29 Nov 2014

29th November 2014 Another SMIDSY!

Saturday 29th 33F, 1C, heavy overcast and windy. The forecast is for gusts to 25mph and a fixed temperature just above freezing point all day. I know I am cold proof now but I'd still like a pair of sunglasses with decent edge seals to keep the wind out. I had a cheap pair from a supermarket once but the foam only lasted for a couple of rides. They were great while they were still functional. Skiing goggle are highly appropriate in winter but just seem too over the top on a bike/trike except in a real blizzard. Skiing eye kit also tends to be too dark for anything but blinding sunshine on the snow covered mountain slopes. Riding into a cold wind, particularly downhill,  is apt to cause eye watering with most "cycling" sunglasses. When one would rather be fully able to constantly monitor the traffic regardless of lighting conditions. Particularly in your essential rear view mirror!

It seems a woman driver not only failed to see a cyclist on the cycle path yesterday. But, having knocked him down she then ran over him before stopping. Leaving him trapped and unreachable by attending ambulance staff underneath her car. The cyclist had approved lighting but died on the spot. Yet another SMIDSY. I hope her phone/tablet was automatically checked for simultaneous use just prior to "THE ACCIDENT". It really ought to be standard procedure to check a mobile phone/tablet/whatever by now. One can always check recent phone use while driving from the drool running down the driver's chin after "AN ACCIDENT." Unfortunately their knuckles are usually protected from dragging on the ground by the floor of their car. So there's no point in checking those.

Those who cycle commute or train in the dark should ideally go for complete overkill in the lighting department. And, wear a high viz, highly reflective waistcoat or jacket as well. You can't complain from the grave if you haven't made yourself properly visible. Black seems to be the favourite colours of many cyclists. Often supported by tiny "magnet" lights mounted at axle height. Fit and forget, says the packaging. Most driver's will forget you exist until they feel the thump!

Many Danish supermarkets and all bike shops have an assortment of really bright LED bike lights for literally pocket change prices and on upwards. A £tenner equiv will get you noticed from both front and rear from well over a mile away. Make sure your lighting flashes! There is far too much competition for driver's attention with fixed beam lights no matter how bright they are. Only cyclists use flashing lights. So it's a no-brainer to recognise you for what you really are.

A quick snap of my 3 'Smart' rear lights from 20 yards away at dusk. The lights seem much brighter when they flash and are certainly more noticeable up to much greater distances.

Take my word for it that a bright, flashing front light will make oncoming cars dip instantly. While a steady beam, of exactly the same brightness, often means your presence is completely ignored by drivers. Leaving you blinded by their headlights. Want a fixed beam? Then buy two lots of lights and fit both sets front and rear. Put one set on fixed beam and the other one flashing. If you have the patience you could stand by a busy road in the dark and watch approaching cyclists for visibility. There's an eye-opening education in suicidal folly to be had from the verge!

Some Danish supermarkets sell hi-viz waistcoats for cyclists at this time of year. Do you suppose you'll look remotely silly riding along like some mobile Christmas tree wrapped up in fluorescent day-glo bag? At least you'll get most driver's brief attention compared with the hoards of completely invisible, suicidal morons sharing your route! Too fashion conscious to be seen out in such a get-up? How fashion conscious is an autopsy shroud? Or were you hoping for the sympathy vote of head-to-toe plaster casts with trendy, stainless accents from the braces?

If you drive as well as cycle then prop your bike against a tree with the lights switched on. Preferably when it is dark and raining heavily. How well can you see your bike through the wet windscreen? Now wrap the tree trunk with your usual cycling jacket. Are you really feeling that lucky? Now imagine yourself doing your usual 40 in a 30mph zone suddenly catching up with the moron on that bike!

Shouldn't selling black cycling wear be classed along with selling hard drugs? It's no wonder they send the Sky team to a tropical island to train. If they tried cycling in their team apparel in America or Europe they'd be completely, bløødy invisible! What an example to set to the slavish, copyist, weekend warriors!

Why not go out and buy one of those hideously bright waistcoats with lots of highly reflective strips? Wear it every single time you ride your bike/trike. You'll look like just like a policeman if you are really lucky and choose your jacket/waistcoat well. Most drivers instantly snap to attention when they see a high viz jacket in their headlights because they feel suddenly guilty about their current speed. Or, far more likely, at sudden risk of unexpected discovery of their lawbreaking. They were probably talking bølløcks to their iSlave and speeding before they glimpsed you through their fog of alternative reality! You might even save another [invisible] cyclist's life by setting a good example! Or reminding drivers that there are hidden cyclists in their path.

I limited my morning walk to half an hour as it felt rather cold in the easterly wind. Left for my ride after morning coffee. The only bit of me feeling cold as I rode into the wind was my nose. Which tends towards blue/violet over the winter. I hate balaclavas which cover my face so there is not much can be done! The rest of me was fine. Having reached my goal I meandered back via the lanes still enjoying the Duranos.

I saw four Red kites soaring on a ridge in a sparsely populated area. One of them seemed curious about me and followed me for a couple of miles. Though it may simply have been hunting, it kept coming nearer, as it followed the lane I was travelling along. I have ridden four 19 mile routes this week without covering the same ground. Just an odd coincidence and shows the large number of potential routes available to me. Provided I stay away from the main roads I can go for miles without seeing a car. Still bunged up with my cold/flu. 19 miles.

Sunday 30th 29F, -1C, windy with the trees bending, dark from the heavy overcast. Uncomfortably windy for these temperatures. I shall have to dress more warmly for my walks. While simultaneously trying to avoid overheating. Windproof without too much insulation would be ideal. My nose is still blocked or running and I'm still partially deaf in one ear causing constant tinnitus. Still short of breath and my chest still congested. Fortunately my chest seems to clear after a few miles and my occasional dizziness at home doesn't affect my balance on the trike.

I wore a duvet jacket on my walk and was perfectly comfortable in the cold wind. The frost had frozen the mud on the spray tracks opening up familiar routes. Having followed a route across the fields I could hear shooting and saw the hunters cars parked about a mile east of me. So I stayed out of those woods and took the track to another forest. Quite a few different MTB tracks visible in the frozen mud.

