29 Aug 2014

29th August 2014

Friday 29th 59F, 15C, overcast, breezy. Showers forecast again but it should be brighter later. My walk was shortened by heavy rain. It has remained dark and overcast all morning with repeated heavy showers. Any hope of a ride is conditional on a drying out as promised. I finally left at 4pm for a short ride under a leaden sky. At least it stayed dry. I was cruising at 18-20 mph going. Only 8 miles.

Saturday 30th 60F, 16C, overcast with heavy showers. My neck is much improved though I still can't turn my head to the right without pain. My swollen hand which received the hornet sting has shrunk to almost normal. Though the knuckles are still swollen. I had to shelter under a tree half way home but was going quite well so I detoured uphill. The rear gears have a sticky cable! 18 miles.

A popular scam by the various Danish supermarkets is to put ordinary wares on display under an Økologisk/Organic label on the shelves. To complete their ruse they often have wares marked with the red Danish flag on the packaging. Which [by the very strangest coincidence) is very similar in size and appearance [at a glance] to the red organic logo. So those without their reading glasses think they are buying organic but get to the checkout with the nasty, poisonous stuff. Have you read how many times fruit is sprayed per crop?

I raised the matter recently with one supermarket manager who simply dismissed it as "out of stock" of the organic produce and walked away. The same was true for the rest of the week and on all the previous occasions I have raised the matter with him and the staff in other supermarkets. So if you are holidaying in Denmark watch out for non-organic produce displayed under a label with the organic logo. So far they have used this trick with non-organic onions, apples, bananas, potatoes, cucumbers, eggs and cabbages. That's only from fuzzy memory. So there may have been more. The trickery is obviously endemic. Crooks, damned crooks and Danish supermarket chains!

The vast tonnage of Danish fresh fruit and vegetables, which usually goes to Russia, is to be destroyed. To avoid the market price collapsing. Ironic that the politic-ooze want the public to eat more fruit and veg. I wonder what the statistical balance is between being poisoned by the produce versus never eating the stuff at all? The completely spherical [sic] woman in front of me at the checkout today had no organic fruit or veg. Not even the poisonous wares. She did have five x 2 liter tubs of ice cream and a five x 2 liter bottles of the infamous Croke: Coloured water, sugar and gas. I'm glad I'm not an ambulance man, fireman or a nurse!

Sunday 31st 56F, 13C, heavy overcast, steady rain. Copenhagen has had 100mm/ 4" of rain with considerable flooding. I bet that helped to clear the cycle paths! Or not.

It is difficult to say at this point whether I will be able to escape to the great outdoors. It's not as if riding in the rain is impossible. It is just so unpleasant and irritating in so many ways. The rain is cold and makes the cyclist blind just for starters. Though a peaked hat helps provided it is safely held in place by a cycling helmet. Trying to wear a peaked cap without restraint is just asking for it to flip off when the next lorry passes. It's always a toss up between rain driven into the eyes or wearing wetly opaque glasses. Preferably with yellow lenses to avoid suicidal thoughts.

Is there anything more depressing than wearing dark sunglasses in heavy rain under a leaden sky? I suppose there's watching TV. Politics, sport or religion are always fertile ground for dark thoughts about ending it all. Wildlife documentaries come a close second to any combination of the above. Age is torture when you've seen it all countless times before!

My fondest hope before I die it to see a global revolution to put a complete end to advertising. Particularly the 99.99999% aimed squarely at the village idiot mentality. Who else would be taken in? Is there any other kind of advertising? The internet is so saturated with the stuff that it's worse than malware! Vast, global but entirely virtual empires are supposedly based on lying to billions of knuckle-draggers about complete and utter dross.

Can you explain the difference between spam and the endless advertising diarrhoea dumped onto our screens without permission? The BBC News website often charges me 30 seconds of my life before I can see a YouTube video! A video in which the BBC were never involved in either the recording and uploading. Across the Internet these parasites on other's luck or talent are charging the viewer great chunks of their lives for commercial gain. Isn't it time that YT videos had the same protection as the Hollywood studios?

No offense to the educationally challenged but why are there so many of them? Judging from the global quality of advertising seven billion, and counting, are considered no better drooling vegetables  by the "propaganda industry". The moron who first allowed subtitles on TV adverts should have been strung up from a lamppost!

If we have learned anything from Asian dominance in a sweat shop world is that labels mean absolutely nothing. And that nothing has any greater value than the actual quality of the tat on offer. If the workers are not paid enough to lead a reasonably comfortable life, outside their obscene working hours (often in appalling and/or dangerous conditions) then it is slavery. Pure and simple.

Anyone still clinging to product loyalty must be even more naive and gullible than the rest of humanity. Why is there nothing on the product label about working hours, conditions and monthly wages? Probably because nobody gives a shit provided the product matches their expectations of being dirt cheap enough to afford more of everything. Doesn't that make the consumer nothing better than a slave driver?

Meanwhile back at the trike shed: I was rewarded for going out by being rained on going both ways. I probably deserved it for going completely off-topic as I waited for the Danish monsoon to end. Only 7 miles.


25 Aug 2014

25th August 2014

Monday 25th 52F, 11C, overcast, light breeze. More showers forecast but with lighter winds.

My clenched hand is still like a boxing glove days after the hornet sting. Though the redness and burning sensation have gone. Just itchy now.

I walked to the woods. A tractor arrived and started raking/cultivating. He ignored my wave but his activities interested a large flock of swallows. It is unusual for me to see anybody at all on my walks. There were well over 100 ducks on the pond in the marsh. All of them brown females or immature. Several large birds of prey flew away over the woods. Female pheasants are remarkably good at gliding. You'd think they were too heavy to glide with their large bodies and undersized wings.

I rode to Assens. Caught twice in torrential downpours! Torso stayed dry but arms and feet wet. 22 miles.

Tuesday 26th 52-64F, 11-18C, light breeze, rather cloudy but a threat of sunshine. Possible showers are more likely pm. With light winds forecast it is probably a good day for a slightly longer ride.

The back of my hand is still swollen but improving slowly. Dr Wikipedia suggests 2-5 days to recover from a hornet sting. I have just realised that my abnormal tiredness may be a symptom of the sting or the antihistamines I have been taking. I have been dropping off at the computer. No doubt the same is probably true of my readers.

After checking the Continental 4000S tire pressures [90PSI] I rode NW into the steadily increasing wind. I can definitely feel the lower axle resistance when freewheeling. I don't think there is much between the worn out Duranos and the new Continentals. Though the Continentals are much more noisy. It stayed dry and mostly sunny with fluffy cumulus, cotton wool blobs decorating the sky all day.

My wife rang me when I was miles from home to tell me a snake was decorating the compost heap. No doubt it was enjoying the warmth. She took a picture to prove it. It's an odd colour but probably a grass snake with the distinctive white blobs behind the ears. The orientation of the stick in front of its head is just coincidence.

I was lucky and able to pick up a new Ventus GPS logger at a discount in a distant supermarket. I have had it on charge for an hour now but the LED is still red. I hope it wasn't a returned item! My other Ventus has served me well but is now losing the plot sometimes when I stop. It recorded 462 miles yesterday in a vertical swoop into Germany! I swear I never left the country. 42 miles by bike computer. 49 miles by Ventus with an extra squiggle. Close, but no cigar.

Wednesday 27th 50-64F, 10-18C, almost still, sunny. The forecast is for another sunny day with lighter winds.[20mph]  The new Ventus GPS logger won't charge! Bøøger! A pleasant but warm walk for 4 miles. The jumper was overkill after a cool start.

I rode to another set of shops after coffee. Also in pleasantly warm weather and light winds. If only every day's weather was like today's!

The sense of new speed and acceleration, when freewheeling, seems to be increasing. I wonder whether some of this is due to the new tyres? They didn't feel particularly fast when I first rode on them. Same pressure as before and as on the Duranos. [90psi] The Continentals feel a bit more "rubbery" [bouncier] but are still harsher and noisier. They roar quite well even at my modest speeds. I'm just waiting for the first puncture. 19 miles.

Thursday 28th 48-66F, 8-19C, fairly light winds, sunny and warm. Rode to Odense to look in the cycle shops. Light tailwind going. Cruising at 17-20mph. Harder work coming home despite the wind turbines standing still. Forgot to eat again until I was getting rather tired. 3pm? [Idiot!] I had twisted my neck a couple of days ago and it has been impossible to turn my head. Which made junctions a bit nerve racking. It was lucky I had my rear view mirror.

I went looking for a breathable rain jacket. Only bought another pair of autumn/spring GripGrab gloves. In a tight fitting XXL [12] to use up some birthday gift coupons which were becoming yellow at the edges with age. I was afraid the sports chain would go out of business or the coupons expire. It has been a struggle to find anything in an Orangutan size.

