding when one is physically tired is a miserable experience. Doing it without enough food compounds the misery. Add saddle soreness to the equation and there is no worse hell on earth than being far from home and knowing exactly how far there is still to pedal.The sense of isolation within this bubble of pain and exhaustion is profound. Yet we do it for "the pleasure of cycling" and call it a sport.

Lest you think this is the normal condition when seated in the saddle it is quite the opposite with reasonable fitness and form. The sense of speed and achievement more than makes up for those few bad days. Though it is certainly true that self-inflicted pain is a major part of cycling above a certain performance level. There are those who seek out mountain passes and those who test themselves to the core with intolerable intervals. All in the hope of greater personal achievement at some later date. To be good you have to suffer. To become a champion you have to be willing to suffer the agonising fires of your own personal inquisition.

This is where the true isolation of cycling rears its ugly head. While you may share the triumphs with long jaded family members there are few witnesses to your having saved seconds on that fierce climb. Or having maintained some average speed over a certain distance. Which any ancient and rusting, oil-dripping moped could easily exceed with a fat, old drunk on board. One with his 50th cigarette of the day clenched firmly in his stubbled face on his way to buy more beer.

Cyclists do it largely for their own satisfaction. Nobody else knows, nor cares, as they constantly leave home to seek new boundaries to the tolerance levels of their own, self harm. They may sneer at the drunk who leaves a long trail of stinking blue smoke behind him but deep down they know the real truth. That cycling any faster takes long and often lonely hours in the saddle and repeated suffering. No gain without pain. Otherwise we'd all fit electric motors. Or ride motorcycles.

We can't even claim it is cheaper to cycle. Many spend far more on their stable of "racing" machines than the owner of a whole fleet of imported scooters! Even the garish "superman in shorts" polyester outfit can easily exceed the cost of a motorcycle if you flatter yourself you should dress like a well paid, tour pro.

To take up high performance cycling is to be repeatedly mugged in broad daylight. Beaten up by your own, inner demons. And incarcerated for years of solitary confinement in a torture cell entirely of your own making. One with an open roof. Where it rains and blows and snows most of the time without any hope of shelter. Thank goodness it is so much fun on those odd days when the sun and wind are both in your favour! And, can still afford the taxi fare home! ;-)  


12 May 2014

12 May 2014

Monday 12th May 51F, 11C, overcast, torrential showers, almost still. The rain stopped briefly after coffee so I climbed onto Mr Higgins and just made it to the gate. Then the rain started coming down again in stair rods from a black sky! I'm leaving it until after lunch now.

It rained for most of the afternoon so I finally got around to working on the Higgins' mudguards. Fitting slightly longer axles with the Trykit 2WD kit had pushed the wheels/tyres out beyond the normal range of the mudguard stays. I had fitted standard plastic mudguards to the Higgins stays by using only one side of the riveted metal bridges. This asymmetry had caused the mudguards to rub at intervals. In my clumsy attempts to avoid tyre rub the mudguards always looked twisted and lop-sided.

A Harley enthusiasts meeting provided some mouthwatering examples of customisation, cleanliness and chroming. There were, quite literally, no two alike. Since nobody batted an eyelid as I wandered around in my cycle shorts, taking photographs, it would have been churlish to mention that they were blocking the cycle lane. So I won't. ;-)
I couldn't use spacers because the original screws weren't long enough. Though I could have replaced them with new stainless steel screws the threads would have been wrong for the original, imperial(?) bronze nuts. The domed nuts are a strange size which doesn't fit any of my vast collection of spanners or sockets. They are a very tight fit in one old and worn out spanner.

It suddenly occurred to me today that I could straighten out the bends in the stainless steel bridges. By squashing these bends in pump pliers I was able to move the mudguards much further out. Now they are symmetrical and no longer rub on the tyres despite being a bit closer to each other.

 More noisy, chromed, personal masterpieces taking a well earned rest. 
If you have to ask the price you can't afford one!

I also removed the stays and wrapped new lengths of inner tube on the axle casings to go inside the mudguard axle clamps. The original bits of rubber from last time had perished in the sun and winter road salt. Trying to fit the stays without rubber packing will remove the paint and require very severe tightening to get a decent grip. If the clamps aren't tight enough the mudguard stays will randomly rotate on the trike's rear axle casing. Rubber packing is much kinder to the paint and the nerves.

