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Suspension losses 

Suspension losses

I have formed the habit of cycling to Rocky River on one side of the Motueka river, crossing at the Bluffs bridge, & returning past the aerodrome on t'other side. It is a pretty route, punctuated at various points and on various occasions by wild pigs rooting at the side of the road, by Bill the farmer using profane language and a hammer to maintain the power take-off on his David Brown, and by Watsons omitting to sweep the thorns up after mowing the hedge on High Street. Here's last year's offerings. I pick them up to hand in to the police station where I happen to know half of the officers are keen roadies.


Found on the cycle path on State Highway 60, this time last year

In the last week or so I found myself in perfect health, thank you very much for asking, and yet with no headwind, no brakes rubbing, and tyres pumped hard, the trip had started taking a mysteriously lethargic 70 minutes. Yesterday the bike was bouncing up and down in a soft, comfortable, gentle manner and, after a few miles' thought, it occurred to me to stop and check the suspension, which is composed of inner-tube strips wrapped in tension. And on so doing I found half of them broken, and groping in the saddlebag for spares and re-wrapping the rubber, the machine stopped bouncing and my speed improved and the trip time returned to its rather sweaty 56 minutes. A salutary lesson on the costs of comfortable suspension.


A rubbish picture of the rubber lashing which is my bike's suspension unit

Today it was belting rain upon the Earth, and peeping out of the kitchen window it was pretty hard to differentiate between the waters which were above the firmament and the waters which were below the firmament, at least in Motueka. Peeping out of the kitchen window I couldn't see Mount Campbell at all. Peeping out of the kitchen window all I could see was dense grey rain. Peeping out of the kitchen window it looked like time to start making an ark of gopher wood three hundred cubits long and rounding up fowls of their kind and cattle of their kind and every creeping thing of the earth. (Two of each sort, obv..)

Accordingly Mr Schroder and Mr McLeod who had been idly toying with a ride over here chickened out, the pathetic wimps, which was just as well because I wasn't bloody well going out for a ride in this weather. But Mr Schroder piled his machine into the back of his ute and poled up for a wag of the jaw and a mug of the tea, no doubt with half an eye on the gopher wood situation in the Moutere Hills.

Mr Schroder's new machine - Schroder 3 - is very tightly built. There is not much clearance anywhere. Mr Schroder suffers from short stumpy legs which only just reach the ground and on some occasions, such as when he flies gaily through the air before head-butting the local geology, don't reach the ground at all. These short stumpy legs are huge things, the hugeness entirely composed of muscle. I have ridden with him before: his cadence is about thirty while mine is about ninety and he's a good deal faster than me. He opts for short cranks, a massive chainring, and the use of vast force to go Stinking Fast. But short legs raise the problem of tight clearances, and on front wheel drive low racers, those clearances become Very Tight Indeed. There is exactly 5.5 millimetres between the front tyre and the frame.


Schroder's cat. There's another one exactly like it inside the back of the car.

There is no room at all for the rear mech cable: it has to be threaded through the fork leg. (He threaded the inner cable first, and then the cable housing afterwards, a sneaky trick which I shall steal and cunningly claim as original sometime.) Handlebars have been ditched altogether and he relies on a tiller, with gear changers to fiddle with and go dackadackadacka at the traffic like in the Battle of Britain film. - Did you know Susannah York just died? - Well she did, and she was 72. Hard to believe anyone as pretty as Susannah York could ever be 72. - His frontal area - we are referring to Mr Schroder again - we have put the alluring discussion of Susannah York to one side - is 21 inches square, plus head, plus helmet, and here is a picture.


He'd made a very useful pair of T-stands that clamped to the main tube & allowed for stationary pedalling. He offered me a go but I declined partly cos of the wet road (spray in hair & up legs & on unpainted steel frame) and partly because he is a chain-oiler and I am a wax-snob. Besides, Mr McLeod has had a mishap with his chain on his FWD low racer and I am in no hurry to emulate it:

Tested the new lowracer sans idler chain guide/shield. For all the FWD advantages it is also highly efficient at pulling hair and skin thru the drivetrain without much effort -
James

 

He even sent me a photo of it, little thinking it would end up on the Internet. - You can just never be too careful. -

So all of the above are my feeble excuses for failing to Get On With John's high racer. But I will, I will, because Mr Knight presses on with his rubbishy old Geared Facile and I have just read that fully 48% of New Zealanders were wholly indifferent to the opening of the rugby world cup, so there must be an eager 2,080,000 people out there prepared to get all excited about how we're both doing instead.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 9:15:00 AM Categories: front wheel drive James McLeod Nigel Schroder

Schroder Idler 

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Schroder Idler

The following adventures have taken place this week.

