Existence

Cammie and I struggle to come to grips with our own existence.  Oh, and we take a drive in the YellowMobile too.

The music was supplied by audiofarm – my thanks to the artists…

Bubble – Oglsdl – http://audiofarm.org/audiofiles/21422
Logical – Mike Andrews – http://audiofarm.org/audiofiles/20735
The Third State – Konstantinos Gerodimos – http://audiofarm.org/audiofiles/21563

Sound effects supplied by freeSFX.co.uk

Racekap Thoughts

I contacted Wim Schermer at Velomobielonderdelen.nl  before I even had a velomobile to ensure a spot in line for one of his beautiful Racekaps.  I wanted to make sure I had a top for our Spring rainy season.  He  was very nice but informed me that he couldn’t start work until he knew how much my fat head would stick out above the top of the Strada.  He said it nicer but I got the point.  Unfortunately, my head was in Chicago and the Strada was in Toronto – so he promised to make one as soon as I knew, and I promised to contact him 30 minutes after the arrival of my new Strada.  Then… I waited.

And waited.  And pushed my nose to the front window – watching.  And waited.  And did my best zombie moan as I stared blankly out at the street.  It seems that somebody’s Quest had taken forever and held up the production line.  Anyway, I’ll spare you the gruelling, groaning, moaning, whiny details but finally… it arrived!

I adjusted the seating and pedals to neanderthal settings, had Kathy measure the protruding hairy mass, inserted the number in my pre-drafted email, and sent it off to Wim.  I promptly got an apologetic response from him saying that he’d just closed shop to move to larger quarters and would need several weeks for the move and installation of new machinery.  Gah!  I’ll bet that darned Kevin had something to do with that too!!  What was I to do but ride my sorrows away.

As you saw from my tastefully subtle previous post, it did finally arrive.  It missed all the cold weather but, as Wim promised, just in time for the rain.

So what’s it like?

First – it’s fast!  It does what it’s supposed to do – increases your speed and makes it easier to go fast.

Second – it’s thoughtfully designed and constructed.

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Underside of the Racekap

It fits the cockpit opening of my Strada perfectly and the Velcro attachment system ensures trouble-free alignment every time.  There’s even an extra set of straps toward the front which I suppose are for holding down the kap in extraordinary conditions like going downhill in the mountains with 20 mph headwinds.

I was a bit concerned about visibility through the visor opening but I can see everything to the front and sides – no problem!  And there’s even enough room in the Racekap to twist my head around to check traffic at those odd intersections which are less than 90 degrees.

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Visor Lever

The large visor is held in position by two semi-rigid plastic levers on either side.  These Velcro attachments are easily adjustable while riding and hold very well.  I was worried that they’d be in the way visually or physically but that hasn’t been the case.  I don’t know how Da Hood compares on this but I’ve been in some strong headwinds which certainly want to rip the visor open if I have it cracked for ventilation.  I’m very thankful for the levers’ firm grip in those situations!

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Primary and secondary visors

Airflow through the Racekap is terrific.  There’s this wonderful stream coming off the front of the velomobile, under the primary visor, over the top of that tiny secondary visor, around the top of the cap, and out the back in one, un-impeded flow.  It’s like having your head in an air-conditioner duct.  Don’t ask me how I know.

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Air exits through this generous opening at the rear

In colder weather, a slight adjustment in visor height will fine tune the velomobile’s interior temperature to perfection.  For anti-fogging, I’m using a product from my old motorcycle days called Zooke.  It makes the visor sparkly clean and fog free.

Thirdly – it looks cooool!

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YellowMobile

And… slightly intimidating.  It seems to have an amplifying effect on everyone’s response to the velomobile.  If they liked it before, they really like it now.  If they were afraid of this strange machine before, they are almost terrified now.  If they thought it didn’t belong on the bike path before, they are even more put out now.

Also, it inserts this thin, protective layer between the rider and the rest of humanity – much like a car.  You are encapsulated and enjoy a certain amount of privacy, but onlookers now view the velomobile as an “it” as opposed to a rider and machine.  This mental shift allows them to think, say, and do things that they’d probably never do to your face – even though it’s right there looking back at them.  Quite an astounding shift to witness firsthand.

Random thoughts –

I love it.  It is fast and provides all-weather protection.

