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.

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