Sunday, February 23, 2014

Lights and Batteries

In 2010 I tried to make all my electronics work off of AA lithium batteries.  My GPS (and spare), Spot, SteriPEN and riding light all ran off of AA’s. Even for my phone I carried a small charger that was powered from AA’s.  The only device that did not use AA’s was a AAA powered camp/head light.  I think I started with 4 extra batteries.  My back up plan if I missed finding replacements was to steal the SPOT or SteriPEN batteries to run the GPS and or light.  I never had much trouble finding replacement lithium’s although I do think I bought a set of regular alkaline’s one or two times to get by.  

I did have two ‘power’ issues, first the recharger for the phone did not work very well, the phone would only reach about ½ charge and get extremely hot. Ok I guess for a true emergency but not for routine use. The second issue was my riding light.  It was a DiNotte AA 200L.  At the time this was the best AA light available.  Their new version is probably still the best for a light, powerful, disposable battery light.
The main problem was the same issue that comes with any battery powered light, on high setting they only last 1-3 hours.  So you always run them on low or med while worrying about running out of power.  Also even on high the 200 lum output (while more than adequate for pavement and some dirt) is lacking for some TDR conditions.  I fell at night after getting trapped in a rut, mainly due low lums coupled with washed out 'white light' conditions on white colored dirt. And I did finish with dead 'night light' batteries, I ran most of the last 60 miles of pavement by moon light or occasionally with my camp light on low when I saw a car......

However, all in all I was happy with my 2010 choices and it’s tempting to copy the same strategy for 2014.  But I am testing a new Exposure light and dynamo hub.
I will also be testing a Sinewave Cycles dynamo powered USB charger.

I have not wired up the sinewave USB charger yet but have built up the dynamo hub and done modest testing with the Revo light.

Hub results—like everyone else who has tried the SP PV-8 Dynamo Hub (aka Exposure) I simply cannot ‘feel’ or notice the small amount of drag inherent in these dynamo hubs.  So from a efficiency point of view the extra drag question is a non-event.
I added several layers of shrink tubing to reinforce the power cord at the hub/plug interface.  Now its pretty much water proof plus significantly less likely to succumb to damage from mud, tangled weeds and plug-on plug-off wear & tear.

Revo light performance—the revo has 4 led’s.  At slow speed 2 led’s light up and at higher speed all 4 light up (up to 800 lums). 
When you stop the 2 low speed led’s stay lit and slowly fade away.

At slow speed the 2 led’s are fine for climbing or pavement and when the second two led’s kick in I have enough lums for most downhill conditions.  So far I am impressed but need to get in some real off road night riding to truly get a feel for this system.

More to come……

Thursday, February 13, 2014

TDR Detour Ahead

Stagecoach 400 (TDR Prep)

For 2010 TDR prep I did a couple of practice multi-days at various intensity levels.  This year I have the chance to race the Stagecoach 400 and even though I am not fully prepared training wise for such an event--- I am going to jump at the opportunity!

March 14th, 2014
9am start at Cafe Aroma, Idyllwild CA
400ish miles
Absolutely, positively, (delightfully?) NO support.
Ends in Idyllwild, CA @
The Hub Cyclery
SPOT satellite tracker use is mandatory.
GPS navigation assistance is strongly recommended.
Time Limit for the Stagecoach 400 is 5 days.

I will be winging this one just a bit but am looking forward to getting in some multi-day miles under pressure to “race” and also finish before my days off run out.  So far there are 32 racers signed up.  Should be great fun as well as a good re-introduction to going long on the bike. 
Will post up the 2014 Trackleader/SPOT info when it becomes available.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tawas a Good Day for racing empty Trains (course I lost badly)


Spent a hour or so on fast hard packed snow, followed by two more hrs on soft slushy slop.  Ahhhh---It was a nice day to be playing at TDR Racer in my part of Colorado.

My TDR bike is coming together quite nicely.  A few months ago I basically tossed it back together, somewhat close to the 2010 TDR version.  Since then I have been slowly tweaking it and dinking around with many minor gear choices.  I seem to be constantly buying stuff on eBay.  My wife has accused me of just attempting to work it so I get to receive some type of fun package every day.  She could be right.  Here is a picture of some eBay-fun odds & ends from my desk drawer.
Micro adjustments: 
I use to just keep riding, not want to interrupt my ‘training’, thinking I would ‘fix’ things when I got back home.  But I always seemed to forget.  Now I routinely stop and adjust little things on my bike or re-pack my gear till it’s right.  It always works better if you tune stuff after about 2 hours into the ride vs trying to remember and do it back at home……..
Last night, using a trainer as a stand and a tape measure I set my new handlebars, grips, aero bars etc as close to the old ones as I could.  But during todays 3 hour snow ride I felt my left little finger start to go numb, so I stopped in a sunny spot, broke out a snack and made a micro-adjustment to the angle of my Ergon grips.  Problem solved (or at least so far….)  Of course I forgot to bring along a long Allen wrench for the aero bars so I get to micro adjust them next ride…..

Here is a picture of something very important to me. 
My new ‘wider’ handlebars and ‘rises’ for my aero bars.  My old bars did not allow enough distance between the aero bars.  And without the risers the aero bars were not quite high enough.  During todays snow ride I spent at least 1 hour down on the aero bars. Yes, both comfortable and good control—yes --I think I may have my TDR cockpit fundamentals just about nailed.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Winter Fat

Normally I am up on this trail with my bike--today it was snowshoes

Well the home team was humiliated today, good thing I do not invest much emotional energy in spectator sports. 

However I am very much invested in trying to shed weight.  Unfortunately I have gotten past the easy weight loss and now my body is fighting back.  Nope it says to me—ha, I may be willing to drop a few easy pounds with a few 2 to 4 hour rides but now you have to start working for it………..

Every spring for the last 20+ years I have practiced a simple form of eat less, exercise more to lose some winter bear fat weight.  I simply watch the total amount I consume and add some additional fruit, veggies and fiber.  IE: a little less yummy tasting processed foods, a little more of the boring but good stuff.  Nothing radical, nothing sacrosanct, just a slight nod towards a healthier diet.  However eating better is never enough because like most I can’t help but consume more than my body really needs to actually lose pounds.  This is of course where the bike riding comes in.  If I have time and the weather cooperates I can easily put in the miles/time to shed 1 to 2 lbs every 7-10 days.

But somewhere along the way there always comes a plateau in my weight loss results.  It’s always the same, as I ride more I become more efficient.  I can pedal longer with less effort, which is a good thing but…

Training Partner

….basically my body quickly drops into a comfortable, now well recognized “endurance mode” and the time/effort required to shed each additional lb goes up dramatically.  Age seems to make weight lose harder but I am not to sure about that…..I continue to pretend age doesn't matter

Anyway, usually I bump over these plateaus with additional and extended rides.  Unfortunately my job requires about 3 out of 4 weeks of travel—and try as I might I simply cannot spend more than 1 hour on the rusty old exercise bikes found in most hotel fitness centers
I know, ya, whine whine whine, who other than me really cares……….all I know is a way will be found to get where I need to be……