It gives off more of a don’t-touch-me-I’m-a-car – rather than a – play-on-me-I’m-a-toy vibe.  I feel more comfortable parking it in shopping areas while I get supplies.  It also appears more secure to the morally stunted among us.

I probably won’t wear a helmet under it.  A helmet fits under there but I can’t turn my head sideways very much and there’s quite a racket as the helmet rattles against the Racekap – not pleasant.

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Rubber head protection

I got some thick rubber stripping from Wim to install on the interior of the Racekap to give it more helmet-like protection.  As far as the shell, I suspect that the carbon fiber may be a bit stronger than the plastic of normal helmets.

In general, the Racekap is for protection and going fast, not socializing.  You can’t look up to talk to your buddies on their upright bikes and can’t hear very well in there anyway.  Organized social rides invariably require helmets so the choice for these rides is pretty simple for me.

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No more scratches please

I did find one thing to nitpick about – There is a certain amount of vibration which goes on between the top edge of the visor and the Racekap which causes tiny scratches to both.  You can see that I’ve added some electrical tape to the visor hoping to decrease the problem.

To sum it up in a sentence, I’m very proud to own this well designed piece of equipment and believe that it greatly expands my travel possibilities in the velomobile.  It has earned the highly prestigious YellowMobile Seal of Approval.  I just know Wim will get all choked up about that!

** A note about the extra Velcro straps – Quezzzt has enlightened me in the comments section that these are to help hold the kap in place if an accident occurs.  You wouldn’t want your helmet flying off in a rollover – same with the Racekap.  Thanks for sharing your knowledge Quezzzt!

Neanderthal Friendship

The other day, I was velonauting quietly through the pastoral Illinois countryside when I was lucky enough to come across a fellow neanderthal.  He made his presence known by honking his horn in enthusiasm for my bright little vehicle as he approached from behind.  As he drew closer, he hailed me with many a deep and guttural sound of greeting before honoring me with this…

InternationalSignOfFriendship

Yes, it is the neanderthal’s International Sign of Friendship.  (Please note the quaint regional variant of the proudly displayed opposable thumb).  This symbol of friendship is, unfortunately, often maligned and misinterpreted in our modern age.  Its actual definition runs thusly –

I extend to you this – my finger of friendship – in goodwill and with hopes that you do exactly as I want you to do, which, incidentally is not what you are doing at the present time.  If in the future, you would be so good as to refrain from whatever you are doing that irritates me, we can meet again in peace – at which time I will honor our deep abiding friendship by ignoring you entirely.  Goodbye and farewell fellow traveler.

Ah, the passing of a fierce and noble beast.  Once proud pinnacle of the food chain and owner of all he surveyed, now brought low by the abomination of increased brain capacity and its insidious spread of knowledge… and wisdom.  What a sad and awesome sight.

Suffice it to say that I was moved almost to tears by his benevolent gesture.

Yes, farewell fellow traveler.  I extend to you my finger of friendship as well.

Idler Update

The new idler works great.  But after about a week of quiet riding, I started hearing an occasional squeak.  Nothing major, just a little squawk now and then while I was pedaling.  Then it came louder and more often.  I thought that maybe my headlight had become loose again and was scraping the velomobile shell.  No, that wasn’t it – nice and solid.  The horn?  No, nothing loose at all.

The next day, at the end of a long ride, the noise became distressingly loud.  It was the sound of metal scraping on metal and I thought the whole drivetrain was about to go out through the rear wheel well.  I flipped the velomobile over and checked.  Everything looked solid and functioned properly.  I pedaled carefully home.

Once there, I pulled the shop light into the cockpit determined to find the culprit or die trying – well, at least until dinner time.  I don’t intend to die of starvation.  Anyway, this is what I found…

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Noisy

Yeah, it’s an idler sprocket – I know that now.  But it’s the little metal band next to it, attached to the idler shaft that I’m talking about.  It holds on to the chain tube going toward the chainrings in the front.  That little piece of metal was rubbing against the idler sprocket and creating all of that horrendous noise echoing through the velomobile!

I tried to move it sideways but the spring steel did what it does best and sprung back.

The solution – I cut the Zip Tie holding it to the shaft and gave the metal loop a clockwise twist before attaching it again…

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Quiet

Now everything is neatly tucked to the right, away from the idler.  Such a small thing but something for me to remember the next time I have to take this apart.

Not having such a great memory, I’ll be pleasantly surprised to find it – next time I Google search about idler problems.