1 Oct 2014

1st October 2014

Wednesday 1st 57-60F, 14-16C, misty, heavy overcast, damp, with light winds forecast. It is supposed to brighten up later. Better start the day with a walk. It tried to rain briefly but soon cleared up again. Warm enough for just a T-shirt. The sun broke through towards the end.

Lots of small birds dashing about on the fields and in the trees and hedges. Mostly chaffinches and goldfinches or sparrows. I tried to tip-toe past the lake because there were at least 100 female ducks on the water. I was almost past when one of them panicked and they all took off at once!  That'll teach them to laugh! 3.5 miles.

I left my ride until after morning coffee. Very light wind with some weak sunshine. The windmills were mostly stationary. I was going reasonably well. Tidied the trike shed after lunch. It needed it! Mr Higgins is now hanging upside down without his wheels to avoid taking up so much room. It only takes moments to be roadworthy again. Plus pumping the tyres up with the track pump of course. Still only a couple of minutes work. 16 miles.

Thursday 2nd 60-62F, 15-17C, mild, very light winds, overcast but slowly brightening. A 3 mile walk. It can keep up this quiet weather for as long as it likes. I did a pleasant loop around the lanes down to the coast before I started shopping. A bit breathless and not feeling very energetic today. I was down to 8mph on some of the longer drags. Even used the small chainwheel a couple of times to keep up the revs on the steep bits. Climbed out of the saddle several times for a few hundred yards. Keeping in a slightly higher gear helps to avoid fatigue from dancing in too low a gear. The pedal resistance seems to help. I passed a sprayer working in a field beside the road. Though I could smell it I have no idea what it might have been. 23 miles.

Having always been a bit of a hill climbing fetishist I enjoy reading British Hillclimb Champion, Tejvan Pettinger's thoughts and actions on his blog. His latest post discussed weight saving on an already ultra-lightweight bike. Cutting off the handlebars takes on a whole new meaning when you go out and buy expensive carbon fiber 'bars just to chop off the drops! I did the same in my youth but most bike handlebars were alloy and fairly cheap back then.

Drilling holes in brake levers and chainrings made me feel better though I never actually worked out the real weight loss. Affordable pocket calculators had yet to be invented let alone home computers. Slide rules were foolishly expensive for a teenager. [Yearn as I might while staring endlessly at the manufacturer's printed catalogues]

I do remember the bitter disappointment after fitting 5oz wood-insert rims and lighter tubs with stainless double butted spokes. I had almost expected not to have to pedal at all such was the expense. Far from it! It seemed like even harder work to make them go along! Lifting the back wheel and spinning it up in top gear felt no different from the Fiamme Road rims and Milremo Sportivos. The latter were the Town and Country tubulars for a training bike back then.

Climbing or sprinting up behind a bus or lorry, to draught between cities, seemed no easier with the ultra-lightweight wheels. Though I really had noticed the difference between Dunlop steel rims and Racer HPs when I was advised to fit sprints and tubs after my first [accidental] 10 mile TT. I had been out riding flat out [as usual] in the evening and came across of a gaggle of clubmen in a village ten miles from home. I was persuaded to ride and won on handicap on rather soft HPs. It was getting dark and freezing on the 10 miles back home! I was in shorts and a short sleeved top.

With Fiamme sprint wheels fitted the brakes suddenly started working as well. So the new lightness and increased speed of the Milremo tubs were even better value. The Sportivo's superb grip on corners made me a madman around town as I laid the bike right over on every corner. I was fearless and would climb out of the saddle to sprint on to the next corner like a teenager possessed. Well, you have to, don't you?

Getting back to hillclimbing though: It amuses me how much extra weight I am often carrying over and above the lightweight carbon bike rider's I meet on my travels. Even the bare Trykit is no lightweight compared with most of today's bikes with remotely sporting pretensions. I drag the 1kg Abus lock around with me everywhere in my heavy, canvas, Camper saddlebag. The B17 Brooks saddle is standard wear because nothing else I have tried is remotely comfortable.

My camera, toolkit, sports bag and all the junk I need for shopping all add to the total weight. Now throw in a few liters of milk, a bag of organic spuds and all the rest of my shopping load of the day. I still have to drag myself up lots of hills whichever way I head for home. Let's assume that my shopping averages 10kg. I must now be pushing into mobility trike territory for all-up weight.

Now plonk "our hero," still with delusions of sporting grandeur, on top of that lot. Every time he sees another cyclist the red mist comes down and off he goes like a badly trained dog to try and catch them. I never dawdle. Always trying to keep up a good pace and high cadence regardless of today's load. The odd thing is that I rarely feel the need to strip everything off and go for a ride just for the fun of it. I have become so used to shopping on my trike that it has become the reason I ride most days. I always need a goal even if it is a distant one. Perhaps to photograph something interesting or new.

Aimless wandering seriously lacks purpose in my cycling vocabulary. I am still having fun but I should really make an effort to ride without any purpose but the journey itself. I don't need any more training and intervals really don't appeal. At my age I ought to know better. It's just that my lifelong, competitive drive has no real or useful outlet. I would love to do a regular time trial to try and get it out of my system. Or just to better measure my remaining abilities as a rider.

I tried riding a 10 mile course along a main road to the roundabout and back about ten miles from home. Somehow it seriously lacked the direct competitive element. There was nothing to compare myself to and this is surely the essence of competition. All I seemed to be doing was thrashing along, in considerable pain, all on my own, trying to prove something to myself. All done in a partial vacuum of sharing my experience on the internet. It was another case of; does the tree make a sound when it falls when there is nobody there to hear it?

I have no guarantee that anyone will ever read my rambling blog. Then again, should it matter? Is the blog the raison dĂȘtre? Or is it merely a record of my thoughts and actions regarding my tri-cycling. Does it even matter? The blog started to ensure self-discipline in my riding every day. Or, at least, as often as possible. Cycling is almost inevitably a solo pastime unless one limits oneself to social occasions. Perhaps to only to ever ride in groups. That's never going to happen in my case. My deliberate choice of a trike isolates me from most bicycle-orientated activities. As does the language to some degree. Most of them probably think I'm handicapped anyway just for riding a trike. They may well be right! Though why people make so much of an extra wheel on a bicycle remains a mystery.

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