Wednesday, April 2, 2014

First Day of Spring Training, and Some Trike Modifications

For my first true Spring ride, I chose the cyclist's paradise of Shelter Island. Located between the North and South Forks of Long Island, the island offers varied terrain, good roads, excellent scenery, and minimal traffic off season.
The above map gives a good idea of the type of riding to be done here. As there are no bridges, the only way onto the island is by boat or by air. I chose the South Ferry out of Sag Harbor, and enjoyed the 10 minute ride. 
I am often asked how I transport my Catrike Expedition trike. Extensive pre purchase research led me to believe that I would be able to fit it in my 2012 Subaru Outback with the seats folded down.
The fit has been so easy, that I can now routinely put the trike in and out of the Subaru much faster than using the roof rack for my traditional upright 2 wheeled bikes. Success! For the Spring season, I have made two modifications to the Catrike. The first is to replace the middle and large chainrings with Rotor chainrings. The are a bit finicky to set up, but smooth out the pedal stroke to allow maximum power transfer. This gives me a very usable 30-40-50 chainring range. The second modification has been to replace the stock Schwalbe Marathon Racer tires with Schwalbe Duranos all around. The new tires have a lower profile and seem to be about 2-3mph faster than the Marathons. The inflation range is 85-115 psi, an I chose the compromise of 100 psi all around. Of course, the ride is not as cushy as the Marathons, but is acceptable under the circumstances. I believe that the Duranos will give me a better edge in the upcoming 110 mile Ride to Montauk on May 31.
Shelter Island is a great place to view wildlife, including numerous wild turkeys. This Tom had a brood of 8 hens. What a ratio!
As usual, the day came to an end. The ferry back was crowded with cars, and sometimes riding a trike makes one feel a little bit small. With two 1 watt Planet Bike flashers, and a bright flag, trike visibility has been very good so far. More than any of my other bikes, including my now sold Volae Century two wheeled recumbent, drivers seem to give me lots of room. Of course, I am selective in the roads that I ride, and avoid heavy traffic areas.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An Excellent Weekend in Vermont

We were able to take a four day weekend and go to Southern Vermont for some Cross Country skiing and relaxation. Helen and I drove up to West Dover Vermont on Friday afternoon in a significantly heavy rainstorm. We assumed that the conditions for cross country skiing would be miserable. Our friends from Boston, Ron and Phil, joined us for the weekend. Many thanks to Helen's cousins for the loan of their condo for our stay.
On Saturday, we chose to travel northward to Viking Nordic Center, in Londonderry, Vermont. At this venue, which is the oldest XC ski center in the USA, we found excellent skiing conditions and professionally groomed trails. The center provides about 40km of trails of varying types, and is a satisfying one day ski. 
Fortunately, Vermont has had a lot of snow lately, and base depths of 30"-45" are common. For our second day of skiing, we stayed locally at the Timber Creek Cross Country Ski area. The trails were a little icy to start, but warmed up in the afternoon, and became slow and soft with the temperature in the high 30's F. 
On Monday, Helen and I skied Prospect Mountain XC center, in Woodford, Vermont. Due to the elevation of this former Alpine ski mountain, the conditions are usually favorable, and there is almost always snow. The temperature fell to 19 degrees F, and the wind was blowing. We had a great ski on the wide open trails, although it was a little colder than out previous spring like experience.
For our return to Long Island, we took the slower but more scenic route back via Bennington Vermont. There, we had a late lunch at the Blue Benn Diner, long a fixture of the area. Ready at our table was a Seeburg 160 Wall-O-Matic. One quarter for two songs seems reasonable, and our meal was lit up by the sounds of oldies. All in all, it was a great weekend .

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Morning of Snowshoeing

Our winter weather and snowboundedness has continued for quite a few weeks now. Last night brought a few more inches on top of the top crusted foot of snow from earlier in the week. The snow crust will not support my body, and a lot of post-holing has been going on. Cycling has not been possible in these conditions for over a week, although I did get a good trike/bike weekend in last weekend. Since I hate going to the gym, I got out my original Vermont made Tubbs snowshoes for a few hours of shoeing in the crusty mess.
The stark beauty of our local winter scene has always fascinated me. From the time I was a small child, I loved to participate in winter sports. My first choice is XC skiing, but that was impossible on the unstable crust, even with my wider full metal edged backcountry skis. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Thinking of Spring

