Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm on Page 8

...of Adam Rice's blog. Thoughts so far? Well, I need to remind myself that this isn't an ALC ride. There won't be designated rest stops every 15-20 miles and there sure as hell won't be a bunch of people cheering me on to continue. This'll be a sad and lonely ride. Do I really want to do this? Yes, I think it'll be good for me. Although I can compete, I was never much of an athlete and school wasn't my forte. This ride will be more of a self accomplishment than anything else.

The ride will definitely be more mental than physical. I can feel that already. Being alone for 2 months straight? Riding in deserts? Eating alone? What will all that be like? And anyone who I see along the way riding a bike or trike embarking on the same mission won't be Chinese. I'll tell you that much.

I am riding across the United States of America on a trike

Yes, really.

If I ever had a life goal in terms of self accomplishments, it's this: I'm going to ride a recumbent trike across North America. Yeah, I know. It's nuts and it'll take no less than 2 months. I'm not a camper but then again I wasn't much of a cyclist either. A handful of people have already done it and only one died - not from the trip. Their documentation on the blogs should be adequate in prep for my own journey. See new list of links to the right under, "Long Distance Trike Riders."

The only question is when will I be doing this? I probably should have done it this year just after the ALC ride, but I was never really serious about the trek until about 3 minutes ago. When else will I have 2 months off? Not sure, but when it happens and Angela's comfortable taking care of the kids while I'm away, I'm leaving. I'll be cool if I do it when our kids are old enough to appreciate what their dad's embarking on.

Until then, whether it's 2 years from now or 20 years, I'm reading all I can in prep for this insane once in a lifetime ride. I'm in no hurry. I need to give Apple some time to develop their Ipad 4 and/or Iphone Nano. So for all those who are saying, "Don't do it. Don't do it. It's too dangerous," I'm doing it. I have enough time to prepare, so off I go to the internet world for research....

Oh and no, I'm not going in cold turkey. I'll take a few week long tours to see what I'm up against as training for the epic ride. It'll be insane. Lonely, but insane.

Monday, August 29, 2011

XShot Test Shot

Just before 4pm, my package arrived from the little white truck. I heard it coming.

Maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised since I've seen photos of this thing before, but this pole is a bit beefy.

All the reviews on this thing were right on. It's definitely a quality piece. I'm sure it's more durable than the $10 competition ones I saw on Amazon. It's got that HTC cell phone type of finish on the handle. The telescopic extension does have two grooves on either side to keep each section from rotating. This keeps the camera as steady as your hand can keep it. After using it for a few test shots, I found that it's pretty good for keeping the camera level. Especially when you're not looking, it would otherwise be tough to tell if the camera is level to the ground. By putting a finger on the grooves, you can easily tell if you're in the proper position.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


While waiting for the Xshot camera extension to arrive, guess what popped in the mail? My DV MD80 mini camera! I bought this thing for under $12 shipped. I wasn't expecting it from China for another couple of weeks, but here it is!

Some call it a thumb camera b/c that's about the size of it. It comes with a variety of clips and brackets for mounting. One of them even has a magnet on it for securing to things like....a trike!

I took it for a spin and the quality reflects that of a $11.56 item, but what more can you ask for. It's designed as a spy camera - not really for super high quality videos. You get what you pay for I suppose. But as a bonus feature, it even has a sound sensor so that it only turns on after hearing a 60db sound. Pretty neat.

While doing some research on this thing, I came across a Youtube video of another product that probably would have been a lot better for filming first person videos. At the bridge of the sunglasses is a little camera lens.

The fat arms house controls, a microphone, micro SD card slot and an MP3 Player. The lenses aren't photocromic nor polarized, but it's crazy what you can get for $11.50 shipped from China these days.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rig me up

Most people won't want to spend 50 miles with me on a bike, so how else can I give them the next best thing? Video footage.

I spent 40 minutes this afternoon putting together a camera rig to get some footage of me on the trike. My arm isn't long enough and it hasn't grown the past year. I decided to use a 5'-0 long cardboard tube I found laying around the garage from one of our living room rugs. It was strong and a good length so I figured it'd work.

