Saturday, June 23, 2018

BOB Mods

After catching a glimpse of this on the net somewhere, I decided to give it a try--a DIY kick-stand for the BOB.  When BOB is off the bike/trike, it tilts and waggles on its single wheel.  This will help with loading/unloading and training Patchy.  We've already had him jump in and out a couple of times.  Let's just say he's VERY food motivated.  This may not stay on for the tour, but for now, it seems handy.  Construction and installation couldn't be easier.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Gear Testing: Riding with BOB

Today was a real test of the gear.  I'd been reading about using the BOB trailer for hauling poochie,  and I found many examples online, the best of which was from Dog Packing.  Here's photo from the article:

I know.  Deadly cute, right?  Anyway, that's a 45 lb. border collie, and the author takes that pup everywhere, including Euro-adventure rides.  Patchy is pretty much ADHD, so I think we'll probably have to tie him in because he'd rather run than breathe, but I think we could make this work.  The bucket is a padded, custom-made job by pro bike pack gear fabricators Porcelain Rocket in Canada, eh.  I've go an inquiry to them about cost, but I think I could put one together with blue closed-cell foam and zip ties.  I'm a-thinkin' on it.

So I took the trailer and checked out how I could lash gear to the sides.  With our other trailer, a Cycletote of great utility, we'd always strap stuff in the back, and sometimes throw in a bag of water or a sixer of Adult Malt Beverage Recovery Drink. 

Patchy in the Cycletote:

With the BOB, we'd have to leave virtually all of the floor space open to Patchy, but the sides have perfect lashing points.  Voila!

Those bags didn't budge during the whole test ride, which included some pretty bouncy downhill action.  I just have to make sure the load is balanced, and I'm golden.  There are some big benefits if we can make the BOB work.  First, it can save me over TEN lbs.  No small thing.  Second, and maybe just as important, the BOB follows directly behind the drive wheel so I can pick the smoothest track.  Third, there is only one wheel--fewer chances to go flat and less drag on the road, especially rocky terrain.  

On the ride, I put a little over 30 lbs. in the panniers, hooked up the trailer and hit the road, the same rough, sandy track in my previous post.  I was MOST gratified at the greater traction and climbing ability of the trike, even with the added drag of the trailer.  Certainly, I was in my lowest range, but I only had to pull the trike once rather than push two or three times on my previous run.  This time around, I attached a long couple of slings to the front and tried pulling--brilliant!  Quite easy and much better for my back.  I think to keep the steering in line, I'll try a couple of bungee cords from the steering controls to the frame to hold everything straight.  Patchy was running down bunnies like a maniac, so I stopped once to give him water before turning around.  About 40 minutes of moderately hard effort gained me over 530 ft. on a this steep dirt and sandy track.  That may not sound like a lot, but it makes me very excited.  I could easily envision an 2,000 to 3,000 ft. climb at the walking pace I was averaging without killing myself, and that's what's going to be required on the GDMBR.  This is a milestone day, if you ask me.  Booyah.  More tests and training to come.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Another Road Less Traveled--Especially by Trike

In my quest to find suitable dirt roads for training to tackle the Great Divide Mtn. Bike Route in the Bishop area, I left the house before 6AM today and drove west into the Sierra foothills and massive bajadas.  I had a feeling about a particular road being less sandy while offering a good climb.  I was not disappointed.  Patchy wasn't either.  It took a few minutes to get up and rolling once we got to the start.

Patchy wears the astro-goggles to save his eyes.  One sticker in the eye ball from chasing lizards is enough, thank you.  We set off into the cool morning of a day forecast to break 100 deg. F. in the valley, but this is high desert country so there is a window of a few hours in the AM when aerobic exercise can be quite pleasant.  As I should have known, even this high, there was sand, but I only had to push briefly a couple of times.  In the back of my mind was the nagging truth that I was not towing the trailer and I only had twenty pounds of weights, some doggie water, a wind breaker, a cell phone, car keys, and a cliff bar as baggage beyond the standard minimal tire repair gear.  Still, I was climbing!

From what I can tell from obsessive reading, the surface of this road was a bit rough compared to most of the GDMBR standards, and by lowering the PSI in the rear tire, I seemed to get a little more traction.  It was slow going, for sure, although it wouldn't have been fast on a bike, either.  The ascent was steady and, in some places, steep.  Patch was mostly not to be seen as he ran crazily back and forth punishing the local lizard and chipmunk population.  On serious days and big rides, Patchy will be tethered to slow him down.  Practice runs at home are starting to show promise.  He doesn't seem to mind the tether, and we got him to ride in the trailer a little.  We now have the trailer parked in the living room and feed Patch treats in it.  Remember, Pup.  The trailer means FUN!  He's a wilful, ADHD doggie, however, so it's going to take some time.

