When I said “I’m just going out for a short ride, I may be some time”, I didn’t realise it would be almost four years. Well, I’m back.
It would be wonderful if I could tell you what a stupendous trip around the world Albert and I had, but the trips I took were of the usual type, inside a metal bird. Albert has been snug inside home all that time, well, almost all of it. I did ride around Newcastle and Northumberland for a few days in the late summer of 2008. with a JB Weld repair to the saddle tube, but the cycling was marred on the last day by the bottom bracket deciding to work loose just 5 miles from Newcastle, and I had to do some dirty tricks with gaffer tape to avoid ingnominiously pushing home.
The bottom bracket issue is reputed to be a weak spot with the Cheltenham Pedersens, although I have only one person’s word for it, other than myself. They say the threaded tube has a tendency to distort under heavy pedal load and the thread needs to be re-metaled with silver solder and recut. I may have to master fire in order to do that sort of repair, but I am heartened by recent progress learning not to drag my knuckles on the ground when I walk.
After that episode, the next few rides threw up an odd mix of issues. If the bottom bracket didn’t come unscrewed, the righthand crank would. I rode around locally carrying almost enough tools to strip and totally rebuild Albert by the roadside, experimenting with different flavours of threadlock compounds. I can report that they all stick to your fingers and clothing and resist most brands of washing-powder, and another part of me says that I shouldn’t be contemplating using them to keep Albert rolling freely.
I took the Biopace off Albert, and fitted a rather cheap Suntour setup I got from ebay with a lovely low top chainring, and it did seem that the tendencies for things to come undone ceased with that change. Perhaps the cyclic alternation of load caused by the eliptical chainwheels was instrumental in working the bottom bracket or righthand crank loose; but I didn’t really get the chance to examine this hypothesis further. A return to old habits of being over-weight and getting up before dawn to drive for nearly 2 hours to work meant I let Albert slip back into a comfortable slumber, but this time, I made sure he was indoors. And I reached 15 stone, and received an official Doctor’s warning.
And so to the present: once again, (for the third time), I have lost a couple of stone, and one of the promises I made to myself when I went back onto the diet of fat and protein, (as much as I liked), with no beer, bread or cheese whatsoever, was that once I dropped below 13 stone I would ride Albert once again. I am, today, 13 stone and 1 solitary pound, and tomorrow I will be taking off the dust from a Pedersen and going round with grease and spray lubricant. I expect that pound to have left the building in about two days.
The other thing I swore a solemn vow to do was to get a pair of 700c rims with hub brakes, dynamo and 8-speed gears. But that may take some time.
I really do think, having yet again had to endure the rather tedious advice to “eat less and exercise more”, and find out in the end that it isn’t how much you eat or exercise but what you eat, that I had better also tell you all about how to lose weight, and while I’m about it, I shall also have to tell myself how to then stay lean. You might as well listen in on the conversations. If you want a preview, read up on Briand-Savarin, William Harvey, and William Banting.
Watch this space…