Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It Wasn't My Fault It Didn't Rain

Today's 25% Tracking Coverage


Today was blessed with quite high wind gusts most of the day.
However, back in the old days when I used to ride the bike almost every day to and from work, year round, missing only a few days a year, I rode in even higher winds.  I kicked myself out of the house and took off again today.  It was VERY windy, partially cloudy, and it almost drowned me with about 7 small drops of rain in the 2 hours on the road.
I'm really starting to get attached to Gutierrez Canyon Road, which runs about 6 or 7 miles between old Route 66 in Tijeras Canyon and Frost Road up in San Antonito / Sandia Park.  It has  a fairly high ascent but is not formidable, especially going North.  The climbs seem to me to be less stressful than most routes around here in the East Mountains.  Gutierrez Canyon is boxed in much of the way with high bluffs to the west.  This makes it hard for residents to get TV signals to their homes, and hard for weird hams on bicycles to contact anyone on their radios from the road, but it also seems to minimize the winds that roar unmolested  on either end of the canyon road.
That, plus the relative lack of traffic and slow speeds of the few vehicles that do pass through, make it a great place to doodle along with a people-powered vehicle such as a bike or trike.
There are only a few problem spots getting there, mainly due to lack of maintenance or high traffic and no shoulder on the roads leading to it:
Cracks in Sedillo Hill Road
Sedillo Hill Road loops under I-40 and intersects with Meadow Drive.  Both Meadow and Sedillo have unmaintained bumps and cracks in the pavement, and what little shoulder exists disappears abruptly when going around turns.  Go Figure.  Here on Sedillo Hill Road, the bumps are bone-shaking when riding out in the traffic lane, where normally it would be smoother.  I've found that riding either right on the white line or almost to the weeds on the right of the white line is much smoother.  Go Figure.
Then, at the Zuzax exit where I leave Old Route 66 and cross over to the Frontage Road on the north side of I-40... suddenly has some new pavement.  Normally a cause for rejoicing, except......
The Dreaded Not-Quite-To-The-Shoulder pavement
Thankfully this is a rarely traveled frontage road, and only a half mile of it is required to reach our desired Gutierrez Canyon Road.  That black pavement has about a 2 inch drop to the older pavement underneath, leaving a very narrow shoulder for a bike to attempt to ride in should a vehicle pass by.  We are thus forced to take the main lane of the road, since riding that close to the shoulder is a quick-disaster in the making.  Hitting that 2" shoulder can easily flip the bike to the horizontal plane, not a fun way to ride a bike.

Trip Started:  3:31 PM    Trip Ended:  5:32  PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  14.0        Ending Voltage: 13.1
Lowest Temp  55 F      Highest Temp:  80 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  13.69
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  6.8 MPH                                8.4 MPH                    33.1 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
2 hours  1 min                       1 hour 37 mins           23 mins 17 secs

Monday, April 21, 2014

Jacque's On the Prowl Again

Today's APRS/GPS/Ham Radio Tracking

When Jacque's in the mood to ride, she's great for getting us going early in the day and not waiting until the last minute as I'm prone to do.  This usually means she is not buried in her sewing room, where she usually loses track of time and circumstance altogether.  Today was such a day.
Even though we got out and going just after 12:00 noon, the weather was starting to look a bit spotty.  Instead of mostly sunshine and light clouds, there were several large black threatening clouds starting to accumulate.  I thought they were far enough away for us to get in at least a few miles before any danger of getting wet.....
I suggested we ride east, the less stressful direction.  So we did.  There are of course still hills going east of our place but they are more gradual, less lengthy, and less stressful.  I don't think we made it a mile or two, however, before the raindrops started splatting us in the face.  So we made a U-turn across Frost Road and went back the other direction, assuming we'd do our old standard Post Office Run.  We were amazed that we were able to turn completely around in only one turn, without having to run off into the gravel shoulder of the road.  Our Tandem Recumbent Terratrike is about 11 feet long tail-light to front crank-pedal and to turn it around in a complete tight-as-possible circler requires....... about 40 acres.
Anyway, the trip to the Post Office was uneventful until we crested a slight rise in the cycling/pedestrian path just across from the Sandia Park Fire Station.  We noticed a fellow crossing the street from the station toward us and he called out just as we started to complete the last leg to the P.O., asking if he could take our picture.  Since this is by no means an unusual request we said "Sure, No Problem" and took a short break.  He asked if our ride was a Terratrike and then told us he had just purchased a Terratrike, a single, for his Mom.  Then he noticed we had TWO doggies on board and had to take some more pictures from our other side to get them both in the frame.  A minivan pulled up next to him and the passengers called out to us and asked us where might be a good place to take a walk "around here".  Must be from out of town.... We pointed to the admittedly deteriorating paved path WE were on and told them where they could park in order to get out on foot and take a stroll.  After they left, we resumed pedaling and wondered between us why we hadn't casually mentioned it was great walking areas almost ANYWHERE here in the East Mountains, not only here on the civilized populated side of North-14 but just a few miles up the road towards Sandia Crest there are several Forest Service rest and picnic areas, most with walking trails in the surrounding forest.
We got our mail and started again up the trail to the Shell Station, after the doggies made some more new friends in the P.O. parking lot.  Maybe a hundred yards up that hill it again began to sprinkle on us, not enough to get us wet, but enough to worry us about getting soaked from the darkening clouds overhead.  So again we turned around, waiting for several cars to pass, since this turn was too tight to make without intruding on the vehicular roadway for several yards.  It still dribbled a bit of sprinkles as we rode back but we didn't get soaked..... and, as usual, when we got to the safety of the Exploder the rain stopped entirely.  We should have sucked it up and continued to ride to entice the rain to continue falling, since we need the moisture so badly.

