Tuesday, December 7, 2010

At Odds with Ends

So it's December, and winter weather is upon us, so it's time to hang up the cycling shoes for the year and hit the gym, right? Run everything through the laundry, hang it in the closet, stay home, and grow a spare tire? Uh, yeah, but not so much around here. Still nice to have the gym as a backup, but so far the wx has been pretty good.

It was in the mid-60s yesterday, so I had to do a little head-scratching about what to wear before heading out the door for Beals Pt. It was a gorgeous day, and kind of weird that, being a Monday, the trail was almost abandoned. After 6 days off it was a slow and sluggish ride for the most part, but that's just fine. Some Base Level I riding is a good idea this time of year anyway.

Last week I did a nice 38 mile ride up into the El Dorado Hills to get in some practice for our New Year's Day hill challenge, but got there about 20 minutes too late, so reluctantly headed for home over the Johnny Cash Bridge and took in the always spectacular view of the lake while hitting 30mph going down a 6% grade.

Once over the bridge, I got on the ARPT, crossed under it, and stopped to take in the view while donning my PI convertible jacket's sleeves, thus turning the vest into a jacket. In last week's cooler, drier weather this was perfect.  Last night, in spite of wearing a short sleeved summer jersey yesterday, wearing the sleeves coming down from Beals left me soaked in sweat. I'm talking about wet T-shirt contest, pasted to my skin soaked.

Although the fall foliage on the ARPT was breathtaking, the crushed, wet leaves, mingled with twigs and small branches, required a slow pace, especially on the descent from Beals. There was also a fair amount of mud and sand on the trail, so my jacket was spattered and bike filthy when I got home. I need a dedicates bag. Winter clothes are a challenge to clean and dry in the shower due to their sheer bulk and size.

For the bike, I'm going to try the vacuum cleaner with hand brush for the big chunks, and then a clean towel and TurtleWax car shampoo to get it nice and shiny again. It's Tiger Woods in a Vegas whorehouse filthy!

When I got home from my 38 miler last Tuesday, I discovered my tail light had fallen off. I was a little alarmed that I had crossed Fair Oaks blvd without it, as it's 4 lanes of heavy traffic and a dedicated turn lane. I always cross into the turn lane at the crest of a hill where traffic from both directions can see me, but doing so without a tail light is still dangerous.

Wanting to ride the next day, I headed off to REI the same evening and picked up a Planet Bike Blaze/Superflash head and tail-light combo for $48 with a 20% discount. I found a 1/2 watt and a 1 watt combo and went with the 1W, duh. If you already have a tail light you like, I'd go with the 2W Blaze, which uses a CREE XR-E Q5 lamp to produce 100 lumens. Such a pleasant relief to get to Beals last night and NOT have to be checking the time to make sure I'd get home before dark. Headlights rule!

The mounting system wasn't big enough to get around my handlebars, but I tossed the plastic strap and used a bit of the grippy rubber strip from the tail light under a zip-tie, and that worked very well. If I remount it I'll just cover the zip-tie with vinyl tubing like I do with all my zip-ties. It's cleaner and the edges don't curl up. I mounted it upside down next to the stem - slung under the main bar - which is out of the way and provides good vertical separation from the aerobars.

The light has a front bulb section, and a rear battery section that houses 2 AA batteries. The front attaches with a twist lock that only needs about 2mm of twist to disengage it. No way is that going to be reliable, so I immediately cut a strip of Velcro lengthwise and stuck one half to each half of the light. I then wrapped that loop-side Velcro with a Velcro strap's opposite, hook side. It's totally locked in place now, and if I were to drop the light it would be protected from breakage in the bargain.

I did some testing with my 1W light, rated for 7/14 hrs on hi/lo setting, and my wonderful Duracell 2650 AA cells kept the light going for 15 hours on hi!(these excellent batteries were reformulated and are now complete crap. Try the Sanyo Eneloop instead). Somewhere between 10-12 hrs though, the light transitions from a 'See' to a 'Be Seen' light imho. For the 2W, which produces 100 lumens instead of 70, burn time would be 7-9 hrs.

Finally, my new, replacement wheel arrived from Colorado Cyclist, and as expected, is just completely new through and through. I had repacked the hub a week before finding the SUP weld problem, so checked the hub on this one. It's a new hub.

PS: After looking into the MagicShine bike light, I think I'll use this one as a backup or forward flasher. At 900 lumens, the MagicShine far outclasses either of these Planet Bike lights. Here's the technical specs on the Seoul Semiconductor LED that powers the MagicShine light.

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