31 Jan 2015

28th January 2015 Arse over tit!

Wednesday 28th 38F, +3C, heavy overcast, wet and windy. Yeuch! My slipper fell off at the top of the stairs and I went arse-over-tit across the landing. Apart from a graze to my forearm I have very painful shoulder muscles. Probably a good day for a rest. Must get some new slippers!

Thursday 29th 33F, +1C, overcast, gales, snowing. My right shoulder muscles are still painful from the foolish, involuntary, indoor acrobatics. Forearm graze no longer debilitating. Weather unconducive to tricycling. Expected to get worse. [The weather. Not me.] It snowed or sleeted and I ached continuously so I took another rest day.

Friday 30th 33F, +1C, still, blue skies but cloudy. Light overnight snowfall. Walked to the woods along the spray tracks and back again. A flotilla of large, all-white, male ducks, with black heads, was cruising the small lake in the marsh. A fidgety heron circled and glided repeatedly between short perches. My damaged shoulder muscles were much less painful while walking but started hurting again as soon as I stopped. Pensioners and somersaults obviously don't mix well. It's probably an age thing. I shall be going out on the trike after lunch. It stayed heavily overcast but dry with almost no wind. All the windmills were standing still. Detoured on the way home to get some more miles in despite being short of breath. 19 miles.

Saturday 31st 30-34F, -1+1C, still,  bright  but rather cloudy. White frost with the ground very hard. Enjoyed a walk up to the woods and back another way. My aches and pains seem to have subsided as a result. I was hit on the forehead by a stone thrown up by a speeding 4WD. Fortunately I had my fleece hat on at the time. I saw three deer out on a vast field. The rewards for taking a short cut obviously outweigh the greater chance of being seen. I had heard gunfire in the woods off in their direction. So that may explain their highly visible foray. A Jay and eight, gently honking Whooper swans passed over. Several more Jays disappeared into the conifers as I arrived. With the frozen leaf litter crunching noisily under my boots.

I extended my ride to include a couple of shops in opposite directions. Mostly sunny with light winds. Windmills at a standstill until later. I used the aero bars quite a bit to keep up my speed. It was quite easy to cruise at 20 mph on the flat. With 24 mph on gentle descents and 31.5 mph on one steeper hill. Though I really need to tilt my saddle nose downwards slightly to reduce discomfort. My Aesse jacket and Dintex gloves were wet inside with sweat but remained warm and comfortable. I passed a bird of prey which was too tired or hungry to move away from the verge. Then I stopped at a crossing to let a girl cross with her dog. The dog was so mesmerized that he sat down in the middle of the crossing and stared at me. We both laughed at its very odd behaviour. That's the end of January with far too many rest days.  26 miles.

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26 Jan 2015

26th January 2015 These [MTB] boots are made for walking...

Monday 26th 35F, 2C, heavy overcast, windy, raining. The sky looks like ground rice with a dollop of blackcurrant jam well mixed in! While the forecast is for rain for most of the day it should be lightest between 11.00 am and 2.00 pm.  So fingers crossed.

I should mention that the Northwave MTB boots are proving ideal for avoiding my usual winter feet problems. [Horribly itchy chilblains and painful, cracked heels. Neither of which responded to any of the creams I have tried.]  I need not have chosen quite such a large size but they still work well with only one pair of fairly thick, loop pile socks. These socks come from a farmer's supplies shop. The early pairs were much better made. With no obvious seams anywhere. Then they offered a discount for buying three pairs but a hard seam was very obvious across the "toecap." In practice the seams have not caused any problems. Though this may be an advantage of having oversize boots the toe seams have not been a problem in my walking boots either.

The MTB boots have proven to be completely waterproof even when heavily sprayed by the front tyre in a shallow flood. Yet never "sweat" despite being so well sealed. Nor do I feel any of the draughts typical of well ventilated, Northwave MTB shoes. One slight problem is the way the Velcro strap fastening grabs the loop pile socks is I don't fold the cuffs back when putting the boots on.  These boots were far more expensive than my excellent, Northwave, ratchet-fastened MTB shoes. [Though much cheaper online I couldn't check new shoe sizing online.] I now choose Northwave for their broader last after suffering very sore toes with Specialized and Shimano's much narrower MTB shoes.

I wear MTB shoes for their ease of walking while still providing SPD clamping for pedaling efficiency. "Road" shoes would be completely impractical for my normal daily use. Hopefully both sets of Northwave should last well if reserved for their appropriate seasons. Certainly far longer than entry-level shoes from the big names.

Just imagine how much I'm saving on overshoes too. Which were always a poor second and incredibly short lived compared to "proper" winter boots. Overshoes may protect the uppers but still allowed water spray in through the clamping plates in the soles. The pathetic "cloth" toe and heel restraints of some overshoes lasted only a week. Before they were literally falling to pieces simply from daily supermarket shopping levels of abrasion!

The weather is just too wet and windy to go out without good reason. Yet another rest day. Tomorrow looks quite promising in the DMI forecast. [Moon-grazing asteroids permitting!]

Tuesday 27th 34F, +1C, light westerly, almost clear sky, bright sunshine. The early black ice patches have hopefully gone by now. I walked to the top of a local hill. In order to admire the scenery and reacquaint myself with the orientation of distant towers and masts. It has been misty for so long that it was a pleasant surprise to be able to see clearly for miles. It certainly wasn't that razor sharpness one sometimes gets after rain. Though I could see the details on a tower about 7 miles away. A handy reference point for one of my regular destinations it is quite a bit further by road. The low, undulating, Danish landscape provides frequent glimpses of such landmarks. Making a map almost superfluous regardless of finding a new road or lane to explore. Not that there are many left which I haven't ridden by now.

These days I have to go much further abroad to find fresh fodder for my camera. At the last count I had over 40,000 pictures on my computer. Only a tiny fraction of which were taken by anyone else. This huge number doesn't even include those I lost to two earlier hard drive crashes. The problem with having so many images is that sorting them would take longer than I probably have time left on this earth. Storing them online would run into considerable expense. So I have several hard drives and change to a new one when the last is almost full.

I have multiple images of many older buildings, farmhouses and cottages. Which might be a useful reference in some far-flung future. Yet it is simply impossible to make any sense of their exact location with present technology. This, despite my remembering where most of them are from long familiarity. I can imagine virtual archaeologists tunneling through the endless layers of the internet in some dark future. Perhaps using tame AI apps and search algorithms which have yet to be conceived.

To rapidly sort through the fading ghosts of countless images from our "golden age" of innocence. Taken long before catastrophic global warming, mass migration, global terrorism, resource depletion, famine and then finally, WW3. As the last pockets of still-mobile human survivors fought against the rise of the machines.

Tricycling, just for the fun of it, will seem so incredibly archaic and unlikely. Particularly when seen from a distant, future world. Where technology has weakened the human race to reclining blobs on full bio support, VR couches. Or human brains are literally housed in robots for basic mobility. And real, physical activity, by muscle power alone, has not been possible for many generations. They will never know the exquisite pain of struggling uphill with the wind and rain in their face. The sense of elation and achievement as the they crest the summit. To plummet, eyes streaming, into the valley far below. Spoilt rotten, by centuries of technological wonders and crippling physical aids, they will wonder what all the fuss was about.

Fantastical, snow-plastered trees shine against the dark uniformity of  serried ranks of conifers.

A good day for a ride. I reversed my usual route to Assens. The wind was not very strong but allowed me to cruise at 20mph for several miles. Even hitting 24 mph several times tanks to the aero bars. The middle leg was along the shore and it was now much stronger. With white horses and waves breaking on the narrow sands. I came back heavily laden with a light cross tailwind but couldn't really take advantage of it. It was mostly bright sunshine for 24 miles.

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24 Jan 2015

22nd January 2015 Who ordered more snow?!!?


Thursday 22nd 30F, -1C, almost still. I went for a short walk while white mist rolled down from the hills and hid the clouds. Visibility is down to about 100 yards but there is occasional pale sunshine.

The sun was doing its best to blind everybody at times but mostly remained a dim white disk against a uniform white sky. Soon my clothes, gloves, handlebar tape and even the brake levers became covered in white frost. The mist was hovering at about 150 meters, at best, for approaching headlight visibility. On one stretch of double white lines my mist-filled lane was suddenly full of fast-approaching car! As a drunken, retarded psychopath on prescription drugs overtook another car driving [only] at the speed limit. The drug addled, lunatic, drunk driver proved to have only  a passing resemblance to a woman. Vesen, Martian or Venusian? Take your pick.

