Trike diary - April 1999

Friday, 30 April 1999

Went to get a takeaway meal, so I went by trike, using the new Shimano shoes I had bought earlier in the week (I wanted to buy them before going out to D.Tek, but unfortunately Ben Haywards' were out of my size at the time, so I had to wait for a new set to come in).

I still don't have the clipless pedals, but it seemed worth getting the shoes first, and although the trip to the takeaway was only a couple of minutes down the road and back, it was amazing how much difference just the new shoes made.

Saturday, 24 April 1999

Today was my visit to D.Tek to find out about mounting the trailer on the trike. So I had to ride the trike there.

Kevin had described a route that would avoid the A10 (basically, out on Histon Road, through Histon and Cottenham, then along the Twenty Pence Road, skirting Wilburton and finally along White Cross Road towards the A10 crossing into Little Thetford).

I bundled up various stuff on the back of the trike (including a bottle of water Joan insisted I take, which I was very glad of), and set out. I'd decided to go Saturday rather than Sunday because, whilst both days had a forecast of possible showers, Sunday was meant to be more likely to have rain, and definitely windier.

Just before Castle Hill, I met a lady and her daughter (I assume) on a Bike Friday tandem machine. I whizzed off up the hill (foolish me) which caused an impressed comment from the little girl (although as I explained at later traffic lights, I had lots of gears and was silly). They got ahead of me on the flat, though, and maintained position, which meant she got to look back and check where I was periodically. I got a nice wave from both of them as they turned off (presumably towards their home).

At the roundabout on the outskirts of Cambridge I tried using the "cycle route" along the pavement. Not very good, and unfortunately the egress to the crossing of the "off road" from the roundabout is at a very nasty angle - to someone with limited neck turning, like myself, it's almost impossible to see sideways to traffic whilst still seated. I resolved to just do the roundabout itself on the way back.

It didn't take long on the journey to realise that one problem on the way back would be that the road was, on the whole, downhill going out of Cambridge (makes sense - if building on soggy ground, go for the high points!).

Between Histon and Cottenham I stopped by the side of the road to stretch my legs and have some water. I was initially confused when a cyclist going the other way waved and said "Hello" - but realised after a moment she was just being friendly! In fact, she stopped and came over for a chat (I think I may have looked a more serious cyclist than I am with the stuff strapped to the back of the machine!). She was sorting out the saddle height on a borrowed "go-faster" bike (nice machine) for (presumably) time trialling later that day, and is also the co-owner of a tandem upright trike, a scary idea.

The Twenty Pence Lane was very boring - long and a nasty sort of surface (tiny little holes to give quite a lot of road noise). I stopped part way along for another rest and drink (my feet were tingling again, and my bum was rather sore - both got better very quickly, as they had the previous time I stopped).

Wilburton itself is approached up what (by then!) seemed like a very steep hill - I was in my lowest granny gear. Not fun. After Wilburton itself, I unfortunately didn't take the right turn off onto White Cross Road (partly because I had misheard it as "the White Crossroad" and that was clearly a T-junction), so I ended up doing an extra few miles around what Kevin calls his "Grunty Fen ride" (the practice route he sends recumbent-triers out on).

Anyway, I eventually arrived at D.Tek after about three hours - not terribly impressive, but just in time to miss a huge cloud burst (which went on for ages).

As I was cycling up, he had a customer out on a KettWiesel trike (which I didn't know he stocked, but given the same people make the Pino semi-recumbent tandem, does make sense). I knew I had to get a go on that before I left.

The customers he was dealing with were a couple of long-term tandem riders who were looking for a solution that would allow the lady to continue riding (I think she had MS or something like that). Possible solutions were the various trikes, but I think in the end they were going to go for the Pino or something like that. I must admit that the Pino is on the list of machines I would like to try as well.

