Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Know These Guys!

Out of curiosity, I was looking up some pics on Google with the search terms "Aids Life Cycle Recumbent" hoping to see some people from ALC 10 last year. I can't believe it's been that long already! I came across these guys whom I rode with briefly on a stretch during the Aids Life Cycle.

They're riding a Greenspeed GGT Tandem with an internal gear hub in the back. They've been riding that thing forever. The fellow in the back? He donated all the chips for the entire ride last year! Yup, that's like a billion bags. Actually, let's do the math. Chips every day for 7 days for 3,000 people? That's 21,000 bags! Wow, that's nuts.

These guys were really nice on the ride and shared a few things with me to let me know what I was up for. They were the first trike riders I saw at my first day's rest stop. In the next 6 days, I only saw them a couple times. When we finally arrived in LA, the guys treated me for some beer as a congratulations gift. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Alas, the Lights Have Arrived

This is Accessory #3 from a few days ago. It's arrived in the mail exactly as expected! I decided on a new location for mounting it however. I'm open to feedback on alternative locations but it looks to be that this is the cleanest.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

ROTEB (Recumbents of the East Bay) - 1/15/12

This group meets every 3rd Sunday of the month. Found it through Yahoo and have gone a handful of times.

Maybe I should've have rushed so much to get to the Recumbents of the East Bay meet b/c by the time I got there, no one was there! It was 9:50am and the meeting spot was empty. Did everyone forget we moved the meet time from 9am to 10am? Were they gone? Did people just not show up? What's the deal?

As I was unloading, I saw a fellow on his bright green two wheeler waiting. I waved but probably at the wrong time b/c he didn't see me. As I crossed the street towards him, he greeted me by name!

Hi Brian!

Do I know this guy? It was Zack! He sold me an elliptical chain ring back in the day through the BROL forum. Great price and it came quick. It's always nice to put a face to a screen name. Zack runs a shop in Alameda and that's where Paul got his Expedition. Zack later shared with me that he's got over 20 bikes/trikes in his showroom! That'll be a sight to see! Never seen more than 5 trikes together at any one time before.

We really gotta set up some sort of bent trike meet where we can get a turnout of at least 10. That would be cool.

I didn't get a chance to ask for permission from Zack to post his pic, so here's a shot at a distance. He and his wife were the only ones that showed up for the Recumbents of the East Bay Ride! This was after a vote to decide on a new meeting time. With all that, we all figured the turnout would be a lot better than just 3!

We stopped by the usual Starbucks when I took a few shots of their rides. This is the HP Velotechnik Grasshopper, a folding bent with full adjustable suspension! By the time we took some rough roads to test it out, I had already put my camera away. Headlight and rear light are both hardwired and powered by the front hub! The thing's got an internal gear hub in the back too! Fully decked out. The rear's wrapped with a carbon fiber mudflap.

How fast does this thing go? Zack topped out at 43mph coming down the hill on the way back! That's nuts. I was prepared to catch up to him as he zipped down uber quick. Weight on this bad boy is in the low 30's - very light for a foldable full suspension bike! And that weight takes into account the rack and both hubs!

Lightning. Not sure what model this is but its weight is impressive. 24 lbs! That's ridiculously light - probably thanks to the carbon fiber seat. She was taking off up the hill like none other.

I brought the KMX today since I was worried about having to go across heavy gravel again like we did last month during this same ride.

Catrikes in the Park

I took these awhile back but never got the chance the post them. Just found these pics in my camera!

Here's a shot of my aunt's 2008 Speed. It came with the funky bell and rear rack. Can't tell from this pic, but that's a full set of Q-rings up front!

This was the first time my Aunt and I did an ALC training ride. Here's a few pics from before we started the day's ride.

I was curious how the sizes of the KMX and Catrike compared. It's literally the same length! For some reason, I had thought the Catrike would be a bit longer. Not the case.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Getting Horny Again

BOOOOOM! I'm hoping that's the sound and feel that cagers will get when they hear this thing. I hope I don't really have to use it. The one occasion where it would've been useful I unfortunately wasn't even riding the Catrike. I was riding my KMX! Ugh. Where's the Airzound when you need it?