Later a driving school car pulled out ahead of me displaying no lights. It eventually disappeared slowly into the mist. Still without a single light showing. I quickly lost count of the number of cars with missing headlights, driving on parking lights or failing to show a high intensity, rear fog light. This is in a country where headlights are required even during daylight hours. Just to show willing I had my own lights flashing and even managed to find spare batteries for the daft "Smart" rear lights at a LBS. Which use the rarer than flying unicorn droppings, stumpy ½ AA size. Am I having fun yet? 26 miles.

Friday 23rd 30F, -1C, still, overcast. Sunshine was forecast but no sign of it yet. It is becoming increasingly misty again. Enjoyed an hour and half walk across the fields to admire the frosted woods, fields and hedges. The puddles were hard frozen today. Making walking on the spray tracks quite easy. I saw two male Bullfinches foraging together plus a few birds of prey. The roads are still improving so I shall go for a ride after coffee.

No sign of the sun as I rode to Assens. Still and misty. I saw and heard a couple of Greater spotted woodpeckers. A woman rode away from me, sitting bolt upright, just freewheeling in her baggy clothing, on a roadster, on a short, steep descent. No electric hub and I had just caught her after chasing her for a mile up a long drag. I was about to overtake her and was already traveling faster than she was. Even pedaling hard I couldn't stay with her until we hit the other side and it rose steeply again. I know my tyres are at 90psi because I checked them just before leaving.  The difference can't be wind resistance because I was keeping low. My three skinny 25mm tyres must have about the same rolling resistance as her two fat tyres. I doubt there was much difference in combined weight between us.

So where is all the friction hiding on my trike? I was already wondering why my front brake was covered in crumbly mud. Further examination showed that the Crud mudguard was packed with hard mud and rubbing continuously on the tyre. Not enough clearance! It's no wonder she freewheeled away from me! The front wheel would not turn freely when I lifted it and tried to give it a spin. 20 miles. Mostly, it felt like riding uphill despite seeing 24 mph a couple of times.

Saturday 24th 28F, -2C, snowing! It is forecast to snow all morning. At the present rate it will be worth about an inch per hour. Walked for an hour in wind driven snow with extra drifting. My hoped for ride after lunch has been officially cancelled by the Head Gardener. There's about 3" of lying snow but the road hasn't been cleared except by the traffic. I'd be quite happy to ride on it but there is always the problem of somebody else doing something completely daft while trying to avoid me. Probably not worth the risk. I cleared a hundred yards of drive to avoid feeling guilty at the complete lack of exercise.

Sunday 25th 28-36F, -2+2C, dead still, patchy, ground hugging mist forming and disappearing again. I set off along the spray tracks in 3" of snow with hundreds of animal footprints for company. A blindingly bright sun rose behind the woods at 8.30 precisely as I stood in the middle of a large field. I was snapping away, trying to capture the best moment. While distant church bells rang clear in the cold, still air.

Later I stopped to talk quietly to a black squirrel with a snow white chest. It seemed very curious as it flicked its tail and somersaulted up and down a birch only 10 feet from the track. Just as I reached for my camera it went off through a thicket of immature trees. Several birds of prey were perched darkly in the woods. Flocks of Fieldfares and Yellowhammers moved away from me along the roadside hedges as I headed home. The roads may have been salted but it has left lots of frozen slush and ice. Every time a vehicle came towards me I took to the verge to let them pass without having to spray me with slush by detouring off the narrow, bare tracks of tarmac. I shall have to go shopping after coffee and rolls whatever the conditions.

The roads were rather wet with borders of hard packed snow, ice and frozen slush. It was mostly sunny with a light crosswind judging from the angle of the windmills. Nobody made a real nuisance of themselves. With most drivers hanging back to use the whole road width when it was clear ahead. I returned heavily laden. Saw a posse of mountain bikers and a solitary clubman out training. Only 14 miles.

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21 Jan 2015

21st January 2015 More on [moronic/psychopathic] speeding drivers.

Wednesday 21st 32-33F, 0-1C, still, overcast. Lighter, wintry showers possible. An inch of snow still lying.

Continuing on the subject of speeding drivers:  I was just reading on the Danish national
broadcaster's news webpage: The Danish photo vans, which monitor speeding in Denmark, will in future have to be manned by 'real' policemen. Some drivers become so angry at being caught speeding that they attack the photo vans and even the personnel inside them!

Clerical staff have previously been used for the exercise but obviously have no special training in self defense or talking psychopaths down from their rages. Nor presumably have they the authority which comes with the uniform. These vans are designed to go unnoticed and pass themselves off as just another parked service or delivery van. They photograph passing vehicles through their rear windows from the side of the road. Speeding drivers are caught with a flashgun to ensure their true identity and avoid court cases where the driver claims otherwise. The flash is so short that it freezes the image despite the speed of the passing vehicle. Simultaneous mobile phone abuse while driving will similarly be caught in the image.

I have always struggled to understand the mentality which blames another person for exposure of criminal behaviour. Nobody but the driver is responsible for the speed at which the vehicle is travelling. It is the classic criminal mindset which blames the police for catching the perpetrator red handed. Revenge then becomes the continuation of the criminal's typical, school bully behaviour. It never occurs to them that it is their own behaviour which must be modified or will eventually be sanctioned.

There is an outcry every time traffic calming measures are introduced. Heaven help anybody suggesting "money making" speed cameras be set up! Or a "nasty" chicane to slow speeding traffic outside the local school. Or a "vicious" speed bump. Which risks possible damage to cars which pass over it at twice to three times the legal speed limit. Or even a new, mini roundabout to kill the speed of [most] cars entering a village or town at well over the national speed limit. [As indicated by the constant 24 hour flashing of the speed indicator boards which already read low by 5-8 kph] I kid you not!

I have lost count of the number of times I have looked up at the roar of a speeding vehicle as I load my trike in a village supermarket car park. It is sickeningly normal to see a car accelerating hard, well past 60mph, in a busy shopping street with a very low speed limit and several schools nearby. It is a constant occurrence to see cars speeding past the brightly illuminated 30kph [20mph] signs outside local schools when the children are arriving or going home.

Often the speeding vehicles are local tradesmen with their business boldly advertised all over their vans. Or even local council vehicles with the logo resplendent on their vehicle sides. Their vital importance to the local community obviously gives them carte blanche to speed in their own "territory." Being held up, however momentarily, by a vehicle turning off the main thoroughfare is a starting pistol to sprint as hard as they possibly can until they meet the next obstruction. Nothing else matters. Not even when young children are monitoring their even younger siblings at a simple, central island road crossing right outside the local school. With only brightly coloured "table tennis bats" to protect themselves and their charges against the raving psychopaths racing past each way.

Many of whom are women. Often with children aboard. How many parents brainwash their own children from birth that speeding is fine as long as they don't get caught? Because that would be "so unfair!" As a driver I see vehicles full of children constantly overtaking me while I am travelling at the legal speed limit. This is so commonplace that it took me years to accept that the published speed limits in Denmark actually exist! To drive at the speed limit is to be overtaken by every car which catches up from behind. Which means most of them. Often the speeding driver will be welded to their mobile phone as they tailgate me. Waiting for an opportunity to pass even if it pushes oncoming vehicles aside. Often ignoring the presence of cyclists which must also be overtaken. Safely or otherwise.

A two and a half hour walk through the woods and on into another forest. It was the first time I had explored that wood but it took a long time to get back again. I must have covered 8 miles of forest track but hadn't taken my GPS logger with me to confirm the distance. Lots of  birds of prey but a complete absence of small birds until I was almost home. A Goldcrest was bombing about in the Chestnut. The roads look good enough for cycling again. Hardly any ice anywhere on the puddles despite the near freezing temperatures and lots of thin snow.

It remained dry but heavily overcast and cold for my ride after lunch but with almost no wind. All the wind turbines were standing still. Which is really quite unusual at any time of year. The roads weren't bad at all. I did a few miles on the aero bars. It is amazing to have an instant 2+mph extra on tap. I must remember to keep up a higher cadence though. It is very tempting to just plonk it into a much higher gear and then accelerate to match that gear. Ending up doing 20+mph instead of the intended and almost effortless 16-17mph. 16 miles.

