British
Human
Power
Club

Rob English 

 
Now here are the final Rob English snippets before my wife throws all the envelopes in the bin along with several cheques and a Zeiss monocular. (The cheques is a true story. The lost Zeiss isn't, but first port of call is to blame wives.)

1. Mango is upright, sort of. I expect everyone else knew that. But I didn't. The ground crew carefully fold Mr English in half and place him gently inside with his *** rubbing the tarmac and his arms groping for the handlebar (I think that's what he said), Miles having calculated that a smaller wetted area made up for a larger frontal area. (Mango, if this paragraph has thus far been meaningless, is the famous Youtube streamlined bicycle crash. Miles is - well everyone knows who Miles is. He's just fantastically clever according to Mr English but we all knew that years ago.)
 
 


 
2. Mr English currently favours hard frame twentyniners. For us fogeys, these are 700c rims with Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4 inch tyres on built as gentlemen's mountain bicycles, and the large wheels bound over irregularities like a lithe mountain goat and the only suspension is fat tyres run at 20 psi and the whole doesn't weigh very much.

3. Mr English and Mr Knight concur in that gentlemen's mountain bicycle races are won going up hills rather than down them. A 5% saving in time due to low weight going slowly up a hill is better than a 5% saving in time due to good suspension coming down the hill. Mr English is a graduate engineer and Mr Knight is a graduate mathematician so it's the sort of thing that they would calculate.

4. Nevertheless Mr English's tactic on a time trial is to pedal as hard as he can up all of the hills and as hard as he can down all of the hills and as hard as he can on all of the flat bits. It lacks sophistication but wins races.

5. Mr English suggests that I could tension the synch chain of my tandem by cutting the bottom tube, making a very strong tube clamp, and standing on the frame and bending it down slightly. This is how the Bike Friday tandem is tensioned. I discreetly removed my hacksaw from the workshop after this part of the conversation.

6. While setting up new bikes he bungs all the little bits of new chain in a tub for when civilization collapses. I think we all do this. I think we're all thinking 'what can't you make in your back shed?' and the answers always come back the same - chains and tyres.

7. No bicycle seat is comfortable. You just have to get used to them.

8. High racers have Issues. I'm not sure if this is a Mr English remark because the only reference on the envelope is Nisbett Fleming Chartered Accountants & Business Advisors, and though I'm reasonably certain our accountant isn't in the habit of proffering recumbent design guidelines, it might be an outdated note I've nicked off Ye Olde Internette. Anyway the note goes on to say 'uneven weight distribution of front and back wheels; & eyeball jiggles from no suspension.' The former would echo my experience with the first low racer I built and rode furiously round the right-angles in Baxter Gate in Loughborough in the hope of impressing all the dopey bystanders. 60% of my weight lay over the front wheel and when cornering hard, the back wheel lost traction and would skip sideways across the tarmac.

Too little weight on the back wheel, which would skip sideways when cornering hard 
 
 
9. My recumbent bike is wonky. I got him to have a go, and noticed it wasn't just the seat which is what I knew was wonky. The wheels are a good inch out of true with one another.
 
I don't care, however. Wonkiness can't be felt on a 57 inch wheelbase until the speeds get far higher than I can manage.
 
Sunday, January 24, 2010 1:12:18 AM Categories: advertising seats and saddles

Broom 

 
 
Yesterday I made a huge advance in Science and they're going to give me the Nobel Prize. I have discovered the smallest particle in the universe.

Physicists have built this huge circular thing in Geneva to see if they can make a quark but in vain because, quite independently, I have discovered an even smaller particle. It is the brain of the motorist who throws beer bottles onto the cycle path across Motueka Bridge. I swept up nine with my broom. (Beer bottles, not brains.)

The best broom is made of broom and no doubt that's why it's called broom, unlike quarks. What goes through the mind of a physicist when he calls a small particle after a soft cheese?

Conveniently broom (Planta genista) grows right next to the bridge, and the way you make brooms is with secateurs, a strip of inner tube, and a manuka trunk. Manuka grows abundantly here, a small tree of very hard, very dense, strong wood, relatively straight, 1,828.8 mm to 2,438.4 mm long and up to 25.4 mm in diameter. (We Nobel prize-winners only use metric.)

What you do is steal a manuka tree, cut three stems of broom 914.4 mm long, and with the strip of inner tube lash the thick ends to the manuka stick. Behold! a broom.

A broom, yesterday

And with this broom you can remove glass from any pavement with a single dazzling swish, and if there happen to be motorists a-passing at the time you can usually spray their paintwork with a hailstorm of road grit at the same time, two birds with quite a lot of small stones. The broom improves with age as it hardens but when it wears out you unlash and replace. The manuka handle lasts forever. For sweeping it's about a thousand times better than conventional nylon-bristled yard brooms, which are hard work and don't do anything like as good a job. Don't trust me. Make one and you'll see.