A remarkable mix of small birds were moving together along the hedges. I saw a bird of prey with long, pointed wings and a distinctive white patch on top of its long tail. Foraging hooded crows were performing crazy aerobatics over the fields as they mobbed one of their own. I came across three red deer grazing in the woods and watched them for a while through my binoculars. Eventually they spotted me and stepped gently into the undergrowth. Further on they popped out from behind a pile of logs and dashed across my path into the darkness of the regimented conifers. I'll go out on the trike after lunch now.

My short, late afternoon ride was marked by the arrival of a KMXKarts recumbent trike in the supermarket car park. The second I have seen in a fortnight after several years of the complete absence. I was just about to leave but stopped to take some snaps as the young owner went shopping. The very low trike was not easy to capture in such poor light. Made worse by being trapped between a bike and the plant sales rack.

I am still not convinced of the merits of placing the rider at exhaust pipe level. Nor do I like the effect such trikes have on one's neck muscles from lying half prone without adequate head or neck support. No doubt one would get used it it after a while. The handlebars also seem rather too close to tyre spray for ideal winter comfort. Still a very smart machine though. Only 10 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

27 Nov 2014

27th November 2014 Schwalbe Durano v Continental GP4000Shite

Thursday 27th 34-39F, 1-4C,  quite windy at times, mostly sunny. Still snotty with headaches and a feeling of pressure in my sinuses. Went for a walk.

Later, there was a really cold headwind on my way to the shops. Limiting my cruising speed on the flat to 10-12mph. I wore the thicker and softer GripGrab Pilot scull cap under my helmet for the first time this winter. It covers my ears better and the wind doesn't roar in my ears quite so much as the lighter GG scull caps. I usually take off the caps in the shops to avoid overheating. The new NW MTB boots are very comfortable and neutrally warm without overheating. I have just discovered that there is also a thermal lining model in bright green but haven't seen them locally. I also wore my newer pair of Dintex gloves. They were a bit stiff at first but I soon forgot them as I enjoyed their warmth. They will take on a more curved hand shape after a few wears and washes.

The new Durano tyres have arrived in very quick time from Germany. [bike-components.de] In 700x25C. Nb. NOT the Plus model. I should clean some of the crud of the trike. The roads are filthy from the farmer's usual activities plus the major Christmas tree harvesting at the moment. My front mudguard kept rubbing on the thick mud sticking to the tyre. So I have taken it [the mudguard] off. Christmas tree plantations seem to require a lot of vehicle activity which plasters the roads with thick mud. Of course the tree owners feel no compulsion to clean up after themselves. That would eat into the easy profits.

Seeing a farm tractor with a rotary brush is as rare as seeing one from the local council. They rely on rain and traffic to clean the roads eventually. Leaving behind moraines of the stones and gravel originally trapped in the mud. If there is no rain the mud turns to concrete-hard mushrooms, or worse. Which causes huge brown clouds of dust as the traffic bumps over it. Riding a trike is not much fun over such rough surfaces. I usually lift of the saddle and hope for the best.

I have been far too close to agricultural sprayers twice in the last week! It smelt strongly of oil paint thinners both times. Not a clue what it might be but one tractor had a child aboard. So it must be safe to put the stuff on your breakfast cereal. Or not. We had a local weekend farmer with one small field who told us the stuff was perfectly safe. He had a bunch of kids with all sorts of health problems but would still spray even when they were playing outside. I'd see them deliberately running through his spray cloud as if it was a game! You wouldn't believe the contortions of the young oaks after we planted as a hedge against his field. Fortunately, for all concerned, he moved on to pastures new. The oaks recovered after several years of being horribly stunted and twisted.

There's a wonderful irony that we choose organic produce options wherever possible. Only to be constantly bombarded by toxic chemicals due to our rural location completely surrounded in fields. A Danish scientist was sounding warning bells only today about the growing pandemic due to chemical toxicity in our modern lifestyle products and agriculture. 19 miles.

Friday 28th 35F, 2C, white overnight frost, breezy, forecast to become windy with 30mph+ gusts. Clear sky with promise of -6C wind chill equivalent. Spent an hour in the shed changing the Continental GPS 4000S tyres to Schwalbe Durano. I noticed over a week ago that the Continentals had already gone flat on the tread since being fitted in August. Which seems remarkably quick despite them being on a trike.

Two of the brand new Continental inner tubes had loose valves. They literally fell out as I loosened the [tight] valve locking nuts! The Schwalbe tyres are a slightly tighter fit on the rims than the Continentals. Very rubbery too so that they have high friction when fitting. Though I managed to do without tyre levers, getting the last bit of bead onto the rim took some patience. Using an old spring scale I made the Schwalbe 5oz to the Continental's 4oz. [The manufactures claim 290 & 225g respectively in 25-622 or 700x25C]  Though it is impossible to judge the difference in weight by hand alone. Going on previous form I can safely forget about punctures for a while. Famous last words? We shall see. The graphics have changed with the new tyres.

I shall be running them at 90psi as usual. Easily achieved and checked using my faithful track pump.[Topeak Joe Blow Sport II] I am still amazed how low my tyre pressures often are when only using a frame fit or mini-pump and guessing. Even when the tyre feels rock hard to my MkI thumb I may still have only 50psi. Without a pressure gauge you haven't clue what tyre pressures you are running. It's no wonder I used to suffer so many pinch flats on road debris! Attaching the track pump to check my pressures is usually an eye-opener. I ought to have a set day of the week to check my tyre pressures but it tends to be rather random at about weekly intervals. Losing 10psi per week is quite normal using "normal" Continental inner tubes but varies a bit.

I was utterly amazed how well Duranos rolled compared to the total deadness of the Continental GP4000S. Just riding down our long and rough gravel drive was enough to expose the urgency and smoothness of the Durano. Many drain covers aren't very level with the tarmac. I was so sick of the jarring with the GP4000S that I was taking a wider and more dangerous line just to avoid them! The Duranos sail over such hurdles and are easily worth an extra 2mph at 10mph cruising speeds over the GP4000S. The thick "dotted" demarcation lines on the main roads are a pain on a trike. Can't quite bridge them and can't ride on them. They mark the cycle lane boundary but are more formally used to wake up drunken/dozing drivers who wander off the road. The Duranos made light work of one stretch which I rode today.