None of the jackets really tempted me except the Assos at £150 [equiv.] Which is very silly money indeed for what looks like a translucent, white polythene bag. Looked in a branch of NorthFace and saw a superbly made, general purpose Goretex jacket for £300! It absolutely oozed quality and would have done nicely for my morning walks as well. Then I imagined how it would stand up to the frequent brambles and thorn hedges through which I often have to fight my way. Not a clever idea even if I could remotely afford it.

One day the manufacturers will have to explain why so many cycling jackets are black or drab colours. I hope they can live with their collective consciences as the owners drop like flies before the flails of motorized traffic. Any black jacket on a cyclist after dark has an idiot for an owner! The same goes for a cyclist's jacket riding into a low sun. 48 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

23 Aug 2014

22nd August 2014

Friday 22nd 54F, 22C, windy and overcast with rain. Thundery showers or rain continue to feature in the forecast. It started spitting and blowing a quarter of a mile from home. Then rained steadily until I returned 50 minutes and 2 ½ miles later. By the time I reached the door it had stopped again. The countryside is looking very drab and untidy after the stubble has been raked. It has hardly paused from raining all morning. I am pinning my hopes on a drier afternoon. Though the tailwind will have risen to 30mph. Allowing a ten minute ride to get there and only an hour (or two) to fight my way back again.

The rain went off after lunch to lull me into a false sense of invincibility against the elements. I wisely chose a shorter route not involving a battle of wills with the wind.. Almost as soon as I left it started tipping down and there was half an inch of standing water on the roads. Despite the overshoes and front mudguard my feet were soon very wet.  As were my shorts from the jacket run-off. Now I am home again the rain has stopped and the sun has come out! It seems any sympathy I might have been enjoying from the rain gods has been cancelled. Only 7 soggy miles. I was stung by a hornet! So I put an ice pack on it first and then ran cold water for as long as I had the patience. It hurt's like hell!

Saturday 23rd 53-60F, 12-16C, breezy, dry and sunny. Showers forecast again. Denmark seems to be suffering from Monsoon Lite. We get the same quantity but it comes in short bursts.  It stayed dry for my walk. With large plates of cloud going over. My hand is swollen up like an inflated, red, rubber, surgeon's glove from the hornet sting. It is itching like mad so I may never walk the same again!

By the time I left for my ride the sky was inky black to the south. Except that the weather was coming from the west. A false promise that it would miss me completely. Four miles later I was being beaten all over by wet stair rods!

I dived under a big beech tree as the rain doubled and redoubled its deluge. The roads were literally flooded from side to side but still the retards were passing me at 50-60 mph in a 30 mph zone. How did I know? Because there was a speed indicator board just down the road flashing continuously as it showed their illegal speeds! Eventually the rain ran out of steam for just long enough for me to decide to push on. Only for it to rain in truly epic proportions all over again. With a lack of sheltering trees I just kept going and soon hit dry roads, clear blue skies and sunshine. Grrr?

I did my shopping and headed home. Halfway there the sky ahead turned to blue-black ink again. I could only pedal optimistically but pointlessly on towards the next torrential cloudburst. Another five minutes passed very slowly as I huddled in deep gloom under an increasingly leaky tree. While being repeatedly sprayed by passing cars with no functional driver at the controls.

Do Google's driver-less cars recognise the problem of spray and cyclists? Or are they designed by non-cyclists without the faintest idea of the problems faced every single day by those pedaling to save the planet. I hear some drooling, moronic politic-ooze with far too much time [and power] on his hands has insisted on normal car controls for driver-less cars in California. What a brilliant idea!! I know, let's put a tragically failed and long proven inadequate driver back in driver-less cars. Then they can claim that when they ran over the cyclist that Google's computer was at fault! No doubt they will soon need a black box system. Just to protect Google from false accident claims by drunks, drug-heads, general fuck-wits, the registered blind, the truly demented and the politic-ooze while hiding behind their [supposedly] pretend [steering] wheels.

An older chap on a mountain bike went past as I waited for a lull. He shouted something above the roar of the rain about it being the wrong weather for cycling. A bit of an understatement if ever there was one! I laughed and watched him ride on while trailing a huge spray from his back tyre. His jacket was day-glo, fluorescent yellow-green just like mine. Except that his seemed to be waterproof instead of secondhand, Aldi, blotting paper bought from a charity shop. I really must start reading user reviews of breathable, waterproof jackets. 16, even more soggy miles than yesterday's.

PS. The local pharmacist sold me a cheap pack of antihistamines for my poorly hand. So I should be well on the way to a full recovery. Just don't tell the UCI or they'll all want one!

Sunday 24th 53F, 12C, a bright but windy start. Heavy showers forecast again. The back of my hand is still blown up like a balloon and itchy. I walked my longest route backwards today. Just for a change of scenery. Disturbed a deer, a Blackcap and several birds of prey.

My ride was punctuated by three downpours. Very hilly and windy. It was dry with a crosswind coming home. 26 miles. I was starving and tiring on the last leg.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

18 Aug 2014

18th August 2014

Monday 18th 55F, 13C, gales, heavy cloud, strangely dry for a couple of minutes. Another day of heavy rain forecast. It hardly paused from blowing and pouring yesterday. I went shopping for a file [amongst more normal fare] in a rare outing for the car. It never stopped tipping down but I still passed a young chap out training in only shorts and jersey. The roads were deep in freshly washed gravel and standing water as I gave him as much room as possible in case I sprayed him.

It sounds completely ridiculous when already soaked from head to toe but every cyclist knows how unpleasant it is to be further drenched by passing vehicles. The gritty deluge quickly rips away the slightest warmth still clinging to the rider's body. Why is it even legal for lorries to use the roads when they are wet? Their mudguards are absolutely hopeless at containing a vast plume of spray. Which they drag along and around them like some filthy comet from hell.

Mind you, you have to laugh at the total inadequacy of 21st century cyclist's wet weather gear. You can pay hundreds of pounds/dollars for a flapping, bum-freezer jacket which makes the rider sweat so much they might as well be in a mobile sauna. Take it off and it's instant hypothermia! Even at the summit of tour racing the riders have pathetically inadequate protection and no mudguards to stop the tyre spray in the peloton. Top riders were dropping out of the rain like wasps in a jam jar. As temperatures plummeted and not a single team car could provide fingered gloves for its riders. Many riders were still wearing the obligatory dark sunglasses provided by their sponsors! This at the multi-million Euro level of professional cycling? Really?

Judging from the casualties "racing" tyres slide around on anything worse than a light overnight dew from sometime last week. The flimsy rubber gives up the ghost as soon as it notices a single flint several kilometers ahead. Despite the road resurfacing and endless sweeping any sharp object stands on end in the wet and flimsy tread to bore its way rapidly through. Often to completely undo hundreds, if not thousands of miles of agonizing effort. And often involving the taking of countless, life-threatening risks on high speed descents. All for a few seconds and media glory for their sponsor. All undone in a brief few seconds more. And these same tyres cost how much exactly?

Isn't it time the UCI looked back on its withered laurels? Remember a time when riders could be thrown off a Tour simply for having somebody else pump the furnace at the local smithy? We'll ignore the deadly warning signs of chronic heroin, cocaine and arsenic abuse amongst riders of the time. Merely a foretaste of a century more of chemical cheating for fame and a bunch of flowers.

What about throwing riders off a tour for taking a new wheel? Or for swapping bikes when their carbon ghost expires before its brief, useful life has hardly begun? Nah, there's far too much dirty money involved to force some real progress in safety and equipment longevity for all cyclists. The irony is that many early racing bikes and wheels can still be ridden a hundred years after they were last abused on often unmade roads and mountain passes. Where will be the fossil record lie for the present plastic trash? Being non-recyclable one presumes the carbon era waste will be dumped at sea. To join the rest of humanity's worthless, ephemeral detritus.

Is a tyrant a cyclist who constantly practices a cross between a tirade and a rant? Just asking.

The Campag front changer cage is now concentric with the chainset. I wish I could report that it has improved matters but not yet. While struggling to get the chain onto the large chainring the cable broke inside the lever. So I spent an hour replacing it between heavy showers. I need a carport or some kind of a canopy to work under. Only a short ride between torrential showers today. 7 miles.

Tuesday 19th 55F, 13C, windy but bright and sunny. The forecast for potentially thundery showers continues with strong, gusty winds up to 40mph later. It was sunny and windy for my 3 mile walk and getting windier as the day wears on. Though without the promised showers so far. Now I am ready to go out the sky has darkened and the trees are bending. It stayed dry but was very windy at times. Mostly a  crosswind but so turbulent it was often hard to tell where it was coming from. Only 10 miles. Large flocks of birds are gathering. Sparrows and even swallows in large numbers.

Wednesday 20th 54F, 12C, rather breezy, heavy overcast. Showers forecast again but with lighter winds today. It stayed mostly dry and bright yesterday. The bad weather streamed to the north and south of us. The sky has now largely cleared of cloud but the wind is picking up again. I was dodging showers and hiding under the top tube when head on gusts came along. Front changer refusing to shift up or down. Only 18 miles.

