No Broadband for a month 

We have had no Broadband for a month. Almost. It comes and goes, and we pay Telecom $50 for it to come and go, and our consolation prize has been telephoning 0800 289 987 and talking to Sam, Shane, Janette, Paula and David in Auckland who have variously spent fruitless hours having me check and uncheck various boxes on my antivirus software before finally admitting that the fault is likely to be the Migration which has affected 490 Motueka customers. The Migration is, I gather, an Upgrade. In the meantime we got occasional glimpses of our emails. We do not know what a Migration might be, other than that everything was suddenly to improve a fortnight ago at 6.30 when the Migration was completed and our Broadband restored. The Migration was but the Broadband wasn't.

I looked up Migration in the dictionary and it didn't say Munt Your Broadband For Weeks While We Change Cables, but then it is a very old dictionary. In the end they sent us a new modem and now it works.

Having no Broadband meant listening to the radio for glimmers of news, and I have learnt all sorts of new words as the journalists keep me abreast of the current crop of neologisms in Corporate Speak. I heard that they have removed the procedure from her heart. A procedure is now a thing rather than an activity, and you can make one in a procedure factory and insert it into peoples' hearts and remove it afterwards. I already knew that Telecom underground their cables but from a report about the airline Quantas I have learnt that you can hub the passengers through Brisbane, which implies that hub has also become a verb. I hub, you hub, he she or it hubs. I underground, you underground, he she or it undergrounds. - At least, I presume he she or it undergrounds, though it could be an irregular verb. We have not been told. We hub, you (pl.) hub, they hub. I have been hubbed through Brisbane.

Personally I think verbing our nouns ought to be confined to Shakespeare but after the Arab Spring and the UKUncut demonstrations and the Occupy pepper sprayings I suspect there is a global corporate conspiracy to destroy communication and since undergrounding the cables and migrating the broadband hasn't been wholly successful, they are going to upfuck the language. Anything to stop any more Twitter riots.

Anyway nothing of bicycling note happened here until two days ago when I saw a Bike Friday tandem in Motueka. The last Bike Friday tandem in Motueka belonged to the production engineer of Bike Friday who it will be recalled is none other than our own Mr English, of our colony of Oregon, obv., because that's where Bike Fridays get built. Mr English, it will also be recalled, popped me on the back and because he is such a slow and pathetic rider he was delighted to find that we rode my daily circuit in 46 mins rather than the 56 mins I take on the recumbent or the 64 mins I take on my delicate little Peugeot racing bike. Which I have just noticed has developed a crack in the brazing at the top of the seat stay, so I will have to get out the oxy-acetylene and whitepaint it afterwards. (I whitepaint, you whitepaint, he she or it whitepaints.)

A cracked Peugeot, yesterday

Cracks are easiliest noticed when the paintwork is white because they show up as black lines. I like white paint. If you were as rubbish a welder as I am you'd like it too. Mr English isn't a rubbish welder but it appears he abruptly ran out of steel tubing, a case, perhaps, of carboning his seat tube.

Mr English's latest. Other pics are here

He sent me a pickture and I enquired further.

*Very* pretty. - If y'like that sort of thing. - If y'like to have y'neck twisted off and are prepared to substitute a scalpel for a seat. - Okay okay okay. - So what's it weigh? 'Ere, - also, - how d'you specify how to wind carbon? What calculations are involved? I've never done any composite stuff, ever, incl. not-repairing the knackered canoe that still clutters the sheds. And - and and and - is that seat post contiguous with the seat tube? They appear in my spectacles to have the same diameter. And - and and and and  *and*  - what is the advantage of mixing steel with carbon? Just weight? Or is there some fiendishly clever engineering reason for retaining steel in the stays and crossbar and downtube?

In due course he replied:

Hi Richard,

So..... frame is 1200g, projected bike weight is 10.8lbs, hopefully! Specifying the carbon was fairly unsophisticated - I told them what diameter I wanted and what I was using it for, and they picked their nearest mandrel to give an appropriate wall thickness. In theory they can tune the stiffness through the layup - I asked for it to have a bit of flex for comfort - nope, it is a very stiff bit of tubing (with the old 'bend it across the knee' trick). If I do this again I'll talk to them a bit more about quantifying the stiffness so it does what I want it to do.

Yup, integrated seatmast, no saddle height adjustment (I can get away with this on my bikes!)