Trip Started:  11:36 AM    Trip Ended:  1:02  PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.5        Ending Voltage: 13.1
Lowest Temp  62 F      Highest Temp:  72 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  6.10
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  5.7 MPH                                7.2 MPH                    26.2 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour  3 mins                       50 mins 48 secs          13 mins 11 secs

Friday, April 18, 2014

Five Miles of Hard Stuff

Today's Short Predictable Tracking

Jacque challenged me to get ready and go for a TANDEM TRIKE ride this morning instead of waiting till late afternoon when she is more reluctant to ride.  Kewl.
We planned to start by riding to the Post Office, that short, steep, mind-numbing (and butt-numbing) route, then turn east and ride out to Mountain Valley Road and do the loop coming back along Entranosa Road.
However, when we got to the Post Office, Jacque decided we should ride on up the next quarter-mile to the Shell Station for snacks and breaks.   Of course the trike and the pint-size doggies made us several new friends both at the Post Office and the Shell Station, which is always enjoyable. 
Unfortunately, Jacque wound up twisting her bad knee somehow inside the store.  Which now meant she was no longer willing to complete the eastern, longer, leg of the ride. 
Thankfully, much of the eastern return ride to the parked vehicle is downhill, so it put little strain on her.
Anyway, long or short, it's always great to get out and ride.
We're going dancing in Albuquerque tonight, so hopefully the bad knee will behave sufficiently for me to spin her around a few hundred times......

Trip Started:  10:15 AM    Trip Ended:  11:52  AM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.5        Ending Voltage: 13.1
Lowest Temp  62 F      Highest Temp:  65 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  4.27
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  2.9 MPH                                6.1 MPH                    29.3 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour  28 mins                     41 mins 46 secs          46 mins 16 secs

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fifteen Miles of Good Stuff

Tracking for Very Small Part of Today's Ride

I had intended to start riding earlier in the day today, but as usual, I got sidetracked by trying to do something else first.
I worked on a couple of electronics projects:
First, I tracked down what the trouble was with my APRS / GPS Radio Tracker on my recumbent 2-wheeler.  It was the antenna joint where the coax feedline is soldered to the matching point on the antenna.  Since this flexes and rocks and rolls in the wind, it is a frequent failure point.  It actually lasts several months between repairs so it's not bad, considering its effectiveness both as a radio antenna and attention-getting device with Jacque's colorful banners whipping in the wind.
Second, I repaired a radio/GPS/APRS tracker for Jacque's car which died a few days ago.  Another 20-minute job that turned into a frustrating half day worth of work.....
I finally saddled up just a few minutes after 4:00 PM.  Thankfully we're currently in Daylight Savings Time which means the sun goes down about 7:30 - 8:00 PM so I had time to get in a "decent ride" of a few miles.
I decided to do a mail run and then ride the loop I rode Sunday back the other direction.  This actually turned into a wise choice since the breezy wind was gusting the opposite direction today. 
I'm never crazy about riding on quasi-major roadways mixing it up with traffic, but Route 66 has been recently re-paved and has a marvelous new wide shoulder that gives cyclists plenty of smooth, wide shoulder to ride on, so far clear of the rocks, trash, and other junk usually cluttering up such areas:
Lovely, right?  Unlike many new paving jobs nowadays, the new asphalt goes clear to the edge, with no nasty ridges to slew autos and cyclists alike from side to side.
Considering this time slot is the everybody's-going-home-from-work time, the ride wasn't bad, even though parts of Sedillo Hill Road dead ahead have no shoulder at all.
I sorta mostly thought this route would put me well past the 20 mile mark.  I should have looked at the Sunday trip where it clocked in at only 13 miles.  I added a few more miles today because of the mail run side trip, but it was nothing to brag about.....

