Thursday, October 31, 2013

A 100km Fixed Gear Ride Long Island's North Fork

It was a wonderful day. The temperature was 78F and September was almost over. No clouds were in the sky, and a gentle breeze was blowing from the West, as it almost always does in this part of the country. I decided to take a 100km ride from Mattituck to Orient Point and back, traversing the North Fork of Long Island.
Most people fromother places do not realize that Long Island is not just a lot of suburbs, but has a wonderful set of forks, the North and the South. The North Fork is mainly agricultural, and has a myriad of wineries and farmstands to explore. Those looking for glitz had better travel to the South Fork instead. For today's ride, I chose Miss Pinarello, my 1984 Italian made bike, which rides as well as when I got her 29 years ago. The current equipment iteration is as a fixed gear, and my 68.4 gear inch ratio was perfect for the flattish to rolling hills of this ride.

Lots and lots of wineries dot the low traffic and highly scenic route. Along the way, the town of Greenport offers a nice walk around, with shops, crafts, restaurants, and a ferry to Shelter Island...but that is another story for another time. Lots and lots of farmstands are also along the route, many of them small family affairs

A visit to Shelter Island: On the Road with a Catrike Expedition

After about 200 miles of sheltered riding in a no vehicular traffic zone, it was time to go out and discover the real life road. I will be selective about where to trike, and would never consider myself an urban traffic warrior. It is well known that Long Island is, in general, very cycle-unfriendly. Sheltered bike paths are uncommon, and lots of people just don't ride on the road due to fear. When travelling in California, Paris, and Israel, I found cycle friendly communities, where both could co-exist. Not so for Long Island at this time.   

For it's first road trip, I selected Shelter Island, which lies between Long Island's North and South forks. In season it is crowded with summer residents and visitors, but out of season, it is esentially deserted, and has good roads, lots of varied terrain, and wonderful water views. Shelter Island is not accessable by road, and in order to visit, one must take the ferry. This was easily accomplished, via a 3.5 mile bike path originating from Sag Harbor.

As expected, I had the island largely to myself. My Catrike Expedition performed well during the 38.85 mile ride. Climbing the road to Ram Island was challenging, but the absence of having to maintain a minimum speed to balance on my two wheeled recumbent was something that I greatly appreciated. All in all, the trike performed smoothly and was super comfortable over the slightly longer distance. I believe that doing a century ride on this trike in the Spring is a realistic expectation.

During the last portion of my Shelter island ride, I ran across some friendly witches!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I Visit the Dark Side: A Recumbent Trike Comes Into My Life

It had been coming for a long time. My curiosity about recumbent bikes had been brewing for a number of years. I owned a 2006 Volae two wheeled recumbent from 2006 until recently, when I sold it to a wonderful guy from northern Alabama. I had put on 10,300 miles on it between 2/06 and 6/09, then went back to upright bikes, especially my beloved fixed gear Pinarello. On several occasions, I had the opportunity to demo recumbent trikes, and had an absolute blast every second of those rides. After lots and lots of research, I purchased a Catrike Expedition recumbent trike from the wonderful folks at the Hostel Shoppe in Wisconson.

Catrikes are manufactured in Winter Haven, Florida, and the frame is a 100% USA made product. My Catrike serial # is CTE3385. This trike frame and component design is intended to be a sport-touring setup. It is not the fastest racing machine, but gives a good account of itself in the rapidity department. The main attraction has been the extreme comfort of the riding position. No neck, hand, back or butt pains so far. I hit the 200 mile mark today, and am totally satisfied with my new trike. I would like to train over the fall and winter, and make this Catrike into a comfortable century machine.
I usually only buy a frame and then add my desired components, but the Catrike comes well equipped with Avid BB7 disc brakes, a SRAM 10 speed drivetrain, and Schwalbe Marathon Racer tires. For now, this will be a good combination. In the Spring, I may experimant with Rotor chainrings and Schwalbe KOjak tires for a speed boost over long distances. I have a Shelter Island ride palnned for later in the week, and that will be the first test of road riding. I have a flag and two-one watt Planet Bike flashers for visibility.