First, my wife & son went skiing. She opines that standing on top of a mountain covered with snow, with planks strapped to her boots calculated to minimise her attachment to Mother Earth, and thereafter surrendering herself to the laws of physics, is done in the certainty that the entertainment will outweigh the broken legs.

I did not ski but rather loaded my recumbent into the van and, the following morning, set out to ride home. It had occurred to me to annoy Mr Knight by telling him of the expedition, because he likes long rides and I knew he'd be mad.

Now then, m'boy, I graciously grant you permission anxiously to check the weather every two minutes tomorrow between St Arnaud and Motueka, because Mrs My Wife is going skiing and I am lugging a recumbent in the back of the van and am going to jolly ride it home tomorrow, with this much training behind me: zero. I am fearful and full of fear because I do not do rides longer than 20 miles. I am going to hypermile. My brother told me about hypermiling: he did it in the Shell Mileage Marathon back in the early 80s. They had to power a person (tiny girl, surprise surprise) at a minimum of 15mph round a figure-of-eight track. The other day I hypermiled in the van, and found the most economical way was to accelerate hard to 70kph, which took 5 seconds, and knock it out of gear, and let it coast down to 50kph which took 15 seconds. Ignoring calculus, I was therefore using fuel for .25 of the distance and since the van does about 38mpg driven normally and probably a lot less when accelerating hard, there is the possibility I was getting lots more than 38 mpg. So tomorrow I shall roll down every single hill and pedal languorously the rest of the time and see if I can get home without my legs turning into jelly. Yes I know you'd do it in three hours - kindly *uck off and die - I think I'm Jolly Brave and need prayers to help me, like the Governor of Oklahoma has got the population to pray for rain, the utter moron. (Google it if you don't believe me. Amazing but true.)

R

Mr Knight, thus apprised, instantly emailed me. (I knew he would.):

I've just checked this route on www..mapmyride.com and it's mostly downhill with two notable uphill bits at 13 and 37 miles assuming that you are going from the centre of St. Arnaud via Tophouse road. I've ridden all of it except for the bit from Tophouse to the junction near that firing range. I know the second hill just outside Tapawera at 37 miles and it's quite hard but mercifully short, I know nothing about the first hill at 13 miles which looks worserer. Tophouse is the high point at 2450 feet (!) and your house is the low point. I've attached a picture of the elevation over the route to help ease your troubled brow.

Take lots of food and drink with you and drink before you're thirsty and eat before you're hungry. I usually eat something every 30 minutes on a long ride, sometimes it's hard to do.

I'm very jealous and would love to do it instead of sitting here pretending to program but typing to you instead. We have a fablious day here and I'd much rather be riding.

If it goes badly and you die, can I have your hand shaper?

Bob

It did not go badly. I did not die. He can't have my hand shaper.

I set off at 8.44 am and the snow was a foot deep at the side of the road and I wore 2 pairs of long cycling trousers and 2 pairs of gloves and 3 cycling jerseys and a teeshirt and I wore earwarmers and I was *ucking Cold. There was an icy headwind all the way to the Tophouse turning and there were patches of black ice all over the St Arnaud roads and there was a mass of fog, but luckily this blew away and I was only in fog for very brief periods. I cranked my way gingerly out of St Arnaud to Tophouse at about 7mph and wondered if I was in fact a Stupid Person. There were black ice patches all the way along the Tophouse road to the Kikiwa junction, and indeed all along the Kikiwa road to Korere. I got very frightened several times when approaching black ice at over 30mph on narrow hard tyres, and did quite a lot less hypermiling and quite a lot more pre-emptive braking than I'd anticipated. Once a car came towards me at about seventy miles (miles) an hour with black ice just round the corner where the driver couldn't see it though she'd obviously passed over some beforehand because I encountered it later. Much better driver than me, obviously, because I would have either driven more cautiously or skidded off and been killed. - I did pass a couple of women placing flowers on a roadside white cross. They were in a car which later passed me with several inches to spare on an open clear road. -

I didn't do the Kerr Hill route past the gun club because I've done that before and it almost killed me. It's a lot steeper and more persistent than it looks on the map, is Kerr Hill. It is in fact *ucking horrible.

