Friday, June 12, 2009

My first good wheel and a tandem ride

I tried to count up how many bike wheels I've built and I came up with at least 16, but more likely about 20 wheels. That's nothing. Any wheel pro builder will tell you that it takes at least a 100 wheel builds before you really start to get it. Most of my wheels are not very good. I'm just not patient enough to do them right. That's why I like Velocity rims. They're totally round and easy to build up compared to other rims I've built up.

Anyway, this wheel is the first good wheel I've built. The first take was normal: I built it up, rushed through tensioning and truing and then rode it. By the time I got downtown it had a big lateral wobble. I used 14/16 double-butted spokes which really want to unwind if you don't properly tension, stress-relieve, repeat.

I trued it up enough to get home and then I spent two hours tensioning, truing, stress-relieving. I did this until stress-relieving did not require re-truing. So, I'm kind of counting this as my first real wheel build up. I'm going to force myself to go through this process from now on.

I rode my trusty RB-T out to the Wandermere area this morning and took a tandem ride with my buddy Loren. He just bough a used Rans Screamer. I like these bikes. It's a recumbent tandem.

Ever since I saw Alex's Screamer and heard the stories of his epic tours with Larry, I've wanted to ride one. Larry now owns the Screamer. For context, Larry is the guy that owns Oly Bike Shop (this is the kind of bike shop Spokane is ready for: it's all about the commuter), produced the Washington State Bike Law pamplet, went on the St. Helen's tour and Vancouver Island tour with Alex and me, and all around nice guy.

Anyway, Loren took me up a pretty steep climb right off the bat. That was tough. The recumbent really works your quads. I rely on standing for hard climbs, so staying seated and pounding out a climb really worked me aerobically. It was hard, but satisfying and fun in that lung-searing, lactic-acid-building way.

I was the captain. I kind of was looking forward to being the stoker so I could sit back and take some pics, but I'm glad I captained. I really got a feel for the handling. I found the steering to be super touchy. I sort of got used to it after an hour of riding or so but there's no relaxing -- you are always steering and slightly correcting in a much more active way than you do on an upright bike. Loren said I need to relax more and not squirm around so mich. Maybe so. No doubt, I need more time on the bike.

Shifting was really fussy. I hate grip shifts. I would put friction thumbshifters on this bike if I owned it. Descents were really nice, it's like rolling down a hill in a lazy boy. Loren worked the drum brake, so I just had to manage the steering. I like this bike. I need to spend more time on it to feel comfortable with it, but if Liza or (someday) Maddie was down with it, I think we could dig it.

I really want to try riding this bike with Liza. Loren is going to loan it to us so we can give it a try. More on that to follow.


Anonymous said...

Yay for recumbents!!

Zach Hunt - Spokane Fitness Trainer said...

I think I would prefer a recumbent bike. I will have to check out Oly's.

Michael said...

Congrats on the wheel.

Have you seen

It's a pretty cool way of tracking cycling hazards, crashes and thefts.

alex wetmore said...

If you relax I think you'll find the handling to be a lot easier to deal with. Recumbents are one of the few times when the handlebars are behind the steering axis instead of in front, and it does make them seem odd to handle at first.

The Screamer is a fun bike. I hope you do get some stoker time too, it's interesting being able to ride hands free for as long as you want. I bet a good stoker could prepare an awesome meal for the captain while riding.

Anonymous said...

I bet the right stoker could give an awesome back massage to the captain while riding.

Psheag said...

We have owned our Screamer Tandem for over 10 years. Thousands of miles on it in Colorado. Wonderful "together-ness" for a grandma and granpa. Ours has couplers to take it apart to fly with us in a large bike case. Tough riding around the rim of Oregon's Crater Lake, the coast, etc. but worth it!