Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ride with COGS

Alki Ride details and graph
I rode out from Kirkland to Gas Works Park to ride with the COGS to Alki Beach. It was a blast. I haven't ridden the raptobike with an organized group of upright roadies before. This route was not very hilly and I found it easy to stick with the pack. The group was advertised as Moderate pace (15-18mph) but for much of the ride it was Brisk or 18-20mph.

I really enjoyed this ride and adding my 40 miles to it proved excellent training. The COGS really kept my heart rate up there and I got quite the workout. When I got home after riding 70 miles and 2400ft of climbing I had an average speed of 14mph. I am very pleased with this as it is nearly a 1mph improvement of my normal speed.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fun Training loop

Raptobike Training Ride
Today I did my 5 mile speed loop twice for training. It has been a while since I used this loop but I was pleased to see my speed was up compared to the last time. I hit 49.5 mph on the downhill section, the raptobike really moves when you let it. I am noticing that I could use more top end gearing, 109 gear inches is a bit low. Maybe later I will get a larger front ring for the Raptobike.

14.5 mph average including the hills and traffic. I can deal with that, it needs work but it is a good point to be at right now, more than enough for the stp.

Friday, May 29, 2009

STP and Flying Wheels

I received my STP number 677 and my Flying Wheels rider packet arrived with number 1287. I am getting the STP jersey pictured here as well some time in June. My STP packet is also going to be mailed to me. I am very excited about my first STP. The hills on the STP are easier than the Puget Sound hills I ride every week so I am just not worried about the ride, I plan on enjoying it.

This Sunday I will be riding with COGS (Cyclists of Greater Seattle) and some co-workers to Alki beach. My round trip will be ~70 miles. COGS published a pace of about 15-18mph for the ride so this will be good practice for me. I want to get my average speed up and the COGS group will push me on the hills.

I think my training is on track and now I just need to keep it up and focus on weight loss for improved climbing ability.

Free of Cycle Lust, I love my Raptobike

Raptobike Mosiac
When planning to go to the Human Powered Challenge at PIR I expected to drool and lust after a number of bikes, trikes and velomobiles. When I was there I saw the Quest velomobile, the Carbent Sea Dragon and Raven, numerous Bacchettas, streamliners, the M5 Carbon Lowracer, a Challenge Fujin SL2, various homebuilts, lots of trikes, Easy Racers Gold Rush LWB, Rans LWBs, Lightning F40s, etc. Yet even though I sat on a number of bikes and even rode a few, I was unmoved. In fact my velomobile desire is now lower than it was pre-event.

I think this is due to a number of factors. First, the raptobike is wonderful, it performs well and is very reliable. I raced in a number of events and the only thing holding me back was my own performance, the Raptobike was eager to move as fast as I could give it. In fact during the criterium style road race I was first off the line. The raptobike just jumps into action as soon as I apply power. Secondly, velomobiles are higher maintenance than my raptobike. There are lots of finishing touches that I would want to do and most of those touches are custom work.

There were no performance style mid-racer recumbents there or I might not be able to get away with this statement. A performer hi-racer such as this one below would be harder to resist.
ready to ride 2

As would the soon to come Raptobike Mid-racer. But that is neither here, nor there. I am currently free from cycle-lust and very happy with my beautiful and very fast Raptobike "White Rabbit"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Duncan Racing Collage

Duncan Racing Collage, originally uploaded by Watson House.

I have been going through the photos from PIR and making a few collages to give more of the sense of the event in one picture. Here is one I did of myself.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Race Report from PIR

HPC PIR Day One 114
Duncan #303 chasing Joe #315 on the straightaway

I had an absolute blast at PIR for the 10th Annual Human Powered Challenge. I have never raced before and it is a lot of fun racing on a recumbent lowracer. The two events I enjoyed most were the 5 lap (~10mile) Time Trial and the 1 hour mass start Road Race. The picture above is me chasing Joe on the straightaway, I was unable to catch him though a mechanical issue did sideline him later.

The time trial was more about solo effort just hammering away on the course to get your best possible time. The road race was more interesting. It was set up to be a 15 lap course for the leader, estimated at roughly 1 hour of time. Once the leader finished 14 laps we were all given the white flag to indicate our final lap had started.