Why would anybody ride the Continentals when they can buy the much cheaper, much faster and much smoother Duranos? The GP4000S are a puncture magnet compared with the thousands of miles I've ridden on the Duranos without a single puncture. The GP4000S just feel so dead even at the same pressure of 90psi. The difference in rolling resistance means being able to use the next higher gear on a 10-speed block.

The Duranos feel so wonderfully "rubbery" that they are almost like having rear suspension on rough surfaces. The Tarmac contractors have used very coarse gravel to resurface a lot of local roads this year. This has meant a loss of at least 2 mph cruising speed on the Continentals. The moment I hit the rough gravel section I lost no speed at all on the Duranos! On descents the trike was now running away from me on the Duranos. While the Continentals felt like they had a centrifugal brake and wouldn't go much over 25mph even on the steepest hills. Not even with a tailwind! In fact the Duranos feel like a constant 5mph tailwind compared with the GP4000S.

Give the Duranos a try if you don't believe me. I'm paying for all my kit but the Continentals were actually a free exchange. And I still don't want them on my trike! They were a dealer exchange for the crap rubber on an earlier set of 4000S which grew huge holes from tiny flints on the first ride. Continental were too afraid to admit they were pushing crap rubber out the factory door but the online dealer still felt obliged to exchange them. Perhaps Continental should change the last letter of 4000S from 'S' for Shite to 'H' for Handicap? Or even 'CC' for Complete Crap?

It was blowing a cold headwind gale on the way to the shops limiting me to only 10-14mph. The crooks at the supermarket had no stock of a heavily advertised 2-day special offer. [But played the default supplier problems.] My Asse jacket is superbly opaque to the wind yet still breathes well. It cost me about £5 [equiv.] at a local charity shop. I feel I am really well equipped for cold conditions now. It rained on the way back as I took a hilly detour to further enjoy the new Duranos. Nose still running with slight but constant headache. Just passed the 10,000 km barrier for the year. 19 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

24 Nov 2014

24th November 2014 Lazy Lezyne Road Drive

Monday 24th 45F, 7C, breezy, heavy overcast. Rain possible all day. The wind has finally gone round to the SW instead of the continuous easterlies of the past months. So now we get the grey/black smoke from yet another neighbour's chimney. Many homes in Denmark probably suffer worse air quality than even the Chinese communist mafia bosses can offer. The fact that both countries rely on coal fired power stations speaks volumes. Had a pleasant walk in bright sunshine. The horizon was sharp for the first time in what seems like months.

The ride went much worse. Not a happy bunny at all! I punctured a Continental 4000Shite 9 miles from home. Then discovered the POS Lezyne alloy mini pump could not be made to work. The damned flexible hose was irrevocably jammed in the body! With no way to get any purchase on the ridiculously narrow knurled fitting it would not budge without access to a pair of pliers. Without a pump I could not change the inner tube. So I limped the 9 miles home on a flat rear tyre.

Once safely home I discovered that the 48 LED panel light I had bought for the hall was covered in scratches. An obvious returned goods item that had not even been checked before placing it back on sale.

So now I shall have to order a new set of Schwalbe Durano tyres in 700 x 25C and grease the Lezyne POS hose fitting. The only, mildly positive aspect of the whole charade was that I had not removed the tyre and punctured inner tube before discovering the POS Lezyne POS mini-pump wasn't functional without extra tools. The puncture was quite slow at first so I had hoped to just re-inflate to get home.

The Lezyne 'Road Drive' pump is a design disaster waiting to happen. Note the closeness of the knurled fitting to the pump head and the badly corroded thread. It took considerable effort [with a good pair of pliers] to free this corroded thread! Just so I could remove the flexible hose. No human finger pressure could have undone it. Those who own this pump should check now for easy removal of the hose. Just in case you face the same problem as I did miles from home. I smeared the thread with silicone grease to ensure easy removal next time. The pump has been fitted to its Lezyne seat tube clamp for many months without being exercised.  I have only rarely used the Lezyne pump thanks to an almost complete lack of punctures using Schwalbe Durano tyres. 

Changing an inner tube when the tyres are all sopping wet and plastered in tiny flints does not bode well for long term air-tightness. One's hands are immediately covered in "sharp sand." Which is instantly transferred to the brand new inner tube.

That's 2 punctures with the Continental 4000Shite in just over a fortnight. Never [ever] again!! 19 miles.

Tuesday 25th 34F, 1C, still and cloudless. It should be a bright, dry and quiet day. Ideal for a ride? Except that I really can't trust the Continental tyres and will have to wait for online delivery from Germany. Danish bike shops haven't heard of any other tyre width than 23mm. I know this because I have "done the rounds" several times before giving up and ordering online. Besides, most Danish sites only list the Durano Plus. It took literally ages just to find the lighter 25mm Durano Performance in 25mm. I wouldn't have minded trying 28mm for the winter but can't fit one on the front due to clearance problems with the mudguard.

Even the 25mm is a constant and noisy drag as soon as the tyre picks up any grit or mud. Which is very commonplace on rural roads where farming is practiced. The mudguard usually clears quickly but I can't lift it any higher. Even when it hasn't rained the mudguard saves my cycling shoes from getting wet from the frequently, dew-wetted roads. Had I know all of this I would have asked for more clearance on the forks when ordering the Trykit. Not Geoff Booker's fault at all. I had delusions I would only use the Trykit on dry, still, sunny days. The Higgins 'Ultralite' would continue to be my workhorse. I still had delusions back then of tearing around the countryside, on much longer rides, like a race fit teenager.

While I am certainly much faster than most "ordinary" cyclists my age is inevitably taking its toll. Living in a constantly windy region can be a serious hindrance to greater distances. Not just through exhaustion but the time required to cover the required miles at an inevitably, lower speed into a headwind. Once my average speed falls much below 10mph it can take all day to reach my intended goals and return safely.

