Thursday, May 31, 2007

Taifun Commuting

The Taifun is working out nicely as my commuting bike. It barely fits into my bike locker once I remove the pedals. Reinstalling them every morning is a minor PITA, but I can't imagine a smaller bent. Once on the road the handling is lively yet quite stable - feels a little bit like piloting a small jet! I'm warming up to the "Praying Hamster" steering setup - it is definitely comfortable for an hour at a time. Although it makes attaching a mirror challenging I found one that works well. The low 13" seat height adds some excitement to the ride and lets you feel really quick as you watch the pavement speed by. The downsides to this bent are heaviness and drivetrain noise.

All in all a fun bent to ride.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Rando or Cargo?

Sometimes I wonder. Going over my gear everything seems fairly important - especially given the unpredictable nature of mountain weather. You can get sunburned and frostbitten on the same ride in these parts! I must keep focused on the awesome training value carrying all this stuff providing me with.

Sarah Unleashes Her Rocket...

Sunday was supposed to be wet and cool, but the Weather Gods smiled on us and the rain held off until the early evening. Sarah has been eager to ride her Rocket and with an up coming mini-tour between Canmore & Banff on the books it seemed prudent to get a ride in.

We battled the insanity of the bike path crowds through downtown and then headed out towards Max Bell Arena. In some ways the bike paths are a very challenging place to learn to ride a bent with lots of tight 90 deg turns, narrow paths and many trail obstacles [ ie. other users!].

Sarah did well - especially on the climbs. I think the Rocket's upright seating really helps with that and it has pretty benign slow speed handling.

DIY 200K

I wanted to ride the 300K Castle Mtn Brevet this Saturday, but something in the back of my mind kept saying "...bad idea..." I decided to listen to my gut and forget about the 300K. As it turned out that was a smart move. Instead of the brevet I put together a 200K route south & west of Calgary that would have a lot of steep climbs and pretty scenery. In a nod to the 300K I carried my full brevet load - including my SON dyno hub, lights and headlamp.

The ride went well and it was a beautiful day in Southern Alberta. Although there was a lot more climbing than my previous 200K the wind was moderate throughout the day. By the end of the ride I was pretty tired and my lack of longer rides became evident again [I was really glad I didn't have an extra 100K to ride!], but I was not nearly as sore/tired after the ride as I was the first time. It is nice to see the conditioning develop and clearly I just need to keep racking up the KMs. Last year 100kms was a typical long ride and that already seems fairly short this year. 200K is quickly becoming normal. Cool. Without the PBP fever in my system there is no huge rush to crack the next rando distance. I'm going to ride a couple more 200Ks and then try my first 300K.

It was nice to wake up Sunday and be able to go for a ride without any major discomfort.

I'll post my ride stats later when I have my bike computer handy, but my average on bike speed was around 23.5kph. Not bad for a 40lbs+ recumbent and a lot of climbing. I will admit I was fantasizing about an uber light rando bike as I crawled up some of the longer climbs!

The SON hub/wheel worked fine. The added weight was noticeable on the climbs, but not on the flats. All my lighting was solid and nothing fell off mid-ride...=-) I need to get out for a night ride to really test out the gear and see how it all works in the pitch dark. Our long days up north mean that I'll have to go out after 11pm to get the right conditions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Randonneurs of China Jersey

Joe Keenan is making up these cool jerseys - also available in LS and as wind vests. If you want one contact him @ jkeenan0407 AT yahoo DOT com.

The Expedition Pimped Out

Bob beaming with pride for his new ride.

Ortlieb panniers, Old Man Mountain Sherpa Rack, rack bag, safety triangle & light - all he needs now is some fenders.

Bob making his get away before anyone else can get too comfortable on his trike.

Melanie getting a taste of the bent world view.

And she's off!
Deanna settling into the cockpit.

"Where is my trike?"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sarah gets bent...

Sarah got a recumbent this weekend - a Rans Rocket. Now she can come along on recumbent rides and enjoy the "bent smile".

She is a Rocket pilot because it was one of the few bents you can test ride in Calgary and it will be a good bike for general pathway riding and some touring.