The start was cool, we all spread out at the starting line, the count down started and we shot off the line. I darted out right away, the small drive wheel on my raptobike accelerates very well. I had the lead momentarily for about 100 ft, Michael Wolfe and Phil came by me on the outside, they were hammering away fighting the headwind. I was unable to latch on to them, they dueled the entire race finishing within 1 second of one another. Rob English screamed by on the outside as I was watching Michael. The Kohan father and son team must have passed me at this point but I didn't see them. The headwind right out of the start point was hurting me so I latched on to Jeff Willis and Todd Harley on their front faired LWBs. Jeff was pulling so I just joined the train. I had my heart rate monitor on but wasn't watching the data during the race, instead I was just keeping an eye on my speed. But looking at the data afterword I can see exactly when I passed Jeff. Jeff bonked at around the 3rd lap, he had been riding with the Velomobiles earlier and hadn't eaten or hydrated well. I pulled hard to catch up to Todd as he had pulled away while I talked to Jeff for a second.

I pushed hard to catch up to Todd and really enjoyed the relief from the wind when I got behind him. We stuck together for one lap and I then pulled away when rounding the corner into the straightaway. The raptobike accelerates on turns so I used it and Todd and I rode side by side passed all the observers waiting at the start of lap 5. From this point onward I was on my own. Startle caught up to me on the backside of lap 5 putting a 6th person ahead of me. I wasn't able to keep up with him on his Fujin. I tried for a bit but he was too strong and pulled away. I kept an eye out for targets and focused on the next target and catching up as I raced. Trikes, Faired LWB (though I never saw Jeff or Todd again), one VK2 with a tailbox, all fell behind. I got passed a few times by Rob English and by Michael Wolfe and Phil. I was very talkative, I said a word or two as I passed people and always shouted something out to Lonnie as I passed him at his corner position on the far side. I screamed, grimaced and performed as I passed the spectators. I wanted their encouragement as it really helped me push myself.

Around lap 10 the Kohans caught up to me a second time, they rocketed by but I managed to push myself to latch on for 1 mile (1/2 a lap). They were organized and were sharing pull duty as we turned into the wind. I lost them as we entered the straightaway just before the start line. I was surprised at the end as I saw a couple of trikes to pass that I hadn't seen before. These guys were hammering away on three wheels. Very impressive riding but I managed to reel in all the trikes before I finished the course. In the end I finished 7th in my class with a time of 1h:05m and 13 laps.

I have caught the racing bug and now need to work on my diet and training more. This is a huge amount of fun that I recommend to anyone.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Human Powered Challenge at PIR - 2009

Preperation for 200m Sprints
Todd with Lonnie's Streamliner

I just got back from the HPC event at PIR. It was a huge amount of fun. I got to meet more people than I can remember. Both my wife and I took a ton of pictures most of which are up on Flickr right now.

I participated in the Stock/Super Stock time trial, the 200m sprints, the autocross relay and the 1 hour mass start stock/super stock road race. I place 8th in the time trial in the stock class, 7th in the road race. I am not sure where in the list I show up for the 200m sprints.

My speed was approximately 21.9 mph for the TT I completed 10 laps in 25m.57s. I averaged over 20.8 mph for the Road Race as well. Since this was my first time trial and my first road race they are both personal bests. I will post the offical results after they are up on the OHPV site.

My two favorite parts of the event were getting sprinting advice from Rob English which he had received himself from Sam Whittingham and the Road Race. I drafted off of Jeff Willis and Todd Marley on their faired LWB bikes for about 4 laps, then I chased Todd when Jeff bonked, eventually passing him. I then just chased anyone who appeared to be in front of me for the rest of the event. I managed to draft off the Kohans when they both passed me but I could only stick to them for 1/2 a lap. I was very surprised how fast the time passed during the road race. It was a lot of fun and very exciting.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Power computations

A fellow recumbent rider passed onto me some of the formulas used to compute power output. His formula's figure in rolling resistance, cda, % grade as well as weight of the bike and rider. I find the data very interesting. It seems while climbing I generally put out about 180-200 watts of power and when the grade gets steep I am forced to push it to 300 watts or so. This matches my power on the flats, I put out about 180 watts when going 21mph and push it up to 308 watts when hammering it at 27.9 mph. By the way it will take me 376 watts to hit 30.45 mph, a worthy goal for this weekend.

I am very pleased with these computations as it puts me in range of your basic athletic rider, 200 watts. Training can only increase my output.

Some highlights from the spreadsheet, results of this are metric because doing physics in imperial measurements is silly.
My Power vs Speed

Alice in Wonderland - Red Queen

Red bushes
Something about this picture reminded me of that classic picture of Alice painting bushes red for the Red Queen.


