My Progress

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Busch & Muller Cyclestar Mirror

Busch & Mueller Cyclestar Mirror

This is another piece of gear that I am more than happy spending the money for.  So much so that now we have three of them in our family.  Two on my bike and one on my wife’s bike, (she also runs a Zefal Spy Mirror).

I realize that mirrors are something that some cyclists turn their nose up at as not being cool, super lightweight or messing up their aerodynamics.  But let’s face it, as a cyclist, our primary threat axis is from the rear. 

As a recumbent rider, it’s more than a little difficult to turn the head and body around to check what is back there, that’s where good mirrors come in handy.

The Cyclestar mirrors have a large 3” or so diameter and are easy to see, even with my diabetic eyes.    They are more than big enough to be able to resolve out what the drivers behind you are doing, (eyeballs deep in their phone, disciplining poorly behaved children, messing with their GPS/Radio/CD player, watching a movie, doing their makeup, shaving, or any number of odd & stupid stuff some people do while driving a car at 40+ mph down a suburban road).

The B&M Cyclestars are not lightweight, not made out of unobtanium, or super aerodynamic.  They will however, save your life if you use them.  You will be able to see when that inattentive driver is coming up behind you at 50 mph and give you the time needed to bail for the ditch.

Lights, Camera, Ride!

Lights, Camera, Ride!

I have to face it, I’m a gear junky.  Whether it’s bikes or another expensive hobby I like gear.  I particularly like well designed and well built gear.  In some instances gear can be life saving equipment such as a helmet.  In other instances gear can may your journey just that much more pleasant.

We recently acquired via Ebay a GoPro video camera to mount on the bike.  Initially it was because of Gadget Girl, but once I figured out how useful it was going to be I am hooked.  It’s amazing how small it is considering the quality of the video it shoots. 

It’s pretty fun to be able to video bits  of your ride, and then go back later and watch it all over again just for giggle factor.

Where the camera really shines however is providing documentation of any issues between automobiles and us.  The video is clear enough that we are able to identify the make and model of most vehicles as well as a license plate.  We are already building a file folder of video clips of some of McKinney’s less than stellar drivers.  Vicky has already taken a video of two separate drivers into the local police.  Unfortunately she was told that unless it had been witnessed by law enforcement official there was nothing they could do.   This is something we will be working on changing by working with a local bicycle advocacy group and the city of McKinney’s safe cycling plan.  However, in the meantime we are placing video files on YouTube to document these drivers.  That way, if something should happen to a cyclist, the information is readily available via internet search. 

I tend to use the camera during my commutes back and forth to work as that seems to be where I most encounter problem drivers.  I mount the camera low on the seat stay with it facing backwards to cover the most likely threat axis while I am on the bike.  It also makes the camera slightly more inconspicuous.

During my wife’s rides or my training/fitness rides we mount the camera on the front of the bike.  Mainly this is just to provide a different viewpoint for the ride than my commute. 

We are currently discussing a 2nd camera for more complete coverage.

Overall my wife and I are extremely pleased with the GoPro Hero HD.  It provides good quality video footage in a nice small camera for a reasonable price.  And most importantly, should something bad ever happen between me and a car, it gives my wife evidence to go after the driver with.

Changing Bikes

Changing bikes, my first ride on my new to me Bacchetta Giro 26

It’s been a while coming but I’ve decided to make a change in my bike.

The Rans F5 has been a fantastic bike for me.  It’s taken me from about 230 pounds down to 188 pounds, from a 44” waist to a 34” waist, it’s taken me to my first century in almost 20 years, and to my first ever brevet of 125 miles with the nice folks at Lone Star Randonneurs.  It’s had one limitation though that has bothered me almost from the start.  It’s limited on tire clearance.  While it will run 26” MTB wheels, (or 559’s if you prefer) as well as the stock 650c wheels, it just won’t handle a tire bigger than a 26 x 1.1 in the front and a 26 x 1.3 in the back.  This really limits the choice for tires and types of terrain you can ride.  Knowing what I know now, I would have bought the Rans F5 Enduro or a Bacchetta Giro 26 from the beginning just to have the ability to run some wider tires should I want to get off the pavement and put a little gravel in my travel.

So not to long ago I started shopping for a different bike, and of course as normally would happen when I am looking for something it’s nowhere to be found within my price range.  Several bikes were available but they were either not quite what I was after, a little to far out of my price range, or were going to end up being to expensive to upgrade into what I was after.  Ebay came through however.  I usually keep a close eye on recumbents and related items on Ebay but this listing had slipped through my search net.  I happened to run a different search string for no real reason, and there it was.
The seller must have had real similar ideas as to what I wanted to do when they set up their bike because it had about 95% of the things already done to it that I had been contemplating:

Spare 700C wheels?  Done
26” MTB wheels?  Done
Disc brakes?  Done
Fat tires for gravel?  Done
Skinny tires for road?  Done
Carbon seat pan?  Done
Original Euromesh seat pan?  Done
Spare fork?  Done
Spare Flip-it  stem?  Done twice!
Bacchetta Brain Box for carrying gear?  Done
A price I can fit in my budget?  Done

The bike showed up via FedEx on Saturday and I spent the majority of Saturday evening getting everything put together.  The last few details were taken care of Sunday morning before church and I was ready to ride.

I’d mounted the 700C wheels on the bike to see how it rode with those as opposed to the 26” ATB wheels I had been riding on the F5.  It was different being up that much higher.  Stopping and starting were a bit different and took some getting used to.

I road my normal route north out of McKinney to get out into the county and away from most of the traffic.  I discovered a couple of different things out there.  Either; the new bike is faster, the 700C wheels were faster, or I was having a really good day.   I did set a new personal best through a stretch of road that I’ve nicknamed “Triple Bypass”, its three short but nasty steep hills on CR 125.  Another nice discovery was that the county has totally repaved Weston road, it is smooth and fast, a really nice change from what it was.  The other nice discovery was CR 171 out of Weston, a couple of other cyclists had recommended this to Vicky they other week instead of FM 455.  CR 171 is a nice little road, lots of bends and shallow hills, its well worth riding.  The ride ended up being 62 miles with about 2200 feet of climbing, which was about the distance I was looking for, it’s a distance that is generally long enough for me to figure out if something is going to work for me or it isn’t.   I ended up stopping several different times to do some tweaking and tuning on the bike.  Around mile 40 and after doing lots of little adjustments and tweaks the bike seems to be dialed in pretty close.

As usual lessons were learned on this ride.

More water.  I’d started with a 100 ounce Camelbak that was full and two 24 ounce bottles.  I finished with just a couple of ounces left in one bottle.  I guess I need to find a refill point out there somewhere as the temperature around here is heading toward summer.  I’d weighed in that morning at 190.4 pounds, after the ride I clocked in at 183.2 pounds and that was after drinking about 140 fluid ounces of water and electrolyte replacement.

A series of short rides would have been better for dialing in the majority of the fit issues.

Make sure your new disc brakes aren’t scrubbing the entire ride.

I need longer reach handlebars for the Giro.  I found myself reaching way out for the bars.

Oh, and sunscreen is a good thing...