Saturday, May 29, 2010

New gear options

KMX's response to my request for buying a new boom and crankset from one of their higher end performance trikes was a boom from their X Trike. It's an older model 22/32/42 chainrings. The package includes a derailleur and another twist gear shifter. Calculating the gear chart, I found it look like this:

Compared to my current setup, my lowest gear inch would drop from 23.5 to 12.9. That's almost half! I'll have 3 full gears lower than my current 1st gear. That's definitely a plus, but it all comes at the sacrifice of potential higher gears. The new setup only gives me 4.2 additional gear inches on the higher end. 72.7GI's now vs. 76.4 after the new setup. If I'm going to spend money on modifying the drivetrain so heavily, I'd expect a bit more on the top end. Still considering this though.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Saw 2 bents!

As I hit the race track, I saw a bent! Not sure what brand it was, but it was one of the longer ones. A bent bike with a big faring. The guy was super slow. It took him 6.25 miles to lap me! When I first entered the track, I was going pretty fast about to overtake him. I took effort to slow down so I could see how long I could keep pace. I lasted about one lap. I headed home 18.5 miles later.

I never would've guessed the driver of the murdered out Dodge Charger I saw on my way home would have been a triker. But there it was, on the back of the car was a rack with a maroon colored tadpole bent trike with a black wheel cover on the rear drive wheel. We were going to opposite directions too fast for me to wave. I'm sure he saw me before I saw him. Maybe I'll see him again some time.

Clear skies with a chance of birds

Today, I had my first altercation with a car. The funny thing is the guy who had a problem with me was on the other side of the street heading the exact opposite direction. He stopped his car in the middle of the road to yell at me,


My one fingered glove was the last he saw of me.

I always tend to favor the bikes. Most bicyclists are also drivers, but not all drivers are bicyclists. Not only do bikes, trikes and pedestrians have right of way, but we're also much less of a threat. Unless a cyclist runs a red light, stop sign or cuts off a car, there's really no reason to be upset at someone who's made effort to pull over to the side of the street and just happens to be slower than a big chunk of metal with a motor.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I got shot

Well, it was my ego that got shot when a couple roadies lapped me 6x within an hour around the track. I had been keeping up only the first minute at 18-19mph. The momentI slowed to 14-16mph, the roadies passed me up big time.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Final Gear Inches?

My fitness level can be improved over the next year in preparation for the Aids Life Cycle, but so can my trike. Looking at gear inches was an objective way to analyze the capabilities and limits of the Tornado.

Without a place to attach a derailleur, my choices for modifying the gears is limited to the Schlumpf drives. Needing lower gears, I'm chasing down the Mountain Drive crankset.

After researching the web and discussing experiences and opinions of members of the forum, I've come up with this gear inch chart.

The 40T chain ring in the middle column is my current GI's. It'll be eliminated in the final design, but I've posted it here for convenient comparison. It will be replaced by the 21T and 52T chainrings.

The range will be 12.4-94.5GI. 12.4 will by my granny gear. The intention is for the 17.5GI combination to be used for big hills. The 12.4 will only be engaged for super steep bite my lip and cry hills. It'll be reserved as my emergency backup gear.

Changing the gears in the rear cog is enough to think about during my ride. In order to minimize the number of times I have to change from one chain ring to another, I am attempting to reserve the 27t ring for hills and 52t ring for regular riding. For this to work, my first gear under the 52t ring must be easy enough for me to start from a standstill. While riding, I've noticed that I'm most comfortable starting from stop in either 3rd or 4th gear, 38.1-44.4GI's.

This means my first gear on the 52t must be within that range. After calculating gear inches for 54t chain rings and 56t chain rings, I found the 52t chain ring fits the best. Since the 34t cog in the back is so far off from the 24t one, I'm designing the 24t cog to be my first gear. It therefore needs to fall within the 38.1-44.4GI range. Only the 52t chain ring makes this work.

The Mountain Drive has internal gears and creates a virtual chain ring that's 40% of the physical chainring. Doing the calcs, I find that my virtual chainring will be a 21t.

Out of budget

My recent purchases have raised my average $8 accessory streak. I've been buying stuff every few days and it's not good for the wallet. To keep my financial situation sane, I'll be reserving my new purchases in increments of achieving 300 miles.

