British
Human
Power
Club

 

Posts From July, 2010

Schroder's Cat 

Monday, July 26, 2010 9:27:17 AM Categories: injury Moving Bottom Bracket bikes New Zealand Nigel Schroder Roll-down tests
 
Here, for no very good reason that I can think of, is a picture of the Maruia Falls. I had to steal this from harlequin.co.nz because the one I took got lost somewhere in the dusty innards of my computer. The Maruia Falls are très pretty but that isn't why we send all our visitors there. It's because in 1928 they weren't. In 1928 they were just a plain common-or-garden scenic river. Still Glides the Stream and Shall Forever Glide (1), until the 17th June 1929 that is, when, after a few days of the locals hearing what they thought were aberrant deer stalkers in the hills, there was a mighty cataclysm and the Mairua River suddenly broke in half and dropped  nine feet ten-and-a-ninth inches. (That would be three metres, Mr Hague, though frankly I feel your espousal of these narsty - ew - French measurements borders on the philistine.) This is an altogether more satisfying earthquake than the ones where a picture goes slightly askew in a housing estate on the outskirts of Peterborough, even if a clutch of people have to get buried in landslides for it to happen. We haven't had an earthquake for a while and therefore I suppose we ought to expect one. Pleasingly the estate agents have all bought houses for themselves on the Richmond Hills which command a view over Nelson bay, not thinking about the fact that the Richmond Hills only exist because occasionally they shoot upwards three metres at a time.
 
Below the Richmond Hills are the Saxton Playing Fields crammed of a Saturday morning with all the Nelson schools' sports clubs, and it falling to my duty to endure a van-load of the truly mindless conversation of my daughter's hockey team, I thought I would skip spectating for an hour and drop in unannounced on James or Nigel or Sam, who all live conveniently nearby waiting, no doubt, for a hearty terrestrial shaking to land a selection of startled estate agents in their midst.
 
To James McLeod's. James's neighbour was washing his car and had mistakenly thought the entire neighbourhood wanted to hear his choice of what purports to be Music but in fact James, unable to bear the din, had gone out. James is of Scottish descent and, I hope, about to take up the bagpipes by way of retribution.
 
To Sam McEachern's. There stood his blue recumbent on the verandah with its new seat upholstery but there was no sign of Sam nor indeed of any of his neighbours, so perhaps he had spent the morning giving James some preparatory bagpipe lessons.
 
To Nigel Schroder's. No neighbour, no Music, but no Nigel either. And there stood Nigel's new low racer, gleaming in his shed, so obv. they weren't all off secretly riding up the Richmond Hills together.
 
Nigel's new machine is a front wheel drive with a swinging bottom bracket. I knew he'd finished it because he sent me film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG5okNSvpTY of him riding it and he seems to be more in control of it that I ever was of the one I made, which after it whacked me in the side of the head got punished with a hacksaw.
 
However in the evening I had a doleful email:
 
Well the roll down - at Marsden Valley, the same place we did the last test - didn't quite go as well as planned. The old bike had topped out at 55kph and on the first run the new bike was faster at 58kph but I had to use the brakes a little to regain control as it started to wobble .
On the second run things went a little wrong. I crashed at about 50-55kph.
Fell from the bike and slid down the road a little then into a creek hitting some very large rocks on the way. My helmet was completely destroyed. James drove me home, then we went to the hospital where I spent the next 7 hours being checked. X-rays and a CT scan. Luckily nothing was broken. Feeling very sorry for myself today. As for the bike it's ok but it's the last time I'll ride it as a moving bottom bracket, so I think it'll get a rebuild and I'll go back to having a boom and a twist chain FWD. The moving bottom bracket was just too unpredictable. The speedo had a 55kph max after the crash and I hadn't got to the fastest section of the run.
Nigel
 
My daughter Susan gaily said 'If he keeps the broken bits he can call it Schroder's Cat, cos it can be a crashed and an uncrashed bike at the same time,' which stunningly obscure joke can only be understood by quantum physicists one of whom I am not.
 
Anyway as - surprisingly - there was no gravel rash we can't twin him with Bob Knight, and as there were no broken bones we can't twin him with Geoff Bird. But there were bruises everywhere and he's very sore so we can twin him with oh, just about everybody else in the recumbent-building fraternity, I should imagine.
 
1. Wordsworth who is famous, or Arthur Streeton who ought to be famouser.

Fantail 

Saturday, July 10, 2010 10:33:32 AM Categories: engineering problems mountain bike New Zealand
 It is Winter. (Have I mentioned this?) It is cold. The moth that fluttered round the kettle this morning seemed out of sorts as if he'd prefer to have stayed in bed for a few more months like a teenager. He resented being captured in cupped hands and when I chucked him out of the kitchen door and he was instantly plucked from the air by a fantail, I saw he had a point. New Zealand possesses these tiny birds just like blue-tits who flutter a yard away wherever you walk, on the lookout for disturbed insects. As soon as they take to flight you just know in your bones that they are called fantails; and so it proves. Fantails are not very clever and whenever they come into the workshop they spend hours attacking themselves in the mirror and perching, slightly baffled, on the badminton racquet below for a rest. The Maoris tell me it's bad luck to have them indoors and that's true, because a month later you find they've been dropping corrosive white chemical onto your supply of silver steel. Chickens are not the only bird that don't just lay eggs.
 
My workshop is full of anomalies like badminton racquets but the mirror isn't an anomaly. It's used for checking one's riding position while building useless fairings, and it makes the workshop twice as roomy, except now it doesn't because I cover it with a garish pink tablecloth to stop the fantail despoiling all my reamers. Why does anyone go to the trouble of making pink tablecloths? My life is full of mystery, including where the pink tablecloth came from. Another mystery is why my cycling tee-shirt has to have a large plastic tab sewn onto it bearing the legend Eden Project. I thought the Eden Project was about recycling and sustainability and whatnot. Large red plastic tabs cannot be recycled, add weight, serve no purpose, and itch. It is as if clothes designer executives have a group session every Monday morning to decide what brainless irrelevancy they can perpetrate upon an insentient and gormless public that week. What they need to do is take lessons from bicycle manufacturer executives, who, as we all know, have group sessions every Monday morning to decide how to make components that work flawlessly and are compatible with all other components. That is how Shimano Index Systems work so well, and why I fitted one to my new perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle.
 
Unfortunately it didn't work.
 
Unfortunately the inner chainring needs a whisker of clearance against the frame so that you can turn the pedals round, and unfortunatelyer Shimano's executives didn't think of this on their Monday morning group session so when I tried to fit a front mech I found that the parallelogram frame is actually too short to lift the chain onto the big chainring. And to rummage for alternatives in the box of spare front mechs I had to move the bandsaw and the table promptly broke off, examination proving the attachment lugs to be made of some flimsy brittle substance approximating to metal but possessed of No Strength Whatever.
 
 Shards of bandsaw
 
 
And two minutes later a temporary German damsel (1) came round the corner wheeling a bicycle with a broken chain-link.

 

Shards of chain

But at least she had the great good sense to keep the chain. The last time I heard of a chain-link breaking was in a phone call from a friend in the village where we lived in England and he had thrown the chain away, being unacquainted with the phrase 'weakest link'. The curious thing was that he was a certain Professor H********, head of department at the largest university engineering faculty in the country. I now start to wonder if his special field of research incorporated bandsaw table lugs, tee-shirt technology and the corrosive metallurgy of bird-lime. I don't think he was a consultant at the Shimano Front Mech Factory.
 
1. She goes back to Germany in ten day's time, slightly chilled and probably exhausted from skiing

 

Copyright 2006 Blog Author