It was quite an experience riding under full load. On level ground the extra weight does not reveal itself. With the correct gear selection, pedaling is easy and comfortable. However, on even a slight incline you can feel it. I am learning that it is important to not ride in too high a gear. It puts stress on the knees and uses energy at a more rapid rate than is really necessary.
Looming in the back of my mind is the challenge that will come in the form of daily rides of this nature. The only rest I will receive is the few hours at camp between rides. Recovery time will be less. I will continue to step up training in preparation. I did experience some knee pain, but it was manageable. At night while resting I could feel a few muscle cramps trying to inch their way into my hamstrings. I have been watching the Tour de France, where the riders complete 124 miles under full pressure daily for three weeks. I tell myself, “I can do that.” My wife raises a brow and questions me as to whether I really want to ride 865 miles.
“You’ll miss me.” she says. She nearly put her foot down over the incident you will read about later in this post.
Traffic was particularly gnarly on the second half of the loop. There are tons of 16-wheelers on Jurupa Street which caused me to change riding strategy quite a bit. I think this is why it took longer to ride the 52 miles than I thought it would. Also an unscheduled stop at Farmer Boys for a burger did not help either. The food I was carrying would have been sufficient. I will not make that mistake again.
As expected the last two miles into the camp site were the hardest. On the final half mile with it’s 10% to 13% grade I had to rest for 30 seconds for every 2 minutes of riding. My legs were very spent by then.
In the morning the climb out of camp was also very steep – at least 10% and probably more in some sections. Having fresh legs was a benefit and I used my lowest gear almost the entire way, as time was not a factor. I was only 8 miles from home.
All-in-all it was quite an achievement. With a bit more training I feel I will do well on the PCTA. I am definitely glad I did it, because I learned quite a bit. I have broken down the information into general categories for easier digestion.
The Arkel Panniers swallowed up everything with room to spare. Compartments are handy and those giant zippers are just the ticket. One note however: anything that needs to remain cool should not go into the top compartments. They get really hot in direct sunlight. Electronics, batteries, CO2 cartridges, or anything else that may be subject to heat should not be stored there.
The Quarter Dome T2 Plus by REI is very light and packable. For assembly one needs to at least the watch the video on the REI web site more than once to make sure all goes smoothly. Check me out in the video below. I had the orange poles on wrong side of the large main pole, but once I figured that out, the tent went up fairly easily. The fabric of the tent seemed a bit overly tight over the poles. I had to wrestle with the tabs a bit, but nothing ripped or tore. I would recommend getting a footprint to go under the tent.
The rain fly was easy to install, but by morning, on even a warm night, there was more than a little condensation on the underside of the it. I had to make sure this was wiped dry before folding it away. Since the fly is totally waterproof, I don’t think anything can be done about this. Humans exhale water vapor when they sleep. I did have both ventilation tabs open.
As you know, nothing ever packs back to the same small size it was when it came from the factory. For some reason the tent poles seemed too long to go back into the tent’s stuff sack. The tent body, fly, and footprint went in with room to spare. I ended up placing the poles into the tall sack on the back of the left Arkel pannier, which is designed to hold such items. Problem solved.
Camel Bak Water Bladder
This will not make the trip. It fits very nicely into the large compartment on the Arkel pannier, and the sipping tube is plenty long enough for handy use. The problem is that it is not insulated. Ice melts quickly. The water that remains in the sipping tube between drinks heats up to hot.
The bladder does not dry out quickly which could lead to mildew inside the bag. Now you have to use tablets to clean the bladder and thread a drying tool down the tube to dry it out. Too much work!
ExPed Down Mat Sleeping Pad
This was a dream piece of equipment. It almost self inflates, but some pumping is required. The pump is integrated into the design of the mat. You simply open that valve, place one hand over the opening and press down on the pump, with both hands. It inflates in about two minutes. In inches the size is 77.5 long, 26 wide, 2.8 deep. The 26-inch width was plenty for me.
It was very comfortable. During the night it never lost any air. The down inside the mat insulted from the cold ground underneath. Repacking was a bit fussy. It’s difficult but not impossible to get all of the air out of the mat. The release valve is one-way. Air gets pushed out, but cannot reenter. It took two tries to finally get it back into its stuff sack. It’s worth every expensive penny.
Insulated Hydro Flask (1.9) Liters
I wrestled with this purchase because this item was not cheap – $49 dollars at REI, but am I SO glad I bought it. I filled it with water and ice at 7:30 am. By 8:00 pm the same day the ice was melted but the water was ice-cold and stayed that way the rest of the night. My wife bought me up more ice at the camp site that evening, which I put into the flask. It is now 12:05 pm the next day and the ice still has not melted in the flask. This thing works fantastically. Best of all it fits like a glove into my Radical Banana Pannier. It’s not as handy as a Camel Bak sipping tube, but it’s reachable, and ice-cold water when you want it is a real treat. It’s one of my best purchases.
