Terii’s Cycling Babble

Pushed It
February 23, 2015, 8:18 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I was actually looking forward to yesterday’s ride. With eyes on the goal of riding every other day, not only for Loke, but myself as well, I considered what route I might take.

Toyed with the idea of jumping on the trike and heading out in some direction to be picked up by Jens later. Nixed it at the idea of putting a wet, muddy trike with studded tires into the new car. I really didn’t want to the do the River Loop again in spite of the fact we didn’t really do it last time either. Well, we skipped parts of it at least.

At last I decided I’d head over to the store where I purchased the hose clamps that hold Loke’s running bar to the back of the Sprint. The bar has taken to wobbling in most alarming fashion as if the clamps have stretched though they’ve been tightened as much as the screws allow. Grabbing a couple more in a slightly smaller size was a good idea. Not to mention just across the street from the little shopping center is a cycle path that disappears through some trees. I’ve been curious about it for years so as good a time as any to finally satisfy that curiosity.

Snow had actually fallen over night. Not much, barely half an inch quickly turning to slush as the temperature hovered around 33-34 F. The sky was overcast with clumpy clouds bunched tightly.

The ramp at the storage was mostly slushy with snow waterlogged enough I could only tell it was there once I started walking down.

Loke was a complete pest as I worked to get ready. A little hard to get shoes on with a husky standing across my lap. At least he still smells nice from his trip at the groomers.

I’ve taken to letting Loke run a little when rolling along. Nothing ground pounding, just a nice slow lope of about 10-11 mph. He appreciates it I think. Part of me misses that ‘wild mile’ at the start of every ride, mostly because it’s a sign my cycle buddy is slowing down. When we took a left to head away from the River Loop, he perked up even more and pulled vigorously toward the swim hall. A clear sign of approval if ever there was one.

I rolled us past the mosque and then surprised Loke by going straight when he’s used to us taking a left at the cycle path through the green corridor. His interest was tweaked and he continued his enthusiastic drag with the wobbling running bar. To me, it wasn’t the most exciting or interesting place to pass through, but most of the time all Loke needs is ‘unfamiliar’ to be ecstatic.

We got many startled looks going through the parking lot of the shopping center. Stopped outside the car supply store I needed, grabbed a spare clamp for size comparison and nearly crashed into the door. Turns out, they are closed on Sundays. Oops.

Well, the bar has held on for quite a few weeks in it’s wobbly state, so I just shrugged and dropped back into the trike. There was still the mystery path just on the other side of the round-a-about.

This sight made a husky very happy!

This sight made a husky very happy!

We zipped across and hit the churned snow covering the unpaved path. Clearly there was more snow in that area then around our apartment. 2 inches or more instead of less than half an inch. Loke was delirious with delight at the sight of the white covered path curving off into a wall of trees. He did his best impersonation of a husky at a doggie-pull. Think ‘tractor pull’ but for dogs. A sledge with increasing amounts of weight that moves to the front of the platform as the dog/tractor tries to drag it as far as possible.

I can’t recall the last time I’d seen so much of his tether pulled out of the spring bar. I hardly felt any resistance from that snow as we hit almost 8 mph on the way to the tree line. The assistance was appreciated though I prefer Loke not pull so hard he sounds like he’s strangling himself. It definitely shows he was very curious and enthusiastic.

The gravel path stopped at a T-junction. Perhaps it’s some sense of the masochistic, but I turned left in the direction of snow and twiggy undergrowth instead of snow-free trail with a soft bed of old pine needles.

The first few yards went slow, but okay. Beneath the snow was the crack and pop of ice which had likely formed over puddles of melt before being covered over with the new fluff.

We didn’t make it far though Loke was throwing all his weight into the harness and then some. At times, he was standing on his hind legs and straining to move us as the tire slipped, studs and treads unable to find purchase. I got up and floundered around, looking for enough space to turn the trike around. Winter bare twigs crowded the path. In summer it’s probably just wide enough for someone to walk.

Pushing it back to shallower snow.

Pushing it back to shallower snow.

Pushing the trike back was more of a challenge than anticipated. Loke pulled so hard it kept yanking sharply to the left, helped along by unpacked snow hindering the tire on that side. When he wasn’t pulling, he was throwing himself down to rub his face in the white and use it as a plow.

Loke was rather disappointed when the melt and freezing began with the 1 ft of snow we had earlier this month. He takes great delight in diving face first into any unbroken stretch of it and plowing along, sometimes flopping onto one side then the other as he pushes through it. After the melt began, the snow got hard. His attempts to faceplant into it were… disappointing to say the least. Well, disappointing to him. Hilarious from my perspective.