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19 Jan 2015

19th January Who ordered this snow?

Monday 19th 34F, 1C, almost still, heavy overcast, continuous wintry precipitation. It started as light rain, changed to sleet and then took on the appearance of falling snow as I walked a long loop through several woods. In six miles of walking I hardly touched any tarmac.

This image was slightly disappointing. To the naked eye, the immature beech foliage in the foreground seem to glow bright and coppery but also to float in mid air.

I saw my first hare in many months. It had a multi-coloured coat with dark tips to its pale ears as it dashed off . Later I saw a dark brown squirrel which shot up a conifer to hide. I saw lots of birds of all kinds including several large birds of prey. It is surprising how similar they can sound to gulls as they complain at being disturbed. The woods and tracks were very wet again. What with all the stepping over brambles in the woods I actually managed to make my legs tired by the time I returned home.

The snow continued to fall lightly all morning, afternoon and after dark. Only beginning to turn white by 2pm. No pressure to go out. Another rest day.

Tuesday 20th 33F, 1C, still, overcast. Between 1" and 2" of snow seems to have accumulated overnight. Variable in thickness and sticky enough to adhere to everything. A salting/gritting lorry has just passed. The snow was crunching nicely beneath my feet but kept balling up under the insteps of my boots. It seemed to weld itself to the webbing straps of my gaiters and refused to let go. It was very pretty in the woods but was already dropping from the branches. Right on top of my head and shoulders in one case as I paused to take pictures. Lots of deer tracks wherever I went. The roads were nasty with slush tracks separating standing water. I took to the verge as every vehicle approached. Partly from a safety point of view. Though mostly to avoid them spraying me with filthy slush as they detoured around me.

A Danish government department is examining the idea of reducing traffic speeds in towns to 30 kmh.  [About 20mph] Such speeds reduce accidents by 70% according to statistics. Since 90% of drivers exceed the existing speed limits 90% of the time this idea is somewhat divisive. Most drivers will accuse the police of profiteering through fines. I am torn between warm admiration for the sheer genius of the idea and disbelief at how out of touch they really are. [30 kph is directly translated to 50 kph in the Danish language] So the present 65-75 kph  instead of the legal limit of 50 kph will presumably fall to some random figure between 45 kph and 50 kph.

I have mentioned before how many Danish villages and towns have traffic speed indicator boards. These are often sited alongside the signs marking the start of a built-up area. These boards almost always read low by anything up to 8 kph. Yet I still see most drivers passing the boards in the mid to high 60's kph. The boards have orange flashing light to warn drivers that they are speeding. However, the lights usually flash far too late for most drivers to ever see the warning. The faster they travel the less likely they will see the flashing lights! Now there's a nice bit of logic! Except that most drivers will form a dangerously compact chain which passes the board as it flashes continuously.

One could easily argue that the speed indicator boards actually incite drivers to break the law. I'm amazed that it is not used as a standard defense in court. Except that most [modest] speeding offences result in a fixed fine by post. Which is simply paid and soon forgotten. This safely avoids millions of Danes having to attend court each month to argue their speeding cases. Which could easily lead to a backlog of decades if not centuries. Welcome to the twilight zone of Danish traffic safety.

Getting back to the advantages of triking: Though usually slower than a bike uphill a trike can be fun on a climb. One has no need to balance so there is no minimum speed or too low a gear. But, by far the best thing about hillclimbing on a trike is that you can't cheat and get off to push. A trike is not a push trike. Trying to push is so difficult, because the nearest back wheel tries to run the pedestrian tricyclist over, that it is not a serious alternative to just pedaling. Two wheel drive is so superior to OWD that it hardly needs further discussion. If all you want from life is lots of wheelspin then you might as well try to climb steep hills, in the wet, on a bike. Another rest day.

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18 Jan 2015

17th January 2015 More aero bar 'fun.'

Saturday 17th 34F, 1C, breezy, overcast. There is supposed to be some sun today. With winds gusting to about 30 mph from the SW. I was giving the trike a wipe down in bright sunshine when it started raining. Oiling the chain regularly doesn't seem to guarantee a lack of rust or frozen links. It must be all the road salt. The car is covered in refrozen slush this morning.

Our birches are full of Fieldfares again. They definitely prefer the upright Downy birch to the more common, weeping Silver birch. I want to cut a large silver birch down but I've seen far too many YouTube videos of disastrous felling to attempt it myself. It sits right up against the trike shed and rains twigs, seeds, water drops and leaves all year round. Often catching me off guard with new sounds of falling debris as I work in the shed.  The tree also rocks alarmingly in the wind despite being at least 18" in diameter at the base. I keep having nightmares of it falling on the shed! What I need is a tame lumberjack.  I knew somebody who paid £1000, 20 years ago, for a tree surgeon to remove a single overhanging branch! Cheaper than a new roof, I suppose, but still.

It rained on and off all the time I was out. With brief sightings of a blinding low sun reflecting off the road. I was caught by a gaggle of clubmen out training while I was doing 18-20 mph on the aero bars. They dropped me on a short hill and I could never get my breath back after that. The aero bars continue to offer a free 2 mph but the armrests continue to irritate. They feel as if they have too sharp a radius. Not helped by the thick rubber pads which further reduce the curve. It feels as if my skinny arms are jammed tightly into them regardless whether my elbows or forearms are resting in the pads. 15 miles.

Sunday 18th 35F, 2C, breezy, overcast.  Today's lighter [20mph] winds suggest a longer ride today provided the promised wintry showers stay off. No sunshine is promised.

Several new problems have cropped up with the aero bars. Having a second look at my last meal was not the least of them! So, no eating immediately before a ride. I usually leave after morning coffee and rolls following my 1.5 - 2 hour walk. So I shall have to alter this routine and leave much earlier as the days grow longer. I shall have to rely on my [organic] muesli breakfast for energy reserves. Leaving even later would badly overshoot anything like a normal lunchtime on my return. So that is not a particularly useful option.

Secondly my knees were hitting my [very sharp] elbows if I drew my arms as far back as I could on the aero bars. This was the most natural position with my hands relaxed and holding the ends of extensions. I found that I could hook the pads of my thumbs over the domed, rubber end plugs for a very secure location. I could even unwrap my fingers completely from the extensions and rely entirely on my thumbs alone.

Wrapping the extensions with twill tape offered a much more secure grip, when needed. It also stopped the bars feeling very cold. I suppose I could sleeve the extensions. Adding an extra inch would clear my elbows from the arcs of my knee caps. Or I could just learn not to bend my elbows quite so far. Reaching slightly further forwards, with the present extension length, works but feels more painful on the rests. Presumably there is less muscular padding on my forearms just there.
I was suffering from chest pains for the rest of the day [yesterday] after my several miles of abusing the aero bars. New forms of exercise must always find new muscles to test. Thankfully the pain is [almost] gone this morning but I shall have to be more careful as I build up to longer mileages in the new, lower position.

I observed myself in another shop window, while resting on the aero bars. This both surprised and pleased me with a low and remarkably flat back. In fact I may have slightly overdone the drop in my desire for the truly horizontal. Fitting the shorter [80mm] stem allowed me to lower the bars by about an inch below their former equal height with the saddle. An inch doesn't sound like much and it actually feels rather high when I "sit up" to rest my hand son on the hoods. Though it may be just the contrast in position.

I certainly prefer more drop to more extension. Though I think I will move that last 1cm spacer below the stem instead of above. This should help a number of factors. It is ironic that I chose clip-on aero extension bars with the lowest possible rise on the elbow pads. My previous examples had always seemed too high at the rests to get my back nicely flat and low. I could never see the point in using aero bars to get what is an almost upright, "touring" position. A steep body angle seems quite commonplace when examining photographs of amateur time trialists. Those seeking a very aggressive aero position, at low cost, will enjoy these Profile Design 'Legacy' aero bars. They offer little in the way of adjustment but are fairly lightweight, stable in use and but a fraction of the price of some competitors.

