Thursday, December 22, 2011

In a different world:(

Last night I got it again, that compete lack of understanding when someone learned that I intend bike across country. The phrase is usually “insane”, but I actually forget what it was this particular time and it doesn't matter. This time I did realize that I’d might as well be talking to the dog. I don’t mean to be insulting this person or anybody else, it’s just that for all of us there are somethings so outside our experience that at first blush it seems...well...insane. For me that would be something along the line of paying to see Charlie Sheen rant, or going to a mall and shopping for “enjoyment”.

"Any coward can sit in his home and criticize a pilot for flying into a mountain in fog.
But I would rather, by far, die on a mountainside than in bed.
What kind of man would live where there is no daring? And is life so dear that we should blame men for dying in adventure. Is there a better way to die? "
Charles Lindbergh, Jr. (1902-1974) First flight across the Atlantic.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Received the ACA Maps!!!!

Our "TrikeTrek '12" cross country trip is just a little more real yesterday after receiving most of the maps needed to follow the ACA Northern Tier Route from Maine to Washington. The only back ordered maps were for the area around Minot ND and Cut Bank MT. These two are being rerouted due to the increased traffic caused by the oil and gas exploration up there. I also picked up a couple maps for Florida since we'll be down there for a couple months I thought I might ride a section or two just to get used to using the maps in the real world.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Training Indoors SUCKS!

I may be something of a wimp but the weather just isn't to my liking. So I've been spinning almost daily on my trike using the indoor trainer. After 45 minutes I'm bored senseless even listening to interesting pod casts. So since I built flight simulators for the Navy I thought surely someone has built a bike simulator. So a quick Google search and I found Computrainer and a great review at DCRainMaker. It sounds like just the ticket but I have much better ways to spend $1700.

We're back in Annapolis and the gym is now my primary training but I hope to get on the trike on nice days. There is one exercise I think the gym offers that really applies to riding a trike, the leg press. It's virtually the same position and motion as riding a recumbent trike, except that obviously on the tike only one leg is pushing at a time. I think that alternate days on the leg press will be very helpful.  The gym also has a Cybex recumbent bike that I plan to ride daily if not riding my trike. The Cybex 750R is horribly optimistic on it's speed and distance however. On my trike trainer using the Cateye bike computer attached to the rear wheel I cruise at about 12-13 mph which pretty much matches up to real world. With about the same effort the Cybex shows something like 22-26mph! That would be awesome but I don't think I've jumped in capacity that much due to driving 800 miles south.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A little Snow

I had for the past week or two chiding myself for not taking the trike off the trainer and going for a real ride. The weather had been decent if not a little cool for my tastes, but now I have the perfect excuse, 12-15 inches of fresh snow!  The Mainers are great about snow and the main roads were cleared instantly and I'm sure my side roads are passable, but the salt and sand and what ever other crud they throw down will keep me off these roads probably until spring. But we'll be in Florida by January and I plan to get plenty of riding in down there.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2012 Ride from Belfast Maine to the west coast.

I (Ed) am turning 50 in 2012 and for the past few years I've been debating about a suitable mental/physical challenge to under take. Sure this is all about the denial of getting older. It's strange to me that my 30th or 40th birthdays, which seem to cause most men grief, passed without any notice. But 50, that has caught my attention. Not sure why, but maybe it's because my father died during his fifth decade. No need for psychoanalysis however, it is enough that I want to do it and we have the means.

So the plan, as of today, is to start in Belfast Maine then to generally follow the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier Route (NTR). I say generally since right off the bat I'm not starting in Bar Harbor. We live in Maine so Bar Harbor holds no mythic symbolism for me. But Belfast is just down the road and has a nice public boat ramp to allow me to do the ceremonial rear tire dip in the Atlantic. Its not technically on the Atlantic but rather Penobscot Bay which opens to the Atlantic. Bar Harbor is not on the Atlantic either but rather  Frenchman Bay. Also route 3 that comes out of Ellsworth down to MDI isn't a fun road to ride.

The next diviation form the NTR will come around Niagara Falls NY. There I will enter Canada, cut across to re-enter the US at Port Huron MI. From there head north through he Upper Peninsula and then through Hayward WI, Coon Rapids MN and then rejoin the NTR. This course through Canada, Michigan, and Wisconsin is generally following the Adventure Cycling North Lakes Route. I found a bike rider who did basically what I'm planning, except west to east, here is the general idea Bike Map.

