Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

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An Autumn Spin

October 15, 2011

After a long absence from the “saddle” She Who Must be Obeyed and I took a long ride along the Kingsport Greenbelt last sunday (which she wrote up on her blog here) and it was very illuminating. Here are some things I learned, in no particular order.

Terrain counts. This may seem like a no brainer, but the territory surrounding my home is all steep hills, when you get out on a Multi-Use Trail like the Greenbelt, where it’s nearly flat, it’s quite an astonishing difference. Instead of struggling may way up lots of grades and being wrung out after only a few miles, I finished 14 feeling like I could have gone all day. This reveals a less obvious point about recumbent tricycles – just being in the thing is “free” – which is to say it puts no strain on your wrists, butt or back to ride. The only effort you pay for is the effort you put into moving from point A to point B. On a level grade, even unconditioned as I am, it feels like I could ride forever. You can see why recumbent trikes are so popular for touring.

Linkage Steering is great for Cruising. I’m not a speed demon, I like casual riding, and indirect steering is fantastic for that purpose. Because it’s very stable, one light hand draped on the steering assembly is enough to keep me on the path. This approach is very relaxing, and doesn’t feel like it has to be constantly fiddled with just to stay on course.

Nobody in Eastern TN seems to have ever seen a recumbent trike before and it gets a lot of attention. Particularly on a path shared by other cyclists of various stripes and pedestrians, you will not escape notice. Reactions range from smiles and waves to pointing to open mouthed gaping. Children of all ages are particularly enthralled, and I am conscious as I ride that I am expanding Christmas lists and starting begging and whining campaigns as I do so. Sorry about that. :)

In the autumn, the path is littered with walnuts. It is impossible to dodge them all.

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And there was light!

May 17, 2011

Night-time riding on a recumbent trike has some specific safety concerns. Because the road-footprint of the trike is much wider than drivers expect from a bicycle, the edges need to be clearly marked to avoid being clipped. Also, in country terrain like the kind I ride in, putting a lot of light ahead can be critical to avoid hitting fallen tree debris, roadkills, pot holes, and other undesirables. This all calls for a permanently wired lighting system with a rechargeable power source.

Here’s what I did and how I did it.

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The Awfulwater Chronicles : Part 1

May 4, 2011

Now that I’m building up an exercise regimen, I thought I should explore some hydration alternatives to water. Both because something which is vitamin-infused and has electrolytes is probably more effective during exercise, and because if it’s tastier than water I’ll likely drink more of it.

An old friend of mine used to call sports drinks and related “hydration systems” awfulwater.

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The most fun you can have (with clothes on)

April 29, 2011

So after a ludicrously long car trip to scenic Bell Buckle TN and back, the toy serious piece of exercise equipment has arrived.

Not wanting to take it out for a test ride without checking it for potentially unsafe poor assembly, I loaded it right into the truck and took off back home. Five hours later when I arrived home, I was too impatient and curious so I took it out on a test ride without checking it anyway. The good news is that I marauded around for nearly two hours, having a great time. This thing is an absolute blast, it rides like a sports car.

The bad news is that this particular trike was apparently assembled by a blind, epileptic emu. I’m pretty convinced that not a single bolt was actually tight anyplace on the trike. This is only a minor quibble next to the bolts which were missing altogether. The seat was put in a position specifically proscribed by the owners manual, which is alright because only one of the screws for the rear stays for said seat was even present. The deraileurs are both totally out of whack, leaving only the middle gears available, and the brake pad on the right side is worn down twice as far as that on the left, as is the rubber grip itself. I can only surmise the previous owner used the right brake preferentially and steered left to compensate for the brake steer?  Another small detail; the rear wheel wasn’t actually tightened into the dropouts. At all.

So after exhausting myself climbing hills in middle gears for a while I took the trike inside for some serious overhaul work.

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I want to ride it where I like…

April 28, 2011

A year spent on the sedentary work of pitching and designing the pipe organ I am now building lead me to an unfortunate revelation on a bathroom scale. I’m thirty years old, my metabolism is slowing down, and when I don’t burn calories I begin to… blossom.

Like a good geek, I found a way to turn this life episode into an excuse to buy and play with interesting machines.

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