Work commute

I didn’t ride to work this morning. I sat up much too late watching the Rangers keep blowing that game last night, so drove to work so I could sleep in a bit later. I did ride to work the rest of the week though, including yesterday, when they were calling for a 100 percent chance of rain in the afternoon, but it didn’t rain more than a few drops here until just after I got home.

2011 days ridden to work: 185
2011 commuting mileage: 4521.3

Work commute route

RANS Xstream, Commuter Style

I have decided to give my Xstream a try as a lighter, faster commuter. I swapped my Hoagie seat for a Sling Mesh, moved my fairing and Aero Trunk to the Xstream, and have been riding it to work this week.

My favorite riding position is to be very reclined on a Euro style seat, with a tweener handlebar, like my Corsa setup. When the Xstream was created, I was intrigued by it, a dual big wheel long wheelbase bike that would allow that riding position. It has a much lower seat height than a high racer, meaning a fall from a lower height, appealing for someone my age. But I’ve never quite gotten an Xstream to work for me.

With the prototype that eventually became Rose’s bike, I really liked the handling, but not a handlebar that’s as wide as the one on that bike, plus the frame was too short to recline the seat as much as I wanted. Some people seem perfectly happy using less recline on a seat like the Hoagie, but not me. If I’m on a Euro style seat, I want it really reclined.

I bought an Xstream from Greg last year, and it was long enough to finally get some miles on one with the seat reclined where I wanted it, and with a tweener bar. But that brought a different set of problems for me. The riding position is too open for me, and a tweener bar on the bike gives it so much tiller that the slow speed handling is poor. For a slow climber like me, stable slow speed handling is important, and the Xstream hasn’t had it.

So I decided to set the Xstream up like the Stratus XP, with a more upright seat, and high, narrow tee handlebar to keep my hands behind a fairing, and try commuting with it. I’ve loved this setup on the Stratus XP, and wanted to see how it would work on the Xstream. I did the conversion last Saturday.

The first big surprise was the seat height. The frame where the seat mounts on the Xstream is over an inch lower than on the Stratus XP, so I expected the seat to end up lower, and was surprised to see that they’re the same height. The mounting and base part of the Sling Mesh are taller than the mounting and base part of the old style RANS seat I have on the Stratus XP, it turns out. Of course, with the higher bottom bracket on the Xstream, I ended up with its seat more reclined. Here’s a comparison of the Xstream and Stratus XP seats, set where I prefer them.

And below is a comparison of the riding positions. As the smaller rear wheel in each photo gives away, these weren’t taken from a perfect side view position. I’ve painted out the background to make a comparison easier. I’ve also rotated the photos to make the wheels level for an easier comparison, but that does skew the view somewhat. For example, the fairing isn’t as high as it appears in either photo. On the Stratus XP, it’s actually neck level, and on the Xstream, about mouth level. These photos were taken on Monday. Since then, I’ve lowered the fairing and handlebar on the Xstream about an inch, and pulled the handlebar back toward me about the same. I think I can lower the fairing another inch, but I’ll need to fabricate an adapter to do it. You can see the fairing is more upright on the Xstream. When I’m finished with my adjustments though, I think it will be about the same height and angle as on the Stratus XP. The Stratus XP is the top photo, the Xstream the bottom one.

This small photo actually makes for an easier comparison.

My head is slightly lower on the Xstream since I’m reclined more, but of course the biggest difference is the bottom bracket height. My feet are completely behind the fairing at all times on the Xstream, which will be nice in the winter.

The hills on my commute are short enough that I really don’t need to climb anything in the smallest chainring, but I tried it anyway on Tuesday, just to see how the bike handled. At 4.4 mph, it was easy to keep it steady and straight. It passes the handling test with flying colors. I still have a bit of tinkering to do, and only time will tell if I prefer it over the Stratus XP for commuting, but I have to say that so far, I’m really pleased with it.

Work Commute

I rode to work all five days this week. Between the wind, and a couple of cool mornings, it’s starting to feel like fall. It was summer-like though, almost 90 degrees, as I rode home against a 25 mph south wind Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning, it was 52 degrees as I rode to work against a north wind gusting to 30 mph. It took me over an hour to pedal the 12 miles to work, and my 10.8 mph average for the ride is my slowest ever in the two years I’ve been commuting by bike. It was a nice tailwind on the ride home that afternoon.

By Thursday morning, it was 39 degrees, easily the coolest morning so far this fall. After that hot afternoon Monday, it’s been 65 to 80 degrees in the afternoon since, really nice.

2011 days ridden to work: 181
2011 commuting mileage: 4423.3

Work commute route

Work commute

I rode to work 4 of 5 work days this week. The storms came rolling in Wednesday morning just about the time I needed to leave on my bike for work, so for the first work day since August, I drove rather than rode to work. I’m headed to Oklahoma this weekend to visit family and friends, so the 98 miles from commuting will be all the riding I do this week.

Other than Wednesday morning’s storms, the weather was really nice this week. This morning, it was 51 degrees, and I rode to work in long sleeves and leg warmers. It’s still plenty warm in the afternoons, though.

2011 days ridden to work: 176
2011 commuting mileage: 4300.8

Work commute route

Crowley Metric Century

I took off from home on the Xstream and rode my Crowley Metric Century route this morning. It goes south from Crowley through Burleson, then east and south of Cleburne before looping around for a stop at a Tiger Mart in Cleburne on the way back. It was a short stop at the Tiger Mart today as I had forgotten my cash. I was carrying granola bars, so I just settled for a couple of those with water, and was on my way again. I ended up with 62.8 miles.

Crowley Metric Century route

Work commute

I rode to work all five days again this week. I rode in shorts all week, but temperatures were down in the 50′s on Monday and Tuesday morning, and I added long sleeves. By the end of the week it was plenty warm again, though. The wind really got up on Thursday and Friday. It was a headwind gusting to 25 mph for my ride home Friday.

I would have been slower Friday already. The 559 x 28 Conti Gatorskin tires I’ve been running had over 4,000 miles on them, and were in need of replacement, so I did that Thursday evening. I hadn’t been able to find a good deal on the Gatorskins this time, and couldn’t bring myself to pay over $40 a tire. I had also been thinking about going to a bit wider tire for the winter. So I bought a pair of 559 x 32 Metro K tires from Performance for $12.99 each, and put them on Thursday evening.

They’re cheap tires, but have Kevlar for flat protection, so I figured I’d give them a go. They’re lower pressure tires than the Gatorskins and wider, so I knew they’d be slower, but I didn’t realize how much slower. It’s a really noticeable difference. But, the way the fronts start blowing in this time of year, I’m slower anyway, so a slower tire won’t make as much difference. And a wider tire will be nice in the winter, so I’m going to give them a try for a little while at least. There may be some big changes in my commuter setup soon anyway. More on that later.

2011 days ridden to work: 172
2011 commuting mileage: 4202.8

Work commute route

Work commute

I rode to work all five days again this week. In fact, I rode to work every single work day in September. I only did two non-commuting rides all month, but with all the rides to work, I still ended up with 713 miles for the month.

It was 100 degrees yesterday afternoon as I rode home. That was our 71st 100+ degree day of the year here. But a front came in last night, and this morning I was riding against a strong north wind on my way to work. It was a nice tailwind this afternoon for the ride home. The temperature isn’t supposed to get above the 80′s for the next few days.

The only pedaling I’ll be doing this weekend will be tomorrow in my kayak, so the 122.5 work commute miles will be my total for the week.

2011 days ridden to work: 167
2011 commuting mileage: 4080.3

Work commute route