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.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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