As I struggled back to the last point where the tire had good purchase, I kept thinking, ‘I need a fat trike’.

Last year, a woman rode a recumbent trike across a portion of the Antarctic landmass to the south pole. It was a sort of race with 2 men on bike/ski combination. She skunked them in terms of mileage in the shortest time. The trike she used was actually a specially engineered machine designed and built by the awesome guys at Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE). Yep! The same as those who I purchased my Trice and Sprint from. Well, there was quite a bit of interest in the polar trike, so they’ve actually developed a commercial version for sale called a Full Fat 26FS.

I rarely end up in places where I’d need the Full Fat Trike, but this was one of them. I think Loke was disappointed at turning back so soon and he was purposely making it difficult.

The easier path

The easier path

I pedalled the last little bit back to the intersection and took the easier path.

Though perhaps disappointed at the lack of snow, it barely dampened this enthusiasm. The conifers with their dense, snow-denying canopy soon gave way to a more open landscape. There was once again plenty of snow for Loke to bound joyfully through. At least he wasn’t doing his best impression of a snow plow in it.

Slender, young birch trees surrounded a tiny little pond with a no-fishing sign on one side of the path. On the other, the trees would shade a pair of picnic tables in the spring and summer when clothed in leaves. Perhaps I’ll come back here in warmer, drier weather and have a little picnic, feeding mosquitoes from the pond while I’m at it. Hehe.

A short distance on, the trail came to an intersection. Left, the trees gave way to a road and cycle path. Straight ahead, it looked nearly as difficult as the section I’d had to turn back. Left it was.

After the trail, the cycle path felt like riding on air. We zipped back to the shopping center area and rode over a portion of the earlier cycle path on the way to the mall area. I hoped that there would be a way to cross over to Pizza Hut area to link with the cycle path along the road there to Granby Mall. Not to be.

The cycle path goes through 4H grounds. Right near the pig pen, there’s one hill. It’s very short, but brutally steep. When I climb it, I often wonder if hills are always going to be something I can’t ‘spin’ up. I have silly low gears as it is, yet I could barely keep the pedals turning and that was with Loke’s help. I can’t imagine I’ll ever be able to climb anything resembling a mountain road with my trike, let along doing so with camping gear. Hills like that just bum me out.

Pretty inspite of the distant apartment buildings

Pretty inspite of the distant apartment buildings

Even as we’d first crossed over to the mystery cycle path, the clouds had been loosening up. Little glimpses of blue peeking out here and there though the sun stayed hidden. The sky continued to open up as we toodled on. By the time we came down hill from the 4H sheep pastures to the large parkland beyond, the sun finally made brief appearances in an increasingly blue sky.

Slush slowed us down a little, but we still managed a respectable 9 mph cruise along the paths there. We dodged pedestrians who were emerging with the sun.

The muscles in my legs and hips felt a bit tired, but nothing of the excruciating post-stroke burn. I watched the mileage tick along as we came to the path in the green corridor. My thighs pleaded with me to take a left at the road to double back the way I’d started the ride.

Where the trees assaulted Loke with slushy snow

Where the trees assaulted Loke with slushy snow

While I pondered our upcoming route, the emerging sun and a bit of a wind began to shake loose slushy snow from the canopy of pine trees. Some bits were no larger than snow flakes, others approaching softball size. Loke’s smooth trot was interrupted by a startled leap and he gave me a look that was both affronted and accusatory. I glanced back and laughed. Bits of slushy snow still clung to Loke’s butt just above his tail. The clump must have been one of those softball size that splatted him from the trees.

Fortunately, they were all soft and most only about the size of ping-pong balls. I was glad of the DaBrim keeping them out of my face. My legs and arms were hit a few times.

Approaching the home stretch of the ride, I took the old River Loop sections from back when the trike was stored at the apartment. As we made the turn right near the school to rejoin cycle paths, the way was suddenly crowded with people walking dogs. The 100 yard stretch between the school, past the frisbee golf course and under the 55, I counted over 14 dogs.

I kept looking at my Garmin, calculating the distance we’d finish with as I approached the last couple turns back to the storage. 8.2(ish) miles.

If I’d been a car, I’d have been spluttering along on the last fumes in the gas tank, but I was annoyed. Since the stroke my longest ride has been 8.5 miles. Suddenly, it just felt like 8 miles was some kind of wall or barrier. I want to be able to go further, longer. Faster would also be nice, but I would settle for longer/farther without feeling like I’d done a century for a pitiful distance.