This air horn was completely free. Well, it was included with the sale - so prepaid I guess you could say. After the trike arrived in the big box from Texas, I immediately noticed the horn was the rare white and grey version - not the ugly red and light grey standard color that the Airzound normally comes in.

I was trying to think of another another location to mount this, but the last owner did a pretty good job with it. Readily accessible and superloud. I'll post a pic later of where the air canister is mounted.

All Lit Up

Accessory 3: Headlight and tail light = $5.99/pair from Dealextreme

I was hesitant to mount this on the front derailleur post b/c of the weird angle. Who wants to point a headlight upwards? I gave it a try since it was all I had laying around.

I actually snagged this light from my Ebike. The one's I ordered for the trike hasn't actually arrived in the mail yet. Figured I could test fit it and this is what I came up with. The fastener doesn't really clear the derailleur cable, so I had to move the reflector down. The reflector then got in the way of the old cadence sensor on the small ring. After pulling the reflector down, the light came down with it and that's what we have hear.

The front boom's got a lot more stuff on it since I've taken ownership of this Speed. Just wanted to catch a shot of the Cage Rocket, computer and front headlight. Fairly clean look with color matching accessories. Liking it so far.

Color Swatch

I've decided on keeping the silver color of the Catrike! No more white dream. Not only do I feel like the $130-170 cost of the powder coating could be better spent elsewhere, but I think it would be good to keep my favorite white/black with red accent color scheme exclusively on the KMX.

The Catrike Speed's going to be a bit stealthy.

I guess you could say this was my inspiration. It's cool that it's got that Robocop/Batman look to it. Not exactly what I'm going for, but it brings home the point that this trike is not exactly doing a whole lot to get attention from motorist other than, "What the heck is that????"

I used to think it was dumb or dangerous for motorcycles to be completely black or grey. Why not have a super bright color like white, red, or better yet, yellow so it can stand out in the mayhem of traffic?

The answer is that I don't plan on ever being seen. I literally ride like I'm invisible. No one sees me. I gotta do whatever I gotta do to cross public roads and get around. If I'm ever riding assuming people see me or relying on their site to save my life, I'd be putting my life in other people's hands. That's not happening. I'm vulnerable and invisible and I know it. I simply just have to ride that way. I'm invisible all the time - every time.

So a grey flag perhaps might not be such a bad idea. I recently saw one online someplace - not too shabby.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Catriking Across the Country

I've been playing around with the idea and I'd still like to do it sometime within the next decade. I recently came across a couple of rigs that caught my eye - both color matched!

This red one looks pretty good. I take a lighter load by skipping that bike stored in the trailer. Other than that, this thing looks pretty decent. A bit rear heavy, but it looks like it holds a lot of stuff. This is a rare shot of the limited edition seat!

What's even nicer is this one! Looks like it carries a bit of stuff too! Equipped with REI's Novara brand with their signature yellow, black, silver color scheme. Both stand out quite a bit on the road which is good.

Will I be next? Perhaps on a green or blue trike? Looks like both these owners went for the Catrike Road version - all wheels being the same size.

Although the yellow one looks better, I can't help but to think that the red one is more efficient. There's a lot less weight on the rotating drive wheel on the red setup. The yellow one's got a ton of weight stacked on the very thing that propels the trike forward. It'd be interesting to ride each of them one after the other.

I think what I might be dreading more than the trek across North America is the training. I heard something recently from an ALC training ride leader that made a lot of sense,

"Work hard and put yourself through the pain now through training so you can enjoy the ride later."

So true. If I had done more training for the ALC and had a better idea of what to expect, I think I would've had more fun. I spent so much time just trying to keep up and finish each days' miles that I didn't really have much time to slow down and "smell the roses" as they say. It's also not as fun when you're riding all 7 days pretty much by yourself. Weird how you can be lonely in the presence of 2,305 people. But at least I got to set my own pace which was a big thing for being in the minority as a recumbent trike rider on the Aids Life Cycle.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More H20

Accessory 2: Sunlight water bottle cages, $8.27 x 2 = $16.57 from Amazon

I took the plunge and bought it - the Sunlight 25.4mm (1") handlebar water bottle cage w/mount. That was the shipped price and it even comes with a couple of pads. I suppose it helps if your bars are not quite 1" in diameter or if you need some extra padding. The unit itself comes with padding already in the mount, so no need for it. The cage is fairly substantial. Not dinky at all.