I had already drilled the Higgins axle clamps to allow the use of stainless steel 10mm screws. It was the only way I could ensure really tight clamps. The originals were much smaller, slotted head steel screws. The hex heads of the new screws also make it very easy to fit and remove the mudguards using a ratchet and socket. It takes only a minute without having to invert the trike. None of the above is remotely intended as criticism of the original Higgins stays and fittings. Perhaps other owners of stay sets can learn something from my own failures.

We are having a most unusual run of wet weather this May after an unusually warm April. (That was 4th warmest April on record)  I had been using only a front mudguard because of the rear tyres rubbing. Which was a great shame having kindly been given the original Higgins stays. It always nagged my conscience that I wasn't using them any more! Now I am suitably equipped for the worst of weathers. Bring it on, as they say in the colonies. Another rest day.

Tuesday 13th 50-54F, 10C, breezy and bright sunshine between the fast moving fluffy clouds. The monsoon season appears to be over for the moment. Plates of cloud are spoiling the sunshine now after a leisurely, three mile walk up to the woods and back in an hour. Going out on Mr Higgins this afternoon. 13 miles as the cloud thickened to overcast. It was a bit too too cool for fingerless mitts on the way. Okay on the way back. I wore the dhb shorts again and they were fine over this shorter distance.

Wednesday 14th 53F, 12C, heavy overcast, breezy. It looked dark enough to rain. So my plans for a morning ride were put off until this afternoon. A gentle tailwind going. A stronger headwind coming home. 20 miles. Mostly sunny and hilly.

Thursday 15th 60-61F, 15-16C, breezy and sunny. A 3 mile walk. A professional photographer was filming a new pig shit dribbler with a quadcopter drone. They were at the far end of the field As I walked beside the road. I could hardly cross the field so I had to walk the long way around to the reach the other side. By which time they had moved to the side where I was originally standing! Grr! Later they were taking stills at dramatic angles of inclination with a DSLR in another field. So I took a few snaps myself. Well, you have to, don't you? ;-)

Heard my first cuckoo of the year today. (Actually 2 of them) The big Alsatian, which once attacked me on my trike, was walking on a field track with its owner. Of course it bounded up wanting to say hello. As if I was a long lost friend! Cheeky sod! Some of us have longer memories.

The woods are looking very lush. As are the verges and fields. Lots of flying insects today. An immature Blackbird managed to get stuck in the fence after bouncing off one of our windows. I wonder what it does for an encore? Seven miles on the trike so far. Going out again after lunch.  Plus 14 miles. Warm with a self-made headwind. Wind turbines standing still. Mr Higgins head bearings still creaking loudly. Still can't get used to 175mm cranks after riding with 160mm for so long. Though the longer cranks are easier to climb with, out of the saddle, in a higher gear. The short cranks feel foolishly short when having to twiddle while standing up.

The track to the woods was almost surreal. The first pods are appearing on the oil seed rape.

Friday 16th 46-51F,  8-11C, overcast, almost still, slightly misty. Sunshine forecast but no sign of it yet. A 2.3 mile walk in 52 minutes so far. It is a bank holiday in Denmark. So traffic should hopefully be light.The sunshine did not appear until late afternoon. Nor was it as warm as promised. Only 7 miles. An elderly woman on an electric bike was travelling as fast as a top TdeF climber up a long drag!

Saturday 17th 51-66F, 11-19C, still, bright, overcast and misty at first. The sun is trying (much harder) to break through today. It soon turned warm and sunny with the mist burning off quickly. With countless birds foraging and singing. A Bullfinch was so bright in his spring wardrobe that he looked tropical. I'm still struggling to identify a small flock of half a dozen birds beside a temporary field pond left by the heavy rain. Orangey buff chests, lightly speckled, dark wings and eye stripes. With  splashes of white on the flanks and rump of the slate grey male in flight. Probably a bit bigger than a chaffinch in size but hard to judge at that distance. They were sitting on the ground for 20 minutes while I just stared at them through my binoculars. Occasional acrobatics by the showier, much darker male to catch passing insects. Not Redwings but quite similar. Nor an Oriole. Still searching. A 3½ mile walk so far. Going shopping on the Higgins now.