There was lots of fog on SH6 to Kohatu and indeed from Kohatu to Tapawera and I once got run off the road by a petrol tanker who very obviously wasn't going to slow down or pull out for me. I stopped at Nutbrown's farm because I saw him fiddling outside his barn and he let me lie down on his kitchen floor with my feet against the wood-burner, and then my feet stopped being as cold as very cold feet. Nutbrown isn't his real name but - well, anyway, - he's a tramper, and I think, doesn't spend excessively on sunblock. - He nearly jumped out of his overalls when I rode up behind him and called his name. (I didn't say "Hi Nutbrown.")

That hill outside Tapawera has a name and I was reminded what it was and I forgot it the moment I was on the bike again. But it's 0.6 miles to the top at 4mph, and a rather terrifying 40mph on the descent before I started squeezing the brakes. At Ngatimoti I ate half a cheese sandwich and drank a litre of water, at which point my average speed was 16.1 mph, but at 50 miles I was tired, and ended up with an average of 15.9mph, having bravely pedalled hard at the end to stop it nudging down to 15.8 which is what the computer was threatening to do.

Arrived home at 1.42. The forecast was for light rain, but I didn't get any at all. The sun was a pallid harrier behind the clouds and I didn't have to wear sunglasses once. A possum ran away from me on the West Bank Road, which surprised me very much because it was half-past one in the afternoon and possums don't do daytime. It wasn't a rabbit because it had a long tail and it wasn't a pig because nobody was shooting it or stabbing it to death.

Trip 67.21 miles

Average 15.9 mph

Max 41.0 mph

Calories 2190.7 (yeah, right)

Time 4hrs 13 mins 23 sec

Odo 7012.6

Then my wife telephoned. Somebody found her on the ski-field and took her to see John who had inexplicably put one of his skis through his trouser-leg and gouged his knee open. It needed stitching but she had no stitches in St Arnaud so she came home. This meant I had to clean the bathroom instead of checking my emails, or I'd have found out that

a) Mr Knight had been in touch to say

We don't get black ice here, we get very cold mornings but no rain ever (except this morning) so very, very seldom any ice, which means that when we do get ice, nobody has a clue how to drive on it. We did have freezing fog last week and when I got to work I resembled a snow man, only colder. And no carrots. Or coal.

and

b) Mr Schroder has one of those idlers on his new FWD too, so he and Young McLeod of McLeod have obviously been collaborating more than I know. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4g--38Pcn0

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 8:33:00 AM Categories: front wheel drive James McLeod Nigel Schroder

Idler video 

Monday, July 11, 2011

McLeod Idler Video

Occasionally, when feeling bored, I like to command Mr Larrington very kindly to put his fag out and his beer down and get on with the task that I set him about ten years ago which is to write a book entitled 'The History of the British Human Power Movement from when I was Eighteen' and I am dismayed daily to find he continues to treat the commandment with disdain. It would be jolly int'resting because he was right in there at the beginning, a mere boy then but a keen observer of the Purple Nasty and other vehicles of the early days, and probably even knows the origin owner and inventor of the red trike that caused the global inch-and-an-eighth tubing shortage in 1985.

However, it's perhaps just as well his book hasn't been completed yet because I now have the video evidence of Mr McLeod's Idler to hand, and this is so jolly excellent an advance that it were a shame to miss it out of said History. (Yes there are those who idly claim that New Zealand doesn't come under the auspices of British but we ignore them, Empire sun never sets, pink across the globe, William to visit etc etc etc.)

Anyway, here we are, Mr McLeod's Idler wheel in action. You have to pay fairly close attention to see what's going on. Of the two idlers at the steering head, the front is the relevant one. The track rod end, from which it hangs, is visible at ten o'clock to the idler wheel itself. As the front wheel is turned to steer the bike there is only a small amount of movement of the idler and it's quite hard to discern, but it allows a full forty-five degree movement of the front wheel in either direction without throwing the chain off.

