Trike diary - March 1999

Wednesday, 31 March 1999

Last night I fixed the flag (well, spinner) from the trailer onto the trike, using a rubber bung (so that the end of the flag pole can stand safely on one of the seat struts) and four zip ties (to hold it against some of the other struts). This is only temporary, since the location of the flag will need rethinking when the child seat goes on, but seems to work OK, and didn't appear to have loosened after riding in today.

Today and tomorrow are my last days at work before I have five weeks off looking after Thomas. Joan goes back to work next week, and we don't want Thomas to start nursery until he's at least four months old. The snag is, he also isn't old enough to go in a trailer yet (even in a child seat, we think), so I'll be using the car extensively for the next month or so. Ah well - I shall just have to try to ride at weekends (maybe try to go on the CCC sociable rides on Sundays).

On the way in I met David Hembrow on Burleigh Street, and he had a go on the trike. Unfortunately I already know my legs are too short to use his (two wheel) recumbent. He did a quick zip around, and found tight cornering a bit odd - typical trike tendency to feel like it's going to lift a wheel, I think (see the current issue of RecumbentUK for an article on this).

Later: various people have had quick try outs on the trike at work today - my aim is to have let everyone who wants to have a go before I disappear for five weeks, especially since when I bring the trike back thereafter it will have child seat and trailer attached, so may be less attractive to people for trying out...

It's odd how some people (mostly those who won't try it) think it must be inherently unsafe - they normally cite its height from the ground (or lack of it as they see it) as the major discouragement. I suspect some of them think that cycling as a whole is inherently unsafe, though (whereas I think I see cars as inherently unsafe, at least for other people - one of the reasons I don't like driving).

Friday, 26 March 1999

Rode the trike again today. Nothing special to say...

Thursday, 25 March 1999

Michael was a bit under the weather, so Joan took him in and I "recumbented" ("triked"?). Various people had a go on the trike at lunchtime - generally favourable comments.

Wednesday, 24 March 1999

Joan was so kind as to take Michael in today, so I rode the trike. I can confirm that the chain tensioner folding doesn't seem to happen now in the locations where it did before, so that problem may be declared solved (at least until proven otherwise!). I've duly removed the "take out another chain link pair" item from the To Do list.

Going round Mitchams Corner is definitely interesting. It's the way, when one is merging into the right hand lane (approaching Staples) that cars who also want to merge feel free to overtake on either the right or the left, whichever happens to seem most convenient to them. Humph. There's a bit of the same phenomenon with the new entrance lanes into the Science Park, as well - if one is in the lane to go right at the internal roundabout, people seem to feel free to overtake on either side. Still, must remember there are good car drivers out there as well - one just finds it easier to notice the bad ones...

Friday, 19 March 1999

Rode the trike in again today. The chain tensioner definitely seems to be behaving better today, although conincidence meant I was going at lower than normal speeds at the places it normally folds over.

I still haven't been out on it in serious wet weather - how long can my luck hold?

In the evening I rode the trike over to Phil Nanson's (and Kari's, but she wasn't there) so that I could use their pair of video recorders to produce a short video for the Eastercon (an item on "Watch with Mother" style children's TV programmes). I definitely don't like the roundabout by Sainsbury's - but then I knew that!

Figuring out how to park the trike securely can be an interesting problem - I also felt lucky that it fit relatively easily up their garden path.

I still feel I need to think about how to make the trike more visible, especially in the dark - a project for the next few months as a whole (not that I think it's a particular problem, but I do like to be Very Visible).

Thursday, 18 March 1999

Joan volunteered to take Michael in this morning so that I could ride the trike. It's cooler today than earlier in the week, which is quite nice for riding in.

I was getting real problems with the chain tensioner folding back under - it did it quite a few times riding in. Maybe I'll get organised enough to take a serious chunk of chain out, as a final attempt to see if that is the problem, and then if not I can try to figure out what the problem really is...

Lunchtime: I took another two link pairs out of the chain. When the derailleur is on the large gear the angle of the tensioner is now nearer to the same angle as the derailleur itself, which seems to be the desired result (some of the pictures on the AnthroTech web site seem to confirm this), and when it is in a higher gear there seems to be something more sensible as clearance. So we'll see how it goes. I think I'm willing to try another couple of chain links before I give up if necessary...

(By the way, it's quite windy out there, although still nice and sunny - so the ride home tonight might be fun. Do I get less resistance by being on the trike? I'm not prepared to do a controlled experiment, I'm afraid.)

Wednesday, 17 March 1999

The child seat adaptor arrived from Rob - a chunk of strangely shaped welded metal and three bolts. Yes, three. So I rang Rob in the evening, thinking I must be missing a bolt (not symmetrical, you see) and he said that no, I had all the bits he'd received, and that after thinking about how to fit it to the trike for about 10 minutes he had figured out that that was right (and that, by the way, is without any benefit of instructions or a picture of what it should look like). So I'll have to have a look at it and see if I can figure it out without getting back to Rob... (but probably at the weekend).

