Dec 13

Dec 13, 2004

Intermediate goal:

I've been thinking about this a lot lately and I'm getting really close to being able to do it. Ever since I dreamed up this cross Canada HPV record idea, I've imagined my first cross country trip in the streamliner - From Calgary to Banff. I want to do it, and I'm almost ready to give it a shot.

It's almost exactly 100 km from the Petro Canada at the city limits to the Banff turn off. Checking my training log, last summer while training for Ironman, I cycled 70 km to Canmore (on the way to Banff) and averaged 33 kph both ways on the tri bike with 210 watts of average power input. I won't be able to put out that much power on the Rocket (OK - I'm calling it the Rocket for short now. And no, I'm not going to call it "Sunshine Hope Dream Pixie Dust Chariot" - that was just my attempt at being funny. I won't do it again. Promise) because I don't have the gears for it yet and I'd probably be going way too fast for my comfort level just now. I'll plan on trying to hit an average output of 150 watts which should be good for about 37 kph average - probably a bit less due to a few hills en route. If I do manage a 37 kph average, then it will probably stand as the fastest bike ride from Calgary to Banff. According to the Ultra Cycling Associations web site, the current record for 100 miles is 38 kph average speed. If that's the case, then I would assume that 37 kph might be close to a local record.

The Trans Canada between here and Banff is divided, two lanes per side with a large, wide shoulder and relatively flat. Typically, the Chinook winds blow from Banff down the highway to Calgary and melt away most of the snow in the shoulder, so I should be OK as far as that goes. I'll probably have to deal with gravel, but that's the deal with winter here - when the roads are clear of snow, you've got to deal with all the gravel. I broke my thumb last Spring when I turned a corner too sharp on the tri bike, slipped on gravel and bit it hard.

There is a pile of things I need to get done first, but if I can get them all done this week, I should be able to do the Banff run next week if the weather remains decent. Weather-wise, the killer would be fresh snow on the road, ice, or high winds. The prevailing wind would be a direct head wind, so I could probably go as high as 20 kph wind speed.

I'll ask Helen to accompany me in the car in case I need support or everything goes to hell. Then we can spend the evening in Banff to celebrate the Rockets first cross country, and drive it back in the Element the next day.

Here is what I need to do before it's ready to go:

1. Add a fastener to the canopy bubble lid. It bounces around like crazy now and is really noisy. I added a couple of Velcro tabs to the sides, but they don't really help at all. I'm going to put a bolt through the rear part of the bubble where I have my strobe lights, then through a hole in the fairing lid. After I crawl in, hopefully, I'll be able to reach behind my head and screw on some sort of fastener to the bolt to keep that lid secure

2. I rigged up a vent hose today and test rode it. It works OK - the hose directs fresh air to the front of the windshield and it evaporates the condensation that collects there. (See below for photos). I need to test this out a bit better - go on a longer ride this week sometime and work a little harder causing that window to really steam up to make sure there is enough airflow to keep it clear.

3. Visibility - I think I might be OK here - I added a SECOND Eternalight to the rear bubble, so I should be very visible. To be certain, I should park the Rocket at the side of the road and approach from behind in my car so I can better judge how visible I am.

4. Redundant brake - This could possibly wait until after Banff. Since I only have ONE brake, I have no way to stop if it fails. Which might not be very pretty. But, the single works OK - not super great, but acceptable. Enough to slow me to a safe speed going down only one single hill on the Banff Calgary route.

5. Steering redundancy - I'm not sure about this and it's been causing me some concern. If something were to happen to the steering cables - say if they were to snap, or get named, I could be in some serious trouble. I've been thinking about ways to add redundancy to the steering setup - and possibly to add a secondary emergency method of deactivating the cable steering, and using some other way to regain control so I can come to a stop. For the trip to Banff, I might be OK going with my current system.

6. Helmet - not sure what to do about this. My helmet doesn't fit in the canopy bubble. If I were to crash, the streamliner would probably slide on it's side and I would be fine - I mean, it's not like I'll be going 90 miles per hour.

7. Rear view mirror - I added a mirror today (see below for photos) and it works great. I need to better secure the rotation because it could move with heavy vibration.

8. Front wheel well - If the highway is dry then I won't be needing this - the rubber flaps are going a good job of stopping dust and debris from flying around the interior. If it's very wet, then adding the well would stop so much snow and mud from accumulating under my crotch.

9. Rear wheel covers - I finished the rear wheel covers today, but I need to do some test rides to make sure that they are tight enough against the tire to stop air and water and dirt from leaking into the wheel.

10. Finish the strut slot sliders - This is something that I don't really need for the Banff trip. They are finished and should work OK, but I haven't tested them yet. The last time I had them installed, they were making steering an impossible job - but I have shaved down the edges and they seem to slide much easier now.

11. Re-glue Sintra Canopy lid slots.

12. Adjust the front fairing mount (causing some 'folding' between the lid and the bottom)


I figure that if I'm going to do this Banff thing before Christmas, then I had better have a plan to get all this work done so I am ready to go when the weather allows:

Tuesday -
1. Rear canopy lid fastener
2. Re-glue Sintra lid sliders
3. Install Rear slot sliders
4. Go for a good, thorough test ride. Test vent tube - If it's not good enough, then buy a bigger hose from Home Depot. Test slot sliders, and canopy bubble fastener.

Wednesday -
1. Build the front wheel well
2. Either remove the rear slot sliders, work on them, or leave them alone (depends on Tuesdays test ride)
3. Install new vent hose if required
4. Test ride

Thursday -
1. Install redundant brake
2. Look at redundant steering ideas

Friday
1. Anything not yet finished, which will probably be everything.
2. Examine redundant steering ideas again.
3. If you run out of stuff to do, then re-make those goofy rain covers that are bumpy and ugly on the side of the bubble.


Here's what I did today:

I glued a skateboard bearing into a Sintra plastic washer that was glued to the wheel disc. This simply fastens onto the wheel axle with a small nut.

This is the rear view mirror - I know, not the most aerodynamic mirror in the world, but it's a start. And it's safe and provides plenty of visibility to the rear. Eventually, I'll replace this with a smaller mirror and make a fiberglass or CF fairing for it and incorporate it into the main fairing better.

This is the vent tube. It's just a foam pipe insulator covered with duct tape. It seems to hold air just fine, but the inside diameter might not be big enough, so I need to experiment with that. Not shown is how it mounts to the handle bars to direct air to the front of the fairing bubble.


TCR 2Do LIST:

1. Test the strut slot sliders
2. Add a rear view mirror
3. Fasten down rear of canopy bubble
4. Fasten down the Eternalight strobe with velcro
5. Look into adding MORE Eternalights
6. Re-glue Sintra canopy lid slots
7. Front wheel well
8. Add a vent hole with ducting to the canopy bubble.
9. Finish the wheel covers.
10. Add a second front caliper brake
11. Make a portable wind trainer using the (mini-rollers)
12. Look into painting the fairing
13. Find a helmet that fits in the bubble

TOTAL distance on TCR1
826 km


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