March 06

March 6, 2005

First canopy cover/wheel fairings test ride

It was VERY windy!!! Gusts of 52 kph (that's 32 mph!). And you know, it was OK - a bit of work to manage, but it wasn't ever out of control, and I guess that could very well be one advantage to the trike lean/steer format. I'd also have to say that my cable steering system really works well because of how easy it is to counter steer into a sudden side gust. The cables wrap around the steering column as you turn, so a fairly large and correspondingly easy handle bar turn movement is required to make only a small turn - VERY happy with how that all works.

I also had a chance to test out my redundant steering cable feature. On a particularly hard counter gust when turning a corner, one of my cables slipped out of it's anchor. The second redundant cable picked up the slack and I was able to recover and continue to steer without any further incident.

The sliding canopy cover worked VERY well. I was concerned that it would bounce around and slide open on it's own, but it stayed put even over bumps. It will generally stay at what ever position I slide it to - which was very convenient. I opened it more for extra venting, and closed it for less venting. Very slick. When opened even a few inches, a stiff wind would blow across my face providing a very efficient way of cooling. I didn't like how a side wind would lift up the side, so I might have to do something to better secure it from lifting up in a cross wind.

A problem with the canopy that I didn't expect was I couldn't close it all the way with my helmet on... The back of my helmet would hit the rear of the lexan canopy. One way to solve this would be to tilt the seat angle forward a tad. That would get my head forward a couple of inches and a bit higher which would also make it easier to see over the nose.

The mirror has to go - way too big and in the way. I couldn't see over it when rounding a left hand corner to see traffic coming. I think I should just remove it and find a small clip-on mirror that I can attach to the top of the front lexan windshield.

The wheel fairings were working just fine, but I didn't have the disc breaks connected, which is something else that I think this baby needs. The single front caliper break isn't enough.

Something else I am really looking forward to is my Pantour suspension hubs!!! That will really make a HUGE difference in the ride quality. Right now, any bump or rocks or any roughness in the road at all is instantly transferred to the fairing which rattles and bangs around enough to make it pretty annoying after a while.

I am becoming increasingly stressed about my time available to devote to the various projects I have committed to. So much so, that in fact, I am having bad dreams most nights which are causing some very restless sleeps.

When I start something, I have always felt an overwhelming need to finish it - or see it through. This is the case here - even though I do not plan on using the Rocket to cross Canada, I still would like to finish it completely and be able to use it for training. After todays test ride, I realize there are still a few things that need to be done, and my time available to work on it is becoming less and less.

I am now only 15 weeks away from Ironman Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and with the improvement in the weather, I need to start logging the miles and increasing my weekly training hours. I'm at 15 hours a week now, but plan to peak at 30 hours, two weeks before Ironman. When I start getting into the 20's, I can't do anything but train, sleep, eat or watch TV. I have no idea how guys (or girls) who hold down full time jobs do it. At 20 hours a week, I am a virtual vegetable when I'm not training. To complete an Ironman triathlon does not require such long training days, but I would like to qualify for world championships in Hawaii some day, and the only way to do that is to commit to your training like someone would devote time and attention to their careers. Basically, when you are not on your bike, running or in the pool, you should be resting, eating, sleeping or thinking about your next training session.

It's difficult to focus on my Ironman training when I have other things on my mind. All of my spare time in the next few months will need to be spent on the design and construction of a new streamliner which I would like to have on the road by July. With that and Ironman training, and training for some events I want to do later this summer, there is no time left to spend on the more time intensive finishing work required to wrap-up the Rocket velo. I need to focus, focus, focus.

I'm thinking of sending the Rocket out for the finishing work that is required:

1. The fairing and other body parts like the wheel fairings, and the fin need to be filled and finished. There are small bumps and such that need to be filled with bondo and sanded down - very time consuming and messy for me to do in my shop, but much less so for a shop equipped to do that kind of thing.

2. The front wind shield (front half of the lexan canopy) needs to be fixed to the fairing top in a better way. Currently, it is just glued to a strip of weather stripping. It works, but doesn't look as 'finished' as I would like. Also, last night when I wasn't watching, my brother in-law tried to climb into the rocket and ripped the front windshield off the fairing. A bit of glue was all it took to repair it, but I realized that it wasn't right in the first place, and I want it to be done right.

3. I don't like how the rear sliding platform that holds the rear lexan canopy sticks up above the fairing top like it does. It needs to blend more, and I am not sure what to do about that...

4. The sliding canopy wobbles around when it's not completely closed. Again, I'm not sure what the best way to fix this would be - probably to add a groove or side rail of some sort to keep it down and tracking straight.

5. Batteries, and my high intensity LED lights need to be installed in the tail fin and wheel fairing fins.

6. Stereo if I still want to install that. Which I do...

7. Paint.

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