Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Trike Wins

Well, I have been putting in more and more local rides on both sets of wheels. With the completion of the Cycle Oregon Weekend I am just about to call it - for me, hands down, the trike simply wins and provides the best overall cycling experience I can imagine. While I do still enjoy riding on two wheels, the more time I spend riding my trike the more the glossy sheen of two wheels fades.

Part of this journey is in discovering what type of rider you are. I am not a racer type. I am not built for it, nor do I really desire to be one if I could. Acceptance of that fact is quite an enlightening and freeing experience. For those who want to always be like Lance - thats OK - I imagine you would not be caught dead on a trike to begin with. For the rest of us....

Cycling is more about the fun of rolling down the road - wether that be fast or slow. For others who want to race, or chase the rabbits, that is fine, go forth and do so. But nothing kills the great buzz of riding a bike faster than trying to always ride like someone you are not.

Having found the inner purpose, on to the wheels. Riding the trike has allowed me to ride with more relaxation and sense of freedom than ever. On that platform, the entire horizon is the movie screen. The feeling of safety of the road is better. No worries about slow speed wobbles. Venturing into unknown territory where the steepness of the climbs is a mystery is no longer a fearful thing. Bring it all on.

On the Corsa I just cannot say the same. It is a lighter ride, and I can climb most of the local smaller hills faster on it, but that speed increase comes with a large sense of discomfort. Cars are closer to me when they pass. There is always a bit of wobble present. The rearview is less steady. Having to stop and start at lights, etc is a real hassle after doing the same on a trike. It is simply amazing how much energy goes into balancing two wheels.

I do still enjoy the swooping feeling of carving a nice downhill on two wheels - nothing can compare. But getting there has become too enjoyable on the trike. I have to wonder if the days of keeping the two wheeler are numbered. A few seasons might have to elapse before the ultimate decision is made to sell it off or not but for now, the trike simply wins hands down.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rush Hour in The Netherlands

Here is a great video of bike rush hour in The Netherlands. Found this in via bentrideronline. The video is sped up quite a bit which makes it a bit hairy to watch... but for what its worth I was impressed - it is like watching a well oiled machine!

Oh but to have something like that here in the good old USA. Maybe someday - only the cyclists will have to weave around all the burned out autos that remain.

Goals For Cycle Oregon Week

In my preparations for Cycle Oregon this year I have been thinking - what have I done or not done in past CO trips that I want to ensure happen this year? As such I have come up with some overall own personal CO mission statements I guess.

1. Ride slower and enjoy the journey. This is a hard one for me sometimes and the desire to turn CO into another training exercise for nothing is strong. In past years speed came all too easy being on high racer recumbents. This year on the trike I will have the perfect platform for cruising and relaxing.

2. Ignore the speedo. Following #1 is to not take tabs every mile of my average speed, etc. I'll keep it on to keep the milage totals, but might just put a piece of tape over it.

3. Stop at the sights. Focusing on the speed and "OMG I have to maintain my average speed" has caused me to to blow past sights and photo ops on past CO trips. Later I think, wow, that was dumb. Example: Last year I saw that little coffee place the last day that had the banana outside and half a VW through the wall. I thought how cool that was. I blew past it as I "had a pace going" and wanted to maintain it. Lame. This year I get to redeem myself by stopping there and enjoying their wares and a bit of conversation. Repeat at as many places as feasible along the way.

4. Ask people to take pictures of me and take others for them. I wind up with a zillion pictures and videos of my CO adventures and about 2 pictures of myself. Asking others to take a pic and then offering to take theirs for them is a good conversation starter and good for the scrapbook too.

5. Savor the harder parts of the ride. In the past I have stared at the maps for long periods dreading parts of the ride. I speak of the steep climbs. I would worry over them before i was even there. Would I fall over? Will I be unable to unclip if I stall out? On three wheels this year I have decided to not think about it. How steep is that grade? Oh I forgot to think about it on the way up. I know from past experience if I just keep spinning I will make it to the top so getting my tummy all in knots is not worth it.

6. Thank every volunteer I can for their time. Too often I have not done this in the past. Not that I don't appreciate it or never said "thanks" but I need to verbalize it more - "thank you so much for volunteering!" I did this on the weekend ride really for the first time and it felt great to say and more than once led to further conversation and good memories.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

You Are Too Wide On That Thing!!!