So far the aero bars seem to have no deleterious effects on the steering. Though taking sharp, main road corners, particularly in a crosswind, feels slightly insecure. Not helped when overtaken by some impatient, drooling moron in a car or van. At such times I have to steer the trike more deliberately to stay on track. Steering is normally left on autopilot. Requiring no obvious thought or concentration.

An hour and a half walk to distant woods. Under the heavy overcast and vast areas of bare earth I struggled to lift the gloom. My eyes watered in the steady 20mph headwind as I plodded the sticky, wet, spray tracks between dull, winter crops. My chest seemed to free up after yesterday's dryness and shortness of breath. Often requiring a noisy cough to clear the rattle and startle the rooks.

Having lifted the bars by 1cm I left after lunch into misty greyness and light drizzle. Just as short of breath as I was yesterday. I hit 26 mph descending into a light headwind on the aero bars. Only 13 miles. The storms and rain have made for a very poor weekly mileage.

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12 Jan 2015

12th January 2015 Aero on. Aero off.

Monday 12th 42F, 6C, heavy overcast, windy with showers. It is expected to gust to 20m/s or over 45mph until mid-afternoon then only slowly reduce. With no pressure to go out in this foul weather I made it another rest day. It should be much better tomorrow.

A real man's chainset! TA 100/80. His gears run from 200" down to 60" [100/80 x 24" wheels /12-32t] Googling the name on the special front changer cage will provide more pictures of the diminutive owner's bike. A keen mountain pass climber apparently. I think I'd have gone for a triple, myself. Except that it would be impossible to bend the chain that far. Let alone take up the required slack. In contrast, I was reduced to 28 x 30 [25"] the other day while cranking breathlessly up a local hill with a load of shopping!  

Tuesday 13th 39F, 4C, overcast, still. The wind is supposed to get up to 45mph gusts in less than an hour. Then die down slowly again. I can barely see any movement, at all, in the birch trees now @ 8.30am. To add to the fun it is supposed to rain until 3pm. I had an hour's walk in drizzle. This really is the scruffiest time of year. Not helped by the hedge clippings scattered right across the roads. The trees are as dark and bare as the raggedy hedges. The verges are overgrown tussocky grass. Passing vehicles dragging filthy plumes of spray.

I rode away in light rain early afternoon. The wind had dropped by then. I think the arm rests need to be rotated slightly to make them more comfortable. It felt several mph faster on the aero bars. I saw 20mph+ at times going both with and against the wind. Only 7 miles.

Wednesday 14th 33-36F, 1-2C, almost still, heavy overcast, snowing? I didn't order any snow! They even threw in a free rumble of thunder! It is snowing heavily in large flakes and rapidly turning everything white. About an inch an hour if it keeps this up. No mention of snow on the DMI. Just a little rain. Where do I queue for my refund? The snow paused so I went for a walk. Only for it to start all over again. I was soon plastered in an inch of the sticky stuff and hobbling along like a Geisha on 4" high snow packed wedges. Talk about accretion! It snowed and sleeted wetly on and off. The roads were awash. So I took another rest day. Grrr.

Thursday 15th 38F, 3C, gales, heavy overcast, continuous rain rattling on the windows. Only a small, thin patch of wet snow left on the lawn. It is forecast to rain all day and gust to 45 mph again! Not at all promising for a ride nor even a walk. This run of bad weather is very boring! I am rapidly becoming an ex-cyclist. This will not do at all! Rest day.

A silly picture taken via a shop window. I was trying to discover how flat my back was while I was on the aero bars. Rather spoilt by having to rest the camera on one arm rest, squint and point the camera via the LCD screen, while simultaneously enjoying the slings and arrows of pouring rain, blowing a gale and rolling downhill. What you might call suffering for your [installation] art. ;ø) 

I have since lowered the bars and improved comfort by splaying the elbow rests slightly to better match the relaxed angles of my forearms. Rather than forcing myself to keep my elbows almost touching while sitting rigidly still on the aero bars.

Now all I have to worry about is several square meters of Carradice saddlebag being buffeted by the turbulence from my flailing legs. I can feel another storage project coming on. A roll-top bread bin ought to be more streamlined! It's a shame that motorbike top boxes are so heavy. You'd think somebody would have designed a much lighter cyclist model by now. For all those rear bike racks looking for some meaning to their existence.

Friday 16th 41F, 5C, gales, showers, heavy overcast. My planned walk, despite the roaring wind, was put off by a shower. The wind is supposed to drop gently from 45 mph gusts to 30 mph by lunchtime. Possible sunshine too. Though not for my walk. After a pause to tease me into action it rained almost continuously. With the wind driving it into my face. The fields were littered with fallen branches from the storms. While the waterlogged tracks and woods required more care than usual to avoid an early bath. There is still hope for a clear up. I shall go out anyway since the wind is steadily reducing. The sky is definitely breaking up now [11.30] but it still insists on raining!

It kept raining until well after lunch. I left in steady rain and a cross tailwind wearing the Aldi rain jacket. The arm rests are much more comfortable now. It rained until I had to return then finally stopped. The aero bars were worth about 2½ mph going into a headwind. I sat up at 16.5 mph, still pedaling and slowed instantly to only 14. I could get used to these bars. Though I still feel slightly insecure when cars overtake me while I am in the aero position. I have now found a half-way position for the mirror which allows me to see while on the hoods and on the aero bars. Only 7 miles though returning heavily laden after days of pure laziness endless storms.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

10 Jan 2015

10th January 2015 Pass me the aero bars and I'll pass you.

Saturday 10th 47F, 9C, dark, very heavy overcast, windy at times, rain. Another storm is forecast today peaking at 3pm. Gusts could reach over 60mph. A ride is very unlikely today.

Repeated attempts at toe touching have allowed me to just reach my ankle socks. An improvement of over 6" [15cm] from my first attempt [in years] and only reaching my kneecaps. My toes still remained well out of reach.

15 minutes of stretching exercises: Lying on my back. Pulling each knee up to my chest in turn and holding for 20 seconds. Then both knees. Repeat as desired. The best exercise though, was kneeling down. Then flattening myself as low as I could go with my knees still tucked under my chest. My feet were overhanging a step. It was very painful in my lower back at the first attempt but the stretching quickly made my back pain go away.

Stretching my arms forwards while in that position found further knots in my shoulders and lower back. Result: I can now reach my toes again while standing and bending only at the hips! I have never been one for doing exercises. Or even stretches. I shall have to set myself a short, daily exercise routine to help my back become more flexible. If I don't improve I could end up with my handlebar stem facing backwards!

The 60mm stem has arrived at the post office from Cykelpartner.dk. I had to collect it in the car as it was far too rough for cycling with fierce winds and even worse gusts.

Low view of the new 60mm stem showing the clever construction of the Profile Design 'Legacy' aero bars.

It only took ten minutes to fit the new stem despite having to move the aero-bars very slightly apart to make room for the wider front cap. All is safely tightened up and ready for the road again. I like the all matt black look of the 'Pro' stem compared with the white "go faster stripes" and shiny black paint on the 80mm stem. It brightened up mid afternoon [with wintry showers] but the wind gusts are incredible! Another rest day.

Sunday 11th 36F, 2C, occasionally breezy, heavy overcast. Gusts to 45mph with showers are in the forecast. I'm getting cabin fever from the lack of cycling. I'll start with a walk and travel in the hope of avoiding a real deluge. Five whooper swans went over very low just as I left. A good omen because it stayed dry but very windy.

The roads, tracks and forest floor were liberally strewn with twigs brought down by the storms. I carefully tucked several 5m long wild rose stems back into the hedges to stop cyclists being ripped up by the overhanging barbs. Kicking the larger twigs into the verge seems to be my usual task after a hard blow. I will probably pass the same way on the trike later and wouldn't want to swerve around the worst debris in traffic.

On the track to the woods I passed a pair of Whooper swans, with three young, resting in a gentle fold of a prairie-sized field. They watched me with hockey stick periscopes raised but stayed put as I came within 200 yards. Deliberately avoiding looking straight at them or pausing probably helped. They presented such a high contrast of pure white against the vast area of uniform green that they could probably be seen from satellite. I saw small flocks of Feildfares, Redwings and mixed finches in the bare hedges and roaring trees. Everything was incredibly soggy from the rain. With long stretches of standing water on the tracks and small lakes in the low spots in the fields. The sky turned blue as quickly as it became overcast and threatening.

