Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ride Ataxia Dallas

Saturday marked the first time I had done a T-shirt ride in years. The first, since we did part of Octaginta (in Kansas) shortly after moving to Texas. Let's just say it's been a while!

I was hooked up with the good folks from Team Easy Street (aka Easy Street Recumbents in Austin TX). All the riders I met were on recumbent bikes or trikes. Some of our riders came up all the way from Houston, though some of us were from DFW.

We first met up with each other at Outback Steakhouse in Lewisville the night before, to do packet pickup. It was great to talk with Jane and Greg, and play with Sweet Pea (their trike-riding Pug dog).

The 50mile route started at 8:00am so I got up early, and just missed getting caught up in a big wreck on Hwy 380, that did catch some other folks in the traffic jam. The ride was very well organized, with numerous volunteers directing bikers to the parking spots and the other "necessaries", like bathrooms! We had access to the UNT stadium which was nice.

There were 5 recumbent bikes I saw on the 50mi route, and all were with Team Easy Street.

There were 2 Musashi's, a Bacchetta CA2.0, Bacchetta Giro 26 (me), and the Bacchetta Ti-Aero. It was fun to ride with some other bent riders. The most of the roadies may have been faster than me, but I know I was more comfortable!

The rest stops were sponsored by Outback Steakhouse, and they served grilled chicken and steak! Along with more traditional SAG fare (PBJ's, bananas, oranges, cookies, Power Bars, granola bars, Clif Bars, etc). The rest stops were well spaced, and all had reasonable 'facilities'. I tell ya, there's something nice about smelling grilled steak as you ride up to a SAG!

The weather was as perfect as you could ask for, especially considering it's Texas! It was sunny, and cool at the start, and NO WIND!!! That in itself was a near-miracle! The temps stayed nice all day too. Perfect riding weather.

I finished the 50 miles in 4:00:11 by the Cateye for riding time, and under 5:40 hrs for total elapsed time. My avg speed was 12.6, which wasn't too shabby for me. The bike handled really well, and the headrest is working out nicely. It helps a lot to be able to relax so much while riding.

This ride was a great ride, and I hope to do it again in the future, although I will probably let Dave do this ride next year. He needs to experience the joys of steak served on a ride!

Friday, March 23, 2012


Let's face it, we're not getting any younger.  Middle aged spread occurs unless you fight it, and such pains as arthritis set in...and this is all worse in dogs.  Dogs age so fast, it doesn't seem fair.  Our dear Charlie, is old.  He turned 12 last November, and the poor guy is slowing way down.  His hips hurt all the time, it's dodgy giving him aspirin, and I don't have any prescription pain meds, plus half of those available, tend to cause liver failure.  So I give him what I can, Vit E, FishOil, glucosamin/chondroitin.  It helps some, but as he is less active, he puts on weight, for there is NOTHING wrong with his appetite!

Our Cody, on the other hand, is 9 now, and in good health.  However he is a follower, not a leader, and we felt it might be better for him if we got another companion dog--one whom he could bond to before Charlie's gone--one who might fill Charlie's spot in the pack.  Someone Cody could follow.

Enter Shiloh.  Shiloh is a pretty little (well, not so much little, as lithe, and light weight) female Ridgeback.  We met up with her at TIRR,  where we sometimes board our boys, and lo & behold, they got along well with her!  We found out she was available to adopt, and we had a few long talks about adding a 3rd dog to the house.  In the end, we decided it was a suitable idea, and put in an app for her through RRRInc.

She has begun to respond to her new name, Shiloh, which is good.  I think she will be a fast learner once she acclimates to the household dynamic.  She is certainly different than the boys, in that she is quiet!  Oh, she does have a yippy bark which we hear once or twice a day maybe, but not the cacophony of barking that we get from C&C!  She will whine at the front door, but usually quiets down in short order too.

Although Cody is known to rumble at her when she encroaches on his space, or on his food dish (heck, I'd growl too if you got into MY food dish!) as you can see, he will tolerate her close presence on the Dog Couch.

We have found she likes peanut butter, like the boys do, but you should see her little face positively light up when that American Cheese Single comes out of the fridge! She's a true Cheesehead! The boys like cheese, but she ADORES it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sorry for no updates of late

Just a quick note to say I have not fallen off the face of the planet.  I did get a nice Sunday 58 mi ride in, but since I have the big FARA Ataxia ride coming up Saturday, I thought I would wait to post, so that I can share my ride for Team Easy Street with everyone.  I'm going to take a camera, so hopefully I will get some good shots to post.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Homebrew Headrest Success!