Monday, 15 March 1999

Well, the family are all back home again, so I took Michael in to nursery using the upright and his trailer. Interestingly enough, after the gap of the weekend, I didn't feel strange riding the upright - presumably because I hadn't "just" been riding the trike, but maybe also because I'm more serious about using lower gears when pulling the trailer. Hmm.

Saturday, 13 March 1999

It was a nice day, so I spent the afternoon working on the bikes, outside the front of our garage.

I finally took the step of dismantling and throwing out the box the trike came in - so now it would be a Serious Pain to have to courier it back to Rob. Definite commitment time.

I fitted the new mirror on the left side of the trike (odd having two mirrors, but I think I'll like it!), and also fitted the large (80mm diameter) chrome "Ding-Dong" bell that I bought from D.Tek. It's the sort of bell you get on a Pashley Princess, and is seriously loud. I bought it for Joan, but she said not to fit it to the bike she rides to the station, so I'm "borrowing" it for now.

I finally got round to fitting a new front brake to Joan's bike, and adjusted the back brake a bit. I still need to adjust the saddle height for her, sort out the rear light, give it all a good clean, and put the basket back on the back, but otherwise it's ready for her to ride again...

I discovered that it's quite nice to sit on the trike with a cup of tea and a book whilst having a short break - the square boom means that I can rest my cup between my legs, if I'm careful!

And I finally got round to cleaning the trailer, so that looks a lot better now.

Friday, 12 March 1999

Back on the recumbent - that's better.

Back in Drakes again this afternoon to buy another Mirrycle for the left of the trike. Had a nice chat with one of the family - they're nice people.

Rob Hague rang in the evening - the child seat adaptor has arrived. He's going to fit it to `his' AnthroTech this weekend, so he knows how it goes on in case I can't figure it out (there aren't any instructions), but it doesn't sound difficult. Had a long chat about various trike related things. His bottle of White Lightning clogs as well, so it wasn't just me.

Thursday, 11 March 1999

(A version of the following also mailed to the HPV list.)

Today I came in on the upright because I'm going to a concert tonight in town (Stomp), and still haven't figured out where to park the trike.

Gods, that was weird. For the first few minutes I was feeling perched up high, on tippy-toe, canted forwards, with a definite feeling that my testicles must be very vulnerable (sort of laid out on a shelf).

Mostly that went away, but I definitely had the feeling throughout the ride to work that I had those nice big muscles (down the back of my leg) that I should be using to cycle, so why was I using these little ones (sort of felt like over my knees!) instead???

I guess one can get used to things rather more quickly than I expected.

Later: Well, the concert was Very Good, although the seats in the Cambridge Corn Exchange are pretty uncomfortable. Riging how afterwards the bike felt more normal than earlier - possibly because I'd been sitting uncomfortably...

Wednesday, 10 March 1999

Well, I do think the chain is maybe quieter with White Lightning on it. It looks strange, too - not greasy, I guess.

I passed what must be the same little girl on Burleigh Street again - she laughed and pointed and said "funny bike" again. It's a pity that my normal commute will be earlier, so she won't get to keep doing it.

I did notice a couple of other kids later in the journey doing "there it is again" comments - tried to wave acknowledgement as I went by.

I'm still a little worried about the chain tensioner folding up - maybe I'll ring Rob and talk to him again.

Tuesday, 9 March 1999


It is nice to be able to take both hands off the steering to open the collar of one's jacket - on an upright there's no way I can steer a straight line no hands (or, indeed, stay upright!), but on a level stretch of (relatively quiet!) road it's safe and easy to do so on the trike.

There's still the occasional scrubbing noise as the chain tensioner folds up on a couple of occasions on the journey in. Hmm. The nearest I can get to working out when is after a bump, or bottoming out on a "hill". Back pedalling a little still solves it. Do I need to keep taking chain links out?

The suspension is nice - it makes going over the bricks of Burleigh Street/Fitzroy Street no problem, and the cobbles at the Paradise Street/Burleigh Street junction are OK too. The occasional pothole is made a lot more pleasant, too (although I confess to being paranoid about doing in the rear tire/tube, given the relative difficulty of getting at it).

When parking today, I shoved a poly bag down the gap between the front and back parts of the upright part of the seat, and then folded it to protect the seat from rain. The only question is, after I'd gone back with Keith to show him the machine, did I remember to refold the seat? It's not worth the effort to go back out to find out...


I hadn't remembered. But it also hadn't rained.

After unlocking the bike after lunch to go home, Ron came over for a look, and then Bill, who had a ride round the car park as well. Spent a while talking with them about it.

On the way home, I realised how stupid I can be (again!) - it looks like I've been in the middle hub gear all this time. I think I'd assumed that the same feature of the grip shift handle that I can use as a sort-of-mnemonic for the gear I'm in on the derailleaur shifter would also work for the hub shifter, but that doesn't work. So the bad thing is I've been worrying for no reason about being down in the low gears, and the good thing is ... well, the same thing. So I've not got these little tiny gears to play with if I want.