I removed the inner tube and found no puncture while submerged in water. The 'Continental' valve core had fallen out as I unscrewed the locking tip. So initially I thought I was looking "only" at a loose valve. Having carefully checked the tyre for flints and thorns I replaced the same inner tube. It seemed to be holding the 90psi until I checked after ten minutes and found it had lost some pressure. I submerged the wheel rim in water and discovered a fine stream of bubbles issuing from the side wall of the tyre. So there was a small puncture AND a loose valve core. The inner tube had to come out, checked the tyre again and then fitted a new inner tube. I'm waiting to see if this one holds pressure before taking advantage of the unusually fine weather.

Rode to Middelfart by what passes for the coast road. Though views of the sea are often distant. Came back by inland main roads and then country lanes. The POS Cateye Cadence computer packed up repeatedly. It obviously hasn't had its contact pins polished enough this week. The Ventus GPS logger died half way back due to its old-aged lithium battery.

Finally splashed out and bought a pair of Northwave Celsius GTX MTB cycling boots for the winter. Overshoes don't keep the rainwater out of normal [well ventilated] MTB shoes so my socks often get wet. Even the wind can feel cold through the MTB shoe soles too. The boots are much better sealed and have a Goretex membrane beneath what looks like normal ventilation mesh. Some quick snaps show the general idea. A smooth, tough outer shoe houses an internal padded sock. One with eyelets and a tensioning lace and buckle. 50 miles.

Wednesday 26th 41F, 5C, grey, cool and windy. Went to buy some genuine Shimano SPD cleats and some spare inner tubes from the nearest bike shop. 21 miles. Fitted the new shoe cleats to my new MTB boots before going out to try them. Dark grey and increasingly windy later. The new NorthWave MTB boots feel very comfortable but I may have overdone the sizing slightly. I went up a size from my Northwave MTB shoes to allow winter socks. Or even two pairs of socks in really cold weather. I wore a medium weight smooth pair of socks and could feel a little slop when climbing and sprinting out of the saddle. Though this was without much effort being put into the boot's own, inner "sock" tension lace. A couple of large flaps provide plenty of Velcro adhesion to the outer and closing off direct access to wheel spray. I have yet to prove them in wet weather.

Given their purpose they should be fine when I need the extra warmth of doubled socks. It seems strange now that I used to go out regularly in very light trainers in temperatures below -10C. My toes and fingers often used to ache viciously from the bitter cold. It took me several years to discover suitably flexible "scooterists" gloves. Even then it wasn't easy to find gloves without protective the usual motorcyclist's knuckle pads. I found the so-called "winter gloves" by the big names in cycling apparel are simply crap much below 40F. By far the worst were SealSkinz! Horrible things at a ridiculously inflated price. Despite generous sizing I couldn't get them back on after stopping in rain. Now imagine riding home for m miles without gloves in bitterly cold and wet conditions. Lethal crap!

Unfortunately my favourite scooter gloves have now been discontinued so I can't recommend them to interested parties. I have two pairs and they seem to wash and last really well. Browsing in a motorcycle shop may turn up something similar. Just remember that you need considerable flexibility and feel to be able to change gear and brake safely. Don't undersize for cold weather gloves. You also need to be able to get them on and off easily when they mat get warm and damp. Another 10 miles for 31 today.

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20 Nov 2014

20th November 2014 Google's protection racket?

Thursday 20th 41F, 5C, another almost still and very grey day. I'm going for a lightweight ride to a target about 20 hilly miles away. Hopefully it will stay dry. I have deliberately fitted the Vetta SL saddle just to see how I get on. Stripping the Trykit carrier [1.3lbs?]and swapping the heavier Carradice Camper saddlebag for the 'Junior' will save a few pounds. As will leaving the massive 2lb+ Abus lock behind.  Though will take my TZ7 camera as always.

A very pretty, private suspension bridge over the moat at a stately home near Assens.[Brahesborg Slot/Gods] The bridge walkway has recently been removed due to rot. There were some fierce, original spikes pointing upwards beside the suspension bars to stop trespassers sneaking along the outside. The raft below suggests that the walkway will eventually be replaced. A beautiful lake circles two other sides of the grounds. With extensive woods beyond that. A large cobbled courtyard and road close the last side. The vast farm buildings nearby are very impressive.  

I don't usually worry about extra weight given the usual addition of daily shopping loads. By the time I have finished I expect to have removed at least 5 or 6lbs.[~3kg] Some people obsess over "saving" a mere few grams and will cheerfully pay £ks to reduce the weight of their machine by 100g. This, despite many riders making excuses not to lose weight themselves.

Immature Triffids on the path to the woods.

Anyway, the Vetta saddle was fine except that I had set it as far back as possible quite by accident while working in the semi-darkness. Which made it a bit of a stretch to the hoods. Just beginning to notice the Vetta saddle's firmness after 30 miles. Wearing tights under my bibs doesn't help as the seams lie in the wrong place. The lightness of the trike was very noticeable. Particularly when accelerating and climbing. Bit short of breath today. Only 36 miles so far. I was sprayed and rained on at halfway. Going out again. Plus 7 more miles with all the "junk" back on. The Brooks instantly felt more comfortable than the Vetta. I have some thin memory foam which I intend to use to check my sit bone spacing when in the normal riding position on the trike. 6001 miles for the year so far. Not a good year and far too late to make up the shortfall.

Friday 21st 41F, 5C patchy mist, heavy, patchy cloud, almost still. I seem to have a recurrence of the 'flu symptoms. Headache, coughing, snotty nose. shortness of breath and occasional dizziness. Went for a pleasant walk. Saw two birds of prey.

After a minor resurrection, the Ventus GPS logger battery now seems to be on its very last legs. A great shame as I now have no alternative. The G730 has been discontinued. I suppose I could break it open and run it off alternative batteries. Though as it is USB charged that might be a problem when it is connected to the computer to download my routes. I am planning another ride today to make the most of this quiet period. Days without wind are far too rare to waste. Even on me.

I refitted  the Brooks saddle, worn with my best bibs, for more comfort. Rode down the main coast road to Fåborg. A young chap on a TT bike overtook me but he ignored my greeting as he passed. I chased him for several miles at 18-23mph but the wind was not in my favour. It stayed sunny for most of the day. Later I saw a recumbent trike on my way back. I haven't seen one for ages. He gave me a wave.  I looked in a cycle shop but every single saddle on the extensive bike display was narrow and heavily curved.

