May 25

May 25, 2004

photo by John Mackay's groovy camera phone

Finally a day off! On Sunday I finished a 30 hour training week. After a recovery period this week I'll have another 30 hour week, then start my taper 4 weeks out from Ironman Idaho.

Last week, I was able to work on the bike during every available free moment which amounted to a paltry couple of hours. At this pace, I'll never get this project on the road! If I'm not training, I'm sleeping, eating or simply vegetating in front the TV - zero energy to devote to anything else. But once Ironman is over, I should have a bit more time. I'll have to start training for an August Ironman Canada right away, but I'm going to try to devote a few days a week to HVP project time.

I guess I'm feeling a bit pressured regarding how much is still left to do, and how that contrasts with my progress thus far. I just finished reading through Kevins journal and for the first time, the reality of such a trip and everything that need to be done is hitting me hard. Kevin ran across Canada in 1999 to celebrate the millennium. His amazing story is at his web site RunningInto2000 Kevin has kindly offered to help me with my route planning, route permits and insurance.

He really got me thinking about the merits of a solo, self-supported journey rather than a fully supported trek like I am currently thinking. So, I did a little research to find out what the current solo, self-supported cross Canada cycling record is. I found two conflicting claims:

The first is Eric Staarup's 1999 solo cross Canada cycling trip that took him from Vancouver to St Johns NFL in 27 days and 5 hours. His web page describing the trip with photos is here:

The second reference to a solo record is found at the Ultracycling associations web site. They have listed a Wayne Phillips as the current solo cross Canada cyclist with a time of 19 days and 22 hours in 1977. The web site does not specify the route. I'm trying to get more details regarding the Wayne Phillips supposed solo record from the Ultracycling association.

A solo, self supported trip and a fully supported trip are two very different challenges - and each would require a unique vehicle designed exactly for that kind of event. If I travel with a support crew, I will have immediate access to repairs, spare parts, a spare bike, food, water, sleeping accommodations, company and anything I might need at any time aside from assistance with making forward progress. The journey could be accomplished with a super light weight vehicle designed with maximum performance in mind. My job would be simple - to peddle. All day, most of the night, day after day after day after day. Every thing else would be managed by my support crew. Sounds kind of mind-numbing doesn't it?

On the other hand, a self supported solo trip requires many different things. First, the vehicle has to be robust enough to withstand 6000 km of Transcanada wear and tear and would have to carry all of my gear, food, tent, clothing, etc. Second, the daily challenges for me personally will be much different. Rather than just focus on peddling, I will need to consider where to stop for food, where and when to stop to sleep, dealing with traffic and narrow shoulders on my own, repairs, sun burns, bugs, evil people, rain, snow, etc, etc. Sounds a lot more fun doesn't it???

If I go with a support crew I have 13 days to cover 6035 km. At 40 km/hour that's twelve hours per day, and I'm still not even certain that the HPV will be capable of 40 kph with a reasonable 150'ish watts of power input. If 40kph is possible, then 12 hour days seem very managable - especially if my every desire is being handled by my support crew.

If I go solo, I have either 19 or 27 days to cover the distance. If it was 19 days, it might be really tough - at 30 kph average due to a heavier, beefier vehicle, I would still need to cycle for about 12 hours per day which might be tough to manage while dealing with everything else that I would need to take care of.

One of the other advantages to going solo is possibly time to stop and do some speaking. I was talking with Helen over the weekend about possible charities and child obesity - an unfortunate symptom of our modern lives, is something that we are both very concerned about. Education is the best cure for it. I would love to be able to stop at schools and speak to the kids about the importance of exercise, healthy eating and motivation. Also - I think they would really dig the bike.

Much to decide - later. For now, I need to get working on the next bike - The Trans Canada Rocket 1. This will be a steel constructed lean-steer trike based on the geometry of the prototype (Discombubulator) and will feature most of the actual components that I envision including in the final Carbon fiber version. I plan to put many miles in on the TCR1 to make sure that I'm happy with the steering, handling and speed. I'll also use the basic frame to start working on some fairing ideas. The TCR1 is currently in planning stages - hopefully, I'll finish the plans within the next two weeks, order my steel and parts, then get something functional by the end of June or July.

The basic frame might look something like this

And here is how the fairing would pivot around the rear wheels.

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