Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Home Time

Well, it is official - I am now on TTD (Temporary Total Disability) with my Worker's Compensation (WC) case. My employer let me work on modified duty for 92 days then pulled the plug on that and sent me home. Man, now the stress really kicks in. For those of you unfamiliar with WC, here in CA it is a big pay cut when you go on the biweekly benefits - although they would have you believe it should be close to the same as your normal check because the benefit $$ are 2/3 of your weekly average gross for the past 52 weeks, and untaxed - it rarely is. So, we won't find out how thrifty we will have to be until the first check. This could go on for a maximum 104 weeks, my case is going through the appeal system - it was denied - so, I've been waiting since July to get my elbows/wrists fixed.

 The cool thing is, not being able to pedal is making me very hungry to get back out there, regardless of how far into the future it is!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Made The Decision On A Trike!!

Yep, gonna pull the trigger probably next week  on this bad boy.  Not the Catrike, no. I have been doing reading and reading and have decided that the overall impressions of current owners and others, that this T1A will be just fine. It cost about 60% less than the Catrike Expedition, but has all of the same features. Some minor upgrades are required, but they will not amount to a substantial amount of money; so, the T1A is it! Very excited about the trike and completely scared to death about my impending surgery-yeah, I know. Honestly, having the ability to ride without pain while I am rehabbing/recuperating will be a big boost to my mental health, so, it has to be done, for my own sanity. I have posted on several forums about one handed steering on the trike and all the input is favorable, I won't really know if the motion of steering will hurt my still bad elbow, until I get the trike home and try it. Hopefully, it will be all good. I'll post when I order and when I get it back from Chuck at Gil's.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

There May Be A Third Wheel In Our Future...

Wanda and I have been deeply discussing my upcoming elbow surgeries (yep, plural, I have Cubital Tunnel Syndrome in both) and have realized that in order to keep riding, which we love so much, I am going to need to switch to a recumbent trike. I had never even considered a recumbent - being basically a "roadie" from back in the day, 'bents' were an oddity, not a real bike as it were; well at least that was my mentality back then. So, we are looking at trikes and are learning about them. One thing we have learned is that I will need to ride one with Under Seat Steering (USS). USS has the controls that keeps your hands low and there is very little to no pressure on the elbows; at least not the immense pressure that you get when on an upright bike - kind of important for me. There are also two types of steering we are learning - direct and linkage. As in most things, the type of steering is a personal preference, I like what I have read about linkage so we have narrowed our search to one model, for the most part. Here is the one we really like. We have looked and looked and Catrike seems to make a very well respected product, and it is strong enough to be used for touring which is our primary goal. I am busy reading journals from folks that have been touring on trikes and it is very exciting, I wish I had my trike and we were gearing up to head out on our first overnight! Can't wait for that day to get here!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

After A Brief "Life Interlude", We Are Back!

Yep, life took a hold of us and we had some pressing things to get done, but, the good news is we are getting back in the saddles!! We finally got the much needed software (ImageMixer 3) that our Hitachi camcorder needs to download the video, so, my much anticipated fun of doing a video blog is closer than ever! This weekend I plan on working on our current dog trailer to make it more suitable for the heat out here, hopefully we will take Pepper out on Monday and I can share the video (knock on wood). I have to put the home made frame hitch back on my MotoCruiser - it didn't quite work out on the TR 101; plus the MC has the camera mount I made. Speaking of the TR 101- I love the bike, I truly do! It is everything I had hoped it would be, and it pulls a loaded trailer really, really well. We are still exploring the lighting dilemma; we haven't really come up with which system we want to use... I really want us to to do some twilight/dusk to dark rides (the cool times out here) , but I will be just as happy if we start early morning twilight/sunrise rides (equally as cool). We shall see.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Touring Bike Becomes... Touring Rig!!

We did our homework on what type of panniers to get for my TR 101 and came up with the Avenir Excursion set - just got them in the mail, pretty cool, can't wait to get them on! Finally the stress of riding around without support out here will be gone, well not without support actually - I did wear a cargo pack on my belt that weighed 10 lbs. it seemed... I have a complete tool set in the box on the front of my trailer, but when I don't pull the trailer, we are kinda left without a lot of support. Wanda's Allant has the Bontrager Aramids on it and the TR 101 has the Kenda Kwest kevlar tires, but still, I will feel a lot better having a full tire kit in the panniers from now on. We also need to upgrade to Slime tubes for both bikes, we already have her TriCross and my MotoCruiser with Slime tubes, so the whole family needs 'em. We are looking at the Topeak RoadMorphG pump for the panniers, can't have enough bike pumps in the house! The next upgrade is a front basket for the Allant... when I have pics of the panniers mounted I'll post them.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nice Day Of Errand Running... No Pics Though.