I left late morning into a fierce and gusty cross-headwind. Not an ideal day to practice my aero position as I was being blown from side to side by hefty gusts. At one point I was hanging right off the side of the trike as if corning just to stay on the road. Not easy to pedal under those circumstances. I tried to take some pictures of myself in the aero position reflected in a shop widow but it didn't work out. I was having to support the camera on one arm rest. So couldn't get as low as just turning my head while resting on both arm rests. It was simultaneously blowing a gale, raining and I was rolling down a slope. The arm rests really aren't very comfortable. Not even while wearing a long sleeved vest, cardigan and winter jacket. The rubber pads feel too hard.

It rained for most of the time I was out. The interested and observant will note that I am lowering the bars as the stems get shorter. With the 60mm my elbows bend naturally when I am resting on the hoods. I can probably lower the bars another cm/.5" without any comfort problems. Only 13 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

9th January 2015 Never sit when you can recline.

Friday 9th 41F, 5C, overcast, gales with showers. The trees are already rocking. It is supposed to keep this up for 12 hours from 9am-9pm today. Gusting to 50mph all day with continuous rain forecast. A repeat is promised for tomorrow with even higher wind speeds! Not a happy trikey at all. In fact it has cleared up and darkened over again repeatedly all morning. The wind is as variable as the cloud cover, sunshine and inclemency. I may yet get in a short ride to check if I need a shorter stem to reach the aero bars comfortably. Moving the saddle forwards may improve my aero position as well as reduce the reach to the hoods. My seat tube is 76 degrees so is half way to a triathlon machine in itself.

I tried a ride around the block during a moment of brightness madness. The wind was fierce with even nastier gusts! I kept trying to hide under the crossbar but it got in the way!

Four important things I discovered immediately: I had fitted the elbow rests too close together for comfort. I had chosen the middle position of three available. The mirror has to be re-adjusted for each handlebar/aero position. Don't ride on aero bars immediately after consuming any food and drink. <burp>  Bare metal is cold to the touch even through GripGrab Polar gloves. These bars definitely need tape, or preferably sponge in winter, on the grips for insulation. A bit of padding [tubular foam] would make them even more comfortable. The forward, aero extensions are not of very large diameter. Offering no chance to fit bar-end levers.

I returned safely home after a 26mph freewheel down a gentle slope ending in a brief steering shimmy! Back at the workshop it took only seconds to re-position the elbow pads on the outer fixing holes. This felt instantly more comfortable while just sitting on the trike. Though it didn't feel quite so obviously "quick" as having my elbows much closer together. Fortunately I can still hold the tops comfortably outboard of the arm rests without them getting in the way. An important consideration.

I found that I was perfectly comfortable even with my nose depressed between the aero bars. My back was easily able to cope with the very low position without the least strain. All thanks to the firmly padded arm rests. Other owners have complained that the pads become sweaty in warm weather. I suppose they could be improved with a perforating drill or alternative [breathable] pad material. The sponge is rather firm, black and closed cell. It is not unlike compact camping mattress sponge. Even the arm rests themselves could be replaced with alternatives. They are held by a central bolt through a notched spacer.

I seem not to have the individual aero bars perfectly adjusted for height at the very tips. That, or they were each made to different lengths [or bends] by the manufacturers. I shall have to have another fiddle with the clamping bolts. All seems very firm without the least slop or slippage at the clamps. I shan't torque the bolts to manufacturer's specs until I am happy with the fit.

I still need a shop window reflection to get a proper idea of what my back is doing when on the aero bars. Even though it feels very low that doesn't mean by back is flat, nor remotely horizontal. I need to see myself sideways on to get a better idea of how aero I am really getting. I have been fooled too often by my previous riding positions to believe I look even remotely like a "proper" time trialists. Nor a <cough> triathlon athlete. Riding on the drops has always felt as if my bum was higher than my head. It wasn't by a full foot and a half! Nearly 3, wind-buffeted miles, by trike. No swimming stage necessary despite the huge puddles!

Click on any image for an enlargement.

9 Jan 2015

8th January 2015 Profile Design 'Legacy' Aero bars.


Thursday 8th 40F, 4C, windy, heavy overcast, rain. Not much chance of cycling in the next few days. Winds up to storm force with rain are forecast. 25m/s or 55mph gusts are likely. It rained for most of the morning. Then I had a busy afternoon. Another rest day.

A pair of  Profile Design 'Legacy' aero bars have arrived in quick time from Cykelpartner.dk. None of my recycled stock of aero bars had fitted 31.8 handlebars. These older and heavier bars were bought from flea markets and charity shops for small change but only fitted 26mm 'bars.

I spent some time researching the cheaper aero bars before choosing the Profile Design 'Legacy.' They lacked some features I would have liked but which I thought I could fix. Or just learn to live with. I would have preferred the elbow rests to be further back. If only to ensure that my elbows were suitably bent and the rests came fairly close to my elbows in use. I decided that I needed to shorten the cockpit anyway so will be looking for a shorter stem.

My increasingly stiff lower back won't comfortably allow me to reach very far to the brake hoods. I have already gone from a 125mm to an 80mm stem in less than a year of owning the Trykit. In a perfect world I would have had a shorter stem handy but again the short ones bought for the Higgins were all for 26mm bars. I'll see how I get on before deciding whether I need to go shorter still than the present 80mm. The next step is 60mm. It is well accepted that an "aero position" requires a shorter reach. With the saddle well over the bottom bracket compared with a "normal" road racing bike. Though I am certainly not planning on doing any racing.

I discovered the other day that I can hardly reach the bottom of my kneecaps with my fingertips when bending at the hips. Never mind trying to touch my toes! This is a very poor state of affairs and has nothing to do with having an apron of fat because I really don't have one. I may have to start doing back flexing exercises.

I seem to be in constant slight pain right across my lower back these days. Suggesting muscle tension rather than skeletal problems. Lifting any weights, like moving loads of 10 kg bags of fuel for the stove, often gives me back pain. Perhaps I just don't do enough lifting these days? I spent a decade repeatedly lifting heavy weights at work before retiring. Even heavier work before that while rebuilding our old cottage. Not to mention excavating and landscaping the grounds entirely by pick, shovel and wheelbarrow. Not to mention clearing a 20 hectare field of large stones working entirely alone using a wheelbarrow. Two builder's barrows really because I completely wore one out. It's amazing I can still walk let alone chew gum. Not that I would want to chew gum. ;-)

Fighting a headwind seems to be the daily norm on my trike rides. Denmark seems to have constant wind all year round. The prevailing autumn, spring and winter wind is from the SW. Which means I must always fight it to get back home. Living on the "bottom left" of an island leaves little choice other than riding with the wind to leave home. So I have finally decided to invest £40 in aero bars to reduce drag.

I also ordered PD's clever 'Legacy' computer mounting device. Helping to move the computer head away from the top of the stem where it can be seen properly. By carefully marking the required length from their 60mm long model I was able to cut the body to exact length. Then jam it perfectly between the parallel section of the aero bars with the clever screw-strap clamp simultaneously fully tightened.

I suppose I could have adjusted the spacing between the aero bar clamps first. Before pushing them back together again to a fit tightly on the computer mounting. Or, I could even have radiused the far end of the body. To fit the curve of the opposite [parallel] section of the aero bar. Oh, for the wisdom of perfect hindsight! For those interested the Legacy computer mounting system is a hollow plastic tube. Coarsely threaded one end and smoothly hollow the other. With a closing, decorated cap for appearance. I sawed the capped end off. Leaving the threaded section for the strap which clamps around the bars by screwing the body around the threaded, double-ended strap. Two straps are provided to cater for for different bar diameters. It cost me about a £5 in real money but proved to be very good value.

Trying to hang the Sigma shoe/docking station between the aero bars, via tie wraps in mid air, was a complete non-starter. The shoe is far too flimsy in tension but fine under compression onto any self-reinforcing bar. The PD Legacy computer mounting system is nicely rigid. Meaning that setting buttons can be pressed positively regardless of gloves being worn. And, without the computer head wobbling about uselessly and causing selection errors. Though, somewhat ironically,  PD's own instructions would have twisted the head on the far end of the aero bars. Or had forced the parallel sections of the bars further apart.