The Louis Garneau jersey I bought on sale doesn't count and neither does my special order Bantrager shoes. All purchases after today will be on a strict 300 mile achievement system.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

ACCESSORY 34: Gloves $40 @ Cognition Cyclery

Maybe it was from my last experience on two wheels that tore the material off my ring finger glove. It was time to get another pair and after looking through at least 5 stores, I finally found a set. They didn't have my size and this particular style was rare. I had never seen it prior.

Lombardi's doesn't have it either, so I called up Cognition Cyclery to special order a pair since they specialize in the Specialized brand. The phone's ringing.

Can you please special order me a pair of Specialized gloves?
It's the Specialized GB Gel Long' black and white.
Oh, I think I might have those. Can you hold on while I go check?
We have 'em!

When I went in to pick them up at the counter where they held them for me, I asked if they were having any sales. The sale was apparently over, but the sales guy Eric hooked me up and knocked off 10%! Cheaper than if I were to order them from the Specialized website where I would've had to pay tax and shipping.

Crooked toes

I never really bothered checking my alignment accurately until this evening and found some bad news. Well, maybe bad news is good news. This means that when corrected, my trike might perform better! I'll hit the Polo Field again tomorrow to track any performance improvements.

The trike is designed to be toe-in 2mm. I pulled out the measuring tape and it was 10mm off!

My first crash

Some of the people that hang out at the track do just that. They hang out ON the track. Rather than go on the grassy fence-enclosed field or sit on the bleachers, they stand around on the pavement. More idiots. I'm riding by at my average 17mph and slow to about 7mph and eventually stop to let a 3 yr old girl pass by b/c her parents were to dumb to hang around someplace other than the middle of a race track. 2-3 seconds later, I feel a smack on the rear of my trike. It felt like an empty ice chest fell on my wheel. I turned back to see an 8 year old boy standing over his red bike that was now on the ground.

I picked up the bike for him, steadied the handlebars and urged him to get back on after confirming he was okay. He didn't speak much. He was probably scared and a bit guilty of what happened. I should have equally felt guilty for not looking in my right mirror when I stopped. The boy hopped on and I give him a slight push from the seat to give him a rolling start. He went along his way and the mother of the little girl later apologized. On my second lap though, her family was still on the race track. Come on folks. The field is to the left and the bleachers are to the right. Both surrounded by fences. Pick a side for god's sake. Hanging out in the middle of a track? Seriously? The tough part is I suck it all in b/c I don't want to give recumbent bikers/trikers a bad name. I use my bell at every lap, slow down, raise my hand to thank people. It's a pain in the butt though. Race tracks are clearly not for loitering.

My next visit to the track was a big improvement over my previous day's experience. The track was empty. All parents, friends and family were either on the field or the bleachers. Clearly a different crowd. The track was empty except for fellow cyclists and people walking on the track which is fine. It's NOT fine to stand there giggling and eating. And if you are folks, be aware of your surroundings.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Toe clips are good

I didn't really realize how good they were until I took them off to fit my new pedals in. My foot is slipping all over the place on bumps. With no suspension components on this basic entry-level trike, every road is a bumpy road. I might try those balloon style Schwalbe Big Apple tires after all.

I took such a steep climb during my trek this time that I could only pedal half a rotation! I had to brake in between and couldn't even set my rear emergency brake to take a photo! But at least at 23.5 GI (gear inch) I didn't have to roll up the hill with my hands like I did when I had the 28.6 GI from the stock freewheel.

Sand for lunch

Ooops. I guess trikes don't go through sand. I had a hard time pedaling through it last time, so I thought I'd try a different technique. So much for my idea. I ate a mouthful speeding through 7 feet of sand over pavement as I sped by at 17mph. It was probably only 2.5" at its deepest point but at least I made it through.

5 minutes later, I can still feel the grains of sand in my teeth.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


ACCESSORY 33: Cycling shoes $153 @ Chain Reaction Bicycles
Returning these so I can get them from Lomardi Sports for $107.

Although I've come across this brand before, I didn't really pay much attention to it until I saw it at Summit Bicycles. Every shop I stepped foot into seemed to be plastered with Shimano which I tried on later, but felt uncomfortable compared to the Bontrager. These Bontragers were in the middle price range way under the $249 pairs and just above the $100 ones.