I have just read that 5 Danes have died from listeria while farmers are ignoring rules on the amount of antibiotics in pig production and ignoring their official muck spreading allowance. Meanwhile highly resistant MRSA is spreading amongst the general population completely unconnected with pig farming. I came home to be hit by stinking spray drift from pig shit spreading in today's gales. Simultaneously, they are spraying the harvested field across the road with an unknown, presumably toxic weedkiller, in the same 15 m/s 30+mph gales. The highly visible spray drift can be clearly seen crossing the road in a white stream like bonfire smoke! 10 meters of our neighbour's otherwise healthy hedge has suddenly died this year. Brown, dead patches are appearing on many trees and conifers in the area.

I have finally vanquished the Athena triple front changer. Yet again the design of the triple cage added completely unnecessary scrap metal. Metal which wanted to literally grind the tops off the teeth of the  middle chainring. See image alongside!

The Ultegra triple was just the same. Changing onto the large chainring always caused a collision with the middle chainring teeth. I have had to bend back the offending lower edge of the Campag triple cage. In fact a triple cage isn't remotely necessary. It's just another case of the triumph of design over function. A Campag double changer cage works far better than the triple! If only it would reach far out enough to clear the cage reliably when the chain is on the largest ring. The changes are smooth, silent and completely effortless. I've just tried an Athena double I bought in the wild hope of it working. I just can't get enough cable pull from the Chorus levers to make it work.

So why do they put a bent, perforated shovel on the back of the triple cage? Because it is expected? The only likely explanation is that the Campag triples are much narrower between the chainrings than the more agricultural Stronglight. This would allow the changer cage to lift the chain onto the large ring before the inner cage literally smashes into the middle ring teeth. With no Campag dealer nearby where I can go and ogle a triple I can only surmise the difference in width.

Unfortunately the Campag cage is hardened. So my arm wrestling to push back the lower protrusion has resulted in a crack in the cage. I can't fit the double cage on the triple changer mech because they are not compatible. I'll just have to hope it all hangs together. The cost of a new cage plus likely labour charges, even if I could find a Campag specialist, would be prohibitive. The long spiral spring is very powerful and probably needs a special tool to wind it back on safely. I can't even find a Campag dealer after Bikebuster gave up in Odense. Buying another front mech won't help because it won't solve the cage/middle ring, catastrophic impact problem.

The new Campag triple chainsets are very silly money even at the bottom of the range. Though older triples which fit square axles might be available if I look hard enough. Except that they have very silly tooth counts from a time before people learned to pedal properly quickly.

FSA had a more affordable triple with the right tooth counts and shorter cranks. Now I read that their cranks seem to fall in half. Though only for two customers who cared to mention it on one particular dealer's website. Further probing online offered no more tragic victims of metal fatigue. The FSA BBs have a very poor reputation but can easily be swapped for inexpensive, though possibly heavier, Hollowtech 2 bearings if the BB30s should begin crackling ominously.

All this talk of replacement chainsets is wildly optimistic. I have no idea if the chainrings are closer together than the Stronglight. I could thin the Stronglight spider where the bolts hold things together. Though it would not be a simple task to obtain suitable accuracy. Not even Stronglight can manage that! The rings wobble from side to side when I'm pedaling and the pedal threads were over-sized.

A suitable milling bit in the bench drill, employing a rigid height stop, might do it. The crank is far too long to swing in my lathe. Too fiddly to set up the job on the vertical slide with the milling bit in the lathe chuck. I could use a high speed fly cutter if I could support the crank axle firmly and truly in the lathe chuck.

I'll have to ponder on this some more before "the plastic" becomes anxious with anticipation and begins to overheat.

Thursday 21st 58F, 14C, occasionally breezy, heavy showers, mostly overcast. I went for a walk but spent most of the time sheltering under trees and watching the rain falling like bright stair rods. My ride wasn't much better. Under a leaden sky with gales and spots of rain I was in no mood to go far. 7 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

16 Aug 2014

16th August 2014 The battle of Athena Pt.2

Saturday 16th 60F, 16C, quite bright at intervals but very cloudy with a breeze. The forecast is for dry weather until later this afternoon. It ought to be a good day for a ride. Until I want to come back again. The westerly wind is supposed to gust to 25mph. Nothing unusual in that until I want to get anywhere other than merely local.

With the Trykit deprived of its usual ballast I rode to Odense. Big mistake. Nobody in Odense stocks Campagnolo. One bike shop manager told me that "nobody uses Campag." To which I quipped: Nobody except Nibali! To which he smiled.

Having visited the majority of decent cycle shops in Odense I had to run the gauntlet of a fierce headwind all the way home. At least the broken glass on the cycle paths did not cause any damage. I ran over three lots but at least no sociopathic cyclists or scooterists tried to take me off this time. As several nearly managed on my last visit.

Look what I found at the end of the rainbow! This pretty front changer clamp by BBB is not merely a duplicate for the butt ugly Shimano offering. I shall file and smooth the fixing groove to rotate the Athena into a more useful angle of attack to the chainwheels. The steep seat tube angle [76 degrees] on the Trykit makes front changers sit much too upright. So the cage is not concentric with the chainwheels. Which is bound to affect the cage ramps, gear change and chain clearances on the different chainrings.

Front changers and their clamps have no means of angular adjustment. Which just goes to prove how little the manufacturers really care about accuracy! Or is there some unwritten standard seat tube angle to which every frame manufacturer adheres when placing their orders with the Chinese sweat shops? Thought not. To quote a former acquaintance while he repeatedly cut professional corners: "It'll be alright." Alright is never good enough in my book! Not when it makes a complete mockery of the bling manufacturers endless bullshit propaganda about accuracy to justify their rip-off prices.

The Athena front changer is proving excellent. Swift and faultless changes on the two inner chainrings in all gears. I didn't need the biggest chainring today. My plans to modify the changer clamp should solve the large chainwheel problem with a following wind. Probably the only time I will really need it in the absence of Danish mountain passes!

Finally, after 40 years of waiting, I have added some decent 13/14 mm cone spanners to my vast, assorted collection of tools. My '105 front hub needs both sizes. I could not bring myself to attack the cones with anything less than the real thing. For some reason cone spanners are very poorly available in the bike shops I visit. Several times I was almost tempted to grind down some normal, chrome vanadium  spanners but always resisted the temptation. Once the surface plating has gone they quickly become very ugly indeed.

The Continental 4000S tyres definitely feel slower than the Duranos. Quite hard work in fact. They must be at least 2mph slower than the Duranos at the same pressures [90psi] and pedal effort. Probably Continental cheating on the TPI again. Perhaps they will ride up with wear, Sir? Whatever. 46 miles.

Sunday 17th 58F, 15C, overcast, windy, wet. Rain or thundery showers forecast for all day and tomorrow. I'd better get on with modifying the front changer clamp. The first attempt was too laid back. The rear of the cage was now closer to the big chainwheel than the front. The opposite of its starting point.

I have set up the changer clamp in a small, plastic-jawed vice to protect the paint and ensure a firm grip. On the other side of the workbench I have clamped a piece of 2x4" as a fixed height rest. I am wrapping a single layer of emery paper tightly around a meter length of 9mm pipe to gently wear away the curve. Because the wooden rest is fixed in height and the clamp is fixed in its angle the emery paper cuts flat and straight. Trying to do it freehand would only produce a convex curve at the top and bottom of the clamping surface. I also have the G-cramps guiding the pipe so it cannot veer to left or right. This will ensure that the new curve I put on on the clamp surface does not turn into a trumpet shape. The main problem is how small a change in the clamping angle is required.

A picture is worth a thousand words but it keeps pouring with rain. As soon as it stops I shall drag the bench outside for a photo. In a perfect world I would have a 8-9mm, sharp, round file to make the cut. Leaving only a little material to smooth the curve. The end of the file would be fixed in the end of a length of tube. So I could use the same rest technique as with the emery paper. Unfortunately none of my round files is the correct diameter. More fortunately the clamping curve is hidden from view so the bright bare metal will be completely invisible in use. Rest day.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

15 Aug 2014

15th August 2014 A pudding or a banquet?

Friday 15th 55F, 13C, dead still and trying to be sunny. [7.15]

Proof of the pudding. Let the battle with Athena commence! Resplendent in the cloth of gold, the knight of the road leads the first charge.

The battle was so one-sided that a truce was swiftly called. The Athena won hands down over the Ultegra due to superior technology. Yesterday's changing problems with the trike up on the stand were completely absent on the road. I touched the lever and the chain dropped effortlessly onto the small ring. Regardless of the selected sprocket at the rear. It was well worth the expense of the Athena just to have that certainty. The Ultegra could never manage it convincingly. Not once in all the time I have had it fitted on the trike. Which usually meant I was stuck in 38/30 as my lowest gear. Not the most desirable situation on a loaded trike as the road veers up just ahead. It is never about getting up the hill anyhow. It is all about keeping the revs high in a low gear for efficiency and the conservation of my limited energy.