Trip Started:  4:07 PM    Trip Ended:  6:31 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.4        Ending Voltage: 13.0
Lowest Temp  62 F      Highest Temp:  70 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  16.39
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  7.1 MPH                                8.8 MPH                    32.3 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
2 hours  18 mins                    1 hour 51 mins          26 mins 42 secs

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

10 - Mile Desperation Ride

Okay.  Today's excursion is called a Desperation Ride since I was DESPERATE to actually squeeze in a ride somewhere, somehow, NOW.
Tax Time sucked up a couple or 3 full days trying to file the dern tax baloney.  I hated to miss those days riding but time was running out toward April 15.
My SUV also had a bad front axle bearing, requiring time and labor to reduce the projected cost of 400 bucks for our favorite mechanic to do the job.  The part cost me $118 and a couple days lost time.  On Ford Exploder AWD (All-Wheel-Drive) vehicles  the bearings are part of the larger hub assembly and thus cost a lot more to replace.  Since I'd never done this hub replacement before it meant it took a lot more time than a simple wheel bearing might have involved.
That, plus the infinite amount of time required for all the sorts of diversions and time-sinks faced by most humans, has kept me off the bike, even though I always feel better, eat better, sleep better, and have better control of my metabolism (in my case, mostly blood glucose).
Today was the second full day devoted to putting the Exploder back together.  I got done and cleaned up about 1:30 PM or so and decided I was going to get in at least a short ride on the recumbent 2-wheeler.
By the time I got loaded up and a couple of minor honey-doo's done, it was after 2:00 PM..... and I had to be back in time to clean up and leave with Jacque for a meeting at 5:00 PM, meaning ideally a return time no later than 4:30 or so.
The weather today was a bit cool and cloudy, with gusting breeze and wind.  I thankfully encountered little in the way of wind.
My tracker did not work today, only reporting one position as I approached home climbing the goat-path road to the house.  Gotta spend some time figuring out what's wrong with that....
I stopped atop a hill at about the 3-mile mark along Frost Road to check the APRS/GPS beacon system, and as I fussed with the electronics, a cyclist approaching from the other direction hailed me and acted very friendly.  He was so outgoing and friendly he actually crossed the road, turned around, and came up to visit with me.  It took a minute or so to recognize him:  Spencer, a young teen friend of ours from church who lives nearby.  He had ridden his bike from his house to the mailboxes along Frost Road to pick up the mail for his family, had spotted me parked about a quarter mile away, and ridden over to say Hello.  What a great guy.  He rode down to his mailbox, and we turned back on Frost Road together and rode down the lane toward his home.  He pulled in at his house and I thought that was the last I'd see of him for the day.  About 2 miles from his house, at the junction of Entranosa and Mountain Valley, I stopped for a blood glucose check, water break, and as a result of the low glucose reading, a cookie break.   I turned my back to watch some water tanker trucks loading water from a fire hydrant, and when I turned back around there was Spencer again.  He had dropped off the mail to his Mom and took off after me again.  We enjoyed yakking and riding around the loop back to Frost Road and when we got to the road leading to his house he thanked me for "riding with him" and turned off to go home.  A 12 or 13 - year old thanking a 67 - year - old for riding with him.  What a nice guy.  His older brother just achieved Eagle Scout rank and Spencer will doubtless be next in line for this achievement.
I was by now running a bit short on time (story of my life) and tried to hustle to make it home in time.  I made it back about 4:38 and barely had time to wash my face and smelly pits and change clothes, but we made it to our meeting on time.  Thankfully.