In my search for cycling shoes, I've come across a number of brands before choosing the Bontrager RL:

The price range for this brand are from $170-$250 before tax. Both way beyond my budget and the quality doesn't seem to be any better than the Bontrager RL MTB shoe.

They have a good price range that goes across the board. Some are as low as $100 and priced even lower during sales. Of the three pairs I've tried on at Performance Bicycle and Chain Reaction Bicycles, they didn't feet that great.

Louis Garneau:
They look attractive and are competitively priced with the Bontrager, but again aren't as comfortable.

They're price ranges start at $275 and go up to over $400 a pair! Enough said. Their cheapest model look a lot like the pricier styles, but don't have a ratchet strap - 3 Velcros and have an ugly gloss black finish.

They're Razor style has a cool strap system that replaces most brand's Velcros, but they were out of my price range.

Bontrager (Model RL): My final choice.
It has the ratchet strap system, carbon fiber sole, high arch and all at $140 before tax. I'm getting it cheaper at Lombardi Sports where my wife gets a discount. They're on special order to arrive in 7-10 days when I get to pick them up! $107 after tax!

I slipped it on at Chain Reaction Bicycle and again it felt great! Being that these shoes are supposed to be super stiff, I figured the worst and expected it to feel like rental skates.

The most important part though is the fit. This is one thing I would never buy online w/o trying at a store first and by then, the store deserves the sale if they have good sales people and the price is decent. Ed from Chain Reaction treated me well when I visited the store, but the price difference of $153-$107 = $46 (30%) savings is too good to pass up.

To my surprise, they felt more like slippers! Not quite, but they felt as good as a new pair of casual shoes! The sales guy, Peter from Summit where I first tried these on said it was a hit or miss. Some people love them, while others can't stand the higher arch in the sole. He recommended the ratchet straps which I confirmed later after trying a few all velcro pairs did make a big difference in fitment.

After rejecting the purchase and heading home to do some research on the features and of course prices, I found it really does have more features than its competitors in the same price range. Very few shoes under $200 have carbon soles. I'm a carbon fiber addict, but I'm told these are stiffer than the rubber soles which I can imagine. I still think the differences would be too marginal to matter.

The sides look a bit funky, but I started to like it after awhile. I'm going for black over white shoes since white would easily get dirty and I've never been able to wear white shoes w/o looking like a clown. Some people can pull off the GAP look, but for reason it doesn't work on me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sweet pedals

ACCESSORY 32: Two-sided pedals $30.49 @

Straight from the mail! It's the XLC Alloy MTB Trekking dual sided pedals (466g, but who's counting). It's got clipless capabilities on one side and a regular flat pedal on the other. And the best part?

It goes with the color scheme! In all seriousness though, it was a happy discovery to find out that this product existed. Now if I decide to take the plunge and really get the cycling shoes, I and my friends can still use the flat side of the pedals with normal walking shoes.

Here's the flat side. I'm wondering if the plastic toe clips on my current pedals can be used on this pair. Although it's orange, I still want to put the reflectors back on. From the photo, there are two holes that look like it would work for mounting both the reflectors and toe clips. We'll see.

As an MTB style pedal, it only fits mountain bike shoes with the two holes as opposed to the road cycling shoes that need 3 holes. Although I don't plan to walk around much off of the trike, it's nice to have the choice. The road bike shoes are way too slippery and have zero tread/grip. From what I hear, riders can walk around with mountain bike shoes almost like normal while the road bike shoes are really uncomfortable off the bike. For me, the benefit of the road cycling shoes being more aerodynamic isn't worth the inconvenience. I'm not looking to race. I just want to finish the ALC.

In general, I typically don't care much about brand names, but I thought it was important when it came to pedals. Shoes will need to be high end enough to fit comfortably and be durable. The pedals need to be the same way. XLC's website is hard to Google. It's

My concern with this purchase was that it might not come with the cleats, but here they are! These little pieces of metal can cost $25 a pair when purchased separately!!! Glad they're included in the set. Enough talking. Installation tomorrow!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

1.48 mile hill

I took my first long hill climb this afternoon. I was surprised to look down at my computer to see a distance of that far. Although it felt hard on the legs, I didn't expect the distance to be that far. Maybe the ALC won't be that bad after all.

