30 Jan 2016

30th January 2015 WT Roadlink.

Saturday 30th 43F, 6C, windy, overcast, rain. A damp morning, clearing later, winds reducing, allegedly.

Going back to the Wolf Tooth "Roadlink" they may just have made my ratio changing lever look like complete idiocy! If an Ultegra long cage RD can run a 40t rear sprocket then so [surely] can my Athena 11 speed RD mange a 36t? It had no problems with a 32t sprocket but the pulley cage could not clear the 36t. The Ultegra could also manage a 32t but gear changes were not so precise using the 11Sp Campag levers.

Of course the Campag Athena rear derailleur perfectly matches the pull ratio of the pre-2016 Campag Chorus Ergo levers. No pull ratio conversion required. It just seems too good to be true but I can probably rid myself of all my silly contraptions and just add a Roadlink to the Trykit's gear hanger. Then the Athena 11 speed RD can be hung from that. I have just ordered the Roadlink from Bike24 in Germany and will [obviously] discuss it in far more detail when it arrives. The vital trick with their clever links is the cranked design to bring the RD to the same lateral position but to alter its position in the vertical or rearward dimensions. This would be very difficult to achieve using a hammer to bend metal technology. The length does not allow enough room for the cranking to clear the threaded holes.

RoadLink – wolftoothcomponents.com
RoadLink Tech Page – wolftoothcomponents.com
RoadLink Installation Instructions – wolftoothcomponents.com

Emails still not working. Sunshine late morning. Going out after lunch for [probably] a short ride. Only 7 miles. The hedge cutter chap is amazingly productive. Many field and roadside hedges have been chopped right and laid out neatly. With the gentle elevations of the Danish countryside it has a more marked effect on the landscape that you might imagine.

Indexing was all over the place on the bottom 3 gears with the new pulleys. The skewed angles of the gear cable entry and exit can be seen in this "up-skirt" image. Such extreme cable angles must alter the pull ratios and cause flexure in the swinging lever. Which is almost bound to affect the indexing.

This image is form the previous iteration when I was still using cable clamps on the arm. Though the new design using rubber pulleys the cable angles are no better and may even be worse. Sorry about the farmer's mud in this shot! Thank goodness for R931 stainless steel trike frames! BTW: The O-rings and zip-ties are holding the cadence sensor in place.

Sunday 31st 36F, 2C, rather cloudy and windy. Occasional wintry showers and quite strong gusts [30+mph] expected again today. I have my inbox email service back again but have lost 350 messages prior to the disruption. I am still hoping "they" can recover them for me when they return to work on Monday.

Browsing for reviews and videos about Wolf Tooth Links have kept me amused all morning as rain, sleet and snow have fallen at intervals.

I'm really looking forward to trying the Roadlink with the Athena 11sp rear derailleur. It has been good fun playing with pull-ratio changing levers and turning ratio changing pulleys but they could soon be completely obsolete. Or so I hope.

I'd really like to get rid of all the extra "junk" my pull-ratio experiments have demanded. Though I hope I can still use the XTM8000 for its valuable, wide ratio geometry and chain clutch mechanism. To use this RD properly I really need to have much more space around the top rear of the derailleur. So that it can pivot freely without the cable entry arm and cable itself, binding on the trike axle reinforcement loops. The 11sp Goatlink may offer me just the extra freedom I need. Or the Roadlink might work simply by lowering the RD's hanger point. Even with the intervening ratio lever, the M8000 feels superbly light on the Ergo levers compared with my 11sp road RDs. Which is slightly odd because the lateral movement, per click, must be the same to achieve the correct sprocket pitch indexing.

Late morning was a little brighter but too late to go out before lunch. After that it all went badly downhill with long, darker periods and snow showers. So yet another rest day.

 Click on any image for an enlargement.

29 Jan 2016

29th January 2016 Shimergo rethink.

Friday 29th 41F, 5C, heavy overcast, very windy and wet. A wild day is in prospect with gusts to 20m/s or over 45mph with rain. A low is passing north of Denmark after crossing the North Sea from the UK. 

For those of you following my Shimergo experiments I have come up with a new idea. A shall trap 16mm, 5/8" rubber tap washers, behind steel washers, flat against the pull ratio changing lever. This will reduce the offset of the cable arrival and exit. It should also avoid the damage the present clamps and sharp, cable bends are doing. The new "pulleys" will be mounted one above the other with the cable following a new route. The rubber washers and increased degree of cable wrap will provide extra grip without needing the present clamps. They will also be much kinder to the gear cable.

I had been completely blind to the possibility that the cable could enter and exit between the pulleys. This had narrowed the available range of pull ratios by forcing too great a distance between cable exit and entrance. By using CSK head screws, instead of the present very deep, hex socket head screws and cable clamps, the "pulleys" should become much thinner. The cable skewing should thus be much reduced.

By bringing the cable entry and exit between the pulleys their separation can be increased. Providing a much greater difference in potential pull ratios by means of the lever effect. I need an increase of 1:1.38 to match the 11 speed Ergo levers to the Shimano 11 speed MTB  rear derailleur. The rough digital drawing at the top of the page shows what I have in mind. With the weather being so awful today I shall have plenty of time to play in the shed.

The gear indexing hasn't been too bad [at all] over much of the cassette. Though there were some problems with the second largest rear sprocket. There was some indecisiveness which suggested that the present pull ratio did not quite match. The cumulative effect caught up at the far inward movement of the rear MTB derailleur travel. I tried cable tension adjustment but this did not have the desired effect. The cable bends were far too extreme and causing some slack where the cable could not follow a straight line.

The images show the first trial with the inner, parallel tangents of the rubber washers at 64mm and 88mm for ~1:1.375. I double checked the previous set-up, with the twin cable clamps and that was a little over 1:1.4. The fixings shown were all I had in the correct size so I will look out for some countersunk head screws and matching Nyloc nuts. Stainless steel fixings would be better if I can find them to avoid rust.

It is blowing a gale, with continuous sheets of rain falling, so outside photography is rather difficult.

Here is the ratio changing lever in the rearward position for top gear. [Smallest sprocket.] Notice how I have lowered the lever pivot clamp to make the pulleys lie equally above and below the chainstay. This was necessary due to the wider spacing of the new pulleys.

Winding the cable in a figure-of-8 around the pulleys needed some dexterity working between the chainstays. It helps to have the rear derailleur in top gear before commencing the cable threading. Thankfully the cable does not slip on the rubber pulleys and the washers make excellent cable retainers. This helps to avoid cable derailing on rapid changes over many gears which the Ergo Chorus lever can provide. The cable might become loose if the rear derailleur did not keep up. I could slice the rubber washers to half their width to reduce cable offset.

I looked again at the potential of running the cable under the bottom bracket but the angle is still too steeply inclined upwards to meet the top pulley. To use this route would not only upset the cable ratio changes but would introduce variability between each end of the cable pull.

So I am stuck with a short length of outer trapped in a clamp on the down tube as my cable guide. What I really need is an over the BB guide tube or channel. Though I'm not sure these are made any more. They used to be commonly available in the past when cable stops were usually fitted on top of the chainstay.

Ideally I would also move the lever pivot backwards. This would improve the symmetry of the lever movement over its full travel. At the moment it moves between vertical, when fully forwards in bottom gear. Then moves a long way backwards in top gear. Which makes the smallest sprocket indexed gear changes more insensitive due to the constantly changing difference in active radius at the pulley.

The present lever pivot is a bolt passing through a modified front changer clamp. Since making the changes I have been experimenting with the indexing and getting rather variable results. So I really must hang the lever in a more neutral [backward] position when the chain is running on the center of the cassette.

I am also struggling with the rear changer's "B-link" being too long. Which forces the cable entry too close to the trike's axle reinforcing loops. This may well be increasing friction at the bend. Wolf Tooth in the US do several straight, replacement links. Which I will have to examine in case these might help the Shimergo cause. They claim their Roadlink can make the long cage, Ultegra RD can run a huge sprocket! [42t] My immediate worry would be the larger gap between the pulleys and the smaller sprockets. I don't see how one can simply lower the rear derailleur without adding other problems elsewhere. Perhaps the derailleur body can automatically fold closer to the smaller sprockets?  

My emails have suddenly packed up again. Even web mail won't show new mails. I will have to wait until Monday for tech support. The gales grew worse all afternoon. Rest day.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


27 Jan 2016

27th January 2016 I'm back!

Wednesday 27th 45F, 7C, very heavy overcast, raining and very windy. It could gust up to 18m/s today which is roughly 40mph. Light rain is also forecast with temperatures up to 10C, 50F. I hardly noticed my back and hip this morning but now the weather is conspiring to limit my outdoor activities. I see there is now close agreement between the reporting climate centers that 2015 was by far the warmest year globally. Not only did 10 months set new records but the increase in temperatures was also a new record.

