Three States In One Day… with a short-cut

I’ve been wanting to test the YellowMobile on a real adventure – a trip out to see my parents in Michigan – and finally the time had come.  I started out from St. Charles in the wee hours on Father’s Day and headed North to Wisconsin.  Here’s the map…

Now that’s a shortcut!

Morning, before daylight is the very best time to put in some mileage on the suburban roads in my area but I had another reason – I had to catch the 12:30 ferry in Milwaukee, some 100 miles away.

Not bothering with the bike path, I took the most direct road North.  I was very satisfied with my recent headlight adjustment as I finally joined up with the path.  I could see everything ahead of me in that pre-dawn tunnel of foliage and there was no need for slowing to allow a safe margin for braking.

I did run into some bike path problems later – closures with no info or detours!  I lost at least a half hour messing with that.  My lesson for next time – if you hit the road early, stick to the streets as long as you can – they’re a sure thing!  When I’d gone quite a ways on major roads, I decided to give the path another chance and ended up on the Sternes Woods trail.  Think of it as a paved mountain bike track.  Who would do that?!!

Anyway, once past the woods it was clear sailing… for a while.  Wisconsin has bike trails but they were gravel – and they were wet from the previous night’s rain – and they were soft!  Kind of like pedaling uphill all the time.


This is my breakfast spot across the boarder, in Genoa, Wisconsin

I stayed on the trails as they turned from manicured trail – to gravel path – to a weedy, two track farm road.  Luckily, I spied a paceline of bikers on the highway which ran parallel and quickly decided that if they could, I could.  Hmm, big choice – 10 to 15 mph on the trail or 20 to 25 mph on the pavement…  I took the highway straight into Milwaukee.  Unfortunately, I have no video of that because Cammie took a nap.  Slacker!

I made the ferry with time to spare – whew!


Goodby Milwaukee

Travelling by velomobile is wonderful!  Everyone I met on the ferry wanted to ask about my strange transportation and after I’d told them a bit, I could find out more about them, where they were headed, and what they were doing.  A marvelous chance to learn about my fellow travelers!


It was foggy coming into the Muskegon channel

photo (13)

The YellowMobile has landed!

My folks met me at the ferry landing, then I pedaled the fifteen or so miles to their home.  I was relieved that my dad didn’t follow me with his emergency flashers on!

I stayed a couple of days and helped dad build a fire pit that he’d been planning.


Dad’s new pit


My folks cooked some amazing meals


Mmm! Pork loin with squash and peas


Thanks and farewell Mother and Dad!

Here’s the movie…

Oh, if you don’t like riding around in the dark, you can skip ahead to the 6 minute mark or so…

My thanks to the musicians…

Ordinary Pictures by Alaxander Chereshnev

Brain Breaker by Al Alandra

Rural Parks by Alaxander Chereshnev

Never Did Nothin To Write A Song About by Speck

The Living Game by Hans Atom

Headlight Adjustment


I’ve been twisting and tweaking my headlights ever since I got my Strada and have never been too happy with the results.  This week I decided to assert my superiority over them until they submitted to my stupid, terrible will.  Beware!  If you intend to grapple to the death with your headlights, watch out for their buddies the chain rings – they bite!

The first step is to line up your velomobile in front of, and perpendicular, to your closed garage door.  (ooh, big word for a neanderthal!)  Now adjust your velomobile’s position until the front wheels are about eight feet from the door.  That’s two and a half meters for you more evolved types.  Find some tape and turn on your headlight.  Mark the top of the headlight beam on your garage door…


Then mark the floor just where the center of the tire makes contact…


Now we will have some “repeat-ability” and an idea of what kind of changes we will be making.  (Add scientific head-bob here)

Now, flip the velomobile on its side, reach in from the foot holes and unplug the light.  If the horn is attached to the same strut, unplug that too.


This is where I went wrong in my previous attempts – I tried to wrestle and tweak the light into submission while it was still inside the velomobile.  Bad idea!  So undo that screw on the right and remove the whole thing.  Easy!  Here’s what it looks like…


Note the angle of the light compared to the strut so you can picture what sort of change you wish to make.

IMG_0674Also, sight along the strut to make sure that the light is pretty much parallel to the strut – you don’t want it illuminating the sidewalk!  If not, remove the light, and bend that bit of strut where the light was attached until it is parallel to the longest part of the strut.  Reattach the headlight, and adjust its angle until it matches the angle you pictured in your head earlier.


At this point, I added a couple wraps of electrical tape on the edges of the headlight lens to reduce friction.  And squeaking!

Now put it back into the velomobile pushing hard enough to seat it in its hole without changing the light’s angle, and screw the strut to the frame.  Reattach the plug to the headlight but leave the horn disconnected for now.

Flip the velomobile upright again and align the front wheel with your tape on the floor.  Turn on the power and check out the effect of your adjustments on the garage door.  If the results are about what you were aiming for (and it’s dark outside) then it’s time for a test drive.  If not, flip it onto its side and try again.  (Unless you’re waiting for dark).  Repeat until you reach nirvana.

Then don’t forget to reconnect the horn!

My Strada has a high-beam headlight whose strut is attached to the other side of the interior frame.  To adjust it I had to flip the velomobile over on its other side and repeat the whole procedure.

The final measurements (tape to floor) for my Strada’s lights were…

High-beam – 20 3/4 inches

Low-beam – 16 inches

Yeah, go ahead and tape to these measurements at the very beginning if you trust me (ha!), but then you’ll miss all the fun of fiddling with the tape.  Your results may vary depending on your model and preferences so do the test drive and judge for yourself.

Remove the tape from your garage door and floor when you’re done – unless of course you want to keep them as a record of your special achievement.  I did!

Pedal Pusher

My rear derailleur was in need of a tune up before I took off on a longer ride.  The problem was that I needed to be in two places at the same time – at the back of the velomobile observing the derailleur while also sitting inside pedaling.

My solution was this…


They call me Captain Hook

It’s just a piece of clothesline wire bent in two (for strength), formed into a hook, and attached to a four foot length of PVC with a pipe clamp.  Ta Daa!  Instant pedal pusher.  The hook is just a bit larger than the pedal’s spindle and the hook opening is smaller so it clips on and doesn’t come off so easily.  It works best for me if the hook’s opening is upward because I tend to turn the pedals with a lifting motion.

I realize that somebody, or perhaps a lot of somebodies, may have thought of this already.  If so, my apologies.  I thought I’d post it anyway…

Just in case.

A Northern Illinois Group Ride!

Last weekend I rode out to Sycamore for the first ever Northern Illinois Velomobile Rally and Swap Meet.  There were two of us – me and my new friend, and fellow velonaut, Joseph Basett.


This is our group photo

We waited around for a while to see if anyone else would show up but, since we didn’t really invite anyone else, we finally gave up and went for a ride.  Joe showed me around the countryside between Sycamore and Dekalb in his beautiful Sunrider.  It really looks awesome – like it would feel more comfortable sporting a pair of wings and a jet engine.


Joe in his Sunrider

I got to take a closer look once we got back to Joe’s place.  Here’s some more pictures of his cool machine…


Check out the cool entry door!


Fully enclosed intior


Disk brakes



The swap meet was held next.  I got a great pair of brand new Tryker tires for my front wheels.  Woo Hoo!  Joe wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about the sushi rice roll snacks that I brought along.  Oh well, maybe next time…

Speaking of next time… if there are any velonauts in the area who would like to participate, let us know. Our next event could be even bigger!!

Thanks Joe, for a very nice afternoon!  Here’s the video…

Thanks to the artists at for the music…

Test Drive by Zapak

Ice and Chili by _Ghost