15 Dec 2014

15th December 2014 Reflecting on Zefal mirrors


Monday 15th 39F, 4C, raining, heavy overcast and windy. It may clear up, still with showers, after lunch. I will have to rethink my choice of socks. I suddenly have chilblains. Probably the result of taking a hot shower immediately after each ride. It might be worth waiting a while for my circulation to return to normal in cold weather. Though I'm not remotely aware of getting cold. [Apart from my nose.]

I gave the Trykit a rub over with a soft, dry cloth. It is amazing how Reynolds R931 stainless steel tubing ignores the need for regular, cosmetic titivation. Just a wipe over and water marks, mud and chain oil splashes just disappear without trace! The R953 forks initially showed signs of very minor, surface, spot rusting from freshly salted roads. Though even that problem seems to have stopped, the R931 still has the most attractive finish. There is never any sign of deterioration under all the accumulated muck despite the lack of attention. Accessories with non-stainless steel screws and parts are certainly not immune to rust! Brakes, pedals and handlebar stems are common examples.

The bar-end mounted, Zefal Cyclop mirror gets increasingly spotty after a long period of being sprayed by the back wheel. Made much worse over the winter. I tend to just give it  wipe with my rubberized glove as I ride along. Which isn't very kind to a plastic surface. Surprisingly these mirrors survive and are still useful even after a couple of years of daily use.

I consider my lightweight, Cyclop mirror far more useful than a helmet for real road safety. Though I wouldn't be without a helmet these days, I'd make a rear view mirror compulsory by law long before considering cycling helmets.

The ease with which I can constantly monitor overtaking traffic is a huge safety factor. While the freedom to use the entire road width, if necessary, is invaluable for avoiding farmer's mud, road kill and debris, viciously thorny hedge clippings, puddles and potholes. The mirror makes riding far more relaxing because there is never a need to turn round to glance backwards. With all the risks that entails. Using the Zefal mirror I can check exactly what is coming up from behind. If it's a bus or HGV I will often give a hand signal and then dive into a junction or farm entrance. To let the vehicle pass without causing any delay. I then allow the usual traffic tailing behind them to pass before continuing on my ride. This all depends on the road itself and whether there is a marked off cycle lane. There is no point leaving the road if they can overtake safely.

The plastic mirror's chrome plating is on an inner surface protected within the unbreakable plastic body. The image quality is actually very good as new. It's best feature is that it is mostly flat. So it doesn't distort nor shrink overtaking cars to tiny dots. Which would give the rider a dangerous and completely false impression of distance. Usually hiding a fast approaching car completely until it is far too late.

At least one rear view mirror should be compulsory on recumbents and electric bikes or trikes. I can't believe the number of times drooling morons remove their mirrors from their scooters or have them uselessly adjusted. Being morons they then ride like fools with absolutely no idea of the mayhem they are causing behind them!

Using a convex, rear view mirror on any cycle is absolutely suicidal. I tried several curved mirrors before discovering the excellent [and flat] Cyclop. It's shape and size are perfect for all kinds of handlebars fitting including 'racing' drops. Nor does it look completely naff like most bike and moped mirrors.

Zefal also do a tiny 'racing' mirror but I found it too small for bar-end use. Still handy in an emergency, but the tiny field of view was just too small to be very useful. An overtaking car was very close indeed before it could fill the mirror. Though this smaller mirror could be handy for time trialists wanting to monitor riders coming up from behind. Or even road racers in a breakaway or on fast descents if they are allowed to mount a mirror under the UCI rules. The mirror's very small size adds no weight or air drag worth mentioning.

The one thing I don't like about the appearance of my trike are the floppy cables for the Cateye Cadence computer. I have thin, translucent-white zip-ties holding the constantly sagging wires. Which regularly have to be re-tensioned lightly to keep things tidy. I had no luck with the only wireless computer I have tried so far. A bike mechanic whom I respect was highly critical of wireless computers and told me they were a constant problem for owners.

It is surprising how many people greet or wave at me on my rides. Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers all seem to know me. Being "the only tricyclist in the village" obviously has its benefits. ;ø) After a further delay for yet another shower to pass over I left after lunch. It stayed dry for my 10 mile loop. Already becoming dark by 3.30.

Tuesday 16th 37F, 3C, very heavy overcast, wintry showers, breezy with stronger gusts. Another dark day. Expected to improve later. The cloud broke up enough to tempt me out for a brisk, half hour walk. My timing was perfect as I returned home just before it rained from a suddenly, leaden sky. Only a short ride after lunch. 13 miles.

I thought I'd finally found a replacement for the Carradice 'Camper' Longflap in a charity shop. Unfortunately the bag proved to be too tall without offering much increased depth. Being so far short of useful depth [even compared with the manufacturer's claims] the Carradice Camper is quickly filled with shopping. A row of 1 four x liter milk cartons plus and one of yogurt leaves little room for anything else!

So I use the Longflap for the heavier stuff and a sports bag for everything else. The sports bag handles are simply hooked over the saddle pin without further restraint. Leading to a decidedly scruffy appearance that I constantly hope to erase. The bags are usually left in place outside a supermarket because there is little of interest to the casual thief in such a low crime country. These bright pink sports bags were dirt cheap from a supermarket special offer. Ironically they have proved to have incredible longevity compared with all the other bags I have ever used and abused. Many sports bags haven't lasted more than a few weeks at most before the zip or the seams fail. Which is why I have always bought them from charity shops in the past. Being highly selective as to quality, age and dimensions ensures they will fit safely between the rear wheels.

This must make incredibly boring reading to some but the primary purpose of my [tri]cycling is still shopping. It is what gives me a valid reason to go out so often. [Or; "running away again" as my wife refers to it] Choosing different shops and supermarkets each new day is what keeps my routes constantly changing. Denmark has countless rural villages. Quite a few of which sport at least one supermarket. Some have three or even four supermarkets.

Britain lost most of its unique village shops to centralized supermarkets in towns. With far fewer towns, Denmark went the other way with large numbers of rural supermarkets. The story of the struggling village post office in Britain, with its foolishly overpriced and stale, limited stock is turned on its head in Denmark. Since there are no pressures to "save money" by driving to a more distant town branch, the village supermarket, as part of a national chain, survives.

Or rather did, until the crooked bankers broke our real world. Many village shops and even supermarkets have now gone recently but have usually been replaced by a single supermarket within a few short miles. The secret to survival is for a supermarket to be on a reasonably busy route between towns without obvious local competition. Being so close to home and with far less traffic on the roads, the bicycle remains a valid shopping trolley for many rural inhabitants. Including the elderly. Who would otherwise have to take a bus into a nearby town or even run a car.

Most rural, danish Post Offices are now housed within a village supermarket belonging to a national chain. The latest trend is towards machine automation of sending and receiving parcels. Thus freeing the checkout staff from frequent interruptions to process parcels. There is almost no need for letters or other "post office business" today as almost all payment and communication is carried out online.

No doubt all this is very boring for those hoping to read of long distance tricycle rides in bright sunshine. Probably noble rides without any other purpose than  enjoyment or training. But, you must remember that I enjoy beautiful, constantly changing, rural scenery on a daily basis and on every single ride, regardless of my route or direction. Shopping has become such a habit and basic purpose that I find it quite hard to just set off with no real goal in mind. The downside is that stripping the trike of its shopping accoutrements denies me the ability to "just bring a loaf back while you are passing." ;ø)

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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