Why to do it? The initial idea had been to use the tuneability of the carbon to build in some passive suspension from the cantilevered seatmast. I guess now I could argue that it is to get a stiffer seatmast.... It saves 100g over an otherwise equivalent all-steel frame, and I really like the look. Otherwise no good reason really, it's fun to try new things though. I will be interested to see how it rides once it is all assembled.


It is to be hoped he doesn't suddenly undergo a Growth Spurt.

Anyway this morning I popped John on the back of our tandem and he and I rode the daily circuit and it was like having a motor on board. So I think I now know the answer to the question my wife sometimes asks when she's on the back, which question is 'Why are we going so slowly?' although I've yet to think of a tactful way of telling her what this answer might be.

Right, s'nuff of that. Now we've got some Broadband I'll just nip over & see how Mr Knight's getting on with all the seasoned applewood he nicked off me. He usually blogs on a Wednesday.


Saturday, December 10, 2011 6:46:00 AM Categories: engineering problems Rob English tandem


Owing to circumstances beyond my control - birthdays and that sort of thing - it was required, as the textbooks have it, to provide my wife with a brand new perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle, and natch I took her old one, wot she'd mistakenly thought I'd bought for her and wot, therefore, I'd been unable thus far to ride, up to the shop to see what would fit. Her views being irrelevant the purchase was effected, but nevertheless she was dead pleased to find herself the owner of a 29er. A rear rack and boxy thing got fitted, to the great mirth of all the young athletes who eschew such ungainly protuberances and who themselves spray bananas and energy bars and spare inner tubes out of their jersey pockets whenever the bumps are too exuberant.

If one is of a meddlesome disposition, then this sort of adventure is just an excuse for experiments, and since we were in new territory I thought I'd extend the experiment. The only person I know who does tubeless is Mr English of our colony of America. Actually he made his own 29er weighing a feeble 8.4 kg, the scamp, and here it is:

As you see, single speed and belt drive, which he tells me is silent, and which as far as I can tell is fitted to the frame by magic. - Anyway, I emailed the man:

Now then, Rob,
Mrs My Wife has got herself a Specialized somethingorother 29er mountain bike wherewith she's much pleased. It was very cheap. About a thousand dollars. New Zealand ones .The bike shop boys were babbling about tubeless tyres and how their rolling resistance would be vastly superior and whatnot, so I want an informed opinion. Easy to fit? Rubber rim liner better than plastic? Tube sealer works sealing punctures? Lower pressure equivalent to higher pressure for rolling resistance on-road? Any other issues?

And the man emailed me:

I have used tubeless mtb tyres quite a lot. Sometimes I can get them to seat with very rapid use of a track pump, but sometimes it requires a compressor. But once seated with sealant in, they work very well. Unless you don't ride the bike much in which case the sealant dries up into a big puddle of latex in the bottom of the tyre. I wouldn't consider racing without them (no pinch punctures, nice low pressure (20lbs), other punctures seal up), but I don't mountain bike enough these days to bother the rest of the time. I haven't yet tried road tubeless, but reports are good so far, and in theory they should offer superior rolling resistance, but I haven't actually seen any data yet. For sealing the rims on the mtbs I just use NoTubes yellow tape - very light and does the job. Their rubber rim strips work nicely too, though a bit heavy and I also seem to eventually rip the valve stems out of them.
We did a 10 mile ride on the new tandem t'other day and it felt better and better as we went along. Drivetrain is very nice and quiet and smooth. A little bit of wag in the back, so I am going to increase the lower connector tube to 1.5" before I paint it. The titanium tubes there do really take the edge off of the bumps though.

The tandem concerned is this one:

I keep meaning to build a recumbent tandem myself but unf. I'd recently secreted two cranks in the car of Mr Schroder of our colony of Stoke-or-Richmond-or- Nelson-or-somewhere, and the other day he couriered them back to me rather neatly drilled and tapped at 110mm and now I can't think of an excuse not to build a front-wheel-drive 29er of some sort, which, with these cranks, will be sort of like a 45 inch gear fixie. If I've got the sums right. Which isn't usually the case.
Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:23:00 AM Categories: mountain bike Nigel Schroder Rob English tandem