It seems my decades of trying to reduce my impact have had a very low [er] impact. The years since I began cycling to the shops, rather than driving everywhere,  are undone by a single neighbour. Who's traffic movements are not dissimilar to Heathrow's. Well, if nothing else, the savings on fuel have helped to fund my hobbies.

I saw a beggar with a very nice mobile phone the other day. Though he was careful to hide it when shoppers were leaving the supermarket. My six year-old Nokia had a screen like a postage stamp and was only used for emergencies. Only the slow, but final death of the battery forced the purchase of another budget phone. The new Nokia isn't a patch on the old one despite all the unwanted bells and whistles. The old one could be set to start ringing quietly and then increase in volume. The new one only allows steady but deafening levels. Which are essential to ensure I can hear it above the roar of the traffic when I am out on my trike. Which means I get some funny looks in the supermarkets when Base calls to remind me to get something else on the way home. They used to call this radio control but now they just call it wireless. Which was a very old fashioned name for a radio even when  I was a child. Just an hour's walk in gale-blown drizzle.

The wind continued to roar in the trees all day with constant light rain. Another rest day.

Thursday 28th 39F, 4C, windy but quite clear. We have even been threatened with a little sunshine. Winds gusting to only 35mph today. I still hope to get out for a ride. For the first time in what seems like ages I was able to put my socks on without pain this morning. Though I had a bad night struggling to stay sleep with a headache. I think I am reacting to coming off the pain killers. At least the heartburn seems to have gone. Enjoyed my usual elliptical walk up through the woods. Everything is incredibly quaggy but just manageable. There was constant sunshine as I climbed and descended on rather soggy and slippery inclines. The wind was strong enough to make it feel rather cool.

As I exited the woods I noticed that miles of hedges have been cut down. Aren't people amazing? I discovered the culprit for the absence of vertical hedges in the shape of quite a small, tracked excavator. It had obviously been fitted with some kind of saw and jaws to grab the falling trees or bushes. The driver arrived in a van at the very bottom of the field and needed to reach his machine where he had left it at the top via the wet, rough and very bumpy track. So he effortlessly reversed the half mile up the steep hill to maintain traction with front wheel drive. His driving was really quite impressive despite the steepness and very poor surfaces. Having reached the top he stepped out and allowed his mate to drive all the way back down again. A few minutes later the machine was rolling parallel with the hedge, neatly laying the trees and bushes at right angles as he went. His speed and skill at hedge "laying"  easily matched that behind the wheel of his van.

I used to get very upset at the sudden lack of shelter from the wind when hedges were cut down. Only later did I appreciate that the leveling of a hedge meant a considerable increase in thickness, diversity and density. The tall, spindly growth was replaced by much better hedges after a couple of years. The views are slowly lost to the new growth but the shelter improves again over time. Cutting the hedges now means that active nests are not destroyed. The birds will have to find shelter elsewhere in the meantime until their terraces of accommodation are eventually returned to them. It is quite amazing how many of last year's nests can be seen in the bare roadside hedgerows. Often cantilevered out right over the traffic, one wonders how they coped with the racket from passing lorries and other traffic.  

Rode to Assens to collect my replacement buckles for my NW MTB shoes under guarantee. The headwind gale was so strong I was down to 5.5mph in a 33/36 bottom gear. It took me ages to get there compared with my usual speed. Coming home was a breeze. Though leaves were still passing me when I was doing 20mph uphill. There really seems to be an improvement in economic confidence. With "Sold" stickers appearing on house for sale signs. Even a new build going up on the Assens industrial estate. 21 miles with no ill effects whatsoever. Rumours of my imminent demise were obviously an exaggeration.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

25 Jan 2016

25th January 2016 Recovery.

Monday 25th 41-43F, 5-6C, light breeze, heavy overcast, thick mist with drizzle. There were large puddles of melt water in the fields where I have never seen puddles before. Gravel tracks were soft from the permafrost melting and laced with puddles. Only in the woods was there still a little snow and lots of ice. A stream trickled under solid ice down the laddered ridges left by tracked forestry vehicles. The traffic could be clearly heard from much further away than usual. I kept looking behind me in case something was coming along the track.

Tuesday 26th 41-42F, 5-6C, heavy overcast, breezy but dry. No thick mist today! I'm going for a walk to test my recovery.  A modest ride might be possible today. I have been avoiding the trike while the thick mist has made riding much more dangerous. No matter how many lights I have on the back the speeding psychopaths simply cannot be trusted.

I have watched them on my morning walks along the roads. Many of them surgically welded to their mobile phones while cutting corner with double white lines. Or overshooting by the entire width of their cars! Driving nose to tail.  They don't seem to care about the thick fog. They have not made the slightest adjustment in their speed or suicidal behaviour!

Based on my daily observations HGV drivers are far more likely to be using their mobile phones than not. This is just on the short section of road with very tight bends before I take my exit to the field tracks or quieter lanes. What right do they have to cut corners and overshoot them just because they are holding an illegal conversation? Are they too cheap to buy a hands free set-up? Do they have absolutely no shame, at all, that their driving is far worse than a habitual drunk's?

I walked a loop around the steep firebreaks in the forest after hearing gunshots on my intended route. No real problems with my back today except an occasional twinge. Passed a hedge with a complete mix of about ten birds foraging in a flock. I spotted Chaffinches, Blue tits, Great tits, Black birds, Gold finches and a Fieldfare all busy in one bush.

Went for a ride late morning. The gravel tracks are very soft after the frosts. It seems to liquefy what is usually a surface too hard to change with mere hand tools. The softness brings mud to the surface. Greatly raising rolling resistance to a case of climbing out of the saddle at times just to make forward progress. The sky brightened at times but was mostly overcast. A light headwind going.  I hope my back problems are now at an end. The heartburn from consuming the painkillers has worn a bit thin. I hope the same can't be said for my innards! Ever onwards! Only 15 miles with no obvious pain.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

24 Jan 2016

24th January 2016 Boxing clever?

Sunday 24th  37F, +3C, breezy, overcast with thick mist. You have to laugh at America sometimes. They get a bit of hoar frost on the pavements and the whole country comes to a complete standstill! While Denmark had 16" 40cm of snow overnight, one December, which lasted until late March it hardly made the local papers. At one point the snow was over a meter deep on our roof from drifting in the strong winds. I haven't seen more than 6" of lying snow in any of the pictures or videos of the globally headlined "Snowzilla" from the eastern USA! Perhaps the snow is going to arrive today? Perhaps they couldn't afford enough snow with a costly election underway?

I see in the Danish news that four more people have died after motorists drove the wrong way onto motorways. Usually it is blamed on old age or drunkenness. Is it really beyond the wit of man that wedge shaped, white lines could be arranged on the exit ramps to hinder drivers from entering? When exiting the correct way the lines would hardly be noticed. Driving the wrong way the tyres would hit the vertical ramps and might even shake the drunks and the senile out of their stupor. The wedged lines could even be made out of rubber strips for easy replacement. Or for research into the most efficacious design of the angles and dimensions.

All vehicles in Denmark must show dipped headlights. So there could be headlight sensors on exit ramps to switch on a battery of bright yellow flashing lights when a driver tries to enter. This might offer a wake-up call every time a "ghost driver" decides that a trip down the motorway would be so much more fun in the wrong direction! Even with Danish wages it shouldn't cost a fortune to set up a few trials.

Janteloven has finally been relaxed because a Dane has re-invented bicycle only, waiting boxes at traffic lights. They've had them for years in other countries but Denmark may not have anything which has not been independently invented by a Dane. Cyclists have been dying in droves at Danish traffic lights when lorries and buses have turned across the cyclist' paths without the drivers bothering to look up from their iPhoneys. Now a few traffic lights will have trial cycle boxes marked on the roads just to see if they actually work.

Danish drivers will always have absolute right of way at traffic lights over the humble cyclist despite the vast numbers who cycle here. So it would be against the Copenhagen Convention of Driver's Absolute Right of Way to fine any motorist who has the temerity to enter the "new" cycle boxes at a red light. Janteloven will offer blanket legal protection of drivers from any likely charges anyway. So we can expect near 100% of cars, buses and lorries waiting on the new cycle boxes at red. Denmark will probably have to wait until the EU insists on a change in the law to prevent drivers from parking on the cycle boxes.

Since so many Danish drivers cross long after the lights have already turned red one can but pray that they don't actually cut across the cycle box itself. Which many might well do in their haste to gain a completely illegal speed on their exit. Meanwhile, just to add spice to the mix, it is legally required, in Denmark,  that cyclists may not turn left at traffic lights. Not even when there is no oncoming traffic, no following traffic and their exit is clear. [For those in Gravely Blighted and/or The Colonies, who cycle on the "wrong" side of the road, it is the equivalent of NOT being allowed to turn right at traffic lights.]