They also do a shorter bodied model and the clamping power provided is fine. So there is no real need to try and improve further on the computer mounting's stability like I did. Though this was more for appearance to give a 'finished' look. I thought the shorter body might have looked "half finished" fitted off-centre between the aero-bars. Which is why I chose the longer body. You'd think PD would put both body lengths in the same pack and charge [say] an extra squid. But who am I to quibble? No doubt they can sell two complete packs at full price when the original length proves unsuitable for the application.

Having the computer further forward is a vast improvement compared with having it fixed to the stem. It means I can be watching the road ahead instead of constantly having to look straight down. It also means I can easily see the computer when I am standing on the pedals. It was always impossible to see the screen when I was climbing out of the saddle. The computer head sits completely free of the normal hand position on the aero-bars where I can easily read the Sigma screen between my wrists.

I have placed the aero-bar clamps as near to the stem as possible without them actually touching it. It was vitally important to me that I could climb with my hands on the handlebar tops without the elbow rests getting in the way. Several of my previous aero bars have forced me to grip the elbow pads themselves instead of the tops. Which is patently ridiculous! As well as being rather unsafe and not offering a firm and comfortable grip to pull against on long climbs.

I now have compact handlebars fitted on my trike. These bars have much sharper bends than typical road models. These bends help to provide a greater length of straight bar either side of the stem. Usually referred to as "the tops" and is where most riders grip while climbing. Since this forces the rider to sit more upright they can breathe easily without compressing the chest and stomach. Few riders climb fast enough to worry about the increased drag of sitting more upright. Changing position from the tops to the [brake] hoods provides a change in rider position and body lean. Helping to reduce fatigue on longer rides.

The pictures I have added here will hopefully show the aero bars in sufficient detail. The handlebar clamps are solid alloy and extend sideways as continuous units to support the arm rests. No extra joints or bolted, sub-assemblies to work loose. The entire setup weighs about 500 grams or about a lb in old money. Given my propensity for carrying shopping for miles on end, another pound is not the end of the world. The equivalent of half a carton of milk is neither here nor there. Unlike my complete and rather heavy set of alloy T3 triathlon bars the Legacy aero bars seem to have no affect on steering or feel. Not even while walking the trike across the lawn to take more pictures.

The tubular aero-bars themselves are fixed permanently to their own handlebar clamps. So have no provision for rotation or linear adjustment. Only their spacing apart [on the handlebars] and the lateral position of the elbow rests is possible. Three optional screw holes are available to adjust the spacing of each arm rest independent of the spacing of the clamps on the handlebars. The elbow pads rest on firm plastic mouldings. Which allow the rests to be rotated to taste, locked in place and and then firmly clamped with the central, socket-head, fixing screw. There is a complete absence of individual parts simply bolted together. Which I liked over competitor's products and my own 'junk' 26mm aero bars in the shed.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

5 Jan 2015

5th January 2015 A faster bike computer??

Monday 5th 41F, 5C, heavy overcast, almost still. Had a quiet walk up to the woods and back. Grey but dry. The spray tracks are back to sticky mud again.

I reset the Sigma to 2100 [instead of 2135] and it registered 17.6 miles to the GPS' 15. Is the Sigma working properly but the GPS is not? Why would it [the Sigma]  not register distance correctly using the wheel setting number recommended by Sigma themselves in their very own instructions? The Sigma is showing that I am cruising at 20 mph quite regularly. This seems rather optimistic compared with my previous computers.

On the Cateye my average cruising speed was only 16mph. None of this makes any sense at all. Have I crossed into a parallel universe? It can't be due to any confusion between kph and mph. Can it? The instructions sheet clearly shows both mph and kph match for the wheel settings. Besides the m/k conversion factor is 1.6. Which is a huge difference! Not just a couple of mph exaggeration.

I often wondered why I would max out at 30mph on descents on the Cateye. Quite regardless of steepness and tail wind I struggled to get beyond 30mph. It was almost like an unbreakable barrier. It is too long ago to remember which exact wheel circumference I was using on the Cateye. Perhaps I adjusted it to match the GPS logger? That might make sense. Though why the GPS logger would be so wrong is still odd. What I really need is a known distance to check the accuracy of the Sigma. But where would I get the reference distance? Google Earth? Some other online mapping service? Hmm. Sheldon Brown shows two different figures for Sigma which have nothing to do with each other. Nor does either number [for 700x25] match the recommendations in the Sigma instructions.[Mph settings in all cases] Now I have just found a different figure on Sigmas' website FAQ!  Okay: Think of a number. Don't tell me what it is... Abracadabra...Your number is... 2046? What about 2105? Could it be 2135? Best of three? Alright then...it has to be 2146? None of the above? Welcome to the Twilight Zone. 8>{

Tuesday 6th 39F, 4C. Incredibly heavy overcast, slightly misty. Very, very dark! Even at 8.45 9.00am it it is still not remotely what can be called daylight. Walked for an hour and half through the woods and back. I am exploring different tracks and firebreaks to try and avoid the very wet conditions on my regular routes.

Further research suggests that GPS can easily have an error of 1-2%. Depending on the equipment involved, of course. I have heard that it [GPS] is poor at detecting speed on hills. Presumably because it is relatively inaccurate at measuring altitude compared with linear distance along the ground. Some amateur YT videos suggest foolishly high speeds attained for long descents using GPS bike computers as speedometers.

With normal chainsets it would be completely impossible to continue pedaling usefully at the claimed [high] speeds. Yet the YT perps can be seen pedaling when in fact they would need literally hundreds of rpm in cadence to "catch up" with their claimed road speed without spinning out. No sign of the huge chainwheels required. Nor mention of the tiny rear sprocket to go with it. Matt Weaver used 90t x 9t gear in his HPV streamliner for 65-70mph.

I tried a 68T TA chainwheel once in my distant youth and spun out on 68 x 13 [141"] on one of the long descents into Bath. Climbing that same hill first on 68t x 26t [71"] was quite a struggle. It was fortunate that I had toe-clips and straps because body weight alone would not have moved me forwards more than a few yards uphill!

It is funny to see top racing cyclists trying to pedal while descending mountain passes with their usual gearing. A "touring" top gear of 50x12 gives only 40mph at 120rpm. A very unlikely 60x11 gives 50mph at 117 rpm cadence. You don't see many chainrings of that size in the T de F!  While the rather more commonplace 54 x 11 racing bike gearing gives only 45mph @ 117rpm. 50mph takes 130 rpm. 55mph takes 143 rpm. While 60mph requires 156 rpm. Which is just possible for a fit rider.

Unusually heavy vehicular traffic and wet conditions have completely spoilt the familiar tracks. These are normally leaf-covered with little sign of human activity. I prefer the sense of exploring the untrodden as I plod my solitary path.

I have seen just over 150 rpm myself, briefly in a low gear on the flat, while testing my top cadence just for fun. I used to be able to pedal very fast when I was a skinny teenager but had no cadence meter to prove it. I ran 44x28 fixed for a few days. Just to see what it felt like. 20mph required 163rpm. Good fun descending the local hills!

[Edit the figures in the boxes to find new ratios.]

The Sigma Data Center webpage is still down for repair. Though I seem to have downloaded an evaluation copy from their website I assume this isn't the full Monty. Reset the Sigma to 2105. Rode to the shops. 16-20mph going with a tailwind. 8-12mph coming back straight into a cold headwind. My legs were aching. Which is unusual these days. I passed a spot where some drunken nutter had completely lost control by overshooting a corner. The grass bank on the opposite side of the road was gauged. Not only in one place but in three places spread over 100 yards! 14 miles. [I think]

Wednesday 7th 37F, 3C, almost still, clear sky waiting for sunrise, the constant stench of dark grey smoke from our westerly neighbour burning demolition waste for fuel. Perhaps this is how they can afford several horses, dogs and luxury cars? It may also explain why my chest is bunged up all winter.

Here the unspoiled, sunlit beech woods invite exploration. 

Despite my shortness of breath I enjoyed a pleasant walk up through the woods in bright sunshine. Though it was not so much fun being sprayed by speeding, [GPS rat-running] juggernauts on the road to get to my exit. Signs of further drunks losing control on the corners and taking to the verge on the opposite side of the road. There was a small flock of [Thrush-like] Redwings sharing a huge lawn with the local blackbirds. A sparrow was taking used bedding from a bird nesting box. With light winds and sunshine it could be a good day for a ride.

