Monday, March 2, 2015

No Sun, Still Fun

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

Today did not appear optimal for a bike ride:  The sun never showed its face, the wind was pretty nasty.... but it was actually a lot warmer than it has been for the last several  days.  It was around 50-something degrees when I finally saddled up and left, which is practically springtime-style temperature.
We got a tremendous dump of snow Friday and Saturday, resulting in drifts of 3 feet in our yard and perhaps a foot all around average in most of the acreage.  The snow was so wet and deep I could barely get the tractor out of its own tracks, even without pulling a load of snow with the scraper, so I gave up and re-parked the tractor.  Sunday morning the weater suddenly warmed up and by that evening most of the deep snow was GONE.  Talk about dramatic quick weather changes.
Supposedly the weather guessers are forecasting more storms coming in, so I hated to wait several more days in hopes of better weather, so I determined to ride today even for a short one..... trying to get exercise in the breaks between worser weather.
Since all the area's dirt parking areas are again sloppy with mud, I drove up to the Post Office and parked in the empty paved lot adjacent.  Since I had a house payment needing to go to the outgoing mail slot this worked in my favor.
I then rode east on Frost Road, and the conditions were not too bad.  The wind was gusting pretty heavily, but I've endured worse.   I sorta hoped to make a 10-miler by riding 5 miles and then returning, but it was already late when I started, the wind was getting worse, and I turned around just past the 4 mile point.
By now the wind was really getting strong, and occasionally I got a bit sideways, thankfully not while cars were close by.
Arrived back at the SUV/trailer combo safe and sound.

Ride Started: 4:14 PM    Ride Ended:  5:19 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:   14.0   Ending Voltage: 13.0  Lowest:  13.0
Lowest Temp  50 F      Highest Temp:  50 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  8.10
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  7.3 MPH                                8.9 MPH                 24.4 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour 6 mins                         54 minutes                 12  minutes

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow Cycling, How Cool

Today's Cool Tracking

Actually, a Truth in Advertising caveat here:  I didn't do anything as sexy as riding ON snow, though I have done that in the past.  I rode INTO snow in the air, as seen in the video dead ahead of Jazzy and I as we rode east toward the Post Office.  Specks of snow were also falling ON us as we rode, especially up around the Post Office, but the camera does not show it.  The GoPro will take very high resolution videos but the memory space consumed is horrific, and is difficult to upload to YouTube because of the size of even short clips.  These videos are with the GoPro set to its lowest resolution and fewest frames per second (30 fps).
They still look pretty good, IMHO.
This admittedly short ride was my first in a while, since I've been down with a cold pretty much since my last ride.  I've started to feel almost human again, since yesterday (Monday), at least, so I determined to do at least a short ride today in spite of the spotty weather.
Temperatures have been in the single digits overnight the last couple of nights and in the low twenties yesterday and close to freezing much of today.  The wind was trying to huff and puff too but it wasn't too bad.
Needless to say, with all the overcast and the sun failing to show its face all day, the solar panel was of little or no effect today.   The ride was so short the voltage on the battery didn't have a chance to fall much, not to mention I was wearing heavy mittens and did not attempt transmitting on the ham radio this trip, also saving a bit of battery power.
My chain failure a couple weeks ago must have been of the "weakest link" variety.  The failed link was replaced and I've had no trouble with it since.
No encounters with other cyclists today.  Surely they all didn't exercise better sense and stay home?
I was suffering from a bit of Cabin Fever from staying home with the snotty nose thing so I HAD to get out, especially since more nasty weather is supposed to be coming in.  Who knows how long the roads may be icy... Gotta ride when and where I can.

Ride Started: 2:38 PM    Ride Ended:  3:38 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:   13.2   Ending Voltage: 13.0  Lowest:  13.0
Lowest Temp  31 F      Highest Temp:  35 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  5.48
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  6.2 MPH                                7.2 MPH                 23.2 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
  53 minutes                           45 minutes                 7  minutes

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Freezing My Butt Off, What Fun

Today's Unusually Spotty Tracking Via Various Gimmicks

Well, I admit riding the bike so close to sundown, in the middle of the winter, is not a totally defensible idea.
Today was beautiful, at least from inside the house looking out the picture window in the front....
But it was also WINDY, and cold. Had I exercised any aforethought about how cold it actually was I would have prepared better for it and made sure I had sufficient cold weather gear on board.
It was already cold and breezy so I started out with full fingered gloves, instead of my favorite half-finger gloves.  They normally get too warm after a mile or so but NOT TODAY.  
I rolled out about a mile from the house when I decided it was just too cotton-pickin' cold for my hands, so I stopped to retrieve my good mittens from the  pannier on the rear rack.  Trouble is, I couldn't find them, even after digging through the contents desperately.  I was cold, especially my pinkies, but I didn't want to abort the ride, so I put the full finger gloves back on and decided to tough it out.
It was a decision I regretted almost all the way around the loop.  My hands were painfully numb almost throughout the ride but I didn't lose sensation entirely in the fingers so I assumed I was not getting them frostbitten.  I note my coldest recorded temperature was 35F so with a bit of wind chill.... Gaaack.
Today's thrilling video is just a clip showing the increase in the wind as I rode north on Mountain Valley and turned west on Entranosa Road. 

It was already cold before this, and I stopped at the end of this clip and took off my cold sweaty windbreaker and turned it inside out and let it hang over the bike in the wind while I went into the scrubby trees to pee.  The jacket was still very cold when I put it back on but at least the sleeves were dry again, and it had not gotten so cold I didn't get that sweaty on the way back home.
I've got to come up with a better windbreaker layer solution.  I always get too warm and sweaty in the forearms and even in today's cold the same problem occurred and  it is of course miserable to get all sweaty and then to both sweat more and freeze as the sweat cooled even more in the wind.  Maybe a light jacket with removable sleeves would work.  I used to have one several years ago but am not sure if I still have it nor do I recall if it worked any better.  Better go dig through the  closet.... waitaminute.  I just remembered the story of the lost windbreaker with separatable sleeves.... the zipper failed on it and it was put in Jacque's project pile.  I'm certain she has forgotten about it even more than I have, since it's been at least a couple years now.  If we can find it we'll check it out again and see if it's worth the effort to replace the zipper with a new zipper or Velcro or whatever.  It was quite a pricey bike jacket so maybe some effort should go into it.

Ride Started: 4:23 PM    Ride Ended:  6:08 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:   13.2   Ending Voltage: 13.0  Lowest:  13.0
Lowest Temp  35 F      Highest Temp:  46 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10.50
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  6.9 MPH                                8.1 MPH                 29.6 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour 31 mins                       1 hour 17 mins           14  minutes

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Going Postal, Again

Today's Very Limited Tracking, only 3 Points Reported

Today's thrilling video (HAH) shows me as I approach our turnoff from Frost Road, a nicely paved roadway.
One might notice, upon close observance, the shoulder which is nice and wide and normally conducive to riding a bike or trike upon therewith.  However, with recent snowstorms, you can easily see the shoulder is full of rocks, sand, mud, and assorted debris, forcing cyclists like me to either risk life and limb riding to the left of the white shoulder line or take the nasty chances of sliding and slipping on loose rocks and gravel to the right of the line.  There IS a so called multi purpose trail along this stretch, leaving only a few hundred yards from Camino Alto to our turnoff without the "bike path", but it has cracked and heaved so much  over its short  lifetime that it is more difficult to ride than up on the main road, mixing it up with automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles.
All of these complaints fade, however, when I drop off the pavement onto our goat-path mile of dirt road leading to our house.  As can be seen, I can ride it except on the steepest hills (which make up only about a fourth of the mile in total) but it is indeed a rough ride.

I really got off late today for the ride, and wound up only doing the 5-ish mile ride to the Post Office and back.  I planned to do a late morning ride instead of a nearly-dark ride but just about the time I thought I was headed out the door, my darling daughter called and asked if I was on my way already to take her to her OB/GYN appointment.  ZOUNDS !  I had totally spaced out on my committment to drive her to ABQ today, so I zipped over to her place faster than the law allows and spent the next couple hours doing the Albuquerque-and-back commute.
Then, of course, after I arrived home, I wasted precious daylight putzing around the house, and wound up taking off on the ride at almost 5:00 PM already.  Thank goodness the days are getting longer now so I still had mostly daylight to contend with.
First thing I noticed was the battery pack failed to light up the electronics.  I was already in danger of not having enough time for even a short ride so I grabbed one of my emergency battery packs and plugged that in for the ride, and it had been sitting without a trickle charger so it was pretty much worthless too, although it DID keep my Garmin GPS running throughout the ride, all 5 miles of it.  Even though the available daylight was limited and low in the sky, the solar panel seemed to help the wobbly battery, as the ending voltage was higher than the beginning voltage.  None of which was high enough to keep both radios and GPS stuff lit up.
Then, when I arrived home to look at the GPS track on Google Maps, I saw I had only gotten 3 positions transmitted successfully.  So not only was my battery flat, but my home station Igate was locked up and didn't hear any of my low powered bike transmissions.  The 3 that got through came through Sandia Crest, which is very hard to "hit" radio wise with a low powered bike setup, because of all the TV and radio stations creating too much nearby background interference up there.  SIGH

Ride Started: 4:42 PM    Ride Ended:  5:47 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:   8.9   Ending Voltage: 9.1  Lowest:  8.9
Lowest Temp  53 F      Highest Temp:  55 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  5.54
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  4.9 MPH                                7.0 MPH                 25.5 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour 7 mins                        47 minutes                  19  minutes

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cycling is SO Tiring for Passenger Doggies

Today's Been There, Done That Tracking

Yesterday - Wednesday - was a mess.  Good Old New Mexico  Weather.... it has been unseasonably balmy and warm and sunny (relatively, anyway) for a week or so and then  BOOM!  We awoke to gloomy skies and snowing like no tomorrow.  It snowed softly, then faintly, stopped several times, and POURED down with zero visibility - alternating all blessed day.  JUST before sunset, the snow abruptly stopped, the sun peeked out, and the snow almost disappeared before the sun went down.  The snow was cold, wet, and sloppy, making our almost-dried goat path dirt road a mucky mess again.

