December is here and with it has arrived some mercifully better weather. Still a few challenging headwinds about but dry and not too cold. It still gets dark ridiculously early, and I’ve found my front lights aren’t really up to it so I’ve shelled out for a new clip-on front light.
Yesterday I rode over 20 miles, which is more than half what I managed in the whole of November! My nasty cold has gone, my bikes are in good shape and I just fancied some long-overdue miles. After the usual 6 miles to my fiancée’s house on Friday I took the long way back from town yesterday, adjusted Crichton’s saddle (which was a bit too low), did the long loop round Baswich, stopped off at Asda, then decided to pop in at Halfords for a good front light. Then later on a test drive for the light in full darkness.
The light works really well, and the Isabel Trail is the perfect place to test it. There’s no street lighting, and the trees’ roots create little humps in the tarmac. Further down the tarmac stops and the path is pockmarked with small potholes where puddles form. Even in complete darkness I could see the road perfectly well and I had a pretty smooth ride. That time of night one always has the trail to yourself. The light has 80 lumens which is enough without being too dazzling. It’s quite handy that I can swap it between bikes.
Major Tom’s had the slightly broken SunTour Cyclone mk1 replaced with a good condition Cyclone mk2 which I picked up with a speculative bid of £9.50 – an absolute bargain! Apart from not being broken it also has the advantage of the right capacity for my freewheel (26, while the mk1 is only 24) and is about 10 grams lighter. Too bad I’m about 1000 grams heavier than this time last month… It’s another spectacularly efficient SunTour design, with a revised tension spring and some reinforcements here and some weight saving there. As Disraeli Gears observed it doesn’t look nearly as spectacular as older SunTours (and I have two to compare it to) but it is a marvellous little design.
The SunTour Vx that Major Tom came with is still in perfect working condition, I’m sort of keeping it for special occasions. I noticed though in swapping between the three of them that the original jockey wheels are absolutely toast – way too much lateral play. Hopefully this isn’t because of anything I’ve done to them!
I’m waiting on some rims to arrive at Henry Burton’s and then I’m going to build some new wheels for Major Tom. I’ve been practising with an old 28 spoke wheel (off the girls’ Raleigh Wisp I’m still working on) and I’ve just about got the hang of it. I seem to be systematically putting the spokes in the wrong side of one flange, but the rims will be a few weeks coming so I can practise a bit more yet. Bike wheels look so simple, but there’s so many opportunities for mistakes. The guy in Henry Burton’s pointed out that it helps if the spokes are arranged to give space above the tyre valve – it had never occurred to me before!
After being on course for over 1700 miles for the year at the end of July my target has inevitably had to be revised down a bit after a couple of poor months. As it stands 1500 is realistic, which gives me roughly a further 75 miles left to ride in December. Given that I started with a target of 1000 miles for the year I’d settle for that!