Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ten Miles, Different Route

Today's Different Tracking

We've gotten a couple inches of snow the last day-and-a-half, but it's been so warm it's melted almost as soon as it hits the ground. 
I knew our goat-path road would be muddy and sloppy, so I decided to rack the bike and take it down to the pavement and ride from there.
I hadn't counted on just HOW sloppy and nasty our road was, and I was unpleasantly surprised to find gobs of mud plastered on the recumbent's rear wheel when I stopped at the Post Office.  I decided to ride from there and take a different route up North-14, but first I had to take a wet-wipe and wipe the muck off the rear wheel so it wouldn't jam up the brake caliper.
I thought I'd just take a ride north past the Hi-Price Paa-Ko subdivision and when I got to 5 miles on the GPS odometer, I'd turn around and thus make a basic 10-mile ride.
I've ridden this route many times before, but it's been a while.  The highway between Cedar Crest and Paa-Ko is nice and wide, but the shoulder comes and goes.  Plus this road is a high-speed thoroughfare and I'm not sure how many cyclists ride it, since most autos passing seemed impatient and surprised.
What is even more aggravating about New Mexico roadways is the way the road narrows when bridges and overpasses are encountered.  Not only does the roadway usually shrink in width, but the overpasses and bridges have guard rails that force cyclists to ride farther into  the traffic lanes than I like.
This route is not terribly hilly.  The hills are long but slight until you get farther north toward Golden and Madrid, and I didn't ride that far.
Even though I was getting irritated at how close most cars were passing me, I was pleasantly surprised when I stopped for a snack break on the way back:
A well dressed, smartly groomed fellow who looked like a lawyer or politician, driving a Saab, slowed down and stopped to ask if everything was OK and did I need anything.  I told him I had no problems and thanked him profusely and he turned into the exclusive Paa-Ko community and drove on.
Even though the route was easy, the traffic wasn't.  I recalled as I rode along what happened almost a year ago when I previously rode here:  A truck coming up behind me pulled into the oncoming lane to give me clearance, which was nice.  Unfortunately, a car was coming at him head-on and laid on his horn, and they almost collided.  Of course the correct thing to do in such a situation is to SLOW DOWN, stay BEHIND the offending cyclist, and pass when the oncoming lane is clear.  Of course 99.97% of motorists never think of such a thing or are much too important to allow some clown on a slow moving cycle to impede their progress, even for a few seconds.
Another mis-step was leaving so late for the ride.  It was almost totally dark when I got back to the gas-burner vehicle, and while I have good lights front and back, it's dangerous enough riding in the daylight....
I've gotten a bit spoiled with the wide shoulders and wide, marked bike lanes available elsewhere in these East Mountains.  Even if it gets repetitive and boring, I'm not eager to try this route again.

Ride Started: 3:41 PM    Ride Ended:  5:13 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.8   Ending Voltage: 13.0  Lowest: 13.0
Lowest Temp  31 F      Highest Temp:  39 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.31
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
 6.7 MPH                                 9.0 MPH                     27.4 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
 1 hour 32 mins                     1 hour 8 mins             23 minutes