Here's how it looks like before bolting on. I like the clean look. I've seen others on ebay for $5.99 shipped that don't look quite as nice and there aren't any specifications available to confirm it's the right dimension for my trike's rear seat bar. The 2 day shipping from Amazon was another reason I went with this Sunlite brand.

I thought I'd try a Before & After layout for clarity. After all, that's what the photos are intended for. Let's see how this thing looks installed compared to stock.

A shot from the rear shows the clean lines of the Catrike frame. That weird orange thing is my emergency tag. It's got all my info in case anything happens to me on the road - free from my last ALC training ride.

Once installed, it blends in well with the trike. Doesn't look all that funky - at least not yet w/o the water bottle in place.

The look is clean from the front view too. This exposed horizontal bar is also where I plan to mount my rear lights - those are still in the mail en route to me.

The front cage is black too, so it's not awkward. Everything's coming into place. I just hope this thing doesn't annoy me when I'm leaning back. I don't see it being a problem. Accessibility is another thing. I can reach back and Paul showed me how, but I can't imagine it's as easy to get as where I mounted it on my KMX.

The rear shot's not bad either. I had played around with the idea of getting grey ones to match the bike's frame color but ultimately decided to go with the black to blend with the other components on the trike.

Tough to tell what's there and what's not there, eh? Especially from this angle, the cages once installed probably still look invisible....

...or do they? Can you spot it on the rear upper seat bar?

Once I popped in the bottles, I realized I had to readjust the angle. It wasn't clearing the neck rest. Leaning it backwards helps create a more aerodynamic look. Not quite parallel to the angle of the seat frame, but still looks decent.

I suppose it looks as clean as it's going to. Unfortunately, it sits up fairly high. That might be a good thing though b/c then I can reach it more easily.

UPDATE: 1/14/12
Boy, practicing putting this water bottle back in its cage while riding is a talent I'm not sure I'll be skilled enough to accomplish flawlessly for awhile. I suspected it would be difficult, but I'm still a bit surprised how hard it really is. I think a big reason may be b/c I angled the water bottles to lean backwards toward the rear of the trike. Perhaps a more upright position would help? Tough to do while still maintaining the clearance w/the headrest.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

3 Water Bottle Cages

Accessory 1: Cage Rocket water bottle storage unit, $10 + tax from REI

Why on Earth would I want three of these things? Since the KMX was a touring trike that was modded to take on long distance, it's got room for 2 water bottles: 1 for water and 1 for electrolites. The only way to really enjoy the Speed equally as much is to ride it for miles and miles on end. It was when Paul told me that his training ride participants would be covering 125 miles in a single day that made me decide to design 2 water bottles onto the Speed.


Since the trike's designed with an integrated location specifically designed for a water bottle cage right smack in the middle of the boom, adding a second one in another location other than the boom (of which there'd be no space anyway) would make it look awkward. I love assymetry, but not on a trike in that way.

I decided the two bottles would be installed on the top seat bar. That leaves the stock location on the front boom empty. What to put there?

I considered quite a few ideas, some of which are more fun and definitely more expensive than others:

1. iHome IH85B (aka 2go or Bike) - $50
A little hard to believe the price hasn't dropped since. This thing basically holds some of the older Apple products like the Ipod and Nano. Includes a speaker and even comes with a remote control to mount to the handlebar! Weighs 2lbs though!

2. Kuats Racks Bottle Lock $33 - shipped
I found this when I was looking for something to fill the water bottle cage space with. Being that it's a cable lock that fits into the volume of a water bottle, it's an awesome and very clean looking concept. Just sorta sucks that the lock is no good. I can see myself using a lock for those brief times I'm hopping into a fast food join for some quick grub. The weight on this thing might bother me too. I don't want to be one of those people weighing down the Speed. The two biggest reasons I picked the Speed out of the other Catrikes in the pride is for the minimal size and weight. I'm not about to offset any of that with heavyweights.

