Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bucket List Bike Trip: Prince Edward Island

I'm pleased to announce a bike trip on Prince Edward Island for summer of 2014 through the Appalachian Mountain Club's Adventure Travel program ("AMC-AT"). AMC-AT trips are run non-profit by volunteer leaders.

Bucket List Bike Trip: Prince Edward Island
June 24, 2014, evening - July 5, 2014, morning.
$1,475 (USD)
(AMC, Adventure Travel)


Over 10 days, we will ride nearly 500 miles around Prince Edward Island (PEI). From North Shore to South Shore and East Point to West Point, our scenic route circles the island, returning to where we started. Expect dramatic coastlines, inviting swimming beaches, picturesque rolling hillsides, historic farms, scenic roads, lots of exercise, fresh air...and good eatin'.

The island is famous for its fresh seafood, locally-grown produce, bakery goods and ice cream.  During our rest day in Charlottetown, we will have the chance to experience the cultural and civic side of PEI and dining options will include dinner at the Culinary Institute of Canada.

No SAG Wagon, but luggage will be shuttled by car. We'll spend our nights in inns, a luxury university residence and a lighthouse. Price includes shared double-occupancy rooms and half the breakfasts. Limited to 14 participants.

Note: at the time I'm writing, the trip is not yet posted on the AMC website. If you do not find it, please check back.

Have fun and go ride PEI,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cruzbike rack weights

Quest racks:
Standard rack: 19.20 oz
Heavy Duty Rack: 24.35 oz

Sofrider Racks:
Old Man Mountain, Sherpa: 32 oz.

Dear Reader: If you have a great rack on your Cruzbike, please send me the make, model, weight and where you bought it and I'll add it to this page.

Have fun and stay healthy,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson

Friday, January 25, 2013

Something completely different: Nordic Ski Areas near NYC

When you're not biking, you're skiing, right?  So what are the nordic ski places near NYC that (maybe) are accessible via transit (plus a taxi or car rental).

I was about to create a list, then realized these guys have already done it for me.  Just go here:

Other places nearby:
Prospect Mountain near Bennington, VT

Pine Ridge, in Petersburgh, NY 12138

High Point Cross Country Ski Center
Sussex, NJ 07461

Have fun, and "be the snow,"
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bike Clubs in the New York Metro Area that Recumbent Riders May Enjoy.

A note about riding with groups and clubs:

Bent riders need to be particularly attentive and careful on group rides.  Recumbents handle differently than standard frames (SF), with different turning radiuses and different speeds on the hills, making your riding behavior hard to predict by SF riders.  This has created a perception that bent-riders may be prone to cause accidents on group rides.  Also, from the low position, speaking personally, I find it hard to see beyond the riders around me.  I generally recommend bents stay either a few bike lengths ahead of any pack, or a few lengths behind.  Bent riders shouldn't request or expect special treatment just because we're riding a recumbent; like any other participant on the ride, we need to be able to join in the conversation, keep up with the group and complete the ride.

If you're unsure if you have the skills or strength for a group ride that interests you, call or write and speak with the ride leader in advance.  And then, if you show up (or if you ride for a while and aren't fitting in well with the group) and the leader asks you not to participate on the ride, be nice and cooperative.  It may be a frustrating experience to be sent off on your own, but the time to change club or leader policies is not on the day of the ride.  More likely the time for that is at a club meeting.  Better yet, volunteer to be a leader and begin leading your own bent rides.

Please post or e-mail me with any clubs or list-servs you believe should be added.

MARS (Metro Area Recumbent Society)
The home page is stale, but the e-mail list is active and worth joining.  MARS members arrange rides on a casual basis, when someone feels like leading.  Pioneers of human powered vehicle design are on the e-mail list, so it's an interesting group.

Meet-up Group: New York City Recumbent Riders
Rides are organized a few times a year, sometimes in conjunction with the Appalachian Mountain Club.  Last-minute rides are posted when there's interest.  This is a new meet-up with a small, but growing membership.

The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC)
Robert Matson (hi) leads bike trips for the AMC from time to time.  His trips range from one to twelve days and recumbents are welcome.  Riders must be strong, have bikes in good condition, and bring all their own food and gear.  Routes are chosen for beauty and destination and not for easy riding.  There are a range of AMC rides with other leaders at varying levels of difficulty.  Leaders are volunteers; the AMC is a non-profit.

Five Borough Bicycle Club
"New York City's friendliest bike club" is bent-friendly as well.
On their website they write: "Whether you are new to cycling, a commuter seeking new adventures, or an avid cyclist, we have rides for you. Quite simply, when you ride with the 5BBC, you ride with friends."
Better yet, they offer training to those interested in becoming a 5BBC ride leader.

New York Cycle Club
New York's hard core bike club. Historically, NYCC has discouraged bent riders on almost all group rides.  However, if -- and that's a big if -- you're a highly skilled and strong rider with group riding experience, there are opportunities.  Mainly, their appeal to bent riders is they have the area's greatest ride library, they are active in cycling advocacy and they host excellent events.  There are usually bents on their big public rides like Escape from New York.  I'm a member and I support them because they are a world-class cycle club.  I ride with them a few times a year.

