Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another sweet Challenge bike...

This is Dennis' lovely Fujin SL2. I dig the stealth black.

Click on Dennis' pic above to see more of his cycling photography.

Food Chain

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

RIP Taifun

Just in case you care the Challenge Taifun is no longer being produced. Demand has been low recently so they decided to discontinue this model. They may revive the Taifun in the future - presumably in an upgraded format.

Sidi Bullet 2

I have some hard to fit feet. Narrow heels, wide forefoot and low volume overall. My old Adidas mtn bike shoes finally bit the dust after 10 years of faithful service. I discovered that MEC carried Sidi shoes and that the Bullet 2 mtn bike model is a great fit for my oddball feet. They are quite stiff, easy to walk in and don't look too "wild" - my criterion for shoes to use on brevets. On my training rides so far they have been comfortable and trouble free - exactly what you want from shoes.
One thing I found quite funny is that Sidi included a large sheet of stickers with the shoes. Now I like these shoes a lot. I bothered to take a pic and make a post in my blog about them, but I just can't imagine getting so excited about any shoes that I would put stickers on my bike or car or anything for that matter. Not only did Sidi think I might do so - they even provided a ton of stickers so I wouldn't have to choose where I put them. Maybe in Italy shoes are a bigger deal than they are here???

Beyond Brevets - going it alone...

I have three 200K brevets highlighted on my dogeared printout of the AB Randonneur 2007 schedule. That will take me to 5 May. I'll select some longer distance events to fill out the rest of May and June. I definitely want to complete a 300K & a 400K. Maybe I'll just keep going and finish my SR series. I wouldn't be surprised if I did.

The interesting thing about riding 400K is that it makes a whole new kind of bike ride possible. I did a tour of the Icefields Parkway last year. 450K in 4 days - seemed pretty epic at the time. Now I am thinking of doing the Parkway itself (180-200K) as a day ride and riding the whole way back to my apartment (450K) as a two day jaunt. My friends have a cabin on Kootenay Lake in BC - 600K from Calgary - hmmm...maybe I could ride back from there. And my friend Arne lives in Abbotsford BC - what if I flew to Vancouver and the rode back to Calgary. It could be my own personal 1000K LD ride.

There is nothing unusual about these rides or distances for cycle tourists, but they take 10 days to cover a 1000K - maybe 12 if they take some time off the bike. I could do it in a little over 3 days if I can travel light and be efficient. Getting extended vacation time is tough for me in the summer. Work is busy and I have some other "fun" commitments that eat up what time I do get. So these kind of rides fit into the long weekends that I can realistically get and allow me to do things that have been on my virtual shelf waiting for a week or two of time off during a warm part of the year.

Since the AB rando scene is so tiny I'll most likely be riding all my brevets solo anyways. I'll train solo and if I do these long distance rides they'll be pretty much the same - solo. I am a little jealous of the big rando clubs like the Seattle folks, but you have to be happy with what you have.

Monday, February 26, 2007

My rubber...

I am going to be running 26 x 1.3" Continental SportContact tires on my Volae. I liked them last fall on my 100K rides - fast enough and a nice ride on rough roads. Not the lightest fastest tires for sure, but I am aiming for a decent consistent pace on my brevets. I am not trying to break any records. I do have some 26 x 1.1" Schwalbe Stelvios on hand if I find that the Conti's don't make me happy in the long run. But, if the Conti's are relatively flat proof they'll stay on. I like having some extra volume so I don't have to be super careful when riding at night.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I'm a slacker...

It's true I am lazy at the moment. Getting my butt out the door to ride in the cold is a big task. I blame it on being skinny. The lack of body fat really comes back to bite me when it is cold. However, I did manage to get in a ride today - outside even. Nothing major - just a jaunt, but it did involve a bicycle and being on the road. It was fun. It's been long enough that I managed to forget how much fun riding a bicycle is. Silly me.
The ride outside was so nice it motivated me to ride my bent on the trainer. How wonderful to do this in the sunshine for a change. Don't worry I'll be ready for that first 200K brevet and at least being over trained won't be a worry...=-)

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Recumbent Blog

Allan has a bent blog that is chock full of goodness. Click on the pic and visit him.

