Saturday, October 27, 2007

Utility Miles

I wrote this article for my bike club a few years ago. Now that fall is here and winter is upon us, I thought it might be a good time to post.

I have been bike riding for 20 years now and before I joined a club I have come to learn that most of my miles were termed utility miles. I had a Mongoose hybrid that I equipped with inexpensive day panniers and fenders. I even added a Zzipper fairing. (Quite a site in those days) Working off shift I had many opportunities to ride. I would go to the mall, run errands and if I bought something I had room to carry it. As time went on I bought a more expensive road bike and later joined my local bike club, but I still used my Mongoose for local errands and took it camping.

Today I have 4 bikes in my stable. 3 recumbents and 1 Dahon folder. All bikes are equipped with racks, fenders, lights, fat tires and panniers. I do not use clipless pedals, as I prefer to wear different shoes. I find the trick to utility miles is to make your bike user friendly.( non-biking clothes if need be). That Dahon folder is quite nifty. Instead of taking my gas guzzling van to the beach, I take my economical Hyundai and throw the bike in the trunk. A few miles around the shore in flip-flops and no shirt really adds to the ambiance. The other day I did a 35 mile round trip to work for a 3-hour class. I new that it would be difficult to find parking, so I took my bike. Yesterday, I went furniture shopping for my son’s new apartment. The couch did not fit in my panniers. Later that day I went to the dentist. I have been known to carry a pizza pie home bungee corded to my rear rack. 1½ miles of slow riding and the cheese was still intact.

You don't have to stop riding when the temperature goes below 50. A 10-mile ride in the mid 30’s is quite exhilarating and a stop at Dunkin Donuts hits the spot. Local discount dept stores have a nice selection of inexpensive synthetic wicking shirts. If you are somewhat height impaired as I am, you can find inexpensive women’s workout wear. (Far more choices and less money than men’s) Sweatpants work well also. Sandals can be quite warm in the winter. You can layer socks, loosen the straps as needed, and your feet won’t sweat. Hard sole hiking shoes on fat BMX pedals grip well. Fleece mittens also work well on cold days. Another reason for panniers is a place to store those layers after you warm up. My trike is my winter ride of choice. No worry of falling over on slippery roads.

Most bike enthusiasts have more than 1 bike. Get that old clunker and dust it off. Change those tires to a fat slick, add fenders and inexpensive panniers, or treat yourself to an Ebay special and your out the door.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Update on Tioga Comp pool tires

I just received my Tioga tires and mounted them on my ICE T. There is nothing like new tires to make your vehicle shine. Fall is here and winter will be arriving and all that extra ruble on the road. I probably could have got another 900 miles but, decided not to chance it. I chose these tires for price and smooth soft ride. They are treadles slicks which offer the least rolling resistance. A plump tire at size 1.75 but, are probably closer to 1.50. These tires have been known to have the fastest and best ride according to RCN magazine, BMX and Ian Sim's of Greenspeed. I first enjoyed them on my now sold GS GTO. I couldn't believe how great they were compared to my bullet proof Kenda Quest's.

At over 4100 miles on my Scorcher TR's, I still had some dimple left. These are some great tires and I have had only 1 flat. Excellent rolling resistance, easy on off mounting and great ride. The Scorchers are rated at 100psi. This is too high for a comfortable ride. I found the best pressure to be between 65-70 with no lose in average speed. Trikes are a different breed. Your weight is distributed between 3 tires requiring a lower tire pressure without compromise.

So why did I not replace with the same wonderful tires? Price! Geenspeed knew the Tioga comp pool's were a great trike tire and I believe they wanted to capitalize on it by making there own. GS makes some of the best trikes and accessories and are devoted to there customers. I admire that and do not fault them for making a profit, but at twice the price.

Both brands are made in Taiwan and appear to have the same rubber compond and compare in ride quality. I chose the TR's(thorn resistant) over the regular Scorcher for the kevlar belt which might account for my 1 flat. My Tioga's do not come with a kevlar belt. I am not flat prone so I don't expect a problem. Having used Kenda Quest tires on my other bikes I am not use to replacing tires annually. Tiogas at half the price of Scorchers make it more palatable.

The true test is time and there is no hurrying that.
At least I am enjoying the ride.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My 1st responce

Hi Kim,
I am new to Blogging and you are my 1st response. Thank you. If you are familiar with NJ, my tour starts from my home in Englishtown and rides out to Upper Freehold twp and Clarksburg through Assunpink park and back.

