Friday, December 8, 2017

Climbing HWY 46

When climbing HWY 46 I travel light with my Catrike 700. With a 19 inch low gear and a light trike climbing is relaxed , slow and steady. My motivation to climb is the anticipation of turning around for a fast punker up downhill run. It's not necessary to always shoot for the top, there's plenty of good downhill riding. Except for two very short rough patches the road is in excellent condition with gentle turns that make braking unnecessary. But I keep hands close to the brake levers as speeds edge up over 50 mph. 

I've even cheated before and let Carrie drive me to the top. I unload the trike about 100 yards from the top so I can warm up my legs on a short climb and then let go and have fun. I may be turning 64 in a few days but I still like the rush of going fast while laid back just a few inches off the ground.
Profile of HWY 46 starting at HWY 1 and going to the top.

Taking a break.
Almost at the top. (Picture form 12/24/16)
 View from up high. Morro Rock in background. (Picture form12/24/16)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Thoughts On Seat Angle, Suspension and Tires

Picture from a few years ago on HWY 1
My motivation for adding a suspended ICE Sprint FS to accompany my Catrike 700 in my garage was the many miles of chip seal I have to ride when venturing North of Cambria on HWY 1. Which is usually once a week. I've now  had plenty of time to experiment with tire selection and pressure, suspension vs non-suspension and seat angle. I've come to the conclusion that seat angle plays the biggest role in determining the level of comfort when riding the many miles of chip sealed roads. For me a seat angle of 37 degrees to 40 degrees is the most comfortable position on these roads and still allows for good power transfer to the pedals. 

I've been trying to negotiate a compromise between comfort and speed. So I went with the minimalist suspension of the ICE Sprint with 28mm Durano tires. But I found that my Catrike 700 with 35mm Kojaks do nearly as good a job as the elastomer suspension system of the Sprint in isolating the constant vibration of the chip seal.

The Sprint elastomer suspension works nicely on the occasional rut, road seam and the minor road imperfections.  And it's probably great for trail riding. But it's the chip seal I'm trying to tame without sacrificing too much speed.

With my titanium hips I may be a slow dog on hills but when the road levels out I like to feel the speed. Especially down hills. And on those days when I choose to cruise the coast loaded with creature comforts I don't want to push extra weight that's not benefiting me in any meaningful way.

I'm tending to think that the whole suspension craze is overrated. There is a definite need for a suspended ride but you have to remember it comes at the cost of a heavier and mushier trike  that requires more calories to per mile.

Now that I've figured out that seat angle makes the biggest difference on rough roads, it's time to re-examine the non-suspended option that I was considering earlier, the Catrike Expedition with it's 37 degree seat angle. I feel it's the best and most versatile trike on the market. Also it won't empty your bank account.

My old Catrike Expedition from back in the day when I use to pull ma doggie
and load up with every possible creature comfort. Of course that was pre-hip replacement
days. Now I prefer to ride a little lighter. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Direct vs Indirect Steering

Everyone has an opinion and I'm no exception. And here's my opinion on direct steering versus indirect steering.

My take on this subject is influenced by many years of riding Catrikes with direct steering and more recently riding my ICE SprintX FS with indirect steering. With direct steering the handlebars are connected to the headset of each wheel. Steering is a simple right or left movement.  With indirect steering the handlebars are connected to a pivot point at the center of the trike. From there it connects to the wheel via some sort of linkage. Steering is accomplished my pushing and pulling the handlebars.

Direct steering

Indirect steering

Direct steering

- Good road feel. Especially welcomed at higher speeds.
- Simplicity of design makes maintenance easier. Especially when adjusting toe in.

- Wheel vibration on rough roads is more pronounced. It's important on rough roads to avoid a "death grip". Relaxed hands and arms is important, especially on rough roads.

Indirect steering

- Wheel vibration telegraphed through the handlebars is less pronounced. The steering linkage absorbs some of the rough road conditions. Combined with front suspension the rough roads are easily tamed.
- Smooth and easy to turn.

- Disconnect from feeling the road. I find the lack of road feel to be a bit disconcerting at speeds over 30mph. The steering can feel a little squirrelly at higher speeds. The Sprint has an adjustable steering damper that helps the steering from feeling too loose. I feel I need more time on the fast roads before I get truly accustomed to indirect steering at higher speeds.
- More complex design requiring more skill to maintain. Toe in adjustment is more complicated.
- For weight weenies the extra steering linkage components means a little extra weight.

All things being equal I personally prefer direct steering.  I feel more connected with the road and I prefer the simplicity of design of the direct steering. Whether you go with direct or indirect steering it all comes down to the overall quality of the trike and deciding which features are important to you when choosing a trike.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ortlieb Bottle (Speaker) Holder

As far as water bottle holders go Ortlieb's add on water bottle holder for Ortlieb panniers seemed a little funky at first. But it works well for bottles and more importantly for my JBL Charge speaker.