As for preparation, I can't say I've been training hard this summer. My time has been mostly about building a house and a boat. My plan is to ride daily on the using my indoor trainer.  Then when we head south I'll get outdoor rides until spring. I figure this training will be all about getting me in shape to ride the first week. That first week then prepares me for the remaining 9 or 11 weeks. I say that because in past long rides after that first week I felt like superman.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Short Ride from the camp.

We’re camping at the Prairie Flower campground at Saylorville Lake while in the Polk City area. There is a trail heading both north and south from the campground. Going south the trail eventually ends up in Des Moines and north to Big Creek State Park. We decide to ride south to the flood control dam this morning before family events kicked off. The ride south was completely different from the rail-trail. It was also very smooth but that’s the end of the similarity. This trail has rolling hills and blind turns. The hill required the granny gear and the down hill sharp turns required leaning into them to keep the inside wheel from lifting.  A Great Ride! Rail-Trails can get boring like an interstate highway, but this trail is like that special back country road were you take you sports car to on a Sunday morning before the rest of civil society wakes up. There are other users on this trail even mid-week and with the blind turns it imperative to maintain the right side of the trail. We were blasting down one right hander keeping tight to the inside when a pace line of three bikes came up the hill in the left at an impressive speed. Had either of us not been where we should have been the results would have been ugly. Frankly I think the trikes would have had a better change of evasive maneuver but even a slight clip of the bikes…

This trail was especially enjoyable for what is wasn’t anymore. We had ridden this trail back, I think, in 2007 and it was awful. The pavement had frost heaves and root cracks everywhere. We had rode our hy-bird bike about 3 miles and gave up that time. This time we were wishing we had more time to go all the way to Des Moines and north to Big Creek Lake.

Trike Specific Section:

Brake Steer: As I understand it that term means when a single front brake is used it’s the tendency of the trike to turn into the braking side. From Trike advertisers it seems “neutral”  or no tendency to turn is the most desirable. I’ve only ridden about a half dozen trikes and everyone of them brake steer and every manufacturer says they have neutral steer. So either I’m hyper critical or they all lie. Then I’m not sure that some brake steer is necessarily a bad thing. After all if I have to brake hard I’m always using both brakes. Next when slamming down these tight hill corners I many times use one brake to control speed and help turn in while just covering the outside brake. And with our Catrike and Trident the Trident brake steers a little harder, but then again I’m not sure this is a bad thing. The brake steer difference wouldn’t be in my book a reason to select one over the other in the end.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Polk City Iowa: High Trestle Trail

Near the start in Ankeny IA
 After a two and a half day drive we're in the Polk City Iowa area for a few days to help celebrate an aunt and uncles 40th wedding anniversary and a birthday. The parties don’t take all day and we got here a day early especially to ride the High Trestle Trail which was just completed this spring. We started in Ankeny IA and headed north for Slater. The trail then intersects a rail-trail going east to where I don’t know but it goes a long way, and west to the High Trestle.  The trail is smooth with just a few road crossings and gentle ascents which seem pretty typical for eastern US Rail-Trails. The most notable thing was the grasshoppers all over the trail. As we approach they hop for their lives but only about half hop out of the way. The other half hop into our trikes. Unfortunately the hoppers max altitude seems to be about 2 ft which lets them hit us from head to toe. I suppose a bicycle rider might not even notice these little creatures other than as background visual noise and the occasional tingle on the shin.
The ride ended up being about 45 miles for the the day and on the return trip it started to get hot and limited shade.
Fire Department test hydrant

I think these are grain silos

Bridge as art

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Riding the Mt Desert Island carriage trails

