Terii’s Cycling Babble


My Ride and Gear

January 1, 2013

A new year and a major change in my gear so time to revamp this page.

Trikes – Past & Present

Loke, Trike & Trailer At The Harbor

Loke, Trice & Trailer At The Harbor

For 6 and a half years, I’ve explored most of a 25-30 mile radius around Uppsala and places more distant with my beautiful Trice QNT. It’s a great machine, solid and well crafted by the men and women at Inspired Cycle Engineering in Falmouth, England. Happy years shared on it with my husky.

My only difficulty with the Trice was how close to the ground the chain guide of the rear derailleur was. On freshly grated dirt roads, it often went banging through the loose rocks and required frequent readjustment. In the winters, it scooped snow, freezing the chain tight in the tubes and banged on chunks or ruts of ice with sometimes ruinous results. I dreaded winters the most as I often lost 3-5 months of outdoor riding as soon as the snows came until the thaw ended.

About to test it!

About to test it!

When my husband announced out income tax return early in 2012, I joked, ‘Ooh! New trike!’ He asked how much it would be and then agreed if I tried one first.

I was stunned by his willingness to consider it. I’d been looking wistfully at the new models ICE released in 2010, especially the Sprint with a 26 inch rear wheel, but there was nothing mechanically wrong with my Trice. It took most of a year for me to get the courage and make the arrangements for a solo trip to Falmouth, but the result was placing an order for a Sprint 26 also made by ICE with tweaked gearing to make climbing hills with camping gear easier on November 1st.

The result has been winter riding. The snows hit us just a couple weeks after its arrival. The first deep snow stopped me for a couple days. It was 1 foot deep so I had to wait for plowing, but the same is true of any bike except maybe those with specialized tires to ride in snow. Since the first blizzard of snow was plowed, I’ve ridden. Churned snow, chunky ice, ruts and all the things which would have resigned me to using the trainer with my Trice, I’ve powered through on the Sprint.

I still have strong sentimental attachments to my Trice, but I’m coming to love the Sprint almost as much. It’s a little lighter than the Trice. It folds beautifully, collapsing in half with the rear wheel twisting to lay between the front ones. No need to remove it and it keeps the chain tucked neatly out of the way. It packs down small enough we could use the back seat in the car even while transporting the trike. It will make longer cycle/fishing trips much easier.

Disc brakes offer great stopping power and a parking brake independent of the front ones will make getting out of the trike on hills much easier. The mesh seat is incredibly comfortable, even more so than the Trice’s. And of course, the rear derailleur is higher up and as safe from rocks, snow and ice as any standard bike’s.

It’s outfitted with mudguards all around with no need for the quick releases. Neck rest and luggage rack. When I ordered it, I also bought a side handlebar mount that fits to the seat for handlebar bags.

In spite of the larger rear wheel, the gearing range is a little smaller than on my Trice. The Sprint’s short crank set (152 mm) has chain rings of 22/32/44 instead of 155 mm cranks with 26/44/52 rings. It gives it a lower speed potential, but still can move respectfully enough for me and will make climbing hills with camping gear easier. It’s taken a little time to get used to, but I’ve come to appreciate it just in the first days of pushing through snow and ice.

The Running Bar

Loke is very much a part of my riding experience. His presence, trotting or loping along beside the trike, makes me smile with a lighter spirit. The challenges thrown at me by bad weather or difficult terrain seem less harsh. He makes laugh at unexpected moments. He charms people I meet with his beauty and dignity. Dignity he only seems to display to strangers. With family, he’s often goofy.

But he’s very strong at 50 lbs and very fit from running. When he first starting going out with the trike, I needed something to keep him from yanking my arm out of its socket and offer a little more control so I wasn’t running over him because he decided to swerve across the front wheel. I tried three WalkyDogs, but he snapped off all of them at the tongue and socket. The first one took almost a month before it broke. The next went in less than a week and the last almost immediately.

