Saturday, December 8, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
In order to do the ride I had to get the trike's lighting system set up. I'm running a 20w Halogen headlight off of a 12 motor cycle battery. Like the rest of the trike its a home built set up. The light is actually a car fog light with a white bulb rather than the yellow that it came with. For visibility I'm also using a planet bike strobe mounted mid way up my flag pole. A 5 LED red light on the back of the fairing and just for added 360 degree visibility a xenon strobe at the top of my flag pole. I runs off of a 9 volt transistor radio battery. Finally I've mounted a headlamp to the visor of my helmet which I usually run in the flashing mode. Over kill you say? I was glad to have some extras as I watched the front headlight dim to dull glow as the battery ran down. Maybe someone will get me that killer LED headlight I saw over at REI for Christmas (Hint, Hint).
So watching the Nobel Prize winner's movie it's really hard not to think about how much different this country maybe the world would be if the supreme court hadn't given W the presidency.
Calculate your carbon foot print with the handy online tool on the Inconvenient Truth web site.
Obviously the more you can leave the car a home and walk, ride or take the bus the smaller your footprint will be.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Having done my church thing on Saturday, Sunday was for cycling. Newington Bicycle held their 2nd annual recumbent trike rally. Mike Gallagher put together a nice ride and good food. There were 8 of us who rode including Mike and his wife on their Greenspeed tandem, Franny Yerkes on her ICE trike, Alex (my trike building apprentice from last summer) and a woman doing her first trike ride on a borrowed Greenspeed gt3s, John (I think) on a HP Scorpion trike and John Tetz and I in our home built velomibiles.
John has just fitted his zote foam velomobile with a 4 1/2 lb homebuilt electric assist system which he kept talking about as still being in the test phase. Well John, when a 75 year old guy passes me with ease going up a hill, I'd say the test is successful. John and I had lots of fun racing down the hills. The aerodynamics of velomobiles make it easy to leave everyone else in the dust. I set a new speed record for my velomobile at 47.4 miles per hour coming down the hill into Newington at the end of the ride. That front end alignment I did a little while ago made all the difference in the world. At 47+ mph the trike was rock steady.
After the ride I had arranged to meet up with my new friend Mike, one of the blog readers who had contacted me about building a trike/velomobile. We had planned out a rear suspension trike with 20" BMX wheels all around. Knowing that Mike has been spending a lot of time reading everything he could about trike construction on internet I knew he would be excited to see John's zote foam velomobile. Over lunch at the end of the ride I asked John if he wouldn't mind stopping by my house. Three homebuilders talking trikes, it was great fun. I know I eagerly awaiting John's write up of the power assist.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
- The lid of the tailbox. I really like the look of the lid, but the thing was a pain in neck to line up to fit down tightly and frankly velco was not the best way to secure it. It blew off 3 times. Twice I had to backtrack to find it. I think bungee cords are probably the better solution.
- The steering of the trike. What I have now works fine, but the handlebars swing out in a wide arc that will interfer with wheel wells for the fairing. This has been the primary project I've put off because I knew I couldn't get it done in one evening so that I could ride the next day.
- The floor of the velomobile With warm summer weather around the corner, tightening up the velomobile with a floor hasn't been my top priority, but the real advantage of a velomobile is to extend the riding season later into the fall and winter.
- A rain/sun awning I was lucky during the challenge month that I only got caught in the rain 3 times all on the way home when it didn't really matter if I got wet. A coroplast roof extending a foot or so out in front of my head seams like it would do the trick.
Other projects on the horizon:
Helping a friend build a rear suspension trike similar to the one to the right that I built last year and turning it into a velomobile. He found this blog and realized we lived about 10 miles apart. After he looked me up we spent an afternoon talking trikes and are now developing the shopping list of parts.
Figuring out how to build a no weld trailer out of conduit. My experiance riding the velomobile with the tailbox filled to the gills with groceries made me think that a trailer would be a better solution. I'm sure I was very very close to the weight limit on the tail box and the trike handled like a battleship. I've seen write ups of how to build a trailer out of conduit, but they all involve welding nasty galvinized conduit. I don't have a welding set up and I'm not excited about exposing anyone to the zinc fumes that are released when welding anything galvanized. So hopefully I devise a workable alternative to share with the world.
