30 Jun 2014

30th june 2014

Monday 30th 60F, 10C, still and sunny. A pleasant walk in warm sunshine. I saw lots of dragonflies, bees and birds, one large deer and a couple of hares. Plus several cats hunting in the fields. Not, necessarily, in that order. I had to backtrack to escape from the dreaded head-high nettles rather than try to fight my way through. 4.6 miles of dawdling in 2 hours. Another image added of a distant fox cub was from a couple of days ago. I like the way the Oil seed rape obscures and softens the curves of the countryside.

Despite a strong crosswind I didn't dawdle on my morning shopping trip. I refitted the rack and Camper Longflap saddlebag to cope with the weight and bulk! The sports bag was full to the brim too. Only 14 miles.

Going out again to do another 16 miles to ensure 3k by the end of June. This year is my lowest mileage, by June 30th, since I have been pedantically recording my daily triking distances. [Though only from Jan 2010]

This afternoon I was overtaken by a very tanned young chap, with remarkably well muscled legs, riding on the drops. He was doing a least 10 more mph than my 22mph of that particular moment. The odd thing was he was wearing a plain racing jersey with world champion rings around the chest. Not really a normal thing to wear for such a serious cyclist in Denmark. I gave chase, just for a bit of fun, but quickly lost sight of him through some corners. When I saw him again he was at least a mile ahead. A tiny dot at the far end of the following straight. 

For the second time in a couple of days I have had a cyclist ask me about the trike. Today's enquirer was one of a bunch gathered outside a supermarket. Another great load of shopping for 16 more miles. 3000 for the year so far.

I don't seem to have been much troubled by my hip pain recently. Even though I have been deliberately lifting heavy ladders, wielding heavy power tools, mixing concrete by hand, sawing branches and clipping high hedges with loppers. I seem to have solved the agonising shoulder problem simply by lowering my computer mouse to the same [low] level as the keyboard.

One in four road deaths in Denmark involve alcohol. Only now, in 2014, will drunk's cars be confiscated on the first occasion if they are caught over a certain level on the meter. Repeat offenders will also have their car's confiscated, sold and the funds put in the public purse. It seems quite often that drunks are continuing to drive (in Denmark) after being repeatedly banned. So they are presumably driving while drunk, having no license, insurance, road worthiness certificate or road tax. This may explain why we have been rear-ended three times, while stationary, by mint-eating Danes.

Talking of booze: I saw a headline claiming an annual figure of 88,000 premature deaths due to alcohol for the USA. I wonder what their mortality rate is for drug abuse? What affect does all this have on road mortality and road safety in the USA? Better not ask. I once worked for a public service (in Britain) where the top three echelons of managers in our head office were all alcoholics. Yet they would all drive to distant meetings and drive home drunk at the end of each "working" day.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

29 Jun 2014

Odins Bro


My Sunday ride [of 44miles] took me to see the new Odin's Bridge in Odense. By an unhappy coincidence I passed very close by on the day it opened [15.6.2014] but had not heard anything about it before seeing it on the local TV news. Had I merely glanced across from my route I would certainly have seen it.

The new bridge is a double swing device with two rotating sections of roadway. Each supported on its own massive pivot. The dramatic triangular braces support the weight of the two moveable road sections. Apparently the bridge sets new records for swing bridge length.

There are four lanes of roadway and four of cycle path. Or is it a mix of cycling and pedestrian paths? The latter are provided on one side of the bridge only. Making access rather difficult for cyclists from one direction of approach. Thanks to the lack of traffic I hopped off and safely crossed the four traffic lanes on foot to reach the cycle path on the other side!

Quite a number of cyclists were struggling to find and properly access the bridge from the direction of my original approach. [Tarup, Naesby and Søhus] Google Earth doesn't help at all. The aerial imagery is [very typically for Denmark] 3 years out of date. Showing only a construction site for the approach roads.

It was spitting from a threatening sky when I arrived but thankfully it didn't rain properly. A superb ramp is thoughtfully provided to allow cyclists to join and leave the canal side path. Thanks to its considerable length the incline seemed easily manageable by most cyclists who tried. I do think a barrier should be provided at the bottom. One over-enthusiastic mountain biker nearly went into the water when he badly lost tyre grip taking the sharp turn on the loose gravel at the bottom! Whoops! OMG! Splosh!

However, on the other side of the bridge only a steep set of steps is provided to join the bridge cycle path to the industrial road below.

I watched quite a  number of cyclists riding down the grass bank to avoid dismounting and bumping down the steps! A very short-sighted provision for cyclists in my humble view. Quite a gentle tarmac ramp, just beyond the steps, could easily have been provided without altering the landscape.

Any doubts about the safety of such a ramp will soon be countered when the unofficial ramp quickly turns to wet mud after rain! Then the daring cyclists will slide right into the path of the traffic!  

One of the huge, bridge pivots is shown with my trike and a bike for scale.

The Odense Ship Canal beyond stretches towards the town centre. Though it doesn't reach that far. The distant silos are only leaning due to image curvature of the Panasonic TZ7.

I cannot imagine the twin bridges will need to be opened very often. The former users of the ship canal are but distant memories and their vast storage buildings long  demolished.

There is still considerable landscaping to be done on the canal-side pathway.

Just imagine how boring these roadway struts would be as simple isosceles triangles. The deliberate lean of the triangles nicely expresses the strain of supporting the great weight and imparts superb visual energy into the whole design.   

A single, asymmetric support strut and central pivot are well seen in this view.

The triangular façade of the bridge control building mirrors the dramatic form of the bridge stays. It could so easily have been badly designed. I quite like the building except for that hideous, white block wall! It looks as if they forgot to demolish something that was already sitting there.