I'm thinking I still need more gears though. The 34t cog granny gear helps a lot - tons actually, but I'm just desperate for another lower gear for treading on hills hours at a time. Maybe I just need to take frequent but short breaks. I can recover fairly quickly, but the hill climbs are still a bust.

Bay to Breakers

It's not every day that a lady leprechaun asks to sit on my lap. It must be Bay to Breakers. Wow, that's a lot of characters. I saw animals, people and food. People were dressed as a,

The Pope
Adam and Eve

Yes, and even naked people. Two naked guys and a naked girl and she was not of the ugly looking variety.

People get pretty rowdy afterwords. Litter everywhere. People walking, running, jogging, biking on the wrong side of the road. Some would just stand there and block the intersection and even the handicap crosswalk ramp. It's fun to see the crazies, but from a distance. The smell of pot and beer was everywhere even though this year beer was banned from the event.

Teeth Shattering

Literally. Now I know why my bottom row of teeth have been hurting lately. I've been grinding them on hills! With zero suspension, the trike bobs up and down over every pebble and pothole. Will teeth guards be my next accessory? Teeth guards for triking? Hmm, not sure about that.

This just confirms that I really need new tires. I've read the Schwalbe Big Apples are popular tires for their suspension since they're of the balloon style. Lots of air. Lots of cushioning.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


If you asked me two years ago or even 2 months ago if I would have ever even considered a pair of these, I would have flat out said no. But after looking at all the ALC photos on Flickr, I have yet to see anyone w/o them. The road bikes have a weight advantage. I need to do whatever I can to at least get a chance of keeping up w/these guys.

I tried on my first pair of clippless shoes today and to my surprise, they were super comfortable! The Bontrager RL's were the only ones within my budget and even then, it was still pricey. I don't remember the last time I spent more than $75 on shoes and this pair is a whopping $139 + tax.

I've chosen mountain these MTB (Mountain Bike) shoes b/c they're the only ones that I can wear as regular shoes off a the trike. The road ones are all plastic underneath and have zero tread. The MTB ones are also good for commuting. You don't have to worry about walking into Starbucks and tripping standing in line in discomfort. So MTB's it is.

I have yet to try on the Diadora X-Trails. These are also MTB shoes that will fit the clippless pedals I just bought (to arrive in the mail by 5/21).

Nomad Cyclery is history

The technician, Justin is cool but his boss is driving me nuts. He won't let Justin work on my trike! Every time I go into the shop, he's always standing around telling me,

We don't work on bikes on Saturdays.
We don't work on bikes on Saturdays.

He literally says it at least 3x every time I'm in there. But he's always following up with how if I bring it in early, they can work on it. I did exactly as he asked the last two times. The first time I brought it in at 9am when they opened in the morning. The second time, I brought it in on Friday evening before closing so they would have it to work on first thing Saturday. Yet, what do I hear from this guy?

We don't work on bikes on Saturdays. The technician working on the bike is fine, but the way the shop is run is getting irritating. I should be able to bring my trike in once and have multiple things done w/o having to bring it back every week for them to work on for a few minutes here and there. Splitting it up hurts their time and hurts my wallet. Why is it that every time I go back to pick up the bike, it ends up costing 3x more than the estimate???

How much would this cost to install?
About $10-15.
Ends up costing $35

I've spent $110 there already in just adjustments and installations!

DD Cycles here I come! The shop seems like it's empty. He spent quite a bit of time with me last time giving me advice. He's yet to call me back about modifying my trike though. The only drawback of this shop is that it takes a huge hill to get there. Good practice!
Shimano 11-34T Freewheel Review: Installation $30 @ Nomad Cycles

I was waiting a few days for this and quite eager about how this low gear would feel like. This freewheel may be my only hope making it through the hills of the ALC. Going into the shop to pick up my trike, I was a bit afraid that the low gear wouldn't be noticeable enough, but even with the same 7 gear configuration, I felt like I was getting a better low end gear and a better high end gear.

The best way to review the new freewheel will be to compare it to the old wheel. I can definitely feel the jump. 1st gear really is like getting a third extra low gear!

Although it easily could have been the new asphalt that I'm not used to riding on that made me fast, I found myself flying by at just under the average speed of cars along the road going 20-23mph. It felt great! While I previously topped out at gear 7 with lots more energy to spin, I feel like I now have an extra top gear!

With the old freewheel, I found myself using gear's 1 and 2 on steep inclines and 6 and 7 for flats. Gear 2 and 3 gets me started from a standstill. What does this mean? I barely use gear 4 and 5! These middle gears really have no use for me other than to give me a smooth transition to the other gears on the high and low ends.

With the new Shimano, I can start from a standstill on gear 4 and tend to use gear 5 most frequently. It will be interesting to compare the two freewheels to see why my use of gears has changed.

28-24-21-19-17-15-13 (OEM KMX supplied freewheel)
34-24-21-18-15-13-11 (Shimano MegaRange)

Interesting! Gears 2 and 3 are exactly the same between the two freewheels. I can start from a standstill on either and still do! I was worried that I was getting a 34t gear at the expense of losing the 24t and 21t, but it looks like those remain unchanged.

The reason I'm using gear 5 so often now is b/c it was my old gear 6. I only popped it into seven after I reached a really fast speed and wanted another bump up. Now I have two more gears to bring my speed up after I get some momentum in 5th gear. All in all, it was a good purchase. No regrets.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Double vision

Seeing double? Do these accessories look familiar?

The training sessions for the AIDS Life Cycle require riders to have two water bottles - one for water and one for electrolytes like Powerade. While I doubled up on the hydration package, I thought I'd also take the Amazon shopping opportunity to get another matching mirror for the right side.

My main concern about getting this mirror was that the yellow logo sticker wasn't removable. I was worried that when installed on the right side as-is, the logo would be upside down since it's designed to be put on the left handlebar. Luckily Blackburn made this sticker super easy to remove. At the same time though, the glue behind it is still gooey enough to put it back on upside down w/o putting on any extra glue or tape. Here's the final product. The mirror is now mirrored.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blog this blog that

I've started a new blog to record my AIDS Life Cycle thoughts separately from this one. The new blog will be for potential sponsors. Have a peek here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gear me up

ACCESSORY 31: Freewheel $27.50 @ Nomad Cyclery

The climbs are really killing me and I have trouble admitting that it's my poor health and fitness that's to contribute to my pain and burning quads. These road bicyclists have something up their sleeve that I don't know about.

It's the gears! I called up a bunch of bicycle shops (since my mechanic, Justin from Nomad Cyclery won't be in until 12:30pm) and asked how comfortable they would be in modifying a recumbent trike.

Most are reluctant b/c of their unfamiliarity with them, but they're basically the same as bikes. Others don't want to touch it b/c it takes up too much store space. Why let a trike take up the space of 5 paying customer's bikes? From a business perspective, I get it. But it's frustrating. Justin's boss hates having the trike in there, but at least Justin's cool with it at the shop and since he's the one working on it, I'm liking the place.

I learned from Mike at DD Cycles this morning that my trike is hard to modify b/c it has a freewheel as opposed to a cassette that can easily be modified. Cassettes pretty much replaced the freewheel setup since the 80's. Mike said it would be hard finding a freewheel better geared for hills. They're just not as available anymore these days.

It was time to pay a visit to my mechanic, Justin and my trip paid off! Justin hooked me up with a hard to find, now discontinued part! It's a freewheel geared for hills! The original freewheel (above photo) is 13-28. This new one, the Shimano Mega Range is a 11-34! What does this mean?

After researching the web and talking to a couple guys, I sort of figured it out.

We all know to shift a car into low gear when climbing hills. We never see the actual gears in the car, so it may be a bit hard to understand the mechanics behind it.

First off, some definitions I learned. The cluster of gears on the rear wheel is either a cassette or in my case, a freewheel. Each individual ring is called a cog.

The lower gears in fact are the larger cogs- not the smaller ones. It's a bit counter intuitive until you think about the physics of it. The easiest way for me to think about it is to just remember that the larger cog provides more help to the pedals or chain ring up front - the big cog is for big hills. The largest cog with the red MegaRange writing on it in the photo is the lowest gear used for climbing steeper hills. This particular one is a 34t cog (t in 34t stands for tooth).

This 11-34t has two benefits over the 13-28t and all for only $25 plus tax! I'm still having a hard time getting over the price tag. So cheap. I've seen others in the hundreds. It's my favorite mod so far (for my trike AND my car).