3. Cage Rocket - $10 plus tax
The thing when empty weighs just over 100g. That's miniscule. Honestly though, there's tons of space in the new second generation (not 3rd generation) seat. Holds a pump, plus it has two other pockets that's large enough to hold pretty much anything I'd want to carry along and that includes arm warmers! The reason for getting this though would be more for accessibility of my stuff moreso than the need for additional storage.

All these products have fancy names. I'm not going to elaborate much more on each, but just going to mention I decided with the latter. Part of the reason I chose it was b/c of the price.

Looks pretty clean and it's neat that the color scheme matches. It almost looks like it belongs there.

The thing is basically a storage unit. The black part pops open (w/o having to remove the unit from the cage) to expose space that people can use to store snacks, tools, a camera, MP3 player, phone or whatever other junk we want to carry around.

The thing comes awfully close to the chain! That was my first reaction. I'm bit concerned being that it's almost touching the Cage Rocket while in the middle chainring.

What happens when I pop it into the small one? I'll take it for a test spin later on in the week to see how it works. Maybe this is the reason no one's done this. If there are, perhaps the numbers are few b/c I have yet to see it published on the web. Weird that I've only seen this on someone else's bike/trike 2x. Well known, but maybe not that popular?

People know about it but don't buy it. Could it be the $16 price tag??? At least that's what REI wanted to charge as their "regular price." Discounted of course for $10 before tax. Just picked it up today. I don't think I would've spent more than $12 for this thing.

Cool that the thing is padded though. This prevents rattling of anything that's in there. There's a waterproof version that's priced on Amazon for twice as much, but I've found that one reviewer said the normal one does just fine in keeping out moisture. Good enough for me.

UPDATE: 1/13/12
I haven't taken it for a spin yet, but put the trike on the rollers and shifted through all the rings to see if there'd be any issues with obstructions to the chain. It does rub a little bit. I shifted the Cage Rocket over to the left a bit and it clears by literally fractions of a mm. Nuts. Works for now. We'll see how it goes on the road.

Monday, January 9, 2012

7 Punctures

The excitement of the Speed got to me. I shouldn't have been following so close behind Paul, but it was too much fun not to. Plus, we had gotten held back at a traffic light and was rushing to catch up with the rest of the group. We had maintained speed with the roadies for quite while and I'm guessing we could've caught up if it wasn't for the next thing that happened.

I was no more than 1 Catrike length away behind him when I saw something that looked like a pine cone. I was too close to veer off and avoid hitting it. I ended up running over something on the road dense enough that it popped the trike up at least 2". It was only a few seconds after the thought came to mind to expect a puncture that I looked down and saw the flattened front left Kojak tire. Ouch. That thing was super flat.

Prior to this incident, I had never pulled off a Kojak tire off a rim before. It was not nearly as easy as it was to take off a Big Apple or Marathon (Racer) tire from my KMX rims. A bit excited, I pulled out my Quik Stik.

This would be the first time it gets used on the road. The Kojak was so tight on there that this tool didn't do much good. Giving up probably faster than I should have (more on that later), I grabbed hold of Paul's (or rather Pedro's) tire lever and tried to yank the thing off. With a bit of struggle, Paul helped me get the thing off as we exposed the tube to inspect for punctures. When got home I managed to break a tire lever while switching out the butchered tube for a new one.

Although I had my fancy mini spray bottle with water/soap for locating the puncture(s), it was feeling air coming out of the tire that helped us locate the first puncture. After the patch, I pump the tire and there's still a leak. Poor patch job on my part?


Another puncture. I patched that only to find yet a 3rd puncture and then a 4th. They came in pairs and by the time I found the third pair of punctures, I inaccurately assumed I had found them all. Not the case. There was a 7th hole in the tire!