The Campagnolo front changers and levers aren't indexed. More like micro stepping without having to go through each step in turn. A firm push of the lever and it can change from the large ring to the small without even noticing the middle ring. The same is true going the other way.

The spring tension on the Ultegra often tried to trip the ratchet on the Chorus lever. While the Athena spring feels much stronger at the changer itself but offers much less resistance to the lever. Natural, I suppose, given they both come from the same manufacturer.

I did a 5 mile tour of the lanes trying every gear and was delighted with the gear change. Though only on the two inner rings. Sadly, the big chainring will require hand to hand combat. Until one, or both of us, become exhausted and give up the struggle. The cage feels much narrower on the big ring. And there's the rub.

I climbed a hill to be able to descend effortlessly on the big ring while I nipped up and down on the rear cogs. The micro adjustment suddenly seems completely inadequate. While, on the smaller rings, I could cover the entire cassette with hardly any need for minor cage correction. That which was required was both effortless and efficient. Any temporary rubbing due to a heavily skewed chain was minor and quickly resolved with a single click of the Chorus lever. The chain then ran completely silently.

Not so on the 48T biggest chainring. At times there was a very nasty graunch as I changed to the big ring. It took lots of lever fiddling to get it to play nicely. Going to higher gears almost suggested that the cage was pointing inwards at the back. Which it is clearly not. It is set up perfectly parallel with the large chainring. Twisting the whole changer around the seat tube might make things much worse on the other rings. I shall have to examine the cage and the chain carefully while on the large ring. To see where the rubbing is taking place. It may simply want the cage to be allowed to move slightly further out. I am already using the narrowest square axle [107mm] to ensure the changer can reach well out without excessive cable tension. Which was a constant problem with the Ultegra.

BTW: The veiled reference to the yellow t-shirt at the beginning soon proved the case for polyester against sweaty and horribly cold cotton. 12miles so far and I am delighted with the Athena front changer. If I can solve the large ring problem it is a winner, by a mile, over the Ultegra triple changer. I just need to see if I can get another click out of the lever for a bit more overhang in high gears. It works fine on the  middle and larger sprockets on the big ring. It just gets noisy on the small cogs.

I am still enjoying the newly freed up Trykit axle. I'd say the difference is worth 2mph at my normally effortless, steady cruising speeds. 13mph has become 15mph with 17 within easy reach for only a little more effort.  I've been seeing 30mph much more often than previously and 23-25 regularly when in a hurry on the flat.This is with the trike normally laden with heavy saddlebag, U-lock and a bit of shopping. I have had some quite enjoyable "white knuckle" moments on some very familiar, quite shallow descents. The trike keeps accelerating instead of maintaining a fixed speed. So I need more braking to take sharp, opposite camber junctions and the usually rough, supermarket ramps. I consider it my duty not to run over the white lines at junctions and this often requires some acrobatics. All good fun!

I managed four test rides today for a total of 36 miles. For my last ride I swapped the bare Schwalbe Duranos for Continental GP4000S. The latter had been hanging up in the trike shed since being replaced by the online dealer when Continental denied liability. I have run for thousands of miles on the Duranos without a single puncture. The Continentals felt hard, heavy and slow compared with the worn out Duranos at the same pressure. [90 psi]  I checked them both on the scales and they each weighed an identical 8 oz. I also weighed the stripped Trykit at 12.9 kg with 2 empty bottle cages and a mini pump fitted. I even removed the rack to get it down to a minimum. My legs were a bit achy and tired as I tried to ride as quickly as possible around the block to add another 5 miles to today's total. I wish I could say that the trike felt lighter but I hardly noticed the difference. This may have been due to my tiredness.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

14 Aug 2014

14th August 2014 Athena 3x11 triple front changer.

Thursday 14th 60-65F, 16-18C, breezy and sunny. A pleasant morning so far. The wind picked up but it was still quite warm. 3 mile walk. Rode to Assens. I noticed a huge ship crane in the harbour so eventually managed to get a picture without loads of street furniture getting in the way. My guess is that it is a specialist crane for erecting offshore windmills. Hugely impressive in real life! It was mostly sunny all morning with a fairly strong crosswind. Though it tried to spit with rain from a huge black cloud towards the end it soon gave up. 20 miles.

My 3x11 Campag Athena front changer has arrived at the end of the rainbow. I had to buy a new 31.8mm clamping ring for it but could only get a Shimano locally. This proved to be a deliberate mismatch. I could either take a large file to the top of the brand new Campag changer casting or attack the rear of the Shimano clamp. I chose to attack the clamp with a combination of a large reground drill and a small grindstone to tidy up.

The problem was with the cylindrical form where the two units join. The fixing hole for the Campag shifter was pushed 1/8"/3mm down and out of alignment by the overhang on the Shimano clamp. I suppose I could have filed the clamp hole oval but chose to raise the hidden shoulder instead. Once achieved I could mount the new changer squarely and firmly.

Campag Athena 3x11 triple front changer. Note slight geometric mismatch between the cage and chainwheel. This is due to the aggressively angled, 76 degree, seat tube.

I was determined to be rid of the useless Ultegra triple changer without the further expense of a new quick link. So I took a Dremel and small round stone to the back of the cage rivet. Soon the riveting was dished so thinly that it quickly gave up with a pull and twist from a pair of nail pincers.

Campag front changers have a CSK screw at the bottom rear of the cage. This allows the cage to be opened and lifted clear of the chain without having to break a link. 10 speed chains aren't a simple matter of half pushing out a rivet with an extractor and then pushing it back in again afterwards. There is far too little plate material to achieve a safe riveting. As I discovered while 25 miles from home on a ride. I dropped the chain right in the middle of the road! Fortunately I carry a compact Park chain tool with me and was able to repair it well enough to get home.

The Campag shifter's cage is about a third of the depth [front to back] of the triple Ultegra. This resulted in much more positive upward changes but left little room for even the slightest chain skew.

Athena triple changer from the rear. I've just noticed the cable is badly frayed from my"Hubub" cable realignment experiments on the Ultegra!

Unfortunately the sharply indented middle ramp of the cage is too low to push the chain off the middle ring onto the inner one. At least it is when in a lower gear. On smaller sprockets it is fine but who wants to be limited to changing down by changing up first?  This is rather odd considering the tooth count of the Campag triple chainsets: 50/39/30. So it ought to work reasonably well on my 48/38/28 Stronglight chainset too, but doesn't want to. I'm completely ignoring any differences between ramps and pins on the competing maker's chainsets.

Of course Campag warns of non-standard set-ups as its standard get-out clause. Quite fairly in may case! So I have to set the inner limit screw too far out with the risk of the chain derailing. That is only likely when it finally gets the right idea and stops grating noisily on the cage to fall limply off the middle and onto the inner ring.

To be fair to Campag I am using a 10sp Sram chain when they specifically demand their own 11 speed be used. However, I felt unable to order a 10sp Campag triple front changer because I am running with their excellent 11 speed Chorus levers and wanted a better match.

The Athena and Chorus 11sp should work better together than the Chorus with the Ultegra. Two different kinds of cheese must surely be better than chalk and cheese. I have only tried gear shifting with the trike up on the workstand so far and haven't tried it on the road.

If I raise the changer to bring the lower cage ramp up to meet the chain on the middle ring it may make everything else much worse. I could bend the remaining edge backwards to match the rest but that might get in the way of the chain on the large chainwheel. I will need to look at the geometry very carefully before deciding to modify anything. I certainly shan't be claiming under their guarantees so Campag need have no sleepless nights on my behalf. I just want it to work better than the Ultegra never did.

It occurs to me that I could file the clamp, or the changer, to improve the tilt of the cage relative to the chainwheel. The steep seat tube angle made it far worse on the laid-back Ultegra. The Campag Athena is obviously designed for steeper, more modern [?] seat tube frames.

I could also widen the cage slightly for a bit more chain clearance. First I shall try it on the road. It can't possibly be worse than the Ultegra triple changer! Though you never know!

Click on any image for an enlargement.

13 Aug 2014

13th Auguist 2014. It's Me against Them!!

Wednesday 13th 55F, 3C, windy, overcast heavy rain showers. It stayed dry but windy.  Rear gear indexing as good as I've had it. 4000 miles for the year so far. A bit tragic compared with previous years. 18 miles.

Yesterday I was wandering around British cycling forums, websites and YT videos. All bemoaning the poor driving standards in the UK. The insanity and total anarchy, which is normal traffic behaviour in the UK, came flooding back. I remembered how many times I would arrive at the end of a cycle ride in a rage because of some raving lunatic, drooling retard or total fuckwit driver. Or several of them!

My all too regular moans about Danish driving and drivers were suddenly brought into sharp contrast with the daily struggle for mere survival on the roads in the UK. Compared with the UK most Danish drivers are extremely well behaved and extraordinarily self-disciplined. It is true that most Danes drive too fast and far too many drivers cut most corners with double white lines. But, almost nobody ever cuts cyclists off at junctions. As is perfectly[?] normal, antisocial behaviour in the UK. Being overtaken in ridiculously dangerous places in Denmark is not the fixed routine which it is 365x24 in the UK.

