Now here are the final Rob English snippets before my wife throws all the envelopes in the bin along with several cheques and a Zeiss monocular. (The cheques is a true story. The lost Zeiss isn't, but first port of call is to blame wives.)
1. Mango is upright, sort of. I expect everyone else knew that. But I didn't. The ground crew carefully fold Mr English in half and place him gently inside with his *** rubbing the tarmac and his arms groping for the handlebar (I think that's what he said), Miles having calculated that a smaller wetted area made up for a larger frontal area. (Mango, if this paragraph has thus far been meaningless, is the famous Youtube streamlined bicycle crash. Miles is - well everyone knows who Miles is. He's just fantastically clever according to Mr English but we all knew that years ago.)
2. Mr English currently favours hard frame twentyniners. For us fogeys, these are 700c rims with Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4 inch tyres on built as gentlemen's mountain bicycles, and the large wheels bound over irregularities like a lithe mountain goat and the only suspension is fat tyres run at 20 psi and the whole doesn't weigh very much.
3. Mr English and Mr Knight concur in that gentlemen's mountain bicycle races are won going up hills rather than down them. A 5% saving in time due to low weight going slowly up a hill is better than a 5% saving in time due to good suspension coming down the hill. Mr English is a graduate engineer and Mr Knight is a graduate mathematician so it's the sort of thing that they would calculate.
4. Nevertheless Mr English's tactic on a time trial is to pedal as hard as he can up all of the hills and as hard as he can down all of the hills and as hard as he can on all of the flat bits. It lacks sophistication but wins races.
5. Mr English suggests that I could tension the synch chain of my tandem by cutting the bottom tube, making a very strong tube clamp, and standing on the frame and bending it down slightly. This is how the Bike Friday tandem is tensioned. I discreetly removed my hacksaw from the workshop after this part of the conversation.
6. While setting up new bikes he bungs all the little bits of new chain in a tub for when civilization collapses. I think we all do this. I think we're all thinking 'what can't you make in your back shed?' and the answers always come back the same - chains and tyres.
7. No bicycle seat is comfortable. You just have to get used to them.
8. High racers have Issues. I'm not sure if this is a Mr English remark because the only reference on the envelope is Nisbett Fleming Chartered Accountants & Business Advisors, and though I'm reasonably certain our accountant isn't in the habit of proffering recumbent design guidelines, it might be an outdated note I've nicked off Ye Olde Internette. Anyway the note goes on to say 'uneven weight distribution of front and back wheels; & eyeball jiggles from no suspension.' The former would echo my experience with the first low racer I built and rode furiously round the right-angles in Baxter Gate in Loughborough in the hope of impressing all the dopey bystanders. 60% of my weight lay over the front wheel and when cornering hard, the back wheel lost traction and would skip sideways across the tarmac.
Too little weight on the back wheel, which would skip sideways when cornering hard
9. My recumbent bike is
wonky. I got him to have a go, and noticed it wasn't just the seat which is what I knew
was wonky. The wheels are a good inch out of true with one another.
I don't care, however. Wonkiness can't be felt on a 57 inch wheelbase until the speeds get far higher than I can manage.
Sunday, January 24, 2010 1:12:18 AM
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