You think your family is gifted. Huh. We are much better than you will ever be. We have just won the world sock-washing championship.
It rained and rained last week and the valleys filled and emptied into their rivulets and streams and eventually the Wangapeka overflowed its banks and the citizens of the Baton, where they say gold is still to be panned, were helicoptered to the Tapawera School and popped into sleeping bags for the deluge, and the Motueka River swelled and rose and by watching the downswept logs steadily overtake me as I cycled alongside I could tell how fast the water was flowing and by joining the sightseers clogging the cyclepath that abuts it I could see how close the water was to the undersurface of the bridge. (Very close.)
And delightfully it's now been raining again, with the start of some morning sunshine to amuse me with the curious observation, wot I have never before noticed, that the lower of a double rainbow has the blue on the inside and the red on the outside, while the faint upper rainbow has the red inside and the blue out. So the reds, with a gap between them, are adjacent. I never knew that before. I was never a student of double rainbows.
Anyway the scullery steadily filled with washing but now with blue skies peeping in the east I have first thing this morning pegged up ninety million socks to dry.
The mystery is this.
There were no laundry baskets.
If you own a teenage daughter then one of the things you do each week is buy a new laundry basket because however frequently you assure her that such are not part of her bedroom furniture, a teenage daughter's bedroom door is a laundry basket valve. They only go one way. In. And this morning looking for something to carry a great mountain of damp socks outside I peeped into a certain bedroom and was mystified and stumped, because though the floor besported piles of clothes tumbling out of open cupboards, there were no laundry baskets. That certain bedroom floor, with some effort, held up the following:
1 camera
1 computer
Approx 200 miles of wires and cables attached to approx 2 million electronic gadgets that I didn't even know she had
The last is a sort of dustbin category and includes more stuff than I care or have time to list but it's an essential taxonomic box (just wait - if you don't believe me - until you own a teenage daughter. Then you'll see. Then you'll jolly see) but the salient point is that there were no laundry baskets whatever. None.
It was as if there'd been a sudden laundry basket famine, as if a laundry-basket-vacuum passed over the house in the night and sucked all of them up and they all disappeared into the ether. I was completely mystified and stumped and am even more mystified and stumped now because somehow all those socks got pegged up, yet I have no idea how they managed the semicircular, rainbow-shaped trip round the outside of the house from scullery to clothesline. My brain is defective. It has a gap the shape of a rainbow in it, and somewhere within that gap lurks the fascinating information as to where I found all the laundry baskets.
The Human Power bit of this post being a bit thin, and my notebook (an envelope) revealing only the enigmatic information '3 lbs 2 ¼ oz' with nothing to tell me what possessed that weight and why I needed to know it, I shall justify my web existence by stating that a black tandem tyre lasts just 2,735.4 kilometres and then has to be replaced. The tyre was black and the mudguard was black but on inspection identical adjacent colours was all they had in common with a double rainbow. Unlike my morning rainbows, there was no gap whatever between them. They had, in fact, been rubbing all the while. As I say, my brain is defective. (The mudguard is now zip-tied to the rear rack for a bit of clearance.)
Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:26:58 AM Categories: bike clothing cycle path tandem