So, in all weather and road conditions the Danish cyclist must ride straight across at the light controlled crossing or junction. Before making a slow and wobbly U-turn in front of the waiting traffic on their right. Then hover beyond the legal, white line until the lights change. I kid you not! They then have to set off, often in an untidy gaggle, just as the waiting vehicles are unleashed allowing them all to sprint away while all getting in each other's way.

There will now be a box painted on the road, for waiting cyclists, who will all move quite naturally to the front of the box. Thereby blocking access to all those cyclists who have been forced, by Danish law, to turn right, make a wobbly U-turn and then dawdle, before they can legally go straight across. In order to to make a left turn from their original direction of travel! Only in [cycling friendly] Denmark!

Finally, for the moment, there is a call for older Danish cyclists to become more visible to motorists after dark. Kids cycle in brightly coloured clothes, often with highly reflective stripes built in. Then, as soon as they become teenagers they all start wearing dark clothing and riding without lights. Darwin would have understood. The call is for more mature cyclists to imitate the tots by wearing florescent waistcoats with "go faster" reflective stripes. Yeah, right! This may be Denmark but pigs do not fly. Well, at least, not yet. Though it is [surely] only a matter of time? Perhaps they could use [Danish-invented] drones to fly them down to the butchers in Germany for Halal slaughter? I meant the pigs. Not the cyclists.

Went for an hour's walk down the road and back. I was going to try and photograph some of the cars attempting the Danish land speed record in fog. Try as I might they were already gone from sight before I could capture a single image. One psychopath was aiming straight for me until I woke him up by waving my arms frantically and jumping on to the verge. His wife was a zombie too and never even glanced in my direction. It shouldn't be necessary, but Denmark has an awful reputation for its lack of psychiatric services. However badly they might be needed. I went shopping in the car because we needed so much stuff after a few days of "excused [MTB] boots." We'd run out of fuel for the stove so I had to risk my back by loading a few 10kg bags into a shopping trolley and then into the boot. Where they can sit undisturbed until we have finished burning the remaining furniture! 

Click on any image for an enlargement.  


21 Jan 2016

21st January 2016 Burp2!

Thursday 21st 17-27F, -8-3C, still and foggy. If it was lighter I could see the the hoar frost apparently. But that is still an hour away. Yesterday's hoar frost was remarkably short-lived as soon as the weak and very low sun peeked from behind the strange, lenticular blobs of grey cloud. The pain killers do seem to be taking the edge off the pain but have not removed it. Meanwhile, the tinnitus whistle seems to have stopped overnight leaving a rushing sound. Poor old devil! He thought he was invulnerable but was found wanting in the athletics, acrobatics and weight lifting disciplines. Then failed to qualify in the early rounds of the 2016 winter tricycling trials and tribulations.

Another circuit of the fields but anticlockwise past the lake. Only 10 Mallards today guarding an open patch in the snow covered ice. Saw hundreds of Greenfinches in a flock on the marsh trees and several gaudy Bullfinches in a hedge. Even more hoar frost but again it melted away in the sunshine. Then the mist suddenly dropped within 10 minutes before burning off again.  I'm not sure the walking is helping much. My hip is hurting so no ride today.

Friday 22nd 23-27F, -5-3C, breezy, a mixture of clear and misty. Sunshine is promised. I walked to the village and back. A cold wind seemed to cling to my skin. The sun kept disappearing into low cloud leaving a stark white disk.

There is a new sound in the Danish countryside. Massive wood chippers are now being used in the forests. As each tree is put through the chipper, by hydraulic arms, there is a great roar. From a distance of over two miles it sounds like a giant panting. A colossus on a scale which makes King Kong sound like a slightly out of breath, wood nymph! I nearly laughed when I saw council workers chipping lopped tree branches with a much lesser machine towed behind a tractor. A branch got stuck, so the "skilled operative" put his foot deep in the hopper to force the branch in... 

Later I actually went for a ride. Not so much of a problem with my back pain today. Cold riding into the wind though. My face was bright red all over when I glanced into a mirror in a supermarket. The windchill must have been down around -12C or 11F. Lots of different birds of prey about today. Fieldfares were foraging with the Blackbirds in village gardens. Fourteen miles and I was glad to be able to spin in low gears on the climbs. Exactly as predicted, the pain killers are giving me heartburn. Tried Slippery elm and plain active yogurt with little obvious relief.

Saturday 23rd 28F, -2C, light breeze with about 3" of overnight snow. [7.5cm] My hip/back/thigh felt okay until I had to get dressed. So the pain is still dragging on despite the painkillers. Pain + snow + thick mist = rest day.

Click on any image for an enlargement.  


20 Jan 2016

20th January 2016 This little piggy went to [global] market...

Wednesday 20th 23-26F, -5-3C, almost still, hoar frost. I was woken in the middle of the night by an "ear splitting" whistle in my left ear. The one which has been deaf for months despite having it rinsed of wax by the doctor. It never recovered normal hearing after that. Which suggests, to me, that the tinnitus is a response to boredom from a lack of audio stimulus. After taking smaller doses of painkillers my back does seem to be less painful. I couldn't get to the chemists to collect my prescription because I wasn't allowed to cycle. Getting in an out of the car was, and probably still is, agony.

There is a ruckus in the Danish media over a political decision to force feed pig meat to school children. Being a "traditional" Danish food, though now heavily laced with antibiotics leading to multi-resistant bacteria, it is apparently considered healthy by the politic-ooze. Let's leave the morality of mass torture and frequent mistreatment of an intelligent animal aside. Not to mention driving the pigs for hundreds of miles to Germany to be slaughtered, just to save a penny or two. It is a strange signal to be giving impressionable kids. Particularly when their parents were made unemployed when all the Danish slaughterhouses were closed to increase the global meat distributor's bottom line. 

Then there is the matter of abusing immigrants and agricultural students as cheap, underpaid labour, in the industrialized, pig prison camps. Plus the constant stench in the Danish countryside from the spreading of raw pig sewage directly on the land. Now add in the illegal clearance of virgin rain forests to grow the pig food on the other side of the world and then transport it all the way to Denmark. Many farmers are already bankrupt from the cost of imported pig feed and will never be able to pay off their debts. Leaving many small, Danish banks extremely vulnerable to indebtedness to farming in already difficult times.Let's not even get started on reducing the global CO2 burden which Denmark consistently fails to achieve.

I know, let's force feed kids with "healthy" pig meat in school dinners to make everything right again! Interestingly [?] they might just have a case to answer in the Danish courts when the hundreds of thousands of new and existing, immigrant children refuse to eat the stuff on religious grounds. This could make the fuss over Halal slaughter look like a storm in a Danish beer can. As for myself, I'll be glad when I have something more contextual to talk about. An update: Children who may not eat pig meat for religious reasons are not given pig meat. So that's all right then. When in Rome. ;)

Did my usual walk up through the woods though at a more modest pace than usual. My hip was hurting on the descent so I have obviously overdone it again. A large, white bird of prey was sitting in a dark group of conifers and could be seen for  miles. Just a short ride for 7 miles. I'm glad I didn't decide to go any further as I had to sit up on the tops to reduce the pain.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


18 Jan 2016

18th January 2016 Not another nice bit of S&M?

Monday 18th 28-33F, -2+1C, cloudy, with light winds. The forecast is sunshine and snow showers while hovering around freezing. I'd better make an appointment with the doctor. Which I duly did and found myself with a frozen, snow-covered car and only half an hour to reach my appointment on time. Luckily the car started immediately thanks to my habit of unhitching the battery cable between my increasingly rare [car] journeys forth. Brief sunshine went down on its knees but was still crushed under a leaden plate of the grey stuff. Leaving the car to defrost itself at the end of the drive, with the heater turned right up, is not without its dangers. Somebody could jump in and drive off! It's true! I've seen it happen on YouTube!

It seems I have only strained some muscles and have to take several decades worth of pain killers in only one week. It was also recommended I have a course of physiotherapy. The first and last time I went to be prodded about, I [was] left in absolute agony, never to return. Having crawled back to the distant car on all fours, I found myself unable to climb in, sit down and close the door. At least, not without a further bout of ear-splitting screams. I wonder whether this could be the real reason for my oft-recurring tinnitus?

I can only assume that physiotherapists belong to the same discipline as dentists. Nothing like being paid [well] for a nice bit of S&M, is there? I wouldn't mind but they don't even offer to dress up for their ritual torture sessions. I am referring [strictly] to the professional, lady dominatrix here, of course. Just in case there was any [serious] doubt. I don't mind a nice bit of leather and studs but prefer it to have a Brooks label and that I sit on it. Not the other way around!