There is a terrifying aggression to driving in the UK. Much of it is probably due to the sheer volume of traffic. One has to become very thick skinned just to exit most uncontrolled junctions and to take one's "rightful place" on the road. The other problem is the lack of cycling experience for many drivers in the UK. Most drivers know how badly cyclists are treated. So why should they risk their own sprogs on a bike? Generations pass without a member of the family ever taking up cycling. The cyclist's perspective is never understood and demeaning generalizations become deeply embedded. As is perfectly clear from forum discussions, website and YT comments. Cyclists are the new blacks in many driver's minds.

Most Danes cycle at all ages. From very tiny indeed to very old age and everything in between. They used to cycle just as much before the 1960s in the UK. The cycle sheds were absolutely vast at many British factories. Huge, mobile armies of cyclists arrived and left through the gates daily. As can be seen in old newsreels. It was controlled mayhem on a huge scale as they wove between equal numbers of pedestrian colleagues.

Then in the early 1960s the affordable car was dropped on the UK like an atomic bomb. The British total obsession with hierarchy was rapidly transferred to British driving behaviour and British car ownership. Cyclists were considered idiots and socially inferior because they couldn't afford a car.

The constant frustrations of coping with everyday life in Britain became embedded in driving behaviour. Everybody demanded equal right of way without remotely enjoying it in a total madhouse of ridiculously overcrowded roads. The British roads were never designed for cars let alone over-sized lorries and white delivery vans. There was simply no room for so many vehicles all at once. The rigid timing of the daily rush hours didn't help! Attempts to speed up traffic only caused months or years of frustration with major roadworks. As in every town and city the historic town centres were razed.

Driving in the UK became and remains highly combative. Rules go out the window one moment, if it suits the driver, but are expected to be rigidly enforced on all others. The illegally speeding driver, with his mobile phone welded permanently to his ear, demands that cyclist get off the road to give themselves room to be a total idiot. The main problem is that few drivers in the UK are really up to the task of driving in a constant, linear Bedlam.

Only very lately have segregated cycle lanes begun to spring up. As is perfectly normal for the UK, completely the wrong people are put in charge of cycle path design and implementation. They are obviously batting well above their pay grade or were given no financial freedom to get it right first time. Probably both, and in all cases simply being a cyclist blocked all access to jobs in that department. Can't have any of those "penniless, hippy cyclists with their obvious bias" involved!    

Meanwhile, the Danes are much more placid and far less critical of others. Economic equality might remain an illusion but most Danes probably feel less economically stressed. They also feel they still have some power over their own lives. Hierarchy may exist but it is deliberately and subtly casual. Even down to the very relaxed dress codes and social informality. The Danes mix a lot in all sorts of ways which would be intolerable to the British.

Traffic jams may exist in the major Danish cities but are quite unusual elsewhere. The steady flow of traffic greatly reduces daily frustration. The countless cycle lanes help. UK style aggression is unnecessary simply to complete a car (or cycle) journey. The lack of aggression leaves the driver's empathy and sympathy for other road users safely intact. The Dane's natural road-craft skills and discipline was taught from an early age when safe cycling was taught at school. Many will remember riding alongside their own parents' bikes while they were still tiny, wobbly and inexperienced. How many UK parents would dare have their toddler riding alongside on a busy main road into town? They would think you certifiably insane! The Danes don't bat an eyelid. Many ride their bikes with their dog on a lead!

Remarkably few British drivers can claim the same level of early cycle training. Danish riding skills, on the long established cycle paths and marked roadside lanes, can easily leave a UK rider breathless with admiration. The cycle paths are shared by all age groups and often with pedestrians. The surprise is the lack of aggression and the lack of collisions in often congested situations. Truly vast numbers of cyclists crisscross the Danish cities. Yet very few cycle paths are perfect. Nor all all of them suited to the commonplace people carrier tricycle. If cycle path rage exists I haven't seen it yet in all the miles I have ridden over here. In fact am probably guilty of importing my own selfish demands for greater speed and right of way! Thankfully [for the patiently cycling Danes]  I don't ride in the city very often! <Blush>

Perhaps the sheer number of minor frustrations with fellow cyclists over the years merely wear the Danish cyclist's sharp corners away? Becoming aggressive is utterly pointless because countless other cyclists' behaviour patterns will remain exactly the same. While the British must start each journey in hope and are almost always disappointed within a few yards of leaving home. Assuming they can escape from gridlocked parking situations in the first place. The sheer burden of survival in a winner-takes-all environment only exaggerates aggressive riding and driving behaviour. It becomes a no-holds-barred competition for space in a rigidly inelastic road space. They pay through the nose for that space but are poorly rewarded for their huge motoring expenses.

Little has changed since the 1960s with regards to relative speed of travel. Cyclists can often beat the fuming motorist commuter by a very large margin. Motorways and bypasses merely moved the constant traffic jams out of the towns and cities. The problem is that deep down everybody knows nothing will (nor can) ever change for the better. There is no magic wand or fancy new car which will transform the driving experience.

Few UK roads or city streets are as wide as the Danes wisely built them. All UK road space must be shared with users of all skills, speeds and vehicle sizes. The car advertisers may film their pathetic drivel on wet Sunday mornings but the reality is that the roads are never truly empty. Nor is there a "clever" new route which will solve the driver's desire to get to work or home again in the least time with the least amount of hassle.

Perhaps the only real hope for the UK is to take the driver completely out of the equation. Self-driving cars would leave the occupants completely free to do other, far more interesting things. Robotics and AI are very likely to put many drivers out of a job anyway. The vast majority these days only commute to do something which is perfectly feasible while still at home. Though god help those who get bored and need a frequent trip to the 'fridge to break the endless monotony. If they hopped on a bike and went for a ride on newly driver-free roads the boss would probably accuse them of slacking! Perhaps a deadly pandemic is the [only] final solution to UK road congestion? Or move to Denmark. [Please don't!] :-)  


11 Aug 2014

11th August 2014

Monday 11th 64F, 8C, gales, rather cloudy. Forecast for stronger gusts with showers and rain later. A "dissipated" hurricane Bertha is dragging her flailing skirts across western Europe. I've been watching the trees sway to fierce gusts  and the torrential cloudbursts all morning. Deciding whether I really want to go out on my trike in this wind. Eeeny-meany-miny-no?

No it was. Though I didn't waste the entire day. I spent a couple of hours playing with the gear adjustments with the trike up on the stand. Repeatedly videoing the chain hopping more, or sometimes much less crisply, across the cassette. I only wanted a visual record because I can study the gear changes at leisure without having to remember the fine details. Tomorrow's forecast is wet!

Tuesday 12th 54F, 12C, heavy overcast, windy, raining. Today's forecast is still wet. Very wet! I have been researching what little information there is on the Campag triple front changers. It required the circuitous route of checking Campag triple chainwheel and sprocket counts. These vaguely suggest that the Athena triple front changer may offer the potential to match the even steps between my Stronglight chainrings. While the Ultegra triple changer grinds the middle chainring when set at the correct specified height on the seat tube.

Lifting the Ultegra to allow enough clearance to avoid rapid and total middle-ring tooth destruction causes slow changes and chain overthrow at the slightest Shimanoic whim or tantrum. So I spend all my time on the 38T middle ring. Which is very silly given my quite deliberate choice [and expense] in actually buying a triple chainset and all the associated [and completely unusable] junk components to go with it.

Campagnolo's own website is basically crap. When it doesn't actually crash my computer [sic] it ignores my country/language selections in both Chrome and Firefox. So it remains in default Italian and refuses to give me the technical specs for triple changers in any language. Perhaps the website was developed purely for well heeled, but immature Italian, IT managers and all round abusers of IE in Windows 8.99995? Politeness forbids the mention of the Mafia in such hard times.

The Campag website is all Photoshopped pictures of perfectly presented components. Plus the elaborate bragging, with over-sized colour images, of [rare] and recent winners using their hideously expensive, electronic, Super [Pooper] Record kit. Which the billionaire's pro teams can easily afford, receive massive discounts for, or get free kit to keep the online promotional wheels rolling. No doubt the pros enjoy the latest mechanical and software updates to boot. Which won't filter down to the weekend warrior tribal members for at least a couple of years. Those seasonal product updates demand endless kiddy steps to keep the propaganda funds flowing like some Mexican cartel's.

You'll never hear any public criticism of the kit from the pros. Nor even from the advertising supported, online, cycling 'magazine' hacks. Not even if it leaves the TDF Yellow Jersey stuck in top gear half way up the Galibier. There will be a lightning bike change, they will thank their team members [gushingly] for their magnanimously, unselfish support in getting The Beloved Leader back into the Peloton. Yet nobody ever asks the most obvious questions! Why did several thousands of dead squid give their lives willingly for something which breaks?