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


My tandem wheels have all appeared and much work has taken place to weld holes onto the frame in the right places to fit disc brake callipers or whatever they're called. You *can* weld holes onto something. It isn't an argument about semantics. Actually *I* can weld holes into something and often do, and then I weld nails and all sorts of other junk into the holes to conceal the fact from an otherwise admiring audience. If you're a spider you'll find it a pretty alarming sight when you creep up a tube and encounter one of my welded joints. Looks like a torture chamber. You expect to see Rowan Atkinson wedged in the middle in a Blackadder costume.
Anyway arrival of wheels and fitting of brakes and whatnot necessitated an e-exchange with my tame Arbiter-of-Tandems, who, as has been established, lives in Rangiora in the County of Quite a long way away. - (If he lived round the corner I'd have merely popped in and asked, and this web-log would have been deprived of the correspondence. And what a loss to the world's literature that would have been.) - Because when I went on the back of their tandem, I found that Mrs Bob Knight's handlebar had an unexpected bar-end gear change lever which, duly fiddled with, I discovered worked the rear wheel's disc brake. Accordingly I enquired:
Right my good man, on a wish-to-know-what-the-answer-is-basis, what is the advantage of having the back rider operate a gear-change-lever to the rear disc brake of your tandem?
and following on from that question, how does your tandem also have a back brake operated by the front rider? Cos I've peered at the photos of it and can't see how it works at all.
Arbiter-of-Tandems replied thus:
The rear break (sic.; I see this all the time) is a cable operated disk as was poplier in the old fashioned days. The brake cable attaches to an arm in exactly the same fashion as on a drum brake. In the case of the rear break on our tandum (sic., again) it has two cables attached to the same pinch bolt. One goes to the front and is for me to operate and one goes to the gear change lever on the back. When either one is operated the cable for the other one goes slack. The purpose of the rear one is twofold.
1) It gives a warm fuzzy feeling to the stoker; she feels she has an important job to do.
2) It is used as a speed regulator on long descents where keeping the break on by hand becomes tiring. The stoker *may* occasionally need to be reminded to take the break off again when the flats are reached. Being a gear change lever, you can set it on by degrees. We hardly ever use it for that purpose but we have done in the Pyrenees, before we had kids.
The third reason is one that you have alluded to in your blog.
3) use it as a parking break to prevent the bike rolling over when badly parked and breaking another Mirrycle.
[And, incidentally, it is true. Mr Knight is my sole source of Mirrycles. My spies inform me that his father is visiting New Zealand for Christmas, and I anticipate a large sack of Mirrycles will fall in my lap, for which I shall gladly supply a mince pie and a glass of sherry. - This is a very, very, gentle subtle hint the results of which will decide whether I write a letter to The Honours Secretary to see if we can't bag Mr Knight Snr an MBE to go with his wife's. (I think I can afford the bribe for an MBE. I'll ask Mr Brown how much they cost these days, and report back.)]
I have also fitted a flag to the tandem. This isn't for visibility. It's for psychological warfare. I surmise that motorists will see the flag and it will make them think
'Oh, there's a flag. Maybe there's a person on that bike, or even a proper reason for me giving that cycle some road room.'
Otherwise it's dangerous putting a flag on a bike. Crying wolf. If they pass by and perceive nothing unusual, they think
'Well *uck that for a game of soldiers, why's the *ucker got a flag up? what's so special about him? Why should he have a flag up? He's not even disabled. Is he trying to tell me I shouldn't cream him with a fender? I'll go right close to him next time and teach the little *ucker a lesson.' - Believe me, this is what motorists think. I knew a motorist once. He told me.
On the other hand, if they pass the flag and see that we're a tandem, they immediately feel pleased and generous and strangely happy. This is one thing we've noticed. Everyone smiles at you when you're on a tandem. Everyone. No, really. Everyone. Even roadies smile at you when you're on a tandem.
Friday, November 6, 2009 10:20:51 AM Categories: tandem

Evil Things 

Right, I'm going to tell you a series of things that you're going to find hard to believe. First, Mr Knight, a previously respected member of the Colonial Diaspora, has this week done an Evil Thing. Specifically, he failed to buy this item: which very definitely caused Mrs Knight consternation because I'm certain she really wants him to own a British racing trike so he can wear those diamond-pattern  socks For weeks now Mrs Knight has been waking up fretting about Mr Knight not having a British racing trike. She rings me up to say so.
'Richard I'm worried about Bob. He doesn't have a British racing trike (red) to hang on his garage wall.'
Why even Mr Larrington of the parish of London, who incidentally has dismally failed to move to New Zealand, has a British racing trike. And that's two Evil Things that Mr Knight has done recently, the other one being that he failed to move in next door where I can pop round and borrow his Campagnolo one-inch 24TPI die. There is a distinct and worrying lack of consideration on the part of members of the Colonial Diaspora. What earthly use is it to me if he lives six hours' drive away?
Second, this of course forced me, also a prev. r. m. of the C.D., to do an Evil Thing, which was to haul myself along to see Josh who works at the local bike shop and borrow a tool off him. Now you know my views on lending tools. But it's become a constitutional duty. Under the new Government we're all to grab as much as we can for ourselves, the Finance Minister recently having been caught helping himself to a generous grant of public funding for his family home, and as of yesterday they want to extend this to seats in parliament. (They've proposed a couple of referenda to see if they can do away with Proportional Representation, under which unfortunate system they have to listen to what other people say. Bush and Mugabe and Dame Shirley Porter and Hitler were also keen on meddling with electoral law, as I recall.)
The tool I borrowed was his one-inch 24TPI die to convert a Raleigh fork into a Peugeot fork and make a hack bike out of my latest new old light-weight frame just in case the shorter crossbar will permit me to use drop handlebars for a few more years. I am busy painting this bike which is a process I abhor; yesterday it got a cursory rub with a bit of sandpaper and I sprayed it with primer before dinner and a bit of gloss afterwards and this morning I noticed certain runs and blotches and whatnot and fell to thinking about Mr Knight's Claud Butler which has taken him (consults recent emails) two months to paint but then Mr Knight is a dangerous obsessive who abrades his frames with a single grain of sand glued to the tip of a toothpick.
The third thing you won't believe is that the people of Motueka all drive rubber cars and they can make them go narrower by reducing speed alone. The Motueka river is spanned by a long bridge and whenever two cars approach from opposite sides they go slower and slower until they meet, whereupon each car becomes dead narrow and they can just squeeze past each other. I know it sounds improbable but I've seen it happen lots and it's always the same. It only applies to bridges, though. This morning a lorry passed us when another lorry was coming the other way, and as we were none of us on the Motueka bridge, neither lorry needed to become narrower so we had exactly three inches of space outside our handlebars as they roared past.
And the last thing that will tax your credulity is that because I am clever - you know, immensely, hugely clever - I have cured my wife of pedalling the synch chain off at junctions. Moreover I did it without recourse to beating. - Wives and dogs and walnut trees, like it says in the rhyme, except I expect Mr Blair managed to make it illegal to say anything as scurrilous as wives and dogs and walnut trees but since when did I ever care? I committed political correcticide years ago. - Anyway I seldom beat my wife and anywayer envisioned that it would be unproductive, given the advantageous retaliatory position she occupies on said tandem. - No, what I did was provide a second front mech. I reasoned - but I expect you can guess what I reasoned and you'd be right. It worked.
Friday, October 23, 2009 9:47:01 AM Categories: bike clothing cycle path tandem

