Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ignoring Weather Forecasts...

Today's Tracking via APRS and Ham Radio

What with bad weather and travel, I have lots of useless excuses for not getting regular exercise.
Cycling and cutting firewood are the basic forms of exercise recently (all winter), and cycling is certainly more enjoyable and more aerobic.  Busting firewood makes me huff and puff and produces sore joints and muscles but does not seem to keep the blood glucose as low as a few miles of pedaling does.
Yesterday I rode the relatively few miles to the Post Office and back.  Though short in distance, it is intense in required effort and perhaps even more effective in sustained heart rate than my longer but less stressful 10-mile rides.
Today's ride was one of the flatter but longer 10-milers, and quite enjoyable as usual.
The weather forecasts for both yesterday and today called for snow and freezing temperatures.but both were mildly cloudy and cool.  Actually perfect weather for cycling.  Yesterday I encountered no other cyclists but today I was passed by two and encountered several others going the other direction, so I wasn't the only one enjoying the mild weather.  California has been getting hammered with heavy rains the last couple of weeks so undoubtedly it will eventually make its way here, but we'll enjoy the great weather while it lasts.
I rode my recumbent 2-wheeler both days and enjoyed the ride on the old beater.  Of course while climbing the hills up our goat-path dirt road towards home and other steep hills I was reminded of the advantage of the catrike:  No wobbling no matter how steep the hill or how slow the speed.

Yesterday's Mileage:  5.51 miles

Today's Datum:
Ride Started: 12:15 PM    Ride Ended:  2:17 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:   14.2   Ending Voltage: 13.1 Lowest:  13.1
Lowest Temp  57 F      Highest Temp:  60 F  
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.55
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
   5.2 MPH                             7.5 MPH                   26.6 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
2 hours 1 min                       1 hour 24 mins           37 minutes

Friday, February 10, 2017

Home Again Home Again

Today's Track to the Post Office & Back

First rides since we got back from Quartzsite Wednesday.
I've been "planning" to ride every day since getting home - but each day so far I've waffled around until after the 3 PM hour, which results in way too many commuter cars for comfort riding along the road shoulder.
Today BOTH Jacque and I decided to go a-riding our wee tricycles, and we got going early enough to avoid the hurry-home rush hours.
We were both much braver about riding our goat-path non paved mile of private road, since we both had bounced around so successfully among the rocks & ruts around Quartzsite.  So instead of trailering the trikes down to the pavement, we rode them all the way from our front step.
Of course, going DOWN to the pavement was not too consequential, but  coming UP those steep grades was another set of stories.  Jacque was packing both Tink and Lilly in her side baskets and was thus heavier loaded than I.  More later on THAT situation.
It was a beautiful warm day today (Mid-60's), more like early May than February, though the forecasters are promising freezing temps again soon, as like tomorrow and over the weekend.  We'll see.
I am again amazed how well my early-model Catrike Road with the thin "racing tires" works on non-paved surfaces.  I've ridden this thing for several months now and I had never even CONSIDERED riding it on rocks, dirts, or gravel until I was almost forced to out in the rocks of Quartzsite AZ, rocks that CRIPPLED the Army's camels back in the 1800's that were tried for desert operations.  If you hadn't heard the "story", Quartzsite was the area where the U.S. Army brought in camels for tryouts, hoping since they were "Ships of the Desert" in the Arabian deserts and the Sahara.  If they could go that long without water, carry heavy loads, etc, the Army hoped they would be of some service in the Southwest campaigns to capture or control Apache leaders like Geronimo, Cochise, and others.  The trouble with camels was that they are soft hooved.  They do great in sandy terrain but their hooves literally fell apart in the rough rocks and terrain of the Desert Southwest.  So after a few months the camels were sold at auction, given away, and a few actually just turned loose to fend for themselves, and after a few years the Camel faded into the faint recesses of largely forgotten history in the American Southwest.
I had driven our RV to Quartzsite with no towed vehicle, and "commuting around" in a 35 foot RV is NOT something anyone wants to do frequently, especially after finding a quasi decent parking spot.  The only way I could get around the huge area of the Quartzfest hamfest was to either walk or ride the only other vehicle I had with me:  The Catrike.  Thus it was to my great surprise that, though the rocks and ruts were rough, my small tires did not disintegrate or shred or even develop leaks or flats as I gained confidence and rode the trike further and further and more often.   When we started out today I tested the tires and they were still firm and hard;  even after no added air pressure since the day I BOUGHT the trike, several weeks and then almost a month bouncing around the Arizona desert.
At any rate, today's ride was fairly short:  Just to the Post Office and back, but it was more intense than usual having to deal with the mile of goat-path largely-unimproved road we have leading to our house from the pavement of Frost Road.  Jacque was so tired by the time we got to the Post Office that she wasn't interested in the usual last quarter mile leg up the hill to the Shell Station with its lovely draft Diet Sodas and Non Diet candy bars and ice cream treats we like so well.
We pushed and pulled her Catrike, loaded wth 2 not-at-all-helpful lapdoggies, up the steepest parts of the road, er, goat-path, home.  I was again surprised to be able to pedal MY ride ALL the way up the same hills, with only a few catch-my-breath stops and a few feet of "Three Wheel Drive":  Pedaling while helping the left and right front tires through the gravelly spots with both hands.
So - Another First.  I've always had to get off all other bikes to walk and push them up the steeper parts of our hilly road approach.  Not sure I'll repeat this performance very often - I prefer "distance" to "difficulty" - But at least I know I did it once, Har Har.