My wonderful father-in-law came to the rescue. With a piece of strong metal tubing just big enough to fit one of the WalkyDog bars inside, he used bolts to hold it there. I strapped the whole thing across one of the of the frame bars on my seat. The spring keeps Loke from hurting himself or breaking my seat while helping keep him from swerving into the wheel if he sees something interesting to the left. It’s held up to over 5 years of punishment and is going strong. I’ve replaced the tether once, but that’s all.

Gadgets

Yes, I love gadgets and take some along even on my short rides.

Garmin Edge 705 – I had a Garmin Forerunner for a couple years to help keep track of the distance I rode. When touring became more of an interest, I recognized that something with mapping function like a car’s GPS would be handy to keep me on my mapped routes or help me find the rural little groceries. My husband surprised me with the Garmin Edge 705 just after I’d overcome my phobia of dentists and needles to undergo oral surgery. Groggy from pain meds and lingering traces of anesthesia, he set it in my lap. It’s been a wonderful addition these several years.

DSLR Canon EOS 400 D Camera – We purchased this camera in 2005 I think. At least I believe that’s when we went on a trip to watch killer whales in the fjords of Norway and wanted something better than a point-n-click for quality photos. For the first 4 years of my trike riding, I used a moderate quality PNC digital, but once I started blogging, I was unhappy with the pictures it produced. Green, yellow or white sky with badly exposed images no matter what settings I tried. Odd, I never noticed the bad photos until beginning my blog. About 2 years ago (maybe 3?), Jens finally talked me into ‘risking’ the Canon on my rides. I’ve never looked back. The size was of some concern, but the sheer versatility has been a dream, particularly the telephoto lens. My biggest worry about a camera using specialized rechargeable batteries was the zero time I spend near power outlets, but one battery seems to be good for hundreds of photos. I recharge less than 3 times a year I think.

Solio Magnesium Solar Charger – A Christmas gift a few years ago. It helps to keep my iPhone and Garmin going though I’ve not had a chance to use it for an extended period.

Kindle – I love my Kindle. Great battery life and, given how fast I read, it’s much lighter than carrying multiple paperbacks and takes up less space than even 1 book. Helps pass the time in camp. Even good for waiting out rainstorms while sitting under an umbrella on the trike.

GoPro Hero 2 – The newest addition to my cycling gadgets collection. Jens surprised me with it earlier this year. We had a huge, heavy kayak for a couple years, but barely used it. He asked if I’d mind if he sold it. When I said that was fine, he found a buyer. The day after he made the transaction, he came home a little late from work and handed me a bag. It’s fun, but the battery life makes it’s usability a bit limited.

Touring Gear

Since I moved to Sweden years ago, I dreamed of touring parts of the country by bike. It’s beautiful with so much to explore packed into small areas. The ‘All Man’s Right’ laws mean one can camp most anywhere with only a few restrictions. Tired and it’s late, but miles from a camp ground? Pitch your tent in a forest clearing next to the road. Just don’t leave trash everywhere, chop down trees or burn down the wood.

I’ve collected gear with purpose of touring over the years though I’ve only managed 2 overnight rides in 2011 with 3 failed attempts in 2012.

Burly Cargo Trailer – I know most cycle-tourers go with just panniers, but I can’t seem to manage it. Carrying dog food and extra water for Loke could take up most of a pannier bag by itself, but I think the space and weight is worth having the furry one with me. So, I have the trailer. I like the fact that if balanced correctly, it adds very little weight to the rear wheel. The impact on how the trike handles is minimal. Even fully loaded with all my gear, it barely slows me down in spite of bad knees.

Platypus Water Bladders – Love these and use them for my day rides as well. Durable and the fact they’re soft means I can shove liters of water in irregular spaces.