Mike's Ride

Mike is a rando from Vermont with a really nice Independent Fabrications rando bike. He also has a great blog with some wonderful photos. Click on the pic above to jump there.

Water Bottle on Riser

One of the folks on BROL asked if anyone had mounted a water bottle to their highracer riser. I used a Minoura Bottle Cage Mount to make that happen. Most bike shops will have them and you can mail order them from the Hostel Shoppe. It seems quite solid.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Challenge Taifun Porn

Michael commented he used to own one of these bikes which got me surfing the Challenge website - again!
I have a serious lust for the way Challenge designs and builds recumbents. I've never tried one out or even seen one in the flesh.
It might just be pure fantasy. Maybe when I actually test ride one I won't like it at all. It's possible, but for now I'll day dream.
I should be happy there is no Challenge dealer anywhere near me. If there was I am sure I'd have at least one more bike in my stable.

I'm 'bent NOT broken...

I have had a few people ask me what injury I suffered that made me buy a recumbent bike for long distance rides. The fact is I am perfectly healthy - no back, shoulder or neck issues to speak of. I did/do have a bit of RSI in my right elbow, but a change to my computer workstation ergonomics and a tennis elbow brace sorted that out. I can ride a DF bike for 100kms without any problems, but soon after that I start to feel a lot of discomfort.

I have several DF bikes and I keep working on my riding position to improve my smile-factor. It would be great to be able to ride these bikes farther and longer comfortably, but realistically even a 100% improvement would only get me to 200K and the shortest brevet. I use my DF bikes for most of my riding so I am heavily invested in making them as fun to ride as possible so I'll keep putting energy into my DF ergonomics. I am at the point where I can ride my touring bikes all day comfortably, but I am generally only shooting for 100K per day on tour. If I ever get to the point where I can ride the 200K+ brevets happily on a DF bike I'll probably switch back, but for the time being I don't see that happening.

I am not a recumbent zealot. I see lots of downsides to bents in general and particularly for brevets, but the fact is if you want to successfully complete long distance rides you have to stay on your bike for extended periods of time. Personally I am not willing to suffer extreme discomfort and possibly injury in order to finish a bike ride. Reading brevet reports it is not uncommon to hear of riders with numb finger, toes & genitals, severe saddle sores, soft tissue injuries, neck & wrist problems. Some of this damage ends up being medium to long term. In MY analysis of MY situation the only logical choice for ME is to ride a recumbent.

To be honest I'd rather be riding a "normal" bike. It would climb easier, be able to stay with the majority of DF riders and enjoy some benefits of a paceline. Frankly I'd just "fit in" better. When you are starting up a challenging new activity its nice to be part of the group - showing up at the start of a brevet with a bent pretty much assures that I'll be a group of one.

I guess that is one of the appeals of being a randonnuer. You can't fake anything for 1200kms. If you are not happy on your bike you'll fail. You have to be honest about your own personal strengths/weaknesses and ride your own ride accordingly.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Michael Wolfe's Long Haul Aero

Michael is a bent rando & ultra racer from Portland. I found his blog when I was considering getting my Volae. He also rides DF bikes, but moves to bents for the longer distances required by brevets and ultra events. Seeing how he setup his Aero was mighty helpful and definitely influenced my decision to get a Volae. He is a very strong rider who has completed brevets and ultra events (like the Furnace Creek 508) in impressive times that really showcase the potential of recumbents for long distance rides. I'm excited to see what he gets up to in 2007. I know he'll be riding the Race Across Oregon solo and perhaps PBP.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Francesco Volpi

Francesco is a rando from Italy who rides a Trice Monster. The trailer he uses on tour is homemade. Click on his pic above to jump to his blog.

Peter Heal

Peter is a rando from Oz who rides his homemade audax bent. Nice looking machine Peter!

Legs Larry

Dave Larrington is a UK rando with a healthy stable of bents and a great website chock full of information. Click on the pic above to jump to his site.

Drew & The Vicious Circle Blog

Drew is a rando and BROL member. The pic above shows him smiling during the Woodbine 200K. Click on the pic to jump to Drew's entertaining blog.