1. The 11 gives me better speed on the flats compared to the existing 13.
The non-discontinued, readily available, order-it-from-the-internet-and-get-it-in-five-days freewheels that would fit my bike are 14-34t. That means I would actually lose speed on the flats (since 14 is higher than 13 and therefore a larger and slower gear). I'm lucky I got a hold of this Shimano freewheel. I originally left the freewheel at the store for Justin to install it next week, but after researching how hard it is to find, I went back to pick it up so it doesn't accidentally get sold to someone else.

2. The 34t cog gives me tons better hill climbing capabilities compared to the current 28t cog (hopefully).
It'll be like having three extra low end gears. I can't wait to put this bad boy on and see how well it works. Notice that the difference between the largest cog at the bottom (lowest gear) and the second largest is really extreme. There's a big difference in diameter and it's not gradual like the remaining ones stacked on top in an upside down cone shape.

The high end and low end it good to know, but I'm curious how many teeth the middle cogs have. I just counted and the number of teeth for each of the 7 cogs and it is:


The higher gear cogs are spaced closer together - 2 teeth apart. The low gear cogs are spaced a bit higher at 3 teeth apart. Interesting....

The trike will shift down fairly smoothly from gear 7 to 2, but once I hit the final "bail out" gear, I'm expecting to feel like Superman. If I can climb hills more easily, I'm up for the AIDS Life Cycle! ALC, here I come!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Until next time

After much thought, research and comments about training and what to expect at the AIDS Life Cycle, I've decided to postpone the ride until next year. While most are training for 4-6 months, I have only 3 weeks left before the event. As a amateur cyclist using a trike weighing 2x more than the roadbikes of my counterparts, I'm already at a disadvantage. I think the trike can make it, but it needs a few modifications.

1. Clipless pedals.
I've never used these before and I have yet to purchase a set. I'm eyeing a couple models, but by the time it arrives in the mail and I install it, I won't have much ride time left before the event. From what I hear about the benefits of the efficiency gained by using clipless pedals, it should provide me with a big improvement in climbing. We'll see.

2. Matching cycling shoes
This is pretty much a set with item #1. I'll be picky about which ones I choose. It may take awhile too b/c this is one thing I don't want to buy online w/o trying on first at a store to get a sense of the comfort and fit.

3. Road tires
I ordered the Schwalbe Big Apples since so many people recommend them for recumbents. I'll give them a try to see if it was worth the change.

4. Larger rear wheel
I'm considering a 24" or a 26" to see if I get any improvement in climbing or at least distance. I'm worried how drastically this will change the feel of my gears. Larger wheels require more torque, right?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

27 miles

That's the most I've ridden in a single run. I don't think I got off the trike for more than 3 minutes for a snack and a bathroom break. Photos of my bathroom break below. I'd say 40% of my ride today was uphill.

I pretty much reached my limit which worries me. At least 10 road bikers passed by me on the way up the hill returning to SF from Sausalito.

I think my endurance is just fine. It's my strength that needs improving. After a long uphill climb, I'm not breathing hard like I am normally after a 3 mile jog on the treadmill. My feet aren't really even in pain either - at least not in the beginning.

I just can't pedal as hard as I need to to move the 190lb's of trike and body. This photo is from a pier on the SF side. 40 minutes later I was in Sausalito where I made my new speed record. If it wasn't for the dogs that I was worried about running over, I may have gone past 33.1 mph. You can imagine the length and steepness of the hill I dropped down. I was dreading the return trip, so I considered taking the ferry back to SF. There I met a friendly guy named Art at the Sausalito Ferry station who was telling me about how he's gone at least 60 mph on his bike! My new goal is 40 mph before the end of the year. I don't think the weight of the trike could as easily hit 60+. I just need to find a hill steep enough and wide enough. It's the turns that make it fun.

So how many porto-potties need to be supplied for 700 girl scouts? At least 26! I never know what's going on the city until I trike around discovering new activities. I guess there was a girl scout convention. I have literally never seen that many girl scouts in one place. On my way up the hill, I saw a sign:

No biking. Please walk you bike.

Ugh, really? I asked the Security guy nearby if it'd be okay that I pedal thinking he'd let me since he knows I'd have trouble pushing the thing. He was nice enough to let me through. Yes!

Where can you find 500 Koreans in SF? I don't have photos, but there was a Korean picnic event this afternoon in Golden Gate park.

New discovery: Parts of Golden Gate Park are closed on Saturdays too! I thought it was just Sundays! Looks like I'm doubling my trike time.

