Oct 13 (b)

Oct 13, 2004

A mess...

Greg deep in thought contemplating his place in the human powered speed world...
(actually, I was just friggin cold and contemplating nothing more than getting back home).

I woke up this morning and went into the shop to sand off a fresh layer of drywall mud and my shop is a MESS! Drywall dust EVERYWHERE. In my tools, in my parts, everywhere. Argh!! So, I went into the garage where I have temporarily moved my work bench away from the dust, and it's also a mess - didn't clean up after yesterday. And cold - yesterdays pleasant weather was replaced by rain and temps nearing freezing today. Yet another reminder that I need to get going on this fairing in order to do proper testing on snowless roads. So I went into the office to check email instead.

An email reply from Kevin Thompson which I would like to address - also a bit of a mess.

I sent Kevin an email last week with some concerns I have been having regarding actually 'DOING' this trans Canada trip next summer. I wanted to know about the actual highways I would be travelling on, about the shoulders and about traffic and provincial regulations and applicable laws, etc. Kevin ran (yes, I said RAN) across Canada in the year 2000 pushing a cart that carried all of his gear. The push cart was about 30" - roughly the same width as my trike. He was also part of the Rowing Across Canada team, who planned on rowing a 5 man rowcar across Canada. Their first attempt in 2001 ended a few days after it started - here is an excerpt from Kevin's web site:

"After traveling through the province of Nova Scotia it was determined that the record would not be broken due to lack of averaging an adequate speed to complete in record time. Subsequent to the first day mishap which resulted in a minor accident, the RoadBoat was unable to achieve the necessary average speed, safely, to complete the crossing and it was therefore decided to end the journey early. "

This makes Kevin a unique resource to me - he has come closer than anyone else to doing what I am planning to do, and offers valuable insight into what is actually involved.

Here is my email to Kevin:

I have a question for you - something that has been on my mind for a while now and I think you might be able to provide me with some insight. I am concerned about the shoulder widths and how my 32" wide TCR1 trike and support vehicle might 'fit-in' with the traffic on the Trans Canada highway during my record attempt.

I'm not sure why I feel there is even a concern... Your rowcar is a lot wider than 42 inches, your push cart was 32" right? I did a bit of research and plenty of people trike across Canada every year by themselves and never say anything about shoulders, traffic, cops, etc... I even took my Kett trike which has a 32" width across Montana, Idaho and Utah and didn't have any problems really to speak of - maybe one or two days got quite stressful with heavy traffic and no shoulders. I suppose that's what sticks out in my mind and possibly the reason for my concern. Also I was out on a local road the other day - no shoulder, lots of curves and one lane. A guy pulled up behind me and pressed on the horn for, like 5 minutes straight until he was able to pass me. What a jerk! Anyhow - I guess things like that are getting me rattled a bit...

I am very familiar with BC and Alberta highways and there is a huge shoulder for most of the way - not sure about the rest of Canada though - and I hear that there are some stretches that are shoulderless and single lane. Since I do plan on attempting this trip with a support van, how did you find your help with regard to traffic (during the row across NS)? Were people upset - or just more interested? Did you create a back-log of traffic, or was it not really a big issue? Did you encounter any problems with local authorities? Did you permits allow you to take up an entire lane on the highway?

And here is Kevins reply:

You're going to have some traffic issues in most provinces, but definitely Ontario which is your biggest challenge. Then again, even at 32 inches, I was on a dirt shoulder for at least 30% of the trip (I am estimating high, but in retrospect, it seems low...). With the RoadBoat, we had a support vehicle protecting us from traffic with flashing lights and signage, so that was safe, but still inconvenient for drivers, but we had to be on pavement. We definitely needed permits and we even had a police escort out of Halifax and into and out of other towns along the way - couldn't get that without permits.

The Roadrunner (running push cart) could go on shoulder so no problem. It was a nasty slug to tromp 220lbs through the dirt, but I had the entire day to make my distance. Some days it was joyful, and other days it was less than that...