Westchester Cycle Club
"Open to everyone."

Randonneurs USA
From the website: "Randonneuring is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling. This style of riding is non-competitive in nature, and self-sufficiency is paramount. When riders participate in randonneuring events, they are part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in France and Italy. Friendly camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring."

PA Randonneurs
PA refers to Pennsylvania.  The website summarizes their mission: "Organizing long distance, endurance bicycle events in the Eastern Pennsylvania Region."

Have fun, ride far, ride with friends,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Improve your Cruzbike technique: work out with a jump rope.

A hint for those who want to develop better Cruzbike technique: skip rope.  Specifically, do one-legged skipping and at a variety of tempos from very, very, very slow to as fast as possible.  This helps develop excellent coordination between the hands and legs, which is what you need for really good Cruzbike riding.  It also helps strengthen the recumbent muscles and is a wonderful cardio workout that'll give you power on the hills.  It's also extremely exhausting, in all the best ways.  I'm using an inexpensive Buddy Lee speed rope, but you could spend more and/or use a weighted rope as well.

Confession: it took me a while to develop the strength and technique to enjoy jumping rope.  (That sounds a lot like my experience learning to ride a Cruzbike!)  I've been jumping rope for over 10 years now, so I have it down pretty well.  Early on, it took determination.  I figured it would be good cross training as I worked towards running my first marathon.  At that time, I was traveling a lot.  I never knew if I'd have a decent place to run and usually I didn't.  The jump rope and a set of resistance bands were my "traveling gym."  In the pre-dawn hours, I'd go out to the parking lot of the hotel where I was staying and jump rope as I jogged in circles.  It was thoroughly un-scenic.  But it was a great way to stick to my training schedule and get a high intensity workout before I got into the car for the day.  Ugh.  I haven't thought about that for years.

Have fun, keep healthy, and stay out of your car,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wind chill, warm hands and telemagenta Speed Machines.

Reckless abandon


Let's talk about wind chill.  When you ride a bike, you create wind and, on a cold day, that results in wind chill, which means immobile hands and numb feet.

It's January.  You're stir crazy.  It's cold but the roads are clear and dry.  And you're thoroughly jazzed about the new telemagenta HP Velotechnik Speed Machine you bought yourself for [insert your winter gift-giving holiday here] from New York City Recumbent Supply :-).

You put on your coat and hat and gloves and head out for an early morning ride to Nyack.  Eventually, the day's high will be 25 degrees fahrenheit but it's 15 deg. F when you hit the George Washington Bridge at 7am.  You warm your fingers in your arm pits, first the right hand in the left arm pit, then the left hand in the right pit.  At this point you're still impressed with yourself; it's amazing what you'll do for a muffin.

Let's pretend there's no west wind, and no runners or walkers or slow cyclists weaving all over the place, so you're making time, hitting 20 mph up the west side bikeway to the bridge.  With the chill and your early morning start, you're feeling fast, and hardcore and, frankly, a tiny bit cold.  Well, no wonder.  That 15 deg. F temperature with a headwind of 20 mph results in a wind chill of -2 deg. F.

You're wearing warm clothes, of course.  On the way there, as you ride up the hills of Henry Hudson Dr., you're slowing to a very bent-like 5 mph (15 F at 5 mph = 7 deg. F wind chill).  You get warm, even a bit sweaty.  That's bad.  Moisture compromises your insulating layers.  And you really don't want sweat freezing on your face, but it's too late to stop sweating now.

As you ride towards State Line, you hit some good downhills.  This is the fun part.  Usually.  How fast does this Speed Machine go?  Who cares what Robert said about staying within safe speeds.  It's your bike now and you decide to push it.  40...45...50 mph.  Cool?  More than.  It's frigid.  15 F at 50 mph = -10 deg. wind chill.  The thrill only lasts a minute and that's a good thing because now you're really frickin' cold.  You can barely move your hands, you can't feel your feet, and your most prized possession (not the bike) has shrinkaged to the point that it's inside out.  The women's equivalent, whatever it is, is doing the women's equivalent, whatever that is, probably something a lot more sensible.

You begin to wish you were in a car.  Or maybe not.  At the bare minimum you begin to wish you had a fairing and a pair of windproof underwear.  But for now you'll settle for a scone and hot chocolate in Piermont.  Eventually, you warm up.  You go back outside and start riding back, stopping at the police station and again at the ferry terminal to warm up.  This is beginning to sort of suck.  You can hardly wait to brag about your misery on Facebook.

How could you have dressed for this?  Do you dress for the 15 F temps when you first walk out the door?  The -2 F wind chill of your cruising speed?  The -10 degrees that freeze your fingers beyond any chance of rewarming as you ride?  Or the 7 deg. temps so you don't sweat on the hills?  Isn't the idea that you get warmer as you move?

