My Progress

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ah Serenity, you are anything but so far...

Ah Serenity…  Reality was anything but serene however.  As a bike she has yet to live up to her name.  Maybe P.I.T.A. would be a better name for her.

My wife, Vicky and I were in the market for the ultimate bike geek couples bike, a tandem.  We’ve had upright tandems before and knew we were compatible on tandems.  I call out the pot holes and surprises; she doesn’t smack me in the back of the head!  However since we have to be different, we were looking for the oddball of oddballs, a recumbent tandem.  Talk about a truly niche market, we were looking for something that was a niche within a niche within a niche.  Truly we were looking in a very limited market.  Let’s just say that the pickings on the used market were a little slim.

We ended up doing a lot of reading, research, and picking of other tandem rider’s minds to see what was going to suit us best.  Since what we were looking for just was not going to found at just about any local bike shop there wasn’t going to be a whole lot of test riding to do.  Fortunately when it comes to recumbent tandems there aren’t that many manufactures or models in current production out there to choose from, Rans has two models, Volae has one, and every now and then John Morcigliio does a custom one off.
A Morciglio classic

We settled fairly quickly on the idea of a Rans Seavo  for two main reasons, both wheels are the same size and there was one local to us to test ride.  The wheel size issue was a big deciding point for me, I like not having to stock and carry multiple tires and tubes for one bike.
A Rans Seavo in green

We missed two bikes that were in the used market by a day each.  One was in St Joseph Missouri and the other was in Wichita Kansas, both of those within driving distance to pick one up.  But due to funding issues, (scraping up the cash) and actually making the decision to purchase we missed both bikes by less than 24 hours.  One of the two bikes had been on the market for 2 ½ years and it sold hours before we decided to commit to it. 
Our next option was to buy a new bike.  The penny pinching part of me rebelled at this as I like getting a deal and saving money as much if not more so than the next person.

Somewhere in the back of my mind was also the thought of keeping the whole deal simple.  Show up, give someone money, ride off on bike, see?  Nice and simple!  Unfortunately nothing I seem to do is simple.  There is an easy way to do things, a hard way to do them, and then the Dave way, (which is usually harder and more expensive).

Soon a Rans dealer was located, a paint color chosen, a parts list written up and a deal negotiated.

A quick note on the dealer we used.  He is a good guy, he runs a good shop.  He was just way out of his comfort zone on a tandem build.  I should have asked more questions, I should have done more research and found a shop with a lot more tandem building experience.  I don't lay any blame with the dealer.  Hind sight being 20/20, it was an almost comical cascade of problems.

September 21st Vicky and I attended a recumbent event hosted by the dealer who ordered our bike and was to have done the build.  We were bringing the wheels and the plan had been to pop the wheels onto the bike, adjust the brakes, adjust the derailleurs and go ride.  Yea, plans, so much for the best laid plans.  What we ended up bring home was the Rans Seavo frame with some parts mounted to it, a box  of some of the other parts and a wrong seat.

The build for the bike involved the following:

  •   Three different bike mechanics, (not counting myself)
    • Their bribes of:
      • Jack Daniels Green Label
      • a six pack of beer
      • two dozen bagels
      • a gallon of coffee
      • a $20 bill
  •  Trips to five different local shops for unexpected and unplanned for needs
  • Four fingers and a big water glass of Knob Creek Rye whiskey and doing something I have not done in 25+ years
  • More swearing than you would hear in a Marine Infantry Brigade.

The laundry list of "challenges" in the build is long but here are the highlights.