The photos I took this time have been edited using Photoshop and Protomatix to mimmick an HDR look.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Training Day 1

First day of training. There wasn't much time this evening, but I was able to clock in 11.31 miles. I averaged only just over 7mph due to stop signs and hills.

On the way back I made a friend. It took me awhile to get the camera, so by the time I was ready to snap a picture, he moved back behind the gate. See the raccoon's glowing eyes?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lock me up

ACCESSORY 30: Lock bracket $3.75 @

Perhaps the only thing missing from my Timbuk2 bag is a Vietnamese sandwich. There isn't much room to stuff anything more than my essentials after loading it with the lock, tool, signal wristbands, pressure gauge, wallet, garage door opener and camera. I already leave my keys at home to lighten the load. The lock had to go and this little sub $4 bracket made it happen. It looked superbulky in the packaging, but it looks to be the perfect size once installed.

With this installation, I'll be trusting people a bit less and using this lock a bit more. I typically have to remove a bunch of things before getting to the lock that normally sits on the bottom of the Timbuk2 bag. Often times I don't bother and just set the alarm and call it good. Now it's easily accessible. The only bad thing about this accessory is that there is no latch! It doesn't snap into place or anything! The lock simply slides in/out of the bracket. There's no click nor button. When I turn my trike vertical to store it, the lock drops right out. Hopefully it will stay secure on steep hills and bumps. I'll report back in a month to see if I've lost my lock yet.

"How Far Have You Ridden?"

Aside from, "Is it comfortable?," people are always asking me,

How far have you ridden?

One day I'd like to be able to answer with two words,

Los Angeles.

During my ride last week, someone stopped me to ask if I've ridden from SF to LA. He's claimed to have done it, but it took 14 days round trip! I did a bit of research and found a group of recumebent trike riders who did it. Apparently it happens every year and it's called the Aids Lifecyle. The next event will be the nineth year and it's coming up soon - June 6-12.

I've been watching some youtube videos and doing a bit of research and found a blog of someone's experience. From the looks of it, about 2500 people rode last year. 8 trucks of bags. Can you imagine?

I'm registered! Please support the trip by visiting this website:
AIDS Life Cycle 9.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Can you hear me now?

ACCESSORY 29: Bluetooth MP3 headset $67 @

Since I lost my bluetooth headset earbud and almost the headset itself last week, I knew I'd be vulnerable to lose it again and perhaps next time I wouldn't be so lucky to find it again. There weren't any worthy competitors, so I picked up the Motorola S9-HD.

Two years ago, I was looking at this same unit. Motorola used to have a red and black version which would have matched the trike perfectly, but the sound quality has been improved in the newer HD version and this upgraded version is also more resistant to sweat/moisture. It's rained on me a couple times during my trike rides, so I picked up the new one.

After searching on ebay for an alternative, I found a couple knockoffs for $25 shipped. As enticing as it was, I did some more research and found the knockoff made-in-China versions would break easily, doesn't hold a charge for nearly as long and the flap that covers the USB charging port doesn't close properly. That and a bit of advice from my wife as enough to set me straight and buy the real deal.

The cheapo one would have to break 2-1/2 times before it paid for a single genuine one. How likely is that to happen? Probably not very likely, but the other problems with it made me choose the Motorola one. Although I have yet to try it (it's charging now), I have no regrets yet. Let's see how this puppy performs!


I'm listening to the headset now and I feel like how that kid commenting on the surry felt. A startled, "Oh wow," left my lips. No smile. I was almost mad at how I could possibly be surprised by this unit. I've almost every review online and didn't expect at all the amazing quality that comes out of this set. It's now well worth the money and I'm seeing where my $62 went. I knew this was called HD, but I expected it to just be all marketing hype. I really didn't expect the quality of sound I'm hearing from his headset. Motorola did a great job with this one. The sound quality really is excellent.

The unit itself is much smaller than I thought. Seeing reviews on Youtube and various photos online, it looked really big. I was a bit worried but pleasantly surprised when I pulled it out of the box to find it very compact. It's built very sturdy w/o being heavy. I thought for sure that reviewers were exaggerating when they said they would almost forget that they're wearing the headset. Now that I'm wearing it, I can easily see how that can happen.