With a little bit of strong double sided 3M tape and the Monkey Grip Tripod, I figured I had it set. Hahah. It only took 30 minutes to realize it wasn't going to work. The camera kept falling to the side and during playback everything would be 45 degrees off or worse - completely upside down.

Unfortunately even if the rig did work out, I won't be carrying around a 5 foot long cardboard tube everywhere I go. I thought about strapping something to the underside of the trike, but there's got to be a better way.

Even with my background in design and construction, I figured I could fabricate something really cool but mounting it and unmounting it would still be an issue and to carry around a rig on a trike w/no panniers would be a hassle.

Not much luck today.

If nothing else, I've at least been able to entertain the UPS truck driver that stations near my house during his lunch break. I'm sure this afternoon was the first time he's ever seen a weird three-wheeled bicycle thingy rolling down the street with a cardboard tube attached to the end. That'll be his last time b/c I'm getting a new rig.

It's called the Pocket XShot - normally $30 plus shipping and tax but of course I don't pay full price for much. $20 shipped from Amazon sounds about right. It'll be here Tuesday. We'll do some test shots then.

So what's this thing do? It's basically an extension arm for the camera. It telescopes out much like an old school tv cable antenna. Cameraman holds the handle and the camera sits on the other end. Only 7.5" long but will extend up to 30.5".

It seems kind of stupid at first. $20 for a long stick? But it's not so much about the product as it is about the value of what you can get with this little gizmo. After seeing some videos on youtube of people using this, I'm convinced that it'll help me get some footage that I otherwise won't be able to get.

During my last ride with the boys, I tried getting some closeup shots of their rides but it can get a bit dangerous riding so close with cars, pedestrians and other obstacles to look out for. This extension should help. Also when reclined on the recumbent, it's tough to get over-the-head shots. If I can extend the camera 30.5" + the length of my arm, I can get some pretty neat shots not otherwise achievable with just my body.

How else did I convince myself to spend $20 on this stick? I figured I could use it for more than just triking. Vacation photos! Maybe our future vacation photos will include shots of me too instead of just the wifey. This camera on a stick would come in handy during cool outdoor activities too like snowboarding. I wish I had it when we went parasailing earlier this month. I'm sure after I get it, I'll find more and more uses for this little gadget.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hase Pino Tandem?

Funny name, eh? I've added another bent to my dream list: Hase Pino Tandem. It's a two-wheeler my wife and I can ride together.....if she was willing and....if we wanted to spend $4,900 on a ride.

Something about a white one get's me excited. I've been loving this color for the past 3 yrs on everything from trikes to cars. It accents the black very well. This particular model is the fancier version. I think it's $7k before tax and shipping. Ouch. That's like the price of a used car.

Yes, both riders can pedal at different speeds. No, both riders cannot steer the vehicle - only the rear upright rider. Yup, that means being the person in the front is a bit scary. At least the front rider (pilot) has a set of brakes for approaching a stop sign or traffic light. But once the tandem arrives at the intersection, it's the rear rider (stoker) who usually puts his feet down. The pilot stays put just praying that the tandem doesn't fall over.

I saw one of these at the ALC. It was ridden by a mother and son team. I bet if they weren't already close, they learned to be after the 7-day 545 mile ride.

Maybe when the wife and I retire and we don't have many other things to do and we have a few thousand to throw around, we might get this. Until then, it's nothing more than a new post on my blog. *Sniff sniff*.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mommy, it's raining!

So my new ALC bud just ordered a Catrike Expedition. And this was just 2 days after receiving a HP Velotechnik Speed Machine! So jealous. Anyway, I was researching how it would look in green and was surprised I came across some Catrike photos I've never seen before.

Covered trikes! That's actually a very clean look! It's not as dorky and home-made looking as the one's I've come across before. I'd ride this thing!

And if you want full protection, there's an expansion pack! Look mom, I'm covered! That's pretty cool. You can actually ride in full rain and even your legs stay dry. This might be the funkiest trike I've ever seen.

It's tough to actually imagine what it's like riding it until you see this pic! Now that's pretty cool isn't it? I could do without the trailer though. So where can you get one of these? Click here.

If I want my wife to ride with me, I'll have to get one of these for her. This one's definitely more dorky looking. It doesn't have the clean lines of the one above, but it definitely provides more sun coverage. Where to get this? Click here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Drooling over a carbon fiber lowracer

It pretty much speaks for itself. And when the price is $1,500 it's so sad to not get it.