For those with long memories this must have a definite ring of déjà vu from the last time around. When it [the self-sustained injury to my person] was on the other side. Sadly, the poor and rather obvious jokes, were no better back then. I wish I could say that being a tri-cyclist made me immune to pain. Or rather funnier than a tragic old clown on a tricycle. Slap stick humour is [allegedly] so yesterday. After all, we do tend to deliberately cause suffering on every climb. Those who race seriously must endure the equivalent of many torture sessions in quick succession. And most of us do this [to ourselves] for fun?

It is no wonder we tend to do this alone and deftly quip euphemisms such as; "Just going to nip around the block, Dear." As one leaves one's beloved watching an innocent TV soap. While the trike is wheeled surreptitiously out. Complete with trailer, several weeks worth of rations and a passport carefully concealed in a polythene bag beneath the camping mattress and tent poles. There's nothing quite like a well-planned strategy for achieving chronic saddle soreness on a really epic scale.

Even the tools of our trade refer to [chain] whips, vices and [pin] wrenches. Most cycle repair is conducted with as much privacy as we can possibly muster! As in; "I'm just going to whip that block off, Dear." Usually followed by severely scraped knuckles, serious breathlessness and a foul temper. Taking the job to a professional knuckle scraper seems just too public a confession of what we normally do in the intimacy of our undersized [trike] sheds. [If only we were remotely able without major loss of blood!]

Which can all be rather quickly summed up as: Just another rest day. But without the prescribed, light but regular exercise [on the keyboard.] Lest we forget: Give blood! Become a tri-cyclist! Or words to that effect.

Tuesday 19th 30F, -1C, overcast, windy, snow. I woke with my back feeling a little tender. Reaching my socks caused the usual palaver but I had to suppress the groans to avoid disturbing The Head Gardner's beauty sleep. I thought I'd risk a walk around the fields on the spray tracks. The soil was rock hard beneath a light coat of snow. Solitary flakes of frozen rain fell at intervals. My wife had suggested I wear one of my ex-charity shop duvet jackets. It was an excellent idea as it was neutrally warm and completely windproof. The high neck fitted nicely under my chin to keep the cold wind out.

Taking pictures required the removal of my scooter gloves but did not hinder my capturing quite a few. I was passed by a council lorry spraying a liquid salt solution. Which was liberally resprayed onto the verge by passing vehicles. One can but presume that the hedges and gardens are highly salt tolerant. Had a toot and a wave from the driver of a huge lorry when I jumped onto the verge to save him having to drive around me. I have to collect my painkiller prescription so might risk a ride today. I'm not worried about the wintry conditions so much as making my back worse. The blogger editing is up the creek again.

Just when I'd found some nice digestive biscuits, without palm oil, the supermarket monopolies have changed to another manufacturer. Who's products do have palm oil and taste of grease but little else. I eat an odd digestive or two per day to avoid eating the popular chocolate or cream covered alternatives which are loaded with both fat and sugar. Now the search begins for the originals. Every time we find something we like with the slightest pretensions to healthy food it immediately disappears from the shelves!

Palm oil has an excellent reputation for being grown illegally on slashed and burnt, virgin rain forest. So we won't have the stuff in the house. I see iRottenApple is denying all knowledge of child miners being exploited in Africa when they steal yet another nation's minerals and natural resources for a pittance. We wouldn't have any iRottenApple's products in the house either. If we wouldn't steal or keep child slaves ourselves why, on earth, would we agree to let anybody else do it for obscene, offshore, tax-free profit? Denied a ride by "The Authorities" in the hope of a swifter recovery. Rest day.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


11 Jan 2016

11th January 2016 Marius Youbi: Far too clever for Denmark!

Monday 11th 35F, 2C, overcast with lighter winds. Still pitch black at 7.45am. I went for a gentle walk but the pain in my left buttock was too unpleasant to go far. This is all very odd after years of pain in my right buttock. I've been doing YouTube sciatica stretching exercise but it has made the pain worse! I see my westerly neighbour has had another illegal delivery of mixed demolition waste for burning on his wood stove. Now we just have to wait impatiently for the wind to change... while we continue to enjoy the toxic brown smoke from our easterly neighbour's illegal demolition firewood.

I was just reading on the Danish news website that Denmark has deported a brilliant engineering student from Cameroon for working too hard and too long. [I kid you not!] They couldn't come up with any other excuse to get rid of him to hide their blushes. Jante's Law is alive and well in Denmark. The Danish version of Sharia Law but far more rigid. It hides deeply ingrained racism after years of economic immigration through open borders. Thick mist and agonizing pain put a stop to any hopes of a ride.

Tuesday 12th 35F, 2C. Lighter winds, overcast with wintry shower forecast. I woke without the pain but can still feel it waiting to pounce. Just walking around indoors is becoming painful again. It rained over lunch so I was quite late leaving into more rain. The snow is still hanging on in the shade. Back painful but I managed 7 miles.

Wednesday 13th 32F, 0C, overcast, breezy, a little overnight snow lying. Back okay when I got up but hurting constantly now. No walk. A bird of prey landed in one of our trees. While trying to confirm something about my Higgins I started reading my blog from 2010 and 2011. It seems amazing how I would go out in thick snow and bitter cold without my present collection of mostly secondhand, cycling clothing for protection. Seeing myself in thick fleece jackets attests to how poorly I was dressed for sub zero conditions. Even the fleece jackets were bought, with cycling in mind, from charity shops. They were about as windproof as a net curtain at -15C, 5F!

Talking of pain, my back is still in agony despite repeated YT exercises. The only time the pain subsides is when I lie on my right side in bed. Whereupon I promptly fall asleep! Just getting my MTB boots on to go out felt a like a blowlamp being played on my back. It took me nearly ten minutes with the Velcro fastening locking repeatedly onto my loop pile "farmer's" socks. Once I got going I had to remain leaning over the handlebars because it was too painful to sit up on the tops. Then  my nose started streaming with blood and spattered huge drops all over the top tube. Climbing was very unpleasant and I was grateful to be able to spin  freely on the 36t sprocket. All the windmills had stopped in the calm conditions but felt like a constant headwind in the cold air. Just reaching the downtube for the U-lock was agony. Only 13 miles.

Thursday 14th 35F, 2C, heavy overcast, misty, light winds but mostly dry. Eye-watering pain again as I dressed. I cannot reach forwards nor lift my feet to bring them nearer. The floor is receding again unless I curl up into a ball. It hurts whether I stand, sit, pedal, lie down or walk. For years the pain was on the right side but now it has suddenly switched to the left. Exactly the same symptoms as before but my joints were given the all clear after numerous scans, prodding and x-rays.

Since inactivity doesn't seem to help I shall just have to continue trying to walk and ride. I walked for an hour and a half today with the pain coming and going. Strange mist passed across the landscape like low cloud. Giving the very low hills a dramatic quality with the brighter grey back-lighting. It could almost have passed for the Welsh mountains at times. A very brief glimpse of the sun and some blue skies was short lived. Another nosebleed and too much pain to go for a ride today.

Friday 15th 32F, 0C, light winds, very heavy overcast. I thought my back was a bit better this morning then couldn't put my socks on. Back to square one. I walked more briskly than I could manage yesterday but over a shorter route. The phantom pain seems to have shifted to the joint area. A change is as good as a rest and I have to go shopping anyway. I have taken a couple of Eprin to let it reach the bloodstream before I leave.  The earlier sunshine and blue skies were short-lived as a grey plate slid over from the east. A cold wind had my coat done up to the neck but I was able to walk with bare hands at intervals. The temperature is slowly dropping. Late afternoon ride for only 7 miles.

Saturday 16th 30F, -1C, almost dead calm, very heavy overcast. Hip area feels sore but not the nasty pain I have been having. I have been taking mild pain killers which seem to help mask the pain if I sit fairly still. I shall try to continue walking and riding over shorter distances until things improve. The frozen fields provided a reverse loop on the tractor tracks. It involved a steep climb on rough ground and then  a long slow descent. The ground is covered in fine, frozen drizzle. With their pond frozen solid the ducks were working a small drainage stream. Despite the pain I was still determined to go for a ride today. Or not. Having had to lie down to subdue the pain my wife vetoed any ride to avoid making matters worse.

Sunday 17th 23F, -5C, clear, almost still, thin layer of overnight snow. The pain continues. Another real rest day doing nothing.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

9 Jan 2016

Saturday 9th January Whether the weather be fine or...?

