"Got neck problems after umpteen miles in the aerobars? Try a TRIKE!"
Catrike Speed no. 673
Catrike 700 no.005
A couple of months ago I finally had to face reality. Any serious training on my upright bikes was going to result in more neck problems. Already having problems while looking up to interpret medical imaging studies, wearing a lead apron and contorting myself to do various radiological procedures, cycling will have to go. We will stable the Harley. Shooting pool will be history too. Would a recumbent bike be the solution? My one bad hip interferes with pedaling on most recumbents. After trying out some recumbent tadpole trikes at Dana Lieberman's BentUp Cycles in Van Nuys, I was hooked. No more "angst" about falling, no more need to down shift just before a stop and above all I could stretch out enough to allow me to pedal somewhat comfortable. The Greenspeed X 3 appeared the most comfortable but carried a weight penalty of 36 pounds versus the 29 pounds of the Catrike Speed. Faster delivery and the weight difference made me decide on the Catrike. Had to order the longest boom. Replaced the cranks with 165mm Rotor Cranks (26-39-53) and replaced the stock idlers with the ones from Terracycle .
On my first tryout on Encinal Canyon Rd in Malibu I managed to scrape the bottom of the frame and bend the idler chain guard on a bump which did not look all that bad. The Speed sits however VERY low. After struggling on Decker and Westlake Blvd with grades up to 22 %, I upgraded to the SRAM dual Drive. Tried it out this weekend, terrific! I bet the fast 30% shift up and down ( 70%, 100 %, 130 %) will work great on the Randsberg rollers during the Furnace Creek 508.
Exchanged the 165 for 155 mm Rotor Cranks
Bought the Terracycle tailsock, mostly for better visibility. Now I have to find a way to put a flag ? through the tailsock.
Tried out the Fastback system for a water bladder but did not like it. The full bladder pressed the plastic fasteners holding the seat mesh together into the skin of my back. Bought two Minoura bottle cage holders and will probably put a camel back bladder between the mesh and the fasteners. Installed the Garmin Edge 305 GPS cycle computer.
Next week I will be training on the Furnace Creek course as well as Horseshoe Meadows and Whitney Portal. I am still undecided on entering the Furnace Creek 508. Riding the trike is great fun but rather slow going on the hills. It is amazing how getting out of the saddle on an "upright" takes care of all the small " speedbumps" While riding the trike in a rather fixed position these same minor obstacles turn out to be a major source of pain. So far I am about 50 % slower on the climbs, which makes me wonder if I will be able to finish the Furnace Creek 508 within the 48 hour cutoff.
Having owned the trike a little over two weeks I have ridden 290 miles and climbed 38170 feet in 35 hours That equates to an average of 8.3 miles/ hr while climbing 131 feet per mile. Extrapolating this to the Furnace Creek 508, the 35000ft of climb will take about 32 hrs traveling 267 miles. That leaves 16 hours for the remaining 240 miles without considering the short stops resulting in at least 1/2 hour off bike time. This results in a minimum required average speed on the flats of 16 mile/hr.
Horseshoe Meadows and Whitney Portal, 6/17/06:
Left the house at 4 am to get to Lone Pine at 8am. Had to get water and ice. With some kind of Tombstone convention in town , it took forever to get the checker. Finally ready to hit the climb at 9am, loaded with two camelbacks, three water bottles and 4 flasks of Hammergel. I always to start the climb at the Lubkin intersection, 12.5 miles to the 1st summit. From a distance Horseshoe does not look that difficult, but is the climb looong and 8-12% and goes way beyond what you can see from below. I love riding that trike, but it is quite a bit slower than my super light Spectrum Titanium upright with the Campy Hyperon carbon wheels. Climbing speed is sub 3 to sub 4. It took me 47 minutes to climb each 1000 ft versus 20 minutes on an upright bike in 2004( while in a slightly better shape). A total of 3hr:34 minutes versus 1hr:58 with roughly the same effort (HR between 125 and 140) albeit in cooler weather. Same story on the climb to Whitney Portal. The relatively smooth asphalt on Horseshoe allowed me to let it rip on the descent. Speeds up to 45 mi/hr. The descent from Whitney Portal was hell as usual. It was even rougher with the trike, every little bump and unevenness appeared magnified. After this experience I seriously doubt a trike can complete the 508 course within the required 48 hours. It is too slow on the climbs and it is not enough on the descents or even on the flats considering the awful road conditions past Badwater. After Whitney Portal I was so discouraged that I blew off climbing Townes and any riding in Death Valley. Drove straight back to Malibu. Will go for it again next Saturday. Start earlier and organize the water and Hammergel better.
Horseshoe Meadows and Townes Pass, 6/24/06:
Started the climb at 8am. Put the Fastback pack back on ( without the ice ) and three water bottles. Cotton shirt with long sleeves and front pockets for the Hammergel flasks. Not as hot as last week. Managed to shave 10 minutes of the climb to the 1st summit. Very tired to the 2nd summit, which took an additional 43 minutes. Even the shortest of climbs takes a seemingly long time. Raced down, top speed 47 miles/hr. Next stop Townes Pass. 115 degrees in the shade at the Panamint Valley Inn. Waited till about 4;30 pm and started the climb at the T crossing. It was so hot that the water I was planning to cool me down got scalding hot in mere minutes. Lots of gawkers, people taking pictures, even posing with this " idiot " braving the hottest day of the year. The sun was frying my feet. Finally near the 3000ft mark, I experienced the epiphany that it would be impossible for me to complete this climb safely without support and turned around to recuperate at the van. After bringing the van up to where I turned around, I got back on to complete the climb which took me till twilight. The total climbing took about 2:41 minutes ( not counting the short stops to relieve my burning feet ) as opposed to 1:19 on my upright bike. Unless miracles do happen, no Furnace Creek 508 on a trike for me this year. Otherwise the Catrike Speed did very well. The mesh seat is pretty comfortable. The SRAM Dual Drive works great. Especially on those short 10% + "speed bumps". Max. speed on the downhill 47.5 miles/hr.
Speed with the 700 headrest at Los Angeles / Ventura County line
Speed on Little Sycamore Cyn Rd
Getting ready for Hwy 395 climbs!
02/08 Too bad! 20%+ grade. Black Canyon Rd ,steepest sustained grade in SoCal. Can't wait!