The buttons stick out just enough that it can be felt, at least w/o gloves on since I'm sitting in the living room now. I'll wait to see how easily I can press the buttons with a gloved finger.... works! I can easily press the buttons even with the gloves on. It'll take me a bit to get used to exactly where the buttons are. Each side has three buttons. It helps that the center button is raised less to help orient which buttons are which.

Shades of grey

ACCESSORY 28: Sunglasses $52 @ REI (after 20% membership discount)

This might be the first Brazillian product I've ever knowingly purchased! At competitive prices, it's no wonder Tiffosi is number one in sales for sunglasses sold to runners. They have a 44.13% marketshare! They're apparently also very popular with bicyclists.

While glasses manufacturers call their self tinting technology Transition lenses, Tiffosi has trademarked Fototec lenses which provides the same conveniences. The Tiffosi Tyrant (frame style) Night Light (lens type) transmits between 25%-75% of the sunlight depending on how bright or dark it is.

Although you can't really tell while wearing the sunglasses, from outside, the lenses do tint quite a bit from almost completely clear to a shade of grey where onlookers can barely see my eyes. While most sunglasses that are dark enough to reduce glare in the sun would be unusable around sundown, these Tiffosi Tyrant sunglasses work perfectly for both. They're clear for my dusk to night rides and dark for my weekend sunny day rides.

So far these lenses have been perfect. I would hate to swap out lenses or sunglasses every time I'm under a different riding condition.

The cost is also a huge benefit. The lenses on the Oakleys alone which I had considered would have cost more than the price of my pair of Tiffosi's with the frame, soft and hard cases. The custom Oakey's I was eyeing was over $200 compared to these Tiffosi's for just over $50.

I also looked at the 2010 lineup from Specialized. They're prices were a bit better than Oakleys and would have drew me back about $150. Tiffosi's pricetag got me hooked and the performance so far has been impressive. Although I have no regrets on the purchase so far, I'm still considering the Specialized pair in the future if I can part with my hard earned money.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Put on a rubber

ACCESSORY 27: Bike Brake $3.24 @

My first thought after seeing this product on Joel Waxman's recumbent bike blog (link to the right) was, "OMG did someone just pay over $3 for a rubber band?" That's way too expensive. You could get a similar wristband for either free at a promotional event or $1 at Walgreens.

How often will I need an emergency brake? Won't I typically be on the trike and can just put my foot down? Not very and yes. However, there are times that I do need to get off the trike and the Bike Brake would be perfect. Sometimes I need to do maintenance on it and would rather not take my chances of it rolling down my driveway or into the street. It's nice to have a brake when I'm on my break. I'm also an accessory addict and fulfilling my needs for $2.99 + tax isn't too shabby.

One month later, I gave in. My velcro strip wasn't working too well. When not in use, it would be too loose and dragged onto my bell making it almost useless. It was too much of a hassle to strap it on and off. For a piece of rubber, $3.24 is way overpriced. But for a trike accessory, it's 1/2 the price of my average $8 price tag for accessories. The dollar amount was low, so I made the order two days ago and already it hit my mailbox. A++ to a great seller.

The benefit of this product over other options is that unlike a rubber wristband, the Bike Brake is tight enough to hug the handlebar w/o any slack. It stays out of the way when not in use. The same benefit can also be a drawback b/c it's definitely more difficult to engage than a more loosely fit rubber wristband. It looks like the inventor considered this and designed a couple tabs to make it more easily engaged. See the tabs in the first image of the original packaging.

Here it is engaged. It definitely holds well. I have yet to try it in action while wearing gloves. Should I have gotten a red one?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Boy interupted

I admit I was a bit jealous of the attention the 4-wheeled 4-person bike was getting from a 7-year old boy who clearly had only just seen this surry for the first time. But that didn't last long.

I was following closely behind as the kid here at Golden Gate park interrupted himself as he saw the trike while making a comment to his dad about the surry.

Daddy, I want to sit on....

Then when he saw my trike following close behind, he froze and whispered to himself under his breath,


The look of shock was priceless. His jaw was open. His body stood still. Only his head followed the movement of the trike. No smile. No facial response.

The best reactions I've gotten from the trike are those of complete silence. The boy paused for a good 4 seconds while absorbing what he just saw me riding before continuing to plead to his dad. His smile started to take shape. Cheek to cheek.

Dad! Dad!
Look at that bike!