1 Mar 2015

March 1st 2015 Hare, of the dog?

Sunday 1st 36F, 2C, gales, overcast, pouring with rain. Nice! The forecasters offer a ray of hope this afternoon. So, I may put off tentative plans to build floats for the trike. Besides, there are probably too many clearance problems around the pedals. Better not to start from here, then.
A drab time of year made worse by vehicular mudding of tracks. Fortunately I only very rarely see the perps. Or anybody else for that matter. 99.99% of the time I have the miles of woods entirely to myself. Except for the birds, deer and hares, of course. 

Sometimes I think it might be fun to cycle the better tracks. But then I would miss out on the perfect sense of peaceful co-existence. The sounds of the birds and trickling water. Cycling may be much nearer to nature, than driving, but walking opens up a whole new world of actually being in a place. Cycling is an ephemeral experience of passing sounds and scenery. Spurred on by a constant sense of urgency to be somewhere else by default. Having to stop to take a photograph, or to judge a scene or building for its interest, or beauty, becomes almost a chore. A dangerous interruption of purpose.

I learned early on that stopping was tantamount to giving up. It opens up the distinct possibility of a failure to finish. A DNF is a far worse crime than a DNS! At least a Did Not Start can be blamed on an innocent bout of diarrhoea from a bad case of beer poisoning caused by an ill-kept cellar. Be warned though: Nobody wants to hear that you were "caught short" on a ride. Too much disturbing imagery for most people to stomach.

Cycling is always meant to be a progression from A to B. The journey continues until the intended goal is reached. This holds true however much it may hurt [or where] however hard it may rain or however hard the wind may blow into your frost-bitten extremities. Poor weather house points are only accumulated AFTER the event. Completion of your superhuman effort is strictly non-negotiable.

Turning back is always an acceptance of abject failure. The same can be said for retracing one's route having "left something vitally important behind." Yeah, right. A token falling on one's [frame fitting] pump is the minimum acceptable sanction. Mini pumps just don't do it in the self-sacrificial stakes. So don't even try!

A return to A is completely unthinkable without the vital addition of the intended B. Pretending to get lost is a sure sign of serious personal weakness of will. You can never fool yourself with such tactics because you are always the co-conspirator in the sorry tale. For example: One cannot claim that you "almost" made it to John o'Groats. [Meaning somewhere just shy of Carlisle.] Not when so many others have clearly managed the task far more successfully. Thereby gaining serious bragging rights in any direct crossbar comparisons behind the bike shed! The trend towards sloping crossbars may have more than a little to do with a lack of steel in today's weekend mounts. While I blame compact crank sets for most girly failures to go the full distance.

Tricycling does at least offer a stable seat on which to sit and watch the world go by. [Though such stops must be kept necessarily brief to avoid a serious risk of a DNF.] A did not finish amounts to much the same thing as [self] discipline-non-functional in my book.

A trike makes a far better imaging platform than one of those ridiculous plastic machines. The ones which fall over when not actively moving forwards. Or not leaning up against a McLardy's. This, despite the manufacturer's expensive extensive efforts to make them light enough to be pathetically fragile. A moving DNF irresponsibility clause is written into every CF frame manufacturer's guarantee. Much like those silly, lightweight tyres which always puncture miles from home. Leaving the erstwhile weekend warrior wrestling with inner tubes and Kevlar protective bands beside the roaring, main road traffic in the pouring rain. Do they make the puncture resistant strips bright yellow so that they are easier to see in the dark and the wet? They obviously don't work!

Remaining seated on a trike does not alarm the curtain twitchers nearly so much as actually getting off the machine. Particularly near a private home or in a leafy suburb. One hopes the seated rider is immediately downgraded from a scale 6 threat of potential burglar, vandal, flasher or trespasser. Perhaps even demoted to a mere Lycra-clad "some clown on a tricycle!" A harmless curiosity, unless one raises the stakes with dubious behaviour. Basically, that means pretty much anything likely to result in a mass call out of Neighbourhood Watch in their Audi-BMW armoured personnel carriers.

In comparison with the fine art of tricycle posing pausing, stopping almost anywhere nice, in any car, is greatly to be deprecated. It is a clear signal of the arrival of Carmageddon! There really ought to be a planning permission application in triplicate for parking in any beauty spot, outside a photogenic house, in a leafy suburb, or quite literally, anywhere which spoils the view!
Even walking is not the same as standing completely still to really listen and soak up the unique atmosphere of a place. Condensing the moment, if you will. Though photography is wont to disturb the conscious absorption of one's surroundings and should perhaps be subjugated to taking some quick snaps after the event.

Nature too has a multi-layered, early warning system for human intrusion. Pheasants and Blackbirds are the usual front runners for generally overdoing it. They do tend to exaggerate every warning into a complete show stopper. A "stopping" automatically becomes a greater potential threat than merely walking. The birds will often fall completely silent. Rather than sounding their usual panic alarm dedicated to approaching walkers.

Presumably this is just nature's way of recognising camouflaged knuckle-draggers carrying guns, spears, catapults, rocket launchers, ray guns, crossbows, grenades, sharpened sticks and/or bamboo arrows with 4" nails tied onto the sharp end with combine harvester twine.

Humans never fire anything while moving. It's a fact! The greatest danger is always when they stop to aim. It's the unwritten rule of Basic Wildlife Survival for Dummies. [With Foreword by Sir David Attenborough. Somebody who knows more than most about human intrusion where it is least wanted!]

Much the same can be said for taking aim during a natural [emergency] stop on a ride. Always a dangerous moment of a potential sighting by a passing vehicle full of cheering teenagers. Not helped by the usual day-glo outfit, high contrast, lilly-white, badly shaved, sinewy calves and a serious lack of hedgerows. Not to mention the decidedly deciduous character of most of those few which do remain. Leaving one's Kree LED lights flashing while performing the act is sure to attract an accusation of deliberate attention seeking. Once the blue lights really start flashing in earnest then denial is utterly pointless.

The rules are simple enough: Hide as well as you can. Or bluff it out in full view if you have the nerve. Or are Danish. Always concentrate on the task in hand. Never allow yourself to get side-tracked. And, most important of all: Always, always, remember which way you were travelling before the emergency stop. Or, a very nasty DNF may well rear its ugly head!

Meanwhile, back at the trike shed: It never brightened up and continued blowing and spitting with rain. Another rest day.

The gears have been getting more difficult to change lately. A glance at the cabling to the down tube adjusters showed why. The cables were bent sharply just where they entered the adjusters. So I found a rigid V-brake 90 degree bend. [Noodle] After suitable trimming of the damaged outers to tidy up the ends I slipped the noodle over the rear gear cable. Ease of gear changing is now restored after a trial on the work stand. When I get an extra noodle I'll do the same to the front changer cable. I think I'll replace the flexible noodles on the Tektro brakes for the rigid type for neatness. The adjustable noodles sometime catch on the bare down tube cables at full [steering] lock. The flexible outers and adjusters  may look more "techy" but I could never get the cable adjusters to move anyway. Not once they had seized up. I rather like the look of the rigid, shiny noodles. Photos to follow once I visit the LBS.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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