Right, I must now compose my Acceptance Speech in Swedish and see if I can borrow the Large Hadron Collider to try to make curd cheese out of drunken motorists' brains.

Friday, January 22, 2010 2:02:33 AM Categories: maintenance stupidity

Toblerone 

We need further Rob English remarks while I can still find the envelopes where I made notes. (You don't make notes after conversations? Whyever not?)
 
Misha: 'Would you like some yoghurt, Honey?'
Rob English: 'No, I'm full.'
 
This exchange requires so much discussion I can only deal with it in note form.

1. Fancy anyone calling Rob English 'Honey'. Amazing.
2. Actually that sentence is easily reversible.
'Would you like some honey, Yoghurt?'
I shall try it next time he calls. What d'you suppose are the chances he'll ever drop in again if he suspects I'm about to call him Yoghurt? Lucky he doesn't read this blog.
3. 'Vegan' versus 'yoghurt'. It was soy or coconut milk yoghurt - I didn't check - didn't have time to check - the appetite of Rob English is famously voracious.
4. Rob English + food = petrol for ordinary people, or something. The man eats like he propels people along the road on the back of his tandem at 25 mph.
5. Rob English full?  It happened (for the record) on Wednesday 6th January 2010 at 8.17 a.m. Innocent children will be compelled to learn the date in history classes yet to come.
6. He looked longingly at our Toblerone. We all had to check the box to see if it was suitable for vegans. (It wasn't.) Did you know that Toblerone has a Careline? If perplexed by prismatic chocolate you can Freephone 0808 1000757. Thoughtful, aren't they?
7. Terry's Chocolate Orange has a Careline too; it's 0808 1000878.
8. They're both owned by Kraft these days so I expect when the 757 lady puts down the phone she picks up the 878 one. I shall try it to see. I shall first ask her why her huge chocolate bars are triangular, and when she has satisfied me in that regard I shall promptly dial the 878 one and ask why her huge chocolate bars are spherical and we'll see how dextrously she deals with the discrepancy.
9. They both have GDAs. This stands for Guideline Daily Amounts. The Toblerone one says 'GDAs are average values. Individual requirements may vary.' You bet they may. Blimey. Ever seen Dr Dayah get into his Ferrari? Like squeezing a jelly into a condom. His daily requirements must be planetary. Unless he's recently burst.
10. The Terry's Chocolate Orange only gives the GDA for Adults (UK). Maybe the Careline's for Adults (foreign) and they have a list as to what Bulgarians and Spaniards require. And in case you don't think people really are that obsessive, my brother's wife fixed a card to her handlebars with all the different gear ratios of her new Dawes Galaxy written on it, and she used to crash into milk floats trying to work out whether she was in third (rear) and second (front) and whether she was therefore supposed to fiddle with the left or the right lever. It was wonderful riding with her. She'd read Richard Ballantine too (I gave her a copy) and religiously held to his command to keep to low gears, so her legs were like bees' wings when she pedalled. I loved going for a ride with her. Pedestrians would stop what they were doing and watch as she went past, knees fairly humming and her big thick spectacles fixed on the gear levers at a furious five miles an hour.
 
Right, I sh'll'av't' see if I can find all the other envelopes with things that Rob English said, apart that is from 'We're doomed' which I learnt by heart and didn't need to write down, though actually it's what everyone I know is saying at the moment. Must see if that book Overshoot by William Catton is all it's said to be.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 9:54:42 AM Categories: advertising

Bike Friday tandem 

 
Mr English of the parish of America has come to visit and I am very surreptitiously sneaking onto my blog, which I can do because I happen to know he doesn't read it.

Mr English visits me because
a) I'm très, très important and
b) through some oversight they didn't publish his banns of marriage in the parish of Motueka. Matter of fact last time I was in church there were no banns of marriage; it was the carol service which is essentially Motueka Brass Band versus the Congregation, and on the whole the brass band wins. Arsenal subdued West Ham, I heard on the radio (they actually broadcast English football results in New Zealand. Incredible but true.) so I suppose Motueka Bass Band subdued Ngatimoti which is where the carol service is held, a pretty wooden church with an improbable pair of Stokes mortars guarding the war memorial. One gets to inspect the Stokes mortars afterwards cos it's midsummer and they're outside. No shortage of armpits at Ngatimoti carol festival.