Some people say layers and lots of zippers so you can vent as you get hot.  I tend to believe in vapor barriers which at least prevent sweat from compromising your insulating layers.  Winter backpackers have told me they wear windproof layers over bare legs.

Currently, this is what I'm trying (without using a fairing).  Wearing windproof layers, like rain gear, I dress for the wind chill I predict I'll experience most of the time with the ability to vent as much as possible as my activity generates warmth.  Zippers must be operable with one hand.  Controlling how the wind flows across my skin is key to staying warm or cool, so a ventable outer windproof layer is important.

Then, since my feet and hands are so vulnerable to wind chill on a recumbent, I try to keep them as warm as possible under the theory that, generally speaking, they can never be too warm (at least not for me).  I do everything I can to windproof them.  On my feet the first layer is a vapor barrier, then warm socks (or neoprene socks), then insulated winter boots.  If it's not too horribly cold, I'm okay with neoprene socks and bike shoes but, generally, I give up on comfortably* using clipless pedals till the warmer weather.  (*I'll go out and uncomfortably ride with cold feet for an hour or so with clipless pedals, but not much more than that.  I'd like to preserve the nerves in my feet.)

On my hands, I'm currently doing this if it's very cold.  First layer, vapor barrier.  (I use cheap latex gloves till they tear.)  Then 3mm neoprene glacier gloves.  Then windproof/waterproof shell mittens.  I'm trying to maintain a layer of dry insulating air between each layer of clothing.  I was disappointed to discover that glacier gloves alone were not good enough (for me) at windchills of about 17 F.  Adding the shell mittens made a huge difference.

If it's a bit warmer and I want some dexterity, for example so I can handle a bike lock and key, I'll start with the latex glove vapor barriers, then add glove liners, and then a pair of Outdoor Research Storm Tracker gloves.  I wouldn't hesitate to put a shell mitten over this.  The advantage to this is I can remove the bulkier layers without exposing my hands for even a moment to cold air and the cold metal of the lock.

I have a metal watch.  I remove it on cold days because it conducts the cold directly to my skin.  When I do wear it, I've noticed that my watch hand gets colder than my non-watch hand.  If I feel I must wear a watch, I'll wear it on top of a base layer.  This also makes it easier to look at.

Any metal on the bike will make you cold, so it also helps to cover the metal brake levers with insulating tape.  An extra layer of handlebar tape or neoprene or foam around the handlebar grips will help a lot too.

Getting deeper into wind chill.

What is Wind Chill Temperature?
It is the temperature it “feels like” outside and is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, the body is cooled at a faster rate causing the skin temperature to drop. Wind Chill does not impact inanimate objects like car radiators and exposed water pipes, because these objects cannot cool below the actual air temperature.

On November 1, 2001, the National Weather Service implemented a new Wind Chill Temperature (WCT) index for the 2001/2002 winter season, designed to more accurately calculate how cold air feels on human skin. The former index used by the United States and Canada was based on 1945 research of Antarctic explorers Siple and Passel. They measured the cooling rate of water in a container hanging from a tall pole outside. A container of water will freeze faster than flesh. As a result, the previous wind chill index underestimated the time to freezing and overestimated the chilling effect of the wind. The new index is based on heat loss from exposed skin and was tested on human subjects.

For the first time, the new Wind Chill Chart includes a frostbite indicator, showing the points where temperature, wind speed and exposure time will produce frostbite on humans. The chart above includes three shaded areas of frostbite danger. Each shaded area shows how long (30,10 and 5 minutes) a person can be exposed before frostbite develops. For example, a temperature of 0°F and a wind speed of 15 mph will produce a wind chill temperature of -19°F. Under these conditions, exposed skin can freeze in 30 minutes.

The NWS will inform you when Wind Chill conditions reach critical thresholds. A Wind Chill Warning is issued when wind chill temperatures are life threatening. A Wind Chill Advisory is issued when wind chill
temperatures are potentially hazardous.

What is Frostbite?
Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing body tissue. The most susceptible parts of the body are the extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose Symptoms include a loss of feeling in the extremity and a white or pale appearance. Medical attention is needed immediately for frostbite. The area should be SLOWLY re-warmed.

What is Hypothermia?
Hypothermia is abnormally low body temperature (below 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. Medical attention is needed immediately. If it is not available, begin warming the body SLOWLY.

Tips on how to dress during cold weather.
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Trapped air between the layers will insulate you. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded.
- Wear a hat, because 40% of your body heat can be lost from your head.
- Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
- Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.
- Try to stay dry and out of the wind.
- Keep your face dry, especially around the nose and mouth.
- Remove metal objects from your body, such as watches, bracelets, jewelry. Metal conducts cold onto and into your skin.

National Weather Service Wind Chill web page

Environment Canada’s Wind Chill web page

[Source: National Weather Service (U.S.A.)]

Have fun and stay warm,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson