Saturday, March 17, 2012

Phantom rider

Sometimes the only long ride I get in during the week is the big run down to the college where I teach.  About 4,000 ft. of descent and over 1,000 ft. of climbing and 45 miles of riding make this an exciting little adventure.  I've posted about this before, but it's always fun, and this time I thought I'd introduce readers to my other recumbent, a somewhat customized Lightning Phantom.  The main changes to the stock configuration are 160 mm cranks with a 24t granny and the curved P-38 style riser.  Those familiar with Lightning bikes will recognize this.  Like my Haluzak, I also had to add a boom extension.  The company's claim of the bike fitting riders up to 6'7" is absolutely hoggy washy.  I'm 6'4" with about a 34" inseam and the bike wasn't even close to a proper fit.  Fortunately I've been through this before and was able to have a machinist manufacture an aluminum extension, so all is good.  The changes I like in the new Phantom design vs. the old one I had about ten years ago are the tighter seat mesh, the front chain tensioner, and the fixed seat position. The old design had a lot of chain flop, and the movable seat connection point was unnecessary, not to mention the squeaking seat mesh.  All those seem to be solved, although I did put on hose clamps and pad the seat connection points with a layer of inner tube to stop a little squeak.  All's quiet now on the recumbent front.

Pictured above and below is the bike and some pics of the ride after bottoming out on the big drop--many miles of 30+ mph cruising with a few climbs.  The panniers are medium Radicals from Holland.  I've got a Mini Newt light with a new Sigma attached to the bars, and I run a couple of Planet Bike flashers in the rear.

This was my first ride after the time change (ugh!), so I was deep in the dark again for about the first hour of the ride, hence all the lighting.

At the bottom of the mountains and the light is just improving:

A handsome recumbent fully loaded for a day of classroom madness.  I carry books, food, clothing, not to mention basic biking gear like tools, tubes, etc., a pretty hefty commuting load:

Still about 20+ miles to go from this point:

In my office about three hours after leaving home.  Time to get ready for my students:

Beating the storm...

 With forecast of a huge storm coming in, Jodi, Django and I headed for the hills--our beloved Alabama Hills bristling with rocks beneath the ramparts of Mt. Whitney and other massive Sierra peaks.  The high country, covered in snow, was set to receive a major load while we played in the desert.  For so much of the year, this area is blazing hot, easily over 100 deg. F. during the day, so we like to get out as often as possible during the cooler months.  In the very heart of winter, it's often too cold for comfortable climbing, especially since many of the best routes face due north.  It's only a day trip for us most weeks as work keeps us busy.  Rocks, sage, sun and sky, the sublime concentration of moving from one tiny edge of rock to another, each outing is to be cherished.  Our days are numbered, and we are grateful to count these in the total.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Birthday Scrambling

Somehow, somewhere, when I wasn't looking, I managed to turn 50.  Sorry, but that's totally freakin' impossible.  But there it is.  What to do?  Get the hell out of Dodge.  Friends and family converged on a strange corner of the arid West, and we proceeded to hurl ourselves at vertical stone. It's the only sensible thing to do when life gets absurd.  The rock is some sort of tightly compacted volcanic ash, I believe, with various bits and pieces sticking out and pockets and holes going in--a strange and wonderful surface for gravity games.  Jodi and I are slowly getting back into the swing of this discipline again.  After 35 years of playing on rocks (and ice) all over the western US and Canada, the joy is still there.  Climb on, brothers and sisters.  Those fingers were meant for dangling over the void.  Use 'em!