When the rain had stopped, I got to have my go on a KettWiesel. It feels really narrow after the AnthroTech! It handles quite well, and I really like the seat - I think this would be a definite candidate for a second trike (!!!), although I would want to try a Lepus as well (unfortunately, Kevin's demo Lepus was out of action, as was the Flevo "falling-over" trike, which I also want to try). It was a bit disconcerting trying to cross the pavement back into the D.Tek yard on the KettWiesel, though, since that's quite a steep slope - it felt as if the machine might tip over backwards! I also felt that I wanted more than the seven gears it comes with, or perhaps just a wider spread on those gears.

Discussion about the trailer resulted in my taking one of Burley's new (very new) "connect to the axle nut" widgets. We figured that it should be possible to shorted the "arm" that pulls the trailer, so that the centre of the trailer is nearer (or, ideally, on) the centre of the trike (it's a 45-degree "L" shape, so shortening the arm that angles in to the axle of the pulling vehicle should move the trailer in to the centre-line of said vehicle). This requires working it out in detail, then cutting the arm at the right place and re-drilling the appropriate fixing holes in their new position. Best done on a mock-up (Kevin suggested plumbing plastic tubes) first! Since the arm itself is a "spare part" we can buy another one so that we can still use the trailer on our uprights with the traditional fixing mechanism. If I can do it, I'll try to document it, since it's presumably the sort of thing other people would also like to be able to do in similar circumstances.

(Addendum: I bought some appropriate tubing on Saturday 7th May, so just need to find the time to do the experimenting.)

Soon enough, though, it was time to leave. I rang Joan (mobile 'phones do occasionally have their uses!) to let her know I was about to go, and set off (on the correct route this time).

I was glad I had my warmer and more rainproof jacket with me (my old Rohan jacket, getting distincly worn looking now, but still going strong) as it was about five o'clock and distinctly cooler than earlier in the day. The trawl up into Wilburton was not fun (even though not as steep in that direction), and I knew that the trip home was going to be a lot harder than that going. I was working in the bottom hub gear almost all the time, and I must admit I put off switching on my dynamo until as late as possible (although even then I was still seeing cars without their lights on - and it's not as if it's a physical effort for a car driver to put their lights on!). I stopped off a few times for a drink, or to eat the remaining apple-thingy bar, and also bought some chocolate in the Cottenham Co-op (although I will admit that eating a Snickers (silly name) whilst cycling does make it difficult for me to breathe...). I got rained on a bit for part of the time - enough to get a damp lap (hmm - cycling aprons), but nothing too bad, and the good thing about Rohan Bags (translation: a brand of trousers - see Rohan for some background) is that they do dry very quickly, which is one of the reasons I like them for cycling.

Anyway, I eventually dragged myself into Cambridge and the home stretch, by now working in the bottom three gears and thinking that my legs were distinctly tired, and then on home, to a welcome bath and a sit down (after getting the children to bed, of course).

Interestingly, the "sore bum" phenomenon probably is due to the effort expended, rather than any intrinsic problem. I deduce this because after I had settled down at home on the settee, I realised that my backside was sweating prodigously - clearly the circulation to that area had been greatly increased whilst excercising, and took a while to wind down. It's encouraging to know that this problem should thus get better as the relevant muscles get used to being used in this manner!

Also, I expected to have really sore legs the next day, and surprisingly they weren't - so maybe I was doing something right after all (although I would definitely not call what I was doing "spinning"!).

Sunday, 11 April 1999

Today was Waffles at Vicki and Alasdair's (for those who don't know, think a large gathering for lunch at the home of a couple of very good cooks!). Joan took Michael and Thomas in the car and I cycled over on the trike, my first outing since stopping work.

The gate into their back yard is not particularly wide, so it was a "fold the seat and carry the trike in sideways" job - first time I've done that, but it worked quite well. Of course, it won't once I've got the child seat on, I suppose.

The food and company was, as always, excellent, and various people had a go on the trike afterwards - including Miranda, who is ?? but was able to use the machine with the bottom bracket right back. Fun was had by all (although it is always a bit worrying when your trike disappears round the corner!). My favourite comment is still that by Alison (actually, originally made at a previous party in London) when being told what the machine costs - she said "That sounds reasonable".

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Author: Tibs (

Last modified: Tue Jul 15 19:31:40 BST 2003