I must admit I did wonder if I was really that bad (Joan said the same when I talked to her on the 'phone tonight). Oh well, doubtless it was good for me.

Later on I had the joy of converting to White Lightning for my chain. First step, degrease the bike chain with one of those strap-on-the-chain thingies, joy oh joy. Whilst doing this, Kathy-Joan from next door came over to chat, and later on her dad as well. Both thought it a neat looking machine - I've offered trial rides if they want (but obviously not while it was propped up being worked on!).

Next came washing the chain down with hot water (and the traditional toothbrush) - quite nice to be working outside in the cold with hot water for a change! Finally, dry it all off and apply the White Lightning (actually, it's Raceday, 'cos that's what Ben Haywards sell. I figure it makes sense in the weather we have round here, so I'm not grumbling).

Trouble was, the stuff kept not wanting to come out of the bottle. In the end I retired back into the garage, shut the door and started up the fan heater to make conditions warmer (heh, it wasn't that cold outside). Eventually I managed to coat the chain well (still with occasional jams of the bottle nozzle) - I've probably overdone it, but better that than underdone.

One of the more interesting knacks is rotating a chain whilst applying the White Lightning over the chain at the rear cog - it can be done, but it's not as easy as being able to use the pedals!

Monday, 8 March 1999

Joan and the children are in Glasgow visiting her mother this week, so I can use the trike for commuting with no problem.

Mark 'phoned from Germany over the weekend, to say that although their local bike shop didn't have any Römer Jockey child seats in stock, he had gotten a catalogue, and actually the two child seats they no longer use (Helen and Mandy have their own bikes, of course) are Jockeys, so he'll ship one over. So all I need now is the adapter from Rob (from Wheels within Wheels, from AnthroTech). Should be soon now.


Well, my cold has finally gone, and it's now obvious that most of the leg ache was due to that. Not that I cycled in any faster today, but it wasn't as much effort (in some sense).

I'm using one of my Ortlieb pannier bags to carry stuff in - even though it has to lie down on the rack instead of hanging off the side, I figure it's still waterproof.

I don't think I mentioned earlier that one of the things I'm trying to learn to do is "count" gears - i.e., keep an explicit memory of what gear I'm in. The GripShift changers have numbers on them, but no explicit mark to say which number is in use. There are features on the shifter handle which could be marked up to help, but even if I did, it's quite hard to see them when riding (partly the angle, and partly my eyes tend to water and also my glasses frame gets in the way). So the best thing to do is just to remember which gear one's in.

On the way in, a small child said to their parent "Funny bike" - made me smile.

I've noticed that sitting on a seat makes one warmer than sitting on a saddle - all that back and bottom (well, my bottom isn't that big, honest) that isn't exposed to the airflow. Waterproof trousers don't help.


Of course, it rained whilst I was in work, so my seat was wet when I got out - no big problem whilst riding, but my bum was still damp when I got home. Thoughts of protective polythene bags.

The "granny" gear is very good for moving slowly through an area full of pedestrians - it enables me to try to be suitably non-threatening.

When I got home in the afternoon, I removed another chain link (and then took the time to join all the removed links back together again!).

In the afternoon I went into town (not on the trike - I've still to work out where I could park it in town), and amongst other things had a chat with the guy in the Rohan shop - mostly about recumbents and trikes in fact. Then onto Ben Haywards to find out about clipless pedals and shoes - definitely looks like the way to go, but not yet.

Thursday, 4 March 1999

I rode the upright in today, so that I could inspect Stourbridge Common. Coming in off Riverside (???) was initially hopeful, as there is now a standard narrow cattle grid access for cyclists (although it is, of course, also used by pedestrians, as it's more obvious than the gate). The access from the common onto the bridge over the river is also a standard narrow cattle grid, but unfortunately the access off the bridge on the other side is artificially narrowed, so that it's probably too narrow for our trailer (an academic point), but certainly too narrow for the trike. Ho hum.

As it is, I have reservations about that cattle grid onto the bridge - it's not wide enough for two bikes to pass, but the temptation is for bikes coming onto the common to rush down and over it. Unfortunately, that's tough for anyone trying to get onto the bridge.

As a sidenote, using the single narrow cattlegrid on and off Midsummer Common is quite fun - I'm fairly sure my outer wheels actually run down the edges of the structure, not over the grid itself. So there can't be that much room to spare...

Wednesday, 3 March 1999

Today I came in with Michael. Yesterday I was off ill (third cold in a month?) and Monday Joan gave me a lift, so it looks likely to be Friday before I trike again (is there such a verb?). However, Joan is away visiting her mother in Glasgow next week, and (brave her!) taking both children with her, so I should have a week to use the trike for commuting - and some time to try to catch up on all the multivarious things we never have time to do. (I'll believe it when I've done it!)

I've heard that at least some of the gates on Stourbridge Common have been replaced with cattle grids, so it might be worth investigating that, too.

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Author: Tibs (

Last modified: Thu Apr 26 16:28:55 GMT Daylight Time 2001