Reaming Tapping and Cutting Fluid 

Statement 1. Eugen is my mate, and he is working with Andy on the house.
Statement 2. Nothing in Statement 1 implies that Rocol Reaming Tapping and Cutting Fluid pinched briefly from where I keep it next to the lathe is an appropriate stuff to squirt on Andy's ladder to stop it squeaking. Does he have any idea at all how much RTC fluid costs?
Statement 3. No.
Statement 4. When Mike says of your new tandem wheel 'I'll have it ready next Friday' he doesn't actually mean next Friday, nor Saturday the week after that either. They are figures-of-speech.
Statement 5. This Tuesday was a figure-of-speech too.
Statement 6. When the tandem pilot says 'Stop pedalling' it should not be taken to mean 'Carry on chatting and also carry on pedalling.' Stop Pedalling isn't a figure-of-speech. It's a now speech.
Statement 7. Because the synch chain immediately comes off, you cretin.
Statement 8. B****cks. Never mind, we can both get off and I'll fiddle with it if you hold the damned thing up. See that derailleur mech there? Ad hoc tensioning device. On the bottom half of the chain because it's slack when I'm pedalling, but it suddenly goes into t'rrific tension if I've bloody well stopped and you're still going you great brain-free clotworthy, and then the top goes slack and cascades all over the damned shop. Are you stupid or something? Did Andy drop a mortising chisel off the roof into your skull and scrape the contents out with a tea-spoon?
Statement 9. Yes I know I didn't sort the washing. What's that got to do with it? Anyway I was in a frantic rush trying to get it inside before they sprayed the orchard (they spray the commercial orchards here, several times a week, and they don't tell us beforehand like they're supposed to) and then I was hoovering the lawn for an hour because of all that insulation stuff. (Polystyrene. The little balls go everywhere. It was windy.)
Statement 10. Ow! For *uck's-sake!
Staement 11. Yes I know we agreed I'd start off with the left foot clipped in but if you gaily whizz your pedals backwards when I'm standing here then mine whizz round too and whack the inside of my knee-bone - ow! *uck! Like that!
Statement 12. We like our tandem. It doesn't necessarily mean we're going to stay married.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009 10:07:04 AM Categories: tandem


My wife is this thing: a horrible barstard; and she is a horrible barstard because she just told me off for opening the cheese in the wrong way. How many ways can you open cheese? - No. You're wrong. There is only one way to open cheese and it is my wife's way and therefore my cheese-opening skills are faulty and require training.

We have just been for a ride to Ngatimoti where we had a long chat with a roadie whose wife fancies a tandem, and we like our tandem hugely because although she is a horrible barstard is my wife, it's fun whizzing along in a Bolt Upright position at the sorts of speed I used to manage on Herbert's bike. - Herbert gave me his old racing bike a few years ago, and it is a fine racing bike because Walter Haenni gave it to him after Walter Haenni won the Austrian road championship on it. Herbert was Herbert Franz and he was Walter's coach, and he was also Karen Holliday's coach when she became New Zealand's first cycling world champion. I expect you can Google all this if it excites you, but I don't suppose it will and anyway I only include it because I like name-dropping. It is my vice. Along with incorrect cheese opening.