It's got my dream wheel and it's made of my favorite material - carbon fiber! Even the seat is made of carbon. I picked up one of these seats at a store before and it weighs less than a stack of paper plates.

And if you're not gawking at that, you'll surely notice the slick looking wheels. Wow! Yup, those are carbon too.

The fact that it's a lowracer means you can keep yourself up using your hands! No immediate need for a stand. Unless you actually ride on grass, it's better to wear some gloves though!

Other than the fact that the seller on BROL has no history and this could be a complete scam, I'm not sure why this ride hasn't already been sold.


I heard this turn thrown around but never really cared to look for what it really meant.

And then I found this. Looks like a mountain bike doesn't it? But notice how the seat isn't directly over the pedals. Trek calls this a "comfort bike," but many with more extreme angles are known as "crank forward" bikes.

A bit of a cross btw a traditional DF bike and a recumbent.

Here's one that's a bit more recumbent. Almost looks like a regular bike - just a bit longer and appears to be more aerodynamic. Yup, that's an Aerospoke rim on the back. Looks good! I wonder what it's like to ride one of these Rans crankforwards.

What is a velomobile?

Whenever I bring up a velomobile, people ask exactly what that is. Here's a great picture that shows what's underneath that fiberglass skin - a trike!

It's still weird how the weight is offset by the decrease in wind resistance. These things are fast!

Bay Trail & Los Gatos Trail Ride

Although our computers all calculated different mileage, we've determined that we covered about 43 miles yesterday.

It was our first Norcal BROL bent ride with more than 2 people! We celebrated with some good food! Not really. It was more of a bathroom break with a pre-lunch bonus.

Hey! Look who I got into riding a bent! I'm guessing BROL will soon have a new member. Paul here on a Speed Machine road with me on this year's past ALC ride. This is our second ride together. I'm still jealous of that suspension.

If you want to know what recumbent serenity looks like, this is it. "On top of the world!" as Mike likes to say. One of the best things about a trike? When you arrive, you're there. No getting up. No finding a place for your ride. Just relax.

Look who else relaxed with us? None other than this 92 year old fella (who looks 78 years young). After staring a bit at the trike, Mike invited him to have a seat and that he did. Is he sleeping in this pic? Naw, just caught him in mid blink.

Do you really use all 72 gears?

My trike has 72 gears. Do I use all of them? No.

While explaining some info and sharing some opinions on trike gearing to one of the fellow members of the bentrideronline forum here, I analyzed my gearing and calculated how many of the 72 gears I actually use. Let's start with what I do NOT use.

- I never engage the IGH while in the middle chain ring.
That means the available gears in both low and high gears of the IGH are unused in the middle chain ring. It would be redundant to do so b/c it would pretty much just give me many of the gears I could otherwise just get by not engaging the IGH at all and just shifting to one of the other (smaller/larger) chain rings.

Since the IGH has 3 gears (neutral, low and high) and is matched with an 8-speed cassette, there are at least 8 x 2 = 16 gears I do not use.

- I also never engage the IGH to the low gear while in the large chain ring.
That's 8 unused gears. That's too similar to the gears in the middle chain ring w/o the IGH engaged. Remember that the IGH has some inefficiencies when engaged. In the neutral position, it's 100% efficient. So therefore, it's much preferred to not engage the IGH unless you have to.

- I also never engage the IGH to the high gear while in the small chain ring.
That's another 8 unused gears. This setup introduces more usable gears than the situation above, however switching back and forth btw chain rings and engaging/disengaging the IGH is something I want to avoid. For simplicity, I'd like to engage the IGH only t0 reach the extreme high and low gears for equally extreme situations. It is not to be used during normal riding.

- I don't use about 5 of the lowest cassette gears while on the largest chain ring with the IGH on high.
That's 5 unused gears. Since I've reserved the IGH for only the high and low end gears, there's really no use for all 8 gears in the large/small chain rings with the IGH engaged.

- I don't use about 4 of the highest cassette gears while on the smallest chain ring with the IGH on low.
That's 4 unused gears. Same as above.

