Riding In The Rain

This is probably as good as it gets!

I think I just experienced a synergistic ride. The fairing in conjunction with my Showers Pass rain jacket, rain pants, shoe covers, and a special modification to my helmet allowed me to enjoy a cool [57 degree] very wet [in terms of rain intensity] test ride.

First of the Zzipper fairing. It seemed to work well. I do get rain on my lap and torso, but not nearly what I recall from other rides in rain of this intensity. The items just behind the fairing do not get wet. Rain drops bead up on the fairing. This makes me wish for a windshield wiper or Rain-X. I’ll have to ask Karl about using Rain-X on Lexan polycarbonate .

My Showers Pass Elite Jacket [my photos] continues to perform flawlessly. My rain pants from REI [while I still await those from Showers Pass] performed in the same manner. I’m also awaiting shipment of my rain jacket hood from Showers Pass. I’ve improvised by using a shower cap on my head, with a balaclava over it. I opted for this method to avoid covering the reflective strips on my helmet, as well as the LED light on the back of the helmet and the mount for my emergency hand cranked light. On removal of the shower cap, I found a bit of perspiration. I may need a wicking surface next to my hair.

My shoe covers are not waterproof. I did not sense my feet getting damp. On touching them, they are wet, but not as wet as they would have been without the fairing. At some point, I’ll purchase waterproof covers.

My vision was not nearly affected my the rain as I’ve experienced in the past. I placed my mountain bike helmet visor on this helmet with a insert beneath it. This shades the glasses from rain drops. The visor modification, plus the fairing seem to be my perfect solution to an annoying problem I’ve had in the past when riding in the rain.

Given this ride in the rain, I see no need to have Karl trim the fairing in anyway. Further, I have no other modifications or adjustment to make to make the bike more rain worthy. BTW, still no problem the slick Specialized Fatboy tires.

If I had a wish list, I’d place a wiper on the fairing. Overall, I am very pleased and now know the bike is ready for a cold, or cold & wet four-century rides. At this point, the extended weather forecast is favorable.

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Karl Calls

Today Karl Abbe, of Zzip Designs, returned my call. We spent near 1 1/2 hours on the phone discussing various aspects of the fairings he manufactures and sells. He was very patient, taking the time to ensure I had complete answers to my questions. I am comfortable that the Zzipper fairing will work well with my RANS Stratus XP. He took the time to visit this blog to see how my lighting is set up. We think we can make the setup work without having to relocate my front lighting.

My order has now been placed. I expect to receive the fairing on Friday.

My dialogue with Bill continues…

Hello Bill,

I took the big plunge today. After speaking with Karl for an hour and 24 minutes on 2 telephone calls, I purchased a Zzipper faring for my RANS. I expect to receive it Friday and hopefully install it over the weekend. I’ll soon know for myself what I think of the Zzipper on my RANS. Your input has been helpful. Again THANKS!

I do not know that I’ve presented my bent to any real challenging hills. I recently road my DF in the NC mountains and now know what hills are. I have ridden the Stratus over rollers and several bridges–Charleston, SC; Savannah and Brunswick, GA; and many intercoastal waterway bridges. I do OK. I’m able to keep fairly good RPM. I do not think I ride my bents frequently enough to keep peak bent legs though. I’ll see if a fairing makes a difference.

Do you have a photo from a distance of your Stratus with the fairing in place?

Jim

Jim –

Here are some shots.

The first three are from two years ago, the next is me riding in Bike Florida, and the next is me riding in the rain at Bike Virginia.

Bill rides his Stratus in the rain at Bike Virginia and bikes dry in Bike Florida

Photographs furnished by Bill

I assume you ordered the heavier Zipper. I will be interested in how it works out. I would think it will be a good unit.

Bill

Good Evening Bill,

The pictures are illustrative. Thanks! I see you have a light mounted both behind and at the top of your fairing. How did the light work through the fairing? Did the fairing keep you somewhat dry in the rain?

Yes, I ordered the thicker fairing. I will let you know how it works out. Hopefully, I’ll experience it this weekend.

I’ve posted our dialogue in my blog. Please review and let me know if you have a problem with any of my post. I’ve included two of your first batch of pictures in my blog.

May I include some of the pictures from this batch in my post of today?

Here is the BROL link to my post today:

Jim

Hi Jim –

I don’t have a problem with you posting whatever you like of all this. Re the light – a couple of years ago I was mounting my light behind the fairing as you could see. Having the light shine through the fairing was not too much of an issue glare wise, but having it mounted out front like that did not give the option of adjusting it on the go. That light was one of the Cateye LED models, maybe the EL-500. I have since gone to more powerful lights and the mount above the fairing. The light you could see in the Bike Virginia rainy day picture is a Light & Motion Vega LED that I use in blinking mode as a “see me” light. It is one of the more powerful LED light available. The light I use to see where I am going at night is a Light & Motion HID which is really bright. I have had cars flash their bright lights at me trying to get me to dim it. Both of these lights use the same bracket and I can adjust their aim while riding.