It was a lovely sunny morning and we got to Ngatimoti and waved at an oncoming cyclist and stopped because it was Celia, and while my wife and Celia wagged their jaws at one another I fixed Celia's front brake which she had disconnected 'because it rubbed'. I shall not give my views on Celia's bicycle maintenance other perhaps than to say cheese opening is uncontroversial by comparison.

While we were variously wagging jaws & repairing Celia's brake two tandemists came hurtling past in a racing crouch. Well, four tandemists, in four racing crouches on two - anyway you know what I mean. And then a third tandem, and soon we discovered we were in the middle of Tandem Rush-hour. One after another came past, occasionally two or three together, occasionally shouting 'Hi Richard' which left me wondering who they all were. So we left Celia and headed back to Motueka and half an hour later found that Mike Gane, who is a famous cycling event organiser, had for our convenience organised an entire tandem race, and we joined him at the finish line and commanded him to build us some tandem wheels because mine, as everyone had assured me they would, are going all agly. Spoke tension is astray, rims are beginning to nudge brake blocks, and since I know for a fact that Mike Gane has a tandem triplet - actually it might be a tandem fourtlet so I don't know it for a fact at all - and a bike shop in Stoke, I was happy to take his advice which is that 40 spokes on a 559 wheel will be fine for a tandem.

Back in town a boring old bloke with shaggy black hair whom, unfortunately, I happen to know came over and started telling me how I should have braced the frame of my tandem. From past conversations I have established that he has made this many tandem frames:
and he has this much experience of making recumbent-or-trike-or-any-other-cycle frames:
and the advice that he gave me today was misremembered from something that I had observed to him a while ago and what he told me was this:
and I started to wonder what it is about me that turns me into an Advice Victim. Wherever I go I find myself on the receiving end of large amounts of advice about what I have already done from people who have never done it themselves.

Since the children, who are up on bullying, have told me this is against my Yuman Rights, I shall now take a leaf out of their book and start to dish out advice in a similar manner.

I shall start by advising a former cabinet minister not to read his text messages while he's driving his car. I have never myself done this on account of not having a mobile phone, but on an occasion when I was passenger in a motorcar driven by a cabinet minister, he did read his text messages and turned me into a Very Frightened Passenger. I have chosen this advice carefully because it's about to become illegal anyway, and ex-cabinet ministers always obey the law.
(Well, some of them do. Some exercise their constructive spin skills on their having deliberately run over and killed a cyclist )(I wish I could read Dutch. It would be interesting, given their attitudes towards cycling, to see what the Netherlands media make of the story.)

I'd quite like to advise our present cabinet ministers that $25 a tonne (about ten quid, the current NZ proposal) as a cap-and-trade price for carbon dioxide is not going to make folk more thoughtful about cars since it'll only cost each of us a hundred quid a year. But, when he's set his heart on it, advising a cabinet minister not to do something completely pointless is like advising a teenager not to smash his bourbon-and-coke bottle on the BMX track.
Hmm. Maybe I'm a wuss. Maybe I need to be more assertive. Maybe I need to get in training. Maybe I'll go and advise my wife how to open cheese.
Sunday, September 20, 2009 6:33:51 AM Categories: New Zealand tandem


A sedate tandem, yesterday

My tandem is now finished and I have ridden it and that is all you ever do with a tandem. Ride it once and hang it up to dry.

Since Bob Knight has a tandem and someone I happen to know was going to a medical course near Rangiora at the weekend, I hitched a ride and took with me various items of mutual interest - a Peugeot frame with no visible means of fixing a seat post in it, a micro steam turbine car, some handlebars with an OD of 24mm - that sort of thing. Why does a reputable handlebar manufacturer suddenly take to churning out 24mm handlebars? Ever tried getting a brake lever onto a 24mm tube? Maybe the designer was having an off day.
'Excuse me sir, but Mr Smith has telephoned to say he has a cold and can't come to work today.'
'What does Mr Smith do?'
'He designs the outside diameter of our handlebars.'
'Right. Okay. Um. Yes. Er. We mustn't panic. - Tell you what - telephone the Breville Kettle Company and see if they can design the outside diameter until Mr Smith gets better.'