So of the 72 gears on my trike, 16 + 8 + 8 + 5 + 4 = 41 are unused. I guess you could saying having these 41 "extra" gears is a side effect to the drivetrain modification that enables me to have ultra low 8GI and high gear inches of 97.

Q: So again, how many of the 72 gears do I use?
A: 72 (available) - 41 (unused) = 31 gears.

Wow, that's pretty astonishing! I only use 31 gears? That's less than half the gears. I just realized that! Time for a graphic.

Taking a closer look at the bottom left corner and top right corner of the gear chart, you'll notice there are overlapping gears when compared to the center three columns. Technically, the IGH only needs to be used to achieve the lowest granny gear producing an 8.9GI.

The second to last lowest gear of 11.7GI is too close to the IGH in neutral while in the smallest chain ring. That produces 11.9GI's. I can't say I can notice a 0.2GI difference.

This all means I don't really need three of the lowest gears with the IGH engaged on low while in the smallest chain ring.

Using the same logic with the high end gears with the IGH engaged on high, I don't really need the 68.8GI gear. The use of it would be purely for convenience. There are other ways to achieve this GI (w/o engaging the IGH).

So in real life use of trike, I actually only use 31 - 4 = 27 gears! Does that number look familiar? It's what's attainable with a 9-speed 3 chain ring crankset road bike. Though the number of gears are the same, the range definitely isn't equal to my setup.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What would I do differently for ALC 11?

I attended an ALC event this evening before watching Stuffed and Unstrung, the Jim Hansen puppet show. While waiting for the slideshow to begin, I was put on the spot by one of the other ALC participants (who happened to be a high school classmate) when he asked me, "Are you riding again this year?"

Err, uh....um....

It got me thinking about what I would do differently if I did ride again in next year's Aids Life Cycle. There's a bunch of things I could do differently, but how can I be more prepared? The list begins now:

1. Bring an alarm clock so that I won't have to use up cell phone juice throughout the night.

2. Buy thermal underwear way ahead of time - months ahead. No one sells that stuff weeks before b/c it's out of season. Who would have thunk.

3. Don't bring energy gels. The ride has energy blocks and they're good enough (better actually).

4. Tape the flag pole to the bottom frame of the trike before giving it to the shipping company. I had to toss it b/c they wouldn't take it with the pole installed on the trike.

5. Bring sandals.

6. Take more videos of activities other than the ride (e.g. eating, walking, sleeping, etc).

7. Take 2 second videos every time the scenery changes. These can be linked together to create a pretty cool 5 minute video of each day.

8. Bring warm clothes so I won't have to use my tentmate's. I had to borrow Angela's little-bit-too-small fleece shirt b/c I forgot to bring long sleeve shirts! On that note, I should have also brought my fleece hooded sweatshirt.

9. Bring a collapsible cup (from The Container Store) for brushing my teeth.

10. Clean the spokes daily b/c when I returned, I found that one of them was a bit rusty.

11. ???? I'm sure there's more. I need some more time to think about it.

Turn Signal Light Project

I've always wanted to add an LED turn signal to the trike - something I obviously use at night but that's also bright enough for daytime use. I first came across this idea when looking for something for the pocket Sharper Image electric scooter, but I figure I could probably do the same thing to the trike.


First I'll need some sort of button. I thought about a toggle switch, but then I found this and it not only integrates onto the bike much better due to it already having a mounting bracket for the handlebar, but it's also compact and has a clean look to it.

Of course I'll need some lights to flash. How about these? I can pick them in any color except for (unfortunately) amber. Yellow's the closest thing. That might work.

And of course I'll need some way to store the power. AA batteries! It even comes with a switch. I have one exactly like this for a single 9 volt battery. They're super cheap. $1/each or so.


There are two lights (left/right) and power. But the trigger's got 7 wires? Umm, errr.... not sure how this thing is put together.

1. Left light
2. Right Light
3. Headlight
4. Horn
5. Ground
6. Negative power
7. Positive power

Is that right? I also know there's got to be relays and flasher gizmos but I have no idea how it all comes together. Hopefully the fellas at the BROL forum can help me out. If not, I'll turn to Endless Sphere (an electric bike forum) for some advice.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lock it up

Since coming back from ALC where locks aren't needed, I need to address the reality of the City. People steal stuff. They steel a lot of stuff and they do it all the time. I just read a couple posts on BROL about people getting their trikes snatched.