I am packing my bags to go to the HPC event at PIR. This means I won't be blogging over the weekend though I will be bringing my laptop and taking a lot of pictures. Should be fun and I will post again on Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


One of the lines you hear the foes of cycling use all the time is "Cyclists are all law breakers, they run stop signs, ride on sidewalks and through crosswalks and are criminals". The unstated or sometimes explicitly stated subtext is that they deserve to die and a motorist that kills a cyclist eliminated a threat to society. This ignores that fact that bicycle crashes are rare enough that they get extensive coverage in the local and regional press. A car crash is so common that it only gets remarked upon by those who saw the accident or the immediate aftermath.

Additionally motorist law violations are accepted. Everyone breaks traffic laws and empathize with those who get caught violating the law. The thought is "there but for the grace of God go I". Only the luck of the draw prevents the common motorist from getting a ticket on any given day. Many laws are so commonly broken they aren't even considered violations.
  • Speeding, especially speeding less that 10mph over the limit. Or speeding in any area where the limit is under 40mph.
  • Failing to signal, motorist at stop signs or turning right fail to signal all the time. Even though this significantly increases the risk to a passing cyclist like myself, I can't tell the difference between someone turning right at a stop sign and one preparing to run the same.
  • Rolling through Stop Signs, this is very common, most motorists only observe 4-way stop signs or 2-way stop signs with significant traffic on the cross street.
  • Stopping well past the stop sign, This is one of those things that you start to expect as a cyclist. If you see a car coming up to a stop sign on a cross street, I swing wide because I expect them to block my lane if they even bother to stop at all.
  • Failing to stay in the lines, cars drift over the lines so much that many bike lanes have completely eroded due to traffic. This is great fun for the commuting cyclist who is riding in those sections.
  • Running Red Lights, when a light turns red, it is just accepted that one or two cars will run it.
  • Crossing the double yellow while turning, it seems that most drivers are worried about repetitive stress injuries and make shallow turns crossing the double yellow instead of turning properly and more sharply.
  • Cutting turns, this is where a motorist on an S turn decides to cross into the other lane rather than stick to the lane they are in. Mostly this is due to speeding and riding at a speed greater than the road conditions call for. This is a good way to kill an oncoming cyclist since the turn reduces the sight lines.
  • Parking in a bike lane, this causes quite a bit of issues as parking in a bike lane forces the cyclist into traffic and many motorists try to resist such movement. It is very common, in my area it is often done by Police who are using the spot as a speed trap. Generally this spot has reduced sight lines if a cop is using the area as a speed trap.
  • Using the Cell-phone, this is illegal in my area and should be everywhere. It is currently classified as a secondary offense which basically means it is unenforced. This type of distracted driving is very dangerous for everyone around the motorist.

I don't ride a day without seeing two or more of the violations above. I don't think motorists should face the death penalty for their violations though. In general I think increased enforcement would make a very large difference in the safety record of a given community. With 99.6% of trips in the US taken in an automobile, I believe enforcement should be focused on the motorists. Every ticket written will have more effect on the safety when targeting motorist instead of cyclists.

Another claim is how laws should be applied equally, motorists and cyclists should have the same laws. This is often used to argue against laws for cyclists such as vulnerable users laws and the Idaho Stop law. The issue here is that cyclists already have extra responsibilities in the US and have different laws. For instance, almost all states have laws saying a cyclist must ride as far right of a roadway as possible, with a variety of exceptions. This particular law is very troubling from a safety standpoint but it is an excellent example of a law that only cyclists must obey. Additionally cyclists are not required to signal turns in most states, they are encouraged to, but not required to as it can impair safety due to removing a hand from the handlebars. These special exceptions are the case in all 50 states. There are more on a state by state basis.

Since we already have specific bike laws why can't we add more rules specifically for cyclists. The Idaho Stop law is one excellent example. Stopping at a stop sign is risky and hard for a cyclist. The average cyclist will do almost anything to avoid putting their feet down at a stop sign. This is because they are more vulnerable when stopped, most cyclists fear not being able to maneuver. Stopped with my feet down means I can't move and my reaction time is greatly reduced if I perceive a threat coming my way. I will come at a stop sign very slowly and unclipped, preparing to stop if necessary. The Idaho stop law allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights as stop signs. Bike Lanes, cycletracks, special crossings, etc, are all other variations of special laws and facilities for cyclists. The amazing thing is they work. Adding cycle facilities almost always has the effect of making riding more popular and safer for all concerned. The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and places in the US like Portland, OR have great records of cycling safety as compared to unimproved parts of the US. Vehicular cyclists will say that bike lanes are more dangerous than riding in the road, yet there is not one case where bicycling facilities were added that caused more fatalities on a city by city basis. Instead the statistics support the fact that facilities do create a safer environment.