A cantilevered control box allows a clear view in both directions along the ship canal. 

A small group of cyclists enjoying the rather narrow canal path as they approach the bridge from the direction of the town centre. The canal path continues but deteriorates to rough gravel just beyond the bridge. Strictly a mountain biker and experienced jogger's route into the semi-industrialised countryside beyond.

There were probably more cyclists in the area than motorised traffic on this end of June Sunday at lunchtime. With several bunches of uniformed clubmen out training as they swiftly crossed the bridge. 

This earlier aerial image is credited to fyens.dk under the banner of Fyns Stiftidende Newspapers. [Image From 11.2.2014]

The bridge road sections still look unfinished in this view. The image still gives a good idea of the bridge layout when the roadways are rotated to open the canal for ship traffic. 

Click on any image for an enlargement.

23 Jun 2014

23rd June 2014

Monday 23rd 66F, 19C, sunny but still blowing a westerly gale. 18 miles.

Tuesday 24th 62F, 17C, bright periods, light winds. Rain forecast after lunch. I'd better go out this morning.

It will never fly!

 I even took a detour to climb a long hill. No sign of rain yet.  Saw a young chap on his streamlined TT bike several times. Far too low a cadence IMHO but he was going at twice my speed downhill. 21 miles.

Wednesday 25th 61-68F, 16-20C, winds fairly light, sunny with large plates of cloud. Just missed a local downpour.  Birds of prey hunting over a marsh. Too many flies at the moment. 32 miles.

Thursday 26th 61-68F, 16-20C, another pleasant ride through the countryside. Winds light with the windmills standing still until I was on my way home. I passed an old boy on a tractor spraying a crop of onions. It smelt like paint thinners. He was travelling very slowly and spraying right beside the road but there were no alternative routes for me to take.  Saw lots of birds of prey again including a Red kite hunting. The sky is constantly full of Swallows and the air full of birdsong at the moment. The crops are softening the landscape. 34 miles.

Friday 27th 57-70F, 14-21C, heavy overcast, almost still. Thundery showers possible. (again) A fox cup popped out of the crops as I approached their usual spot. Further on I saw a shredded corpse but could not clearly identify the animal. It might have been a Polecat but there was little left of somebody's meal. A Greater spotted woodpecker landed nearby in the woods. Where a forestry machine was (noisily) thinning the weaker conifers and clearing the fire breaks. Coming back down from the woods there was an acoustic dome of Skylarks singing which Dolby Labs could only dream of. Loads of butterflies about today. The warblers seem to be having a rest from singing today.

I had a tailwind riding to the shops. Then a strong headwind coming back.  I'm going out again after lunch. No I'm not! Gardening takes precedence over gallivanting on a trike! Never start what you can't finish. Only 13 miles.

Saturday 28th 57-63F, 14-17C, overcast, light winds, slightly misty. My 3 hour walk, to manage only 6 miles, rapidly turned to chaos as my usual way was continuously baulked by brambles. The woods were full of them and the edges of the crops were too. Within a short time I was soaked from head to toe from fighting my way through head-tall plants including nettles and thistles! The spray tracks are closed by 5'-6' tall daisies in many places.

My ride was rather spoilt by speeding traffic everywhere I went! I cannot decide whether they are too lazy to think about their actions or simply too thick to be able to think at all. Much of what irritates me most about poor driving must surely be pure laziness. Too lazy to apply the brakes until the very last moment is commonplace. How many times have you seen cars race up behind a slow queue before braking violently? Were they so lazy they were hoping to avoid braking altogether? Too lazy to pause before overtaking dangerously is another one. As if some god-given right ensures they are not required to take any action except steer around any obstacle in their race to an early grave. Too lazy to drive right around any corner. [Usually protected by double white lines.] When a straighter line using the opposite lane will do.

I did another detour which took in a long hill. Climbing well. Caught in a 200 yard wide shower just before home. Which was rather weird. 19 miles.

Sunday 29th 53F, 12C, overcast, still. I ought to make an effort to get a decent ride in today.

Another village with 98% illegally speeding traffic has been "upgraded" with more of those invisible speed signs. Or lollipops as I prefer to call them. Though eye candy is certainly not the term I would use.

These signs only become visible when a police car is present. Except when the police car is speeding too. Then the traffic automatically reverts to the national (rural) speed limit (or above) and the lollipops become completely invisible again. The lollipops are rather large and placed frequently enough to become rather an eyesore in a pretty village. Not to mention their having no real purpose, at all. So, perhaps they could be made to pop up out of the ground only when a police car is present? Except when the police car is speeding of course. Then the signs could stay down and not bother anybody. [Except me!!]

I can only hope that one day [soon] robot cops will take wild swipes at speeding traffic using these lollipops. There is so much of it going on that it would be like swatting flies! I sometimes wish I lived on an island completely without tarmacked roads. So would never be bothered by speeding cars. Except that they speed in boats, too, despite heavy fines and the risk to swimmers and smaller boats.

Which brings me nicely to the goal of today's ride: Odins Bro in Odense. [Odin's Bridge] I have now added a separate post on the new bridge.  Going very well today and remembered to eat before I became tired and hungry. 44 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

16 Jun 2014

16th Jun 2014

Monday 16th 59F, 15C, breezy, bright but overcast. No ill effects from yesterday's ride.  Nor foxes on the path to the woods today. So you'll have to make do with an image of four cubs from the last time I saw them. The mother was hidden in the long grass.

Just another shopping trip. 14 miles.

Tuesday 17th 66-71F, 19-22C, sunny and still. A pleasant walk through the other woods.  Lots of crop spraying going on but the very light wind was in my favour. 4 miles.