Meanwhile the knee-jerk, fully paid-up, product loyalty fans continue to ignore the ever-increasing number of teeth marks in their tattered bank card. As they queue right around the block for the [supposedly] latest and greatest iteration of obscenely over-priced, cycling accessory bling. Exactly and [supposedly] used by their cycling superheroes, in anger, on the great Tours.

I'm just waiting for real gold plating on the chainset and gear adjustment screws. Campag already adds gold lettering to their cable outers. Which seems an awful waste when most of today's eggshell-fragile, carbon frames hide most of the cables. Still, subtlety is important and we all know the lettering is in there somewhere. Only now it's in "stealth" mode. Surely to become the next "in" term in cycling. What with hidden and totally inaccessible brakes n'cables'nall. Campag probably has even more registered and utterly meaningless, techno-names than iRottenaPPle! Those who can: Innovate. Those who can't: Make up hype and then sue anybody who dares to use the previously common term. See me: See my [patented] "rounded corners," Pal! <sigh>

Is it ever going to stop raining?  Whoops, the sun has come out! Better start checking for Campag bling at the end of the rainbow!

Despite my bemused ranting, or perhaps because of it, the weather gods smiled upon me today. Well, at least the rain gods did. There I was dressed in my best GripGrab rubber wellies, TA cap ensconced within my helmet and complete with newly fitted front mudguard, when the rain went off just at the end of the drive. Returning 21 miles later the rain started again, as if on cue, just as I entered the drive again. Surely no coincidence?

Meanwhile the wind gods were doing their best to make me stay at home but failed miserably. I too can reach the drops for several miles at a stretch if it's a real emergency. Never let them tell you that evaporative cooling only affects scantily clad, lady physicists with PHDs in climate modelling. 60F, with cyclist be-mitted hands, still damp from rain, will quickly dump you into the pain threshold. Particularly in a headwind gale. Then see if your eyes don't water on the descents!


9 Aug 2014

August 9th 2014 Measuring the static load at the pedal spindle.


Saturday 9th 70F, 21C, blowing a gale, heavy overcast, raining hard. Rain and high winds forecast for most of the day. Might as well call it a rest day. 

Rest day exercises: I have come up with a relatively easy way to physically check the resistance/friction of the rear axles with different 2WD central spacers and/or "sticky" bearing seals. [And yes, I do know the difference between static and dynamic friction.] I'll have to check later to see if the dynamic resistance can be measured with a weight hanging from the pedal axle via a length of standard string.

First I'll put the trike in top gear on the work stand. Then I'll measure the effort required to just start a pedal moving using a simple spring balance. Fisherman's spring balance scales are ideal being both cheap and reasonably accurate. They come with a perfect hook to pull the pedal axle without adding further complication. I shall read the pull required as I gently exert tension on the pedal axle until the drive train starts turning.

The test is easily repeatable as often as desired to check for variations in resistance. [If any.] Provided the spring balance pull is always at right angles to the crank I can avoid the most obvious test error. Removing the wheels will avoid inertial errors. The advantage of a trike is that it doesn't need a rear wheel to support a free-hub. The 2WD trike supports its free-hub and cassette on the rear axle bearings. 

I cannot easily allow for the rider's weight on the axle bearings because that would introduce more errors due to the rolling resistance of the tyres. Rolling resistance is also speed dependent. As is air resistance to a far greater degree. [Let's keep it simple, stupid.]

The obvious downside is having to remove the wheels and outer bearing retaining circlips. Then partially withdraw the axles, drop the cassette and strip the Trykit 2WD free-hub components between tests. At least the new chain is still clean. So this [and a seemingly endless rest day ahead] is a perfect opportunity. Hopefully I can confirm whether my narrower, central spacer mod is only of psychological benefit. 

I have to say that the trike feels quicker now but variations in wind and road incline make it very difficult to be absolutely sure. Now I have an objective way to check. The mind is easily able to fool itself when it comes to small, subjective variations. The multi-billion, global hifi and electronics industry relies on it to push product to the endlessly gullible with far more money than basic common sense.

The same could be said for "racing" push bikes of course. There is very little objective testing of the wild marketing claims for multi thousand dollar/pound/euro machines! For the same money (or less) you can buy a multi-cylinder, multi-geared, high performance motorcycle. One which goes along far faster than any push-bike without any active pedaling by the rider. You are only ever likely to get breathless with excitement!

Motorcycles have far greater complexity than a humble, Chinese mass produced, carbon fiber, weekend warrior's, road hack and its supposedly "weight saving" obscenely overpriced, decorative bling! Simply pouring away half the contents of your carbon-fiber-caged water bottle will save far more weight than the thousands of dollars you just wasted on "upgrading" to this season's "latest and greatest" groupset! [Until the next season's unmissable and unavoidable updates]

Watch this space: I'll be back! First I have to run the gauntlet of the lashing rain to reach my top secret test lab. Just one of the trials and tribulations I suffer in the cause of science. ;-) 

Well, the clue to my hour's experimentation lies in the "string of pearls" in the image above. After repeated tests and axle rebuilds I can confirm that the difference in static friction between the 2 thicknesses of pawl [2mm and 4mm] separator is 11:17 metric nuts.  

My 4lb spring balance was slightly too insensitive to measure the applied loads. So I resorted to a shoe lace and large nuts to measure the required pull. The lace was simply looped over the pedal spindle with the cranks horizontal. I even tried adding the weighted lace to each pedal in turn to remove any doubts. One extra nut [or one less] was enough to make a clear difference in my tests. I spun the chainset repeatedly each time I rebuilt the axle. Just to free up any temporary misalignment or inaccurate seating of the bearings or pawls from each rebuild. 

So, I can safely confirm that the 4mm thick central spacer in the Trykit 2WD free-hub is applying greater end loads to the bearings than the 2mm brass one which I made in the lathe. These same end loads are increasing bearing friction by 11:17. [Increasing from 170g to 260g][Or 6 to 9oz] [Or ~64% greater static friction. The bottom bracket provides its own drag of course but spins freely with the chain dismounted. 

In each case the added weight was enough to produce only about 45 degrees of chainset rotation before coming to a halt. Which suggests that the changing angle of the weight cord [relative to an initial, right angle pull on the crank] was rapidly reducing the applied force to the pedal spindle as the crank slowly dropped. It would also seem static and dynamic friction at very low rpm are very similar indeed. Had it been otherwise the crank drop would have sped up as it descended. In fact the chainset rotated very slowly and smoothly when the weighted cord was hung on the pedal spindle.

If I had a bicycle power meter I could confirm the change in crank power input required to overcome the change in axle resistance. Though I'm not investing the considerable sum required just to amuse myself further. Those who are running a 2WD trike, particularly for racing or time trialling, may want to examine the option of reducing the bearing end loads by using a thinner central spacer between the pawl holders. Or, at the very least, checking their own, inter-axle spacing is to the 4mm spec. Once that hurdle is cleared you can safely ignore all the rest of this nonsense.   
I didn't have the patience to refit the four axle, inner facing bearing seals to check the frictional effect of having those back in place.

Cut-away image borrowed from the Trykit website [with permission] The part labels are my own. The left axle pawls are identical but hidden by the freehub body. 

Of course the friction I measured is a worst case scenario. My trike's top gear is 48T x 12T. So it represents a 4:1 increase in axle friction measured at the pedals. My Stronglight cranks are only 160mm c-to-c which slightly exacerbates the difference compared with standard 170-175mm crank lengths.

Can I really feel the difference in axle drag while pedaling at high rpm in a modest gear on the 38T middle chainring? I feel I do but really can't be certain. Many cyclists will spend a fortune trying to reduce all potential losses in their drive train with the latest ceramic bearings. They will then suspend all further disbelief and shell out a second fortune on weight saving measures. While simultaneously ignoring their own weight and fitness levels.

My understanding of cycling efficiency is that the rider's weight is far more important than that of the bicycle itself. I drag a heavy canvas saddlebag around with me everywhere. This itself is always loaded down with a heavy U-lock. I am often carrying a great load of shopping in addition. It may seem strange but I rarely notice the extra weight while riding. Rather, I judge my own climbing performance on the day. It is often a shock having to carry the shopping/sports bag indoors. I wonder why I did not notice the extra weight on all the steep hills I have just climbed.

Only very rarely indeed have I stripped a trike to its bare roadworthy minimum weight. Then headed out for a ride completely intoxicated by the utterly amazing improvement in performance. It cannot be said that I am overweight myself. At least not any more. Riding a trike is a weight and drag handicap anyway compared with most bicycles. Few today would consider riding a bike with sporting pretensions which weighs as much as a lightweight trike. My Trykit weighs about 13kg when stripped of its usual and essential "shopping trolley" junk. Not bad, but racing bikes in its price bracket are considerably lighter.

If reducing bearing drag makes me feel a noticeable improvement then perhaps I don't really need scientific proof. Any more, in fact, than the vast majority of deluded and often overweight cyclists, who think the expense of their toys is a rational use of their disposable funds. But then, what is? A car? A hole in the road into which you throw money? Just to be allowed the right to sit sweating and and fuming in a gridlock traffic jam? While the planet goes to hell and those nasty, idiot and socially inferior cyclists whiz effortlessly by on either side?