You asked about highways, and there are many highways where it is not allowed to have vehicles that cannot sustain 60kph, so we should really start planning your route. Do you have any places you must go through or must avoid for purposes of sponsors or media or personal preference? Are we just thinking about the quickest route across, or are there other considerations? Will you be travelling in darkness? When is the trip planned? What is the nature of your support vehicle(s)?

To take up an entire lane on a highway will require a healthy dose of cash, or a charity connection with large media attention. I was surprised to learn that for my endeavours across Canada, the biggest challenges were not physical and endurance issues, but the preparation involved to get all the ducks lined up was pretty intense. Once you're on the road, it's just good old fashioned perserverance - I know you know all about that, so you know that's not a problem. It's the silly little things that get in the way long before you begin the journey that seem so challenging in my retrospection. Anyway, I'm happy to help you with that, so get me some details, and I'll get cracking.

For 30% of the trip, he estimates that he was on GRAVEL shoulders!!! Well, that just isn't going to work for me. I'm not sure what is involved with getting permits for taking up an entire highway lane with a support vehicle, but if that can't be done, then I won't be setting any new trans Canada cycling speed records!!

Kevin and I discussed the challenge further, and he says that one can do something like this two ways - one with permits from each province and insurance or without any permits. Without permits, you run the risk of getting shut down and in my case with the VERY visible and intrusive faired HPV and support van(s), I think that would be highly likely. And Kevin thinks that getting a permit for taking up an entire lane is unlikely in some provinces like Ontario. Kevin is making some inquiries on my behalf and we'll wait and see what the response is.

I have no doubt we'll get this all figured out - and I'm thankful I have a guy like Kevin willing to help. But this whole thing has got me thinking about the actual DOING - not so much the building of the bike or my physical abilities - and that's something that I just have not been thinking about.

Anyhow - I now realize that this is a pretty LARGE challenge. I can't just wake up one sunny Tuesday morning, pack a lunch, hop into my lean steer velomobile - George Jetson style - and head off for Halifax. This may be a summer 2006 event. And if that is a possibility, then I realize that I need to break this project up into smaller, intermediate goals to focus on. I mean, regardless of when I actually do this trip, I still need some smaller targets to aim for so I can work my way up to the big trans Canada cross country.

Maybe that's why I've been feeling a bit on the low side of motivated lately... I'm not really seeing any light at the end of this Canada long tunnel and any downturns in achieving this vision of mine, like the brutal reality of the shoulders on most of the busiest stretches of TransCanada highway, leave me feeling a tad uninspired about it all.

I need some FRESH motivation in the form of some smaller, yet still attainable goals I can focus on while maintaining a larger picture focus on the big cross country.

First, let's examine TCR1 - what was it built to do, and what other cool things aside from going across the country could it be used for? Also - we need to take a closer look at Greg and the kind of event I might have been built for, because like the trike, I have been building myself over the last few years with my various training programs for Ironman and other endurance events.


1. Very efficient power transfer from the crank to the drive wheel. This is accomplished by eliminating the need to turn the front wheel independently of the drive train - and/or by eliminating a long chain to the rear wheel.

2. Comfort and reduced rider fatigue from control efforts. TCR1 has three wheels and for the most part, balances itself. When travelling in a straight line, it can be powered and steered without using arms to control a steering tiller. For minor direction changes or even gradual corners, it can be maneuvered with minor weight shifts or body leans. At fast speeds, making small adjustments to the track are sometimes as easy as a one inch movement of my head from one side to the other! The seat angle is set for comfort and ease of peddling long hours - not too inclined to take advantage of the most extreme aerodynamic position, but not too upright either.

3. Light weight - fabricated from cromaloy tubes to the lightest, tube thickness required to maintain structural integrity makes this three wheeled bike one of the lighter trikes available. At less than 30 pounds for the bike and another 10 to 15 for the fairing, at 40 to 50 pounds, it will be comparatively very light.

