4 May 2015

4th May 2015 Cuckoo-cuckoo!

Monday 4th 51F, 11C, a mild, windy and wet night. The rain is supposed to peter out early. Giving way to sunny periods. Grey and breezy but dry for my walk. My right Salomon boot was soon wet inside. Disturbed a buzzard within yards of leaving home. Lots of warblers, Chiffchaffs and my first cuckoo call of the year. I think. My wife "The Head Gardener" thinks she remembers a cuckoo during an early heat wave back in March.

I stuffed the Camper Longflap before taking these pictures. The Carradice is quoted as 24litres too. Judge for yourselves.

I have yet another bird identity crisis. Back speckled like a sparrow, clear buff moustache and plain metallic green chest, no crest. At first glance I was trying to make it into a lark, bunting, pipit or warbler. There is a Greenish warbler but its back is plain and its has no moustache. So it's not that. Nothing in my bird books or Google image search jumps out at me. The Cirl bunting is the closest so far. I only caught a glimpse in my binoculars before it moved further away to show its speckled back.

Just in case you were worrying I'd forgotten my cycling roots: I harp on a lot about the constant wind here in Denmark and the probable effects of bike bags on drag. A saddlebag is much better sheltered by the rider, than a front bag, but the front bag is actually more aerodynamic. Don't ask how badly my drag is affected by my 'Goth' rear wardrobe which sits much lower than most saddle-hung bags. I can't say I noticed much difference when I had the large bag on-board instead of the Carradice Camper. I used the Junior saddlebag sans rack as a saddle-hung, bum-bag yesterday and soon forgot the supposed saving in weight or drag.

I have noticed the wind on my morning walks too. It doesn't take much forward motion to really notice a light headwind. Turn round and walk the other way and the wind is neutralised. Since drag rises as the cube of velocity it doesn't take much to set the absolute limit on cycle speed even for Alex Dowsett: Nearly 53km /33mph in one hour, indoors on an ultra-smooth track at Manchester. The hour record has been broken several times recently but all the increases have been fairly modest. So the air drag limitation on maximum, solo, cycling speed certainly seems to hold true. Otherwise the UCI would not set rules for the maximum height of socks for record attempts! Socks are faster than bare skin apparently. Cloth bags over the rider's shoes are also banned. Requiring a redesign of normal track racing shoes into a form of slippers.

I think a lot of the drag and weight reduction in road cycling is rather mental. Unless you are actually accelerating or climbing the weight hardly matters. I have ridden past clubmen on their carbon fibre bikes up steep hills. With 10kg of shopping aboard my 38lb road-ready and "winterised" Higgins. Mudguards, lights etc.

Meanwhile, a real leather saddlebag fetishist might want to shield the Trykit rack from the wind to improve airflow. A bit of thick polythene stapled on would probably do. Luckily I'm not that way inclined. Though masochism is definitely mentioned somewhere in the small print index of cycling as a sport.

My choice of tri-bars is now well proven and they have saved me considerable extra effort in strong headwinds recently. Always guaranteed to provide an extra 2mph, over resting on the hoods, I wish it was as effortless to go even faster. As soon as I get into the aero position I immediately want to be doing 20-22mph on the flat. Silly old devil! A couple of younger chaps rode past me yesterday [on the hoods] at a steady 22mph, side by side, straight into exactly the same wind, when I was really struggling to do 18 on the tri-bars. I chased  like hell but couldn't close the gap as they got further and further away. I want legs like those! The same lungs as well. My chest seems to be constantly full of thick liquid.<spit!>

Apparently, wheel/tyre width hardly matters except [perhaps] for TT. The trend is towards wider tyres for much more comfort and lower rolling resistance. Let's hope it doesn't take years for the tyre labellers to catch up. I already have to buy my 25mm Duranos online because no bike shop sells anything but 23mm in klinchers. 

A brief summary of wind tunnel tests which you might find interesting: Aerodynamics of Real-World Bicycles | Off The Beaten Path

The crosswind was blowing from about 10 degrees behind me on the way out. Allowing me to cruise at 20mph+ on the hoods. Coming back it was 10 degrees ahead of me and I was doing only 10-14mph.

Handle reinforcing strap in galvanized steel. I drilled out the rivets from this side to release the handle and metal strip without causing damage. A weight saving of nearly 3/4lb! Though the new stiffening dowel does have some weight there is probably still a reduction of half a pound.

It was going there that I experienced a weirdness probably not normally found outside of a mescaline overdose. The traffic in the main road villages was keeping to the speed limit! I kid you not! Does not compute! Twilight zone alert! Send for the X-files team! Make a documentary for Fox News!

They were going so slowly, it felt as if I could have sprinted up and stayed with them. I've seen most Danish hearses travelling faster! Later I passed a police camera van parked up on the grass verge. But how did they all know in advance? I saw no placards beside the road to warn them that they should knock their usual speed in half. No blue bunting was strung across the road between lampposts. No flashing blue lights. Nor was there any sign of some secret headlight flashing code known only to the locals.

It felt just as if I had been transported to another dimension. Perhaps I should have pinched myself to see if I was really dreaming? Well, if the claimed idea was traffic calming, rather than milking easy prey, then today was 110% successful. But what about tomorrow and all the other tomorrows when they are ALL back, driving at 55-60mph? Buses, artics, dustbin lorries, vans and cars. What then? Only 13, very weird miles! Whoohoo! Quack-quack! Cuckoo! ;ø]

The bag was carefully marked with a pencil and two tiny squares cut out of the leather. This was to allow the straps to reach through to the new stiffening dowel from the rack's top crossbar. I thought it important not to make the holes too high because the dowel would never be used to physically hang the bag from the saddle. That is what the Trykit rack is for. So I drew horizontal lines above and below the crossbar with the bag resting on the rack. The squares were easily cut out between the lines with a small, sharp, craft knife working carefully to avoid slitting the leather and making it weaker.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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