Mr McLeod does not require any gratitude for giving the world this invention, natch. It is merely his way of thanking the Duke for encouraging his ancestors to emigrate when His Grace, who was terribly, terribly poor had all the houses burnt in the Highland Clearances. - Aye, the McLeods' hame is Sutherland, where the bonny heather hides the wee cleggies. - We used to know Johnnie McLeod. - 'Hoo're you the dee?' he'd ask except when he said stuff like 'Feasgar math dhuibh' but then he never said 'Feasgar math dhuibh' to us because he knew we didn't have the Gaelic, and he never said 'Tha coltas uisge oirre' because it always did.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 8:31:00 AM Categories: front wheel drive James McLeod

McLeod Idler 

Monday, July 4, 2011

McLeod Idler

It is my birthday, and I am surprised once more by the vast number of people who have marked the event by carrying on as normal. The list of people ignoring it is fairly long. It includes the Queen Mother who is dead and can be forgiven, the Duchess of Cambridge who isn't and can't, and, oh, another 6,999,999,994 people one of whom is my daughter. But I don't mind because I'm Elderly and anyway Barack Obama, at least, emailed me last week. (No I know you don't believe me, but it happens to be true.) -

Over in the Parish of Richmond Mr McLeod has been un-busy not-filming his new idler wheel, and his suggestion as to what to call it - 'The McLeod Twiddly Bit' - is so rubbish that I have immediately vetoed it. I have toyed with calling it 'The Middleton Twiddly Bit' instead, but that's rubbish too. It's not rubbish because I eliminated Mr McLeod's name and substituted my own. That at least has many precedents, starting perhaps with Ackerman Steering, which was invented by Lankensperger, improved by Jeantard, and patented by Ackerman, who was the agent. His real name was Ackermann but we all spell it wrongly on purpose.

Anyway, it is going to be called the McLeod Idler because then even serious people can use it. We do not want to discourage the serious people. They have rights, too.


Here is another picture of it, and eventually, when Mr McLeod and Mr Schroder manage to arrange a time mutually convenient to their wives or helmet cams, I shall post a link to a Youtube showing it actually working, whereupon crowds of front wheel drive recumbent builders may both fall down in astonishment and send me a thousand billion dollars in royalties whenever they copy it. I will pass on a suitable proportion to Mr McLeod every time they do, rest assured. Say, sixpence. I will keep the remainder for my friend Mr Xenothobo who has offered me a similar sum if I lend him my bank account details to withdraw certain monies from a Nigerian company in which he has business interests.

(It isn't my birthday today. It's my birthday today, tomorrow. It's just that tomorrow's already here in New Zealand, and Blogger is still in yesterday mode on account of being American or some such nonsense.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 7:31:00 AM Categories: front wheel drive James McLeod

Mr McLeod's idler hanger 

26 June 2011

It's cold. It's very cold. It's so cold that I'm as cold as a person in the shade in the middle of winter and not as hot as a person is in the sun in the middle of summer. English viewers of this blog must needs recall when winter is in the southern hemisphere.

Yesterday I went to Richmond to collect my wife from her hockey game. She was cold. She has been inveigled to play goalkeeper, and these days the goalkeeper in hockey dresses up in a series of mattresses and stands about idly as a sort of human obstacle, but even when attired in clothing several feet thick, she tells me you get cold standing around for thirty-five minutes each half in the middle of winter with nothing to do. (Her team are currently top in the region. She is Dead Proud. But at least three of the team are, or have been, in the national squad so it doesn't count.)

Watching hockey involves standing about and since you do this without mattresses on and since Mr McLeod lives next to the Saxton playing fields, I popped in on him for five minutes and he revealed his new machine.

I hate Mr McLeod intensely. I hate him because a) his machines are masterpieces of design b) his machines are masterpieces of craftsmanship c) he thinks up completely new ideas d) and they *loody well work, too.

The thing about this new one is this. It's a front wheel drive and of course that limits and restricts things that you can do with the front wheel, such as steer. This tends to dismay many designers, incl. me, but Mr McLeod, who doesn't know you can't get a FWD machine to steer, has cunningly put the idler wheel on a universal joint. It's the sneakiest thing I've seen in ages. Dead simple, like all really clever things. It holds the idler wheel, and hence the chain, in tension, but allows enough movement for the wheel to be turned virtually to full lock. I was amazed. Clearances, as ever, are remarkably tight with barely a millimetre anywhere between chain and front brake, but it all seems to work.

Unf. the poor chap has slipped a lumbar disc, so testing has yet to commence, but he has already planned a series of modifications - disc brake etc. - to while away any idle hours that come his way.