All this meant I had to trailer the bike down to the paved road again to go for a ride.... AFTER getting some morning stuff out of the way.
First thing this morning I had a quick checkup with our dentist to make sure my tooth-ache from last week had disappeared.  He'd prescribed antibiotic pills for me to cure a violent jaw-ache that he could find no physical cause for.  He suspected a minor sinus infection, which may well have proven true, since my jaw stopped hurting after the second day of taking the pills.  I noticed my engine temperature in the Ford Exploder was fluctuating hot and cold all the way there and back.  When I got home I checked the coolant level.... couldn't find any.  So I spent an hour adding a bit of coolant and running the engine trying to find if there was a leak or whatever.  I couldn't find anything, so I figured I'd continue driving it until it got worse or blew up.....
Jacque had gone to ABQ for work and shopping.... By the time I saddled everything up for a ride, it was so late I thought she might get home just in time to take charge of both doggies so I could do a slightly less-complicated trip.  Didn't happen, so the "girls" both rode with me.
Today's silly title comes from the fact that the doggies, though doing nothing except sticking their noses into the wind while riding, with an occasional whimper when they need to stop and poop/pee, are invariably TOTALLY bushed and exhausted when we get back to the car, and crawl into our laps and fall deeply asleep almost instantly.  We theorize this is because our dogs are run-around active for maybe 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and take deep naps of a half hour or more immediately after these short bursts of energy.  Riding on the bike or trike, they aren't running around... BUT they refuse to take naps, either, no matter how long the ride.  It's too exciting to watch for squirrels and dogs and cars.... etc.  We think they're just worn out from staying awake that long.
It was decades warmer than yesterday, but the breeze was a bit too cool.  The thrilling funniest non-home video shows changing into the windbreaker and zipping in with the belly-mounted Jazzy-dog. FUN
The dirt parking area next to the pavement was again fairly nasty.  I should have parked up at the Post Office for drier and more pleasant loading/unloading operations.

Ride Started: 3:48 PM    Ride Ended:  5:14 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.6   Ending Voltage: 13.0  Lowest: 13.0
Lowest Temp  46 F      Highest Temp:  60 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  9.33
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  7.1 MPH                                9.2 MPH                    26.6 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour 19 mins                        1 hour                       18  minutes

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Passing Old Men Ain't Hard.....

Today's Track Provided by GPS, APRS, and Ham Radio

I woulda gotten in an early morning ride but my current excuse is thus:
When Jacque was starting her Subaru and getting ready to drive away, I noticed her left rear tire was very low.  It was low yesterday, too, so I had her pull over to the tool shed so I could top it off again.  Well, it had even LESS pressure this morning than it had yesterday (it registered maybe 10 psi yesterday and no reading today).  I told her we'd swap cars:  She could drive my Ford Exploder on her sewing jaunts and I would high-tail the Subaru to Discount Tire on Juan Tabo and get the tire repaired and the overdue rotation done.
So that took up most of the morning, leaving Tink and me just enough time to get an afternoon ride.

Today's ride involved only Tinkerbell and me, since Jazzy went with Jacque to a quilting club and a friend's house for a sewing session.  Our goat-path mud-bog mile of private road between our house and the pavement of Frost Road has dried up almost completely, making it safe to ride the bike all the way to and from the house.  Everybody is starting to worry about the early spring-like weather but my attitude is ENJOY IT - while it lasts.  Anyone who thinks our winter is over is fooling themselves.  Yes, the trees are budding out and the bugs are bugging out, but the inevitable late frosts in the rest of February, March, and April always come and cause problems for plants and insects jumping the gun.
We jumped the gun and rode without windbreaker or jacket today.  We had the windbreaker tied on the pannier next to Tink but never put it on. 
It got just a bit too cool screaming down the hills but we only zipped up the front of our Velcro-modified tee shirt and kept going, having to rip it open again in front while climbing hills along the way.

Today's thrilling video just shows a speed-racer easily passing  an old fart...... ME.

Some day I will catch up to an old drunk or an elderly lady on a bike and actually pass someone myself.  I'll be sure to post THAT thrilling video.
The warm wonderful weather is drawing all the cyclists out.  Tink and I must have passed half a dozen this afternoon.