A sign of coming spring. He's there, I promise! :)

A sign of coming spring. He’s there, I promise! 🙂

I stopped to put my feet down out of the wind so the warmers could catch up. I watched a magpie fiddling with twigs in his nest as I evaluated how much further I could push. I decided to push on and come back to the storage along the ‘back way’ which I’d departed.

It was hard, but Loke helped. It’s heartening that he’s taken up pulling again, especially after the GI problems.

My legs were quivering when we finally stopped at the top of the ramp. 9.4 miles. I’d done it! A new furthest distance since the stroke and for 2015. It feels like a pitiful accomplishment compared to when I could toodle through 12, 15, 20 miles pre-stroke, but I’m trying to be positive about it.

My weight continues to edge down. I’m noticing significant changes in my shape. Things like my cycle tights feeling slightly loose even with my thick wool base layer. Another 5-7 lbs off and I may have to shorten my pedal boom because I’ll be ‘taking up’ less space in the seat. Or part of me any way.

I was home just a few minutes, time enough to give Loke his lunch and grab my own, when Jens said he wanted us to go to Ikea. I winced. Going into that place for just ‘one thing’ can mean a 5 mile hike and I was wiped. Still, I agreed, but said I wanted to stop somewhere that would have hose clamps too.

Ikea was a complete bust for what Jens was looking for. We came out of there with nothing. We picked up plenty at Biltema. Hose clamps, a little tool kit with ratchet wrench and screwdriver with many interchangeable sizes, restraints to keep Loke’s cage from vibrating around in the back of the car, and a new pannier bag for my trike. Glad to have gotten the bag. My seat podbags have been near to overflowing since my big panniers got a hole in one side.

Mini-Fairing - Photo from Terracycle Web Shop

Mini-Fairing – Photo from Terracycle Web Shop

Speaking of stuff for the trike, I have a new ‘toy’ in mind come next winter. An XT Mini Fairing. It’s pretty pricey for it’s size, but anything larger could make getting in and out of my trike difficult. I’m not the most nimble of creatures and often lever forward right over the chainring to rock out of the seat. I just can’t see maneuvering around a front fairing that comes up around my knees. This should protect the feet from wind which has been the biggest problem. The reviews seem to indicate it will do just what I need. Some people have said even their legs feel warmer. One person even reported it seemed to deflect wind from his hands a bit.

I’ve been muddling with the footwarmers, but they can only do so much. Once the wind comes howling through the cleat holes, it’s a tug of war. Parts of my toes roasting while others freezing. They almost feel like they’re in a very bad microwave. You know, one of those that leaves part of the food overcooked and the rest rock-hard frozen?

It also needed to be something quick on and off which this can do. Just 5-10 seconds either way.

So, this checks all the boxes. Help keep the wind out of the bottoms of my shoes – check. Can still get in and out of trike unhindered – check. Quick on and off – check.

At over 300 USD for the whole thing, I’ve decided it will be a Birthday/Christmas 2015 combo for next winter. I can muddle along for the rest of this one as I’ve made it this long. For the next week or two it appears to be forecasted for mostly above freezing. By then we’ll be in March, which admittedly can get cold and the first few years here in Sweden, it was the snowiest month.

At least this winter has actually been a winter! Snow and even a few weeks of consistently below freezing temps for night and day!

11 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I have a big WindWrap fairing, with a tilting mount. I’m not exactly nimble either and I’m short so the fairing is mounted pretty close to the seat since the boom’s in almost all the way. There’s no problem at all getting in and out, just tilt the thing forwards.

Well, there’s one problem. Since it’s so close to the seat I have to sort of sneak in between the fairing and one of the front wheels. One of the legs of my pants tends to get dirty from the tyre.

I say go for big. It helps with the chilling wind – but not enough in the winter, toes still go numb. But should it rain or snow it keeps me try up to my chest – as long as I keep moving. If I stop I’ve had it. 😉

They’ve changed them since I bought mine, but I think mine was called GX and came in two versions, tilting and not tilting.

I can’t say I’m overly pleased with the quality though.

Comment by scorp

I’ve looked closely at the larger fairings and don’t think I could get out of the trike easily with them. I scoot forward, grab the guard around my chainrings and rock forward, almost ‘falling up’ to my feet. My head can go right over the pedals. A matter of balances and forward momentum. Every fairing I’ve looked at would interfere with that except for the mini.

