Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2 Days of False Starts

Today's Short-Tracking

Yesterday I did just a short test ride with a replacement right-hand shifter, just down the hill a short way and then back up to the house.  Today I loaded up the Tandem Terratrike so our new puppy Lilly and I could take a ride.  The weather was a bit iffy but the cloud cover appeared benign and I thought we'd have plenty of time to get in 10 miles and get home high and dry.
WRONG.  We got only a mile or so away from the starting point when it clabbered up and started sprinkling on us.  We rode another several hundred yards before turning around and heading home.  We didn't get soaked;  it was only  a mild sprinkle and not a downpour.
Of course, after we got everything loaded up and back to the house, the sun came out and the clouds dispersed.  The forecast for the day was flash flood warnings, so I gave up  and did not venture out again.
It only sprinkled a few more times all day but the clouds gathered dark and menacing   Now, at bedtime, it is pouring fairly heavily outside.  Sigh.  Maybe Manana.....

Ride Started: 12:25 PM    Ride Ended:  12:45 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:   13.2   Ending Voltage: 13.0  Lowest:  12.9
Lowest Temp  71 F      Highest Temp:  75 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  2.10
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  6.6 MPH                              7.5 MPH                  17.6 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
19 minutes                            17 minutes                 2  minutes

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rats, Another Breakdown

TTT (Today's Thrilling Tracking)

We just spent the weekend AGAIN in the RV, this time in my old hometown of Grants, NM, for my OOFHSR (Official Old Fart High School Reunion), 50th to be exact.  Who knew any of us would last this long?  I count 179 of us in the 1965 yearbook and only 44 showed up for this reunion.  Close to half of us have already assumed room temperature but that still seems like paltry attendance:  44 out of 90-something.
And most of us were unrecognizable!  How did this happen?  A bunch of old folks who can't recognize each other, often even after squinting closely at the name tags.  It was still fun, though.  As the crowd thins out from attrition we seem to forget old cliques and just enjoy swapping stories and telling lies.  Jacque and I arrived safely home Sunday afternoon.
Tinkerbell and I saddled up again for a short ride today, Monday,  just to keep the blood warmed up and circulating. AND in hopes of living long enough for another reunion :O)
We only rode up to the Post Office today, since that is a good aerobic climb, builds character, and puts hair on the chest, so to speak.
Having wasted the earlier, cooler, parts of the day going to Albuquerque and back, retrieving a loaned trailer and handcart from a friend's house down the road, etc, it was well into the afternoon by the  time we got going.
As I downshifted, huffing and puffing, toward the top of the hill just a couple hundred yards shy of the desired Post Office target, my right hand shifter gave out a loud CLICK and a muffled THUNK and I knew something was wrong, again.  Bicycles seem to be in some respects just like RV's:  Something is ALWAYS breaking or failing.  In the case of bicycles, however, the cost of repairing the damage is usually less than $100, while for the RV a repair seldom fails to top the Kilobuck mark.
After limping to the Post Office, getting the mail, and cooling off, I took a closer look.  I suspected the shifter cable had separated, as it has many times before, but NO.  This time the cable seemed to be intact but the Suntour shift lever, the big one on the right for the derailleur on the rear, had broken completely off.  The short lever for upshifting was still intact and worked but..... essentially I was now stuck with 3 (THREE) gears:  the ones on the front rings.  If I shifted the rear at all, it only went into stiffer gears WITHOUT the ability to shift back.  Thus I limped home.
Of course, after looking through my pile of donor bike frames and parts, I find I have nothing similar to repair or replace it with.  An hour or so of searching online reveals this particular Suntour X-press shifter is hopelessly out of date and almost totally unavailable, new or used.  Now I'm back to digging through the bike boneyard behind the shed and hoping I can make one of the other old goofy shifters work..... stay tuned.  I'll go try Two Wheel Drive in Albuquerque and hope they can help me out when Amazon and Ebay have failed.
Weather:  Really windy and gusty, and warm.  Thus even though the wind slowed me down it also COOLED me down.

