Saturday, October 28, 2006

Peter Mathews - Flying Furniture PBP Special

Location: Melbourne, Victoria (Australia)

LD experience:
  • Started by riding Around the Bay 206km in Melbourne in 1996. Training for that event I discovered Audax Australia, and from then on it gets obsessive!
  • Super Randonneur 5000
  • Multiple Super Randonneur series
  • Several Fleche Oppermans
  • Three PBP starts (1999 on a custom built Cecil Walker road bike, 2003 & 2007 on my Flying Furniture two wheeled bent)
  • Basic plan is to ride a brevet a month. Distances vary!

Bents: .Flying Furniture “PBP Special”, built by Ian Humphries in late 2002. This is a dual 406 SWB recumbent wit a mesh seat, U-bars, single disk at the front, after over 30,000km much of the equipment has been “rolled over”. Most recently I have changes from Shimano bar end shifters to SRAM twist shifters. After removing some unnecessary springs from these I am completely converted. The SRAM rear X-9 derailleur seems a little noisy but give very crisp changes. In normal mode (including lights, mudguards, water bladder, speedo etc.) it weights about 15kg.

Why a bent? After PBP 1999 neck and hand problems made me realize I could not contemplate very long distances in te future on a road bike – even a carefully fitted custom one.

Why these? At the time is was the only one I could get custom made in Australia. We produce more trikes than most oter countries but not many two wheelers!

Modifications from stock: No major physical mods. Parts have canged a little over time but mainly based on whim and availability when other bits wear out or break. The original front fork is a reverse camber and I am going to change it to a more conventional and hopefully less aggressive geometry soon.

Lighting: I make my own high performance LED lights. 18 of them participated in PBP with a range of different riders. None leaked or failed. Pete Heal provided the inspiration for them by lending me a light he had made when we rode the Great Southern Randonnee in 2005. A very bright tail light is my next development. Watch out for for details.

In 2003 I was of the people who was given an evaluation Lightspin generator. I rode many kilometers with one little beauties provided an exceptionally good feeding a Lumotec round and later oval head. Sadly the tyre on the roller wore out and I have been unable to replace it.

Hydration: I have used various 3l bladders in bags I have made to sling under my seat. I hot weather (we get a lot of it in Australia) I add an insulated bag around the bladder so as to try to avoid the water getting too hot and undrinkable.

Nutrition: Lots! Small quantities of low GI chewable food is my preference. I am a type 2 (NIDM) diabetic. I only ever use gells in emergencies.

Luggage: The latest iteration is one of my trusty Timbuktu courier bags with a couple of hooks added to sling from the back of my seat. It holds more than I ned for brevets and is very durable. I’ve added a stack of reflective tape to it to help improve rearwards conspicuity.

Riding in groups: With care, mainly because people are unfamiliar with the different way a recumbent rides, I have ridden very happily amongst groups of road bikes. If I am being nice I use my brakes going down hill to stay in formation but notice that they don’t always wait for me up hill.

There are few recumbent riders in Australia but it is always a pleasure to ride with the Peters, Simon, Andrew or Ian.

Bent riding technique: My technique has grown gradually I guess. My performance is still improving! My next goal is to complete the 200km version of the Audax Alpine Classic.( which involves 4400m of climbing in our summer heat. Gears are a critical element for successful recumbent riding!

What other bent would I like to try? Simon’s Baron or one of Pete’s big Lizards. I think I’d be too chicken to ride a No-Com.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Peter Noris - RANS F5, Easy Racers TE & GRR

Location: full time RV; winter home Gainesville, Florida

LD experience:
  • Super Randonneur 5000
  • 10 Super Randonneur series, BMB
  • RM1200, PBP
  • six 1000K
  • a few extras here and there (permanents and other brevets)

Bents: Easy Racers Tour Easy and Gold Rush (both fully faired), Rans Force 5 with 700C wheels

Why a bent? Injured in car/bike dispute, after very long rehab realized I would never be able to ride a DF again.

Why these? I was fortunate to live near a 'bent shop with a wide selection; the TE was the first bike that felt like a performance bike (against, for example BikeE and a few others) that was not too expensive to put an aero kit on. The TE , a Large, was on the small side for me; the GRR was an XL and was much more comfortable and better handling since the weight distribution was better. While living in Colorado I got tired of dragging the weight of the aero kit up hill; the Force 5 was about 8 pounds lighter than the GRR.

Modifications from stock: The TE was bought as a frame, and built from boxes of parts left over from my DF days. Many of the parts were eight or nine years old (I said it was a long rehab). Shimano barcon shifters, Mavic tubular wheel on the rear, other odds and ends. The GRR I replaced it with was bought built up; I replaced the rear wheel (love those tubies), had Ultegra road brakes, barcons again, otherwise fairly stock. Since I have a relatively long torso I altered the fairing mounts to get the fairing higher.

The Rans wasn't offered with 700s when I bought it; as far as I know it was the first. I had no trouble with the extra height, and want as few non-standard parts as possible. It was also built up from a frame set - with the worst build I ever got from a bike shop. I eventually had the whole bike stripped and rebuilt.

Lighting: Except for the F5 I've used a Schmidt hub and Lumotec light. Very happy with this setup. On the F5 I switched to an LED in a BiSy light with battery power. While acceptable, I am going back to a generator system for 2008.

Hydration: 70 oz. CamelBack in rear seat bag; on the F5 I use a FastBack bag and really like it.

Nutrition: Until this year I ate regular food; this year on the F5 I mounted a bottle on the steering riser and used Hammer products; in cool weather it's possible to mix a 1500 calorie bottle that will last for a 400K. In addition, one or two flasks of gel in my rear jersey pocket.

Luggage: I got tired of bungeeing stuff to a rear rack; this year I bought a Terracycle EasyReach pannier system.

Riding in groups: I got lots of complaints with the Easy Racers; I'm not sure if it was how strange the bike looked or just the lack of draft. The F5 is aerodynamically somewhere between the GRR with a fairing and with the sock on it - no testing, just my impression. It's not really much higher than the GRR, but I get fewer complaints, possibly because it looks more normal and is shorter. The GRR didn't seem to benefit from drafting; the F5 does, but not as much as a DF. If people complain (rarely), depending on my mood I either drop them or tell them to pass.

Bent riding technique: It is difficult to ride with groups in hilly terrain; slower uphill, faster downhill. Very easy to blow out knees if you try and push a big gear from a start. With the F5, it took me a while to learn not to get the second foot clipped in until I had some speed - just get the foot on the pedal and keep going. Climbing and sprinting with the weight off the seat and pushing back into the back support gives lots of extra power.

What other bent would I like to try? Even though almost every part would not be standard, I'd like to get a hardshell low racer; I just don't know where I could buy one.