The fairing does do a good job of keeping your shoes somewhat dry in the rain. Of course it does not help with your shorts or other upper garments. You will want to have fenders installed if you are riding in the rain or even on wet roads. I will attach a picture of my bike about a week ago when I was on a ride in a very light sprinkle of a rain with wet roads and I did not have my fenders installed. You will note how the rear wheel threw mud through the seat back which then just covered the back of my jacket. [photo by Bill]

If you would like to see how my friend attached his fork attaching board to his Windstar van, I can have him take a picture and send it to you.

BK

Bill,

Noted on your permission. I must ask, rather than just do it. You are kind and thanks again. I understand your lighting decisions. I’ll have to see how my system works. I do not think I will need to make any changes. I just want to ensure my lights illuminate my path. I have rain gear and fenders. I should be fine. Please have your Windstar friend send me a picture of his setup. Have a good night. Until… –jim

Day 0–Home to Cary to Banner Elk via Bus

Saturday, 9/29, Day-0 Home to Cary REI

  1. Drive to Comfort Inn, Fuquay Varina, Dpt 6:15 am
  2. Arrive Fuquay 7:00 am
  3. Depart Fuquay using bicycle route to REI, 7:05 am
  4. Arrive REI, 7:30 am
  5. Park van, 7:35 am
  6. Make REI purchases, 8:00 am
  7. Process Bike for truck loading, 8:15 am
  8. Depart 9:15 a.m. via bus
  9. Enroute Banner Elk
  10. Stopped for lunch in Wilkesboro
  11. Arrive Banner Elk, 1:15 pm
  12. Check in to Best Western Mountain Lodge
  13. Register
  14. Went for a ride
  15. Riders meeting, 7:00 pm
  16. Dinner 8:15 pm

Check-in at the Lees-McRae Gymnasium. Registration is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. At check-in, we receive our riders wrist band (to be worn at all times during the ride), a complimentary CNC t-shirt (week long riders only), a jersey if ordered, a CNC bike tag, cue sheets and maps, and lots of other good stuff to hold on to.

There is a riders meeting at 7:00 pm in Williams Gymnasium. Wear tennis shoes when entering this gym. Refrain from wearing any cycling shoes. At this meeting, the Banner Elk Mayor and the President of Lees-McRae College will officially welcome the participants.

Any last minute instructions will be issued.

Images from today…

REI, etc. in Cary, North Carolina

Riders at Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, North Carolina

Mountain Lodge, Banner Elk, North Carolina

Comments & Impressions ~ FRF Tour 1

Training tour targets met & goals accomplished.

I‘ll tell you that experiencing these rides was invigorating. I think all serious cyclists should complete a double century in their life. I did mind at age 60. I was not waiting for anything in particular. Since I have the 1,000+ mile (1,609.3 kms) tour in June, I used this opportunity to train; visit my family in Richmond; check out my LWB recumbent the over extended miles; and evaluate the preparedness of this engine as well as increasing its fitness. I feel GREAT today. I do not recall sleeping as complete as I did last night in a long time. I’m really looking forward to our June tour.

The Bike: The RANS Stratus XP is the perfect tour bike for me. I do not see how there could be a better selection. It rides very well. I was able to give it sufficient power to climb hills. Mechanically, the bike is up to the task. I do have a concern. I found the RANS seat was not comfortable for my bottom with the many riding hours [20, 11, & 10 for the 3 days]. I think the foam pad does not eliminate the possibility of the pan, particularly from the back of the pan. On return, I spoke with Ronnie at RANS to see if there is an option that offers greater comfort. He says no. I will confer with Dana of Bent Up Cycles today. During my up to 50 mile (80.5 kms) rides, the seat seemed OK. Ronnie said seat discomfort has not been reported as a problem. It may be my bottom [a normal not that wide or big on a 168 lb. (76.2 kg.) man] and its interaction with the seat on extended rides. I really want to try something different before my 1,000+ mile (1,609 kms) tour. One other minor problem: The nylon idler/chain keeper broke in Petersburg, VA. My son fashioned a replacement keeper [reaming out a piece of nylon coat hanger] that got me back to Fayetteville and I think will take me for many more miles. Thanks Michael!

 

The Equipment:

  • Cargo Carriers: The Rans Panniers and the Streamline TailPack worked very well. The Chopper Bar Fairing Bag is the BOMB. It is very convenient.

 

  • Neck Rest: This is a welcomed addition to the bike and helpedwith my comfort during the long riding hours. I’m still tuning it in. I do have some tenderness at the base of my neck. I think it is from the rest. I do not know if it is the “support,” the fabric, or the position, relative to my riding positions.