Ride Started: 1:24 PM    Ride Ended:  3:03 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:   14.3   Ending Voltage: 13.2  Lowest:  12.7 (Solar Panel seems to work)
Lowest Temp  71 F      Highest Temp:  91 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  5.54
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  3.3 MPH                              6.9 MPH                  27.6 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour 40 mins                      48 minutess                52  minutes

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thank God for HeadWinds

Today's Boring Track

The Senior Princess (aka Tinkerbell) and I went for another ride today.  With the new puppy "Lilly" around sucking up so much ooh's and aah's and other attention, Tink seems even more enthusiastic about "Going for a Ride" on the bike than she used to, and she has always enjoyed it.  The last few times have meant she was able to get one of her vassals away from "That Other Dog" and have some time with her human without any competition.
Tink is such a good rider she stayed with me, no escapes or mishaps, even though I forgot to strap her back in after the halfway-point stop, a distance of several miles.  She HAS been known to leap from her seat/basket when excited by another dog passing by so she is normally restrained and clipped in with a short strap to limit her flight to a few inches should she bounce or leap out.
We spent so much time during our 6-week RV journey in areas of high humidity that I seem to be having a bit of trouble re-acclimatizing to our dry NM air.  I've been drinking extra water and I still seem to suffer from dry throat and mouth whether riding the bike or not.  Tink may be experiencing similar symptoms, since she now drinks multiple handfuls of water straight from my hand instead of her usual response of turning up her nose at such undignified guzzling.  Compared to back East, this dry air is WONDERFUL.  Trouble is when I stop or go too slowly, the summer heat and sunshine really start building up, and it's actually a wonderful feeling to get going and feel a decent headwind, cooling the blubber around the midsection quite nicely.  Along with the stinky armpits.
(Said midsection is motivating me to trying to ride more often to keep said blubber from expanding further)
This time of day any shade along the way is exceedingly hard to find, although the weeds and sunflowers may get tall enough to block the sun soon....
The heat kinda got to me more than usual today.  We (Tink and I) had to stop for water and breaks several times more than usual, and after reviewing the recorded temperatures I'm seeing why.
Glad we are for not waiting to ride later in the day....

Ride Started: 10:30 AM    Ride Ended:  12:30 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:   14.1   Ending Voltage: 12.7  Lowest:  12.7
Lowest Temp  82 F      Highest Temp:  94 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.56
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  5.2 MPH                              7.8 MPH                  31.5 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
2 hours                                 1 hour 21 mins           39  minutes

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Finally, a Relatively Decent Ride

Today's Tracking via GPS and Ham Radio

Unlike my ride a couple days ago, in the which - when confronted with lightning a few miles away - I turned and ran, today I got started early enough to get in a few decent miles before the afternoon monsoon rains start again.
Our new puppy "Lilly" is a bit small for the belly harness and has not yet realized what fun biking is, so Tinkerbell, our little old lady, was the only one to ride with me today to keep me out of trouble.
My Garmin 350 GPS has been getting finicky on me the last few months, sometimes responding to screen finger-commands, sometimes not.  Recently it has refused to respond to ANY commands except on and off so I had to swap the other one out from the Tandem Terratrike and thankfully it worked OK without any grief.  Meanwhile I await another one ordered from a friendly Ebay seller.  I also ordered some miniature Torx drivers so I can disassemble the cockeyed one and see if I can fix it somehow.

Trying to Find a Riding Buddy

Today the Tinkerbell-doggie and I rode west, first to the Post Office to drop off an outgoing letter, thence east to do my normal 10+ mile loop ride.  And a beautiful day it was, indeed
Coming back east from the Post Office, we stopped for a short shade-break at our sole local Bike Rest Area Shelter, then Onward and Eastward for our "normal" loop-ride.
We saw only a couple other riders today, beautiful though the weather was.  They were on the erstwhile bumpy bike-path and I was maybe fifty yards apart from them on the highway shoulder.  The bike path has become so rough from repeated weed encroachments and tar-ribs put down by the county that it is NOT fun to ride unless crawling uphill in Grandma Gear trying to stay away from road traffic.  At any speed other than a crawl it is a nightmare to ride.  This couple were pointed the same direction as I was, West, but evidently had bike trouble of some kind  and they were just remounting as I passed them.  I expected them to come roaring past me like most everyone else does but they quickly disappeared, making me think they turned around due to bike trouble.
The sun was just at an angle that there were few shady spots within which to take breaks, so when we finally came to one, we used it, even though I prefer to wait until the halfway turnaround point.  The actual halfway point is off the main road almost a mile and hundreds of yards from the nearest houses, so we always stop there for doggie pee breaks and sometimes me too.  But there's no shade there, so it's only good for short potty breaks.  It was hot enough today that we ran out of water - 2 bottles worth - and Tink happily drank from my hand even though she's normally fairly finicky about such unsanitary habits.  She also happily ate a few crumblings from my mid-ride cookie snack, which she is NEVER finicky about.
I had to stop and visit with a couple of people we encountered along the road.  At the Post Office a nice lady complimented Tinkerbell on her riding ability, calmness, etc, and another fellow along Frost Road was just getting his mail. He commented we had ridden together in a group ride several years ago so we had to stop and visit for a few minutes.  Tinkerbell didn't complain and neither did I.
Tink and I struggled a bit coming uphill at the end of our ride.  It's always surprising how quickly my stamina poops out after a bit of easing off on the riding.  Gotta get more serious about it:  My belly is starting to protrude again.....

