155 Miles on the Bike this Week

The last few weeks of hot weather have reminded me of how much better the air is here in Gun Barrel City, in the middle of nowhere, 60 miles southeast of Dallas, than it is in DFW in the summer. That better air quality is definitely appreciated by a lung damaged cancer survivor like me, especially when I’m riding.

Before I moved here, the exercise induced asthma I acquired after my lung surgery was already getting better. It has now improved to the point that I don’t use an inhaler any more at all. I still wheeze some during and after high intensity riding efforts, but not to the point where I ever feel I need an inhaler.

My rides on the last couple of days have been a nice break from the summer heat, with temperatures in the 70′s both days. I ended up with 155 miles on the bike this week. The week’s longest ride was a 53 mile ride on Wednesday, out to Eustace, then a loop out to State Highway 19, then back to Gun Barrel City.

Wednesday’s 53 mile route.

140 Miles on the Bike This Week.

I settled for an easy pace 30 mile ride out to Purtis Creek State Park this morning. That was my only ride of the weekend, but I rode 110 miles during the week, so I ended up with 140 miles total for the week.

A 53.1 mile ride on Thursday morning was the longest ride of the week. It was a bit different route than I normally ride. I got an early start before there was much traffic, so rode out Main Street in Gun Barrel City all the way to US 175, then took the 175 shoulder to Eustace, FM 2709 to CR 2911, then onto CR 2900, left on FM 1861, then a loop out to SH 19, and a more normal return with a stop at Purtis Creek State Park.

My Monday ride got aborted at just 17 miles when I couldn’t stop getting flats on the rear tire. It turned out that my rim tape had moved a bit, and kept moving. With the Velocity A23 offset wheel I have on the rear of the F5, the rim holes are so close to the edge of the rim that rim tape can’t move at all without exposing a hole. I replaced the rim tape with Velo Plugs. Velocity says not to use them on A23 rims, but they seem to work fine on these offset rims.

Thursday’s 53 mile route.

Saturday Ride to Martins Mill.

I took off on the F5 yesterday morning and rode to the Purtis Creek State Park, then on to Martins Mill. I did a loop past it, east on FM 858 almost to Ben Wheeler, then south on FM 773, then back west on 2339. I rode a bit different route coming back, heading south on CR 2900 (where I hit the dog a few weeks back), then west on FM 2709. Then, I rode through Eustace and onto US 175.

I ended up with 73.2 miles. I’d already ridden 70 miles during the week, so had 143 miles for the week. I had a total of 461 miles in June. That’s not nearly as many miles as I should be getting this time of year. I need to kick that mileage up in July.

Yesterday’s route.

Martins Mill 80 Mile Ride

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode to Purtis Creek, then on to Martins Mill, then to Odem. Then, I took a more southerly route back. I hadn’t ridden this far east before, so was trying out some new roads. Most were ok, but the stretch on FM 279 from Ben Wheeler to Odem had a bit more traffic than I like. I may modify that part of the route next time.

I ended up with 80.4 miles. With all the longer rides I used to do, it’s hard to believe, but this was my longest ride since a 200k last October. I seem to just do lots of short rides from home these days. But, with the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred coming in two months, I need to start doing some longer rides to get ready for it. I also need to drop seven pounds or so. Maybe some longer rides will help with that.

I had ridden 40 miles on Monday, so ended up with 120 miles on the bike for the week.
Today’s route.

The New RailGun Seat, Part 2

I talked about the new RailGun seat I installed on the F5 in this post. It took quite a bit more work to get it the way I wanted it, so I thought I would tell the rest of the story here.

I raised the safety triangle up higher and bought some small automotive door molding to go around the edge of the seat. The carbon fiber was a bit ragged/sharp around the edges. This molding really looks nice on it. I then added two bottle cages to the back of the seat.

I used the three items below to modify the headrest.

With the hacksaw, I sawed about a half inch off the top of the headrest plate. So, instead of being round, it’s now mostly round, but with a flat top. This 3/4 moon shape seems to fit the back of my upper neck/head better. Next, I followed Kent’s suggestion of putting a pocket microfiber wax applicator pad over the headrest. Finally, I stretched a fabric eyeglass case over everything.