My personal stance is that any facilities are good, it gets the conversation started between a community and its leaders. Once a bike lane, a cycletrack or a crossing is put in, it can be evaluated and improved. And it will be, since everyone hates failure. Arguing against any improvements since they aren't perfect is futile. Try to influence the plans but don't let perfection be the enemy of good or even more to the point, let perfection be the enemy of better

This is a bit of a rambling post and I am sorry it isn't more concise but many of these issues have been bothering me as I see cyclists turn on cyclists since they didn't wear a helmet or their body position after a fatal crash seemed to be in the wrong lane. I am tired of journalists making assumptions, I am tired of attacking the victim, I am tired of being a second class user of the roads.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

HPC event at PIR - packing

30 min crit WC 2008
Barney Harle at the 2008 World Championships in England.

I am trying to determine what I need for the Human Powered Challenge racing at PIR this coming weekend. This will be my first race so I am a bit nervous.

My packing list so far:
  • Raptobike - White Rabbit
  • Basic Tools - allen wrenches, wire cutters, electrical tape, zip ties, pedal wrench, chain tool, spare sram master link.
  • Bike Repair stand - portable
  • A couple gallons of water.
  • Food, etc
  • Helmet
  • Sun Screen
  • cycle clothing
  • sandals
  • extra towels
  • a bucket
  • cleaning spray
  • laptop
  • camera

I think that works. It always helps to write stuff down, but I am sure to forget something

Monday, May 18, 2009

Flying Wheels - registration

I just signed up for the Flying Wheels Summer Century ride. This is held on June 13th this year and is considered an excellent training ride for the STP. There are approximately five hills on the Century route and it is considered about 4000 ft of climbing. I believe that this will be easier than my homemade century route but we will see, the farther east you go the more you see hills.

First 500 miles on the Raptobike

Raptobike post Century
White Rabbit, my raptobike, has over 500 miles on her odometer now. The 105 mile ride on Saturday pushed her past that milestone. Her brake pads needed changing as the rain and grit have taken their toll. Except for this completely normal maintenance work I have had no issues with my bike. Strong, durable, and precise are the words that describe the craftsmanship of this bike.

I am hard on bikes, both because I am a big guy (205lbs right now) and because I ride my bikes for commuting and training in all conditions. My raptobike and rohloff are prefect for me, combining both strength and performance in a single package.

Regarding my own performance, I am very pleased that I am feeling great after riding 105 miles Saturday. I rode into work on the Corsa and just went up the hills with no complaints. I am not worried about the STP at all right now. My century ride was over double the elevation gain that I expect to see on the STP, which makes me feel good about the STP's hills. I do need to plan my weekends and training as the STP approaches, I don't want to peak early.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

White Rabbit

White Rabbit Logo
This is my first cut at a logo for the side of my tailbox on the Raptobike. Now I just need to make the tailbox. The logo will be turned into a stencil and I will cut it out of 3m reflective black material. I am getting excited about this work.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Photos from Today's ride

Lake Washington Century
I really enjoyed the ride today. I didn't take enough photos though.

First Century - 105 mile day.

This will be a brief post as I am a bit tired. I did my first 105 mile ride on the raptobike. Roughly 5000 ft of climbing and an average speed of 13.5 mph. It was a great ride with Sudha (sic) and DKW. Sudha did the first loop of 50 and DKW and I did two loops with a bit of an extension for 105 miles. I also ran into Doncl at Leschi Market with his M5 TiCA, he rode with us for 18 miles or so.

I am tired but I don't hurt. The only part of me that hurt on the ride was my feet and it was minor. I didn't drink enough from mile 75 onward and bonked a bit on the final climb up Juanita Dr heading south. We were 7h:47min on the bike and we were off the bike for 2h:03min. There is room for improvement but it was an excellent trial run and I feel great about the ride.

I also received an inspiration for the Raptobike's name, White Rabbit. I was riding ahead of Sudha and DKW for the first loop, I felt a bit like a rabbit running before greyhounds, hence the name. I like it as it will be easy to come up with graphics for the tailbox that go with the theme, and it is nicely delusional and implies speed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

New WRRA one hour record!