Ride Started: 10:52 AM    Ride Ended:  1:48 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:   14.2   Ending Voltage: 13.2  Lowest:  12.8
Lowest Temp  75 F      Highest Temp:  87 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  13.72
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  5.3 MPH                              8.5 MPH                  32.1 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
2 hour 12 minutes                  1 hour 23 mins           48  minutes

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sparks A-Popping

Today's VERY short tracking

I started out on a ride today, Tinkerbell and I, and got not quite a mile when the darkening thunderheads overhead and east of us started popping lightning bolts out on the fringes of the storm.  Since we were on the fringe of the storm, I wimped out and turned around.  The rain was approaching but had not yet started, and I am not afraid of a few sprinkles.  But lightning I fear and respect......
I also realized the hike up the last mile of goat-path road to our house is a fairly vigorous aerobic effort all by itself, even without the additional, more civilized  paved miles under my belt.

Ride Started: 2:52 PM    Ride Ended:  3:31 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:   13.8   Ending Voltage: 13.1  Lowest:  13.1
Lowest Temp  78 F      Highest Temp:  87 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Unknown.  GPS died today.  Replacement ordered via Ebay....
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed

Friday, July 17, 2015

Finally, Friday Riding

Today's tracking via APRS and Ham Radio

We got home from our extended RV trip Wednesday, day before yesterday, and are still unpacking.
I'd planned to ride the bike yesterday but after most of the day staggering back and forth across the yard unloading the RV, I gave out and decided my legs had had enough exercise for the day.
Today loomed cloudy, with a short rain shower just before breakfast, but it dried up enough for me to saddle up and take off for my normal 10-mile loop.
Nothing special occurred other the usual enjoyable ride.  It has been raining unusually often this summer and the roadside weeds rapidly exceeding the paltry efforts of the county to keep them mowed.
Tall Weeds as High as Me

On the way back home I was a bit extra motivated due to the several faint raindrops that hit me, but it never really started to rain until after I made it home, thankfully.

Ride Started: 11:25 AM    Ride Ended:  1:22 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:   13.0   Ending Voltage: 13.0  Lowest:  12.5
Lowest Temp  71 F      Highest Temp:  82 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.54
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  5.4 MPH                              7.9 MPH                  27.3 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour 57 minutes                  1 hour 20 mins           38  minutes

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

RV Summer

Here's Where We Are. And Have Been....

