Archive for April, 2012

Mileage Report 6

April 30th, 2012 No comments

This trip was not a lot longer than my previous longest ride, but it was the most strenuous yet.  Apparently, when I so-carefully checked the route for hazards and accuracy, I failed to notice the elevations.  Something to keep in mind next time.

The county I live in is quite affluent, so it’s common to see large lots that have been cleared, and then landscaped like mad to make them look “natural”.   It’s that much sweeter, then, to run across a body of water that’s more or less left to itself.

That apparent affluence seems to spawn some surprising dreams.  In an unpromising section of West Chester, the county seat, I spied this development:

It’s a grim block of large townhouses/flats/apartments, available “from the upper 260s”.  That’s $260,000.00, folks.  They’re located in an area of warehouses and light industry — none of it charming.  Here’s the view directly across the street from those shared balconies:

The illustration on the builder’s website shows a broad band of green grass where this unkempt building actually resides.  On the other side of the pricey, pricey flats is a one-story development that looks like cinder block subsidized housing, so there’s no relief there, either.  In back?  A chain link fence and  . . . well, it’s hard to say what, but it ain’t pretty.

That was kind of sad, but here’s a porch on a small street in a better part of the “other” side of West Chester:

This brightly-painted little porch resembles those all over Saint- Pierre,  a small island off Newfoundland.  Unlike many of those in Saint-Pierre, this one is not removable, but otherwise it would look right at home among the colorful domiciles of the island.

36.21 miles, winds 9 MPH, mid-50s, substantial (for me) inclines, suburban/rural with little in-town

Total mileage for season:  156.18

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Pedal-Assist, 1899-Style

April 28th, 2012 No comments

Bonhams, the British auction house, are set to auction off this very contemporary-looking motorized bike tomorrow.

The “Motor-Wheel” was patented in 1899 by Perks and Birch, then produced on the Singer frame in 1902-1904.  This particular model was restored in 1999.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

That’s a gas tank hanging from the top bar of the Singer bicycle frame:

The bicycle has a fifty-mile range.  Fifty miles, of course, with a gas tank between your legs, but still . . .   Moving the tank to the top bar made it accessible, as Bonhans notes:

The a.i.v., four-stroke engine, its low-tension, oscillating magneto, a spur-gear transmission and a combined carburettor and fuel reservoir giving a fifty-mile range, were, it must be admitted, rather inaccessible – remedied by Singer, who made the wheel single-sided after taking over production of the design in late 1902 – but worked and worked well.

The motor itself is housed in the rear wheel:

Bonhams estimates that the bike will bring between $31,00 to $37,000 USD, and note that of the few models which have survived, most are in museums, but this one, fully restored, is completely functional, just ready and waiting for a new, private, owner, and a spring tour.  It’s (probably) not too late to bid!

Update:  Sold!  For 26,000 pounds, British, equivalent to 43,000 dollars, USA.

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Mileage Report 5

April 26th, 2012 No comments

Not much time to ride today, thanks to a routine appointment at the vet, which just happened to fall on the first possible cycling day this week.  (It’s been rainy.)  Spring is busting out all over:

You’d never guess that civilization is only yards away.

Wind isn’t turning out to be as  much as a problem as I thought it would be when cycling.  Pedal assist helps, of course, but I’m not using it much, except up grades.  Half of this ride was spent heading into the wind, but it was no problem at all, other than making the day seem colder.

20.26 miles,  winds 17 MPH, 63 degrees, mostly paved trail, some suburban

Total for season:  116.97

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Padded Shorts

April 25th, 2012 No comments

Even when I started taking longer rides, I had a little trouble taking myself seriously.  (Hey, I know I’m not Lance Armstrong!)  When I was riding on a cushy recreational saddle, it never occurred to me to consider wearing bike shorts.  But, then, it never occurred to me that longer cycling runs might require a better cycle seat, either.  I was just wearing whatever athletic wear I had around.

The new saddle changed my mind.  It was quite comfortable, but, like most inexpensive models, didn’t have any gel padding.  I’d  need to wear that.  I picked up a pair of these EMS Shadow bike shorts:

I bought them on closeout; I don’t know whether EMS is discontinuing them or simply changing the design a little bit, but they are what I wear now.  They’ve got a nylon/spandex shell that’s light and comfortable, yet looks like something you might wear, say, to pick up groceries, which is what I do sometimes, wearing them.  They’re a lot more “townie” than skintight spandex.

The padded liner is made of wicking fabric, and it snaps out.  I like that, because sometimes I make my exercise wear, and I’ll be making a couple of skirts for summer.  This liner will snap right into whatever I make, and I’ll be good to go.

The waist has adjustable tabs (never a bad idea), and the fly closes with a zipper and a snap.  There’s a zipper pocket on each leg; I keep my phone in one, and my ID in the other (though I also have my name and emergency contact information in my helmet, too).

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Mileage Report 4

April 23rd, 2012 No comments

Little rain means I get to ride more, but the creeks are low

and days are almost storybook perfect

Quote of the day, from the middle of a pack of male adolescent joggers:  “That’s the coolest bike I’ve ever seen!”

23.67 miles; 9 MPH winds; mid-60s; mostly suburban, some trail

Total for season:  96.71 miles

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Do You Know What This Is?

April 21st, 2012 No comments

It’s not a hat.  Not properly speaking, anyway.

It’s a cycling helmet.  Really. (I think I want one.)

It’s made by a Danish company called Yakkay.  The business part of the helmet is hidden under the fashionable topper.  This one’s called “Tokyo New Jazz”.