 

  • Shoes: I rode with Lake Sandals. I think they were more comfortable than my Sidi MTB shoes would have been. I’m using SPD cleats. The bottom [next to the foot] of the Lakes was many times uncomfortable, kind of hot. I’ve read about this. I have to reread. I noted last evening that I have a small blister on the inside of my right great toe. I must have gotten it yesterday.

Safety:

  • Lighting: I rode I rode over 10 hours in the dark. The
    NiteRider Flight, with 16-LED tail light and the LightSpin dynamo, with 2 headlights and the Stand taillight are the perfect system for me. I used their dynamo powered lighting system along with the NiteRider as opposed to just emergency lighting, although it still serves that purpose. Caution: I began the tour with the NiteRider Flight on low-beam and used most of its battery by day-break. Given that I had 3 hours of night riding later in the day, I had no battery for the headlight. The dynamo powered lights did their job, except when I stopped, no headlight. I also used a CatEye white flasher at the top of my safety flag.

 

  • Safety Flag: I think it is essential for travel on public roads. Fortunately, I did not have any near-misses. A few jerks passed by too closely. Remember–put a light of some type at the top of the pole.

 

  • Horn: I use the AirZound. It is a GREAT horn, particularly at its low cost. I did not have to use it in traffic situations. I did use to when dogs started a pursuit. They all stopped. I had a count of AirZound 10, dogs 0, but; lost count after 20 or more encounters. I ran out of air [I need a larger reservoir–I replenished in Richmond] or I needed to use shorter blast. Had I not blown the horn, I do not know what the dogs would have done. I do not need to know that.
  • Handling: I rode over 3 hours in the rain–no unusual problems. Control and braking [disc] was adequate.

 

The people: Overall, my impression are positive, more so for my experiences in North Carolina versus Virginia. It seems some have never seen a recumbent. Many were complimentary on the RANS. As I rode through a small NC town on Sunday night, I even had someone yell obscenities from a porch. Some seemed to display the attitude that a bike did not belong on the highway. I found cars that passed me at night gave a total lane berth, whereas during daylight, some just moved over a few feet. My NC night travel was on the highway. My VA night travel was in north Petersburg on US 301 and US 1 and then VA 10. The US 301 and US 1 route was hilly, not what you want for a LWB recumbent. Over 50 years of cycling, this was my worst experience to date. Overall, I might conclude it is safer to ride a bike at night [with proper lighting of course] than during daylight. I’ll give the people an 80% positive vote.

The Engine: Although I’m working with a 60-year old body, I feel fit and up to the task. I think I have my “bent” legs already. Some say it takes time [6 months or so]. I think miles. I have near 600 miles (965.6 kms) in my short period of ownership. I had the pleasure [or displeasures] of riding many hills. I can spin rapidly and motor up the hill as fast as I want. Or, I can spin more slowly and just pedal, without mashing, to the top. I tend to not use the granny gear because of the LWB instability, particularly in traffic [and at night], add horn blowing and yelling passengers to that–well you get the idea. As I have read on BROL, my heart rate was about 20 bpm lower on this recumbent that on my DF. I’ll have to research more to determine why. My average speed on the bent was slower than my DF. I’m not sure I understand why. I know when touring, you should go more slowly because of the distance you will be riding. I also read on BROL to expect a 10-12 mph (16.1 – 19.3 kph) touring average for certain type of tours. I find that to be an accurate prediction.

Nutrition & Hydration: From my perspective, I apparently did it right. That is, my weight on return was within a mound of my departure weight. I did not bonk; although this was my first double century and I rode over 10 hours each day. I did nothing scientific in determining what to eat. I had bananas, raisins, chocolates, Gu, fig bars, pistachios, peanut butter, etc. I used Gator Aid as my sports drink because of its availability at gas stations. The foods are items that have worked for me in the past. For recovery, I also drank lots on no-fat chocolate milk last night.

Anomaly??? At the end of the day, after finally arriving at my Son’s home and conversing with he and his wife for a bit and then going into the garage, where the bike was parked, to get a few items, I suddenly felt dizzy, somewhat nauseas, and warm at the face. I’ve never experienced this before. It took an hour or so for the symptoms to go away. I drank more water and ate a bit. I’m not sure what that was about. I seem to have survived for 2 more days of riding and I think I’m OK now. We will see…

Plan for the FL Tour: Relax and enjoy the ride with the confidence [plus, I’m to have the added benefit of the Angletech Aerotrunk (tailbox)] that I can go at least 218 miles (350.8 kms) in a day and that I have strung together 3 days on centuries or more. I did 5 centuries last year [my first year of doing centuries]. I expect to more than triple that this year. Life is short. Enjoy it as much as possible.

Recumbent Riding Gear

I have helmet and MTB shoes. I’ll use my red, white, & blue Giro Atmos Helmet [2006 colors are different]. Of course RW&B are my C4 Club and VK2 colors. Continue reading “Recumbent Riding Gear”