By now, at least 25 minutes had passed and both the Sag and Paul were probably a bit frustrated that it's been taking so long. Once the tube got back into the tire, we pumped it up. That's when we got into more trouble.

Why wasn't air getting into the tube???
1. Bad pump?
2. Bad connection?
3. More holes I didn't patch?
4. Failed patches?

It could've been anything. After tested the first 2 ideas, one of the guys gave me a hand and used his CO2 cartridge pump. It literally only took seconds before the tire was fully aired up. So we thought....

By the time I put all my tools away, I looked over and saw the tire as flat as when we started 30 minutes ago (if not, 40). It was time to get the Sag vehicle.

The two of them left with an estimated return time of 45 minutes. 30 minutes to ride 10 miles and then a 15 minute car ride to come get me. Not being the type to sit around and do nothing, I gave the repair a try once more.

This time I learned how to properly use the Quik Stik, but not w/o some frustration. Just as I was about to give up, I learned that the tool has to be used at an angle to be effective. It worked great once I figured out the technique (after 10 minutes of frustration wishing Paul had left me the Pedro levers).

Everyone seems to repair tubes differently, so it's nice to learn how others are doing it so I can combine it with my own methods to figure out what works for me. Paul had showed me his way and I took up after his recommendation and did it as such. The tube was out in a jiffy.

After pumping the tube once more, I heard a loud hissing sound. New unfound hole or poor patch job? The latter. Either I suck or those glueless patches are no good (something Paul already mentioned to me before, but I stubbornly resisted and used them anyway until I ran out and used the standard glue patch). The two sticky patches had failed for one reason or another and I pulled them off to expose the huge gaping holes in the one tube I had.

Paul said to use the glue liberally. Put tons on it at least as big as the patch. Makes sense, but either I'm cheap or don't like the mess and had never used enough. Remembering his hint, I globbed on enough of an area to cover the 1" square, but not so thick that it takes forever to dry. The ebay patch went on (a single one covered two of the punch flat holes) and worked wonderfully after I held it in place for 5 minutes.

"How long should I hold this patch on?" I had asked Paul prior to him leaving to get the car.
"Don't know, I've never had to patch."

How lucky! Maybe I have my own share of luck but expressed in different ways. If the world really is a big balance, then I'm taking the hit for the awesome luck I had at ALC where I traveled 545 miles w/o a single flat. Here I am on my last ride prior to this where I had 3 flats on two different tires w/in 10 miles!

I continued holding the patch for probably a couple of minutes before I felt the urgency to pump that sucker back up. I let the tube sit on my seat for awhile so I could confirm there weren't any more leaks. 20 seconds and a few gentle squeezes later, I was on my way to putting it back into the tire.

One thing about putting the tube back into the tire is that it has to be done gently or else pinch flats can occur down the road. Wobbling the tire back and forth perpendicular to the direction of the rim is helpful, but doesn't ensure the tube is properly sitting in the rim. You gotta do it carefully. I wedged it in, experienced a hard time putting the tire back on (annoying, but manageable), and pumped it back up. Air was finally going in! I hit 100psi before I gave Paul a call to see if I should sit tight or continue on my ride.

He sent one of the other TRL's (training ride leaders) over to fetch me. Took about 30-40 minutes after my patch job for Bob and Mark to show up with a van (still barely big enough to hold the Catrike Speed).

Perhaps this incident serves me right for using the air horn on Bob earlier in the day! He had been honking Paul jokingly and I had responded with a loud bazooka-like sound that was close to knocking Bob off his bike.

LESSONS LEARNED? Most of this stuff I should know, but tend to ignore out of either stupidity or stubbornness on my part.

1. Don't follow so close. Keeping a good amount of distance allows me to see stuff on the road ahead of time enough to avoid any trash, gunk or other enemies of tubes.

2. Never use sticker patches ever again - ever!

3. Use plenty of glue, covering an area bigger than the patch.

4. Remove the tube by using the Quik Stik at an angle, not perpendicular to the circumference of the rim.

5. Be gentle when removing the tube.

6. Be equally gentle when inserting it back into the tire.

7. Pinch flats come from under inflated tires. Inflate that sucker to 100psi - not 90psi.

8. Inspect and repair the tube with it sitting on the seat - not on the floor where it can gather up more gunk that can repuncture the tire.