Ride Started: 2:27 PM    Ride Ended:  4:56 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.8   Ending Voltage: 13.1  Lowest: 12.4
Lowest Temp  63 F      Highest Temp:  71 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  10:52
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  6.2 MPH                                8.0 MPH                    29.4 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
1 hour 42 mins                      1 hour  18 mins          23  minutes

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday Struggles Up Hill and Down Dale

Today's Tricycle Tracking

Jacque didn't have any projects going today, so she agreed to do a tandem trike ride today.
First thing out of the box:  When I dragged the trike out from under the deck, the left front tire was totally, absolutely, flat.  It hasn't been quite a month since we last rode it, and the other 2 tires were fairly close to decent pressure, so this tire certainly has a distinctive slow leak.  I aired it up to 52 PSI this time and we took off with it.  Still seems to be holding air after the ride is all over.
We towed the trike down to the paved road in the trailer with the new Curt bumper hitch I installed on Jacque's little Subaru Outback a couple days ago.
It's really nice to now be able to use either of our street vehicles to pull the trailer and haul trash, trikes, bikes, etc.
I really MUST comment about AMAZON online and its fabulous customer service.  I ordered a Curt hitch via Amazon's web page and, unfortunately, when it arrived here, the weather was awful outside and I had to wait a couple weeks to begin installing it.  Also unfortunately, when I DID jack up the car and drop the mufflers for installing the hitch, it did NOT fit.  Upon calling the Curtis customer service number, I found I had ordered the wrong hitch, and was provided with another number that would actually fit.  I contacted Amazon about a possible return and they gave me no trouble at all, instantly issuing me  a mailing label with a return authorization.  When THIS hitch came in, the weather was again stinko, and it took another 2 or 3 weeks for another weather window to open up so I could install the correct hitch.  I had not yet returned the "wrong " hitch "just in case".  A couple days ago, I boxed up the "wrong" hitch, followed the emailed Amazon instructions, and loaded it up for a trip to the local UPS shipper.  When I read the fine print on the instructions, I was dismayed to notice the statement "Must be shipped by 15 January 2015".  Since it was a bit more than 2 weeks past that deadline I feared the worst, but took it to the UPS people anyway.  They scanned the label, no red-alert notices appeared, and I headed home hoping the vendor would accept the late return.  I expected it would take a week or two for the hitch to arrive back at the seller and all the paperwork to be finalized.  The VERY NEXT day I received notice from Amazon, that upon scanning the return shipment into the UPS system, they had ALREADY credited my account with the refund price, minus the return shipping costs.  Suffice it to say I am a VERY happy Amazon customer.  We lately order almost anything from them, from used car parts to new items both mechanical and electronic.

Back to our Saturday ride.  The slimy slippery mud in the area has almost dried up, especially in the dirt parking area where we locals park vehicles prior to riding bikes, walking doggies, and such like.  Thus we were able to uneventfully unload the trike, set up the antennas, radios, panniers, dog restraints, and Jacque's homemade shade system for her end of the trike.
We took off on my favorite 9-something mile ride and almost immediately we remembered why we have been trailering the trike all the way across Albuquerque to ride the Bosque:  It is a KILLER effort to get this tandem up our hills around here in the East Mountains.  We don't ride the trike often enough to keep our so-called muscles pepped sufficiently to pull these hills without feeling like we're killing ourselves.
Riding along the Bosque trail is a much more pleasant trip since it is relatively flat.  Today we had to stop multiple times for rest and water breaks, sometimes more than once climbing the longer hills.  I can ride these same hills on my 2-wheel recumbent with only moderate huffing and puffing but on our wonderful tandem trike.... another story.  We have mutually agreed that in future it will be pretty much the Bosque Trail or nothing for riding the tandem.
Being Saturday, and sunny, for the5th or 6th day in a row, we met several other cyclists enjoying the outdoors.
No danger of boring video today..... we forgot the GoPro at home.  I fell on my butt stepping down a slightly muddy embankment next to the road today, which would have been a very entertaining sequence had our camera been along for the ride.
We finally made it home, with stiff cold wind in several places, and hours later we feel great after our exhausting effort.  Still, we are committed to riding the tandem on flat pavement henceforth....

Ride Started: 11:19 AM    Ride Ended:  2:15 PM
Beginning Battery Voltage:  13.8   Ending Voltage: 13.1  Lowest: 12.7
Lowest Temp  60 F      Highest Temp:  71 F 
Stats from the GPS:    Total Miles:  9:38
Overall average speed            Moving Avg               Max Speed
  3.4 MPH                                5.4 MPH                    33.9 MPH
Total Trip time                       Moving Time             Stopped Time
2 hours 47 mins                     1 hour  45 mins         1 hour 2  minutes