Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Choice Time: RV or Bike?

Today's Track Courtesy of GPS and Ham Radio

Today's complicated question is not all  that complex.  The RV is almost back together now.  I could have reinstalled the batteries and started it a few days ago but did not want to get things out of order, even though I'm anxious to see how it runs:  I don't want to have to remove the batteries again (right up front next to the grilles) to finish putting the grilles and front facia back on.
I need to ride the bike to stay flexible in my joints and such, and I have a soft goal of riding at least a short ride every day and then use the afternoon hours to labor on the RV.  The trouble is, that when I ride the bike, I often wind up taking a long time to cool off and rest and get to WORK on the crippled RV.
Saturday I chose to spend the available hours on the RV and did not ride at all.   I made progress but of course missed the motivating and energizing activity of taking the proverbial bike ride.  So today I rode my piddly 10-miler.
It hasn't been terrifically hot the last couple weeks temperature-wise, rarely getting more than a few degrees over 90 F but it has FELT quite hot.  I suppose it's due to the increased humidity from our summer monsoon season.  We keep proposing getting out to ride really early in the morning, like before 8 AM or so, but always wind up frittering away the early hours.  Maybe someday good sense will set in... like perhaps the day after they put me in the grave.
I again met our skittish-horse rider ladies and had to pull off the side of the road and stop and allow them to pass so their horses would be less spooked by my horse-eating bike flags flapping in the breeze.
Just past this area, and around much of the East Mountains, we see and smell the sweetness of alfalfa (Lucerne to our British Brethren) growing wild and uncultivated.  In our yard we have several patches of the stuff and it is exceeding difficult to keep under control and of course there's not enough of it to bale and sell at modern day inflated alfalfa hay prices.  Out here there's so much of it overgrowing everything, especially with summer rains, I wonder why folks don't either offer to graze their horses or other livestock to help control the stuff or why landowners don't advertise their acreage for free grazing... or even find someone with a baling machine to pay a visit.
Hay on the Roadside and in the Field

ACRES of Alfalfa as high as the fences
 Oh, I know it's not that simple.  I've allowed neighbors' horses to graze in our 2 1/2 acres a few times and they wind up eating the flowers, ignoring the weeds and even the alfalfa clumps which are harder to get rid of than normal weeds.... they leave piles of horse-poop up close to the house and crowd up close to the radio tower in the back yard for shade and break or bend valuable radio antenna cables..... and accidentally do other mischief.
Now that I'm safely home again and cooled off enough to get back to work on the RV, it's begun drizzling rain outside and we CAN'T complain about RAIN.  We desperately need these showers even though that's why everyone's weeds are too tall to see over....

Ride Started:  10:47 AM    Ride Ended:  12:16 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.9       Ending Voltage: 13.1
Lowest Temp  84 F      Highest Temp:  94 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.5
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  7.2 MPH                               8.8 MPH                    31.5 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour  27 mins                     1 hour 11 mins            15 minutes


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dragging Main..... Well, Frost Road Anyway