A warm, hilly ride for 24 miles. My legs were a little tired today. Somebody released my front wheel Q/R while I was out. It's a good job I'm not in the habit of popping wheelies! They couldn't steel the wheel because I always lock it to the down tube. Plus 4 more.

Wednesday 18th 64-70F, 18-21C, still and sunny. I was mixing concrete (by hand) all day so only had a short ride late afternoon. 7 miles. Blowing a gale.

Thursday 19th 54F, 12C, windy and overcast with fine drizzle. Summer is cancelled for the moment. 10 miles.

Helnæs fyrtårn [Lighthouse]

Friday 20th 60-68F, 16-20C, windy and sunny with lots of fast moving clouds. Only 8 miles so far. I hope to go out again after dinner. I had confirmation of the reason for my feeling that I lack some wind. I seem to be allergic to quite a few normal things but my volume is still fine for my age and height. Short of moving into a clean room there isn't much I can do except press on regardless. Plus 20 more miles later. Much sunnier but blowing a gale. At least 30mph.

Saturday 21st 55F, 13C, windy and overcast after a sunny start. The wind is supposed to be even stronger today [40mph] so I ought to go out early. Then catch a tailwind home.

 I must be psychic talking about password protection for bikes: Mobile phone OS are finally to have "kill switches" to undermine the international trade in stolen iSlaves. No doubt this is an early insurance ploy to avoid the thieves cutting off the arms of the owners of the latest iSlavelessthansmartbutridiculouslyfashionablemegasizedplasticwatches. No doubt the queues are already foaming (sic) amongst the brain dead iConsumers.

The latest wearable iToys are supposed to measure the vital signs of wearers. Perhaps to tell whether they have just consumed another ten gallons of toxic Croak while stuffing their oversized faces at the nearest takeaway. I read that the watches will come in various sizes. No mention (so far) of how far the wrist bands will stretch.

I wonder if the factory manager's watch sensors can measure the vital signs of the iSlaves in Asia after they jump off the factory roof? Save time ordering an ambulance when you can go straight to the undertaker for a cardboard coffin. No doubt there will be an app for that too. They can call it Googlebox. Whatever.

Rode to shop at Assens. The usual problem with no stock of special offers. The high street was closed to have a junk market. Packed with meandering people. The promised tailwind had turned northerly and rather spoilt the ride home. I was getting quite seasick from watching waves race across the tops of the crops. 22 miles. Plus 7 more later. I hate it when the wind is this strong!

Sunday 22nd 61F, 16C, sunny but still blowing a westerly gale. My morning walk through the woods provided a a close view of a hare and  two medium sized deer. The deer were about the overall size of Great Danes. They dashed off to about 30 yards away and pretended to hide while they nibbled the undergrowth. It seems wolves are moving back to Denmark. I wonder how that will affect solitary walkers.

The wind was just as strong later in the morning. It put me off riding very far. The last leg straight into a headwind, while loaded with shopping, was very hard work! Only 20 miles. 

Click on any image for an enlargement.

14 Jun 2014

Nice rack and girly handbags!

While my trike was with Geoff he also built me one of his beautiful, made-to-measure, stainless steel racks. My horizontally challenged saddlebags and essential sports bags have never enjoyed proper support in the past. There was always the risk of the sports bag swinging into the wheels on sharp or rough corners. And it did! All too often!

The Carradice Camper Longflap saddlebag was always slumped to one side from the weight of the Abus U-lock stored in one pocket. I have to lock my trike so often that it would be hopeless to keep the lock in the bag under the last load of shopping.

The new rack provides excellent support for my Carradice saddlebag. The original, basic crossbar, which I had been using for the last year, is still used for the largest [girly] saddlebag to get a high enough hanging point. The rear triangle is too short to provide a suitably high crossbar at the top. I cannot use the Brooks saddle loops because then I cannot hang my essential sports bag over the saddle pin. Geoff made some stand-off spacers for the crossbar to keep the saddlebag clear of the backs of my legs when I straighten them. Fortunately this close proximity does not affect my pedalling.

My usual, large sports bag still rests on top of the saddlebag, when loaded, but there was never anywhere to attach it safely in the past. The cloth handles were simply hooked over the saddle pin. Often with a double loop to lift the bag as high as possible.

I have occasionally sawn  slots in the bottom of brand new sports bags with the bottom gear sprocket! This has twice resulted in a litre carton of milk being sawn open and resulted in quite a mess! Not to mention the criticism from the higher domestic authorities! Or SWMBO, as she prefers to be known.

The Camper Longflap's form has now changed considerably. Going from being a limp, floppy, rather slim, one handled, but strongly attached shopping handbag. It is now much squarer and deeper from front to back. Though still not even remotely to the dimensions quoted by Carradice. If I had the skills and a suitable sewing machine I'd put them out of business overnight with a real saddlebag. I'd probably have to call it Bag-zilla. Or something equally silly. Only suitable for men with hairy chests and fine calf muscle definition. [Hairy legs optional.]

My Camper Longflap will just take five [litre] cartons of organic milk or yoghurt side by side. With only room for a something thin in front. Not even normal packs of butter will fit comfortably in front of a row of litre cartons. It is already full to its olive drab, canvas brim!

The nearly empty Carradice Camper Longflap resting comfortably on its new, Trykit rack.

Anything else has to go on top. Under the 'Longflap' and inside the sleeve. To be retained by the sleeve's drawstring and the patented "long flap" and its extended straps. Great for soft things which can be safely squashed. Like spare clothes and camping gear. Not so for fragile shopping!