The person who happened to be visiting the Knights went tootling off to Amberley to study what to do when someone falls off the roof of a car while mooning and this left me at liberty. Mrs Bob Knight had a prior engagement with her girlie friends and their birthdays and this left Mr Knight at liberty.
Mr Knight knew of three adjacent shops in Christchurch which he felt could be of interest. Mr Knight's views and mine are at variance in a number of matters - his bicycles have to be perfect concours specimens whereas I'm content if the chain doesn't fall off - but we are as one in the matter of shopping. So we abandoned Mrs Knight in a small dinghy with a compass and a map of the Pacific and headed for Pak'n'Save, an emporium where, should you desire genetically modified peanuts, you can probably get a couple of tons for sixpence. Pak'n'Save is a vast hideous yellow box supermarket-like thingy next to the bike shop but we were under no need of the facilities other than gracing their forecourt with Bob's car. I shall not discuss Pak'n'Save any further lest I receive a Cease and Desist letter from their lawyers, and I shall not mention that New Zealand also has a vast hideous red box store called The Warehouse where, as the schoolchildren sing to the tune of their advert, 'everything's open and broken'. Don't want The Warehouse's lawyers sending me a Cease and Desist letter either. (I have been reading a book called Tescopoly by Andrew Simms.)(And another book called The Walmart Effect by Charles Fishman.) The Warehouse is New Zealand's largest retailer, and if you buy a heater there you keep the receipt because it will, actually, break as the guarantee runs out and they won't have any truck whatsoever with you when it does. This happened to us. Unluckily for The Warehouse it was two weeks before the guarantee was up, and unluckilyer for them, I managed to find the receipt. It broke again a month later though. We never go near The Warehouse now and I strongly recommend you don't either. The workers there hate it. I've actually seen one playing football with the goods he was supposed to be stacking, kicking them to his mate up a ladder.

The bike shop was magnificent but it was cheaper to buy new handlebars than to buy special brake levers. 24mm. Huh! The model shop next door was superb too and had the brass tubing that one requires if one is the father of a fourteen-year-old bent on steam engine manufacture, but the tool shop next to that switched off its lights because it was 12.30 and the assistants wanted to spend Saturday afternoon pulling one another's trousers down. (I understand this is the aim of the game of rugby football.) But I managed to get five Eclipse hacksaw blades for ten dollars, which is four quid in civilized money. - Well it is at the moment, though I gather what Gordon's done means it isn't likely to be civilized money for too much longer.

An-y-way, in the afternoon - which is what we were building up to - we got the Knight tandem down from its hook. Mr & Mrs Knight possess an Ibis made in California and my legs-and-arms approximate to the lengths of Mrs Knight's legs-and-arms so I could sit on the back and enjoy myself.
A 22 mph tandem which I did not build

I haven't ridden tandems before but now I've built one I needed to find out how they're supposed to go. One has to have total trust in the chap up front, and sit clipped in while he stands at junctions, and one has to pedal like absolute stink when setting off because the pilot is busy trying to balance and steer and locate his cleat, and this pedalling is done from a standstill at the command of the pilot, and one has to stop pedalling on command too, and one has to refrain from steering. All of these things don't come naturally. However my bad neck which has prevented me riding drop handlebars for a while was now no obstacle because I didn't have to see where I was going but could peer straight down throughout the ride and admire the chainset, and because I do not wish to offend Mr Knight on a public forum such as this web log, I shall not disclose that his left rear crank had fourteen specks of road dust on it.

Approx halfway along the ride someone shot an airgun at my helmet. I heard the pellet whizz past in the air. I said the usual word, then:
' - what the (usual word) was that?'
And then I received a direct hit on my helmet. I said the usual word again, and nearly bringing the tandem down, twisted round to see who was shooting at me. A large bird was flying away with a vicious grin on its beak.
'Hah!' said Mr Knight, delighted. 'Magpie attack!'

It seems that the Australian magpie, which is a handsome crow with a white back and the most magical musical song, has for the two nesting months of September and October a habit of attacking cyclists' heads from behind. These aerial attacks are so startling - I now vouch for it - that people have fallen off, and indeed one wealthy cyclist paid for hunters to shoot every magpie they could find in a certain mountain pass where he fell off and broke his bones.