As I sit inside during our current snowstorm, I am thinking of the coming Spring. Riding time has been scarce over the past two months. Given our Long Island climate, Cross Country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities have been few and far between. During the past year, I almost died from serious medical problems and have come back stronger than ever. Although I only did one century ride in the 2013 season, I made up the mileage in shorter and more frequent rides. One big change is my return to recumbent cycling, with the purchase of a Catrike Expedition trike. This machine is a blast to ride. I often will not even get up out of the seat for an entire 30-40 mile ride,snacking or resting in place. I definitely agree with many others that the 37 degre riding position of this trike is ideal for the long distance haul. I was able to climb all the hills on Shelter Island, and have come to appreciate the beauty of the slow and steady climb. Do not assume that I have given up upright cycling, as I am active on my regular road, fixed gear, and cyclocross bikes. For the New Year, my immediate goal is to complete a century ride on the Catrike Expedition. To this end, I have been active in the gym, doing recumbent and incline leg press training.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A 100km Fixed Gear Ride Long Island's North Fork

It was a wonderful day. The temperature was 78F and September was almost over. No clouds were in the sky, and a gentle breeze was blowing from the West, as it almost always does in this part of the country. I decided to take a 100km ride from Mattituck to Orient Point and back, traversing the North Fork of Long Island.
Most people fromother places do not realize that Long Island is not just a lot of suburbs, but has a wonderful set of forks, the North and the South. The North Fork is mainly agricultural, and has a myriad of wineries and farmstands to explore. Those looking for glitz had better travel to the South Fork instead. For today's ride, I chose Miss Pinarello, my 1984 Italian made bike, which rides as well as when I got her 29 years ago. The current equipment iteration is as a fixed gear, and my 68.4 gear inch ratio was perfect for the flattish to rolling hills of this ride.

Lots and lots of wineries dot the low traffic and highly scenic route. Along the way, the town of Greenport offers a nice walk around, with shops, crafts, restaurants, and a ferry to Shelter Island...but that is another story for another time. Lots and lots of farmstands are also along the route, many of them small family affairs

A visit to Shelter Island: On the Road with a Catrike Expedition

After about 200 miles of sheltered riding in a no vehicular traffic zone, it was time to go out and discover the real life road. I will be selective about where to trike, and would never consider myself an urban traffic warrior. It is well known that Long Island is, in general, very cycle-unfriendly. Sheltered bike paths are uncommon, and lots of people just don't ride on the road due to fear. When travelling in California, Paris, and Israel, I found cycle friendly communities, where both could co-exist. Not so for Long Island at this time.   

For it's first road trip, I selected Shelter Island, which lies between Long Island's North and South forks. In season it is crowded with summer residents and visitors, but out of season, it is esentially deserted, and has good roads, lots of varied terrain, and wonderful water views. Shelter Island is not accessable by road, and in order to visit, one must take the ferry. This was easily accomplished, via a 3.5 mile bike path originating from Sag Harbor.

As expected, I had the island largely to myself. My Catrike Expedition performed well during the 38.85 mile ride. Climbing the road to Ram Island was challenging, but the absence of having to maintain a minimum speed to balance on my two wheeled recumbent was something that I greatly appreciated. All in all, the trike performed smoothly and was super comfortable over the slightly longer distance. I believe that doing a century ride on this trike in the Spring is a realistic expectation.

During the last portion of my Shelter island ride, I ran across some friendly witches!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I Visit the Dark Side: A Recumbent Trike Comes Into My Life

It had been coming for a long time. My curiosity about recumbent bikes had been brewing for a number of years. I owned a 2006 Volae two wheeled recumbent from 2006 until recently, when I sold it to a wonderful guy from northern Alabama. I had put on 10,300 miles on it between 2/06 and 6/09, then went back to upright bikes, especially my beloved fixed gear Pinarello. On several occasions, I had the opportunity to demo recumbent trikes, and had an absolute blast every second of those rides. After lots and lots of research, I purchased a Catrike Expedition recumbent trike from the wonderful folks at the Hostel Shoppe in Wisconson.

Catrikes are manufactured in Winter Haven, Florida, and the frame is a 100% USA made product. My Catrike serial # is CTE3385. This trike frame and component design is intended to be a sport-touring setup. It is not the fastest racing machine, but gives a good account of itself in the rapidity department. The main attraction has been the extreme comfort of the riding position. No neck, hand, back or butt pains so far. I hit the 200 mile mark today, and am totally satisfied with my new trike. I would like to train over the fall and winter, and make this Catrike into a comfortable century machine.
I usually only buy a frame and then add my desired components, but the Catrike comes well equipped with Avid BB7 disc brakes, a SRAM 10 speed drivetrain, and Schwalbe Marathon Racer tires. For now, this will be a good combination. In the Spring, I may experimant with Rotor chainrings and Schwalbe KOjak tires for a speed boost over long distances. I have a Shelter Island ride palnned for later in the week, and that will be the first test of road riding. I have a flag and two-one watt Planet Bike flashers for visibility.