Don't even think of putting a bag of  rolls or a loaf or eggs or anything boxed, like frozen stuff, on top, under the flap. It will become horribly flattened. Squashed beyond recognition and very likely unusable or inedible, or both. Hence the endless collection of, now deceased, sports bags for my additional shopping. The light and fragile stuff goes in the sports bag. To be draped over the Camper saddlebag full of the relatively indestructible. Though I have squashed plenty of milk cartons over the last couple of years! A real saddlebag wants to be at least 10" (25cm) deep from front to back. Anything less is just a little girl's pretend handbag!

The rack has changed the way the saddlebag bag lies too. It is no longer approximately vertical but leaning well back. In its empty, relaxed state, the closure straps are now too long. I shall have to punch new holes to take up the slack.

The Trykit rack is individually made to measure in stainless steel. So it will never look tatty or rust. Every joint is carefully shaped before being brazed. It fits, via stainless steel socket head screws,  to brazed-on, screwed bosses on the trike's seat stays. The weight is an incredibly light 20 oz! Only 567 grams. About the same as a full water bottle.

The nice thing is that the bag is far easier to load. It no longer tries to flatten itself against the seat stays as soon as any weight is put in there. Which always tended to close the mouth tight. Requiring two hands to put anything in. One to hold the bag open and the other to load.

The Abus U-lock still hangs heavily on the left but I may be able to find a better position for it. One which will still allow instant access at the next supermarket. And the next. Hanging it from the trike frame proved to be impossible. Because the damned lock rattles like the devil! I have tried it a couple of times, when the bag was stuffed full. But quickly gave up just to stop the infernal racket! They could hang Abus locks from the wire netting at Guantanamo and save an oil prince's ransom on water.

Amazing. isn't it? They could send a man to the Moon decades ago but they still can't make a decent, lightweight, foolproof, bike lock. Not at any price! The more we spend on lightweight bikes, just to lose a niggling few grammes, the heavier the lock needs to be to keep the scum of the earth from pinching the bløødy bike! The Abus U-lock alone weighs 2lbs 4oz despite being a shorty. 1,020g! 1.02kg! Nuts! Obscene! Daylight robbery! Why don't they make the U-bar hollow and pressurise it with a sticky coloured dye. Then when the thieving scum try to cut the lock they and the stolen bike end up covered in permanent dye!

Pretty as a picture? Or just gilding the lily? Half-timbered thatch, Poppies and Cornflowers struggle to compete with my Trykit's unashamed bling. Does my bum-bag look big on this trike?

The penalties for bike theft are obviously completely inadequate. The total cost of bike theft per nation is absolutely horrendous measured over a year. What a shame it isn't possible to cut a thief off at the knees with a booby trapped bike lock. Then leave them bleeding against the railings as a warning to others!

Perhaps technology will find a way to make it completely pointless to steal a bike. With live GPS tracking via 'phone apps and password keypad protection for the machine. Making it useless without the owner's express authority. Though I still prefer the booby trap idea. It appeals to my desire for revenge for losing my Jack Taylor racing bike back in my teens. Fifty years is still not long enough to soften the pain of that loss! That theft changed my life.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

The Trykit makes a comeback!

My Trykit had been back to the UK for repairs. The silver brazing attaching the axle to the chainstays had cracked. Most likely because the braze has not fully penetrated the joints. This was probably due to too close a fit between the tubes. Unless there is a small gap between the parts to be joined the liquefied braze cannot flow inside the smaller tube. The majority of the joint strength comes from the capillary attraction wetting the joint both inside and out of the filleted tube.

The brazed joints had looked fine on the outside but after a year of daily use, ferrying shopping, small cracks had appeared underneath the axle in the silver braze. No doubt the problem was further exacerbated by the extremely thin, R931 stainless steel  tubing. After discussing the problem with Geoff he suggested I pack the trike well and return it to him for repair at his expense.

It was agreed that he would fit the extra reinforcing bars which he normally uses for trike conversions. And those trikes be builds with rear brakes. These extra tubes would further stiffen the axle and reduce any tendency for the centre of the axle to bend under load and from road shocks. Particularly when heavily loaded with shopping on typically poor road surfaces. He assured me that only my own trike had suffered from this brazing fault.

Reynolds stainless steel tubing is still a relatively rare material in bicycle manufacture. Most bespoke bicycle builders have used TIG welding with R931/953. Silver brazing is the other option and leaves the joints pale enough to remain attractive when exposed. (i.e. without a normal coat of paint)

It was only my irregular cleaning of the bare joints, with ScotchBrite abrasive fibre, which allowed me to see the hairline cracks in the braze. There was probably never any risk of the axle actually falling off without warning. Though I do admit it did make me feel rather insecure every time a Euro juggernaut overtook me! A very experienced local frame builder had tried to repair the first crack, with more silver solder, but it had cracked again later.

Geoff examined the joints carefully as he removed the axle back at his workshop and confirmed the lack of braze penetration. He would ensure all future joints were specially prepared to achieve adequate penetration of the braze. TIG welding was also a future option but would demand very high levels of skill to be cosmetically acceptable on a hand built cycle. Such skills require considerable practice and no doubt some manual dexterity.

Geoff kindly tidied up my trike while it was in his workshop. He replaced the scruffy, vinyl lettering on the down tubes with beautifully accomplished bead blasted signatures [using stencils] instead. The same went for the 2WD label on the axle casing. The effect is both subtle and most attractive. Changing from silver to dark in different lights. I'm afraid this image does not do it real justice but it is rather hard to capture well.

He also made me a stainless steel rack (or carrier) and brazed the necessary screw bosses onto the seat stays. Racks and bags are a subject in themselves. So I have discussed them in detail in the next post.