Mr English is dead famous. Well, famous to the 423,719 people who've thus far Youtubed his high-speed streamlined bicycle crash. In a moment's carelessness he married a vegan and as you may imagine as soon as I heard I got out my political incorrectitude notebook - no I didn't, silly. I'm the nicest person in the whole wide world. I'd never do such a thing. And as it happened Mrs English turns out to be a lawyer and an American one at that so I dursn't say a word lest she litigate for everything from toenail clippings to the last wispy hairs on my exceptionally handsome head. (I haven't encountered my bald patch; I only suspect it's there from the quiet remarks the children make as they politely disperse from the dinner table. I haven't encountered tofu before either: it's like fried bread without the mitigating smell of slices of dead pig's corpse.)

So Mr English turned up on a Bike Friday tandem and natch I had to have a go, and since Mr Knight was staying here last week and he and I rode my tandem up the valley and back (18.8 miles) in 53 minutes, which is two minutes faster than I can manage on my recumbent bike, I was curious as to how it would compare.

My tandem weighs 51 lbs;
the Bike Friday tandem weighs a meagre 27 lbs.

My tandem is hugely massively upright;
Rob English's Bike Friday tandem is svelte.

 
'so who goes on the front then?'

Unf. I happened to mention that I wanted some comparative figures so the wretched fellow put on the power as if it was a time trial and we managed it in 46 minutes. Though after about four miles I was almost retching with exertion so maybe the 'we' bit of that sentence is a conceit. Puking aside 'tis a springy joyous ride, just enough bendiness in the frame to absorb road shock; not enough to confuse it with a Bickerton.

However there was a suspiciously black mark on my inside right calf afterwards & I entertain a suspicion that Mr English uses inappropriate substances on his chains. I think he does not follow the One True Religion, that of the chain-waxers. The only reason he isn't being burnt at the stake even as I write is because he showed me a way to loop the cable safely on my Flymo. Shan't say how though, cos I like to hear about everyone else having eloctrocutory excitement while lawn mowing.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010 8:31:03 AM Categories: tandem

Racing Pigeon 

We have had visitors, a Mr and Mrs Charles & Elizabeth Knight of Olney in Buckinghamshire. For the benefit of those to whom English is a second language, the pronunciation of Knight is Nite and the pronunciation of Olney is Oh Knee and the pronunciation of Cowper is Cooper. - And while we're about it the pronunciation of pronunciation is pronunciation. My children have had a succession of primary school teachers who insist on teaching them, actively teaching them, to say 'pronounciation', but they resisted, referring the relevant teachers to oh, just about any English dictionary at all in support of their insubordination. - I mention Cowper because Mr Bob Knight of the parish of Rangiora, once lived in Cowper's house in Olney. He kept hares amid bouts of insanity. Cowper, not Bob Knight. Bob Knight only keeps penny farthings.
 
Since Mr Knight Snr. is an engineer he spent most of the time fiddling with a certain Wotan shaper which he found behind the sheds, freeing off the ram and elucidating the function of all the knobs and levers with which it is festooned. - I hired a HIAB in the end, at the cost of $250, and it made the moving a painless experience. Mr Macdonald, who is the KiwiHPV newsletter editor, had wanted me to lift it with planks and ropes and pulley blocks and tow it home on a robust bicycle trailer and write it all up for him as an Adventure, but I'd had enough adventures in workshops recently and had no wish to add a squashed toe to my munted eyeball by way of gratifying his machine-tool-relocation fantasies.
 
As all the Knights were leaving we boxed up our racing pigeon - we don't keep hares - and they took it over the mountains so it would go home to Auckland. We didn't have a racing pigeon till recently. We found it a fortnight ago. It wasn't a terribly successful one. It was on its way to Auckland from Timaru and thought our scullery was part of the route, which it wasn't. Our scullery proved to be a cul-de-sac. The Internet revealed the owner and the owner requested grain and water and a cardboard box till there was a southerly to help it o'er the Cook Straits, but when after a couple of days there was a southerly the pigeon disobliged and remained, somewhat hazardly I imagine, exactly below where my wife's new bantam hens roost. I expect it spent the nights dodging. It certainly spent the days dodging because we daily chased it into Kay's garden, but ten minutes later there it was again, blinking innocently in the middle of the workshop. Anyway yesterday we boxed it up and handed it to Bob, who was as you may have guessed in charge of his parents, and they drove off and according to his subsequent email
 
released it at Denniston, just outside of Waimangaroa, right on the coast at about 3.00pm. This is 125km as the crow or rather pigeon flies. The pigeon was a bit carsick, I think, but very much alive and tried to get back into the car or at least under it. It looked a bit miffed when we drove off. It was not there when we drove back down the hill after looking at the incline. There was a very strong southerly blowing at the time. - Bob
 
I found it sitting in our scullery at 10 pm.
Friday, January 1, 2010 8:57:12 AM Categories: Olney
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