Today's Tracking via APRS, GPS, and Ham Radio

Jacque and I decided to once again break out the Tandem Recumbent Terratrike  and do an early ride.  Trouble is, after a posh homemade breakfast including fresh homemade eggs and fresh homemade whole wheat bread made from freshly-ground whole wheat flour, saddling up and getting all the equipment and doggies ready....
Well, it was about the usual hour when we got going, almost 10 AM.  We talked about going into Albuquerque and doing the wonderful flat no-grade Bosque Trail (it may actually have a 50 foot rise in 16 miles from the junkyards on the South Valley end to the north end at Alameda) but I griped my way out of that because of the heat, which would have been at least 10 degrees hotter in metro ABQ compared to our 6800+ feet of elevation.  Jacque almost has me convinced that these hills we have to climb out here more than make up for the 10 degrees of extra heat down where the trail is level for miles...
There was almost NO breeze at all today so it did indeed get a bit warmish.
I have been chagrined to notice that when we get to Tumbleweed
Road our GPS positions are no longer picked up on the radio relay at the house.  I looked at the surrounding terrain today to see what might be affecting this, and sure enough:  a small but prominent hill blocks the view (and the radio waves) right west of Tumbleweed.
What frustrates me is that Sandia Crest and our Manzano tower are clearly visible from these same areas but rarely hear anything but the most powerful transmitters, which rest assured our battery powered systems on the trikes and bikes are NOT.  The higher relays on such peaks as Manzano and Sandia Crest evidently are overloaded with data continuously transmitted from other mountain peaks within 150 miles or so and do not hear lower powered stations.  So when my own Internet Gateway (IGate) is blocked from hearing, only rarely - if at all - are any of my positions successfully relayed via the high mountain top stations, which theoretically they were designed to do.
WHATEVER....
We had a fair amount of 2-wheel company on the roads today.  About 10 cyclists in groups of varying size, including loners, passed us while we were dismounting our trike from the roof rack and lashing everything on board for the ride.  As we turned north on the far end of our loop onto Mountain Valley Road a three-party cyclist group passed us, exclaimed over the doggies, and the male participant circled around for another look at our "rig" and some chat.  "You guys on a long tour or....?"   Which is a typical question, since we always travel with full panniers, dual flagpole/antennas, water bottles here and there, dogs in their perch under a shade custom built for the enterprise, etc, etc.  We always answer "No, we're just riding around the neighborhood, but we like our STUFF!" 
Minimalists we AIN'T.  We try to carry more water than we think we'll need, and that stuff is heavy.  We've run low a few times anyway, but we've never had to beg for water from passing cars by waving an empty water bottle in the air and gesticulating.  We also carry supplies for ourselves and the dogs..... just because we're only doing a few miles doesn't mean we don't think we'll get tired, thirsty, hungry, or break down along the way.  We carry a spare tube for the tires, CO2 cartridges to air them up again if they go flat, tools and spare parts which have come in handy both for ourselves and other broke-down cyclists we've encountered from time to time.  So that helps, hopefully, to explain the bulkiness of our stuffings and the slowness of our trundlings.
We even went a few hundred yards off our beaten path to investigate a yard sale today and then brought home a prize or two.... that for which, luckily, we still had room to get it on board.

Ride Started:  9:35 AM    Ride Ended:  11:53 AM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.3       Ending Voltage: 13.2
Lowest Temp  71 F      Highest Temp:  84 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  9.77
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  4.3 MPH                               7.1 MPH                    32.6 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
2 hours  15 mins                   1 hour 22 mins            52 minutes

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Signs of the Times

Today's Spotty Tracking via GPS and Ham Radio

We Need this Sign on OUR Gate!
I hadn't ridden in a few days due to various lame excuses:
-It's been raining and everything has been wet (NOT complaining!)
-I spent most of Monday driving the tractor over to Daughter Sarah's house to mow their 3 acres of weeds
-Too Busy to Stay Healthy, Etc.
Yesterday, Tuesday, I just sorta took the day off and didn't do much of anything except a visit to our friendly local acupuncturist for a neck & shoulder treatment.  Second visit for this sort of treatment and am underwhelmed with the results.  As with chiropractic, I leave the office hurting worse than when I went inside.  BAH
Usually my sore neck & shoulder receive at least temporary relief while riding the bike, so I did a ride today in spite of not being in tip-top  condition.  It was great, terrific weather and temperatures and all that, but the last few miles before arriving home produced a fair amount of stiffness and soreness.  What can I say?  Getting Old Sucks...
I noticed the "Ignore the Dogs, Beware of the Owners" sign as I rode past a place where I don't recall seeing such a sign before.  Cool sign, I thought.
While driving the tractor over to Darling Daughter's house, a couple in a pickup stopped me and asked if I could come mow THEIR acreage and how much I'd charge.  So now I have ANOTHER project to do that requires attention soonish.

Ride Started:  11:21 AM    Ride Ended:  1:06 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  14.0       Ending Voltage: 13.1
Lowest Temp  78 F      Highest Temp:  87 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  12.52
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  7.1 MPH                               8.7 MPH                    33.3 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour  45 mins                      1 hour 26 mins          19 minutes