Trip Started:  2:13 PM    Trip Ended:  4:38 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.2        Ending Voltage: 13.1
Lowest Temp  57 F      Highest Temp:  63 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.42
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  7.6 MPH                                9.3 MPH                    25.4 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour  22 mins                      1 hour 7 mins           14 mins 58 secs

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Rider

Partial Track of Today's Ride via spotty Radio coverage

Today was General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, so we watched the sessions from home via the internet.  The sessions were broadcast from 10 AM to 12 Noon and 2 PM to 4 PM.  I originally thought I'd sneak in at least a short ride right after noon and make it back in time for the afternoon broadcast but Jacque wanted to snuggle and who can resist that?
After the last session ended at 4 PM I decided to take my ride.  We ordinarily don't ride on Sundays because we seldom have time before or  after meetings, although some months ago I rode my bike home from Church by carrying it there on the car rack.  Jacque had to leave early so I chained my bike to the flagpole (no bike racks at our chapel, unfortunately)  and rode it home, tucking my dress slacks inside my dress boots just like I knew what I was doing.
The reaction from those who saw me saddling up on the bike was pretty funny.  It's only 11 miles or so from Church to home but they thought I was insane and repeatedly offered me a ride, trying to save me.  I would love to ride TO Church but have not figured out how to arrive un-stinky with sweat and road grime, and I know of no showers to help overcome such obstacles.
Anyway.  Today.  I worried a bit because, as usual, "spring breezes" were gusting today, along with being a bit colder than usual.  Howsomever, as I've noted before, if I wait for perfect weather I would be lucky to get in a few weeks of riding per year instead of the other way around.  So I took my usual load of windbreaker layers and varied thicknesses of gloves, etc, and took off.
The wind was surprisingly cold and blustery and when I got down to the pavement of Frost Road it was even worse.  I wanted to ride east a few miles and back but didn't want to face that howling wind on the return trip.  So I rode a route I've done a couple times before;  riding east to Sedillo Hill Road, going under I-40 just west of Sedillo Hill, then west on Route 66 to Zuzax, across the I-40 bridge to the North Zamora Frontage Road, then west maybe a mile to Gutierrez Canyon Road, then wandering that road north back to Frost Road and then the last mile or so back to our goat-path turnoff and the last difficult climb up the gravel and ruts mile to our house.
This ride is not bad, and much of it was partially protected from the wind.  The biggest complaint I have with it is its terrain:  It's deep in the bowels of Tijeras Canyon, Gutierrez Canyon is a box canyon that severely blocks radio signals, and it is difficult to talk on the radio OR get my GPS positions effectively transmitted to any relay stations.  Thus the abbreviated display on my APRS tracking.
At times I thought I was gonna freeze, then the wind would abruptly slow and I'd warm up again.  All in all a ride I'm happy to have undertaken, even though it was great to arrive home and get out of the cold breeze again.  I can stay reasonably warm while pedaling but standing still in such wind...... sucks.

Trip Started:  4:23 PM    Trip Ended:  6:24 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.2        Ending Voltage: 13.1
Lowest Temp  46 F      Highest Temp:  57 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  13.77
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  7.0 MPH                                8.4 MPH                    27.9 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour  58 mins                      1 hour 38 mins         19 mins 41 secs

Saturday, April 5, 2014

FINALLY Back on the Bike

Mail Run Tracking, Same Old Same Old

I have been off the bike and pretty much out of action for the last 3 weeks.  I started out with what I thought were allergies and a tickle in my throat, but it quickly degenerated into a nasty coughing wheezing chest cold.  I looked up my symptoms on the Internet and they fit perfectly into the pattern of the common cold.  EXCEPT the "common cold" supposedly lasts a week without treatment and around 7 days if you get medical attention.
Jacque came down with it after my first week of suffering and went to the doctor and got some expensive syrups and pills and a breathing inhaler and she's able to sleep at night now without choking and gasping all night but the crud seems to be clinging to her about the same length of time.
My recuperation has made a wimp of me.  I've been wanting to get back on a semi-daily biking routine but the last several days it's been cold and windy and I've lacked the motivation to get out and ride, although I fully realize if I wait for great weather I won't ride very many days out of the year.
Today also turned out cold and windy, with some pretty stiff headwinds gusting me in the face as I headed uphill, east, toward the Post Office.
As usual, it was great to be out riding anyway.
After I got home - hours later - I was again shocked at how much my metabolism changes after just one short but stiff ride.  My blood sugar dropped and stayed low, and it will last at least the rest of the night if history repeats itself.  Now if I could just get back into the habit of at least 15 miles a day 5 days a week maybe I could get back into my skinny pants......

Trip Started:  12:48 PM    Trip Ended:  1:49 PM
Lowest Temp  50 F      Highest Temp:  60 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  5.51
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  5.4 MPH                                8.0 MPH                    28.1 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour  1 mins                       41 mins 15 secs          19 mins 45 secs