Nothing fancy. The old lock and bracket went back on the trike just now. The way that the new seat frame is angled makes the lock conflict a bit with the water bottle cage, but no biggy. I made it work. It's just not as convenient to take on and off - which I guess could be a good thing b/c it used to slip out when I stored the trike vertically against the wall.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ding and Direction

Accessory 50: Compass bell @ Nashbar $3.49

Does that say fifty up there? I can't believe it! I've done a lot in the past year to this trike. The more accessories I add and the more I modify it, the less I want a Catrike Speed. Every upgrade means more work (and $$) I'd have to put into the Speed to catch up to the Tornado as it stands now. In other words, the Catrike Speed looks worse and worse after every mod to the Tornado. The gap is only getting bigger. I'll never get over the weight advantage of the Catrikes though.

What a smart idea! Integrate a compass into the casing of a bell! No tax and shipping was free from a recent promotion when any Nashbar product is purchased. The thing is a bit bulky, but the bell works suprisingly well. I currently have a Daiso knockoff version of the standard bell and it doesn't ring nearly as loudly or as high pitched as this one.

Hopefully after I install this thing, I can get a better idea of which direction I'm heading (in case the sun's not visible from where I'm at). I'm off to go install this....

Okay, it's installed! it fits in place of the old one. One good thing about this bell is that the angle at which the flicker is used to sound the bell can be rotated at any angle along the perimeter of the bell. How convenient! In fact this angle at 10 o'clock is even more ergonomic than the fixed one I had before that pointed directly in the 9 o'clock position.

When I ordered this thing, I was worried the compass wouldn't be readable due to the vertical angle it has to be mounted. After getting it on though, it doesn't look like it'll be a problem. The letter I can't see indicates the direction I'm heading. I can't wait to test the bell out! Watch out pedestrians! A friendly ring is just around the corner.

Monday, August 15, 2011

ALC Buddy

People say they make life long friends on the ALC ride. Riding alone, I met a lot of nice people along the route. One of these guys reached out to me and got in touch from remembering my license plate on the trike. We got together and rode 21.73 miles this afternoon (exact figure determined by his cool Garmin thingymabob).

This is the first time I've seen a chart of one of my rides. Thanks Paul! It's pretty cool to see all the specs.

I'm glad we did this ride instead of attending Sunday Streets. This month's route wouldn't have been worth going to. It's only a few miles and it forks off into dead ends - nothing as gorgeous as Sunday Streets from last month.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

$9,500 delta recumbent trike?

I had never seen a delta style recumbent trike near this price tag until today! Yup, $9,500. Ouch. That's the "original" price. The seller's asking $5,250 shipped (that's about $5,000 base) I'm definitely not buying that. I wonder who would actually fork the money over for this thing? It's cool, but $5k cool? I'll follow the listing and see where it ends up. Until then, let's take a closer look at the trike and see why it's so uber expensive.

These things seem to win races over tadpole trikes (the ones with two front wheels). As far as high end delta trikes go, this is it.

A couple reasons for the high price tag is the special components on it: The Rohloff internal gear hub driving the rear wheels and the Schlumpf High Speed Drive (also internal) up front.

What does all this mean? It means there's no derailleur. The chain doesn't need to move from cog to cog at neither the front or rear ends! That's pretty neat. That means shifting this thing should be super quiet and there isn't any need to tune the drivetrain once it's set up. There may be some annual maintenance needs for the internal gears but that should only require a couple minutes to grease it.

Where does the price tag come from? Just the two aforementioned components add up to $1,500 + $750 = $2,250. The frame is titanium and the trike is discontinued. You couldn't even build this yourself if you wanted to. I believe the price of the base model is at least $3,500 plus tax and shipping. So if it were available and you put it together with the custom components, it'd be at least $5,750. Not sure why the seller claimed $9,500. It's from a dealer whom I've met in person before during my visit to Bent Up Cycles earlier this year so I trust the numbers.

The cool and convenience factor isn't that price tag though. Brand new, the price tag on this puppy is higher than the current used value of my car! My car's got an engine and full leather interior. As rare as this trike is, I think I'll keep the car.