The climb up from Faldsled to Jordløse should have been good fun but is a very long drag. Not helped by the appalling condition of the marked off cycle lane [broken verge] in many places. [Farm?] traffic has ripped up the already, very coarse tarmac over earlier white  line road markings. Making the cycle lane on the verge almost unrideable! I used the smooth road surface as much as possible but there was a lot of traffic. Forcing me back onto the "ploughed" and heavily ridged cycle lane at frequent intervals. The drudge of climbing continuously for so long was broken by a huge tipper lorry with matching trailer which just would not overtake. Almost dark by the time I reached home but I had all my Xmas lights on. 53 miles. I wonder whether they chose red for rear lights because of its similarity to blood?

Saturday 22nd 38F, 4C, still and grey. The clouds parted for a short walk. Nose still bunged up. Judging from the continuing gunfire the guys with the guns are still battling against the overwhelming resistance of the local wildlife. Perhaps they should call in the drones to take out the leaders?

Rode to Assens under a heavy overcast. The gunmen were still fighting a losing battle with the wildlife as I passed. Several shots were fired by gunmen only 5 meters from the road and 10 meters from houses. So they were obviously fighting from house to house at that point.

You have to admire the drooling idiocy and sheer laziness of the Danish supermarkets. Details would be too tediously boring for my readers but total customer indifference, advertising fraud and utter stupidity is perfectly normal Danish supermarket behaviour. IME. I wonder if having display racks the entire length of a football pitch sized supermarket is legal from a fire safety point of view? Just wondering. 21 miles.

Talking of dodgy business practice: I see Google is going into the protection racket business. Instead of bombarding every website with its tasteless and infantile advertising shite it will offer to blank them out with patterns if you pay a "subscription." Yeah, right! Since I never asked Google to bombard me with tasteless and infantile advertising shite in the first place why the hell should I pay them not to see their tasteless and infantile advertising shite?  And, if I won't pay their protection money will they send da boys round to break the legs on my computer desk?

One day those who work in advertising will command the same respect as pedophiles, toxic waste dumpers, communist dictators, Google, Microsoft, Apple, investment bankers, estate agents and serial killers.

Sunday 23rd. A sultry 42F, 6C, windy, light rain and heavily overcast. More of the same then, but with more wind and rain. A bit cold on the hands, what with wind chill and evaporative cooling, as I strolled down the road and back. My nose bled at half way, due to over-ambitious blowing, but I survived to tell the tale without losing consciousness.

The traffic in the lanes was nose to tail and all travelling at high speed in the semi-darkness as I returned. It reminded me of an overblown presidential convoy in a Hollywood blockbuster. They can't all be running booze from the German border, can they? Only 10 miles to keep the circulation going. I really must sort out some more pictures!

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17 Nov 2014

17th November 2014 Burning Saddles!

Monday 17th 47F, 8C, light breeze, incredibly dark, very heavy overcast. It is supposed to be less windy today and mostly dry. Though it seems to be raining at the moment and there are rain drops all over the windows. Even at 8am[CET] it is too dark to see much outside. The DMI radar is showing a belt of rain over south Fyn. "It" drizzled on my walk.

Left after lunch into dry but uniform grey. Almost still but enough of a breeze to help me home. Not feeling very energetic at the moment. Probably still weakened by the 'flu. Only 17 miles.

Tuesday 18th 46F, 8C, light breeze, light drizzle, heavy overcast. Why isn't aggressive overtaking of a cyclist or pedestrian classed as threatening behaviour? If I wave an iron bar in the high street the police will be called and I may well be arrested. If a driver uses threatening behaviour with a 40 ton, articulated lorry in the high street he/she goes completely unpunished. Drivers can cherry pick which laws they adhere to with a vanishingly small chance of prosecution. Murder by vehicular "accident" would be a difficult case to prove. The driver can claim the default "avoiding a cat" almost with impunity. Cyclists and pedestrians may not cherry pick. Yet many drivers perceive cyclists as "getting away with murder." Welcome to the twilight zone of "might is right." It never stopped drizzling. Another rest day.

Wednesday 19th 41F, 5C, drizzle with light winds and heavy overcast.

I have retied the B17 'Special' lace yet again. It is difficult to keep the lace taught in the longer term despite my decades of experience with knots. I am using a multi-turn, clench on one end. With a figure of eight knotted loop at the fixed end but the lace is only just long enough. There isn't much room between the inner saddle cheeks either. I chose this lace for its thickness, roundness and attractive colour and  appearance against the leather. The lace has shown no tendency to cut the leather so far.

Tying a saddle flattens the spine. Particularly when supporting the rider's weight. Using your fingers or thumbs to press a saddle top is quite unlike a normal rider's load on the leather. Tying also avoids the need to repeatedly re-tension the nose nut. A sagging saddle seems to force only one position on the rider. [In the middle of the sag] It also increases the relative height of the rear cantle plate and reinforced nose area.

 Pushing oneself backwards brings one in direct contact with the hard rear edge. Pushing forward simply removes the ideal sit bone support and throws all the rider's weight on the soft parts of the crutch. Which is biologically and genetically unintended for such a purpose.

An ideal leather Brooks saddle is at its most comfortable when it is only just broken in but before the spine starts to sag. The widest, flattest part of the saddle, where the sit bones normally rest, has then become pliable enough to spread the load and avoid hammering the bone contact areas. This is when the leather saddle offers some "hammock" style cushioning, increased contact area and local flexibility under load. While the still-relatively flat, saddle spine continues to offer the greater overall surface area to reduce the contact loading per square unit of area.

The Vetta SL was/is the only plastic saddle I could/can ride without instant discomfort. Note its generous width and very flat rear. Its plastic form is covered in thin foam and vinyl. [The foam is rather prone to denting and the vinyl poorly fixed in places] I still haven't confirmed whether this was the lady's MTB model but a solitary website suggests it is. Despite having rather narrow sit bone spacing [according to the memory foam test cushions in the bike shops] I seem to need a wider, flatter saddle to enjoy any degree of comfort. I find a B17 far more comfortable than the slightly narrower 'Professional' model. Why would the small difference in width matter if I have such narrow sit bone spacing??? Good question! Probably because the sit bone spacing test cushions are completely worthless! [IMO]

I am not remotely convinced that the usual test cushions are very useful as a guide to saddle choice. Being set so low on a completely flat bench it is very difficult to lean forwards enough to achieve a normal riding position. Not without one's knees hitting one's chest: Which just means these memory foam testers are more pseudo-scientific bullshit from the same makers of uncomfortable saddles!  