9. Unlike the Shraeder valves I'm used to, Presta valves have a little thing on top that screws up and down to limit the air coming in/out of it (in addition to the cap).

Running with a Catrike

Wow, this thing flies! Or in the words of an ALC roadie yesterday,

"He's taking off on that thing!" Both Paul and I both were. He'd usually be way up front while I involuntarily kept the rear of the group company. But now with the Catrike Speed, I can finally keep up with Paul's Expedition!

It's not just the machine though. Much respect to Paul for his endurance. He's been training a lot and it shows both physically and performancewise. I don't know if he felt the same way when we approached an intersection and I shouted, "Now would be a good time for this traffic light to turn red!" I could use a break. The red light was timed perfectly, giving me the chance to use the neck rest.

As a couple of roadies were uncomfortably straddling their bikes behind me, one of them said to the other,

"Cool, it even has a neck rest." They continued talking. I turned around and told them a few things about the trike halfway expecting them to ask if I ride this thing b/c I have back problems. That question never came. I think everyone was just excited that there was not only one trike on the road with them, but two!

I kept up with the pack pretty well until the "Incident" happened.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Catrikes Together

This weekend will be my first ALC Training ride with a Catrike! It's going to interesting riding it with the roadies. I haven't yet done that. It'll be cool to ride one with Paul too! Two Catrikes side by side! I still can't believe how amazing those brakes are. I always figured disk brakes were disk brakes and they're all pretty much the same - not even close!

The results make me want to upgrade the KMX's brakes, but enough money has gone into the Tornado. No more big accessories or parts for this thing for awhile. Other projects need some love.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Flag!

Wow, this thing came in almost two pieces! USPO did not take good care of this package. Luckily, I think everything's intact. Unless there's more than the plastic rods and the packaged flag, everything looks like it's here. I haven't checked b/c this thing's a gift, but I hope the shrink wrap is in the plastic bag with the poles.

Holy! Look all those stamps! That's nuts. Maybe that's better than standing in line at the USPS.

Here's the package! I haven't unwrapped it, but here it is! Hope my aunt likes her Christmas present!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I've been wanting to get this for awhile and finally took the plunge - the $8.14 plunge. I've read mixed reviews and figured the fairly reasonable price would be worth trying out. I've tested this and unfortunately, it only works when the Kodak Playsport camera is facing you. I suppose this is okay since I had intended on using this for self footage. It would've been nice to be able to use while the camera is mounted on the extension rod facing away from me too.

A bit awkward that it wasn't designed to work from both sides of the camera. After all, how can you be expected to delete photos (there are buttons designed for that) w/o seeing the screen?

With yet another thing to fumble with while on my trike, I need to find some sort of way to mount this thing on the trike - a bracket of some sort. Let's see what I figure out.

This is one of my downgraded photos. Easier on my hard drive, quicker to upload and I don't think it makes much of a difference for viewers. The only difference would be if someone were to print of these photos. I can't imagine any of you guys do that. The original photo was well over 2mb and the downgraded one is no more than 200kb. I'm using a program called Pixillion which easily generates a duplicate photo that uses up a lot less memory.

Catrike Turns White

Not yet anyway.

There's only a couple reasons to do something like painting a trike yourself:
- You love torture.
I remember stripping down paint on my restoration bike and it was a 5 hr ordeal and that's just the effort for stripping the paint.

- Learn something.

-. Save money.
Exactly how much money would I be saving? I called up the three main shops in SF to see what their prices were. I'm still waiting to hear back on their quotes.

Technically, powdercoating (as my uncle reminded me) is different than just plain painting. Since the trike is powdercoated stock, stripping it down and replacing it with just paint would be a bit like downgrading to say the least. Ever since hearing about car enthusiasts recommending powder coating rims, I've always been interested in pricing. Let's see how they match up.

1. NRI
2. Westcoast Powder Coating
3. Leons Powder Coating
4. Accurate Powder Coating