Sunday 10th 62-72F, 17-22C, overcast, rather breezy already. It is supposed to gust to 30mph+ for most of the day with rain or showers later. I suppose I should feel myself lucky compared with the UK. Where 2" of rain fell in an hour in Cambridge. With many roads flooded. A trike may be more stable on flat surfaces but has a wider track and a lower bottom bracket. You may not wobble as much as on a bike but you have three wheels to find hidden drain covers and kerbs beneath the murky waters. So an outing on a flooded road is not the most sensible of journeys on either machine. I still think I'd prefer the trike. Since wellington boots with SPD cleats are rather rare one might like to consider polythene bags over the feet just in case.

I left early without my usual coffee and rolls to get some miles in before the wind really picked up. Heading straight into the wind is always a good idea while one is still fresh. I kept extending my route until I had looped all the way around to have the wind on my back for the last leg. It worked too! So the load of shopping had climatic assistance for the last few miles. Lots of broken branches and twigs on the road from yesterday's blow. With even higher winds forecast. The trike still felt faster than before the axle mods. I'm busily rethinking the Shimano 10sp sprocket spacing to match the Campag Ergo 11sp levers. It will have to go back on the stand while I record how well it changes between gears. 32 miles.

Pm. I spent an hour this afternoon stripping the rear axles again. I double checked the distance between the axle inner ends in case I had been mistaken. Even without the Trykit freehub in place there is still no play in the axle bearings when I waggle the wheels at the rims. So I am confident I have not overdone the thinning of the central shim/spacer. Though it should be remembered that each of the half axles is individually mounted in two bearings retained by circlips.

The hollow axles have left a clear mark on the central 4mm spacer.

A slight difference exists in the spin down time of each axle with the wheels mounted. Though I don't believe the small difference is really worth pursuing now that the wheels spin so freely. My Higgins, fitted with Trykit 2WD, has always been exceptionally free running. I was instructed to set up the [adjustable] axles to leave 4mm clearance between them. For some reason my Trykit trike had non-standard [fixed] axle spacing from new. I delayed doing anything about it because I imagined the friction caused by the larger axle bearings on the Trykit trike were causing the problem.  The rear wheels spin for minutes now and it is much easier to spin them up to a high speed in top gear. [48x12]

Having sorted out the axles I turned my attention back to the cassette. I removed the experimental 9sp sprocket spacers and replaced the original 10sp spacers. Gear changes had been much too slow and sloppy with the 9sp spacers. Suggesting that the rear changer was not moving far enough per lever click to move the chain cleanly onto the next sprocket. The cassette locking ring was then tightened on the Trykit freehub to the 40Nm Shimano spec. using a torque wrench. Gear changes are now much crisper than before though still not always perfect. Cable rerouting may offer further progress. I am still struggling with the Ultegra triple front changer. It really doesn't like evenly spaced, chainwheel tooth counts. 48/38/28. I am continuing my online search for capacity specs of the Campag Athena 3x11 triple front changer. [Without any success so far!]

It has been blowing a gale since lunch time but no rain so far. Promised to be even windier tomorrow!

Click on any image for an enlargement.

8 Aug 2014

8th August 2014 Jane Moore: Lands End to John O' Groats Tricycle Record!

Jane Moore has just completed a Lands End to John O'Groats ride in 3 days 16 hours 45 minutes and 21 seconds on a racing trike. As a fellow cyclist [and tricyclist of course] I can only imagine the terrible suffering she went through to achieve this incredible feat. Words cannot convey the Herculean struggle against physical pain, exhaustion and lack of sleep. To stay the distance requires mountainous courage and enormous willpower. Congratulations, Jane!  The Record is yours forever! 


7 Aug 2014

7th August 2014

Thursday 7th 66F, 19C, almost still, heavy overcast, spitting with possible rain forecast all day. 2.7 mile walk mostly on the edges, or the spray tracks, of freshly harvested fields.

Spent the morning clipping beech hedges. Going for a ride after lunch. It keeps spitting without becoming real rain. It kept sprinkling me on the first leg but hardly a problem. The rain jacket did a 16 mile trip for nothing. Still can't get bottom gear on the cassette but the indexing is better than before. I'll have to put the trike on the stand again and sort the gears out properly. With the crosswind I was cruising at 18-20mph, at times, going both ways. Too early to say if the gain in speed is purely psychological. I detoured up a local hill to stretch the mileage despite having a great load of shopping in the bags.
Here's the stretched limo of Longstaff tricycles:

Presently on eBay with a £250 starting price: http://www.ebay.co.uk/stretched Longstaff

Sold for £345.

Probably unique. A very interesting construction by the master builder himself. Well braced for a safe ride when loaded. If the original box was discarded, or suitably modified, the rear could be arranged to carry small children or bulky, but lightweight loads. The only downside is not being able to see which gear you are in as you glance down.

Friday 8th 70-76F, 21-24C, warm, sunny and still. I am allowed out again! Riding to Odense. Warm and windy. 16 miles in the first hour. Then wasted time on the Odense road and cycle lane closures in the city centre. Odense Kommune seems very confused about glass recycling. I'm sure recycling doesn't mean spreading broken bottles on the cycle paths instead of gravel! Headwind coming back. I had lowered my saddle by 1/8" and it seems to have made my knees hurt. 41 miles. Going out again. Only 6 more miles. Warm and blowing harder than ever.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

6 Aug 2014

6th August 2014

Wednesday 6th 64-76F, 18-25C, still and sunny. Time for a walk. Quite warm now. 4 miles. Bitten several times by flies in the woods!

Meanwhile, back at the trike: After the morning coffee and rolls ritual I made a 2mm thick brass disk to replace the 4mm thick central spacer between the Trykit 2WD pawls. The original is alloy but I had no round stock handy in alloy in 1"/25mm diameter.

Even with half the bearing seals removed the wheels still would not spin freely up on the stand. Hence the thinner spacer to reduce end loading on the axle bearings. A 2mm spacer still ensures a positive 0.75mm interference. The 4mm disk applied 2.25mm difference compared with the gap between the inner ends of the bare axles.

While I had the rear end apart I stripped the Ultegra 10SP cassette and gave it a good clean in spray on, car engine cleaner. Once it had been all been given a good brush with cleaner it all came up nicely with a rub over with clean rags. I stripped and cleaned the Stronglight triple chainset while I was at it. No point in fitting a new chain on filthy components. Then there were the for and aft gear changers to clean thoroughly.

I rebuilt the cassette using 9sp spacers to see if this will help the indexing. Though I had to file the projecting tabs from the spacers before the sprockets would sit flat. There are no tabs on the 10sp spacers.

The Trykit 2WD free-hub will take an enormously wide cassette if needed. Easily room for 11 speeds. So there was still lots of room left with 10 speeds even with the extra wide spacers. 4 x 0.3mm = 1.2mm extra width. So not much to worry about there.

The Ultegra 10sp cassette uses a carrier for the three largest sprockets so I has no control over their spacing. The two smallest sprockets are also fixed in their spacing by the built-in metal rings. So I needed only 4 x 9sp spacers.

Once everything was clean, greased and rebuilt and the new chain fitted, the rear wheels spun for ages! A good result! I could tell the difference instantly just by pushing the wheels around by hand. The difference in freedom is really quite amazing. It used to be quite difficult to spin the rear wheels up to high speed on the big chainwheel by hand. I doubt there will be any problem with security of axle location or safety with reduced end loading on the circlips. The central spacer applies a mutual load on the ends of the axles during cornering.

Time for a test ride to the shops! While it certainly felt more free running my legs were tired from yesterday's jaunt. Again, the freewheeling effect could be purely psychological. Though I was easily able to roll uphill across the supermarket car parks without pedalling. Despite a side wind and load of shopping I was cruising at 20mph coming home. The indexing seems better though I have yet to fine tune the cable adjustment. I also forgot to adjust the stop screws on the rear changer for the widened cassette. Only 10 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

5 Aug 2014

5th August 2014


Tuesday 5th 72F, 22C, warm, still and sunny. I decided to change the gear cable rather than go for a walk. Easily said. Less easily done. It had frayed in every possible position where it was bent in use. Which meant that the Ergo lever was full of frayed strands! I had to remove the lever and gently lift the cable from its guides before I could finally get the nipple free of the mechanism. Cutting the inner cable into bits along its length helped to free it from the outers. This gave me the option of pulling one end or the other.

The first replacement cable proved to be an inch short! So I had to remove that too. Then began the search for a suitably thin replacement from my rapidly dwindling stock. I also needed to replace the rear run of outer which had been cut short to make use of the ShiftMate mechanism.

Finally I had a functioning cable installed and a much better gear change than with the ShiftMate. This was with the trike up on the stand so I haven't tested it on the road yet. That will occur after coffee and rolls. The rear wheels seem much more free to spin than before the bearing seal removal. I'm wondering if there are further options to reduce axle friction without total loss of bearing protection.