She is pretty excited to get out and ride it, but of course the day she picked it up and the following day it poured rain! Hopefully the rest of the week will be dry and she can rack up the miles...=-)

Challenge Taifun

Here is my Taifun setup for commuting. The large Hostel Shoppe seatbag is my only luggage for my daily runs to work. I do have some Radical Designs panniers that I can hang off the bike if I need to carry more. It seems like such a little bike compared to my Volae, but it actually weighs more! Every part is on the beefy side and the Taifun has rear suspension as well. I'm not expecting to break any speed records with it, but for commuting and touring it should do just fine.

I am using Time ATAC Control Z pedals [love 'em and have them on 4 bikes!]. The BB and cranks are lower end Shimano units with a 39T & 52T double chainring mated to a RSX front der. Everything up front is bombproof and will be trouble free. When it comes time to replace parts I'll use something lighter and a little sexier.

This is the front return side chain idler. It looks nice, but is fairly noisy.

The disc brakes are Avid rotors paired with some Tektro calipers. I have some Avid BB7 calipers I'll throw on at some point when I am in the mood for some wrenching. The wheels themselves are 32H Jet rims and Deore disc hubs - they are burley and VERY heavy. I am thinking of upgrading to something lighter along the lines of a set of Velocity Aerheat wheels, but they don't make a pre-built rear wheel in 20" [406]. I'll use these for now and appreciate their training value!

I mounted a FastBack Systems water bottle holder under the seat. I had to add a zip tie to keep it from rotating. I prefer a water bottle for commuting rather than a hydration bladder. I don't need that much H2O on a 1hr commute and water bottles are easier to clean.

I threw on an old Cateye Mitty3 computer. These bike computers keep going and going and going.... I have them on three bikes - love 'em. I am using Paul's Thumbies and Dura Ace bar end shifters to control the gears. Avid brake levers keep the speed under control.

The rear shock is a coil over an oil dampening unit which is cleverly hidden under the seat. I've only been out on one test ride and the smooth streets didn't allow me to gauge the effectiveness of the suspension.

The power side chain idler and start of the power side chain tube. I moved the chain tube further away from the idler after this pic was taken. The big toothed idler works well, but like the front one, it is quite noisy.

The wheels are shod with some Continental 20" x 1.1" SportContact tires. I'll roll with these for now and see how they perform. The Taifun has loads of clearance for wide tires so I will eventually put on something like a Schwalbe Marathon Racer 20" x 1.5"

A Tiagra rear der moves the chain around in back. I have a XTR rear der in my parts box that may go on. I want to see how the Tiagra unit does before I switch. The cassette is a 11T-28T 8 speed unit. I have a 9 speed 11-34 cassette that I may put on, but I am not sure there will be any need for such low gearing with a 20" rear wheel.

Here the Taifun is setup with Hostel Shoppe seatbag and Radical Designs Lowracer panniers. I'll use these bags for lightweight credit card tours.

Little Brother

I bought a nearly new, but slightly used Taifun from Frank over at BROL. It was a good deal and will allow me to sample a bike from the Challenge line up without paying full price. I will add more info and pics soon, but I thought this picture Sarah took sums up the difference between my Volae highracer and the Challenge low[-ish]racer nicely.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Impulse shopping?

The staff at Bentley Cycle cunningly left two shiny new trikes sitting around the shop. Since I had some time to kill while Bob was trying out his new Expedition I was bound to check out these bikes. I have a weakness for new bikes and these ones looked nice, but being clever myself I didn't bring my wallet with me into the shop.

Bob's Expedition Arrives

The boys from Bentley Cycle setting up Bob on his new Catrike Expedition

Returning from his maiden ride with a recumbent smile.

Bob contemplates riding the trike back to Calgary.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Getting dirty with my Volae

I took all the bags and tools off my Volae to weigh it. She's a portly 33lbs including fenders, seat cushion and pedals. Fully loaded with my rando gear, but no water she weighs 39lbs. No wonder I get such a great uphill workout! I could leave the spare tire at home and put on some lighter rubber & lighter pedals. That would save around 1 to 2lbs. Maybe later in the season. For now I'll just take a perverse pleasure in riding the heaviest bike on the brevet.