MEC Hydrocycle Jacket

My cycling shell is over 10 years old and has a serious lack of ventilation going on. I have been looking for a replacement. I wanted something lightweight with excellent ventilation that would work on my recumbent and on my DF bikes. Strolling through the Calgary MEC store I noticed they had a new cycling jacket in stock. After trying it on and looking it over I decided to take one home. The Hydrocycle features extra long sleeves (which I need for my ape like arms!), long pitzips and is very lightweight. Testing it out on my bent I can open the pitzips almost all the way without letting rain in. - important since most cycling jackets were not designed to work on a recumbent. It is lightweight and packs quite small so it will fit easily on my bent with my rando gear. The design is very fitted which I like so that there is no extra material flapping around and at $135 cdn it seems like a pretty good deal. The jacket uses Entrant DT fabric to make the waterproof/breathable thing happen. I have had good luck with Entrant in the past and I think pitzips are the most important aspect of keeping the jacket ventilated. I also have a new philosophy when it comes to shell jackets - buy light/inexpensive and replace more frequently. The DWR coating on any breathable shell has a limited lifespan. Once it is gone you can apply a spray on DWR treatment, but it is never as good. Without a functioning DWR coating the fabric won't breathe any longer and you'll sweat to death inside.

I'll be using it a lot for my spring commutes to work and then on my brevets - stay tuned for a review once I have some time in with this jacket.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Fast Red Bike

Jim is a bent rando from Utah who has is actually out riding his bike, while the snow continues to pile up on my balcony. I am torn between cheering for him and slashing his tires in a fit of jealously...=-)~

Click on the pic above to jump to Jim's blog.

BC Randoneurs PBP Wool Jerseys

They look very nice...good job whomever made these happen. Click on the pic above to order one.

There is also a synthetic Canadian PBP jersey on offer click here to see pics and ordering info - orders close on this one at the end of Feb.

Mike's Ride

Mike is a rookie randonneur from BC - he sent me this picture of his fine new bike. Good luck on your rides in 2007 Mike...=-)

Monday, February 12, 2007

The United Colours of Randoneering

We were bored and it has been snowing for a week straight...look what happens when you can't ride your bike. Thanks LG!

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Hostel Shoppe Large Euro Seat Bag (Extra Clothes)

Fastback Systems Double Century (bladder on left & extra food on right) + Fastback Systems Norback Frame Pack (tools, spare parts, tubes & pump)

Fastback Systems Flash Frame Pack (food & camera)

The Plan

Last fall I suffered an injury when I jumped on my new bent for two 100K rides. It was fairly minor, but I had to stop riding all my bikes for a month to allow it to heal. That was a huge bummer and a situation I don't care to repeat.

My first brevet is a 200K on April 21st. In order to be ready I am planning to do the following rides prior to the event:

- 25K
- 50K
- 75K
- 100K
- 150K

I think this will give me enough of a gradual progression to avoid injury and be ready for that first 200K brevet. I'll also be commuting to work 50K a day on my road bike when weather permits which will get me some more non-bent specific base miles.

Since the weather is so variable this time of year I am not going to plan to do the rides on specific dates. I'll just have to jump on any window of good weather and when it turns crappy use that as a rest period.

Terracycle Light Mount in Lower Position

When I initially installed the Terracycle Light Mount I wanted it to be lower and more forward, but my poor brain couldn't figure out how to make that happen and being the middle of winter it didn't seem so important. A comment on BROL got me thinking about it again so I emailed the guys at Terracycle. Even though it was Friday after business hours I got a reply and then 3 more emails as I worked through the problem and got it sorted out. Their mount is very versatile - it just takes a bit of thinking to see how to get your light where you want it.

Thanks to Terracycle for making quality products and providing such great customer service.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Solidlights 1203D & Terracycle Light Mount

Just waiting on a dynohub to get built up into a wheel so I can test this baby out.

SON 32H Disc Hub

My SON dynohub just waiting for a Velocity Aeroheat rim to arrive at my LBS.

Terracycle Over/Under Idler Installed

Total time to install = 15mins.

Volae Stock Idler Setup