It's a really beautiful day with comfortable temperatures to work on the trike outside in just a pair of shorts. The very light winds forecast strongly suggests I need a longer ride despite the rather late start time. I'll also need to plaster myself in suntan cream!

I left at 11am to ride through Odense to a garden centre on the other side.  Going well so I pushed myself all the way. I was averaging 18-20 mph for the first few miles.  I can't be certain but the trike did feel quicker all day after the bearing seal removal. Even if it was psychological it was an effect well worth having.

The pretend cycle lane between Odense and Langeskov is absolutely appalling! Avoid at all costs! I pulled off the road several times to let tractors pass with their loaded trailers of grain or hay bales. By comparison the road surface beyond the cracked and worn white segregating line is perfectly smooth and flawless.  Odense Kommune obviously hopes to wrest the Extreme Mountain Biking Championships from less deserving, third world countries without having to invest in a circuit! Just release the daring but unfortunate MTB riders onto the Odense cycle path!

From Langeskov to Ullerslev the cycle path becomes a properly segregated track with a fairly smooth surface. Apart from the raised ridges from tree roots burrowing underneath and all the crevasses and potholes.

A  headwind picked up as I approached Odense and it kept up until I reached my goal at 33 miles. I was caught in a sudden, torrential cloudburst on the way back to Odense. So I sheltered under a big beech tree right beside the road for a while. A fellow cyclist joined me but became impatient before I did due to the heavy traffic spray. Once I got going again I was quickly soaked from head to toe but dried off slowly in the warm sunshine. I soon hit dry roads so the downpour was very localised. My socks and shoes stayed wet until I reached home though I certainly wasn't aware of it.

I should have enjoyed a tailwind home but it had shifted 180 degrees beyond Odense. Lots of harvesting going on in the fields. 6 hours riding for 11mph average. With four shops visited in half an hour according to the GPS logger. 66 miles. Best distance this year. Two cheese rolls, two small cartons of apple juice, about a litre and half of tap water and a banana. It can't be enough. I'd have eaten more than that for lunch if I 'd stayed at home! My wrists seemed to resent my weight on my arms but my legs were okay. I just kept shifting my grip on the bars and it seemed to help.

I have also modified my stance on the trike when climbing out of the saddle. [i.e. Standing up on the pedals.]  By leaning further forwards I find I can take some of my weight on the bars. This improves my for and aft balance and my legs don't tire so soon on a longer climb. I am also leaning forwards more which reduces air resistance into a headwind.

A quiet rural corner where I stopped for lunch beside an empty house which was for sale. One bicycle passed in quarter of an hour but no motor vehicles at all. Lunch was consumed while standing up. 

My quadriceps muscles have changed dramatically since I started getting out of the saddle so often. Not only are they bulking up but the muscle definition is quite remarkable. Best seen when I lift my feet by extending my legs while sitting on a chair. Some experts suggest one should remain seated on a trike when climbing as this is more efficient. I find the variation valuable and enjoy the extra speed attainable. It is often useful to attack the crest of smaller hills to maintain speed. The change in the muscle groups can stave off tiredness when one is trying to go faster in hilly terrain.

The next task is to replace the central spacer between the Trykit 2WD, pawl carriers with a thinner one. Just to see if the reduced end loading frees up the bearings further. The wheels spin far longer as a pair than individually. This suggests to me that the oversized, central spacer is causing some friction between the inner ends of the axles. I may also research the possibility of new bearings with single sided, metal seals. Cleaning and re-lubricating the more exposed bearings more often, than an annual inspection, is hardly a burdensome chore.

Click on any image for an enlargement. 

4 Aug 2014

4th August 2014

Monday 4th 62-75F, 17-24C, heavy overcast, quite still. A damp start is forecast with warm sunshine later.

Statistics suggest the use of headphones while cycling increases the risk of having an accident by 30%. While 10% of those injured on their bikes admitted to having used a mobile phone or had listened to music immediately before their accident. Now the professional liars politic-ooze are considering how to reduce the problem.

I can never understand anybody listening to music while jogging or riding in the countryside. They miss the connection with nature, the birdsong and so many natural sounds. They also completely miss the sound of fast approaching vehicles! Never mind a cyclist struggling to pass you as you meander along in the middle of the cycle path in your own little, fantasy world. If you miss a beat to jog or cycle to then perhaps you should try listening to your own panting breath or heartbeat? Become more self-aware? Suit yourselves. You will anyway.

It was warm and bright for my walk around the bare fields and shady woods. Since I have started wearing shorts for my morning perambulations I have struggled with grass seeds and burrs stuck to my socks. I am not aware of them at the time but my socks are often covered in debris when I take off my boots. My legs are now so brown that my bare feet look like I have been standing in a bowl of whitewash. No sign of rain yet. Still lots of fields left to harvest. Large flocks of Sparrows everywhere.

After a struggle my wife finally managed a sharp image of a Brimstone butterfly. The Canon Ixus 117 camera has a mind of its own on auto! Without having the zoom range for decent image scale. Cropped from the original. Fame at last! 

Rode to Assens to shop. Breezy but mostly crosswind. Not quite as warm as last week. Which is a great improvement! Going well. 21 miles.

I have spotted the rear gear cable is fraying at the ShiftMate. It has also frayed at the changer clamping screw. IT may be a poor quality cable. I have no idea as to its exact origin. It having been selected from my poly bag stock of unused cables. I may discard the ShiftMate when I change the cable. It does not provide the flawless index changes I'd hoped for.

While I had the trike up on the stand for examination I finally decided to have a proper look at axle friction. It has been bugging me for ages that the Trykit wheels stop very quickly when given a spin. Unlike the Higgins which also has has the Trykit 2WD system fitted. The Higgins wheels go on spinning for minutes. The main difference between the two trikes is in the size of the journal axle bearings. The Higgins being limited in bearing size by the need for them to fit the adjustable [bottom bracket] cups. Still, the difference in bearing size should not have that much effect on axle drag.

I have frequently been dropped on descents while pedalling flat out as an ordinary cyclist simply free-wheels effortlessly away from me on a sit-up-and-beg roadster with fat tyres. It goes without saying that drag on descents is matched by drag on climbs and on the flat. I obviously have to work that much harder to overcome the extra drag. Though speeds are likely to be higher on descents than elsewhere the difference is probably not that great in practice.

First I removed the wheels, outer bearing circlips and then withdrew the axles. Allowing the cassette to drop out into a rag on its 2WD double free-hub. I then reinserted the axles and refitted the outer bearings and their retention circlips.

There really was am awful lot of drag when trying to turn the bare axles by finger pressure alone! So I removed the circlips and bearings again. Each bearing had roughly the same amount of drag when a finger was inserted into the bore and the rim pushed around.

It had already occurred to me that only one side of each bearing is exposed to dirt and the weather. The inner seal is thus extra baggage. I could reduce seal drag by half simply by removing the four inward facing seals. The axle housings offer perfect protection for the bearings. So there was no need to worry about contamination. Any dirt would have to get past the outer bearings with their intact outer seals. A very unlikely occurrence.

I examined each bearing carefully and removed the worst seal from one side only with a small, sharp screwdriver. The original packing grease was still adequate but I added a good dollop of new grease anyway. I always smear the entire axles and bearings with grease to stop potential rusting between maintenance sessions.

After re-assembly the axles seemed to turn slightly more freely. With the wheels in place they spun for far longer than before. It should be remembered that the 2WD pawls and support bearings in the special free-hub also add to friction when freewheeling. Not that I do much of that even on descents. So the 2WD free-hub can probably be ignored provided I  keep pedalling hard. 

I still have some worries about my Trykit's excessive axle friction. My Higgins needed a 4mm gap between the stub axles. The Trykit has only 1.5mm clearance between the inner axle stubs but still has a 4mm central spacer in the 2WD free-hub. I'm wondering if this increases end loading on the axle bearings. And, more importantly, whether it really matters.

One way to change the end loading would be to turn a millimetre from each inner bearing, axle shoulder. While I do have ceramic tools for my lathe and the skill to do it it would be rather a drastic move. I would have to discuss the possible consequences with Geoff Booker of Trykit first.

The other, far simpler alternative would be to make or use a thinner central spacer. The great width of the free-hub ratchet teeth should easily cope with any minor, longitudinal repositioning.

I am still unsure whether the bearing retention circlips need to be preloaded for safety. The circlips are the only thing which stops the axles from sliding out on the corners. A well proven design, long used by George Longstaff, I believe, before Trykit adopted the same arrangement. The circlips expand into a groove cut into the inner circumference of the bearing housings.

The circlips themselves seem to be stamped from sheet material. Producing a handed appearance. With more rounded edges on one side and sharper on the other. I always place the shaper edges outwards to ensure the best possible location in the concentric, bearing housing grooves. I then use the slide hammer weight, provided by Trykit, to ensure the circlips are properly seated.

Click on any image for an enlargement.