Many times when stopped for coffee, etc. or on an organized ride on the trike I get the "that is so wide on the road it would freak me out" comment. This has always struck me as odd - I have never thought I was SO wide - I figure maybe I just LOOK wider. When I am following other riders I am not typically hanging out radically further than they are.

This comment is especially hilarious to me when it comes from some roadies as they pass me and then continue riding two abreast completely oblivious to their own road hoggishness while I yell out "car back" at the top of my lungs.

Am I really wider? Are trikes road hogs? Too dangerous for the road? I decided to conduct a bit of a non-scientific experiment. I will contend that trikes are indeed NOT really much wider than two wheel bents in real riding situations. Certainly not much wider than most people would believe upon first glance.

First, a few brief statements of which I strongly believe:

1. Trikes can easily ride the right tire on "the edge" of the road. Most times this can be done with little fear of "catching the edge" and being tossed into or off of the ditch/gully/trees/cliff face, etc.

2. Riding along "the edge" of the road on two wheels is a tenuous at best option and can easily cause a wreck should you weave just a bit and go off the road surface.

3. Where no steep slope or curbing exists off of "the edge" a trike rider can ride the right wheel off of the road if needed. This is especially true if equipped with the right meats on the rims.

4. One can be far more stable on a trike when the going gets tough - such as on a steep climb. This allows for more attention to the road behind and less weaving off of your line (if any weaving at all).

5. On long or steep climbs keeping a dead-eye straight line on two wheels is very difficult at best so some weave is a given. This impacts a riders ability to pay attention to the rear.

6. Having to ditch a two wheel bike off into the roadside could easily cause a wreck. Having to ditch a trike off the same may cause a wreck, but it is less likely.

OK given the above - on to the pictures. 

I set my QNT on the road, right tire a few inches from "the edge" in this case. To the left of the left wheel you see a chalk line that represents an approximation of my "total road space" I might use. This is around 34" wide.

Next, I sat on the Corsa SS with the tires on the centerline where the QNT rear tire track would be. This distance from the road surface edge is close to where I ride and I imagine most do. The chalk line is less visible in this pic, but I will say that the width is NO different in total if a line were drawn straight up from it. The "width" is just in a different place. All the road width here is up at my shoulders. On the trike the width is all on the road footprint. 

Next I decided to take a picture of what IMHO is the most unsafe riding situation for a two wheeler - being literally a few inches from "the edge" of the road surface. This picture places the Corsa SS track on the right wheel track of where the QNT sat. When I ride, this is a hairy place for me. If the "off edge" surface is full of rocks, is a steep slope, is soft material, etc. I do not like to be so close to the edge. Riding this fine line is hard enough when you are alone and significantly cuts into your ability to pay attention to the rearview mirror. It is also near impossible to do on a steep climb, even for the best of riders. Add some traffic coming and you have a lot of stress and you are in a really bad location on the road. But for the sake of argument lets say you can be in complete Zen mode and stay 1" from the edge.

I had my assistant drop a straight line from the widest point in that picture to the ground. It was about 12" to the inside of the original line.


Under static conditions like this - at MOST I am around 1 foot wider on the trike than when on the Corsa. Given that I rarely ride 1-2" from the edge of the road on the two wheeler, that difference in width under real riding conditions is even less. If there is no shoulder but I can take the right wheel off the road surface, I am perhaps LESS wide than when on the Corsa (See #2,3,4,5 above) Typically I try to stay around a foot from the edge of the road under nearly all situations when on two wheels to account for a bit of weave if climbing and to just stay clear from accidentally going into a ditch. If this is the case for many riders, that makes the effective width the SAME on either the trike or a bike. It is the perception of width that throws people. I also believe this perception is why on the trike cars go way around me while when on the Corsa I get people squeezing me and passing too close at times.

Hypothesis accepted.

Additional notes and thoughts: 

A. Riding very close to the edge of the road on two wheels is a special invite for people to "squeeze" past you possibly brushing you off the road. This can be a very stress inducing situation. 

B. Sometimes when on two wheels I have become nervous about a driver behind me on a climb so I decide to "hug the edge" of the lane. These are the times when I get brushed or feel that oh-so-close whoosh of air from a mirror or car side. I have learned to not put myself in this "on edge" situation. I feel that doing so makes a rider appear to concede to a weaker position where the motorist can easily "check mate" you and then make that attempt to squeeze and blow past.