Aurélien Bonneteau leads the pack
Aurélien Bonneteau established a new WRRA Hour record today 15-May-2009. He rode 50.529km (31.397 miles) in one hour on an M5 CroMo Lowracer. Congratulations to Aurélien Bonneteau. You can see the details of his attempt here. It was at the wooden velodrome in Bordeaux, France and observed by the one of the French racing associations.

It is wonderful work and Aurélien is a former pro racer who is now working on recumbent records. I am sure we will see more of these from him.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Daily Show joke- Recumbent One

Recumbent One
John Stewart's team on the Daily Show while riffing on President Obama's hosting of a Poetry Jam asked if he was soon going to be riding around on "Recumbent One". The original image was Bryan Ball riding with a group of USS recumbents. Quite amusing.

I believe a better choice for Recumbent One would be Jim Artis' VK2, that is a high performance beauty.
'09 Configuration
Update: Corrected Jim's Name.

Morning Commute

Sunny Saturday Recovery Ride
I had a nice ride in today. DKW and I did the 23 mile route to work together. It was misty and rainy the entire way (unlike the picture above) but it was very enjoyable. It is very good having a riding partner, I believe this has been key to my training and will be key to our ride during the STP. We plan on sticking together during the STP, splitting up on big hills only.

I believe I finally have the chain adjusted correctly. I didn't have the chain pop off on the downhill sections even though I hit a number of bumps while going 30+ mph. I am glad to have this particular problem behind me, though I will need time to regain the confidence that the chain will stay on. I think I might make my own chain ring guards out of plastic. I just need a few tools, DKW has a drill press, so with a jig saw I can cut out the pattern and then just sand/grind down the edges to make them smooth. That should help keep the chain on the ring, as well as make ride organizers more comfortable about my ben hur chainring in front of my bike.

We saw more goslings today along the river. Quite cute and a nice way to start the day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My first recumbent race is only 10 days away.

On Memorial Day weekend I will be at the Oregon Human Powered Challenge at Portland International Raceway. I signed up for the races because, well, why not? The events listed are:
  • Individual Time Trial
  • 1/8 Mile Drag Race
  • Auto Cross Speed & Agility Course
  • 200 Meter All Out Speed Test
  • Mass Start Road Race

I signed up for everything in the stock category. My raptobike is not faired at this time and so qualifies for stock. Probably the best category for me as I will be racing against others with just a bare bike. All of the other categories have quite a bit of time and money invested in them. My goals for this are modest. I don't wish to finish last. I am eagerly awaiting the event as it should be quite a blast.

Random thought and progress on goals.

Casey taking time to smell the flowers
Today I noticed that I am now wearing at least one medium shirt. I am finally starting to shed the large sized clothes. I am still XL in athletic fit cycle jerseys but cyclists are the most weight obsessed athletes anyway. The last few days I overate but it is nice to see that my belly at least seems to be shrinking.

I haven't made any real progress on my randonneuring goals but there are some summer 200k routes coming up and I will schedule one of them. I needed more time than I thought to get into century shape and wasn't ready for the March 200k run by SIR. This weekend DKW and I will be doing 120 miles. Our plan is 2 laps around the Lake Washington Loop route both with an extension over to Marymoor and using the 520 trail to get back to the loop trail. Our estimate is 120 miles but we haven't ridden it this way and I suspect that our estimate of 60miles/lap is high. I'll bet it drops down to 110 miles give or take.

Miles and miles of riding has been helping my weight, it provides a nice buffer zone when I go off my diet. I haven't had any real swings in my weight and I attribute that to the riding. I also want to remember to do a bit of maintenance to the bike tonight, I had the chain slip off since it is a bit loose after the switch to a 13T cog. I am going to remove a link which should tighten it up a bit, I might remove two but if I do, it will be one at a time.

I also updated the blog to have links to my Flickr photostream. I have been taking more pictures and Kristin and I just ordered a new camera since the old canon we have is starting to fail. I have completely made the switch to Flickr and now use Picasa only for derivative or copied photos.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Great feel-good prank video

This is great fun. Canadians really know how to do it right!

Raptobike video

David at Laidback Ligfiets in Edinburgh performs yeoman's work with a test ride on Edinburghfixed's regular commute route from Dunfermline to Edinburgh. The video is great fun with text comments intermixed to keep it interesting. Great salesmanship as well, riding the commute route with a video camera behind you is genius.