Other issues with the larger fairing are the front and top mounting bars getting in the way of folding the trike and more protrusions to get hung up on the car’s interior during transport. It looks as if the only way to get them out of the way is to completely uninstall them.

I really just need something to break up the wind from howling through the cleat holes in the bottom of my shoes. If I can reduce that, then my foot warmers with the shoe covers can keep up. Numb toes I can deal with, it’s when it starts feeling as if they’re being pinched in vices that there’s a problem. 😉

Comment by Terii

Oops. Okay, I finally spotted the video that shows the larger one _can_ be more easily broken down for transport. I’ll have to take a closer look at how my trike folds to be sure it wouldn’t be vibrating against the rim of my rear tire or such.

Still not convinced that it wouldn’t hinder me rocking out of the trike though. Would be aggravating to spend the 500+ USD, install and then need to call the hubby to remove it so I could get up without damaging it or myself. 😛

Comment by Terii

I see. That would be a problem with mine, but I don’t know how the new models differ.

I contemplated the original fairing from HPVelotechnik, but it doesn’t tilt. It’s supposed to come off in one piece though. As I understand it it’s a mount on the boom that’s left there at all times and then just one rod going up from there that can be easily detached. Maybe take a look at that? I can almost guarantee it’s better quality and I think the fairing itself has a better shape. Back then it was also a little cheaper, don’t know how that is now.

I just discovered that both the dollar and the pound has got several SEK more expensive! My internet shopping will suffer!

Comment by scorp

To clarify my post from yesterday. I think the fairing helps some with the wind, but not as much as I had hoped. It does help tremendously with rain, but for that to be really useful it needs to be big. Speed – I don’t reach the speeds where air resistance is of any significant importance. I think they say above 25 miles/h.

TerraCycle is highly praised. I have several of their mounts too. I don’t think the quality is all that. The painting on metal parts flakes off easily if scratched. The trimming on the fairing started to come off within a few months. Now it always hangs partly loose. I’m tired of trying to get it to stay in place. The expanding nuts that hold the fairing to the mount break, snap right off! I suspect they don’t tolerate cold weather. So get extra of those right off. Icletta, their European reseller use expensive shipping. I always carry one extra. Not fun when the fairing is flapping in the wind because a nut broke.

The boom mount for the fairing is clumsy and almost impossible to assemble on your own. You need more hands than two. That probably has improved with the new model, I don’t know. They have smart solutions, but for the price I would like better quality and finish. All in all, when my fairing is worn out I’ll want another one but I will look at other brands.

Comment by scorp

Something for me to keep in mind. If someone else made an identical product, I’ve give it a look. All other fairings appear to be the same bigger sort that would hinder me. Now, I’m not quite sure what I should do about it. Can’t buy winter SPD cycle boots as none of fit me. Longer rides than 10 km in temps freezing or colder become downright painful if the wind is from the wrong direction… 😛

If it helps, I’m slow as well. I saw a shirt for runners that said, ‘I run. I’m slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, but I run.’ That’s me on the trike of late.

Comment by Terii

There are a few other brands.

About taking it off, the fairing itself is easy enough to take off and roll for transportation. BTW be sure to get the fleece cover – it helps a lot. Both with storage and transportation and, in my case, it protects form scratches when rolling the trike down a staircase to its stable. That is, you can use it with the fairing both on and off the trike.

The mount is another matter. If the new one hasn’t improved greatly I wouldn’t want to take it off for the life of me.

You know, if you want, we could meat up somewhere so you can have a look at mine, trimming flapping in the wind and all. 😉 I don’t usually meet with people from the web, but what the heck, we would recognize each other instantly anyway, should our paths cross.

Comment by scorp

Oh, the wind protection. I want to emphasize that it helps a little but not all the way. And I have the big’un. Say, in the autumn when it starts to get nippy but temperature is still well about zero, I think it does a good job. In the winter my feet still goes numb within half an hour. And that’s riding with thick woolen socks, knitted “raggsockor” and thick sheep skin boots! The ones who say a fairing keeps their toes toasty must live in Florida!

Comment by scorp

Meat should be meet and about zero should be above zero. I hate to type in these things. Sigh.

Comment by scorp

We could, yes. 🙂

Comment by Terii

I don’t manage to reply to your reply.

Well, if you want to have a look, feel free to contact me. You have my email. I’m game as long as you take Loke with you. 😉

Comment by scorp

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