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Messages - mcparsons

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Gear Talk / Re: Power Supply on the road
« on: July 22, 2011, 08:05:47 pm »
I built this using RadioShack parts (cost $13).  Worked great.  Charged my Droid X from empty to full and recharged an older ipod. Charging from empty, the batteries and 12V plug were warm but not more than I would expect.

I can see going through a  lot of AAs with this so rechargables and a small charger might make sense.

I'll be road testing on RAGBRAI this week and will report.
 Next step is to build an enclosure.

Gear Talk / Re: Power Supply on the road
« on: July 20, 2011, 11:52:03 pm »
Brilliant idea.  Especially with the built in voltage regulation of the car adapters.  Can you post a parts list?

Gear Talk / Re: Gear Chainring
« on: May 09, 2011, 09:50:17 am »
I'm a huge fan of 22-32-44 front and 11-34 rear. Makes life so much easier.

I have no idea why these gears aren't available as stock on at least a few bikes in the U.S. They would meet the needs of most ordinary people riding between 4 and 27 mph.

Spot on.  I never regret having a 19" gear now and never used the 130" high gear that came stock.  The 22-32-44 crank set also means I use more of my gear combinations and all of my rear cogs which should extend their life.  I do occasionally drop the chain when shifting from the middle to lower chainring under pressure but I've learned to ease up when shifting. 

Routes / KATY trail: camping
« on: April 28, 2011, 01:49:38 pm »
I'm planning to ride the KATY in late June with my children. Reading the other threads  it sounds like cheap or free camping requires advance planning. I'd rather take it day by day and react to the weather and the kid's moods.  Is that unreasonable?  Can we roll into a town park at 5:00 PM and find someone to let us camp?  Should I just get a list of town police department phone numbers and call ahead at the lunch stop?  Do the paid campgrounds fill up enough to require reservations?

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Shorts
« on: March 29, 2011, 10:29:11 am »
I have two pair (one mountain style, one six panel) made in China, no name shorts that cost me $35each. Both have 2000 miles on them with no problems.  Personally I would not spend more.

Gear Talk / Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« on: February 26, 2011, 11:51:51 am »
I use an Alps Mountaineering sleeping pad (like this one) that I paid $50 for at a local sporting goods store.  About half the price of the comparable Thermarest and it comes with a bag.  I like it better than my own bed.

This is a topic dear to my heart since my cycling budget is limited.  Nashbar has been a good friend.  Craigslist and eBay, not so much.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle Stereo
« on: February 25, 2011, 12:04:20 am »
Whoa, I'm afraid I'd fall asleep with some of that.  I guess I'm more into upbeat bubblegum than skulls and ... um.. flaming jello molds?   ;)

My playlist is mostly latin with some other international pop:

Raul Paz
Gabriel Rios
Gilberto Gil  Brazilian classics
Daddy Yankee
Alex Gaudino Very thematic

Thai pop:
Carabao  Thai Alabama - these guys are the real thing

African pop:
SK Blue My favorite song of all time
Professor Jay

Ward 21 Gangsta
Johnny Cash Biking anthem
Red Hot Chili Pipers Because everything goes better with pipers

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle Stereo
« on: February 22, 2011, 11:06:44 pm »
Now some reasons to have music on your bike:

1.  I like it.  I can listen in my car when I drive to work, why not when I bike to work? 
2.  It is a great aid on fitness rides.  I can train longer and harder with a good beat.
3.  My kids like to listen while we go on family rides.  We have collected pop and traditional music from travels all over the world and we love to listen to it.
4.  Safety.  The kids can get stretched out on group rides and I ride clean up in the back.  I don't have to worry though because they know that if they can't hear the music they need to slow down or wait for me to catch up.  I can turn it off if I want them to stop.
5.  Meet new friends.  I pulled up next to some grandmother on RAGBRAI when the playlist delivered "If you've got the money, honey, I've got the time" and we had a good laugh and chat.

I find that on long, solo rides, the music is on less than half the time.  So plenty of time to listen to the sounds of the world around me or check my shifting. 

If you have tips on good biking music, especially off beat stuff, I'd love to hear it.  Always looking for something new.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle Stereo
« on: February 22, 2011, 10:45:39 pm »
I also like to listen to music while I ride (more on that below) and am always looking for a good solution.  Here is what I have found:

1. The iHome iHM4.  I have an earlier version of this. The new one sells for $50 on Amazon but I got mine for $12 last year.  The new one runs on AA vs AAA for the older one - that is good.  There is a clear membrane so you can work the controls on an iPhone or touchscreen music player.  It is heavy but sound is good.  Battery life is very good - more than 8 hours - though you will notice a lot of distortion at high volumes as the battery voltage drops.  It is pretty weather proof - I would not worry about my iPod in a solid downpour though the device itself might not make it.  I just bungee mine to the top of my handle bar bag.  No external volume control so you have to use the mp3 player volume.  It does have an external power button which is handy for those times when you are stopped at a light in mixed company and your playlist delivers some inappropriate lyrics.