Saturday 9th 32-36F, 0-2C, light winds, overcast. Yesterday was an all day affair of mist, snow, sleet and light rain. Will today's weather be the same? Dunno. Somebody forgot to put today's chart and forecast on the DMI website. What is an absence of weather? Something so innocuous that nobody noticed it was there? The DMI have now put up a notice to say that they are having technical problems.

A frosty, mostly grey day with a cold, niggling, south-easterly wind. I was trying to capture the moody sky and landscape with my camera. Despite back and hip pain I did my usual loop up to the woods. Except that I used the light covering of snow to walk on the fields. Lots of tracks from deer, hares and pheasants. Several birds of prey were resting in the treetops or moving away from my disturbance. The roads were quite icy in places where the slush had refrozen. I shall probably go out after lunch. Which I did, but only for 10 miles. Riding along re-frozen slush strips is a worry in case I puncture. My lower back and hip are still killing me!

Sunday 10th 33F, 1C, heavy overcast, windy with sleet or snow showers. I was going to go out this morning but it started snowing heavily. Possible window later this afternoon if it clears up as promised. The DMI seems to have fixed its toys so we are allowed to have pre-determined weather again. The weather seemed determined to be nasty. With snow followed by rain making everything extremely wet with standing water everywhere. Rest day.

Click on any image for a enlargement.

7 Jan 2016

7th January 2016 Don't even get me started on cycling gloves!!

Thursday 7th 25F, -4C,  breezy, very, very dark! [@7.30am] Dusting of snow. Supposed to be a bright start but with winds increasing all day and snow tonight. I had better be out early if I'm going anywhere. Late morning ride but only for 10 hilly miles. I'd turned the A-head 'bar extension over to its normal position and it was better. Gears still misbehaving occasionally. I still haven't measured the cable clamp positions.

Friday 8th 30F, -1C, breezy, overcast. Only a little overnight snow. About 25mm or 1"?

Denmark suffers lower winter temperatures than the UK average so gloves are more important and far more irritating! I'm still looking for decent mitts and gloves! By coincidence my wife and I were just going through a big stack of gloves deciding which were charity shop worthy or simply bin fodder. The majority of even brand new looking gloves were bin fodder.  BTW I take the largest sizes in gloves and some lines are not available in an 11 or XXXXXL. Rumours that former, slight gingeriness in my beard has anything to do with Orangutans is mere gossip!

For the first few tricycling years I used supermarket quality mitts and gloves. Some £4-5 mitts were made of real bits of animal and left GripGrab for dead on longevity, grip, superb comfort and padding. They only started coming apart after several years. By then I couldn't replace them because the special offer was always short lived and I never knew which ones to buy 2 or 3 of. I still miss those mitts.  
Supermarket's so-called  "Skiing" gloves are absolutely hopeless on a trike or bike in winter. Particularly Thinsulate which I won't even bother to discuss in the same breath as Winter. I went through absolute agony on my first few tricycling winters in Denmark wearing several different supermarket skiing glove offers. Even wearing them doubled with thin liners they have the wind-proofing qualities of a worn and moth-eaten net curtain. If it says "Thinsulate" then avoid them like a dose of the plague for cycling!  

I paid a lot of money [£60 LBS retail] for Sealskinz gloves. Then was caught out with damp/sweaty hands miles from home on the very first ride. The liners pulled right out with my fingers and wouldn't go back again!  So "our hero" had to ride home with just his fingertips covered in an excruciating, screwed up bag of wet cloth. They were never repairable even using knitting needles to try and poke the fingers back in. I'll badmouth Sealskinz as lethal crap as often as I can, for as long as I can still breathe!

I bought a pair of leather mitts designed for weight lifters and they were far too stiff for cycling. I even tried soaking them and bending my hands into shape but it didn't help. They also made my hands black from the dye! I wore 'natural' leather track mitts as a cycling-mad teenager and lived in them but I haven't seen anything like them for decades.

When it's warm I use GripGrab fingerless mitts. Very little else is available in a Danish Monopoly Money LBS. They are very light, quite cool and grippy but the pads were never designed by a real cyclist. I tend to ride on the top outer bends with only my fingertips on the brake hoods on dropped bars. So I find the "pads" bridge the bars perfectly give me aching hands in no time at all and all at extra expense!

GripGrabs medium weight fingered gloves work down to [say] 45F if you are very, very lucky. I'd set it at 50F minimum if you have cold-sensitive hands. The stitching inside the fingertips will make your fingertips bleed if you change gear on the Ergos as often as I do! Overpriced crap again, but I seem to have three pairs and have them washed after every ride. They aren't bulky and look good on the trike though. [If that really matters to you.] The palm pads logos seem to wear away rather quickly. I have tried wearing them on my morning walks and find it warmer to take them off and put my hands in my jacket pockets when it is cold and windy! That should tell you quite a lot about GripGrab gloves natural warmth.

BTW: I really don't have "cold" hands and have recently worked on the trike outdoors in roaring gales for 6 hours at -3-4C. This was while wearing the thinnest "bike mechanics" cloth reinforced rubber work gloves in perfect comfort. Perhaps there's a lesson there? Wear mechanic's gloves on the trike?

GripGrab's "Polar?"full fingered "winter gloves" weren't very warm at all. The rubber coating on the palms quickly rubbed right off removing any grip where it really mattered. They are thin and light without being too baggy but then the linings came out and won't go back in. More overpriced crap, IMO, and hopeless in really cold Danish weather.  

In a moment of desperation with aching, cold hands I bought some over-sized Dintex "Heat Pad" "scooterists" gloves from a local MC shop. They were rather bulky but the only ones they had without decorative "knuckle dusters." They can be a bit sweaty if it's too warm. >45F. The second pair I bought as spares didn't have the same quality of membrane so sweat far more.
Sizing is a disaster if you go by the labels! You must try them on. I have taken to always wearing thin, cheap polyester gloves inside them as sweat absorbers. The Dintex gloves take days to dry out after being washed even lying under the wood stove! They are very bulky and stiff by cycling standards but just manageable.

Most overpriced/expensive gloves use membranes for wind-proofing. But mostly they often act like polythene bags which fills with water and wets the cloth liners.[Your own sweat!] The membranes can rupture from new leaving you with a freezing cold spot you wouldn't believe! Or ever want to know about! Longevity is usually very limited in my experience and I take care of my kit. Perhaps they aren't designed to be washed after every ride? But then how would you stop them from stinking?

I'd like glove manufacturers to send their managing-sales-hype directors out on a long bike ride in winter. With their "names" products at the temperatures they [sometimes) suggest on the ridiculously overblown, anti-theft packaging. And, not to come back again for several hours!

If anyone knows some good quality, REAL winter cycling gloves for sub freezing conditions I'd really like to hear about them.  Wink  Hey! I've suddenly got a real smiley!
Copy and paste from an overlong forum post, I didn't submit, did the trick.

A day of snow, sleet and rain. Fortunately I chose my moment and avoided the worst. The roads were very wet with thick slush and puddles in long stripes. I saw the flashing lights of a snow plough coming up behind me so dived into an uphill drive to let him pass. Then sat for five minutes while the backlog he had caused followed him like a tail. Finally I could reverse back out and carry on. Most drivers haven't a clue how much spray their vehicle chucks over cyclists or walkers. Or perhaps they do and they are either psychopaths or simply retarded. I had to keep coughing up nasty tasting phlegm so the neighbour's toxic smoke is definitely working. Only 7, breathless miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

6 Jan 2016

6th January 2016 S'now fun at all!

Wednesday 26th 26F, -3C, winds lighter but with risk of snow on top of half an inch of that lying from overnight falls.

My tinnitus is back again. Making me wonder if it is caused by the cold. I was standing outside for 6 hours yesterday in cold and windy conditions. At least the Trykit is mobile again after wasting considerable time on Shimergo cabling and derailleur clearance problems.

I had to turn the flash back off for this image to stop it firing in the dim light. You can see how little protection I was getting from the easterly wind by the bare hedges. They are usually completely opaque in summer. We inherited this 8-10' tall, shared "hedge" with recently lopped large trees embedded in it. We should have agreed to take these out to make the hedge much more manageable at a far more sensible height. The historical aerial images show that there was a row of large trees for years before we arrived. To find only a few, prickly tree stumps on the boundary when we moved here. The dense hedge is the result of my wife's planting activities over the years. As she tried to afford us some shelter from the cold easterly winds which blow at us so often while carrying toxic smoke.I was reading in the Danish news that hundreds of citizens complain annually to their councils about smoke but it seems they are powerless to stop it. Talking to your toxic neighbours is the only solution the councils say. Yeah right! It's no wonder there are so many gun deaths in the US! There's be a similar numbers over here if guns were so prolific.

The gales with sub/freezing conditions have resulted in a string of rest days. It was 4pm and getting dark when I finished working on the Trykit yesterday. So there was no time for a ride. I just have to put the saddlebag on the rack now and I shall be able to brave the elements. The tyres and rims are filthy from the permafrost melting last time and leaving the long, shared gravel drive soft and muddy. Not to mention potholed from the toxic neighbours coming and going in their cars at ten minute intervals. The pots for rainwater collection, from the trailer bed drain holes [usually reserved for watering plants in summer] were frozen hard. So there was no free water to rinse the wheels off for the photo session. The trike felt very odd with the newly raised handlebars as I did tight circles around the car on hard-frozen gravel. The bars look tipped up as well in the image so I may have to lower them to level again.

Just my usual walk up through the woods and back along the road. A JCB was struggling to dig holes in a frozen field while chaps with buckets looked on. I disturbed a large bird of prey which sailed off through the trees as if they weren't there. Though it complained just the same. A deer had been badly caught out by an iced-up puddle hidden beneath the snow judging from the wild arcs it had left behind. A flock of twelve to fifteen Blackbirds were foraging under apple trees. As solitary snowflakes fell onto McLardy's slug bait detritus strewn thickly along the verge.

Left on the Trykit mid-afternoon and returned at dusk. I passed under a pale Goshawk which continued to fly along just above me before veering off and settling into a tree. The gear indexing was mostly fine with just an occasional phantom change. I never even bothered to set it up properly on the down tube adjuster yesterday. I may not even have the clamp screws in the right holes in the swinging arm.  I'll have to check properly tomorrow. The Trykit felt very upright compared with the Higgins. I even whipped out a hex key to flatten the handlebars outside the first supermarket. [As you do.] It felt better but I'm still going to turn the extension over to its original position. It seemed as if too much weight was on my hands again. Almost as if I was propping myself upright on the bars in a continuous push-up. I also seemed to be pushing myself backwards onto the saddle at regular intervals. It's still good to be back on it again. With the thinner 2WD spacer it it feels much quicker. The roads were very busy. Only 15 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


5 Jan 2016

5th January 2016 The Trykit resurrection.

Tuesday 5th 25F, -4C, windy but clear. Snow showers possible on top of a strong, easterly wind.

With my replacement levers having arrived and an unfinished Shim[sram]ergo system still incomplete I will have to get busy. It is still very cold and won't be any warmer the shed. The wind is still gusting to 12m/s or over 25mph so wind chill at -4C puts is near -20C equivalent.

I always prefer to work outside with the trike up on the workstand. There is not enough room in the shed to work all around a trike.

The image shows the pulleys now pivoted at the 2nd [output] pulley. The dimensions shown provide a perfect match of 1:1.38 between the Ergo 11 speed levers and the XT11 MTB rear derailleur.

Even with the cable clamps on the swinging arm the indexing was perfect. The Ergo lever movements had been lighter than with a Campagnolo Athena 11 speed rear changer. Tragically my lack of maintenance and constant gear changing had caused the right hand Chorus lever to give up. I believe a small pawl had broken off. One which usually pushes the ratchet wheels around to select gears by gathering and releasing cable in indexed steps. I have not attempted to dismantle the broken lever despite there being excellent videos online. Fortunately I was able to ride my back-up Higgins trike or I would have been without transport.

In the meantime, I have been "thinking furiously" about how to overcome the sharp cable bends I was forced to use with the original cable clamps. These damaged the cable and made it impossible to withdraw the inner from the final RD loop. It was far too crude a system for my tastes. So now I am hoping the rubber "pulleys" will solve the cable problems by providing enough friction to avoid cable slippage. Hopefully without any need for cable clamping at all. If the cable does slip then I shall have to add a non-damaging clamp to the swinging arm. Since the cable will pass straight through the clamp there will be only a little cable flexing at the anchor.

The pulleys are thinner than the original clamp bolt heads. So the pull-ratio changing mechanism is narrowed quite considerably. It could be made thinner still by cutting a single piece of aluminium to support the asymmetrically arranged pulleys. The disadvantage is that adjustability is lost unless I slot the pulley fixing holes. Otherwise the geometry would have to be designed for a specific match between a chosen lever and a particular rear derailleur. I have no need of adjustability myself because my choices are already made. Though it is nice to have some leeway should it be needed in practice. It is quite possible that the swinging arm geometry will affect the cable pull per click at the extremes of arm movement. This could be compensated for by slightly altering the relative positions of the pulleys. If the indexing runs short of movement on the lowest gears then the ratio could be slightly increased.

The rubber pulleys proved to be too soft in practice. They offered plenty of cable grip with good indexing but the cable was soon dragged over the grommet's rim sideways by the offset cable pull. The only way to get a straight pull would be to drill holes right through the seat tube down by the bottom bracket. You may rest assured that my near-obsessive desire to have the Shimergo system working does not extend to that level.  I have gone back to using the original cable clamps for the moment despite the sharp bends. This problem could be overcome by using turned alloy pulleys with deep rim grooves. In the image it looks as if I have reversed the pivot clamp but it makes little real difference.

There is a serious problem with the rear derailleur cable loop being blocked by the trike's rear axle loop. After much fiddling I was able to find a point where rotating the "Direct link" allowed the cable to reach the changer. It was just bad luck that Shimano had made the cable entry at such an extreme outward angle to the vertical. How this would affect an MTB is difficult to say but it must surely make the rear cable loop extremely vulnerable to catching on branches. A mere 1/4" shorter "Direct link" would have helped the cable to clear the axle loop completely. The XT11 changer wouldn't fit directly on the Trykit gear hanger without the supplied link.

It took ages to get the tape off the handlebars where it had welded itself to the silicone shock absorbing strips. The black finished bars have suffered considerable cosmetic damage where I had the tri/bar extensions clamped. I may have to tape the bars right to the center. After weak morning sunshine it clouded over, as if about to snow, but hasn't so far. It didn't feel too cold in my big duvet jacket as it slowly warmed up to -1C, 30F.

I had to go back to the thinner central spacer on the Trykit 2WD because the freewheeling friction was far too high with the original spacer. It was very hard work turning the pedals in top gear even without the back wheels because there was so much drag! It is much better now with the thin spacer in place. I just have to re-tape the bars now and I will be mobile again.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

4 Jan 2016

4th January 2016 Swinging arm design completed.

Monday 4th 23-29F, -5--2C, gales and feeling bitterly cold again. The wind is supposed to drop from gusts averaging 17m/s, 38mph to a "balmy" 15m/s or 33mph. With these winds and the low air temperatures the wind chill factor makes it very unpleasant indeed being out of doors. Just handling any metal in the unheated shed is painful. Heating the uninsulated shed, just so I could work out there, would result in massive condensation and rust on unprotected metal. Besides, it would take ages for tools and metal to reach comfortable handling temperatures. The replacement Campag levers, which I originally ordered on the 15th December from Wiggle, have finally reached Billund sorting center in Jylland. Expected delivery is still listed as "by end of today on the 4th" but it hasn't been marked as "out on the van for delivery" yet. Only as being the hands of the delivery agent.

The trick when it is only 28F in the shed to avoid one's nose dripping on the item being worked on. I botched together a quick arrangement of two [grommet] pulleys on a scrap alloy crossbar. Only to discover I should have been more generous with the spacing to allow the pulleys to clear the central, crossbar fixing screw. Still, it will take only a few minutes work to put something better together.  I also want the pulleys flat on their crossbar to reduce the depth to something which would fit behind a chainset to make it more universal. Having the pulleys pressing on the crossbar would also reduce the risk of their rotating.

The plan after lunch, when my feet have warmed up again, is to to make a longer pulley-supporting crossbar. This will correct a number of interference problems which cropped up with the first trial construction.

Another thing which I hadn't foreseen was the limited range of ratios available from a given arrangement of two pulleys on a pivoted arm. I had fondly imagined that by simply rotating the crossbar I'd achieve a whole range of desirable pull ratio changes. It wasn't to be. Measuring with a vernier caliper, with the narrow jaws sunk into each pulley groove in turn, resulted in some odd ratios. This is the result of two equal sized pulleys, equally spaced from the central pivot. A more asymmetric layout will help to break the lock-step in ratios.

On the left is the new version of the swinging arm with this morning's problem's corrected. The 74mm measurement is simply a suggestion which fits my own trike. The pulleys are now fixed flat and immovably on the adjustable crosspiece. With the 1st pulley bolt now acting as the ratio adjustment pivot for the crosspiece. The Ist pulley is now fixed as to its radius from the swinging arm pivot. [74mm] The 2nd pulley is bolted to the other end of the crosspiece to allow only a little clearance between the two pulleys. [To maximize cable wrap for more friction.]