A ride to the shops then across country to another village to finish off. A large bird of prey, with pointed wings, was circling over a copse in the "middle of nowhere".  By which I mean a relatively uninhabited area with marshes and woods and only a few isolated farms. I think I've seen a pair in the same place from the other side on another quiet road.

It was warm and sunny all day. With the wind light enough to stop the wind turbines again. I'm not allowed out without plastering myself with SPF30 suntan cream. The UV index was 5.3 today with mention of a thinned ozone layer on the DMI.

I wish I knew why trikes are so poor at following cyclists downhill. I was pedalling hard but completely unable to match the acceleration of a chap on a carbon bike who was just free-wheeling away from me! This is quite a common occurrence. I have been dropped by free-wheeling pensioners on sit up and beg, granny bikes on some descents! 19 miles. Just imagine how much extra effort I am having to put in going uphill!

Sunday 18th 58F, 15C, sunny with a light breeze. More of yesterday's fine weather with a bit more wind. I had a very pleasant 3 mile walk in warm sunshine. With lots of hovering to try and spot birds from their song. One copse of dense willows beside a drainage ditch was packed with singing and foraging birds.

There are large plates of cloud going over now and the wind is rising from the north. It eventually became overcast. Only 15 miles. Lots of American classic cars, custom cars and high end sports cars in one village I passed through.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

5 May 2014

5th May 2014

Monday 5th 45F, 7C, a heavy grey overcast, breezy, occasional misty rain. More like spitting in the wind. I left late for my walk but avoided my usual haunts because of a tractor spraying the raps between myself and my favourite woods. I was slightly too cold for bare hands but I alternated to protect my binoculars. I ought to have done something about the supplied protective caps by now. Hung them from a thin cord, I suppose. Another roundtoit to add to the untidy heap. Rain all day. Rest day.

Tuesday 6th 53F, 12C, windy, overcast. My usually solitary walk in the woods was interrupted by a forestry machine. I watched and snapped away as the driver moved a huge pile of immature trees. Then he went off into the woods to do more felling. I could then continue along the track. Saw a couple of hares. Blowing a gale now! Probably another rest day.

Wednesday 7th 51-60F, 11-15C,  overcast, raining lightly. It is supposed to clear up this afternoon. It became sunny mid morning and stayed that way. 7 miles on the Higgins. Head bearings rattling. Gear indexing all over the place.

Thursday 8th 48F, 9C, overcast, windy and wet! It is supposed to clear up later. It is odd the affect that some unlikely things have on others. The Danish countryside would not be the same if it were not for hunting. Though I may moan about the prairies of modern farming there is a lot to be thankful for. The countless woods and copses would have little value if it were not for the shooting they offer.

Denmark's heavily corrugated landscape must have been a nightmare to drain. There are remarkably few rivers or even streams to carry away the drainage from the fields. So drains must be dug to move flooding from one place to another. Prior to the modern JCB type digger it must have been backbreaking and laborious work. Beneath the topsoil, heavy clay seems to be the norm. Often with a high water table. The result has been a far more attractive landscape than it might otherwise have been.

Even the slashed hedges, which I often complain about, grow back eventually. Hedges are vital wildlife corridors and provide shelter, nesting sites, habitats, food and windbreaks. It ought to be considered a criminal act to actually remove a field hedge. Particularly one which runs alongside a road. Here, they not only provide shelter for the cyclist from the incessant wind. Hedges also stop snow drifting, reduce topsoil loss, help to kill the spread of road noise and absorb CO2 and toxins. Let's add increased privacy, greening of the built environment and traffic calming.

Torrential showers arrived at frequent intervals so I took the car to the shops. Another rest day.

Friday 9th 54F, 12C, rain and very heavy showers with occasional sunshine. Another rest day.

Saturday 10th 53F, 12C, overcast, breezy, threat of rain. My legs are aching like hell! 3.2 mile walk in two hours. Lots of hares. The forestry machine has been busy. The pile of small, felled trees is now 20' high x 30' deep x 100' long. It is interesting how the tracked vehicle protects the ground it covers. No deep ruts and the track imprints even stop water erosion on steep slopes. There is no direct path for the water to follow. It has been pouring with rain but it was still possible to make reasonable progress. Once it dries out it will make a firm, wide, flat path. It actually repairs the formerly heavily rutted tracks. My legs were fine by the time I arrived home. Lots of wild flowers and blossom at the moment.