Our summer travels have kept us away from home and providing precious little time to stay healthy riding the bikes and trikes,  We left home first in our Subaru for a hit 'n run to Utah for our niece Talauna's graduation.  Home for a weekend and then saddled up the RV for our summer round-the-USA grandkid tour starting on June 8.  We have a house sitter keeping the house occupied.  Tonight we are one last leg from home, in Walnut RV Park in the big city of Vega, Texas, just west of Amarillo.  We should be home by early  afternoon tomorrow, Wednesday.
I like to blog about our bike and trike rides because they interest me the most, but our RV trips hither and yon have not been very boring.  I decided to at least try doing a daily RV log just for grins and giggles since it has occupied our time the last 6 weeks.
This trip, our first night out, was a fairly short jog since we left home about 5 PM in the evening.  I had spent the last 2 weeks installing vinyl flooring in the RV to replace the nasty worn carpet and, in the midst of that project, we got a call from Jacque's Uncle offering to sell us his little-used 1997 Ford Explorer with the all-too-rare freewheel towing option, including towbar and accessories:  PERFECT for towing  behind the RV to use for running around once we parked the cumbersome RV anywhere.  For you  non-RV'ers, such vehicles are normally called "Toads" - slang for Towed Vehicle.   None of our existing vehicles were towable and we were reluctant to haul a toad car on our flatbed trailer.  The Bounder RV is almost 35 feet long  by itself and another 16 feet of trailer to worry about navigating corners, construction zones, and narrow streets... too buggy.  So we got the '97 Exploder home and hooked it up for a test pull and dang, the tail lights did not work with  the existing interface cable supplied.  After several tests it turned out it wasn't the lights or the wiring, it was the adaptor box that was supposed to provide lights and turn signals from the towing vehicle while isolating and protecting the existing lights and electronics inside the Exploder.  Forty bucks later and a few hours laying in the dirt under the Ford, I had it going.  This had cut into our earlier departure schedule, and by 8 July we were so disgusted with being delayed that we took off at 5 PM - after a short test tow to make sure everything worked - and vowed to get at least a couple hundred miles from home before we gave up for the night.  Jacque HATES RV-ing after dark and prefers to stop with a couple hours of sunlight left to get parked and set up but made allowance this night since we started so late.  Of course it got dark and we were just across the state line into TX when we started to get desperate for a place to park for the night and, of course, none showed up along the highway at that hour and the ever-unreliable GPS couldn't find any in the neighborhood either.
We pulled into a rest area maybe 40 miles into TX for a short break and, after walking around looking for "NO CAMPING!" or "NO OVERNIGHT PARKING!" signs and finding none, I convinced Jacque to just stay where we were for the night.  We've done this before and were well aware that big-rig trucks come and go all night long, and keep their noisy engines running all night long when THEY decide to stay the night.  I slept pretty well but of course Jacque didn't, but it got us a welcome break and it wasn't so hot we had to run OUR noisy generator after going to bed to keep the A/C running.
Next day we got going and upon arrival in Amarillo we stopped at a state tourist welcome center and picked up some maps, something Jacque insists on doing every time we enter a new state.  While poking around in there, we spotted a  poster about a big "RV Museum" just around the corner, so we took a detour to go see that.  It was a personal collection of the owner of the huge RV dealership at which the museum was located, included all sorts of early attempts of RV'ing along with as many vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycles on display.  The Gornicke Bus used by the "Gornicke Family" in the Robin Williams movie "RV" was on display and was a real treat to tour, even though it's not an operational bus and was used evidently only for staged scenes in the movie and the videos of it in motion were photoshopped.
Hitting the road again, we got another 67 miles before spotting an off-the-map RV park and pulled off at the Alanreed, TX intersection of I-40.   There turned out to be two competing RV parks, both small, and we chose the one farthest from the freeway to reduce the noise all night.  It was a real mom & pop operation, with full hookups and not much else except for some gag things like a "pool" that turned out to be a small metal stock tank and a "game room" that was a storage shed with a pool table inside that barely allowed players to move around the table.  It was priced right, though, at 20 bucks or less as I recall.
One thing that ALL RV'ers learn quickly is that it costs MORE to camp in an RV than it does to live at home or even in hotels and motels.  About the only time you might save money is when camping at a friend's house rent free.  It is VERY difficult to find free or even reasonable camping spots.  Sometimes you can stay in Walmart lots or other store lots but they are difficult to find, and most municipalities seem to want to make it as difficult as possible so you will patronize their tax-paying commercial RV parks.
For Instance:  Dayton, Ohio.  This is a dying city with literally hundreds of huge vacant storefront centers and associated bare parking lots.  I tried staying in one and was, within only a couple hours, rousted awake by a city cop who insisted it was illegal and not tolerated for RV's to park in vacant lots.  Sigh.
Even if you can find a spot for twenty bucks, a rare feat indeed, that equals SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS a month just for the parking.   Normally that includes water and electricity and usually a sewer hookup but still - Cheap, it ain't.
So why go to the trouble of RV'ing in the first place?  My  reasons:
-You can take a great deal of your "STUFF" with you
-You sleep in your OWN known bed and associated bedding, no worries about someone else's bedbugs or cooties
-For me, it's kinda like a treehouse on wheels, a throwback to my inner child.  Of course I could never afford this until I turned into an old fart with savings and Sociable Security.  As a working stiff it is very difficult to afford the upkeep whether driving down the road or parked beside the house deteriorating on its own.
-If you own an RV, in spite of the expense and bother, you are never technically "homeless".
TBC (To Be Continued)