Switching from the Vrex to the Giro26 has necessitated that I attempt to fabricate a headrest for the Giro due to the greater recline of the seat.  Sadly, unlike Dave's F5, the Euromesh seat is not drilled and tapped for screwing on a headrest.  I decided to modify the general concept from the ADEM mount, using aluminum barstock, and screws, not velcro.

First I got a piece of 1" and a piece of 2" bar stock from Lowes.  The 2" piece would be the mounting plate for the 1" piece.  It was drilled for mounting holes on the drill press. It would zip tie ontp the seat back.  2" was a bit too wide to fit inside the seat, and a bit too wide even externally, for the seat mesh zIp ties, so I had to notch the left side of the plate to avoid the zip tie heads.  Ugly but functional.
Then I cut and drilled the 1" piece to screw onto the base plate.  The first set of screws proved too short, but luck would have it, I found some longer ones, complete with Nylock nuts so they should not vibrate loose!  I decided to use a PVC T-joint for the foam mount.  I split the vertical leg of the T, and made it fit over the 1" bar.  A zip tie helps compress that together so it does not really want to come off, or wobble badly.  If necessary I can use PC7 to fix it permanently. 
 After I got it all screwed onto the mounting plate I needed to figure out the bend for my neck.  It only took a couple trips to the vise and I have the right angle.

 The zip ties were set tight, and trimmed, and a reflective spot was added to the back of the bar.  Ta Da!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

On Tail lights...

With our re-entry into cycling last summer, we discovered a need for lights, both tail lights and head lights.  We’ve been acquiring and trying out cycling lights since then, as our schedule, and winter dictates evening rides and lights.  This post will concentrate on tail lights.  The subsequent post will feature our head light selections, two of which we just acquired today.
We used to have a lot of nice bright tail lights.  That was BK, or Before Kids…13 years or more ago!  Of all those lights, we found that only 2 were able to be restored to working condition.  One of those is on my mountain bike, and the other we lost the bike mount for, so it resides on Dave’s Camelbak Mule pack.  Neither of these lights is really bright by today’s standards.  So we began shopping.
The first lights we got, were more designed as “See Me” lights…they ran on 2032 coin cells, and had a silicone band to attach them to the bike with.  They’re made by Blackburn.  They’re not horrible tail lights, and when the battery is fresh, they are reasonably bright.  A primary issue though, is battery life, and the lack of recharge capability.  We figured on eventually putting them on the kids’ bikes for riding on the MUP (no car traffic there).

So we began to research more on modern tail lights.  A name we kept hearing was DiNotte.  DiNotte this…DiNotte that…buy a DiNotte and you’ll be happy…except when you see the price tag!  Ouch.  They’re not cheap lights.  But then quality usually has a price tag to go along with, doesn’t it?
Then for Christmas Dave’s Mom got the kids their own Blackburn Mars 3 tail lights, which are much better than the first Blackburn lights we bought.  These run on 2xAAA, and are quite bright, with 3 modes (2 flashing and one steady).  Dave has mooched one for the headrest on his F5 recumbent.  He leaves it on steady red, for better depth perception for approaching drivers.  Still, it pales in comparison to the DiNotte 140L.  If I could afford it, I would cover the back of both our bikes in DiNotte 140L’s or their newer versions…oh, for a winning Lotto ticket!
I too have been using an extra rear light to along with the 140L.  I use an Inova 24/7 multi-mode light.  It sort of looks like a miniature stop sign with a battery box on the bottom of the octagon.  It is small, but bright, and has 3 color options, and a total of 7 modes.  I also run it on either steady red, or on 3-color flashing mode, with red, amber and white flashing LEDs.  It runs on a CR123 battery, and will accept a 3v rechargeable one (I use a LiFePO4 version).  I get a good run time, and find it easy to carry spare batteries in a small plastic tube to protect from moisture or accidental shorting.
And now to what I consider the best of the tail lights out there, even with the high price.  The quality of the build is worth the expense, and the brightness of the light is truly stunning.  The DiNotte tail lights are worth every penny (and more if you can snag them on the used market!)  They are pleasing to look at, and eye-catching to view when they are on.  The all-metal housing is good for alleviating any heat build up issues,  the retention system, while strange, is not uncommon for recent lights, and the bands do seem a lot more durable than I expected.  We also have a bunch of them, just in case! 