Edinburghfixed wrote up his test ride over in the uk forums as well. He really enjoyed sitting at lights with feet in the pedals and his hands holding him up. A great review and he obviously enjoyed the raptobike. It is quite an infectious read, I couldn't suppress my grin while reading it.

Congratulations to the Davids on their great test ride. I know that Edinburghfixed is now eagerly awaiting the finalization of his purchase.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saturday Scenic Recovery Ride

Raptobike at RestClick through for all the photos
Today Kristin went for a hike in the mountains with her friends so I had a leisurely start and decided to have a nice scenic ride. I went down to Lake Washington, rode South to Northrup, took Northrup to the 520 trail and then fooled around on the West and East Sammamish trails. I rode 6 miles on the East Sammamish trail which is packed gravel. The raptobike handled it well though I did feel the vibrations.

All in all a beautiful day in the sun. I did 30 miles and loved it.

Recumbent Aero Profile

From RandomPictures

This picture is a modified version of one Volea made to show frontal area of various bikes and riding positions. It does illustrate how the Aero TT bike is very similar in frontal area to a high racer, though the high racer can see better and has more control. The lowracer in the picture is better than the rest by far.

My personal position on a lowracer is not quite as good, my head is higher and my elbows are out, but not too bad and still better than the high racer.
Riding the Raptobike

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Re: Condi Rice and her "Nixon" comment

Emptywheel has a great post on this subject. You should check it out.

Climbing on the Commute

Riding the Raptobike
Today I did my 23 mile morning commute version with DKW. We had a bit of a headwind (13mph) but it was a good ride. One of the things I have noticed is that I have more reserves now. While crossing a flat bridge in Kenmore in front of traffic I pushed to 27mph, I normally hit 20mph here but now that level of recruitment is putting out more power. There were a number of intersections where I pushed through at 12mph on an 8% grade as well. I really like this, I am feeling stronger and I can push when I need to. I now push myself when nearing the crest of hills which is very new to me, I used to rest and crest at 4mph, now I crest at 10mph or so.

I like that I have these reserves as well, it makes me feel safer. When I need to I can recruit more power and pass obstacles or get out of the way of traffic. This is one of the benefits of my training. I am very glad to be riding with DKW as well since it motivates me and we compete on the ride. Plus it is nice to be able to talk to someone and share the observations of the ride. For instance the rain forecast today really cut down the number of cycle commuters and joggers we saw on the trial. I saw three or so more roosters, I think the family who keeps the chickens near the Sammamish river trail must have gotten more chickens. We saw some goslings with their mother geese as well. And two rabbits were brave enough to cross the trail in front of us today.

I love my long version of the ride to work, it is a much nicer day when I start with 23 miles of scenery.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I love my bikes

Duncan's Recumbents
I have a few bikes, three at the moment, which is down from my peak of five. I ride the Raptobike regularly and the Corsa as a backup. The Vivo is slated to be sold or maybe incorporated into a project. I do love them all. Riding is a joy and I feel so much more alive when I can ride during the week. I love the exploration; I love to see and talk to people; I love the exertion. There may be minor mechanical issues but even those are just puzzles to be solved, not problems.

I am very glad that I got off my ass and started riding again last October. My doctor is also happy since she says it has removed the need for me to go on blood pressure medication and improved my asthma issues. I am more social and happier and I have lost 32 lbs. It is good to love my life again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Moon over Kirkland

Moon over Kirkland
A nice shot from near my house.

Bike to Work Month.

Bike to work
Team M is doing ok, currently we are placed 634 out of 1158, firmly in the middle of the mileage competition. This is unfortunate but expected as our regular commuters are DKW and myself and our normal commutes are 1 and 3 miles respectively. Most of the rest of our team has longer commutes but the timing has been rough so far. I still want to see the bike rack filled up.

The leading team is a Boeing team and has racked up massive mileage so far with 912.7 miles the last 5 days. The rankings are available here.