  •  The bottom brackets were missing spacer rings.  No really that isn't a new self adjusting chainline, it's just someone forgot to space the bottom bracket cups properly.
  • A missing headset, Rans said the bike came with one, it didn't.
  • The new short reach riser for the captain's handlebars.  Opps, someone put the riser on backwards.
  • The auto eject feature for the captains seat complete with auto eject screws holding the brackets on that hold the seat to the bike.
  • Rans forgot to ship seat mesh for both seats, (let's hope that they pay a little more attention to their airplanes)
  • The random chain, really a nine speed chain spliced in with a ten speed chain, spliced into an unknown chain really doesn't work well.
  • Shifters and derailleurs really work better if the shifter cable isn't shattered, (housing strands broken and poking out of the ferrules.
  • Brakes stop better when the correct adapters are ordered, especially when you ask the dealer three different times if they ordered the correct adapters.
  • A rear derailleur that when the lower limit screw is adjusted to stop the chain from being thrown into the spokes on the lowest gear, won't let the bike shift into the highest gear.  (That one issue caused all sorts of headaches).  Thankfully Dreadlock Mike at Richardson Bike Mart is the Albert Einstein of derailleurs.
  • And finally a really nice wheelset  that was sourced off Ebay.  All the specifications indicated it was a 145 mm rear hub, the auction listed it as a 145, the bike it was built for uses a 145 rear hub, the hub manufacture builds 145 mm rear hubs.  Nope not mine however.   It's some sort of mutant space alien 155 mm rear hub.  Yay!  That meant a new rear wheel overnighted from the land of cheese and beer, and a new axle kit for the original rear wheel as well as a future date with a shop to get the axle installed and the wheel re-dished.

Finally though the build is done, it's finally a bike!  Monday evening was our maiden voyage, 10.5 miles of seat slipping, gears crunching, stopping and adjusting joy.  Let's just say I am hoping she will settle down and live up to her name after all, she had better, we're stuck with her.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

&$#@!! Strava!

Well doesn't that just bite!

Last week I had a couple of great rides in the early morning.  I hit a couple parts of the routes at flat out, full gas, balls to the walls speed chasing a couple of segments on Strava.

And it seems Strava "lost" my data.  Two different segments didn't register for whatever reason, just poof, gone!  Seems Strava has no issue showing the world my dog slow segments, (trust me, I'd be happy if they would "lose" those).  But no, they've got to go and lose my fast ones that bring me up to a competitive level with some of the fast folks in the area.

I've submitted support requests and they assure me that they strive to handle them in 48 hours...  Yea about that, it's been four days and I'm still waiting.

Glad I've not shelled out the cash for a premium membership. 

Hey! Where does that road go?

So yesterday dawned nice, cloudy and almost chilly, (at least for Texas in July), and most importantly with the wind out of the north, it was a great excuse to head north out in the county.  A wind out of the north is a truly rare treat as it means I get a tailwind for my ride home.

I'd laid out my route on Ride with GPS to get an idea for the total mileage but neglected to load it into my GPS as I thought I knew the back roads out in the county.  However I managed to miss a turn onto CR 177 and ended up off course. 

And while it doesn't look like it in the picture, there are some nice hills out at the end of Lonestar Road.  Especially when you are beating into a headwind on a recumbent.

My wanderings off course took me down some roads I wasn't familiar with and led me into trying to find something to get back on route.  Unfortunately I ended up in some ranchers front yard.  A quick consult of Google Maps on my phone and a u-turn and I was back at least heading in the right direction.

My off course route put me onto CR138, a road I usually try and avoid as the chip seal on there is just nasty.

Back on route I did find the county has been out laying some fresh pavement on a lot of the secondary roads.  And for once they are not using large aggregate chip seal.  They did an outstanding job and the roads are outstanding, nice, smooth and fast.

My route ran me up through Gunter and then over to Howe via Mackey Road & Hall Cemetery Road.  I stopped for a quick nutrition break and grabbed a quick picture.

I'd love to find out who ones that stock tank in the background, it just looks loaded with fat hungry bass.

Howe was my turn that took me out of the headwind and started my tailwind home.  At Howe, I was running a 15.2 mph average, by the time I got home, I'd brought that up to a 16.4 average.

Hydration wasn't really an issue due to the cooler temps and heavy cloud cover.  I drank around 36 ounces of water/Nunn tablet electrolyte drink, a small Gatoraid in Gunter, and maybe 50 ounces or so of straight water from my Camelbak.

My changes in on ride nutrition also seem to be working.  I'm switching away from primarily using Clif bars and gels to trail mixes, nuts and the like.  I'm finding salt & vinegar almonds not only work for a good shot of protein on the bike but also help keep my legs from cramping up.

Overall I ended up pretty good.

Looks like I should be ready for a good Tour D' Cure next weekend.