The Higgins felt very strange at first. I was very stretched out and struggling to stay far enough back on the saddle. The trike was twitchy and I was acutely aware of the huge pedal circle of the 175mm cranks. Though I was only slightly aware of the narrower track and its effect on cornering and camber. I keep making adjustments to the gear indexing but it doesn't help much. I may be overdoing the adjustments of course. It was only when I was nearly home that I managed any serious cadence. A few cyclists out training. They all waved or nodded. Only 15 miles. Mr Higgins is 60 years old this year.

Sunday 11th 53F, 12C, windy, overcast or heavy cloud, pouring with rain all morning with only short breaks.  The forecast is no better for the rest of the day. There was a clear interval mid afternoon though still blowing very strong gusts. 8 miles on the Higgins.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


1 May 2014

May 1st 2014


Thursday 1st 44-50F, 7-10C, grey overcast, light northerly winds. The run of superb weather is now over. Forecast temperatures have dropped by 8 degrees C, on average, with much more cloud. Fortunately I have managed to get my forearms and knees just brown enough to be noticeable. It seems my £4 investment in a new bottle cage was decidedly premature! The last (cheap plastic) one literally fell to pieces. So I have been using an alloy one without being able to find a match to make two the same. In the end I bought a black one to go behind the seat tube for my (bottled) tool kit.

It is snowing cherry tree petals in the garden! There is still a very large variation in the trees which are fully in leaf and those still only thinking about it. Even of trees of the same species. The dominant Beech trees vary enormously in their readiness to show a new flush of leaves this year. I presume the variation offers some increase in the chance of survival in the event of fire or storm. I was surprised to realise that there is no simple verb for "coming into" leaf.

It is time to think about buying new tyres again. The Duranos have distinctly flat surfaces across the rear treads with quite a few small, open holes visible. Though I haven't had a punctures in 2100 miles, I last had two punctures back in January. [Pause to close the window vents because we are being circumnavigated by yet more pig shit dribblers! Two days in a row seems excessive even for them. My morning walk has definitely been stunk off !]

Anyway, back to the tyres. I seem to have missed the chance to record when I fitted the last pair of Duranos in my mileage diary. Confirmation of order email from Wiggle says end of January 2013. Could it really be that long ago? It seems very unlikely they have done 9k miles! I run 700x25C, at 90-95, PSI for a little more comfort than the far more readily available 23mm. I had 11 punctures last year! One for every 670 miles. Should I make a change to a different tyre?

I had quite good luck with Continental GP4000 (in bright blue) until the treads started looking like they had been slashed with a razor! The all black GP4000S were a dreadful waste of money. As useless as blotting paper in the wet! Nor did they seem to roll as fast as Continental's hype. I punctured three times on the first ride as the treads opened up into huge, gaping holes. Which gathered small flints until they reached the inner tube. Continental failed to accept responsibility for their shit poor batch of rubber. So the dealer felt obliged to dip into his own pocket to replace them. I have no desire to further fund such a company as Continental. Their pathetic quality control must match Sony's!

The problem is I have the replacement set of the GP4000S hanging up in a dark corner of the shed. Should I risk fitting them? I'd rather have a slower tyre with almost perfect puncture resistance than something which rolls well but is a puncture magnet. Gatorskins have been recommended but I'm not sure how well they roll. They are also made by Continental! Will I get a shit batch of Continental rubber again?  Three tyres run at about £100 per change. Which is ridiculous when you compare them with car tyres. Which can last for years and have huge volumes of rubber compared with skinny bicycle tyres.

The Durano Plus, which I tried on the Higgins before the lighter Duranos, were very strange,. They were heavier than the Durano 'Performance' seemed to roll well but were not superbly puncture resistant in the wet. I have to buy 25mm online because most Danish bike shops only carry the vastly more popular 23mm. Decisions-decisions...