DKW and I did ride during lunch but that doesn't count for the contest. I did find that I can power up a 9% grade hill at 11.5 mph if my adrenaline is pumping. There is a hill right up 122nd that I rode up and had to ANNOUNCE myself to a driver turning out of the PetCo parking lot. The boost had me climb all the way up to the cemetery at a good clip. Once there I had to wait for DKW and I could hear my heart as a waited. Mildly amusing considering that everything was fine and I didn't get hurt and managed to get the attention of the driver before she put me in harms way.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Risk of death per hour for cycling

Raptobike - Morning Commute
Normally when I tell people I commute there is a question about safety while cycling. It is hard to convince people that it is a safe method of travel. So it is nice to see this study from Failure Analysis Associates, Inc. (Design News, 10-4-93) comparing the fatal risk associated with participating in various activities.
Activity Fatalities Per Million Hours
Skydiving 128.71
General Aviation 15.58
On-road Motorcycling 8.80
Scuba Diving 1.98
Living (all causes of death) 1.53
Swimming 1.07
Snowmobiling .88
Automobile Driving .47
Water Skiing .28
Bicycling .26
Flying (domestic airlines) .15
Hunting .08

(h/t EcoVelo)

It is nice to see that cycling is roughly 45% less likely to be fatal than driving a car and 97% less likely than riding a motorcycle.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fun with Photos

SPEED - lowracer
There is a fun app to make motivational posters. I couldn't resist using this picture of me beating a couple of roadies up a hill for fun. I might point out that this was a rolling hill and I was able to use the previous downhill to crest it but that would be like a magician revealing his tricks, just not done. So I won't. :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Washington Loop extended version

Washington Loop Mosiac
DKW and I did an extended version of the Washington Loop this morning. The weather was gray but we did manage to miss much of the rain. Our version didn't go south on Juanita Dr but instead continued along the West Sammamish River trail to Old Redmond Way and then went up Old Redmond Way until it turned into 70th Ave and hit 6th St. I took 6th St home. All in all about 60 miles. This is the longest ride I have done on my recumbents to date. It is the longest ride for the Raptobike.

It went very well, our average speed was 1.3 mph faster than my best time on the 50 mile Washington loop. That is roughly a 10.4% improvement. I can't complain about that. The new gearing on the Raptobike really paid off, I need to ride more than a 12% grade but so far I have no issues with the low end gearing and the new top end is excellent.

I took a few nice pictures which are linked in above. I am feeling more and more confident and fast on the Raptobike. It is great fun.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Raptobike vs Corsa

Raptobike Mosiac
I have had the Raptobike Lowracer for almost one month. I have put a few hundred miles on it. These past few days I also have been riding the Bacchetta Corsa since I have the Raptobike at the shop. This enabled me to compare the bikes a bit more faithfully. This comparison is specific to myself, I am a bit small for my Corsa in that I can't easily put my feet down. The Raptobike lowracer is nice and low so getting my foot down is easy.

Ease of Use
The Raptobike is easier to start and stop. I do a Flintstone start on the Corsa, skittering forward before getting my feet into the clips. The Raptobike is very easy to just place one foot on the pedal and push off from a standing start. I find stopping similarly easy. With the Raptobike when I approach a right turn or area where I need to consider a stop, I just loosen one foot and continue to pedal with it. On the Corsa I unclip and lower the foot while sitting forward. That is also how I do sharp turns on the Corsa, I unclip and sit forward to make turns. With the Raptobike I just turn. All of these issues are due to my 5'8" height and 30" inseam. I am just too short to be totally comfortable on the Corsa. With the Raptobike I had to cut the boom to fit me, but once adjusted everything has been great.

Shifting and Gearing
My Raptobike has a Rohloff SpeedHub. This isn't standard but my Raptobike was purchased as a frame kit and I had my LBS build it up for me. This is my first Rohloff and the Raptobike has never had any other shifting setup. I also have Q-rings on the Raptobike and the Corsa. The Corsa has 22-117 gear inches and the Raptobike has 16-88 gear inches today (soon 20-109).

I absolutely love my Q-rings, they are great and really help me climb. The Rohloff on the Raptobike is greatly superior to my triple front + 9 speed rear derailleur setup on the Corsa. I have never had a triple that shifted seamlessly from low to middle to high and back, on any bike. Triples generally have trouble shifting from either middle to low or middle to high. One of those shifts will always be a bit hard with a triple. My Corsa with Q-Rings has this issue, Q-Rings make it worse and so shifting from middle-low causes me difficulty. I have to preplan that shift and can't do it while on a hill. The Rohloff is just amazing, I can shift at a stop sign, I can shift while coasting down hill. The gear range I have at the moment is a bit lacking in the high end but the convenience of it is hard to convey. When I have the 13T cog installed the range should be corrected.

The shifting and gear range are great on my Raptobike. The Rohloff also adds greatly to ease of use.