Finally, I'll also be working on a blog with the Plainville Greenway Alliance, a volunteer group working to fill the hole in the Farmington Valley Greenway that eventually will run from New Haven,CT to to Northhampton MA and be part of the East Coast Greenway.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Many of the women I know were concerned about my safety as I rode in traffic. The only near miss was when someone was so intent on looking at me as they passed me that they almost caused a head on collision.
Lots of people thought this had something to do with high gas prices. The fact that gasoline prices reached record highs during the challenge month was, however, purely coincidental. Back when I was driving I typically filled the tank once a week at about $35 right before the challenge started. So in the month I saved $140 on gas. To be honest that pales in comparison to the $303 car payment. Put another way, before the gas prices went up this spring it typically cost about $25 to fill the tank. That means the higher prices added $10 a week. Most Americans spend more than that a week on coffee they could make at home.
No this wasn't about gas prices this was about seeing if I could do it and getting into shape. I'm happy to report that riding everyday, I've lost about 5lbs and about an inch around the middle. My homebuilt velomobile held up pretty well and I have enjoyed showing it off.
This blog has been my first serious try at blogging. In the last two weeks since I figured out how to put a site meter on it there have been 540 visits. My blog has been featured in a local political blog and a blog by a recumbent bike rider somewhere where I think the speak Portuguese. I followed a link back to his site and it wasn't Spanish.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Eventually I checked my watch and had to make a rather hasty departure to allow my self enough time to stop at the office before heading to my next meeting at the State Department of Education in Middletown. As I rode through Berlin I stopped in front of the local hardware store to take of my jacket and stick it in the tailbox. As I was putting the lid back on a guy came over to check out the trike. Turns out he was at the hardware store to pick up some parts for his latest project putting an electrical assist on a bike. Apparently we live about a mile apart. I hope to connect with him in the future. The next stop on the way was at Berlin Bike shop for a planet bike high intensity LED flasher. Bruce, Mark and some of the other mechanics came out to admire the trike.
After cranking up a long hill in the granny gear there was the thrill of a long steep decent. I hit 38 miles per hour and the trike handled well. Last Saturday's front end alignment certainly helped. As I came into Cromwell I realized that my options of places to pick up something for lunch were rather limited so I ducked in for a salad at (forgive me) McDonald's. To my surprise, sitting a table was Bill Graustein. Bill was the first person I met in CT who regularly commutes to work on a recumbent bike. He's also the chair of the board of trustees of a foundation that funds much of the early childhood work going on in CT. After a little quick showing off of the velomobile it was on to my meeting.
On the way home I stopped in to say hello and show off the velomobile at Suburban Cycle in Berlin. As of the end of the day I was up to 295.4 miles for the month. Even if I have to invent a couple of errands, I get in at least another 5 miles tomorrow to break 300 miles during the challenge.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
I've just added a link to pictures I took of Ethan Davis's corplast fairing. Its in the Favorite Web Pages section to the right and down.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
This afternoon I rode up to Walnut Hill Park to check out the New Britain Criterium race. Lots of spandex clad guys on expensive bikes. On the way home Amy and Kristen from the Red Bull marketing team chased me down to tell me about the Red Bull soap box derby Apparently they saw my velomobile and thought that it looked like like something that might get entered into the race. They gave me some free samples and were good sports about following me home so that I could get the camera
Here's the fairing skeleton from the front showing the bulkhead and ribs. All of this started as a large drawing on flip chart paper to figure out knee and toe clearances. I then cut out the drawing and traced it on to the coroplast.
Here's the fairing half assembled at the NE electrovelo event in Maine. I had hoped to have the fairing finished for the event. Then I had the crazy idea that I would work on it up there giving a live demo of how to build one of these. It was way too windy and there were too many other cool vehicles to try out. That's me in the formula 1 type electric racer and my son clowning in my half done trike.
Here it is making taped together prior to hot gluing. The fairing is held together with pieces of scored coroplast which enables one to fold the coroplast into an L. Using these L shaped pieces the outer shell is hot glued to the ribs underneath. Preeating the pieces to be glued with a hair drier seams to make a better more durable bond.