Apparently, I am going to ride nearly 20 miles north into a 30 mph wind to do some shopping. It should be great fun coming back! I'll test the new shorts but will have to wear a warmer jacket in the much lower temperatures. At least it is brightening up with lots of blue sky. I had to wear long fingered gloves until nearly half way. It was good to get out of the sweaty GripGrab gloves but still cold on the fingers in mitts. Coming back the wind was over my shoulder rather than a true tailwind. 35 miles.

Another seven miles pm. I had to put my gloves and cap back on after shopping because it felt so cold in the strong, gusty wind. The temperature peaked at just 50F, 10C but with constant sunshine. The sky is full of gorgeous waves and feathers as high ice clouds are ripped apart by the wind. My cycling clothes stink to high heaven of pig shit! To my fellow supermarket shoppers I probably smell like a lifelong pig farmer with piss poor hygiene and laundry habits! Where do I queue for my compensation? Oh, that's right . There is no environmental or consumer protection in Denmark.

A gorgeous 1931 Willys 'Overlander' standing in a village I passed through today. It has a straight six cylinder engine. Needs some TLC. I'm afraid I cannot be held responsible for the image background. I usually prefer to find a plain background .

There is lots of interest in American classic cars in Denmark. You could almost imagine running cheap booze back from the German border in this thing! I kid you not! Booze runs to the border hypermarkets are popular with the Danes.

I would describe the new dhb Aeron shorts as only slightly better than my old shorts. They made the Brooks B17 feel rock hard! The pad is only about half the thickness over the sit bones as the Tactic bibs. Nor does the pad feel particularly firm like the excellent Tactic. My wife described the dhb pad as having the consistency of cheap, carpet, foam underlay. So, about the same as the Bontrager Race bibs and only slightly better than the cheapo [Lidl?] Crivit. Unfortunately my wife cut out the Tactic label so I don't know which model they are. They were described as suitable for longer distance rides by the dealer. So there may be different Tactic models.

The dhb's stretchy cloth and design are much nicer than either but that doesn't help seating comfort. I am now acutely aware of my sit bones while sitting here on my comfy office chair scribbling my blog. I was already slightly uncomfortable after only 18 miles this morning. Though it didn't get any worse. I was certainly not saddle sore. Just very aware of my saddle. After 42 miles I'd say I had probably exceeded the dhb's comfort range for one day. They will do for my normal shopping trips but are disappointing at this price level. Which leaves me with the problem of finding some decent, medium range shorts which are not bibs.

Friday 2nd 44F, 7C, almost still but rather cloudy. There was supposed to be overnight and early rain but it still looks dry. I rather overdid the walking this morning. 5.6 miles in 2 3/4 hours. I wasted a lot of time trying to spot birds after hearing their songs. They are even more difficult to see now the leaves are out. First Goldfinches this year and loads of warblers.

I spent the morning fettling the Higgins. The cable outers had frayed and rusted where they reach the down tube stops. The chain had managed to become stiff too. Though there was no external rust. I had to swap the front changer cable for a new one. General lubrication and then refit the saddle. A tootle up and down the road proved it all worked as long as I did not pedal backwards. The Liquid Metal I put on the fork lower bearing seating must have hardened well by now. I tweaked the adjusting nut and snuggled the locking nut tight. The forks no longer shake when the brake is applied and the trike rocked back and forth.

The Higgins felt very strange compared with the Trykit. The front wheel seemed to be about a foot further away on the Higgins. All due to the huge fork rake on these earlier machines. The Higgins top tube is much longer too. I had fitted a much shorter stem on the Higgins before the arrival of the made-to-measure Trykit.

Back then I was suffering from constant back pain which I put down to overreaching on the Higgins. Since I have not had the back pain since, I can only presume that the Trykit cured it. Or, conversely, that not riding the Higgins any more was the real reason for my lack of pain.

I knew something was wrong because I kept sitting up on the tops instead of resting naturally on the brake hoods. My back must have been stiffening up though I was not really aware of it.

I went for a short ride on the Higgins. The chain is freeing up but still not completely. The gear indexing needs attention but otherwise okay. It rained so I came home again. The roads were bone dry (and plastered with mud) by half way home. Some farmers go out with a huge brush mounted on a tractor to clean the roads. Not this lot. Only 7 miles.

Saturday 3rd. Very busy. No walk no ride.

Sunday 4th No walk. Only 7 miles on the Higgins.

Click on any image for an enlargement.