Friday, July 11, 2014

It's Hot ~ Always Complaining

Today's Track via APRS and Ham Radio

Jacque and I took the Terratrike tandem for an "early" ride this morning, but did not beat the hot sunshine nor did we anticipate the almost total lack of breeze.  As mentioned previously, we have decided we like headwinds - so long as they don't buck against us ureasonably - and as we trundled off on our short but difficult climb to the Post Office we soon got overheated and had to stop for water breaks at least twice before we accomplished the ~1.75 miles of mostly uphill drudgery.
I failed to get a picture of Jazzy with her 'new' baseball-style hat cinched around her ears to help keep the sun out of her eyes.  She is much too cute for her own good, and she seems to realize it.
In such heat and sun, many passers-by don't even realize the lump in my belly IS a doggie since she tends to slump way over and hide her head under my elbow to take advantage of even this small shade.  When she DOES sit up and make herself known, she and Tinkerbell  always draw lots of attention.  Jacque has a U.S. Flag pattern draped over Tinkerbell's basket to provide shade and as a result Tink is not visible either unless she is provoked enough to poke her head up out of the shade.
When we finally arrived at the Post Office we paused only a few minutes before huffing and puffing the final third-or-so mile to our favorite watering hole and potty spot... the Shell Station at the intersection of North-14 and Sandia Crest / Frost Road.
A small time paving crew was patching the station's parking lot when we arrived so we parked in the shade of the not-yet-open Lazy Lizard Lounge adjacent to the gas station.  One of the helmeted workers blocked my passage as I returned  to the station with trash to deposit and wanted to know:  "How much do those things cost?" - Referring of course to the Tandem Trike.   I chose to tell him my best guess even though it frightens many away from the idea:  $5000 base price, brand new from the factory in Michigan.  I also advised him that we had found this one, used, on the Internet, for $2000 including spare tires, roof rack for transport, and several normally-pricey accessories. We spent a few hundred more making a johnny-on-the-spot run to Omaha to pick it up from the seller, but that was still slightly less than half the price of buying one new.
Years ago, when I considered Sears and Wal-Mart bikes sufficient for anyone, I would have never considered spending anywhere near a kilobuck for a bike or trike..... but since then I consider it money well spent enjoyment and health wise.  A LOT cheaper and healthier than owning an RV..... but I digress.
Speaking of which, I may be able to crank up our dead yard-art RV in a few more days.  I have most of the plumbing reinstalled, oil and filter drained and refilled, and now lack only the upper and lower radiator hoses, transmission oil cooler, and a few major and minor brackets and widgets to reinstall.  Then, to get the grills and such back in place, and maybe I can reinstall the batteries and see if this dog will hunt.... or even start and keep running for any length of time.
We have considered, intermittenly, a cross country bike ride using the RV as a SAG vehicle.  We may be stuck with the idea of doing without the RV..... HAH.  Worst case, we will drain more of the retirement fund to buy another used RV so we can still imagine ourselves as travelers.

Ride Started:  9:25 AM    Ride Ended:  11:03 AM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  14.0       Ending Voltage: 13.2
Lowest Temp  71 F      Highest Temp:  84 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  4.37
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  2.9 MPH                               5.4 MPH                    31.0 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour  31 mins                      48 mins 23 secs         42 minutes

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

One Rider on Two Wheels Today

Tracking via GPS, APRS, and Ham Radio

Jacque was too busy building a quilt for a brand new baby born this morning so I rode off by my ownself.
Nothing spectacular, of course, just the  usual 10 miles or so to work the kinks out and leave enough time to lay under the RV and reinstall a few more brackets and bolts in my "Yard-Art Project".
There seemed to be no wind at all today, so I instead enjoyed what little breeze I could work up myself by pedaling through the unusually still air.  Very nice and sunny and about as perfect a temperature as a cyclist could hope for.  I again took no doggies for the ride today so I received little attention or affection from passing motorists.... But no close calls, which is always a blessing.
I thought to  get home earlier than usual and didn't dally except for a couple of brief rest / water breaks.  However, just before I was to turn off the pavement for our rocky rutted mile-long goatpath to the house.....  fortunately or unfortunately, I spotted Grandpa Joe, my near neighbor, sitting out on his porch taking in the late morning calm.  Since he is such a good hearted and generous neighbor, I felt I had to stop and visit with him at least for a little while.  He is no spring chicken, although he works like a prize rooster all the time.  He had not been out and about recently due to a recent operation and mandated recuperation.  We enjoyed shooting the bull and I found I had spent far more than the hoped-for "Couple of Minutes" I had bargained for.
Then, when I arrived home, I remembered all our trash cans were full so I had to forgo RV rescue operations and haul trash to the local transfer station instead.

Ride Started:  10:20 AM    Ride Ended:  12:19 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.8       Ending Voltage: 13.1
Lowest Temp  78 F      Highest Temp:  87 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.56
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  5.4 MPH                               8.4 MPH                    29.2 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour  58 mins                      1 hour 15 mins          43 minutes

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How Do You Get 4 Riders on a Trike?