Stripped down she looks quite sexy and simple. I have to hand it to Volae they really hit a home run with these bents. Every detail has been well executed and nothing has been overlooked. Probably the best designed bike I own.

I took the opportunity to adjust the seat bit more in search of the perfect fit. Volae has developed a really smart seat clamp that adjusts with two QRs and completely releases the seat with two other QRs. It makes seat adjustments a snap and when you remove and reinstall the seat it goes back on in exactly the same position.

I adjusted the headset and made sure my disc rotors/calipers were bolted on securely. It is a nice feeling to go over your bike making sure everything is just right. Now I need to get her out on the road for another ride.

14 Degrees...

Click on the pic above to visit Rob's website about his bent tour from Korea to London.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Taifuns on Tour in Cuba

I'm a sucker for bike tour porn. Click on the pic for more images.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

One Year of Trucking...

An email I sent to the Surly LHT/CC Google Group:

"As I was riding my LHT home yesterday I realized it was about a year since I first got her on the road. Our relationship started on a rocky note when I realized the brake studs were misaligned when they welded them on. That quality control issue and then the 4-5 months I had to wait to get a replacement frame soured me a bit to the Surly Love Cult that seems to pervade the net. However, the long wait for a replacement frame forced me to put a lot of kms on my LHT. By the time I got the replacement frame in I didn’t want to bother swapping components until the winter so I wouldn’t lose any time on the saddle. Then my December Baja tour came together I didn’t want to swap to the new frame right before a big tour and risk having troubles in the middle of nowhere. Finally after Baja I realized I had bonded with my sage green LHT over our several thousand KMs together and I decided to just keep riding her. Anna benefited as she rec’d my warranty frame and swapped the parts from her REI Randonee to a red cherry pearl LHT.

So what do I think about my LHT after a year? It is my most versatile bike and it fits me the best of any bike I have owned. I have been on two tours with my LHT and it has handled long days in the saddle well. I was able to rocket down mountain passes with confidence and I can climb my LHT like a goat on fire – even loaded with gear. When unloaded I can bomb around town with the roadies and then I can go haul a week’s worth of groceries home. I’m very pleased with the Schwalbe Marathon XRs in 35mm width. They seem as fast as the 32mm standard marathons I was running before and they are comfortable. Best of all I have room for fenders AND big tires. The shimano barend shifters and XT rear der shift better than any other bike I have had – I love the friction shifting up front. I managed to get really lucky and hang just the right combination of parts off this frame. It isn’t any one component or just the frame – somehow all of these things have come together to make a very special bike.

I guess what says it all is that if I had to get rid of all my bikes, except for one, I’d keep the LHT.

Keep on trucking….


Hachi Lowcracer

Rob English's fast bike. Click on the pic for more info. Thanks to Allan for posting the link.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pathway Ramble

Sarah and I got out for a 40km ride today on the Calgary pathway system.

She is a fast climber on a heavy mtn bike with phat tires. We'll have to get her a light bike and see what happens.

Sucking in my aerobelly. I rode an extra 25kms just to help drop some of my winter ballast!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Toronto Cyclist Assaulted... road raging motorist. BUT, some school kids caught the whole thing on tape. Sweet! Click on the pic above to read more and see the video. Should be a slam dunk for the judge.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Lake Chestermere Ride

Chris Hunt suggested some of the Calgary Recumbent Crew get together and ride out to Lake Chestermere.
Five hardy souls showed up and we enjoyed a warm and sunny ride out of the city along the bike pathways. Chris was aboard his yellow Giro 20. John rode a red Burley Django. James was on the Wiz Wheels trike - not sure of the model?? Arlen had a silver Rans Rocket that he rode across Canada on.

It was nice to meet some more Calgary bent riders and chat about all things recumbent.

My dual 26" SWB is not ideal for all the pathway obstacles, but it was good handling practice for me to try and overcome the many challenges the pathways presented. I was definitely envious of the lower seats and more upright positions some of the other guys had with their smaller wheeled bikes.

80kms door to door and a little closer to getting my bent legs. I'm looking forward to our next get together - hopefully a highway ride without any tight gates to slalom through!

Thanks for making it happen Chris.