Needless to say I am delighted to have my Trykit trike back on the road. The Trykit completely eclipses the 60-year old Higgins in every respect. I was hesitant to mention the brazing problems on my blog but Geoff insisted I tell the truth. He wanted to assure customers that he stands by his work and will make every effort to put right any problems.

Stainless steel is certainly not an easy material to work with. Particularly when it is so thin. I would still order another stainless steel trike from Geoff without the slightest hesitation. With his willingness to listen to the customer and correct any problems, his skills in producing lightweight trikes will be further honed over time. The real surprise is how many trike components he does make himself and how little he charges for his time. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that his inventiveness, his remarkable skills and willingness to experiment with different frame materials, easily exceeds the efforts of all previous trike makers. 

Click on any image for an enlargement.

12 Jun 2014

12th June 2014

Thursday 12th 60-70F, 16-21C, cloudy but bright, almost still. It soon turned sunny. No walk as I had an appointment. 7 miles so far. I may be allowed out again after lunch. 17 more miles later. I finally found a stock of the special offers! It must have been blowing a steady 20mph (mostly) crosswind.

The image is of the Helnæs viaduct from the far end. 
My new desktop background.
The 48-38-28, 160mm, Stronglight triple chainset arrived from Spa Cycles along with two lengths of square axle, bottom brackets. [110mm and 107mm] I chose the plastic threaded Stronglight options this time rather than reuse the previous Shimano, with alloy threaded shells. I shall fit the new chainset and Shimano pedals to the Trykit when it returns. The present bottom bracket is quite stiff. I removed the scruffy Stronglight BB boxes for the picture because they had been badly "chewed" by the chainwheel teeth due to a lack of any padding in transit. Though, fortunately, the left side crank was well wrapped for protection.

I still haven't decided whether to risk fitting the Continental 4000S which were dealer replacements for the substandard ones. Continental chose to pretend the rubber was fine despite splitting into large holes when tiny flints became embedded. The unused tyres have been hanging up in the dark shed. Just waiting patiently for any sign of weakness from me.

I have been getting on very well with the Schwalbe Durano in 700x25C. They seem almost immune to punctures in the dry. One puncture undoes any benefits from lighter but more fragile tyres. I prefer the Durano to the Plus based on using one set of each for thousands of miles. The Durano Plus have only been on the Higgins. The Durano only on the Trykit. Grip has never much of an issue for me on a trike with 2WD. It matters far more [on a bike] if you can actually fall as a result of the lack of it.

I can still remember the remarkable improvement in grip with Milremo Sportivo tubulars over Dunlop HPs in my youth. I loved cornering and would always ride flat out around the corners in town and lay the bike right over. With my inside knee sticking out like a racing motorcyclist. Handy practice for tricycling later on. The only time I ever fell was on the Bath cobbles in the wet. That was on HPs. The city centre bus stops were packed and I felt a complete fool as I picked myself up. Suddenly cold, wet and in pain from my bruised hip.

Friday 13th 60F, 16C, breezy and sunny. Then the sky blackened for a heavy shower. The forecast is more cloud today with the risk of showers. Plans for a walk and then a ride were put off by gardening and other projects. Another rest day getting more exercise than a visit to the gym. My Trykit arrived back from the UK after a month away for repairs. I started rebuilding it only to have to give up due to a sudden downpour and then having to clean up for dinner.

Barrow on a barrow.

Saturday 14th 60-65F, 16C, sunny and still. Started early, rebuilding my Trykit trike in bright sunshine. It went well, apart from the Ultegra, triple, front gear changer. The changer seems completely incapable of dealing with 28-38-48. If set at the correct height the inner cage plate jammed against the middle ring teeth when I tried to shift onto the large chainwheel. It may be that the Stronglight chainwheels are too far apart for the Ultegra to cope with. Not much I can do about that. I can hardly turn the spider thinner in my lathe. It would take quite a big machine to swing a cycle crank.

Rode the Trykit to shop in Assens. 22 miles. Going out again after lunch. What a pleasure it is to have the Trykit back after a month of riding the Higgins. The Trykit just feels so light and nimble. Even when loaded. It rolls well and feels very safe, stable and precise over all surfaces. It has a sense of urgency which makes one want to go as fast as possible all the time. The steering is very light yet it goes in a straight line with hands off the 'bars. Just moving it about on the lawn and in the shed it feels effortless compared with the Higgins. The latter feels like an old cast iron mangle to push about. Lifting the back wheels to steer backwards is a real effort. The Trykit lifts like a feather (even with a large saddle bag, tool kit and U-lock) and steers easily when backing out of the shed.

The Higgins could probably do with new forks to improve the steering geometry. It is hardly worth it now because the laid back angles stretch me out too much. The top tube is too long and this throws all my weight onto my hands regardless of handlebar height. Plus 7 more miles. Warm sunshine from a cloudless sky but  now blowing a gale.

Sunday 15th 63F, 17C, sunny from a cloudless sky and completely still. With light winds forecast from the north (and west later) it ought to be a good day for a ride.

I have just spent some time on the front changer. For some reason it does seem better now. Though the Ultegra is obviously designed for a much more laid back frame. The cage is at completely the wrong angle on my 76 degree seat tube. I think I may have moved a spacer on the handlebar stem but I'll leave it for the moment to see how I get on. Handlebar height only rears its ugly head after a longer ride. When I start to notice my wrists or hands are beginning to ache. The black twill tape is looking very untidy now. I have pushed the saddle as far back as it will go. Which is never very far with a B17 but the Diims tracker just adds to the problem.

I left after coffee heading north into the wind to Bogense. Picked up a tail of club riders on "electric hill." It took them ages to finally catch me and then I kept up such a good pace they didn't want to go past. Silly old sod! Though I got a cheery Go' tur! as they turned off at the top. While I went straight on.