4. Simplicity - The trike is simple - one pivot to steer, a standard diamond frame road bike crank/chain/gear cluster/drive wheel set-up, a standard 650 triathlon drive wheel, two BMX rear wheels and two disc brakes. All parts are off-the shelf replaceable. Since the frame is light and flexible, there is no need for complex and heavy suspension either.

To summarize, TCR1 was design for endurance and efficiency - eventually it will become the ultimate cross country endurance machine, but for now I'm not sure the robustness of the cross-country part is quite there yet. The cornering stability at higher speeds has yet to be quantified. What the TCR1 was NOT built for is raw speed - the Cda (aerodynamic drag coefficient) will probably be somewhere around .6 to .7, a far cry from .2 to .3 of the world 200 meter record holder Varna Diablo. It could never compete for the hour record or the 200 meter record (nor could I!).


1. Age - at 43 years old, I have the psychological wherewithal to handle long, boring periods of mindless physical stress. Young guys just can't do that. They've got better things to do.

2. Endurance background - A history of endurance events including 7 Ironman distance triathlons, 3 marathons, four half marathons, 1 half Ironman, 2 Olympic distance triathlons, 6 half marathons, countless 10k races and the hundreds and hundreds of hours of training logged. Add to that, dozens of cycling tours spanning a couple of decades. My best marathon time is 3:21 (7 seconds off Boston qualifying time), best Ironman time was this June at Ironman Idaho of 10 hours, 55 minutes (about 40 minutes away from Hawaii world championships qualifying time), best bike race time was 5 hours, 8 minutes for 112 mile bike legs of Ironman Canada this August which put me 5th out of over 300 in my age group.

3. Supporting wife and family - My wife does these crazy things too, so she totally gets it! Helen has finished two Ironman triathlons, many marathons and joined me on cycling tours. She would be right there beside me if she could.

4. Time to train - I don't have a job and enjoy filling my days with the challenges of building a human powered vehicle, and building the 'human power' part of that vehicle.

To summarize, Greg is best suited for a cycling endurance event. His power output during shorter distances is relatively poor, but over longer distances is comparatively high - probably around mid Cat 2 according to some power profiling estimates from profiling data on Jason's web site: www.TheBikeAge.com. That's far from world class or pro and certainly nothing anyone other guy couldn't train themselves up to in a few years, but not bad for an average 43 year old dude.

Some ideas about what kind of intermediate challenges I could take-on in prep for the trans Canada cross country will be coming soon. Your thoughts are welcome!!!

Two Deu LIST:

1. Buy and install right brake (FINALLY ordered it!)
2. Invent new cable tensioner to allow more steering bar turn radius
3. Add front derailleur
4. Order 20mm axle bolts for the rear wheels (I'm using 1/2 inch now which isn't right)
5. Design and machine 2 seat mounts out of aluminum to replace current steel ones (e-machineshop.com) LATER.
6. Design and machine 2 steering tensioners out of alum to replace LATER
7. Order a new front wheel! (Helen is kind of upset that I am user her Zipp race wheel!)
8. Start work on the first fairing (starting now)
9. Invent steering stiffener
10. Add larger chain ring and modify chain stays
11. Make clamp-on out riggers and try to flip it (changed to#25)
12. Fabricate new steering bar (aluminum or composite?) or rework existing
13. Lathe an aluminum collar for .5" hub axles (Ben E. said he'd do it for me) (That didn't work - James is doing it for me now).
14. Design and build a trainer to fit mag trainer (donated by Michael Hoenig).
15. Replace steel cables with Kevlar (maybe not - I think the flex of steel is good....)
16. Crotch guard / fender
17. Narrow chain stays to allow foot to clear
18. fix derailleur
19. crank hitting chain stay
20. chain stay frame flex?
21. Narrow, high density foam for seat
22. Make front quick release safety
23. Change steer cable sheaves to Pete Heals idea
24. Add missing and new webs
25. Add a g-meter and quantify turning g's at flippage threshold. (add outriggers)
26. Widden the track width to 42 inches and test.
27. Solve the rear stiffness issue (If the wider track is good, then build a whole new rear triangle)

TOTAL distance on TCR1
605.9 km

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