Ride Started: 2:45 PM Ride Ended:  4:49 PM
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  5.62
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
2.7 MPH                               5.3MPH                   27.9 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
2 hours 6 mins                      1 hour 5 mins           1 hour 1 minutes 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Rock-Hopping on a Narrow-Tire Catrike??


Today's bouncy slow tracking path
Jacque and I have both enjoyed a bit of short ridings around the rock-strewn desert here in Quartzsite AZ, RV and White-Hair Heaven.  Today we thought we'd like to follow one of the many trails near us, where dozens of ATV's roar by every day, and see how far we could go and what we might see.
The El Paso Natural Gas pipeline road is very near us, so we took off following that to the West.  At a little over a mile of VERY rough and unpleasant rocks and ruts, we encountered a junction with another gravel road, this one heading mostly North and South, which seemed relatively much smoother and flatter.  So we turned North and continued riding, in hopes it might actually get us to Quartzsite, only 6 miles north of us, without having to dodge cars out on or near the pavement of Highway 95.  My bike-mounted GPS was not at all helpful, since it showed NONE of these area dirt and gravel and rock roads, and showed us only riding out in the open across the desert.  This northbound road was MUCH better, but all these roads are so rough and rutted that I found it was often easier to ride OFF the wheeled pathway and up in the rocks.  Cars, trucks, and 4-wheelers beat out a 2-wheeled track between the rocks.  The resulting rutted wheelways are too narrow for the front wheels of the trike to stay inside, and the if the single rear wheel of the trike is ridden in the wheel rut, both front wheels must bounce amongst the blasted rocks bounced up surrounding the track.  So it was slow going, and with the occasional large patch of loose sand or gravel covering the shallow arroyos encountered several times per mile, it was tiresome work.  But, indeed, this relatively smoother road eventually took us right to the outskirts of Quartzsite, where we then found the paved roads this near the townsite actually had SHOULDERS that accommodated us on our trikes and we merrily rode into town and managed to spend some money.  First, of course, we had to find a bathroom, then something to EAT since now it was noonish and we had managed to work up a real appetite.
As we walked out of the service station to remount our trikes, I found a much younger couple standing next to my Catrike, obviously wanting to learn more about it.  The nice looking lady looked at it closely, and asked "Is that thing Automatic?"  I chuckled and told her no, it was foot pedal powered, and NO, it was definitely NOT automatic.  One of my recurring frustrations with our biking and triking is that so many people seem to think we must have some kind of MOTOR on them, and IF NOT, then they invariably suggest why DON'T we put motors on them.  They tend to glaze over when we tell them we enjoy the exercise, and in fact NEED the exercise to maintain our health.
The first eatery we spotted when leaving was Silly Al's Pizza - we'd heard people saying they liked the place.
We were hungry enough to try most anything, and this was close to us, so we crossed the road and chained up the trikes.  One of the waitresses told us we were welcome to bring our doggies through the restaurant so we could enter the outside dining area inside their fence, so we did.  Just about the same time a HUGE motorcycle group rode in from Parker AZ, so we enjoyed a bit of a wait before we finally got served, but BOY, it was worth it.  If you ever stop in Quartzsite be sure to try Silly Al's, it's great.  Jacque had a Pizza and I ordered a taco salad and we should have only ordered either one, since the portions were extra generous and both dishes absolutely tasty to the max.
We had planned to visit the Tyson Wells Stage Stop Museum right next to Silly Al's but after a visit to a leather store the OTHER direction we rode for home, er, that is, the RV in the desert.  Good thing we did, since it took us until a little after 5 PM to finally bounce back 'home' after a full day on the trikes.  Great fun, but we are genuinely TIRED tonight.  RV showers and early to bed... nitey nite.
Still amazed that this little Catrike STREET rider with such small tires can get along so well in such rough territory.  Maybe ONE mile today was on pavement..... the rest on very rough rocks.  I've been doing this over a week now, riding it all over the place with NO access to paved pathways, and no bent wheels or shredded or even flat tires have resulted.  My chain did acquire a twisted link that complicated riding for a while until I spotted it and bent it back into place with my Gerber multi-tool.  Not bad for a fairly old lighter duty Catrike Road.