A proper [sit bone] measuring cushion should be fixed on a basic saddle form mounted on very  basic stationary bicycle stand. With widely adjustable handlebars vitally necessary so that the subject can set up a reasonably normal riding position. With their feet still safely planted on the floor for complete control and stability. The question then arises how much lateral curve should the test cushion "saddle" have? The curve across the width is one of the most vital parameters relating to measurements of sit bone spacing.  

Riding high mileages quickens a leather saddle break-in but greatly increases the risk of a sagging saddle spine. Those who complain of discomfort during an extended break in period may not be riding long or far enough to achieve any break-in of the leather.

Tightening the nose tension nut/screw on a leather saddle is often a complete disaster and should be avoided as much as possible! The increased tension just causes the sit bone, support areas to slope forwards. Which is the very last thing you want if long term, high mileage comfort is desired. The ideal form is a sunken, smooth dip just under the sit bones.

Tying the saddle, with a lace, seems to overcome the re-tensioning problem by actually raising the seating area triangles. This much is all too obvious if you simply squeeze the saddle cheeks together until they meet the frame rails. Tensioning a leather saddle at the nose only causes indented "creases" which pass right through the seating area at the rear. I call this a "delta form" and consider it highly undesirable. My Brooks "Professional" was so maltreated and has still not recovered despite repeated soaking and reshaping with packing under the leather top.

Anyone would think it possible to design a much better saddle in a cheap, stiff, man-made material simply by gently sinking the sit bone support areas slightly. Yet the manufacturers insist on building their saddles on a stiff, moulded plastic or CF base always with smoothly curved top surface. Leaving no room for the potential extra thickness of cushioning material on the sit bone support areas. The default curve is only a desperate attempt to try and support a wider range of sit bone spacing without admitting it is a complete disaster for most riders. The curve actually forms a wedge which tries separate the sit bones. Being stiff bone they do not want to be separated! All the smooth curve does, in practice, is to cause heavy localised loading and increased discomfort! The saddle's resistance to the sit bone loads is always perpendicular to the applied load.

Over a century of leather saddle experience is being completely ignored by every artificial saddle manufacture I know of. A comfortable, just-broken in leather saddle is quite wide at the rear, almost flat across the back but has has the vitally softer and slightly sunken sit bone areas. Leather saddle's comfort levels are legendary amongst high mileage riders. Not simply because they are made of leather but because they take on the shape of the rider over time. Everything else about leather, except appearance, is a disaster waiting to happen. They are ridiculously heavy, badly non-waterproof and subject to further, unwanted change/breakdown over time. Worse, they cannot be frozen in time at their very best [and most comfortable shape.] From that point on it is all bad news.

How difficult can it be to duplicate this "just broken in" classic leather shape with modern materials? Most "modern" saddles haven't changed since the bare plastic Unica Nitor broke the universal leather mould back in the 1960s. Another half a century of experience has simply been thrown away in the search for easy profit! Note how prices for short-lived, uncomfortable, plastic based trash continue to escalate well beyond the price of skilled, hand made, selected leather saddles. Keep taking the money!!!

A bare, saddle shaped, low temperature, thermoplastic saddle base could be warmed with a hair dryer or heat gun. Then sat on in the rider's desired position. Probably while wearing, thin but lightly insulated shorts to avoid burns to the nether regions. The plastic instantly becoming a perfectly rider-specific and comfortable shape as it cools. Without the need for the trashy cover materials and "Patented" variable density foam presently used to decorate the ridiculously overpriced, non-human formed, default curved, plastic bin fodder!

The plastic could easily be be moulded thicker at the rear and spine but left thinner and much more flexible at the vital, sit bone support areas. Thereby further increasing comfort. The bare plastic form could easily be textured in the mould to suit the particular rider's taste for degree of "slipperiness" when sat on. The downside is that the crooks producing their endless ranges of inhuman, non-human saddles would quickly find a shrinking market. The endless quest of every cyclist for a comfortable saddle might finally be over.

Saddle soreness is by far the major cause of cycling discomfort and arguably the reason most people give up cycling altogether. Or is the major factor which greatly limits their maximum possible riding distances before their pathetically designed saddle "cuts them in half!"

Yet these same pseudo-science manufacturing frauds keep churning out variations of the same bit of overpriced, upturned, plastic roofing gutter by the million! Saddle design and manufacture is not remotely rocket science. Today's enthusiastic cyclist probably has as many discarded saddles as I do. Now close to 30 and still counting. All of them too uncomfortable to ride for long distances even in their best bibs.

In my own extensive experience even a regular a bike/trike rider's crutch does not toughen up by very much. Nor do artificial saddles ever break in. [At all!] So one goes on searching in vain for something which seems to match one's own personal sit bone geometry. Only to find that particular model is now discontinued as the bullshitting hype rises to a raving crescendo in the subsidised, magazine reviews and the graphics grow ever more lurid. The fact that the Tour Pros get free saddles in exchange for hype/sponsorship should be outlawed by the UCI. But you always get the crooked politicians you deserve.

All saddles could be thin, bare, ultra-lightweight, carbon fiber reinforced, thermoplastic plastic "plates" with gently rolled edges. AND, be as comfortable as a perfectly broken in B17 at 1/4 of the retail price. But let's not let good design get in the way of profit.

"To ride a bicycle is to be badly beaten and robbed."  

Meanwhile, back at the pig ranch: Only 15 miles today. It was dark grey, but dry, with a light easterly wind. Modesty prevents me from sharing a picture of the vast bin bag  dangling off the saddle almost to the ground and filled to the brim with empty boxes. Not much weight involved but it brings a whole new meaning to; "getting one's leg over." <cough>

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10 Nov 2014

10th November 2014

Monday 10th 46F, 8C, breezy, overcast, distant mist and raining. The forecast is rain until mid afternoon.