Sorry, for some reason this picture comes out sideways. Tip your head to the right for the proper orientation. If you click on the picture you'll get a larger view clearly showing the small scored pieces of coroplast hot glued to the underside of the fairing to hold it all to gether. To finish off the outside I used red electical tape to cover and seal the joints.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
From the side you can see the two vertical pieces that support a cross bar that is higher than the wheel and can therefore go all the way from one side of the tail box to the other
Here you can see a piece of recycled coroplast sign that will serve a bulkhead across the tailbox.
In this picture you see the frame with the coroplast floor of the tailbox in place
Monday, June 4, 2007
When I can't ride I turn my attention to other distractions like how to build a no weld trailer to pull behind the trike. The tail box may be able to hold $113 worth of groceries, but the trike does handle very well with that much weight in the tail box. A trailer that transfers the weight to another set of wheels might be just the trick. I found a couple of interesting designs on the web:
The bamboo trailer http://carryfreedom.com/bamboo.html
Conduit trailer http://drumbent.com/trailer.html
Not being near a local supply of bamboo, I'll probably go with conduit. Now I just have to figure out how to get it home from the store on the trike. On a related homebuilder note, for all of you thinking about experimenting with building something out of coroplast like a fairing or tailbox, I've discovered that coroplast signage gets pitched by fast food franchises on a regular basis. So get to know the manager at your local Tim Horton's or Kentucky Fried Chicken. They get signage to advertise in their stores as part of their franchise deal.
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Saturday, June 2, 2007
A number of you have been asking, "How much does it weigh?" The trike including the lock that's always on it is 44lbs. The front fairing is 11lbs and the tail box including the tools and patch kit that stay in it are another 12lbs. So yes, I was peddling 67lbs up that killer hill today. It's a good thing I've got a granny gear. 28 teeth in the front and 34 in the back with a 24" wheel. That's 18" of travel for each revolution of the peddles. So far the maximum speed I've hit coming down a hill is 37.9 miles per hour. It would go faster, but until I figure out why there's some play in the steering I start riding the brakes when it gets up over 30.
A couple of days ago I rode to Southington for a work meeting and had an unexpected surprise as I approached the crest of the big hill between Southington an New Britain. Today only about a 1/4 mile away from that spot someone stopped the minivan and got out to take pictures of me as I came by. She commented on the "Cool factor."
Thursday, May 31, 2007
I have to say that despite all the worries about safety from so many of the women I know, the reaction to the velomobile and the car free challenge has been universally positive. There's nothing like 25 waves, honks or thumbs up an few amazed, "You built that's" to make you feel like it was a good day.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Oil and gasoline prices are going to go up. We are at or very near peak world oil production at the same time that China and India's economies are booming. With that amazing growth record numbers of new cars are hitting the roads in those two countries driving up demand for gas.
The sooner people start factoring higher gas costs into their decision as they buy cars the more hybrids and smaller cars will be on the road reducing gasoline demand.
The problem isn't that gas prices are too high, the problem is that there's not much in the way of alternatives to cars. Last week I tried to figure out how to take the bus from New Britain to West Hartford (the next town over). What is typically a 15 minute drive would have become a three hour expedition due to 50 minute layover at the mall and walks at either end because the bus doesn't run near our house or where were going.
In europe gas taxes are much much higher than in the US. The result being gasoline prices that are roughly double what they are here. The difference is that mass transit is ubiquitous. Bus, subway and train service makes it quite possible for european families to do most things by public transit and have just one small car that the use occaisonally. Many european countries also have very bike friendly cities. In Copenhagen, Denmark and all through out the Netherlands lots of people use bicycles as a primary means of transportation.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Having done my time in the costume I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have Ready pose for a picture in the trike on the lawn in front of the Capital .
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
When I designed the fairing I wanted to have a place for a headlight. Other coroplast fairings that I've seen had a bite taken out of the front where a traditional bicycle light was installed. Most bicycle lights until you get into the real expensive models are mostly useful so that you can be seen. They don't put out enough light to really light up a dark road. For those reasons and because I'm cheep I bought a set of inexpensive car fog lights from JC Whitney took out the yellow light and replaced it with a 20w flood light. Its powered by a 12 motor cycle battery that goes in the tail box. The wires run through the main tube of the trike frame.
Here's the light looking out through the soda bottle window.
Here's the trike in front of their shop on Newington Road in New Britain.