Ride Started: 9:16 AM Ride Ended:  5:23 PM
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  19.57
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
1.7 MPH                               3.3MPH                   13.5 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
8 hours 7 mins                      5 hours 53 mins        2 hours 14 mins 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bouncing Around Quartzsite

Tracking around the Rocks in the Desert!

Well, the weather outside (at home) has been frightful, as the song goes.  We've been hearing about all the snow-birds wintering in Quartzsite AZ for years and now we've finally tried it for ourselves.
For those few yet not in the "know", Quartzsite is home to a few bazillion acres of relatively flat BLM land upon which one can park, camper, RV or tent, rent free.  At least for 14 days, upon which you are required to relocate somewhere else - at least 25 miles away.
Most folks leave  colder climes somewhere before the deep snows and heavy frosts set in, meaning for most no later than early  November or so.  We have other demands on our time so we didn't feel like we could stay more than a couple or three weeks out here. After all, even without space rent, or more likely BECAUSE of no space rent, dry camping involves burning expensive gasoline in your generator, spending big bucks on solar panels and storage batteries, making trips and paying fees to dump "used" water and refill water and propane and gasoline tanks, none of which is all that cheap.  Cheaper than $20 to $40-something a night to plug into water, sewer, and electricity in a paid RV campsite, but still costing precious money.
Jacque's still at the house stuffing firewood into the stove to stay warm at home, but she will join me in a few days - weather permitting.
I drove out here with fairly clear weather to start, but with driving rain and wind the last 2 days of the trip.
I took what I thought was the southernmost route, down I-25 to Las Cruces, then west on I-10 through Deming, Lordsburg, Tucson, Casa Grande, Phoenix...... BIG mistake.  (Should have detoured via I-8 thru Gila Bend, so the experts tell me).  Getting stuck in Phoenix Parking Lot I-10 traffic was no fun whatsoever, and the rains poured in, making it even more frightful.  By the time I got out of Phoenix on the west end of I-10 it was getting dark and still raining.  I finally gave it up when I spotted a rest area just 66 miles east of Quartzsite.  Most rest areas warn against all-night parking but I wasn't the only one seeking relief from driving in the driving rain.  Trucks, vans, cars, trailers, RV's, with most of them running noisy generators or diesel truck engines all night, accompanied me.  I had a hard time sleeping through all the chugging and popping of all those surrounding engines but I was shot and grateful for a bit of rest AND not having to be out on the interstate with the darkness, rain, and crowded traffic.
Next day, as I drove over the last rise and saw the outline of Quartzsite coming into view, it appeared to be a fairly decent sized small town.... until I got closer and realized I was  seeing but very few houses and buildings - but THOUSANDS of  RV's and campers, parked willy-nilly and everywhere, as far as the eye can see.  There are 2 exits for Quartzsite, and both are clogged with trucks, RV's, cars of every description.... the whole town seems to be an unbelieveable conglomeration of swapmeets, flea markets, and quasi-temporary roadside businesses hawking everything you never heard of for RV's and camping.  I was shocked to see a well stocked RV windshield replacement  business, operating out of several trucks and RV's , with windshields in stock ready for installation.  (I should check out how their prices compare to my recent RV double windshield replacement cost of $1600-plus in Albuquerque).
There are NO "Big Box" stores within 40-50 miles but hundreds of small vendors seemingly selling anything you could imagine, if you can only FIND it.
I got here Saturday, and noticed an LDS ("Mormon") chapel just off the freeway exit, so I attended church next day on Sunday.  The congregation here is listed as a "Branch" which normally indicates a small group but there were SIX HUNDRED FIFTEEN or more people attending, wall to wall and packing the hallways.
Lots of Mormon Snowbirds, I suppose, but the locals tell me it's a pretty large congregation here year round.
There's a ham radio event called Quartzfest this week that is totally free and so far, a lot of fun.  There is no assigned parking.  It's on BLM property so all you do is register for free, select an open space somewhere amongst the rock and greasewood and Sonoran cacti, and park.
I brought my relatively new Catrike Road trike for commuting around during this experimental trip.  I feared it might not survive or do well without paved roads - or even decent gravel roads - to ride on.  With its tiny narrow street tires I feared they would shred themselves in short order but its been riding surprisingly well.  There are NO roads here once you leave the pavement and the ride is pretty bouncy but after 4 days of riding around no tire damage has been noted and the wheels are still round.  I do have trouble with the chain occasionally jumping off the cogs, but am learning to keep the chain on the higher gears to minimize slack loops while bouncing over the rocks.
Jacque has fat tires already mounted on HER Catrike Pocket so she will do even  better on these rocks when she arrives in a few more days.

Rides Started: 2-3 times each day, going back and forth between groups and gatherings
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  5 or 6 miles, a couple or more each day these last few days
I refuse to TRY listing any average speed, crawling over rocks and through gullies