I never thought I would ever use this plush a headrest. All the years I rode the Euromesh seat, I only occasionally used the headrest. But, the RailGun demands more recline than the Euromesh. It just doesn’t feel right unless you recline it a lot. With this much recline, I find myself using the headrest most of the time. Combine that with the rough roads I ride, and this plush headrest seems to be just the ticket.

Several years ago, I had bought a cover for the Euromesh pad. I liked it so much, I decided to make a cover for the RailGun pad. I bought 3557 Athletic Mesh from Seattle Fabrics to make the cover from. It seems very similar to the material used on the Euromesh cover, except it has bigger holes.

I traced the pad shape onto newspaper, and used that for a pattern. The RailGun pad is bigger at the back than the front, so I put the zipper there, rather than on the front where it is on the Euromesh cover. I got a friend to sew it for me. I think it’s going to work great; no more scratchy filter foam to deal with.

This really is a nice seat.

130 Miles on the Bike This Week

I ended up with 400 miles on the bike in May. That’s not as many miles as I like to ride in the warmer part of the year. I need to kick it up a bit this month. I started off with 130 miles this first week of June. As is my pattern of late, they were all just short rides from home.

I took off on the F5 yesterday morning and rode to Purtis Creek, then on to CR 2900. Coming back on CR 2900, just before mile 23, I hit a large dog. I was on a downhill, with a tailwind, cruising along at about 25 mph, and had intentions of out-sprinting the dog. But he charged so hard from the right that even my swerve to the left side of the road didn’t miss him. I hit his left front shoulder with the right side of my front wheel. It was a hard, but glancing impact. Surprisingly, neither dog nor I went down, though he looked pretty wobbly afterward.

I stopped a little ways down the road to check the bike for damage. The only sign of impact I found was dog fur wedged in my spokes. It’s a good reminder of the dangers of trying to out-sprint a dog that’s still in front of you. Now that I have a bottle cage installed on the new seat, I guess I need to start carrying my spray bottle of ammonia again.

I ended up with 40.1 miles for the day.

A New Seat for the F5

My new F5 came without a seat. I pulled the Euromesh seat from my Corsa and have been using it. But, that seat is eight years old, and has over 25,000 miles on it. Plus, pulling it from the Corsa left the Corsa unrideable. I decided the F5 deserved a new seat.

I opted for one of the RailGun seats made by rbenter Kent Polk (goatstick). I received it last week and installed it yesterday. There is still quite a bit of tweaking to be done, but I think the adjustment is getting close. I did 30 miles on it yesterday. This is what the seat looked like when it arrived last week.

My F5 came with only the bottom half of the RANS sprint braces (or rear seat bracket, if you prefer), so I’m using the Corsa sprint braces until I get upper sprint braces fabricated. I didn’t find hefty enough aluminum C-channel to suite me for the sprint brace brackets, so I just bought 3/4″ square tubing from Lowe’s and made this bracket.

I beveled the flat washers on the seat side of the sprint brace mounts, so the flat head screws wouldn’t stick up, and since my front bracket is made for a flat head screw bolting from the bottom, I took a 1/8″ thick piece of aluminum, bent it to match the curve of the seat, drilled and tapped two holes in it, mounted with screws from the bottom, then ground them off flush. It seems like a very solid mount. The Fastback Double Century bag setup mounts very well on the RailGun seat, and sticks out less on the sides than it did on the Euromesh.

The headrest is from a Profile Design Aerobar II. I found one on ebay. It was in an obviously very old box, but looks like it was never installed. The pads had never been stuck on their mounting plates. I used a heatgun to bend the headrest bracket, plus added a longer mounting bolt, to get the headrest where I need it. I’m not sure if this is the final adjustment, but it’s getting close.

The safety triangle I use on the back of the seat is attached to the Double Century bag. The RailGun is a longer seat than the Euromesh, so the triangle is too low and facing down instead of out. I need to move it higher up on the RailGun seat.

As advertised, the RailGun has a very solid feel. Of course, the down side of that is that it doesn’t ride quite as nice as the Euromesh. The 2″ thick filter pad that comes with the RailGun is the right pad, I’m thinking. The seat has a very different feel. While most seats seem like they grab and hold your behind, this one seems to grab and hold the lumbar area of your back. There really is no leg interference. And the narrow front of the seat makes it easier to get your feet on the ground, too. How it does for me on longer rides remains to be seen, but it seems very comfortable so far.