From Bogense at 21 miles I turned east towards Otterup. Having shopped there I headed south through Lumby to skirt Odense via the western suburbs. Where I caught the tail enders of a road race. From there I aimed for Vissenbjerg along the noisy main road with lots of road works due to District Heating pipe replacement. Loads of cyclists out and about all day. Plenty of walkers too.

I left it far too late at 40 miles and a sudden feeling of weakness before resting on a bench to eat my cheese roll and banana. Then had to stop again and stuff three digestives down at 60 miles to keep up my strength and stave off growing tiredness. I drank 3/4 litre of water and a small box of apple juice during my five and a half hour ride. Probably not nearly enough but I just don't enjoy drinking water. Given the relatively low cost of apple juice I could easily have found room for another box or two.

Perhaps I should have a strict timetable? Or a fixed routine to ensure I eat and drink at certain distances? I hate stopping for anything once I am under way. If I wasn't as daft as a brush I'd stop competing with every cyclists I see on my side of the road. If only I would accept the painfully obvious truth that I am a fully paid up, old fart. Riding on a machine weighing twice their common or carbon mounts. What, on earth, am I trying to prove? Even to myself?   

My knees are hurting now despite keeping the revs high all the way. Perhaps the saddle isn't the same height as before? I'll have to check it more carefully. 65 miles or 104.65km. Equalling my longest ride this year. If I didn't always go flat out over the first half and ate and drank properly throughout a ride, I could probably keep going for much longer. Or travel faster over the same distance. Nearly half way through the year and my overall mileage is well down on previous years. I can't even blame the weather!

To put my ride into perspective, today was also the Tour of Fyn. [http://www.fyenrundt.dk/] A couple of thousand keen cyclists rode four potential distances. Including 65km, 110km, 180km and three times my distance today. The full coastal route is 333 km [206 miles!] and was managed by at least three hundred riders by 20.00pm. The 3.00 am start should have been warning enough for most!

Allowing for the time I spent shopping I would have been 564th on the 110km ride. So not a complete disaster. I would probably have been far better fed too! I don't think they allow trikes though. Racing bikes only. There may be a serious message there. Though I wonder whether I can still ride a bike after [only] triking for so long. Whoops! Now I am turning pink from overexposure to the sun! It was lucky I used suntan cream before I left and was already tea stained on the exposed bits.

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9 Jun 2014

9th June 2014

Monday 9th 62-73F, 17-23C, bright with a light breeze. It should be warm and sunny all day. I have mild hay fever and have gone deaf.

My walk was more than usually rewarding today. Three fox cubs were playing on the track to the woods. I had the usual problem of not being able to get close enough for a picture because they were so wary. This image was taken at full zoom, heavily cropped and into the sun. So has lost much of its sharpness. This cub stared at me for ages. While the other cubs kept disappearing into the crop and wrestling in the grass. They were moving too quickly to allow a shot of all three. I have seen an adult fox in the same place on the path. These foxes will have a very long walk to find any sheep to worry. A task usually reserved strictly for the farmer's own badly trained dogs where sheep are commonplace! Sheep are so completely unconcerned by foxes that they hardly glance up as the fox crosses their field in broad daylight. Their very young lambs are at far greater risk from crows and the farmer's routine idiocy. Warm and sunny for my afternoon ride. Only 10 miles. It was a bank holiday but the supermarkets were stuffed with customers.

Tuesday 10th 72F, 22C, warm and sunny with high thin cloud and rather windy. The violent lunacy, which is commuting, returned with a vengeance today. The first vehicles I met were a car overtaking a box van overtaking a scooter. All on a narrow, undulating road with double white lines and blind spots. The blond in the overtaking car must have been travelling at 70+mph as she passed me on her way to her pointless appointment with an early death. These idiots seem to forget that their doppelgängers are frequently coming the other way and behaving equally moronically! Though there are a remarkable number of solo, fatal accidents in Denmark. These usually involve trees stepping out into the road to catch them unawares. I suppose we should really blame the trees for their irresponsibility.

Posh wedding carriage at Helnæs Kirke.

The number of fox cubs had grown to 7 today! The mother was resting in the long grass in the middle of the track. While the young wrestled, pounced and popped in and out of the dense crop. I knelt down to watch them for a while but couldn't get close enough for decent pictures. I am not sure if it wasn't two families. Four cubs disappeared into the left hand side and did not re-emerge. While the others continued playing on the right. Then the mother finally rose and went off left. Leaving a couple of the more independent cubs to explore on their own. I tried sneaking up on them by hugging the edge of the crops but they both disappeared before I was close enough for a snap. No doubt the record warmth has provided perfect conditions for bringing up lots of cubs. The birds also seem to be around in huge numbers compared with the norm.

I went for a short ride before dinner. Two fuck-wits (sic) were using both sides of the road, crossing double white lines by half a car width, at twice the speed limit, leaving opposing and overtaking[!] traffic, on a blind bend, with nowhere to go! But these two morons were having a serious race and had quite low profile tyres. So that's all right then.

Then five kids came out of a side turning in the village, on their bikes, without any of them giving so much as a glance towards the oncoming traffic on their side. (Me!) I went wide to overtake the gaggle only for some other drooling moron to speed through the village on the wrong side of the road between double parked cars which were completely blocking both cycle lanes. [Again!!]