Today's usual tracking via GPS and Ham Radio

Well, it's not that hard when two of the Riders are small cutesy lap-dog Papillons.
We got going today early enough to beat the afternoon heat and it was very very nice.  We did notice that - before noon - over half of our normal tree-shaded rest spots were still in full sunshine with no shade at all.  Thankfully there are a couple of trees along this route that are large enough to actually arch over the road shoulder, thus providing shade in spite of the earlier hour.
We stopped under such shade just at the base of our first major hill. While resting and relaxing, a large white pickup truck pulled in behind us and looked at us a few moments, then rolled down his driver's window.  "We see you all the time riding around, but we never noticed before you had a dog with you!"  He did a double-take when Jacque informed him of the other dog up front... in the belly harness on my gut.  We hear comments like this continually about 'seeing us riding all the time' when we seem to miss more days than we ride.  Guess it motivates us to better live up to our so-called reputation.
As we turned north on Mountain Valley Road, we again encountered the riding-English lady on her skittish horse.... but this time there were two of them.  As we approached each other head-on at low speed, the ladies called out "We're trying to get through our gate before we pass you!"  We then noticed their gate just ahead on our right so we stopped and waited for the gals with their prancing horses to cross in front of us and inside to the horses' perceived safety of their yard.  They thanked us profusely, apologized for the skittishness of their horses, and admired our preening dogs, who of course hate hearing  the inevitable "OOOOoohhh, how CUTE!"
The weather at this hour was just lovely.  Warm but not over-hot, and the breezes were wonderful with their cooling.  Although not that hot today, we again noticed some of the territorial dogs preferred not to rush to the fence and challenge us, while others seemed to do just that from some sense of obligation to uphold THEIR reputations.
Now, back again to the yard-decorating defunct RV... I got the engine radiator re-installed, as well as the Air Conditioning radiator... then had to remove a couple of bolts again when I realized I had missed a bracket and had to dig around for a missing bolt.  I took lots of Iphone pictures as I was taking this beast apart, but I didn't take ENOUGH of them.....
Maybe another week and I can start it up and see how much smoke and steam come out ......

Ride Started:  9:30 AM    Ride Ended:  11:26 AM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.5       Ending Voltage: 13.0
Lowest Temp  71 F      Highest Temp:  82 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  9.35
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  5.0 MPH                               7.2 MPH                    34.5 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour  52 mins                      1 hour 18 mins          34 minutes

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Dogs are Staying in the Shade...

Today's Partial Tracking via GPS and Ham Radio

Well, SOME of the dogs I passed today stayed in the shade of their porches, deigning instead to bark from a distance rather than come out to the fence and bark at me in the hot sunlight.  Others did their usual thing, braving the warm weather to chase me along their respective fence lines.
Since Jacque was home busily sewing a new quilt pattern, I took no doggies of my own on today's ride since it is a bit warmish for me, too, riding along with a warm fuzzy snuggled up to my belly in the reverse-papoose sling.
It took me a bit longer to get out and get going this morning since I took the time to oil my mile-long chain.  It's not really a mile long;  it is only two-and-a-half regular chains long. About 146 joints to oil as I recall.  I didn't count them this morning.
Wow.  What a difference.  My gears have been shifting nicely since I changed out my cables and shifters and derailleur several weeks ago, but the smoothness of shifts and the relative silence of the lubricated chain is rather wonderful.  Guess I should do it more often.  When my bike starts to get noisy I tend to blame it on mis-alignment of the shifters and whatnot, but good old oil makes a big difference too.
I had gotten past my halfway point and going westward along Entranosa Road when another cyclist approached, going the other direction.  As we passed and said "Hello!" I realized he was Spencer, a young friend of ours who lives in the area.  We stopped, turned around, and chatted a bit, then decided to ride together until he got to his turnoff for home.  What a fun guy.
I would have loved to ride around a bit (or a lot) longer but my crippled RV is still decorating the yard, crying for attention.... So I came home.  Now to get greasy on my hands instead of my ankle.

Ride Started:  12:23 AM    Ride Ended:  1:43 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.1       Ending Voltage: 13.1(?)
Lowest Temp  82 F      Highest Temp:  91 F
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  12.21
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  7.1 MPH                                8.9 MPH                    29.5 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour  37 mins                     1 hour  18 mins          19 minutes