Well, we had a very nice Monday of errand riding through East Palmdale yesterday, a total of 29 miles logged with our usual 4 stops for stuff. The people on the Eastside are getting used to seeing us out with the trailer in tow it seems. I even had one guy come up to me when I was outside the Stater Bros. (Wanda was taking her turn shopping) and asked if we weren't the couple he had seen 3 miles earlier!! I told him yes, that was us - he was somewhat amazed when I told him what we do and where we came from, 9 miles from where we were right then. We are getting more and more waves and nods of the head, we even saw another guy pulling a kids trailer with his daughter in it right after we headed out for the day! People are getting curious and with the weather eventually turning warmer I hope we see more and more out on bikes and I hope we get to talk to more people about going car lite. Wanda and I consider ourselves as Ambassadors for Utility Biking as we always take care to follow the rules and show people driving by that cyclists aren't always a hassle to deal with on the roads. Both of us look forward to every day that we get out and do our errands by bike instead of car, next week we may even have to brave some rainy weather, Wanda says she's up for that, maybe.

We did 2 rides today, just local ones - one just for some miles around the neighborhood, the other one was our Tuesday ride to the P.O.- Netflix day - we used it as a chance  for Wanda to get more time pulling the dog trailer with her Allant. Our next milestone is still going to Costco when I'm on vacation in the end of April - that will be a 40+ mile day!! Very exciting!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thoughts From The LA County Bike Plan Meeting...

So we had a 'round 1' meeting up here for the LA County Bike Plan tonight, pretty fair turn-out, probably 20 bike specific attendees were interested enough to show up. Round 1 is the information gathering phase and the introduction of the plan to the affected community areas. This plan is all about the unincorporated parts of LA County and connecting existing bike ways to the unincorporated areas where feasible.The panel was as informative as they could be, this is the very beginning phase of this proposed bike plan. Proposals take a long time to turn into anything, this one for example is projected for full adoption by the end of 2011. Full adoption of a proposal means they will then start looking for funding, eh, whatever, it gives us hope out here at any rate. I managed to get the first question in, (go figure - right?) and asked what we all need to know up here - what about the funding? There was no answer for the funding, directly. The panel did say that after the specific things (paths, trails) are identified and implemented into the plan then they look at funding - yeah, oh boy. The Antelope Valley has always been the proverbial step-child of LA County; we get the very last consideration when it comes to any funding - it was that way before when I was a Town Councilman up here and in fact there have been "proposed" upgrades for the AV since the general plan of '75/'76 that have never been implemented. I don't fault the panel of folks going through this bike plan exercise for being somewhat vague about the funding, although it was nice that they did lay out the long ardous process any government related proposal goes through. I do have hope though that if we get enough people up here together and interested in this plan we can become the 'squeaky wheel' and keep the AV on the higher side of the list instead of the bottom, where we usually reside.

The economics of this great country of ours and our state in particular are not necessarily going to get better any time soon. No, the bike lanes won't be built any time soon either, but, meanwhile  we can show people that there is an option to using their car for errands. As we educate more and more people of the benefits of using a bike once they are done with their work day, the more voices we can add to our cause to become the 'squeaky wheel'. Using a bike for everyday errands is very cool, and the health aspects are innumerable, plus it's really really fun!! I know the distances my wife and I ride to do our errands seem overwhelming to many of you, but think about your own errands - I'm sure that there is at least one that could be done by bike rather than car and spring time is the perfect time to try it out! - Obama Transportation Secretary: ‘This Is the End of Favoring Motorized Transportation at the Expense of Non-Motorized’ - Obama Transportation Secretary: ‘This Is the End of Favoring Motorized Transportation at the Expense of Non-Motorized’

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Monday, March 22, 2010

A Good Day - 2 Utility Runs!!

