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Prodigal Bikes 

Mr Knight is such a lying git. He fibs like a fibber and he lies like a liar and he tells untruths like a person spreading disinformation and rumour and innuendo and stuff like that. He is a lying, untruthful, fibbing, dishonest, dissembling git and he's a neighbour who bears false witness and he departs from facts and he misleads parliament and makes fraudulent statements and is Generally Bad. He has completely fabricated that wholly false and incorrect and malicious story. I would never, ever suggest he ride the giraffe on the orchard path. (We now call it a giraffe. It isn't a giraffe, obv., but that's the name it ended up with.) Never, ever in a hundred million years would I encourage my son to sprint along next to him in a wild and exuberant pell-mell race along a dry, dusty, pot-holed orchard path on a very high bicycle with a very short wheelbase, because natch what would happen in a Pothole Sitchuwation is the big front wheel would leave it at the same time as the small back wheel entered it and then instantly afterwards the back wheel would be flicked upwards out of the hole and he would fly through the air describing a parabola and land on his bonce shouting 'ow ow ow'.

It is all His Fault.

It is none of it My Fault.

He is an evil, bad, wicked, malevolent, deceitful, libellous influence on the Diaspora and not one of my Followers should believe him for an instant.

What actually happened was this.

Mr Knight saw the giraffe and instantly said 'Please, oh Please may I have a go on that exquisitely designed and perfectly crafted machine with its superb welded joints and meticulously fitted front wheel bearings and faultless paint job and Whatton bars' and I (very reluctantly) said 'Oh well okay but you must treat it with consummate care because so short a wheelbase may lead to pitching and you have so little experience riding penny farthings or other front drivers and I cannot have you jeopardise yourself the very day before your birthday when I have such a large pile of absolutely brand new hand-picked books carefully gift-wrapped for the morrow.' (I hadn't. I had a heap of crumbling old volumes picked up at the local book fair incl. the inevitable child's colour picture book of fire engines that we give him each year because we happen to know that Mr Knight used to be a volunteer fireman, going out along the M4 with a large hose to extinguish the smouldering remains of someone who thought they could text-and-drive at the same time. And we give him old books purely because we happen to know he c'llects old books and wouldn't know what a new one looks like, and not because they only cost us fifty cents each.)

So off he went and I caught no glimpse of him till I was scything the long grass next to the dustbin and I glanced up and there in the distance sat my son on the penny trike gazing forlornly on the corpse of the giraffe and the other corpse of Mr Knight. I was overcome, as you may imagine, with regret, because if I had chanced to glance up a moment earlier I would have seen him fly over the handlebars, and I was overcome with even more regret because if adequately forewarned I could have nipped inside and got a camera out and recorded the event for the entertainment of the Internet. Huh! Whatever you thought Youtube was for was inc'rrect. It's not for that at all. It's so we can watch members of the Diaspora falling off at speed.

Also, I didn't give him a single Campagnolo part. He nicked 'em all. He snuck in and snuck out again and immediately the entire shed was empty, cleaned out completely, and as he drove off his car was packed to the gunn'ls with shards of bicycle that I was saving to keep in a glass case labelled 'Exquisite Italian bicycle jewels that Mr Knight Hasn't Got and I Have Got so nur nur ne-nur nur'. (I have the Campagnolo Super Record rear mech that Walter Haenni used to win the Austrian road championships twenty or thirty years ago. Each year I get it out gloatingly and show it to him, enjoying his misery at the fact that he does not own it and I do.)


Walter Haenni's rear mech


However the good news is that the police rang on Thursday to say they'd recovered the rain bike near the high school, minus its panniers but otherwise intact and they phoned at lunchtime yesterday with the joyful news that Frankenbike has been found. It had been standing outside the Warehouse for a fortnight. - It will be deduced that we do not frequent the Warehouse, a shop rather like Walmart, but bicycle stealers do. - Some rust from all the rain, and the tools had gone from the little saddlebag, but otherwise everything there was intact too. 'A perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle' is what P.C. Morris of Barrow upon Soar would have said, but P.C. Morris doesn't live here and the officer who hauled it out of the police lock-up confined himself to the cryptic remark 'Unusual looking bike?' with which observation it was impossible to argue.

Thursday, November 17, 2011 8:30:00 AM Categories: bike crash front wheel drive penny farthing Rob English Stolen Bikes

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
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