Cheap Rear Pannier Bags – These cost me less than 10 dollars.  They’re not water proof, but it hasn’t bothered me yet. They carry light snacks if I’m going to be out more than 3 hours, first aid kit, my locking system, socks and whatnots for Loke, repair tools, extra water.  Or since even summer mornings can be a bit nippy in Sweden, I stuff my extra layer into them once it’s warmed up. That’s about all they can hold.  I think I’m going to replace them since I have the Sprint now. The Sprint’s luggage rack isn’t an easy on-off so I’d like panniers that don’t take 20 minutes to strap on. These are annoying to get on and off the rack.

Mountain Hardwear Helion 2 Ultralight Tent – I’ve only had the chance to use this a few times, but I love this tent.  It packs down tiny and weighs almost nothing. While advertised for 2 people, they would either have to be very small and extremely close, or spend the night battling for foot and shoulder space.  For one person, it’s a nice space and for a shorty like me (5’2″), I can sit up with feeling the need to hunch.  It’s freestanding, quick to set up.  Ventilation is great especially if you stake out the rain-fly to keep it from laying on the mesh walls.  Even partially in the sun with the rain-fly on, it didn’t feel overly warm.  There are a couple of mesh pockets sewn to either side near the entrance.

Big Agnes Pearl Sleeping Bag – Added in 2012, this is a woman’s sleeping bag with a temp rating of 30 F. Thankfully, it’s only a semi-mummy so I have a little space to move my arms and legs and I won’t be so tightly wedged in I flatten the fill. I also like the pillow pocket just inside the hood. Other than the fact it’s not a binding mummy bag, another nice touch I love is the sleeping pad pocket built into the underside of the bag. Slide in the Thermarest or whatever pad you have and you won’t find yourself on the ground in the night. Definitely a huge upgrade from the bag I suffered with on the two tours in 2011 which had me shivering through the nights.

Flannel Sleeping Bag Liner – This is of no particular brand I purchased for use as a thin blanket on those nights too warm to sleep in the bag or as extra insulation if I end up in a freak cold snap below 30 F.

Primus Shelter – This I found for Loke. I know he’s a husky and dogs like him can curl up in the howling blizzards of the deepest Arctic, but I feel the need to keep him out of the wind and rain. It’s quick to set up and has plenty of space not only for the furry one, but I can fit my trike seat in out of the overnight dew or rain without crowding him. No more suffering under a flapping tarp strung across trailer and trike for Loke! True protection from the weather.

Primus Power MF Camp Stove – We already owned a camp stove but I was too nervous to use it. It was a tiny thing that screwed onto the top of a gas canister. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’m a clutz and it seemed too precarious. Narrow base, very tall and very hot. Yes, let’s put a pot with a liter of water on top of it while on less than perfectly smooth, level surface for use by the Queen of Disaster. Ummm, thanks, but no. I’ll just eat granola. Knowing how I felt, my husband encouraged me to find something I did feel comfortable with. Then he surprised me with it. The result was the Primus Power MF. The MF stands for multi-fuel so it can use more than the gas canisters. Even plain gasoline or kerosene if push comes to shove. It has a broad base, low to the ground and connects to the fuel source via a line. Stove, pot, plastic bowl, lid that doubles as a skillet and a wind screen fit into a neat zipper case. Most cycle tourists would shudder at the idea of carrying nearly 2 pounds (that’s without fuel) just for cooking. But hey! This I’ll carry and use instead of carry and eat cold meals.

Miscellaneous & Winter Gear

Shimano Woman’s SPD Tour Shoes – For most of the first 5 years riding ICE trikes, I suffered with a pair of Northwave shoes. SPD cycle shoes seem so narrow. My feet are quite short from heel to toe, but with a high instep and wide. For effective power transfer, you need the cleat in the proper spot, so getting overlong shoes for the width is not good. So, the shoes I found even remotely tolerable still only had room enough for 4 of my toes if I pulled out sole lining and used the thinnest socks I could find. Agonizing after 2 hours. I had to stop frequently to take them off and let my little toe unfuse from the one next to it. I finally found the Shimano Woman’s shoe. Not enough room to wear thick wool winter socks, but I can leave the insole in and all my toes are comfy. They’re very stiff for good power transfer from leg to pedal, but with a cleverly shaped sole that allows for an almost normal walking stride. I’m so glad I found these for Christmas 2011. Pedaling is no longer a masochistic endeavor.