2. iHome IH85B.  Sells on Amazon for $60.  It is made for bikes and fits in the water bottle holder.  It has a remote that mounts on your handlebar.  A friend had one and it was a bit fiddly.  Only works with iPods and not all of those so check (no Touch or iPhone I think).  Only one speaker but that is all you need in these small devices as you won't get enough separation for stereo to matter.  Sound was good - both bass and treble.  I don't like losing the water bottle holder though (I like water as much as music).  Also it is bound to pick up a lot of road mung.  

3.  iLuv iSP110.  Around $6.  Also have a friend who swears by this - he velcros it to the top bar.  Volume is okay although sound is tinny as you would expect but that doesn't matter much when you are riding.  Battery life is good since the amp is small.  Much lighter weight than this.

4.  Stuff I haven't tried:  RAGBRAI tested.  Seems like it would do the trick but it's $150.  I've seen a few of them on the road but none of them on.  A RAGBRAI staple.    This is what I really want.

There are tons of other alternatives that pop up on google.  If you have other solutions I'd love to hear them and see a review.

General Discussion / Re: Indoor Training...
« on: January 31, 2011, 02:46:52 pm »
I think I qualify as an "average" rider.  I got a set of rollers off Craig's List this winter and have used them  almost daily for the past four weeks. The first week was rough as I could only manage around five minutes before grabbing the door jamb.  Now I can ride a full hour and can really feel the difference.  That got me believing in the need to work on other muscles and I've started doing some of these:

I haven't been in a gym for 25 years (and it shows) but 30 min on the rollers and 20 min of strength routine 4 or 5 days a week has made a huge difference.  Haven't lost any weight but I feel great and sleep much better.

I paid $100 for the rollers and see them for that on CL all the time.

I saw one mom this year with a boy about 6. She also had a burley labeled "Jake's sag wagon" that she put him and his bike on.  One crew was Grandpa, Dad, & oldest son on a tandem with a tag along all three towing a Burley with son2 & son3.

My boys (8 & 12) joined us for the two easy days. 

That said, I'd recommend trying some long days well in advance. Kids have different physiology than adults and are more likely to get dehydrated or overheat.  They are also not as hung up on doing the thing for its own sake - more likely to want to stop when it stops being fun.  Keep in mind that if it is miserable you'll have lost them. That's why we decided to ease into it.

But if you do, look for us.  You can tell by the Johnny Cash and Thai pop music ;)

General Discussion / Re: Can I do it?
« on: October 24, 2010, 09:07:20 am »
If you are starting on 20 October and returning on 15 September, you're either planning a long trip or expecting to exceeded the speed of light. ;D

Yes, you sould be more than fine.  With minimal training loaded 40 miles per day is an easy pace.  Do a few 50+ mile rides unloaded to break yourself in the practice with the load.

I take two sets of cycling clothes since I like to let one air out.

General Discussion / Re: what cycling computer to get?
« on: September 24, 2010, 09:52:24 am »
I bought the cheapest Strada (BC506) a few years ago for $15 and it has been great.  My daughter has Cateye Strada and we have had to replace the cabling once but it has a few more features I wouldn't mind having.  One thing about cadence: it means a lot more wire and an extra magnet. I'd skip it unless you are going to use that feature.  And another thought on Cateye: they are popular with thieves. A friend lost two in three days, once when he was a few steps from his bike. No one wants my Sigma.  ;)

General Discussion / Re: Invitation to join
« on: September 15, 2010, 10:57:21 am »
;D :-\ Staying with strangers on their property or in their homes is very dangerious.
We have no idea what kind of people we are staying with are like. What are you're thoughts.

Because when you stay in a campground you know all of those people.  ;)

Seriously, we are far too obsessed with safety.  Tales of the waylaid traveler are as old as traveling so it is not just a "these days" thing. Don't be stupid, but don't let fear get in the way of living. Hence the bike.

Routes / Re: Rear Vier Mirror
« on: September 04, 2010, 09:59:45 am »
I swear by my Take-a-Look eyeglass mirror - at least the full size one.
It stays where you put it both on your glasses and in its adjustment.   It took a couple of days of riding to get used to and to figure out how I wanted it adjusted but it quickly became second nature and now I'm very uncomfortable without it. You can quickly clear your baffles with a glance and a slight head turn.

1. It bends the earpiece on my glasses.
2. I have to wear a strap to keep my glasses in position especially when sweaty.
3. My wife thinks it looks dorky.

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