Maybe this oilskin number is more your speed (it’s called “Paris Black”) (Oilskin may be a bit more on-trend in other parts of the world than the USA.  Australia, for example):

What if you want to wear one style one day, and another on a different day?  Oh, that’s so easy!  You just buy as many covers as you want, and pop a different one onto the helmet base.  Maybe, for instance, this faux fur one (“Luzern White”):

OK, maybe not that one.  But, fashionistas, isn’t this a cool idea?

Here’s what the under-helmet looks like (those are sleek stainless steel fittings on the strap):

(They’re not cheap, but if dorkitude is something that concerns you while cycling, perhaps this is the answer to keeping your noggin safe.)

There’s a store locator on the website, and lots of places to check them out in the west, but, for the benefit of our  northeastern sisters, here are a retail outlets claiming to stock Yakkay helmets and covers:

147 Reade Street
New York,  NY 10013

T: 888-9X0-BIKE or 888-996-2453

4 Dove Lane
Andover, MA 01810

Green Pedals
105 B Annapolis Street,
Annapolis, Maryland  21401

The Daily Rider
1108 H Street Northeast
Washington, DC 20002

T: 202 603 5032

It looks as if there may be worldwide ordering from the website, but I’ll leave that for others to investigate.  I’m going to snoop around and see what I can find in person.

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Mileage Report 3

April 19th, 2012 No comments

The focus of today’s ride was alleys — dozens of small, nearly-hidden alleys that aren’t easy to spot by car.  Most looked much like this one, which is to say, rather plain, but surprisingly bucolic, considering the proximity to downtown:

But there were surprises everywhere.  A splash of color(s), in this case:

And a most unusual tiny building, in this case:

It’s apparently a library, as the inscription (“bibliotheca”), and the media in the window, suggest:

The full inscription reads “Bibliotheca Rubi Hortus”, which translates, literally, to “library bush garden” or “library pleasure garden”.  Probably the latter, I’d guess.  Someone really put a lot of love into creating this small world.

Favorite quote of the day:  The guy who said “You’ve got one baaad machine there!”  Oh, yeah!

30.07 miles; winds 13-16 MPH; high 70s; mixed suburban/country/town

Total for season:  73.04 miles

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Loading Up

April 17th, 2012 No comments

If someone is around to give me a hand, it’s easy to lift my trike into the truck I use to transport it.  Two people can lift the trike high enough to get it into the cargo area with no trouble, once the rear seats are folded.  (Mine always are.)  If I’m alone, the procedure is a little more complicated, but not by much.  Mostly, it just requires a bit of gear.

First, I drop the handlebars

If I’m loading it myself, I use a ramp (it’s a folding portable wheelchair ramp — lousy picture, but you get the idea)

a giant doorstop

and some padded twist cables

that I loop around the front of the trike to pull it into the truck.

I climb inside the truck, pull the trike up, fold the ramp, close the doors and drive off.  To unload, I just reverse the steps, but I don’t use the doorstop, since it’s easy enough to follow the trike down the ramp.

The process is surprisingly easy, and no more bother than hanging a bicycle on a rack and tying it down.  The ramp slides along the side; a couple of empty cardboard boxes keep both the trike and the ramp from sliding around when the truck is moving.

The truck is an 18-year-old SUV, with a boxy profile — perfect for loading bikes. My “every day” car is a subcompact, and the truck is used only for recreational transport.  It gets driven for well under 5,000 miles a year, but those are very useful miles.

eMoto, the manufacturer of my trike, says they don’t know of a  rack that will carry the trike, although there’s no reason why a wheelchair or scooter lift that fit into a trailer hitch wouldn’t do the job. (Not in wet weather though; the trike isn’t weatherproof.)

Another alternative might be a four-bike rack, providing the weight limit was within  range,  lifting the trike wasn’t an issue, and you could figure out a way to place the trike on the rack.  You’d need a long arm, though, (or, more likely, arms) to make sure you had sufficient clearance for the third wheel.

This one is a Yakima swing-away, meaning you can swing it out of the way, and still open the tailgate.  I have no idea if it would work with the trike, and don’t see weight specs in the description, but it might be worth investigating.  (Apparently the rack weighs 42 pounds, so carrying 65 shouldn’t be much of an issue, if all other requirements were met.)

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Mileage Report 2

April 16th, 2012 No comments

A beautiful day, and a cliché of a photo for documentation:

The route I chose today wasn’t long enough to be satisfying, but I was short on time, and hence disinclined toward geographic experimentation.  Instead, I tooled around a subdivision to get my miles up to something that felt more like a real ride. It was aggravatingly dull, but I was glad I did it.

20.54 miles; 10 MPH winds.  Mixed suburban with a little country thrown in.  Rather cool; the horses are wearing blankets.

Total for season:  42.97 miles

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That Orange Bag on the Back

April 13th, 2012 No comments

My trike has a huge cargo basket.  I’ve used it to haul parts, lumber and tools home from the hardware store, and to do my weekly grocery shopping.

The metal frame collapses flat, but that’s never been worth the trouble, since I don’t really think it’s costing me hugely in terms of wind resistance.  (I’m probably not traveling fast enough.)  That orange bag lining the basket is a different matter, though.  I made it because I wanted to be able to toss smaller groceries directly into the cargo area, and so that I’d have a place to store my bike lock without having to attach it to the frame while riding.

The liner is made of lightweight but sturdy ripstop nylon, and it’s fabulous for keeping me maximally visible; I like that part.  But it acts like a sail, and by that, I don’t mean that it helps me fly along.  In a good wind, it’s a drag.  Literally.  So I added snaps to the upper edge, and now can drop it to the bottom of the basket when I’m not transporting goods.   That gives me the best of both worlds — cargo capacity when I want it, and decent air flow when I’m not toting anything of significance.

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