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Unexpected Attack

It's been way too long since I last rode the bike or trike.  Lots of stuff has happened, but none of it on a bike.  I'm starting to fall back into the trap of being too busy to try staying healthy.
The recent winter weather, making everything soggy and cold and occasionally icy, has not helped my motivation.
I ALMOST took a ride yesterday but by the time I "got around to it" it was already after 3:30 PM, meaning I remembered the LAST time we rode that late and had to contend with heavy going-home traffic on our normally less crowded roads out here in the East Mountains.  So I again gave it up for another day.
Today was that day, finally.  The sun was out and shining brightly from an almost-clear sky and I had some mail that needed depositing in the "OUT" slot at the Post Office, so I had the perfect excuse and motivation to get off my butt and do a bike ride.
Of course, the tires were a  bit saggy when I dragged the bike out of the shed, so I used the wonderful huge Craftsman air tank and topped them off.  It took a bit of poking around to find my favorite bike helmet, but I finally got going about 11-ish.  Our goat-path mile of mud and rocks from the house to the pavement had firmed up somewhat,  so I was able to get to the pavement without getting coated with mud.
I always have to dismount to push the bike up the last 20 feet or so to the pavement up the slight hill, and as I did so I realized I was in TROUBLE.
Faithful readers are surely aware that bike-riders have basic bodily functions as much or more than those unlucky enough to NOT ride bikes around the countryside.  Sometimes when "the Urge" hits there is time enough to wait for a "legitimate facility" and sometimes disaster happens.  Today was disaster.
Sparing the Too Much Information segment, suffice it to say I'm grateful for thick juniper trees so close to the roadway.  And, if you are ever blinded by a sudden flash of white from inside some trees or bushes along a bikeway, hopefully it won't be MY fishbelly-white backside at fault.
Then, after escaping that episode, I felt safe enough to continue the leisurely ride to the Post Office, short though it may be.  Trouble is, the WIND was gusting strongly and very cold, almost blowing me and my trusty recumbent bike over or off the road several times.  The chain jumped too many gears on the way up  and on the way  back, requiring me to stop and make adjustments on my knees to both release the chain from the bound-up cassette on the rear wheel AND to adjust the limit screws to try to keep the blooming machine from doing it again the NEXT time I up or down-shifted.
As usual, the trip TO the Post Office was the hard part, since it's uphill most of the way, AND the wind was eastbound and REALLY in my face, with the irregular gusting this way and that just to keep me off balance more than usual.  Coming back was mostly downhill, with most of the headwind now at my back, until of course I turned into our goat-path and bounced off the pavement and rode/walked the last mile to the house.
Amazingly enough, I've noticed feeling more energized and less foggy all day after the ride, proving again that the results are well worth the discomforts of getting going, even on a hardly ideal day.  Even though, as usual, I'm way out of shape again.
My GPS-Radio tracker did not make it to any receivers today.  My 50 foot ham radio tower fell down in 75+ MPH winds on Christmas Day and thus there is no local Igate to pick up the stray cyclist with handlebars full of electronics widgets.

Ride Started: 11:04 PM    Ride Ended:  12:39 PM
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  5.54
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
3.5 MPH                               6.1 MPH                   32.3 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour 35 mins                      54 minutes               40 minutes (Thanks to Road Repair Stops)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tinkerbell Missed Tuesday

Today's Tuesday Tracking via Magic Technology

Jacque went a-quilting today, so Lilly and I took a trike ride starting around noonish.  Tinkerbell, the elder wonder-dog, missed out because SHE went with "Mom".
First we rode up to the Post Office, to pick up the mail and deposit an ougoing envelope in the hopper.
Onlookers seem to think it's special that Lilly rides in a belly-pack on my chest, but she's a bit blah about it.  She tolerates being bound up in the papoose thingie, but she absolutely HATES being left behind.
Without Tink around to engender jealousy, Lilly actually does pretty well, and even moderates her excitement and outbursts when encountering other dogs along the way.  She even decided to totally ignore a couple of noisy dogs that she usually gets excited about.
LOVING this balmy break in winter weather around here.  It was at least in the mid-fifties today; sunny  with only mildly blustery breezes, and I had to take off the windbreaker by the time we arrived at the Post Office.
After a short water break we zoomed back down the hill towards home, but rode on another several miles in a vain attempt to rack up bragging rights.  I was mildly shocked to receive a call on the ham radio from ANOTHER cyclist - way down in Las Cruces.  It was Thaddeus, KG5ES, an old friend of many years that we have not SEEN in years.  Bicycle-to- tricycle radio conversation, very nice but rare indeed.
Still not qualifying as a "Real Ride", it was - as usual - fun and invigorating.