As I struggled with the dirt surfaces at times, I realized that while the physical demands of the GDMBR will be extreme, perhaps the greatest challenge will be emotional and spiritual.  I'll have to find this happy place that deals with the struggle in a balanced way.  Jodi wondered if we should bring a marriage counselor along with us!  Meditating on what this extended effort will require helped me shift perspectives as I cranked up the grade.  While slow, there was no denying the benefits.  Total quiet save for the crunch of tires, mountains raising about me and breath taking grandeur, and virtually no traffic.  Only one slow-moving V-dub camper puttered by.

I did not have a specific destination in mind for today, but when I decided it was time to turn around, I found we had gained quite a bit of altitude, and I could not make out the truck in the hazy distance below.  I watered up Patchy, turned the Expedition around, let a little air out of the front fatties, and pushed off.  Because of the chunky nature of the most of the road, the descent was not fast, but it was far more enjoyable than I'd imagined, navigating the rocks and ruts.  When the path smoothed out, I eased off the brakes and flew down the mountain, the last bit in wooping joy as Patchy chased a rabbit and sprinted along my side in wild happiness.  I did a little power slide through the last corner and climbed the easy though sandy grade back to the truck.  Success!  Today's ride was valuable in its own right, and I'll continue to do these wee cranks for what they have to offer, but I finished with some cautious optimism for the bigger project.  Maybe we can do this....

I've ordered the frame extensions and some phat tires and tubes.  Installation and commentary on those will come soon.  Keep the faith, the pedals, and the pups turning.

Some more pics and a vid from today:


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Into the House of the Devil

I tackled another dirt road not far from our house--Casa Diablo.  In the somewhat enhanced photo above, Casa Diablo Mtn. is in the backgound, thousands of feet above.  This was a test run, about an hour out to my turn-around point.  I haven't recalibrated  the cyclometer, so no mileage or elevation numbers.  I wanted to do 1,000 ft. of gain but left the altimeter at home--doh.  I definitely climbed less than that, probably around 300 ft. or so.  In my online mapping, I envision this as one part of a big training loop:

Heading clockwise, after an initial ramp up to about 8%, the angle backs way off.  This would an an ideal training ground but for one issue:  Sand.  Again.  On the plus side, it's definitely not as deep as I encounter on the west side of the valley, but it was a clear and present drag on the proceedings.  I need to explore a counter-clockwise version, which would allow descending of the sandy stretches.  In the estimated couple of miles of gentle climbing I encountered a big range of surfaces.

This sandy stretch was deceiving.  It appeared flat, but I was climbing gently.  Once I turned around, the going was MUCH easier.  The idea of hauling a trailer up this surface was daunting.  I still need some bigger tires for the trailer, so I'll get a chance to check it out. 

Here's a short video from the turn-around point:

So the journey continues.  I really need to find more representative road surfaces.  I think full-on sand as I keep encountering in the Bishop area is quite rare on the GDMBR.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Back into the sand

Took the Expedition out to the sandy track but this time added 20 lbs. to the panniers to see what difference it would make.  Not much.  Sand is and will remain a killer.  When the road was normal, reasonably hard dirt?  Enjoyable, easy climbing.  But with the least bit of sand, I would start to struggle.  Add a little more sand or a slight grade or steepening?  Doom.    It was super fun coming down hill, however.  With a trailer and heavier loads? Fugetaboutit. So I'll need to research more east side roads to find suitable training opportunities.  They're out there.  Temps are set to climb here for a bit, so things will be heating up.  Ugh.  Me no like summer.  Except evenings by the creek with a beer.  Those are really nice.  Heh.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Internet Info and Inspiration

I need to back off a little on my obsessive reading and viewing regarding the GDMBR.  It's still a long way off.  I'll be purchasing the updated book, and the maps will wait until sometime next year.  Mostly what I need to do is update Jodi's trike, the trailer, and do more training rides.  But I did come across a couple of resources that may help other folks considering the route.  Mostly I've been learning about what to avoid--New Mexico dirt roads after the rain!  We'll have to be weather hawks to keep a very tight perspective on what is coming our way.  With the trikes and a trailer, we'd be absolutely stopped dead by the mud featured in the film by the wonderful English woman on her "megamoon," a cute term for an "extreme" honeymoon.  The Crazy Guy on a Bike journal gave me a good look at road surfaces et al.  It seems clear to me now that the route with proper workarounds and planning and a willingness to suffer can be done on trikes with a dog.  We'll see how the training progresses.