Edit: I forgot to mention how good the RailGun seat feels on my shoulders. Both my shoulders are bad. I’ve already had surgery on my left shoulder, and ruptured my right bicep at the shoulder. I have multiple rotator tears in both shoulders, and for some time now, very reclined longer rides on a narrow Euro style seat with zero shoulder support has been a problem. The RailGun is wide enough at the back that it actually gives some shoulder support. It feels very nice on my shoulders.

110 Miles This Week

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode to Purtis Creek State Park, then on into Van Zandt County. I ended up with 40 miles. I had done a 40 mile ride on Tuesday and a 30 mile ride on Wednesday, so that gave me 110 miles for the week.

I rode 100 miles every week during April, all short rides from home. As we move into to the summer, I need to raise that mileage a bit, so that by summer, I’m doing 120 to 150 miles a week. I like to reach peak fitness in time for the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred at the end of August, then start to ease off in the fall.

I have now riddeen the new F5 544 miles, and have it dialed in well. With its steel frame and 700c wheels, it is truly a nice riding bike.

It was a beautiful day for a ride across the Purtis Creek Lake dam.

60 more miles on the F5

I did 30 miles on the F5 yesterday afternoon, and another 30 miles this morning. The adjustments are getting closer. And now, more technical data than anyone probably wanted to know:

The bike truly is the nicest riding bike I’ve been on. If you’ve never been on a steel high racer with 700c wheels, you should try one sometime. I don’t think there will be much difference at all in overall speed between the F5 and the Corsa, but the F5 is definitely faster on rough stuff. My regular route features two miles each way of US 175 shoulder that is some of the roughest boulder seal I’ve seen. On the biggest downhill of this stretch, the fastest coast I’d ever experienced on the Corsa was 28 mph. I was coasting it at 31 mph this morning on the F5.

One thing I did different on the F5 was to raise the height of the handlebar 1 inch, relative to the main frame tube. It was 12 inches higher than the main tube on the Corsa. I cut the riser to make it 13 inches on the F5. I always liked the low handlebar on the Corsa, and the great view of the road that it gave me, but when pedaling on especially rough roads, I would hit the bar with my shins sometimes. With so much riding on rough roads since I moved here, it was happening much more often than I was willing to tolerate. I also thought that since the F5 is a size large, that the boom would be longer than the Corsa, putting me closer to the riser, so necessitating a higher bar. That turned out not to be the case. The boom on the F5 is actually over half an inch shorter than the Corsa. But, the seat seems to sit a little higher above the main tube than it did on the Corsa, so I figured I needed more clearance. I still have a great view of the road over the handlebar, and haven’t touched the bar with my shins yet (part of that is no doubt because of the better ride of the F5, but the extra clearance has to help). I think I’m leaving the riser at its current height.

So far, the toughest part of riding the F5 has been getting on it. With the Kinesis bag taking all the space between the front of the seat and the riser, I just have to step over the seat to get on it. It’s a tall step. I tried moving the Kinesis bag to in front of the boom, but didn’t like it there. Getting my feet down at stops on the F5 hasn’t been a problem at all. I normally just put my left foot down, and stay clipped in with my right foot, just like I always did on the Corsa.

Here are the comparison measurments of the Corsa and F5 seat and bottom bracket. It’s the same Euromesh seat; I moved it from the Corsa to the F5. Seat measurements were made with the seat pad removed.

Measurements – bottom bracket – seat height, lowest point – seat height, back of the seat
Corsa ————– 32″ —————24″ ———————- 38″
F5 —————– 34″ —————26 1/4″ —————— 39 3/4″

Since the lowest point of the F5 seat is 2 1/4 inches taller than the Corsa and the back of the seat is just 1 3/4″ taller, I am slightly more reclined on the F5. That’s intentional. I figured I’d try it, since I’m up higher and less aerodynamic now. I like this position. I reclined the seat more after yesterday’s ride, so just tried this position for the first time on today’s ride. This height with the back of the seat was achieved using only the bottom half of the Corsa sprint braces (see photo below). There are no clamps, pins, or anything other than one solid sprint brace piece. I like that, simple, light, and solid. I don’t think I’ll cut the Corsa sprint braces or fabricate anything else to experiment with getting more reclined. I think this is it, at least as long as I’m running the Euromesh seat on the F5.