Rotation of the crosspiece will lift and lower the 2nd pulley relative to the 1st pulley and the swinging arm's own [top] pivot. This movement will set the output pull-per-click ratio to match that desired. Then the 1st pulley bolt can be tightened to lock the 2nd pulley and crosspiece at precisely the chosen, cable pull ratio. The pulleys are merely a convenience to protect the cable from sharp kinks and fraying. While simultaneously providing considerable friction against the cable slipping against the grooved rims.

It might be worth sandwiching a thin, but large diameter, star type, lock washer between the crosspiece and the swinging arm to avoid any chance of the crosspiece ever working loose. Stainless steel screws and SS Nyloc nuts will be used throughout. The swinging arm can probably be trimmed in width for cosmetic purposes.Or neatly chain drilled if you want a "techy" lightweight look. My own swinging arm is just a strip of scrap aluminium sawn from a larger piece. It is very soft but will take a tapped thread if some extra degree of locking is desired.

In my case the bottom of the 1st pulley rim groove [measured at the top of the pulley] is fixed at 74mm from the center of the swinging arm pivot hole. This figure is multiplied by the desired ratio change to match the gear lever to the rear changer. I needed an increase of 1:1.38 to match my Ergo lever's cable pull, per click, to an XT11 MTB rear changer. After  multiplying the Ist pulley [rim] radius of 74mm x 1.38  I then rotate the crosspiece until I can measure 102mm. This measurement is from the swinging arm's top pivot center to the bottom of the 2nd pulley groove on the right. The red line shows the required cable wrap which is deigned to maximize friction of the cable against the rubber pulleys with horizontal input and output cable runs. Any cable slippage would undo the cable pull-ratio setting. If I did discover cable slippage I could easily add a non-damaging cable clamp bolted through a slight elongation of the present arm length. Or I could move the 1st pulley pivot hole upwards slightly to make room for a cable clamp, screw hole on the end of the swinging arm.

The downtube gear cable enters from the right to join the top of the 1st pulley. The cable is then wrapped as shown so that the output from the second pulley runs along below the chainstay from the bottom of the 2nd pulley. Until the cable meets the cable stop for the rear derailleur, outer cable. 

With this simple lever system you can run any rear derailleur with any handlebar lever. Whether the cable pull ratio needs to be increased or decreased on the way makes no difference. The crosspiece is simply rotated until the desired ratio change is achieved on the output end of the cable to match the needs of the RD. It is assumed that the gear lever lets out [and takes in] equal lengths of cable with each click. Some Campag levers alter the pull per click and even have different spacers between different cassette sprockets.

This latest iteration of the swinging arm is probably thin enough overall to go behind a chainset on a bike. With the arm pivot on a clamp just below the FD. There being no room behind the bottom bracket on most bikes a trike has masses of unused room back there. If the 2nd pulley gets in the way of the FD then the the crosspiece pivot could move to the 2nd pulley. With the 1st pulley now fixed on the far left of the crosspiece. There's probably not much more than $1.50 or £1's worth of material and half an hour of [almost] tool-free construction in the entire arm. The Shimano FD clamp, from which the arm is hung, might run to a £enner if you don't have one already. Or can't scrounge a secondhand one from your LBS as I did. 

The "pulleys" are blind rubber grommets designed for sealing a 20mm hole in a thin metal box. Usually where mains electricity is present but not intended for domestic use. The grommets are drilled through their blank centers and a washer [or washers] added to a 5mm center, fixing screw to stiffen the grooved grommet rim against being pulled out of shape by gear cable tension. 

Those with an experimental bent can try making pulleys from different sized grommets to match what is available. Provided you achieve the correct pull ratio the design can be shrunk slightly. The smaller the pulleys the tighter the cable must bend around the pulleys. Perhaps with an increased risk of cable fraying. A shorter swinging arm may introduce cable pull errors at the extreme ends of its arc. Do a full scale drawing and examine how smaller swinging arm radii affect the pull per click on horizontal entry and exit cable runs. Don't forget to allow for the full cable movement at the rear gear changer [RD] when you draw the full arm swing both ways. In my case it is 36mm.  

 If I did turn up some alloy pulley inserts in the lathe, instead of the present washers, I'd need to remember to countersink the screw heads.There is no need to use pan-head screws when stainless steel CSK screws would do a much better job on turned alloy inserts.

My replacement 11 speed Campag Chorus Ultrashift levers have finally arrived. I can now set up the gear system and test for indexing with the XT11 8000 MTB RD. Only 7 miles today into a freezing headwind on the first leg. The tightly knitted balaclava I wore was not very windproof but helped to protect my cheeks. I will wear a GripGrab scull cap underneath next time I need a balaclava on the trike. I must also search for skiing goggles with lighter lenses. My eyes were watering on and off into the headwind despite wearing wrap-around cycling sunglasses. I bought a pair of skiing sunglasses with frame edge seals online but they are so dark they are hopeless in anything but high altitude alpine sunshine on snow! My visit to a skiing shop in the city did not turn up anything with lighter lenses in skiing eye-wear.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


3 Jan 2016

3rd January 2016 The C-word!

Sunday 3rd 23F, -5C, roaring gales to 17m/s or 35mph. The promise is for some sunshine but the low temperature and wind speed will make it feel very cold. The wind chill factor is somewhere around -25C in 35mph gusts according to The Danish Meteorological Institute's Kuldeindeks chart for 18m/s @ -5C. There is not remotely universal agreement between wind chill charts posted online. Not even when the same units are used! The windchill factor relates to what it feels like. The problem with wind is that it can breach the heaviest insulation and poorly windproof clothing unless a totally windproof shell is worn. Which is rarely a good idea if man-made materials and serious exercise is involved. Windproof often means it acts as a barrier to moisture escape.

I can clearly remember my first winters on the trike when I still wore [sometimes multiple] fleece jackets and supermarket "skiing" gloves "for warmth." On descents my chest would get colder and colder as my speed increased. Until it felt as if the wind was passing right through me and out the back! It was only later that I would routinely search charity shops [near and far] for "proper" cycling jackets. I was lucky and found several and still use each of them according to the temperature and wind conditions. 

Each jacket has its own, surprisingly narrow, temperature range within which I will [hopefully] avoid sweating or freezing. The main problem is usually finding myself overdressed when climbing. Opening the front zip is no guarantee of a cool back. That prickly feeling is soon followed by that sickening cold as the sweat chills on the next descent. Denmark is heavily corrugated without achieving any real altitude. Climbs and descents come as regular as clockwork on many of my usual routes. I see the "weekend warriors" on their "plastic fantastic" machines looking almost naked in their ultra-lightweight winter clothing. Always in black of course. While I cheerfully pedal the lanes in bulky "coat of may colours" cycling jackets from yesteryear.

I have discovered how very narrow a range of temperatures my jackets offer comfort. So I would be terrified of spending serious money on a single, black, skintight, winter jacket and matching long tights. Just so that I too, can look half naked in a gale and simultaneous frost. Perhaps it is most telling that I often find myself the only cyclist I see on the roads in winter. [Apart from hardy Danish pensioners out shopping.] Which might suggest that the level of protection offered by these long, black condoms is as marginal as they are visually discreet. Having once ventured forth in tights sans shorts I can attest to the feeling of serious under-dressing for a quiet ramble in the supermarket aisles. Were I to don the black suit look I might also have to wear a red nose to confirm my status as the local clown.[on a tricycle]

There used to be mime arteests on British TV who would wear black skin-tight clothing by default. I might be tempted to start seriously misbehaving beside the freezer cabinets, in my new, skintight outfit,. Which might result in my refugee status [from the Margaret Thatcher regime] being rescinded. Being forcibly repatriated to Gravely Blighted would probably be too much to bare. [sic] Particularly after all these years of riding on the "wrong" side of the road. I would certainly have to swap my Cyclop rear view mirror to the other handlebar end. Then sign up for an intensive course of evening classes, on the British Highway Code, simply in order to survive. It is bad enough glancing [all too frequently] down at a non-existent mirror when I am walking beside the road!

So I would probably have to seek sanctuary in a foreign embassy. Anything to avoid the ignominy of a return to a British Airport in full public view of the waiting press. Not to mention the throngs of admirers thinking I was a homecoming [winterized] Sir Bradley Wiggins. Besides, I am fairly sure that two trikes are not their idea of walk-on, hand luggage. Not even if I did have the assistance of two MI5/CIA security officers to help me down the aircraft steps. They might get fed up with my rambling demands and send me on extended holiday to Cuba!