Mrs McLeod mentioned that this is his last machine but she caught my eye as she said it and there was a wicked twinkle in her eye. I did not say anything. Master McLeod is four, and a Big Boy Now (he told me so himself) and I have a feeling he will come to express firm views on whether Mr McLeod should forever more desist from building recumbents.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 8:39:00 AM Categories: James McLeod Nigel Schroder

Cardboard Box 

Labour Weekend, so my wife thought a good plan would be an expedition with some Danes to the top of Mount Arthur in the snow and promptly set off for the hut. Therefore I made a cardboard box and Mr McLeod, who isn't Danish, wasn't consulted and had organised a recumbent ride instead, made a tailfairing and Mr Schroder made a fork jig. To each of us our accomplishments: some climb mountains, some make tailfairings, some make fork jigs. And I make a cardboard box. - As a matter of fact I've been meaning to make the box for a while because the old one was getting worn out - it's on the back of the shopping trike and needed to be a whisker bigger because of the statutory size of New Zealand juice bottles, which prevent crisps and milk and grapes being bought at the same time. So I pinched a bike box from the shop because they're double-thickness corrugated cardboard, and set to with knife and PVA and little reinforcing sticks of willow and when it was all done, I carefully covered it inside and out with cut-up cotton shirts ostensibly to reinforce it but actually cos I fancied the idea and wanted to see if it would work.

 
Messrs McLeod and Schroder appeared and we went for a ride, Mr McLeod with his new tail fairing which was thin and flimsy and lightweight and insubstantial and rubbish all of which compelled me to assure him it wouldn't work, but in the event I was wrong. It worked exceedingly well. A roll-down at Ngatimoti said 38.8 kph without the fairing and 40.6 with, and whenever I followed him I found that I wasn't picking up a tow but was riding into immense turbulence which entirely validated his roll-down data. The tailbox was a single fold of corriboard, neatly sealed at the front with foam, and held in place with tiny light-weight rubberised cotton bands weighing nothing. Admittedly his drive chain was creating a series of hiccups, but nobody's interested in drive trains. They're only the means of testing the aerodynamics of single folds of corriboard. (And on the topic of hiccups the children who have decided I am to be knighted, presumably for services as yet unrendered, observed that the worst time to get hiccups is when the Queen is about to knight you. It is a prospect that doesn't fill me with alarm because I'm neither a rugby player nor a film producer and Her Majesty is not yet in the habit of knighting cardboard box makers.)


Mr Schroder had his fork jig with him which I shall probably have to nick sometime, and he tried to persuade me to ride from Rotoiti to Renwick with him but I declined because I'm pathetic and a wimp and it's a long way and he's too fast. Mr McLeod will have to go instead.
 
 
In the morning I nipped up Mount Arthur to see how they were all getting on and was much cheered to find that Dr Dane-Mollerup is another person who shaves his own head, doubtless to save having to discuss whatever in Denmark constitutes Leicester City with whoever in Denmark cuts hair. - By way of instigating stimulating conversation the barber in Barrow used to ask of each client:
'Y'suppor' Leicester City, er wha?'
Naturally I did not support Leicester City nor indeed any other team but I did not disclose this to the man because he had sharp implements and my throat to hand. Instead I bought a BaByliss and proceeded to shave my head with a Number 4, deeming that however ragged a mess I made in the mirror it would be preferable to a bimonthly discourse on association football. If you see a man with hair exactly half an inch long you'll know he has a BaByliss, and if there's a diagonal intrusive pathway mown out of the back of his neck only an eighth of an inch long, you'll know his wife declines to shave the last few bits for him with a Number 1.

Up the mountain was a Troll. He had appeared long after dark outside the hut, hopping about with a torch on his forehead and waking everyone up shuffling through his pack, and in the morning he set about advising people what not to do. Not to wear cotton shirts, not to wear cotton jeans, to choose different boots from the ones they had and to go on routes other than those they proposed. In short, to do what he was doing. Everyone ignored the Troll so he had to accompany them all day to give further advice, suddenly rushing ahead with his mountain sticks, randomly announcing which of the range is named Gordon's Pyramid and which Billy's Knob, and surprising people who hadn't ever seen him in their lives before by gratuitously pointing out the route to Salisbury Hut. He was most odd. He was covered in tattoos, very probably inflicted by mountaineers who had tired of his advice. I have a feeling he lives on the mountain, so when I next go up there I'm taking my cardboard box and I'm going to spend quality time advising him how to make one using inappropriate materials like cotton and we'll see who can be the most annoying and I bet it'll be me.





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