F5′s alive!

My new RANS F5 Pro build reached the rideable point today, and I took off on it this afternoon and rode to Purtis Creek State Park. I ended up with 30 miles. I’ve been neglecting my blog again. Today’s ride gave me 100 miles for this week. I also rode 100 miles last week. All rides were just short rides from home, 40 miles or less.

I just got the last parts for the A23 wheels I’m building yesterday, so for now, the F5 is running with the only 700c wheels I seem to own these days, a cheap and heavy wheelset I bought for the Nimbus, way back when. The A23′s should ride better, but even with these old wheels and skinny 23mm tires, the F5 definitely rides smoother than the Corsa, something I will appreciate on the rough roads I ride around here. The combination of a steel frame, size large bike which centers me better between the wheels, and 700c wheels rather then the 650c or 559′s I had on the Corsa, all help. There is still quite a bit of work to be done on the F5.

I debated about which handlebar to use on the F5. I knew the B-41 handlebar that came with the bike was wider than I want. I considered ordering a Bacchetta handlebar, but when I dug out the HR3way handlebar that I already had, I saw that as long as you don’t swing out the handlebar ends, this bar is really only an inch or so wider than the Bacchetta bar. I figured that would work for me, leaving the only thing I didn’t like about the bar being the fact that it’s too long for me, even adjusted to its shortest length. I cut off an inch and a quarter and adjusted it to its shortest position. It’s still longer than the Bacchetta bar, and I have longer grips on it than I had on the Corsa, but I’m going to try it this way. Its extra length will let me ride with my arms in a less outstretched position. That may help my cratered shoulders. The price for that is less leg clearance when I turn, but I’m thinking I can live with that. If not, I’ll chop more off the end of the handlebar and go to shorty grips like the Corsa had. We’ll see. So far, I think I like it.

The F5′s seat ended up at 26 1/4 inches at the lowest point. That’s 2 1/4 inches taller than the Corsa. I was concerned about how well I could get my feet down with this additional height, but after today’s ride, I can say that it’s not a problem. With the Kinesis bag taking up most of the space between the front of the seat and the riser, I have to just step over the seat to get on the bike. That’s a tall step. I guess when I reach the point that I can no longer make it, I can either lose the Kinesis bag or retire from high racer riding.

The big chainring is the only one that came with the bike that I’m still using. The middle ring is a Q-ring like the one I’ve run for many years on my Corsa. I had gone to a 26 tooth granny gear on the Corsa after my lung surgery, along with an 11-34 cassette to help me wheeze my way up big hills better. I had an even smaller granny gear chainring, a 24 tooth, and put it on the F5. With the 700c wheels, I figured I needed as small a granny chainring as I could get. The old wheels I broke out and installed already had an almost new looking 11-34 cassette on them, so I just left it on them. There are no hills around here to really give the lowest gear a good test, but I tried it out anyway, just to see how slow I could go. An 80 cadence with the lowest gear produced about 4.5 mph. That should work for just about any hill I encounter.

I’m pretty excited about this bike with its American made steel frame. I got 26,000 miles out of my aluminum frame Corsa; I’m thinking this bike should last me the rest of my riding days, or at least the rest of my high racer riding days. Many older recumbent riders seem to eventually move to something lower. We’ll see.

Notes and photos:

The (almost) finished RANS F5. I’ll be adding bar tape, like my Corsa had, but for now, it’s just small pieces of electrical tape holding the cables close to the proper position so I could cut and fit the cables. The brakes will need adjustment as soon as I install the wider A23 wheels. The shifting still needs adjustment, and there are still plenty of other minor things to do.

My Team RANS jersey only seemed appropriate for the bike’s maiden voyage.

My riding position is pretty similar to the Corsa.

Yes, that middle chainring isn’t round.

This view shows the starting seat clamp position. After installing and adjusting the seat, I ended up with it an inch or so further back than this, but it’s still in the far forward reaches of the adjustment, a reminder that I’m barely tall enough for a size large high racer frame. This larger frame will better distribute my weight for a smooth ride, though.

The bike’s seat is the same Euromesh seat I’ve had on the Corsa for years, including the Fastback Double Century bags and slow moving vehicle triangle. I may upgrade the seat later, but I’ve always loved that Euromesh seat.