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thank God for Hand Warmers

Same Old Same Old Track Today

The sun failed to burn away the murky clouds today so it stayed pretty cold, although yesterday's high winds were thankfully absent.
So, in fear of snow coming in tonight and coating the roads with ice and snow tomorrow, I decided to ride again today, just in case.
Yesterday was so cold I tried to be better prepared today.  I dug out the ski mittens, which are great for keeping the pinkies warm but terrible for shifting and making it impossible to work any radio/GPS knobs.  Dug out the polar fleece skull cap Jacque made for me several years ago, and opened up a package of hand warmers and popped one into each mitten.  I also wore an extra layer: a thermal vest.  Ah, yes, and I cannot fail to mention the fleece lined cargo pants Jacque bought for me a few weeks ago.  My legs normally don't worry much about the cold;  they are pumping along and have the normal big veins which keep the warm blood flowing in the lower extremities.  None of which explains why it's so hard to keep the feet warm.
The basic laws of bike physics, especially on a recumbent, are that the feet are out front facing the wind ahead of everything else.  While the pumping legs stay warm, the feet can get numb even in warm weather during long rides - and they can get really cold riding in cooler weather.  I'm wearing leather boots during these cold months, which keeps the wind from penetrating inside the feet, but I'll start wearing double wool socks soon.  AND dig out the muk-luk insulated boots.
As I rode along I stayed pretty well zipped up and comfy until I started up the first long hill going east.  I got so warm I had to stop and remove the windbreaker outer layer, and left it off the rest of the ride, or about 2/3 of the entire distance. 
People always ask how cyclists stay warm enough riding in cold weather, and the answer is simple:  CYCLING provides the heat, and even in the coldest weather it's all too easy to get TOO hot, for me especially around the arms, torso, and head.  Sweat begins to build up, which then REALLY gets cold, even with wicking fabric layers close to the skin, and then riding is a weird sensation of too cold in some spots and too hot in others.  I find it easier dealing with being slightly too cold for comfort, because then I stay relatively warmer because I'm not sweating.  It's not too easy to balance all this, depending on temperature, humidity, wind, hills, etc.
Riding has its rewards, though, so it's usually worth it to brave the elements and ride ANYWAY.
When I stopped at my halfway take-a-break spot, I tried to take a blood glucose reading with my meter and it popped up a "LOW T" message instead of allowing me to apply a blood droplet to the test strip.  I tried warming the little meter in my armpit twice, but it still refused to allow the test and again repeated the "LOW T" thing so I just ate my snack-cookies without permission from the blood tester.
The haze and  cloudiness also prevented my latest toy from working to any benefit:  the front mounted solar panel. Too bad they haven't invented a device that converts COLD to electricity.....

Ride Started: 3:04 PM    Ride Ended:  4:49 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.6   Ending Voltage: 13.0  Lowest: 13.0
Lowest Temp  31 F      Highest Temp:  35 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.52
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  5.9 MPH                               7.7 MPH                     26.8 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
 1 hour 46 mins                     1 hour 22 mins           24 minutes

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cool (BRRR!) Running

Today's Tracking via APRS and Ham Radio

It snowed over the weekend so I had a good excuse not to ride the bike Sunday, in  addition to the fact I rarely ride on Sunday anyway.
The snow today, Monday, is mostly gone:
Smiled This Time

But the breeze blowing across the slowly melting snow is, to put it mildly, rather cold.  I think it was the coldest day I've ridden in so far this year.  Thank goodness the roads were mostly dry.  To ride in even colder weather, coming soon, I will have to add another layer..... And wear my Polar Fleece skullcap under my helmet.  Today I only started to perspire while climbing the longest hill, just past Vallecitos Road turnoff, eastbound on Frost Road.  I peeled off the outer windbreaker to climb that hill and then put it back on when I topped out.  The wind had gotten stronger and colder and I did not peel anything off for the rest of the ride.
It was not only cold.  The winds got really nasty as I rounded the 4-mile loop at the other end of this particular favorite route, and when I stopped for a snack and water break at the Entranosa junction I had to lean against the bike while parked to keep it from blowing over.  I just spent almost 30 bucks on a new Mirrycycle rear view mirror to replace the latest one to  suffer a breakage from the bike blowing over.  The drinking water in the bottle was sooper cold, my snack cookies were cold and hard, and it was not that enjoyable of a break.
When I arrived back at the house I used up a ton of hot water standing in the shower cooking the chill out of my bones.  I've often ridden in much worse weather, but I gotta start riding while the sun is highest, not only for the better warmth from the sun but the better insolation (sunlight exposure on my front mount solar panel).