So, a fun 2 rides today - first into town to get groceries and some rock salt, yeah, pretty boring stuff. Wanda had a really good ride on her Allant, she really, really enjoyed it. My '84 MotoCruiser is starting to show her age... the bottom bracket needs to get replaced, it is 26 years old after all - so I may be looking at a replacement bike, we'll see. I love the fact that we are at the point where once I park the car in the driveway on Sunday morning it doesn't move again until I go back to work Tuesday night.It is an amazing feeling to realize that we have reached a less car dependent way of life.This Thursday (25th) we will go to the LA County Bike Plan meeting, now, if we had both our bikes fully equipped with front and rear lights (soon, we are still doing our homework/research on lighting)we'd be riding to the meeting, probably 35 miles worth of riding. Point being, we need more people to get into utility cycling and to leave their cars in the driveway - not everyone has to go 19 miles to the grocery store or 9.5 miles to the Post Office - we do and I look forward to helping/encouraging others that have a shorter distance to do the same!

Here's my bike and trailer outside WalMart this morning:
Then, an hour after we got back from the store run we headed over to the recycling place to take in our first bag of plastic... Wanda got $6.00 of 'mad money'!!
Not by car - by bike!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Newest Family Member!

As promised, here is a pic of Wanda's new errand/around town ride - she was being camera shy, so I had to settle for the bike bare!! LOL!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bike Count Stands At 4!!

So, we brought home Wanda's Trek Allant yesterday and we went out for a run to the P.O. today! She loves it - pics to follow soon. We are planning the next major milestone in going 'car lite' in the end of April - that's a Costco run into Lancaster - a nice 40 or so mile round trip!! Not that we will need a lot of things from there, but, more to the point that doing errands by bike can be done even when living in a rural area.

Next Thursday  night (3/25) we will be attending a planning meeting for the proposed bike lanes up here in the North LA County area, the proposals look good, hopefully it won't just be a 'lip service' type of meeting - notes and thoughts to follow!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New Touring Bike/Commuter/Utility Ride Joins The Family!!

Our goal has always been to reduce our dependence on our car and gradually move into bicycle touring - last week we took a step forward toward both goals by a adding a new bike to our family! We had been doing our homework and decided that the TR-101 fit our needs the best, and she sure does! Here is a pic (outside Subway at our lunch stop) from the first dog food run we took her on - there is about 65 lbs. in the trailer, so the total weight pulled for the first trip was about 105 lbs.:


The bike pulls the trailer really well, no issues at all with that amount of weight, so that's a good thing. Next up will be the addition of rear panniers, can't wait to use those when I get them!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Slowly Changing Our Way Of Life...

Our venture into Utility Cycling came about from our goal of doing bike touring in a few years. We knew we would be taking at least one dog in a trailer, so, we explored the world of bike trailers. We found the "utility cycling" thread on Bike Forums and off we went to explore this new world! It has been so rewarding to do an errand on our bikes that we used to do in the truck... our next errand will be this Sunday to bring back 3 recycling bins from our WalMart SuperCenter in East Palmdale. We are finally starting our home recycling of plastics and paper and look forward to our first run to the recycle station with a trailer full of plastic!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our First Grocery Run...

This was our first grocery run with the temporary wheel/axle set-up and my first use of the SmartBin. Underneath the top layer were two 40 lb. bags of rock salt. The estimated load weight - 140 lbs!! This was a very exciting milestone for us - doing the grocery run on our bikes!!

Our Car Free Errands & "The Trailer"...

So far we have eliminated driving to our local errands - the Littlerock Post Office (10 miles round trip with a side stop at the local park on the way); grocery runs to the East Palmdale Stater Bros. (18 miles round trip) and the big one - the dog food run to High Country Feed in Palmdale (28 miles round trip w/ 2 bags - 70 lbs. minimum run). We are in a rural area, so our errands are a little longer than most folks, but, it's all about eliminating the car runs and having a good time doing the errands.

Here is the final version of my homemade  utility flat bed trailer:

It's all aluminum and with the SmartBin on it weighs about 30 lbs.

I pull the trailer with my '84 Sweetheart Cycles Motocruiser that has been customized from my former racing days, here she is:

The whole concept of living the utility cycling way of life is very exciting - doing our part to help the planet out and getting our exercise at the same time! Both my wife and I are really looking forward to the time when we are out touring on our bikes... that will be really exciting!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Beginning...

Our first trailer & Pepper's first ride...

We found an old Bell kids trailer on Craigslist (of course) and retro fitted it to be our first utility trailer and Pepper's (my wife's Havanese) first chariot. This was our first trip towing him for any distance... we had done some practice runs around the neighborhood, but this run took us to the park - about a 5 1/2 mile round trip. Pepper turned out to be a natural traveller, he takes to the trailer (chariot) very well. This summer he will get his own DoggyRide 'Novel' trailer and that is the one we will use when we start touring with him.