It always fascinates me how paths and tracks wander from the straight and narrow. Were there once obstacles in the way? Perhaps ancient trees or woods which once forced a detour? Re-routed streams which no longer demand a change in direction to reach a ford? A drained marsh? [Very commonplace in Denmark] Or claims to land which demanded respect from weary foot and horse travelers?  

It still surprises me that anyone would follow my blog actively enough to register their interest. While the blogs page views continue to rise steadily [now well beyond 250k] average visitor numbers are still quite modest. I am never sure what will hold a regular visitor's interest. Is it the photography? Or the rambles about cycling and tricycling? What about my regular rants? It is difficult to know. I have been advised to just write about what interests me. Rather than seek popularity by deliberately trying to please. Pictures of kittens and topless models may bring in the big crowds but are difficult subjects to keep in context with cycling. Though I do see an awful lot of cats and even kittens on my rides.

It took all morning to stop raining and remained heavily overcast. So I left mid afternoon. Rode home in the dark again. Using the quiet lanes rather than the busy main roads. Fortunately I remembered to take my lights. I looked like a Xmas tree from the rear. With a bright flashing light below the saddle for long distance visibility and one light on each lower seat stay. [As now required by law on trikes.] I could [and should] have taken a more powerful headlamp to light the often muddy road ahead. I bought a super bright, rechargeable, diode bike/head light in a supermarket special offer for only about £20 but haven't used it on the trike yet. Only 15 miles.

Tuesday 11th 42F, 6C, bright and still. A completely different day is promised after days of breezy overcast. An early start. Have just sorted out the plumbing in the bathroom and felled some trees. The Head Gardener has upgraded me to part-time superhero. Not sure about any extra perks though. I have plans for a slightly longer ride today.

It stayed weakly sunny all day until the last leg into a cold wind. Going well until I turned into the headwind. Cruising at 16-20mph for the first 25 miles. Half that on the way back. 48 miles.

Wednesday 12th 50F, 10C, gales, overcast and misty. Easterly winds gusting to over 30mph. Still not feeling well. Deaf with tinnitus. A rest day.

Thursday 13th 50F, 10C, still, misty, with grey overcast. My 'flu symptoms have almost gone except for a completely blocked left ear causing severe tinnitus. It is making me feel dizzy and nauseous. Even worse than yesterday. Took a slow and rather wobbly walk up to the woods. Light drizzle was accompanied by a thin, niggling wind from the southeast. I didn't feel like much of a ride today. Only 7 miles.

Friday 14th 50F. 10C, misty, heavy overcast, light breeze expected to increase to windy later. Possibility of light showers. It was spitting at first but soon stopped. Walked round the rural block. 3 miles. Feeling a bit better today but my ear is still blocked with tinnitus.

Rode to Odense to collect my replacement Salomon walking boots. The Goretex membranes had given up on the originals. Making them soak up the dew from wet grass like blotting paper. Headwind going. Crosswind coming back. Several suicidal motorists overtook me on hump back hills and blind corners. All survived to tell the tale. A mere few seconds delay in all cases would have left them with a perfectly clear road ahead. From my higher viewpoint I could easily see approaching vehicles. I even tried to warn one PWVM [Psychopathic White Van Man] by frantically flagging him down. Total waste of time! He overtook me straight into the path of a lorry on a twisting hump and missed it by inches.

I saw a police motorcyclist in a village where the average driving speed [for all vehicles] is twice the legal limit. If they had a speed camera facing both ways they could clear the national debt! 44 miles.

Saturday 15th 47F, 8C, windy [15 mph base with 35mph gusts] and a heavy overcast. Went for a walk to try out my replacement boots. Very comfy and waterproof. Just about to enter the woods when WW1 broke out! Severely shell-shocked with PTSD I shall be queuing for a refund as soon as I have finished the shopping. This is not my idea of "excused boots!" A headwind going. Tailwind coming back.  Too many driving lunatics to be even worth a mention. Loads of hunters out today. Perhaps I should buy an orange hat? 17 miles.

Sunday 16th 47F, 8C, very windy and overcast again. After a damp and windy walk the weather worsened. No point in a ride today.

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7 Nov 2014

7th November 2014

Friday 7th 40-46F, 4-8C, almost still, thick mist clearing. I had a 5 mile walk up through the woods and back along the tracks and lanes. A thin easterly wind was sneaking along behind me until I turned for home. When it immediately became much more chilly. The sun came and went repeatedly and always weakly through variable cloud. The mist is still clinging onto more distant views even now.

The autumn trees are all looking very beautiful but very hard to capture with the camera. Mist can easily make it look like the camera is simply out of focus. Increasing the contrast, with image handling software, will often cut through the mist. Burning out the sky and completely spoiling the original and much more desirable, softened effect.

Some juxtapositions of the low hills are immensely satisfying when seen from an ideal viewpoint. A few yards either way and they can become merely mundane. Thanks to the undulating fields, the woods and copses are usually providing almost a manicured landscape. Very reminiscent of the grounds of an English stately home. All the fun without the inheritance taxes. The crops in the large fields are always an important factor. Immature growth can look like vast, lush lawns. Defeating the eye as it flows smoothly into the distance.

I went out after lunch today. It didn't really brighten up as hoped. A cold easterly wind had picked up too. Only the last leg, at dusk, was with the wind and I was cruising at 18-20mph. I wish I could say that my 'flu had gone but I'm still bunged up and short of breath. 21 miles.

Saturday 8th 45-46F, 7-8C, breezy, heavy overcast. The DMI are promising it will brighten up. Not in this multiverse! It's just getting greyer, windier and darker. I went for a 3 mile stroll to get away from the chainsawing. Only to be confronted by more of the same.

Another copse was being leveled for growing more worthless grain at taxpayer's expense. Only for the "priceless" crop to be strewn ankle deep, for literally miles along the verges, year after year after year. Rat food in superabundance, killer slug food on a truly epic scale and [not least] hazardous for cyclists running into the drifts. Danish agroculture writ large. Where there's muck there's murk in high places.

Left after morning coffee for my ride. It rained lightly for half an hour somewhere in the middle of my outing. Detoured on the way back to put some more miles in and quickly began to question my ever-doubtful wisdom. 21 miles.