The Ortleib water holder mounted on my Ortlieb front rider pannier. 
I like using the small panniers when I ride my ICE Sprint so I can carry more stuff on longer rides.

My JBL Charge in the water bottle holder. 
The water bottle holder consists of three straps that have to be connected at the back of the holder. The JBL Charge usually fits in most frame mounted water bottle holders but it's a little too big for the Ortleib holder. The center strap of the Ortlieb holder is a little tighter then the top and bottom straps. I leave one side of the center strap unconnected to accommodate the speaker. Even without the center strapped connected the speaker remains firmly in place. 

Closeup of the Ortlieb water bottle holder. The center strap on the opposite is left unconnected to allow for the JBL Charge to slip in. When the center strap is connected on both sides it creates a pressure ring that keeps a water bottle from bouncing out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

So Much More to See

Cars, SUVs and buses are passing me by at 55mph and usually more as I ride HWY 1 along the Central Coast. They're headed to their pre-planned tourist destination. Occasionally they'll stop at a point of interest that yells out to them, like the Hearst Zebras that sometimes graze close to HWY 1. As they're whizzing along, the world beyond their steel beast is a blur. "So much to see and so little time to see it" is the mantra of the typical visitor trying to take it all in.  While I'm riding along on my trike it's not uncommon to see visitors park at a turnout, pop out of their car, take a picture and move on to the next picture opportunity. 

Cyclists see the world in slow motion, seeing the details around them. Recumbent cyclists especially have a unique vantage point in the world of cycling. Riding laid back allows a recumbent cyclist to take it all in. And then there's the recumbent trike for those who are in no hurry and want to see it all without the bother of balance or maintaining a minimum speed. And imperfections in the road that may be a hazard for the two wheeled cyclist is just a nuisance for the adventurous triker.

So much more to see on a trike.

This little gem of a cove is only visible to the observant cyclist. It's packed with Elephant Seals this time of year. Cars go speeding by on their way to the official Elephant Seal viewing area another 1/3 of a mile up the coast. There you'll find plenty of other car centric visitors walking the fenced boardwalk that keeps the Elephant Seals safe from the antics of human visitors.

A blubbery mass of Elephant Seals.

Friday, November 3, 2017

ICE Sprint Mesh Seat - All is Good

My brain kicked in and I figured out what I needed to do to make the Sprint mesh seat comfortable for me. It's all about adjusting the right seat straps.

On my Catrike 700 seat I keep all the seat straps as tight as possible and I'm comfortable. So I used the same strategy with my new ICE Sprint. I started off riding on the Sprint mesh seat with all the straps pulled tight. I felt like I was at the edge of the seat and my hip muscles would sometimes get uncomfortable (all the details here). So I played around with adjusting the straps under the bottom of the seat. Adjusting only the bottom of the seat made sense to me at the time. The seat still didn't feel right.

I started to give up. I even tried selling the Sprint. I had a buyer who was new to trikes but he backed out at the last minute. I took it as a sign from the triking Gods that I needed to give it another try. And then in a moment of clarity my 63 year old brain (almost 64) started to work and the answer came to me. I went down to the garage, took the seat off the Sprint and started making the necessary new adjustments.

Sure enough after adjusting the seat and throwing it back on the Sprint I rode off in comfort. Now comfortable I've been taking longer rides on the Sprint without any issues.

Why I didn't try this earlier I don't have a good excuse. I tighten all the straps to their max but loosened the bottom three straps behind the seat back (not the seat bottom). The third strap from the bottom is now a little bit loose. The second from the bottom is a little looser and the last the strap at the bottom of the seat back is the loosest of the three. The strap adjustment changed the ergonomics of the mesh seat just enough to resolve my issues with the seat. It allows my rear end to settle deeper into the seat. The adjustment also provides better lumber support. All is now good down south.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Event Rides and Salad

As a vegetarian since 2011, primarily for personal health reasons, I've learned that a vegetarian menu can be just as hearty and varied as a meal that includes meat.  Look no further then Indian food for great vegetarian meals. A vegetarian menu in the United States is considered to be a salad, veggie burger and now oversized mushrooms. 

And then there is the cycling event rides where the end of the ride meal for us non-meat eaters is usually a lettuce salad with a beard roll, usually stale. A sizable portion of the event fee is allocated to the food. Food that doesn't satisfy us vegetarians.  No wonder I avoid signing up for event rides. When I'm done riding I want a real meal so in the past I've brought my own food to an event ride.

Restaurants and events haven't figured how to prepare good non-meat meals. Sometimes it's hard for them to figure out how to put together a decent meal of any kind.

I know event rides have other draws besides food. Charity support and socializing to name a couple. BUT no matter what your food preferences happen be, good food at the end of a ride is right at the top of the list of reasons to do an event ride.

Final musing. Why is it that at a BBQ serving a veggie burger option, they always run out of veggie burgers when there were more then enough veggie patties to feed the herbivores?