So, for me at least, the reality is that my effective width is not much different on the trike. Sometimes maybe more, most of the time the same, and sometimes less. Easily less than a foot difference MOST of the time.

I'll also add that any road I have been on so far where the trike was uncomfortable I would be equally or even more uncomfortable on two wheels and I avoid those anyway. 

YOUR thoughts?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cycle Oregon 2010 - The Video

Finished our video of the Cycle Oregon 2010 trip. What a blast! We are already looking forward to next year and I personally and even more excited for the week ride to get here! Just over 50 days remaining!!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Cycle Oregon Weekend 2010

Well, another Cycle Oregon trip is done. As all of them do - it went just way too fast. There was really nothing to complain about either. What more could you want? A weekend of perfect riding weather, great roads, great company, and the great community that is Cycle Oregon!

I am in the process of getting all my pictures and video clips imported - I am looking forward to putting this years video together. A lot of material to go through, as we were letting the camera fly quite a bit during the trip.

A few teaser pictures below:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

ONE Week Until Cycle Oregon Weekend!

The timer is ticking down - time to start packing for the Cycle Oregon Weekend! With the weather in Oregon of the last few days, it is shaping up to be another hot ride!

Looks like the lucky ones will arrive early on the first day to snag a shady spot for their tent.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Big Apples Are Indeed BIG

Sometimes the itch to try something radically different than what you have already strikes you. I have had that happen with my tires on the QNT trike. I have been running Schwalbe Duranos for some time now. While the Duranos have performed well, I do have to admit that the high pressure and skinny profile leaves a lot to be desired comfort-wise, even with an elastomer rear damper equipped trike to soften the jolts.

So why not swing to the complete opposite side of the tire spectrum, eh? Enter the Schwalbe Big Apple Liteskins. These are the folding versions of the Big Apple  tire and are 20"x 2.15". They are leagues bigger than the Duranos I am used to seeing spinning at my sides.

I have yet to take a really long test ride on these, but my observations so far:

1. The tires are freakishly large looking. The trike looks like I am going to try to ride across a pond or something. I am not sure yet how I like the aesthetics of this.

2. The Big Apples seem to roll easily as well as the Duranos, with a benefit of giving me some extra gearing on the downhills due to the larger diameter. To be honest if there is a difference in the relaxed cruising speed on a smooth surface between the BA's at 50 psi and the Duranos at 100 psi I cannot perceive it.

3. Some road imperfections that used to rattle the front end like crazy with the Duranos are non-issues with the Big Apples.

4. Today there was some rain - which was good as I wondered about the wet traction. The Duranos seem to have better wet traction. I was able to get the front to push a bit with the Big Apples and I have never had that experience before.

5. On slower speed cornering below 15 MPH the Big Apples seem pretty predictable as to when the trike is about to lift a wheel.

6. Steering seems light and nimble. I was expecting some sluggishness but quick side to side moves are easy and light.

7. The BA's seem to climb quite nicely. On a few short and steep climbs I am used to I did not seem to be working any harder to maintain the same speed. I should note that with both tires I have done roll out measurements to set my speedo...

8. I have to say it again - they still just look so freakishly HUGE on the trike. Even from the pilot's view - they are huge looking as they roll along. HA! I guess I am just not used to it yet. Looking at my trike from above it actually looks a lot narrower than when I had the Duranos on it. Odd.

With the Duranos, I had learned what the tipping point was by riding the local school parking lot. So, I headed off to the same lot to test the BA's. After some riding, the BA's have what I would say is an "easier" tipping point than the Duranos - I can get the inside wheel to lift much easier than with the Duranos. I am not sure exactly how to feel about this and am a bit conflicted - especially as I am addicted normally to hard cornering and fast downhills.

The conflicted feeling comes from this: the tipping point with the BA's seems VERY predictable, versus the tipping point of the Duranos which is much more sudden. Within a few minutes of cornering and learning the tip point with BA's I was riding on two wheels in a very controlled manner, including riding in circles, etc. I could never do that with the Duranos, as once the wheel would lift it would go over if not immediately corrected. The BA's seem to just roooollll up their side like I was riding one wheel up a ramp. Granted this is all at slow parking lot speed so the next test will be to see how this changes the high speed cornering feel.

So far in all my maneuvers I have not noticed any extra slop or vague feeling to the steering. If anything the steering has gained a smoother feel to it.