I have toured Florida, Va, NY, OH and many other states. Va is the most scenic and bike friendly state, but, very mountainous.

IMHO NJ offers some of the best cycling secrets from flat shoreline to beautiful rolling hills and mountains.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Transitional Day

Finally after not riding for a week, I was able to get out for my favorite 50 miler. Weather prediction warm in the 70's and winds up to 20mph with showers late in the day. Nothing worse than wind and rain. I new that a bad day of riding was far better than a good day at work. At 9am it was warm and sunny, so I put on my favorite cycling clothes, tank top, shorts, and sneakers. I brought my light rain jacket to ward off the evil spirits. I decided I was going to enjoy the ride and not push it. Slow and steady wins the race. The 1st half of the ride was against the wind. I just geared down and took my time taking in the change of seasons. The leaves are changing and falling. After about 7mi I was in the groove, taking in the sent of fall. I love the feel and sound of acorns popping under my tires. At one point the leaves were swirling and it was like a kaleidoscope of colorful gigantic snow flakes. In years past I use to dread fall. Short days and cold weather. Today I embrace the changing seasons and look forward to new cycling adventures ahead.

35 miles into the ride I was stopped by a charming couple. The wife who had difficulty riding a 2 wheeler bike was in the process of purchasing a recumbent trike. She was looking at a Greenspeed GT3. I of course, tried to talk her into an ICE T. They needed foldability and a small size to fit her. After a half hour chat I said the GT3 would make a great trike. I could talk forever about recumbents, but alas, I still had to finish my ride before the rain hits.

The last 15 miles the wind maintained, but, it was now at my back. I finished the ride just short of my normal average. The sun was still shinning. As I sit here sipping wine, writing this blog, I can't help felling blessed for this day.

I no longer dread the short days of fall and winter, but, look forward to the new inspiring adventures ahead.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tires for my Trike

I have over 4100 miles on my Scorcher TR's and it's time to replace them. The Scorchers have been great with only 1 flat, but, at $36 ea plus shipping, they are quite expensive. I opted for Tioga Comp Pool which I had on my old Greenspeed. Both have treadless design and a supper soft ride. In fact Greenspeed copied the Tioga design advocating these as the best rolling resistance tire for trikes. The Tioga's do not have a kevlar belt as the Scorchers. I am not a flat prone rider so I don't expect more flats with the Tioga's. At $60 shipped for 3 tires it's a good deal. I am considering the Schwalbe Big Apple for the rear. Again, an expensive tire.

Being home unable to ride on this rainy day is not good. I wind up searching the web for cycling items. Not only did I buy the tires, but, I bought a pair of winter cycling pants for $100.
I will give an update as the tires and pants arrive.


Monday, October 1, 2007


This has become my favorite ride. It is made by Inspired Cycle Engineering in the UK. It is called a Tadpole trike as it has the 2 wheels in the front. This is my 3rd trike and by far the best. It is a touring trike and sits higher off the ground with a wide stance allowing greater stability. It has rear suspension which smooths out the ride. I equipped it with fenders, rack, small side panniers, dual mirrors and have added battery operated rear speakers and an MP3 player. I have also become quite the mechanic and have upgraded my drive chain with gearing more suited for me. To date I have 4,000 miles with the original Scoorcher TR tires. I love these tires, made by Greenspeed and hope to get another 1000 before retiring.

There is no turning back once you rediscover cycling and then venture into the weird world of recumbents. Once you try a trike, you develop an unyielding addiction. It takes a few months to develope your bent legs and then your off. Recumbents, especially trikes weight more than most regular bikes, but the added comfort is well worth the trade off. They say bents can't climb. That is so untrue. You just have to gear down. Trikes on the other hand are the best climbers. If you get tired on a hill you can stop rest and restart. You can go as slow as you want and not tip over. People fear you are too low to the ground and cars can't see you. A flag is a definite and because you are such an oddity, cars tend to give you a wider berth.

If you are a hammerhead into speed then trikes are not for you. They are about as a fast as a MT bike with smooth tires. If you like to stop and smell the roses and have extreme comfort then I highly recommend.

Since rediscovering cycling 20 yrs ago I use my car less. I take my trike to the store, doctors, my son's house and just about anywhere weather permitting. I ride all year except in rain if possible and extreme cold weather. Sometimes I don't use my car for days. It is a great way to get some fun, exercise, and serene quiet time.