Ride Started: 12:04 PM    Ride Ended:  1:19 PM
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  8.66
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
6.7 MPH                               7.3 MPH                   28.8 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour 15 mins                      1 hour 10 mins          5 minutes

Monday, December 12, 2016

Unplanned Monday Riders

Today's Partial Tracking via GPS and Ham Radio

Bike and trike riding has not been in my calendar of activities since the week before Thanksgiving.
Jacque and I went to Utah for a week to visit my brothers and sister and a few of the nephews and nieces, but primarily to attend the Temple wedding of my brother John's daughter Katie to her lucky choice Abram.
Since we were already near most of the fam and Thanksgiving was only a few days after the wedding, we crashed John and Danese's Thanksgiving feast.
Since I love Barq's Diet Root Beer, and it is not sold anywhere in New Mexico in cans, I always buy out several store's worth during a visit to Utah and bring home a vehicle sagging under the weight of dozens of cases of Barq's.  We also brought home nasty head colds, unfortunately.
Thus I haven't been on the bikes since then, trying  avoid overdoing it and causing a relapse of the dreaded drippy-nose disease for which there is no cure but time and sleep.
I have slowly begun feeling strong enough to ride in the last few days, but the firewood pile and the Stihl chainsaw have been strongly calling my name, keeping me much too busy to get any decent exercise.
I hadn't planned on getting a ride in today, since I had volunteered to spend the morning vacuuming the floors of the Albuquerque LDS Temple.  I assumed (1) I would not have time and (2) the weather would be nasty in the afternoon, as it has been the last couple of weeks.
By the time I got home, however, it was absolutely balmy outside and shirtsleeve weather.  I invited Jacque to ride HER Catrike along with me and she decided to come along.
Unfortunately, by the time we got the trikes down to the pavement of Frost Road, it was nigh past 3:00 PM and the wind had come up and the temperatures had dropped a bit short of shirt-sleeve caliber.  Being tough, we saddled up and rode eastward anyway.
We had only gone a couple miles when I remembered why it's an even worse idear to ride this late in the afternoon:  The Going-Home Commuter traffic is AWFUL starting at 3 PM or shortly thereafter.
So many residents out here in the East Mountains work in Albuquerque, and a large majority of them at Sandia Labs or Kirtland Air Force Base, that the so called flexible hours result in hundreds of commuters clogging the roads after 3 PM.  Most are courteous and careful, but the sheer number of them whistling by, only a few feet separating us, makes it too unpleasant to do unless it's an emergency.  So, we turned around early and only got about 5 miles accomplished coming and going.  I was great to be stretching our wobbly legs again, but too worrisome with all the traffic.  I had gotten almost a mile ahead of Jacque and pulled over to wait for her to see what she thought about turning around early.  I waited several minutes and still didin't see her coming so I decided to keep pedaling, but planned to call her on the cell phone while rolling.
(We are both ham radio operators and radios would be much easier to use for communicating between bikes, but I have not gotten around to installing a radio on HER ride.)
Unfortunately, as I pedaled along, I realized my cell phone was NOT in my possession.  I had stuck it in one of my cargo pants pockets but now it was nowhere to be found.  I wheeled across the pavement and turned around, and spotted the phone lying on the road shoulder only a few feet from where I had been waiting for Jacque.  It had fallen out either just before or just after I pulled into that spot.  Thankfully no crushing of the device had occurred, and I again turned around and snatched up the phone while rolling and called her.
Of course, by now she was less than 100 yards behind me and laughed at my antics.  We agreed to keep chugging for another mile or three, but by the time I topped the next hill, the traffic was worse than ever and I had enough, so I again turned around.  I was at the top of the hill and she was just starting to climb toward me from the bottom.  She saw me and kept coming for a few dozen more feet and then turned around in front of me  back toward the bike-hauler only a few miles away.  We didn't have to say anything; we both knew it wasn't worth it.
STILL, short though this ride was, it made us feel perkier when we got back.  As usual, a short ride is much better than no ride at all.....

Ride Started: 3:06 PM    Ride Ended:  3:47 PM
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  9.31
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
6.3 MPH                               6.7 MPH                   22.7 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
41 minutes                            40 minutes               1 minuto