From Crazy Guy:

A great short film, this is notable in that the couple not only started from the south, but finished in Banff in October!  Burrrrr....:

Keep the adventure cookin'.

Monday, June 4, 2018

A Triker's Quest for the Great Divide

This is my first post in a series about experimentation and testing in hopes of riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) on Catrikes--with our new dog, Patch.  Below is a rough map of the route.  Since back in 2012 we pedaled with trikes from Jasper, Alberta, to the Mexico border, we'll probably start from the US border and likely end the tour in Silver City, New Mexico.  The ride from there to the border is not interesting, and there's an added expense of getting picked up and carted back to Silver City for the U Haul drive home.

The mighty Heidi Domeisen led the way over a dozen years ago and showed us all that it could be done on a trike: Eat, Sleep, and Ride the Divide.  That first step, the first attempt and success are huge.  We know it can be done.  Of course, our plan would be to increase the difficulty.  A long trip without our new dog would never happen, so I need to do  A LOT of experimenting and practice to see what's possible.  Can we pull this off?  I'd be responsible for pulling the trailer.  Over 2,000 miles of dirt and gravel, up and over the Divide multiple times?  Here's the mutt who will add to our challenge:

He's just over a year old and crazy as a loon, just nutz about running and chasing EVERYTHING.  He's got huge energy, so the main problem with Patchy will be holding him back.  The mileage will be no problem for him.  Of course, we'll have to carry food and water to keep him fit and happy, and I'll have to haul him at times--30 lbs. more.  But that will be on flats and downhills.  More stuff to haul.

In 2012, our route was going to be all paved, but we ended up crossing a couple of passes on dirt/gravel roads, one of which is actually on the GDMBR.  These were pretty good surfaces, and we very much enjoyed the experience--quiet, remote, virtually no traffic.

Here's a photo from Montana on the stretch that carried us from Bozeman to the Yellowstone River.  The hound was our beloved Django.  We lost him Feb. 2017.  Oh, did we love that dog:

Would it be possible to do the whole thing with trikes and a pup?  I've already started working on trike modifications to make dirt travel more reasonable.  Here's a pic of the Catrike Expedition with phat tires--2.25" on front, a 1.95" knobby on the rear:

When I add some weight to the rear wheel and keep the PSI on the low side, I can climb and roll with pleasant results.  I've found that--of course--sand is brutal.  Around our new home in Bishop, CA, many of the tracks have lots of granite sand, which makes progress almost impossible without balloon tires.  Here's a typical example:

Progress on this kind of surface can be brutal.  Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be much sand on the GDMBR.  The big risk will be mud on the route through New Mexico, and that can make progress almost impossible for everyone.  Trikes absolutely wouldn't make it, but there are paved workarounds.

Today, I drove to the east side of the valley where I knew there would be some roads without the sand.  I put 20 lbs. of weights in the panniers and set of to see what was what:

I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the riding was.  I tried one up hill that was too loose and steep, and it shut me down completely.  Pushing the trike was not appealing, and that is something I need to work on.  On the GDMBR we will no doubt face such moments.  How do I push/pull a loaded trike AND a trailer?  If the sections are short, I could de-couple the rig and handle each one separately.  On longer stretches?  My heart withers at the prospect.  I'm thinking that if we get on this tour, it will be the most difficult adventure of my life, not least because I'll be 57, and my wife, Jodi, will be 66.  It will be a true "sufferfest"--credit to the great Cedar Wright and Alex Honnold.

Patchy found a doggie heaven on the ride--jack rabbits everywhere!  He really worried me because of how hard he was running, sprinting like mad time and again.  We were out for less than an hour, which was plenty.  Get a load of this water break:

So Patchy and I dipped our toes into the dirty, dusty world of off-pavement trike touring today.  He needs to be trained to trot alongside while tethered.  There's no way he can go off leash except in limited doses and in the right locales.  He has little concept of pacing, and we think he's one of those dogs who would run himself to death.  Not on our watch.  Stay tuned for more training runs, gear modifications, and other updates!