Rode to Fåborg with a fairly gentle side wind. Going quite well cruising at 16-20mph. Wandered about at my destination taking a few photos in the cold wind and then headed home again. Now I was pushing against a head crosswind. Fortunately traffic was light as I rode the appalling cycle path past the Fåborg harbour and then the long climb up from Millinge to Jordløse. Being able to use the road, instead of the 4th class, 3rd World cycle lane, must surely be well above my pay grade. Probably worthy of  prosecution for undermining the authority of somebody really important. Somebody like a drug addled, habitual drunk in a rust bucket with no license, insurance or road tax. I passed under several birds of prey perching on lampposts. Times must be really hard in the state of Denmark. The Sigma [with a 2105 wheel setting] and the GPS agreed within half a mile today. Returned at dusk with all my lights flashing. 54 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

2 Jan 2015

2nd January 2015 Sigma BC16.12 Cadence computer

Friday 2nd 46F, 8C, gales and overcast.It was blowing hard as I walked anticlockwise around my "through the woods" route. I had just made it into the woods when the wind really picked up. With debris being blasted between the bare stems of mature beeches like a YT video of a hurricane! Seconds later the air turned grey with rain. I hid behind the largest beech I could find to escape the worst of it. It didn't take long before rivulets of water were streaming down the 2' diameter trunk and blowing all over me. Fortunately the heavy squall was quite short lived and I could press on. Being shaken like a rag doll as I was buffeted by the wind. The bad weather kept up all day as forecast. Another rest day.

I have been searching online for a new bike computer to replace the Cateye Strada Cadence 'Roadkill' RIP.[sic] Finally settling on a wireless Sigma with cadence. Sigma come well reviewed so it seemed like a fairly safe bet. The large digits look easy to read compared with the tiny and ridiculously skinny text on the Cateye. No doubt the Cateyes are another case of the triumph of style over function.

Naturally I shall be enrolling in a full, 3 year course of night classes to learn how to use the four buttons while wearing "proper" winter gloves. The Sigmas use a rotation lock in the head/fixing shoe. Which will hopefully avoid the fiddly juggling necessary with Cateye's silly little sliding/rocking shoe. Which eventually led to its early demise in Assens. The head had flown away several times before but had previously avoided throwing itself into the speeding traffic with quite such gusto.

I just hope nobody wants steal the Sigma! I tend to just leave the computer in place on the stem outside the umpteen supermarkets and bike shops I visit. Nobody seemed to want the Cateye but it was rather small and all black. So probably invisible. Without the correct contact shoe and wireless transmitter bike computers aren't much use anyway. Not that this would stop the bloody minded. I may examine the possibility of a black Velcro strap to hide it from prying eyes. Just one more thing for me to remember.

Getting rid of dangling wires is a huge leap of faith for me. Not aided by dire tales of interference from popular LED cycle light drivers! How daft is that?  It is fortunate indeed that night riding is not my usual fare. If all else fails I shall just have to hold the front light in my teeth while breathing through my nose. While I tend not to monitor my cadence continuously I do like to have it as an option. Just to check that I am spinning in the high 90s rpm. Pushing lower rpm tends to knacker my knees. Guessing one's pedal rpm is a poor sport wide open to corruption of the data.

Saturday 3rd 38F, 3C, roaring gales dying down to variably windy. I was woken by a terrific hailstorm! The overcast seems to be breaking up now. Though it is not forecast to dry up until after 3pm. I left after coffee. Picking up the new Sigma computer on the way past. Free postage for packet-shop pickup and as I am always passing it is a better arrangement than monitoring the drive for the postman. Cykelpartner.dk proved themselves flawless, yet again, in email comms, supply and delivery. It stayed dry and the wind was not to much of a problem. 15 miles.

I fitted the new Sigma computer and wireless sensors after lunch. All went well except for a missing O-ring. One tie-wrap short of a set too. Though I always have lots in the shed for such occasions. The spare Crud mudguard O-rings proved suitable. Though I backed up all three fittings with tie-wraps anyway.

Somehow I missed the bright yellow notice to get the head working with a press of the two lower buttons. I swapped the head battery several times before discovering the simple trick to wake it up from its deep sleep factory setting. If all else fails read the damned instructions! Page 1 in case you were wondering. It's a shame they didn't put this trick on the step-by-step [illustrated] setting up instructions sheet as well. I must shoot off an email to Sigma to suggest they update the sheet before the next printing.

Setting up from scratch was a bit of a learning curve but everything [Cadence, distance and speed] worked first time. There is a slight delay before readings change on the screen. So be patient if you buy a Sigma yourself. The head has a nice big screen with digits large enough to see in all light conditions. There are a few seconds of back-light available for nighttime use but this would obviously drain the coin-sized CR2032 battery if left on continuously. A front bike light could easily be arranged to leak some light onto the computer screen if desired to read one's progress continuously in the dark. Most front bike lights provide some side leakage for extra safety. City dwellers could probably borrow some light from the streetlights and shop windows.

Ironically it is too dark to take any pictures of the set up now now so we'll just have to be patient. Even more patient as Sigma is updating their website. So I can't download the PC Data Center monitoring software until after the 5th. This requires a USB-cabled, docking station which I ordered at the same time. A 50% discount is offered on the software for new buyers of a Sigma computer.

Sunday 4th 37-39F, 3-4C, light overnight frost, sunny. Walked to more distant woods, looped along the main track and back. Saw a very pale, medium sized bird of prey. All white, cream and buff except for darker fingertips on its very long, very high aspect ratio wings. A group of hunters in olive drab were waiting beside their polished vehicles in the car park ready for the off. They were armed to the teeth with antiaircraft guns as they moved off in convoy to take on the fiercely independent pheasants. I shall be going for a ride as soon as coffee and rolls are safely consumed.

Full sun out of a cloudless sky but rather cold into the headwind. I rode an anticlockwise, rural loop. The new computer worked continuously but seemed rather optimistic on speed and distance. It ended up showing 26.4 miles to the GPS's 22 miles. I am sure I entered the correct wheel circumference of 2135 for 700 x 25 as in the Sigma instructions. The Cateye matched the GPS logger within a mile on most rides. [When the Cateye kept going!]

Must try harder on the Sigma. The wheel magnet is so bulky it strikes the Crud plastic mudguard stay. I rotated it around the spoke to the minimum overhang position but may go back to a Shimano magnet if it proves to be strong enough. The head needs more room on a shorter stem. To allow gloved hands to reach the nearest buttons without catching on the Ahead steering tube extension. Despite the large digits I really don't like the curvature to the top of the digit '7'. I keep reading it as a '2'.


1 Jan 2015

January 1st 2015 HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday 1st 42F, 6C, heavy overcast with wind building and rain on its way.

A Happy New Year to my many followers and to all my more casual visitors. I have decided not to radically change my blog format for this year. The cloudy sky background suits the cycling theme to perfection without being too intrusive or boring. It feels like an optimistic sky. Typical of the cyclist travelling in hope of remaining dry. Well, I like the clouds for the moment. I have tried using my own photographs as backgrounds but failed to find the right balance compared with the present sky.

I am still amazed how many people find my blog interesting. Over 1/3 million page views according to Google. My wife says it is because I am completely mad and add a lot of my own photos. I prefer to think of myself as slightly eccentric but with a good sense of humour. I am certainly not afraid of laughing at myself. You will have to be the judge of who is right. I do tend to spend a lot of time perfecting every entry and picture to the best of my limited ability.

Do try to remember that even when I am ranting it is always with a broad smile. I do get cross sometimes but I am usually cheerful about it when I get around to writing about it. I will not hesitate to criticise kit which does no meet my expectations. Cycling accessories are often ridiculously expensive for what they are. They should at least offer some intrinsic value without falling to pieces in a short while. I often have ideas for including in the blog while I am pedaling along but they usually pop like a bubble in the next instant. I have a lifelong, poor memory. But at least every day is a surprise. ;ø)

In case you were wondering I am a 67-year old Englishman. Now retired and living in rural Denmark. I now ride a lightweight, hand-built 'sports' trike. A stainless steel,  R931 racing/touring Trykit made by Geoff Booker. It uses full size, skinny, 700C wheels, lightweight, racing kit and 30 gears.