Six years later I am still struggling to find gloves with any pretensions to warmth without getting sweaty hands. I have tried GripGrab's overpriced assortment, with only marginal success, dangerously crap Sealskinz and bulky, Dintex scooter gloves. One pair of Dintex scooter gloves sweats badly and then freezes my hands. The other pair do not. I presume they changed the membrane for something cheaper somewhere along the production run. So sometimes I get aching hands from frostbite but I can't tell the gloves apart. So frozen moisture is the norm at least 50% of the time.

Normally I wear carefully selected, thin "skiing" long johns and tights [bought cheaply from supermarkets] all autumn, winter and spring. Though I cling onto my naked knees for as long as possible and return to hirsute freedom as soon it warms up again. The stretchy material is too thin to absorb much moisture but helps to keep me dry and warm. Thereby avoiding intimate contact between my moist skin and my middle clothing. Over the ski vest I always wear one of my extensive collection of [secondhand] short-sleeved "racing" jerseys. All bought from charity shops of course. I always wear padded racing shorts too, for their comfort and protection from saddle sores. My regular rides may not always be very long but their frequency demands that I avoid getting sore. Otherwise even contemplating greater distances becomes impossible. 

I spent three years wearing poor quality shorts and poorer saddles. So I know exactly what it felt like to be in constant pain every time I sat down. Including sitting on two soft cushions on my already  comfortable computer chair. Saddle soreness always set my maximum distances and I took far too long to discover the Brooks B17.

I kept trying different saddles including a seriously painful and overlong relationship with the NOS Brooks "Professional." I kept wanting it to work for me but it rejected every attempt to make it comfortable.  I had previously bought a B17 'Narrow' when the LBS had no standard B17s and I found that too was painful. My pelvic bones structure insists I need a wider seat and one which is preferably, both reasonably compliant and almost flat. Curvature just tends to act as a wedge between my sit bones. The compliance need not necessarily mean softness. Certainly not a thick sponge cushion under a vinyl top.  

Now I like the better models of the "proper" B17 for their width, superior leather and larger rivets. Though the cosmetically gorgeous "Select" was rather too soft and went banana-shaped sideways. I now favour the B17 "Special" with its copper rivets and thicker leather than the black Bog17 Standard with its tiny, rust-prone, iron rivets which pull through the leather in old age. Even so, the "Special" has to be [neatly] laced to avoid premature sagging. A decent pair of leather-punch pliers works wonders here. Those who would take an electric drill to a decent leather saddle have probably enjoyed far too many "slasher" horror films!

The C-word C17 purchase was a dreadful and expensive mistake! Like all my saddle purchases I was taken in by the lies hype but still desperately wanted it to work for me. The C-word was all hype and offered no comfort at all! Far too curved across the back, as hard as rocks and hideously unforgiving. It even grabbed my shorts and rucked them up. So any hope of lasting comfort on a ride was quickly lost. They claimed it was a B17 equivalent without needing breaking in, tensioning or even a rain cover. It was claimed that the "organic virgin Vegan" C17 could be ridden in perfect comfort straight out of the over-packaged box. They quite literally lied through their teeth and nobody will ever make me believe otherwise!  [Modesty forbids me to show any images of the C-word here which might accidentally result in any cyclists salivating over a potentially disastrous purchase. You can never tell with cyclists whether they actually read the text or just drool over the pictures.]  
The Selle[r] hype department obviously lead the charge by refusing [flatly] to have a flat, comfortable bench for the distance rider, on which to rest their Ischial tuberosities. This destroyed all chance of material flex over the vital sit-bone support area. The rails are as stiff as the rock-hard rubber is. All thanks to the rigid fiberglass patch desperately added as an afterthought [to ensure life-long longevity] did not result in a class action from the ambulance chasers. My own opinion is that the "chancers" will be flogging these C-word saddles as "hardly [sic] used" for decades to come on eBay. So literally nobody will ever test the C-word's true longevity.

If only a serious cyclist had been involved in its design instead of leaving everything to the Ferrari-driving, Seller advertising director's tart mistress. They even tried to modify her broken design by cutting a huge hole in the top. Which only made it look like a hideous prosthetic for the chronically incontinent. Crossed with a very nasty, medieval, sex toy for those who like a nice bit of S&M! The factory desperately wanted "go faster" and "weekend warrior" looks to overcome potential sales resistance to a wider, flatter, touring saddle. [i.e. Something just like the real B17!]

They certainly got the curvy looks.  It is really is quite a pretty saddle if you like that sort of thing. With some nice details too if you ignore the dreadnought class weight, undersized girth and obvious fraying around the rivets. A touring saddle it is most definitely not! I'm thinking more like 250lb+ American riders who obsess about mere grams on the "weight weeny" cycling forums. Ideal for those "serious riders" who have been looking for a new saddle for their fixy. One which won't get irrevocably lost between their nuclear submarine sized buttocks on that short, Saturday morning ride to the local McLardy's Club meet to get "Macxed out."

Perhaps Selle[r] should have talked to somebody at Brooks instead of keeping the C-word completely in-house down in balmy Italy? Could the rubber possibly soften up after baking for an hour [or three] in the Mediterranean midday sun outside a rural, Italian, roadside, mountain café? The saddle gently cooked as the poor Selle[r] saddle testers rested their tender regions on hemorrhoid cushions after a few short but painful kilometers. ie. Until safely out of sight of the factory! With so much invested in its potential sales the Selle[r] testers couldn't possibly be whistle blowers could they? Guess what? They weren't!

I bet they spent far more time, expense and effort at the Selle[r] factory designing the packaging than they ever did on the "comfortable out of the box" saddle. Of course, there is a very slim chance that it has all been a hideous mistake due to a break down in communications. The Selle[r] Unadulterated Hype Director was looking down from his glazed, ivory tower one day and intimated to a passing serf that he wanted a new saddle. One which could be taken straight out of the box and be as comfortable as a just-broken-in B17.

The garbled message, was duly filtered down through several ranks of constantly genuflecting and back-stabbing, under-managers. To eventually reach the ever-so-humble minions, in the dank and dingy R&D Dept. in the cloud castle dungeons. By which time the message had lost something in the translation.

"Real" saddle design is all done in the "Arts and Hype" Dept. upstairs. Where physical testing is completely unnecessary thanks to a few, carefully posed iRottenApple computers strategically placed for maximum decor value for visiting cyclo journo clebs to admire. Why else do they wear vintage cycling jerseys with capacious rear pockets if not to take their [money laundering] bribes home in unmarked notes?  The Word from On High had [apparently] pronounced that the splendid new C-word should be: "Just like a B17 taken straight out of the box." And so it was! ;-))   [Modesty forbids me to show any images of the C-word here which might accidentally result in any cyclists salivating over a potentially disastrous purchase. You can never tell with cyclists whether they actually read the text or just drool over the pictures.]  

Even wearing thin tights adds seams where seams are best avoided on/under a cyclist. I've tried warmer cycling trousers but always overheat even in a hard frost.  Most "civvy" clothing is put together with thick seams coming to a hard knot right in the middle of the crutch. It can take quite some searching to find affordable, non-cycling underclothes with flat seams. Bibs came late to my clothing collection but are superbly comfortable on longer rides. I hate spending money on cycle clothing but good shorts and better bibs are absolute essentials. [Along with real saddles!]

The DHB shorts are okay for daily use up to [say] 40 miles though I have ridden further in them. The Tactic bibs go on if I plan on anything over 50 miles. It just isn't worth the risk of wearing shorts. Simply because they do not conform as well without the vital, but gentle tension, of the soft braces on bibs. I have spent far too many miles standing up at every opportunity. Often every few yards towards the end [sic] as I suffered endlessly from saddle soreness.

My footwear choice after several year's hiccups, is now North Wave MTB with SPD cleats. But only because NorthWave offer greater width for my size EU 46.2525 pedantry plates of meat. The NW shoes have proven to be, not only [rapidly] cosmetically challenged, but able to break their own buckle springs within 2 years from new. It is now many months since my dealer offered to try and get me a single £20 + P&P strap and buckle replaced under guarantee. I had flatly refused to pay for it nor pay so much.

Needless to say he will not be enjoying my custom when I seek replacement cycling shoes. Probably this year as it warms up because I now have no functioning summer shoes for want of a single North Wave buckle spring. Toe-clips and straps are not sensible on a trike due to the lowered bottom bracket. It is all too use to "dig in" a toe-clip even on normal camber. Escaping from toe-clips and straps may not have the emergency quality of riding a (cough) bicycle but ought to be easy if rider longevity is desired. 

Meanwhile, the NorthWave MTB winter boots have been fine and have saved my feet from painful winter chill and wet. Though they do look absolutely appalling because they collect and display every single drop of mud from road spray. Just the price of running 25mm tyres on tight clearance forks. Though I may be able to remedy this awkward situation after being 'improved' by my brother.

Click on any image for an enlargement.