Neoprene/Fleece Lower Face Mask – The mask wraps around to cover from just below the eyes to under chin and even part of the neck. It even protects the ears! Velcro fastens it at the back of the neck. A slit for the nose and perforations over the mouth allow easy breathing which was sorely lacking with every other baklava I’ve tried. Once the fabric got wet, it was so much work to drag air through them it felt too close to suffocation so I never wore them. Now, it’s nice to go for a cold weather ride and still be able to breathe without my face feeling like it’s been flayed. I’m sure it will help keep my complexion from turning to leather even if it makes me look like a villain from Mad Max.

Hotronic Foot Warmers

Hotronic Foot Warmers

Hotronic Foot Warmers – These are turning out to be a life-saver! Well, okay, a ride saver at the very least. Before riding through the winter, which is now possible with a larger rear wheel, I didn’t realize the need for something like this. Combined with a standard neoprene shoe-cover they keep my feet comfortable in temps of at least 26 F. I haven’t tried anything much colder than that yet. I’ll need better wind-proof clothing. Won’t do me much good if my feet or toasty, but the rest of me freezes into a block of ice. Still, it’s nice to go riding when it’s between 26 F – 36 F and not feel as if my toes are being twisted off. Thanks to these, I had 200+ miles during the first part of 2013 which wouldn’t have been done without them.

Body Spec Sunglasses/Goggles – These convertible sunglasses/goggles are nice. The arms exchangeable for a headstrap. Around the inside of the frame are gaskets that close off wind and ‘create a moisture pocket’ for the eyes. My set came with 3 interchangeable lenses; clear, gray and amber. They are great for keeping the wind out which is good! Any colder than 40 F and the wind painfully blinds me. It’s like getting soap poured into my eyes. There is a little problem with fogging, but I’m working on that and love them otherwise! The gasket is removable so they work just fine for summer too.

Scott Cycling Helmet – After thunking my helmeted head on the road when I flipped my Trice in February 2012, I had to replace the old helmet which I’d pinched from my husband. After a long search I found one made by Scott. I like that the new one has a white shell over the black protective styrofoam.

Topeak 5 Liter Handlebar Bag – I bought this the same day I picked up my new Sprint from the cycle shop that had assembled it. One of the accessories I’d purchased when I ordered the Sprint was a Side Handlebar Mount. It fits to the seat perfect to hold a 5 liter handlebar bag conveniently at the rider’s hip. The bag is just the perfect size to carry my Canon where it is much easier to grab for pictures or put away. No more twisting and fumbling awkwardly to reach the camera bag where it hung from the seat back. Even space for my GoPro when it’s not on my pedal boom. Multiple pockets fit cell phone, wallet, keys and a handy place to stuff my Garmin when I walk away from the trike. All those things used to be scattered in various places. Now, I can just grab the handlebar bag and move. A small water-resistant map protector fastens to the top with Velcro. Very happy with the bag!


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hi! I’m sailing from Turku (Finland) to Stockholm and my bike is with me of course. Do you know if there are any recumbent shops in Stockholm? Interresting blog btw!

Comment by Mikko Hörkkö

Unfortunately, I don’t know if there are any recumbent shops in Stockholm. I purchased my trike directly from England and haven’t really looked around for a recumbent shop since. When I first contacted Inspired Cycle Engineering about purchasing my trike, they told me their nearest dealer was in Norway, which might be a fair indication of how many recumbent shops are in Sweden. Granted, that was 4 years ago.

Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful and thank you for the compliment!

Comment by terii




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