Performance trikes are very rare machines indeed in Denmark but still quite popular in Britain. Where some 500 other members of the Tricycle Association enjoy their sport by racing, touring, pottering or commuting. A few other trikers are dotted around the globe. Though not exclusive to the elderly the majority of tricyclist are mature. Many raced trikes in former times when they [the trikes] were far more popular than today. Some trike riders continue to race and time trial as veterans after decades of competitive riding.

Each triking generation has had the services of solitary, trike builders. Higgins was replaced by Rogers, then came Longstaff and now Trykit. The overall designs are basically the same but each builder brought new ideas and increased sophistication. Geoff Booker, of Trykit, is highly skilled and has made more progress than earlier builders. He offers a whole range of building materials and options. His own 2WD [two wheel drive] modified cassette system is popular. It can convert a 50-year old machine to take the latest racing bicycle gear technology.

It should be remembered that trikes need far more parts than a bike. It is not simply a matter of brazing a few tubes together. Special axles, hubs and cassettes must be machined to a high standard. Then assembled into precision axle casings with high levels of alignment accuracy before being attached to the trike's main frame. The investment in skill, jigs and machine tools has always made a new trike an expensive purchase. Fortunately the use of steel tubing means that they can usually be repaired, in the event of a crash, and then continue on exactly as before.

The advantage of purchasing a new machine is that it can be built and tailored to exactly suit the rider's own dimensions and personal tastes. While older machines regularly turn up on eBay[UK] for those who cannot afford to buy new. Though the cost of updating with all new parts, including stronger axles, new wheels and transmission will make a serious dent in any wallet. Even if the frame does not receive a professional repaint at the same time it will not be a cheap exercise. The really impoverished can take advantage of a secondhand trike axle conversion set. Which also come up secondhand on eBay[UK]. Bolted onto a bike frame the machine instantly becomes a trike. Though at the cost of some extra weight, duplication of seat stays and extra complexity.

Adding another brake to the front wheel of a trike conversion may involve a new pair of forks with suitable bosses. Two independent brakes are a legal requirement and vitally necessary. Most strikes have two front brakes where they can have maximum effect. Rear brakes can easily cause a wheel lockup in the wet because the tyres are so lightly loaded. Though rear disks are sometimes added for descending mountain passes when loaded with camping gear. Trykit offers conversions to disks and new trike axle conversion sets as well as new trikes. Rear brakes are a requirement for racing to official handicap racing rules. As is a rear bumper. Trykit components and trikes feature heavily in this sport right up to Paralympic and World Championship standard.

Tricycle riding is far, far, FAR more difficult than it looks. Very few bike riders can manage more than a few yards on a trike before heading straight for the weeds! Or the kerb. It looks so incredibly easy to ride but looks are very deceiving. A trike seems to have a mind of its own. It will follow road camber downhill until the trike and its rider crash into something. Yet it is the rider's mind and sense of balance which are confused. The sporting trike is incredibly unstable in the wrong hands! While cornering fast on one is easily the best thrill to be had in any form of cycling. It is intoxicating to hang right off the side to balance the rider's weight against the centrifugal forces. As one overtakes cars around a mini roundabout or at a sharp junction. [Always with road safety in mind of course.] Cornering like this takes lots of practice for most riders.

The agile acrobatics required on a trike easily make up for the extra weight of having three wheels, two rear drive axles and all the other, extra components. All those axle bearings add extra drag and weight compared with a bike. Yet top trike riders regularly time trial and race their machines to almost similar speeds, distances and times to riders of the latest carbon fiber bicycles. The latter often weighing half that of even a really lightweight trike. The lower limit for trikes seems to be about 10kg but that is a rare example built by Trykit. 15kg+ is much more likely with a stripped down, but still road legal, racing trike.

When touring, the trike offers huge capacity for camping gear fitted on a rack between the large rear wheels. Or, as in my case, loads of shopping fetched from rural village shops and supermarkets spread right across the island of Fyn. Where I now lucky enough to live. Fyn is the central landmass of Denmark and is about 40 miles wide by 50 miles high. With lots lots of dangly bits jutting into the sea around the edges. Odense is the only large city, by Danish standards, on Fyn. [Pron.Fewn]

The traffic in the countless rural lanes of Fyn is still only a fraction of that in the UK. Despite my regular moans about them, Danish drivers are far more self-disciplined than the typically brutal, UK anarchists behind the wheel. This is probably due to the very high cycling participation of Danes at 85%. While the British just think it is a continuing class war when it comes to pedestrians and cyclists. British drivers are incredibly hierarchical. A battered, completely unroadworthy, rust bucket, driven by an unemployed, teenage drunk driver, beats a £20k racing bike with the knighted, Tour de France and multiple Olympic Gold medal winner aboard any day! I kid you not!

Being cut off by a Dane at a junction really is as rare as hen's teeth. Even pedestrians have absolute right of way when crossing junctions. Just as they do on zebra crossings. Danish pedestrians also respect light-controlled pedestrian crossings. They will stand patiently in the snow, wind and rain if the crossing lights are at red. This is also true when there is no traffic in sight!

Sadly, many cyclists show little respect for red lights at junctions. Few cyclists bother to signal either. Which drives me mad when I wait patiently for a cyclist to cross my junction. Or I come up behind them to overtake. Only to have them suddenly turn off without warning. On the other hand, Danish cyclists make most British cyclists look like complete beginners. Their relaxed skill at all ages, on the busy but narrow cycle lanes, is incredible! If only they wouldn't ride two abreast while both using their mobile phones to talk garbage to each other! There are only a few chances to overtake on a trike on most cycle lanes and paths in cities. Making it a frustrating business to get around really quickly.

Odense is a large area to cover if all the best bike shops on the outskirts must be visited. Taking to the roads, however briefly, to overtake selfish cyclists, will draw the ire of some drivers. They will sometimes go absolutely berserk! If a cycle lane or path exists then it ought to be used. How else will the typical Danish driver manage to exceed the speed limit if cyclists get in their way? Speeding is Denmark's national [participation] sport and very popular with all ages and all sexes. Holding up illegally speeding traffic by keeping to the speed limit is considered very bad form. Overtaking, regardless of conditions or speed limits an absolute right.

One very strange cycling behaviour caught me completely off guard at Danish traffic lights. When turning across the opposing traffic a Danish cyclist will never follow the traffic in their lane. Instead of following the traffic they will ride straight across the crossing or junction as if going straight ahead. They will then swerve over to the right. Do a sharp U-turn and then stop in front of the waiting, right hand traffic queue. They will then wait patiently for the lights to change before proceeding straight across the lights. The equivalent of having turned left but with a very long delay in between. It is not unusual for a large gaggle of cyclists to be waiting at the front at busy city traffic lights.

At first I just followed normal UK behaviour in cities and just followed the traffic on my trike. I easily had enough speed to sprint and follow the turning traffic without much effort. This quickly drew the ire of several drivers in the city. With repeated blasts of the horn and shouting obscenities to remind me of my transgression. Can you imagine a British cyclist waiting twice at every single traffic light where they just want to turn right? At other times it is quite rare to hear a car horn used in anger in Denmark. Remember that the Danes ride on the Continental [right hand] side of the road when turning left at crossroads. The opposite side from British, Japanese and Australian driving habits.

Resolutions for 2015: I have added my default resolution of a 100 mile ride as my goal for yet another year. Last year I managed only a 66 mile ride. While my best of 88 miles was a couple of years ago. [When I got very, very lost!] I started carrying maps after that.

I also intend to eat and drink much better on my longer rides. At least that is the plan. I still haven't tried 'energy' bars and drinks. Usually making do with a cheese roll [or two for longer rides] and a banana. For drinks it is always just tap water in summer. With a small box of unsweetened apple juice if I remember to drink it.

I had a rather windy morning walk up to the woods in light, misty rain under a leaden sky. It was already becoming quite windy with heavy gusts. Promising to gust up to 45mph later. Strong winds and rain forecast for overnight and tomorrow. Not very promising for a ride and there is still a high risk of drunk drivers being out. Wet and windy all day! So a rest day. Not a good start to the year!

Click on any image for an enlargement.