Ride Started: 2:48 PM    Ride Ended:  4:34 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.8   Ending Voltage: 13.0  Lowest: 13.0
Lowest Temp  35 F      Highest Temp:  46 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.54
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  6.0 MPH                               8.0 MPH                     28.4 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
 1 hour 46 mins                     1 hour 19 mins           26 minutes

Friday, December 12, 2014

Just Another Ten Miles

Today's Impressive Tracking via APRS and Ham Radio

Son John is still here but still having trouble acclimatizing hisself to the higher altitude here after living in Washington State the last couple of years.  So my invitation to ride with me was demurred, and I took off by myself, as usual.
I didn't ride yesterday but I did spend some time finally getting around to installing a small solar panel on the 2-wheel recumbent in hopes of it being able to keep my electronics running longer by keeping the charge level at least a bit higher on the battery pack.
The current system, where I remove the pannier containing the battery and charge it after every ride, allows several hours of operation without external power.  I'd like to set it up so it could run all day - at least on sunny days.
View from the Front
The panel is a 8 watt unit, glass surface mounted on a chrome metal plate.  I mounted it with a foam pad between it and the bike rack underneath, and it still rattles a bit when bouncing along our goat path mile of road between the pavement and the house.  I'll probably figure out a better shock-mount for it.  For now, so far so good.
View from the Driver's Seat

 The bike sat outside in the sun most of the day, parked but with all the electronics plugged into the solar panel and operating.  The voltage was maintained at a steady 13.1 volts all day.  Of course it started sagging a bit when I was riding it because (1) it was late with less sunshine available and (2) I was transmitting occasionally with the voice ham radio (Kenwood TH-F6A).  I'll have to ride earlier in the day with total sunshine to see how it does then.....
Dang, I forgot to smile.  I LIKE biking..
I again took off about an hour before dark, meaning it was almost totally dark by the time I got back home.  As winter wears on, it will get darker earlier and this behavior of mine will have to be modified.  I don't ride after dark unless necessary for whatever reason, even though I have decent lighting on board.
On the way around the loop, on the return leg, there is  a downhill run almost a mile long, and a very nice family with lots of kids lives there.  Almost every day one or more of the family is outside when I cruise by at the highest speeds of the entire ride (downhill with a tailwind!), and today was no exception.  I always wave and holler at them when I pass, and I always get a big wave back.  FunStuff.

Ride Started: 3:19 PM    Ride Ended:  4:56 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.2   Ending Voltage: 13.0  Lowest: 12.7
Lowest Temp  46 F      Highest Temp:  57 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.28
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  7.0 MPH                               8.8 MPH                     27.9 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
 1 hour 28 mins                      1 hour 10 mins           17 minutes

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Afternoon Riding with Son John

TST (Today's Spotty Tracking)

Today's APRS tracking was "spotty" since the only reliable Igate here in the East Mountains (Mine) was locked up - evidently from a power blinkage - this afternoon and recorded no positions from the radio input.  Thus only  a few positions and less than half our ride was relayed to the other Igates in the area via Sandia Crest.
Our oldest son John has been visiting and staying with us for the last couple of days, and he actually brought his own bike with him on the back of his car.    We've been TALKING about doing a joint ride and today we finally did it.
It's always great to have a cycling buddy, even if we weren't perfectly matched.  He, being 20 years younger, would gain on me while climbing hills and most of the time I would fly by him going downhill and on most of the straight-'n-level runs.  Just coasting, my recumbent bike is faster than his DF (Diamond Frame), and I suspect it is mainly because I'm lying back more horizontally and pushing less wind than he does sitting upright on his upright bike.
We received many friendly honks and waves from motorized passers-by.  We left well after 3 PM and in this area that means more passing cars due to so many worker bees getting off early who work at Sandia National Laboratory.
As we made the last turn at about the halfway point, turning back toward home, the sun was falling fast and the temperature was doing likewise.  I was wearing my summer open-finger cycling gloves and had left my windbreaker at home so I had no additional layer to put on as the cold advanced, so I was pretty chilly by the time we got to our goat-path mile of road from the pavement to the house.
This is really great weather for riding, what with the lack of high winds and cool temperatures keeping us mostly comfy while riding.