On the Sunday we did another ride sans magpies managing 22 miles in one hour which is as good as I can manage on a closed oval racetrack on a racing recumbent. I was reminded of the first BHPV event I ever went to which was in, oh, about 1986, where the Crane cousins thrashed everyone including the Vectors, riding a caged tandem.

A 44 mph tandem, 1986. Dick and Nick Crane, Milton Keynes. The shoulder in the yellow jersey attached to the chap who doesn't know which way to arrange his hat is that of one Richard Ballantine Esq.

Home, and I took my recumbent on my daily ride, and slowing on the cyclepath to spy out all its broken beer bottles (I swept up four) I was overtaken by a roadie who cleared first his left nostril in front of me and then his right, which I considered really quite impolite because the spray went all over my face.

So I paid for hunters to shoot him.

However they have to get the right roadie.
Because I had to send a note through to the Police asking them to contact a local truck driver and ask him if he'd very kindly stop driving deliberately close to me, and the Police replied and said three of their officers have had the same problem with the same truck driver. You see, half the local roadies are also Police officers, a fact which isn't as widely known as you might have thought, though when one particular pair of exuberant youths repeatedly carved up a training peloton, they found out on the Monday morning when a uniformed senior officer pulled up outside their house and discovered a bag of cannabis in the offending car.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009 11:45:34 AM Categories: New Zealand stupidity tandem

Tandem welding 

I have braced my tandem. I have looked at every single photo of every tandem I can find, and tried to get my feeble brain to imagine what the stresses might be, and have examined my wife's Raleigh Lady Clubman, and have concluded that a mixte frame has so much going for it that it's worth a try. I have also heard by e from Mr Knight of Rangiora, a tandemist until he had children when his tandem was retired. I expect when his children grow a little more and leave home he will get his tandem down and shortly afterwards Mrs Knight will divorce him. Anyway here follow his remarks:
Now then young man, I've just perused your tandem piccies and I am mighty impressed by how straight and aligned the top tubes and seat tubes are. This is most unlike you. Did you have help? I hope that you intend to brace that big open hole where the direct lateral tube isn't. The Direct Lateral Design is the best tandem design; you know this is true because my tandem is one and everything bike that I own is the best. Also I strongly recommend keeping the drive all on the right hand side if possible, otherwise you need to venture into tandem chainsets which may look like normal chainsets except that of the four cranks, three are reverse pedal threaded to normal. Both fronts and the left rear. Tandem chainsets are expensive. However a triple or quad rear chainset and a sync chain on the right will work well. Sacrifice high gears for low ones. You need low gears, lots of them. You will be slower on a tandem, best get this out in the open at the start. Lots of people buy a tandem and think they will be really fast, twice the output, same frontal area and all that. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out like that, tandems tend to average your separate speeds. If you are faster than Heidi, then she will go a bit quicker than normal and you will go slower than normal. Uphill you will be slower, much slower. Downhill you will be much much faster. And on the flat you will be about the same or maybe a bit quicker. I have lots of tips for riding tandems; we will discuss them shortly at great length. After you have examined my Campagnolo toolkit.

I have just read this to my wife, who immediately has just said ' Oh *uck, that's no good. I thought we'd have an easy life. You'd better get in training then.' (She says *uck quite often, as a matter of fact, but I never tell anyone because several of the people we know are Rotarians.)
Anyway Mr Knight is almost unkind in implying criticism of my brilliant welding and alignment and whatnot, and the only reason he isn't entirely unkind is because it is a factual remark. My welding is crap and so is my alignment, usually. And no I didn't get any help and the way it came out right was this: Pure Luck. The jig to weld was two bits of angle iron clamped very hard to the BB shells, the frames held together with a length of rubber inner tube. And my experience has always been that this is as inadequate as any other method I've ever dreamt up, and I fully expected to have to bend the thing afterwards - erm - that is to say, Cold Set it -and was astonished that this hasn't been necessary.
Note, however, that I do not afford this Blog the courtesy of close-ups of the welds. "Hmm, MIG welds aren't very pretty, are they,' is what Mr English observed once when he had spent too long examining one of my machines.
So now I have got out all my old chainrings and spiders and bless my soul, my head aches with trying to find two that will synch in such a manner as to please Mr Knight and earn his respect and regard and ravioli. (No, ravioli isn't the word I wanted. I suddenly felt in a thingy mood, where you try to use the same letter - wosscalled - alliterative.)

Friday, September 4, 2009 10:51:45 AM Categories: tandem
Page 1 of 2 1 2 > >>
Copyright 2006 Blog Author