The supermarket had no stock of its special offers for the second day in a row. Then I couldn't get my loaded trike out from the cycle rack because (a) the supermarket was using most of the available car and cycle parking for displaying its fenced off (and unwatered) summer plants and pots crap. (b) Fat, idiot girls had blocked the narrow exit space from the bike rack with their bikes. Being as fat as a houses they wouldn't want to waddle the extra yard, now would they? Not while carrying several ten gallon drums of sugar, water, toxic colouring and fizz. [Burp!] Their pock-marked [cellulite enhanced] thighs might spontaneously combust from all that excess friction!

Only seven miles today but is seemed like a hundred sharing the road (and my world) with such morons in this heat. We maxed out at 78F, 26C today with high humidity and the threat of thunder. Then we had a power cut. Not that air conditioning is a feature of Chez Hovel as I sit here in 85F heat [30C] typing furiously (sic) to the competitive singing of several bløødy blackbirds! Did I ever tell you I'm not a warm weather person?!!? I'm sure I must have mentioned it before. :-))

Jun 11th 62F, 17C, overcast, suddenly very dark, tipping down with thunder and lightning! The forecast is rather unsure but it should clear up this afternoon. Germany has had awful weather! Let's hope we don't get the same! A rest day.

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3 Jun 2014

3rd June 2014

Tuesday 3rd 55-72F, 13-22C, still and bright but rather cloudy. The sun has been rationed in today's forecast with the possibility of showers. My walk today added several more hares, several more warblers and a 4WD in the woods. Not happy to have a vehicle destroying my perfect solitude. I came back via the lanes. Which seemed awfully slow and tiring compared with rough tracks. 5 miles in 2½ hours with lots of stopping and staring.The wind is picking up slightly but it has remained bright.

Very warm but breezy for my late morning ride.  Drivers not ignoring the speed limits and double white lines would probably make the national headlines! Raving lunatics! Only 17 miles.

Wednesday 4th 70F, 21C, light breeze and sunny. Excused [walking] boots today to clip (and saw) a very tall and prickly, deciduous hedge. A vicious mixture of Blackthorn and Hawthorn 6-7 metres high badly needs a haircut! An exhausting day on the hedge so it's another rest day.

Geoff Booker [Trykit] could be heard on Chris Evan's show discussing tricycles @ 2.13.00 on the BBC iPlayer.  Here's an indirect link from the TA: 


Thursday 5th 58F, 15C, overcast and rather breezy. Rain is forecast from late morning. Rather amazingly I don't feel too bad considering I spent the entire day moving  ladders, climbing all over and even into the ridiculously tall hedge, sawing and lopping branches. Then tidying up the resulting very prickly debris. We (my wife and I) still only managed about half the length of the 30m long hedge. It's odd how one forgets what bright daylight feels like after years of relative shade. The rest of the hedge will have to wait until it stops raining. Which is an excellent excuse to allow time for our recovery. I shall have to go shopping early to avoid the rain. My rides have been getting later over time.

It started spitting but I arrived home still dry before the morning coffee ritual. Only 7 miles. Hours more hedge clipping followed. Some people pay to go to a sweaty gym to get this much exercise! I am even saving a journey to the hospital by operating on the painful thorns myself. Swab, please, nurse!

Friday 6th 53F, 12C, heavy overcast, pouring with rain, blowing a gale.The rain petered out in the afternoon but it was still blowing hard when I left. Only 7 miles. Tomorrow promises to be much better.

Mr Higgins shies away from all that salty water. The sand may have been imported. I have never seen sand on the beach before today.

Saturday 7th 58-63-68F, 14-17-20C, still and bright but overcast. Warm sunshine with light winds are promised. A four  mile walk provided sight of several pairs of Bullfinches, lots of warblers including a Whitethroat and about a dozen Yellowhammers. With such light winds it ought to be a good day for a ride and I've seen 5 cyclists out training already.

As it was such a nice day I tootled down to the end of Helnæs peninsula just for the fun of it. There was a cool onshore wind in the shade. Traffic wasn't too bad considering the time of year, the weekend and tourists. I stopped for a cheese roll, banana and apple juice in the empty seaside car park. Only for a horde to descend in multiple vehicles. I beat a hasty retreat towards the lighthouse then back along the coast enjoying the peaceful but very hilly lanes. Plenty of cyclists out and about. 43 miles. Plus 7 more later, only to be ripped off by yet another supermarket chain with no stock of the promised special offers.

Sunday 8th 62-75F, 17-24C, very cloudy with brighter periods between squally and thundery showers. The wind is supposed to very light but it keeps picking up. I have to go out anyway but may leave it until after lunch when it is supposed to brighten. So I spent a couple of hours in 74F heat in full sun working on the spiky hedge. Am I having fun yet? Ten miles shopping trip. My clothes were completely saturated with sweat for the second time today.

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1 Jun 2014

1 st June 2014

Sunday 1st 53F, 12C, still, but overcast. Sun and light winds promised for later. I had better have a walk to try and stop my hip aching. My hip was soon forgotten as I tootled through the woods.

The old smithy is looking very smart.

Trying to spot warblers is a frustrating business! They are by far the most common songbirds in the hedges and trees but are well camouflaged, agile and shy. I did see a Blackcap though. 3.3 miles in just under 2 hours. Much of which was spent staring at bushes full of noisy, but invisible, birds.

I left late morning for my ride carrying a cheese roll and banana for sustenance in place of lunch. The first long drag found me strangely breathless. After that I had no problems and was going rather well despite taking one of the hilliest routes. I even chose to stand up to ride some long hills just because I could. An amazing improvement on last year's 5 second agonising  limit when I first started climbing out of the saddle. Loads of cyclists out training either solo or in small groups.