Speed and Performance
My Raptobike is faster for me. The more inclined seat combined with the much lower height makes a significant difference at the 16+ MPH I cruise at on the flats. I accelerate faster and more confidently on the Raptobike, part of this is due to the simplicity of just changing from gear 8 to 9 to 10 on the Rohloff compared to fiddling with front ring, rear ring position on the Corsa. Climbing speed is faster on the Corsa though. The more upright position and lighter bike make a difference in climbing. I hope to improve my pedal stroke and technique to compensate for this on the Raptobike. Additionally I am losing weight, with my goal to lose 30lbs this Summer, I want to be faster, lighter and stronger by the end of the season. I expect this to make quite a difference since the Raptobike only weighs 31lbs as configured right now.

Downhill I have taken the Raptobike to 40mph so far, it is stable, comfortable and fun to ride. I feel more comfortable with my Raptobike on grass, gravel and bumps then my Corsa. My Corsa has 23mm tires and my Raptobike has 28mm tires. I am sure that the extra width plays a part and a Corsa can be set up with 28mm tires, though that is the limit for a Corsa. The Raptobike can go to 38mm (1.5") tires easily.

Cornering on the Raptobike is much better for me. I have big thighs and I had to work around thigh handlebar interference with both my Corsa and my Raptobike. The Raptobike has tiller steering and the Corsa has superman/open cockpit steering. My preference is the tiller steering. When I turn with the Corsa I need to sit up, and drop a leg, I don't have to do this with the Raptobike. The Raptobike holds a line in curves like it is on rails, I find myself taking curves with confidence that I slow down for on the Corsa. Many of these issues are related to fit and for a taller person the Corsa may be better in these respects.

Both of these bikes are performance recumbents. They are both comfortable and I am very happy to ride either for five hours or more at a time. The euromesh foam pad that comes on the Corsa does compress a bit too much on longer rides and comfort starts to suffer. I have a Ventisit pad on the Corsa now and it is much better for longer rides now. I don't have any problems. On the Raptobike I run a hard shell carbon seat and the zotefoam seat pad that airxxxwolf makes. The Raptobike with zotefoam pad is a firmer ride but over hours of riding it is more comfortable. I also feel more connected to the bike. Fit wise I feel better on the Raptobike. It is easier to adjust the boom vs moving the seat on my Corsa. When I move the seat up, I am both closer to the pedals and higher up off the ground. When I shorten the boom on the Raptobike I am just closer to the pedals. That made it much easier to adjust the Raptobike for my short legs.

The lowracer is the loser in this part of the equation. It is lower so cars will have difficulty spotting me when obstacles are in the way. So if I am crossing an intersection with hedges on the side of the road, a car might not see coming. Conversely, when I am at a light and there are hedges along the side of the road I have difficultly knowing when the way is clear. The Corsa places my head above that of most drivers so it doesn't have this issue. The Raptobike puts my head at or below the position of sports cars drivers. There is a Lotus Elise in town and my head is lower than the driver of an Elise.

Carrying stuff on the Bike
Both the Raptobike and the Corsa can be fitted with racks. A rear rack on the Raptobike and the Terracycle underseat rack for the Corsa. On both bikes I use a Fastback double century set of bags and Radical Designs Lowracer Panniers. They fit on both bikes easily mounting to the seats. I have no problems on the Raptobike with the Lowracer panniers but they tend to swing into the rear wheels spokes on the Corsa, rubbing a bit. The Raptobike can also be fitted with a tailbox. For my purposes both bikes are fine for everything but full on self-supported cycle touring. I would take either bike on a credit card tour or on brevets. I think with a tailbox the Raptobike edges out the Corsa in this category.

I find both bikes excellent. For me the fit issues leading to more confident stopping and starting as well as better handling makes the Raptobike a clear winner. For anyone else I would find it more of a toss-up. Additionally I didn't mention the FWD of the Raptobike at all, I did that because I found it is a non-issue. I ride 13% hills in the wet and dark often because I live in the Puget Sound region. I have never had an issue with the FWD, I wouldn't make it a subject of concern if you were considering the Raptobike.

Doggy Pictures Friday

Casey and Lucy Mosiac
It is Friday and so time for some doggy pictures. This is a mosiac of some fun Casey and Lucy pictures.

May 1 - first day of Bike to Work Month

May 1 - Bike to work challenge
Today is the first day of the Cascade Bike to Work challenge. Team M had 50% turnout today at 3 bikes on the rack. Not wonderful but one of our team members is out of the office, one sick and the last one will ride back to work after lunch.

I plan on cheerleading for our team and reminding people to log their miles, etc. As the month goes by we will see how we do.