Sunday 9th 44-51F, 7-11C, breezy, early cloud supposedly clearing. So, another repeat of yesterday. [Grey, cool and miserable!] A 3 mile walk in heavy dew. My [leather] boots and socks were soaking. Lots of small birds moving away down the hedges as I progressed.

Had a pleasant ride in bright sunshine. The wind had picked up but was mostly across my bows. Not very energetic today. Only 19 miles.

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3 Nov 2014

3rd November 2014

Monday 3rd 52F, 11C, windy, brightening rapidly to bright sunshine. The forecast is for a wet start, clearing later. Still bunged up. Coughing much less. I'd better get walking for a bit of fresh air to try and clear the plumbing. The sky was in a hurry to be somewhere else but it stayed dry. Constantly changing cloud cover. Saw two woodpeckers, a Jay and a Buzzard. Not feeling very energetic today but still managed 3 miles. I was being buffeted by the crosswind on the way back.

A quick ride pm for only 13 miles.

Tuesday 4th 51F, 11C, breezy, light rain. It is supposed to clear up later. I wish my nose and chest would! The rain paused briefly so I was shoved out the door for a walk. I heard gunfire and spotted a smart 4WD parked at the entrance to the woods. The tame pheasants were obviously taking a pasting only a week after they were literally wandering around at my feet. From across the prairie I could see a chap in olive drab holding a shotgun. So quickly decided it would probably be a poor day for bird watching. I turned back just in time for it to start raining.

A quiz: Can you spot who isn't standing on the spray tracks, children? 

The gunfire was very short lived so the pheasants must have been fast learners. The survival rules for pheasants are quite simple. Rule I. Do not be intimidated into breaking cover. Rule 2. If you must fly then aim straight for the nearest chap in a green jacket. Rule 3. Remember to carry your ear defenders at all times. That's about it really. Apart from remembering that foxes are not exclusively worm eaters. So don't let yourself be talked into invitations to dinner no matter how tempting.

A ride to the shops. Now there's a surprise! Going well in a head crosswind. Cruising comfortably at 18-20mph. Should have been quicker coming back but now it felt more like a headwind.

A psychopath in an unusually coloured,  light bronze painted van blasted his horn at me after speeding through a narrowed, village shopping street. It overtook me close enough to catch my arm on its mirror. Then promptly turned sharp right. It had disappeared by the time I reached the junction. So must have turned off again. I couldn't read the full business name due to the small text but it sounded like a builder.

Believe it, or not, it is extremely rare for a Danish driver to use his horn. I think he was angry because somebody pulled out right across his bows just as he hoped to overtake right at the village crossroads. What the drooling moron didn't understand is that I normally use the bus pull-in to allow traffic to pass me effortlessly. I was just yards short of the pull-in when he overtook me. The van should be extremely easy to spot again thanks to its weird colour. 15 miles.

Wednesday 5th 46F, 8C, perfectly still, heavy overcast. A cool period promised with 24 hours of rain forecast. The weather has been so mild that we still haven't needed to light the wood stove yet. Indoor temperatures haven't fallen below 65F even overnight. Walked for 3 miles up through the woods and back another way. Remarkably little wildlife about this morning. It has just started spitting at 10.30am. Still bunged up and coughing. My wife is no better. A miserable day, not feeling very well and no pressure to go out meant another rest day.

Thursday 6th 44F, 7C, almost still, heavy grey overcast. Rain possible but just damp so far. No so bunged up today. Going for a walk. Only 3/4 hour in misty drizzle. Ir rained on my morning ride too. But held off for my afternoon ride. Which was delayed while I removed several tiny flints. One which had caused a puncture. I was chasing a chap on a bike on the way home but it became too dark to continue without lights. It was easy to see him until car headlights completely obscured his presence. So I stopped to switch on my lights and then chased him down again. 20 miles today.

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1 Nov 2014

1st November 2014

Saturday 1st 52-57F, 11-14C, breezy, misty with lots of small clouds forming an overcast. Today's maximum temperature may set a new record. There is an inversion layer with 20C air temperatures. Wind speeds should remain quite low. Though you wouldn't believe it from the movement in the trees in the garden. Still bunged up and coughing from the 'flu.

Do my bales look big in this shed? Probably not food for animals but fuel for a heating system for vast pig sheds.

I found and fitted an 80mm stem which I bought for the Higgins while struggling with back pain last time. It was one of several in a series of ever shorter stems. Leading eventually to the shortest available. Thence an order for the Trykit when I still felt too stretched out on the Higgins. The odd thing is that my back doesn't actually hurt while riding. It just feels that I cannot lean over very far to rest on the brake hoods. A glance in a shop window yesterday showed I am sitting almost upright now.

Yet I can lean into a prone position and rest my forearms on the 'tops' like a peloton pace setter. Without much discomfort except to my forearms. Perhaps I just need tri-bars? Or elbow rests. I'll see how it goes today with the new, shorter stem. The previous one was 100mm. I had been using a 120mm stem from first obtaining the Trykit and had found that quite comfortable until recently.

I'd like to think I am not overdoing the trike riding. Because my mileages are almost half those of my "busiest" year. My daily mileage hardly adds up to a reasonable commute.

4.5 mile walk in the autumn woods in bright sunshine. Surrounded by loud, but hopefully distant, gunfire. It is often hard to judge how far away they really are. Thee wind is picking up to 20mph gusts on a 10mph southerly base. I had better choose a route to make it a crosswind. Do as I say. Not as I do. Headed straight into the wind to ride a loop. Sunny all morning with tailwind coming home. The shorter stem feels much more comfortable. [For the moment] 23 miles.

Sunday 2nd 53F, 12C, heavy overcast, breezy. Still coughing. I enjoyed a 3 mile walk as it grew gradually darker and more overcast. Returned to find a couple of dozen, heavily armed men guarding the local copse. I don't think it was actually planning an escape. Later it started raining. So I have put off my ride until after lunch. When I was rewarded by bright sunshine. Just another loop to the shops. I wore my overshoes in anticipation of dampness underfoot. It wasn't. Not anywhere. The copse was still there when I returned. Presumably the guards got bored and went home. 18 miles.

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