It is amazing how many home owners are slaves to their lawns. Most have ride-on mowers these days like mini tractors. I heard them literally everywhere I went today. All spoiling the rural silence and birdsong. I saw several cars with strange aerials on the roof parked up. No idea what they were up to. Having bought six plants in the target nursery I had to get them home in one piece. So I carried them in the pink sports bag slung over my shoulder. Luckily they all survived and the weight of all the soil in the pots didn't slow me down too much. 33 miles. What next? Jogging with a rucksack full of bricks?

The verges are stuffed with Comfrey and Yarrow at the moment. This is Comfrey. Beloved of bees and serious gardeners.

Monday 2nd 55-68F, 13-20C, still and sunny. Yesterday's promised sunshine did not arrive until late afternoon. Today it arrived early. With light winds it could be another good day for a ride. I checked the Higgins tyre pressures with my thumb before going out yesterday. The tyres seemed fine but I dragged the TouPeak track pump out just to be sure. I was surprised to find they were only around 40PSI. It seems my thumb is about as useful as just staring at them to check my tyre pressures! With 85PSI the Higgins became an enjoyable machine to ride again.

I must admit that I have noticed the Higgins' narrower track compared with the Trykit. Though it doesn't have many disadvantages. It is more about rider comfort and sense of security than anything else. The Trykit is far more forgiving and feels faster and smoother but uses slightly more road width. I can hurl the Trykit into my favourite, downhill roundabout without a qualm. I sail around 270 degrees then stand up to sprint out of the third exit. Often overtaking or catching cars as I do so. The Higgins doesn't run remotely as smoothly or with the same level of stability. It corners far more roughly with far more tyre scrub.

I also need to hang much further off the side to keep the Higgins inside wheel down. Which greatly increases the risk of a tyre burn on my thigh. A narrow track may be [theoretically] slightly faster in a straight line or climbing than a wider track. The shorter axles save a tiny amount of weight and offer very slightly less drag. A time triallist might consider these slight advantages as worth the reduced stability. Only to lose lots of time on sharp bends and roundabouts. It's not a matter of skill rather than the way the narrower trike handles.

It was warm and sunny for my walk this morning. Many more birds were visible today. I saw a pair of Bullfinches, several warblers and a Tree creeper. Another deer was browsing beside the forest track. I'd need an SLR with a long lens to capture them really well but don't want to drag a huge load of equipment around with me. I am already running out of pockets in my assorted "walking" jackets.  3.5 miles in two hours suggests there is far too much hovering and not nearly enough forward motion!

Shelducks guarding their field puddle.

There is discussion in the Danish press abut the battle for road space between cyclists and motorists. As a cyclist I moan constantly about drivers. But I can certainly see how many cyclists can irritate drivers with their poor behaviour. Pelotons of club cyclists out training often use far more road than necessary. Riding two abreast with chaotic outriders is just selfish.

Though even this is absolutely no excuse to deliberately run cyclists over as reported! Too many members of both camps lack intelligence, skill and patience. Many drivers must seriously consider themselves as royalty. Nothing must impede their (often illegal) progress for even a fraction of a second. They will often risk other's lives to join the back of an endless traffic queue on a road with double white lines for miles. Which is totally ridiculous and suggests a severe lack of grey matter. Or a severe mental illness! Do they not realise that traffic free, car adverts (like most others) are aimed strictly at sub-80s IQs? Advertising workers must share the same knee high IQ levels and/or lack of real world experience as many journalists judging by their output.

Rode to Assens. Warm and sunny again with light winds.  There seems to be two kinds of shops. Those with no stock. And those with neither stock nor staff. 20 miles and a heavy load of shopping.

I thought I'd better share some cycling related porn in case you're all getting bored with Bambies and birds: 

I read reviews of the A600 touring pedals and understood that some users disliked their one-sidedness. Despite the lighter weight they sometimes struggled to clip in when wanting to set off in a hurry. 

'So I chose a very similar pedal [The M785] with opposed  pairs of clamping mechs. While still offering more foot support than the bare mechs of my previous two sets of MTB pedals. Not that I ever noticed a lack of foot support with my stiff-soled NorthWave MTB shoes. I just thought I'd give these pedals a try instead.

These pedals are supposed to look very scruffy indeed very quickly. So enjoy them brand new while you can. No doubt I shall soon be sharing images of their rapid descent into abject squalor and grunge. The seals on these are at least as "sticky" as my last "slightly upmarket" pair of  Shimano SPDs. Why can't they be as free spinning as the 520s? Perhaps I am just getting obsessed with low friction. With my limited and constantly diminishing milliwatts output, as I struggle into old age and decrepitude, I do worry about these things. (Add smiley of choice here.)

I am determined to retain MTB shoes for my [tri]cycling needs. So called "Road shoes," with exposed cleats, are absolutely useless for clomping around the supermarkets on a daily basis. There are a great many different MTB shoes to suit all tastes, widths, stiffness, fasteners and pockets. These do not hamper the user who must perambulate as often as I do.

You may ask why I included the little poly bag containing the Shimano cleats in my image. Well, I once bought a cheaper pair of replacement shoe cleats, from a very serious bike shop, on their recommendation and regretted it instantly. They never provided the snug fit and lack of slop of genuine Shimano cleats. Be careful whom you believe. Not all cleats are created equal!  

Denmark has had its second warmest spring since records began in 1874. This follows several individual months of record warmth. Methinks this explains the very short period of yellow fields due to oil seed rape. In previous years the sickly sweet smell seemed to go on for weeks.

No doubt the birds have enjoyed the unusually warm weather too. My knees certainly have. Tea-stained to a 'T'. As are the backs of my calves. While my shins are as white and hairy as they ever were. I cannot even blame constantly cycling away from the sun. Perhaps it is a lack of ankling in my pedalling style which does not expose my shins to their fair share of UVs? [Add further smiley to taste.]

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