We lucked out and found a DiNotte 140L red tail light for a relatively cheap price off of Craigslist.  We were really wanting the 140L tail light as it runs on 4x AA batteries (NiMH) of which we have a plethora! But the problem was we needed more than one lights as we both ride, and it was getting to be a problem moving the light between bikes.  So with hunting the 'net, we were finally able to snag 2 more 140L's and life is good!
The only weak point I can see in the 140L system is the attachment of the battery block to the power cord of the light.  Using a 9v style connector puts an odd strain on the connection, and unless you are using the factory cordura battery bag, the power cord tends to just pop off while you ride.  This is not a good thing!  Since we started out with only 1 battery bag for the two 140L’s we ended up buying, I made do with a different battery bag that does not apply the retentive pressure across the power cord connection necessary to make it stay connected.  So I have resorted to using a rubber band wrapped around the connection.  Not elegant perhaps, but cheap and functional.  I guess I am too cheap to order another battery bag from DiNotte!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend vacation and bike sale

My beloved Vrex is no longer mine.  It has found a new home with a gentleman in Tennessee, who wanted something faster than his current ride, and he was a prior Vrex owner.  I needed to sell mine, to re-fund the bank after buying the Giro 26.  We struck a deal, and I got a weekend family vacation outta the deal!

See, half way between Tennessee and DFW is a place called Arkadelphia AR.  Now, I've never been there, but not more'n 33mi away is a lovely little place in Arkansas, called Crater of Diamonds State Park!  This is the only diamond mine in the world that is open to the public to mine for diamonds.  Seriously.  Check it out here!

Now back a few years ago, when the Monkeys were far smaller, we rented an RV and went there for a weekend.  It poured the whole time, and poor Dave about caught serious hypothermia.  We had fun, but it was wet, cold, muddy and miserable.  But the Monkeys have always wanted to go back.

Enter the gentleman from Tennessee who wanted to buy my bike, but not to have it shipped.  Since Arkadelphia was half way, we agreed to meet there and exchange greenbacks for a green bike!  But to make it worth while for a 4+ hour drive, we decided to go to Crater of Diamonds Friday, and Dave would drive to Arkadelphia to deliver the bike.  I'd spend the day mining with the Monkeys in hopes of them finding a "basketball sized diamond" (their description) so that they could all buy their hearts desire (a horse, a cat, all the HALO legos ever made...).

This trip we camped.  The weather was essentially ideal.  Cold nights and middlin' warm days.  The problem was that we underestimated how chilly it would get at night in the tent.  The kids failed to bring warm sleeping clothes, and Dave brought his summer weight bag.  The kids had to burrow down into their sleeping bags to stay warm, and Dave, well, he froze.

We dug for a couple hours after making camp on Friday afternoon.  The Monkeys enjoyed grubbing in the dirt and playing in the wash-water.  It's about a half mile from the diamond field to the campsite, so we did have a bit of a walk each time we went out there.  We brought all our own food, so we didn't eat at a restaurant for any of our meals there.  That made it more 'real' to the Monkeys I think.  Friday evening was primitive fire starting practice, with Dave showing the Monkeys how to use a fire steel.

Saturday, Dave took off to Arkadelphia to deliver the bike.  That went smoothly and the guy was very nice.  Dave brought back some extra bread, and a couple other things like sweatshirts for the Monkeys, and spoons.  The Monkeys and I hunted diamonds all day long, except for a brief break I took with the youngest one, to make some lunch for all and bring it back to the diamond field.  We didn't find any diamonds, but we had a good time trying!

In the evening, we had dinner, and after that, we had another round of primitive fire starting practice.  It was a bit harder the second time, as we did not use any manmade tinder sources--only natural ones, and the soft dry grasses were in short supply at the campsite.  Lots of oak leaves and pine needles, but it was tough making a good tinder bundle.  Still, once the fire was going, it was nice and WARM!

We were blessed with good weather this trip.  Others, in the South and Midwest were not so fortunate.  We saw some of the storm lines on radar that night, and were grateful they were not in our area.