Ride Started: 3:30 PM    Ride Ended:  4:55 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.2       Ending Voltage: 13.0
Lowest Temp  42 F      Highest Temp:  60 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.51
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  7.3 MPH                               8.4 MPH                     30.3 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
 1 hour 26 mins                      1 hour 15 mins           10 minutes

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sunny Funny Runny

Today's Boring Tracking

I started to run out of daylight today, as usual, even though it was a beautiful sunny day all day.  What with the Government messing around with Daylight Time and Mountain Standard Time, I really miss the later afternoon sun we used to get before we were forced to switch back to Mountain Standard.  It gets dark now about 4:30 or so and a few minutes earlier every day, it seems, so it doesn't pay for me to put off bike riding until "later in the day".
I'm working on a hinged mount for a Solar Panel to hang on the back of my cargo basket in the rear but so far have just gathered up the panel itself and a couple of aluminum brackets with which to make the mounts.  I'd hoped to get that all mounted today and do a test run to see how the battery charged but I was running low on "emergency peanut butter chocolate chip cookies" and spent a couple hours in the middle of the day pounding out another 3 dozen of those guys.  They are "Emergency Cookies" since I use them, 3 per pack, in sandwich ziplok baggies, to carry with me on bike rides.  I occasionally use them for other emergencies (get hungry for a snack a few times a day!) as well.
So Jacque had a birthday card going out, which she forgot to take to the Post Office, so I used that for my excuse to "do something with the bike" and "go somewhere".  Much easier to thus be motivated instead of just "going for a ride", which also is a great excuse as well.
I 'planned' at first to continue the ride for a few extra miles but we have company at home, plus the daylight shortage thing, so I just went to the P.O. and back.  The muddy goat-path road to our house has dried up mostly now, so I was able to ride the bike all the way without benefit of burning any dead dinosaur fuel.  Which shows markedly in my much lower overall and moving average speeds.
Riding the bike uphill in grandma gear and walking it up the steepest 3/8 or so of hills really knocks a hole in the blazing speeds recorded by the GPS....

Ride Started: 2:57 PM    Ride Ended:  4:08 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.1       Ending Voltage: 13.0
Lowest Temp  53 F      Highest Temp:  54 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  5.68
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  3.6 MPH                               7.0 MPH                     25.8 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
 1 hour 34 mins                     48 minutes                 43 minutes

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fun Run Sans Sun

Today's Pretty Good Tracking

I stole a bit more time to ride around today and got a few more miles under my  belt.  The weather was cool and cloudy but it was decent riding weather.  (It started sprinkling later after the sun went down and I was already safely home.)
The hardest part of the ride was the long slow climb west to the Post Office where I picked up the mail, of all things.  I then rode back east past our turnoff down to the 4-mile loop around Entranosa and Mountain Valley Road.  I had to be home no later than 4 PM so we could attend our church Christmas Party and I hoped to make it by 3:30 or so to allow a bit more time to clean up and change clothes.
I was watching my handlebar-mounted clock so I could turn around wherever I had arrived by 3 PM and get back.
Again I drove the recumbent 2-wheeler down to the pavement, as the goat-path drive is still a tad muddy.
The sun never really showed itself today but it wasn't freezing, just cool enough to keep the 3 layers on for the first half of the ride.
When I got to the Post Office I was fairly well warmed up and took off my windbreaker outer layer while I went inside.  I was still warm when I remounted the bike but I knew the mostly downhill mile or more going back east would produce my highest speeds of the day's ride as well as the highest wind chill, so I put the windbreaker back on for those next couple of miles.  After leveling out I began to get warmed again, even a bit over heated.  I stopped and removed the windbreaker for the rest of the ride.  I got a little too cool for several minutes during the ride around but the absorbent wicking-fabric inner layer kept me dry and mostly comfortable.  I was passed by a couple other cyclists so I wasn't the only crazy rider out today.

Man, did it feel GREAT to be out getting the old blood circulating again.  Every time I go through one of these gaps in regular riding, and start riding again, I am reminded why it's so wonderful to ride a bike.  Even though I get tired and winded, after the first few miles I just feel so ALIVE and energized.  Supposedly internal endorphins are released into the blood stream during aerobic exercise, leading to mild euphoria or just plain feeling good, in my case.
I arrived at the halfway point of my desired loop with a few minutes to spare, so I was able to continue the full loop without having to shorten the ride by turning around early.

Ride Started: 1:47 PM    Ride Ended:  3:28 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.4       Ending Voltage: 13.0
Lowest Temp  46 F      Highest Temp:  49 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  12.93
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  7.4 MPH                               9.5 MPH                     28.9 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
 1 hour 44 mins                     1 hour 21 mins            23 minutes