Today we needed to be in Bangor in the morning so we decided to take the trikes down to Acadia National Park afterwards. We’ve been to the park before but never on the carriage trails so we asked at the ranger office which loop had the least climb, the response was the Jordan Pond loop and going CCW offered less steepness but longer climbs. Just driving through Acadia is a joy, you can hardly turn your head without seeing another spectacular view. It was a clear day so there were more long views than you could shake a stick at.
The carriage trails are a crushed gravel, chip stone, surface so lack of suspension in the trikes is obvious. But they are smooth enough at slower speeds. The ranger had recommended at least a hybrid bike but our trikes with 1.5 inch wide road tires had no problem but then we don’t have to worry about balancing . On some of the steeper climbs I could feel the rear tire slipping a little and could see Donna’s tire slip. I think if I were riding these trails routinely I’d opt for the widest tire with more grip and less pressure.
Much of the loop is just wooded and just as boredom starts to set in we’re treated to views of Bubble Pond. Next came Eagle Lake views and riding very close to it’s crystal clear water. Then we turned south to Jordan Pond. By this time we had been climbing for what seemed like most of the ride, the result was that our first views of Jordan Pond we were a hundred feet above. These last 2 miles we’re a pretty easy coast mostly back down to the Jordan Pond parking area. On this coast I hit my max of the day 19.5-mph. There were other areas that had steeper descents but rough trail, blind corners, other bikes, horses, and horse drawn carts kept the speed down.
No pictures though, left the camera at home. Just gives us another excuse to go back. We’re looking forward to exploring other trails and from the wiggles on the map they look to have serious climbing involved.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

First Ride in Maine, a little hilly compared to Florida:)

Today the big event was a 5.21 mile tike ride. We’ve been working on the house and more than a little afraid of the local hills so that here we are three weeks later and no rides. But today it’s Sunday the weather can’t be any better, a sunny, mild light breeze, and my belly is full, bacon and eggs. There are just no more excuses, so I finally decided to see if I could even get to the road down our driveway.  Our driveway is U shaped in elevation and gravel so it was questionable if the narrow tires would give enough grip to climb out. In short, yes I can, slowly, very slowly. Speed must be kept down due to the roughness and greatly increased braking distance. Once I successfully crossed the Rubicon (small creek our driveway crosses) I turned right on Belfast Rd, towards the roads namesake. An easy peddle over the crest (we’re near the peak of this ridge crossing) then start gaining real speed on the descent but I wanted to turn left on Suitor Rd which is only about a 200 yards down. Hit the brakes and something is wrong. I slow but there are other sounds and a pull to the right. I aim for the right shoulder where there is a wide spot. As I slow to a stop I release the brakes and the right one still is engaged. I too busy aiming and can’t look at the wheel/brake but I can note that something visible isn’t right. Once stopped it’s quickly obvious the problem, the right wheel quick release has released and is missing and the axle is partially out of the hub. This is not good, as in it couldn't be ridden. So now starts the search for the wayward parts. I figured that the inner axle support had to be within 50ft since the wheel will not roll properly and it was rolling fine until I started braking. Sure enough I found the axel support after 10 minutes on the roadside. But where was the quick release? Another 30 minutes search of the length of road from where I found the support and up but nothing. I decide to head home pushing the trike, the axle support will stay in for a little while so every 50ft or so I need to pick it up and reinstall.  I learned that pushing a tike is a pain since it’s so low. Luckily I had some light string that I tied to the handle bars and made towing very easy, note to self always carry tow string. Once I turned down the driveway I wondered if the quick release could have come out this far back so I kept looking as I walked and low and behold there it was about halfway to the house. I guess with weight in the trike the axle support will stay in place until some side load comes along.

Ok that event was not a 5 mile ride, more like 0.5 mile ride the 0.5 mile walk. Now I proceeded to do what I should have done before, check every quick release, the other axle was loose also, and adjust brakes. Now I was really ready for a ride.

I only averaged about 6.4 mph but to give you an idea of the hills I hit 40 mph on a hill I climbed earlier when returning and I had braked nearly halfway down and only then let the trike coast out. This series of hills are going to be a great workout routine. On exiting the driveway turn right towards Belfast after cresting the hill coast down to Suitor Rd and climb it’s first hill. The next descent gives enough energy to almost make the next climb on a coast. At the end of this road comes the real climb, turning left on Old County Rd. This has to be in the top 5 steepest hills I’ve ever done. Had to stop three times before making the peak but the view is spectacular. Those distant mountains in the picture are at least 20 miles away. I’m at about 1000 ft above sea level which is only 250 ft higher than our house. But I’m sure I’ve climbed at least 500 ft by this point. I turned around instead of going to Knox Center, I was already beat and going forward would have been more climbs than just turning around. The only hill I had to walk was on our driveway. The last section is too loose and my small tire just spins. 

I’ve already decided my next big goal will be to ride from Belfast at the sea level to that peak.