Speaking of ice, I did take a small canvas covered lunch bag which was insulted and lined with plastic. I used it as a small ice chest. I was very happy I decided to take this along. Ice was kept in a plastic bag inside the single large compartment. Cold oranges and apples are very refreshing on the road. When the ice melted inside the plastic bag I had another source was refreshing ice cold water.
All clothing choices I have made seen to be a good ones. However, jeans are not going. They are uncomfortable for riding, and one pair weighs 2.2 lbs. all by itself dry. Also they are not water proof. Wet jeans must really be heavy. I’ll see about getting pants made of lighter fabric.
I may leave my extra riding jacket home also. It’s versatile, as the sleeves zip out, but it’s water-resistant, not water proof. I also don’t like the high collar on the back of my neck. I think my rain jacket will provide better warmth if I need it.
I need at least two long-sleeved riding shirts made of wicking material. I’ll pick those up at Walmart for $8.
Both my GoPro Camera and my iPhone ran out of power by the end of the day. Actually that time ended up being well over 10 hours which is pretty good. I turned the camera off between every 30-second movie shots which helped preserve battery life. All movies were taken from my helmet mount, which I don’t think I will use. The resulting video is enough to make you sick with its shakiness. I will devise some sort of neck-worn strap that will allow for easy access to the camera.
The iPhone suffered a over-heat outage during the day. It was in a frame-mounted bag under a plastic cover for access. Due to the heat of the sun and the fact that it was running two applications most of the trip, it simply overheated. 10 minutes in the ice-chest solved the problem. This was another instance where I was glad I brought a small ice chest.
I plan to take a small solar panel with me on the trip. I will place it under the mesh of one of my Arkel panniers where it will charge during the day. At night it will be used to re-energize both the iPhone and the GoPro. I’ll let you know which one I decide on.
My Cateye Micro Wireless Speedometer locked up during the ride and stopped recording data. It was the second time this had happened. Research revealed that a Blue Tooth enabled iPhone speaking to a wireless heart rate monitor or other similar equipment such as a Wahoo speedometer interferes with the Cateye. On the tricycle these devices are in close proximity and there was simply too much Blue Tooth broadcasting and receiving going on between the devices.
Once the iPhone is not broadcasting the Cateye works properly. I could use the iPhone only but that would require that it run either the Strava application or the Wahoo application. Running either application would be only partially useful as there is no cadence hardware installed on the TRIcon. Plus using the iPhone would require leaving the screen on full time. That would quickly evaporate energy reserves.
Conclusion: my Wahoo heart rate monitor will be staying home. I’ll run the Strava application to document the mileage. The Cateye should work fine. Hey, a few more grams of weight will be saved.
Some things that I don’t have now, I will have to acquire are:
- a small chamois for drying that rain fly.
- flip-flops for the shower; I’d rather not get my Keens wet.
- small cloth ice-chest.
- two long-sleeved riding shirts.
Take a look at the before and after pictures of the underside of the TRIcon for a clue.
Here’s the after shot.
What happened? Long-story-short: the two bolts that hold the handle bars to the steering column loosened to such an extent that the entire handle bar assembly disengaged itself. I was literally holding the bars in mid-air with absolutely no ability to steer. I had to physically steer by grabbing the left front fender to a avoid the curb on my right, while breaking with the right hand with brakes that thankfully still operated. Imagine steering by turning the front left fender to the left while braking with only the right caliper which causes your rig to turn right. It was a move orchestrated in skillful panic mode.
Thank you Lord Jesus I was not on a 29 mph descent on some mountain road. I may have not have been writing this article right now. That was scary. I won’t go as far to call it a design flaw, but I will contact AZUB about the situation, which needs addressing before someone gets seriously injured or worse. Lesson learned: check all bolts frequently, especially the ones that may directly affect the operation of the bike. I have already found a loose bolt on one of the disc brake calipers and tightened it up recently. There is no front suspension on the TRIcon which means road vibrations make it through to the frame more easily than a rig with a suspended front end. Things vibrate loose. Check your nuts and bolts.
I have since removed the two offending bolts, dipped them in Loctite and reinstalled them. I have also installed a rubber plug into the open end at the bottom of the steering column. It has a large washer covering the diameter. The rubber expands into the opening by turning a bolt in the center of the plug. Even if the two screws loosen again the rubber plug will keep the handle bars in place. See photos of the fix here.
The second problem was not as catastrophic. The rack on which the Arkel panniers sit moves closer to the rear axle when the suspension is compressed, as does the rear fender. During a jolting from uneven pavement the wire support rods on the right side popped loosed from their support, which caused the rear fender to jump into misalignment, which allowed the metal clips that attach to the fender to rub hard and grindingly against the rear wheel. I noticed a nice spray or rubber shrapnel on the chain stays near the rear tire.
I think this entire situation was caused by a combination of the 35 lbs. of weight on the rear rack and having the pre-load set too low on the rear shock. I will torque up the pre-load on the shock. The entire situation did make me seriously reconsider the possibility of the trailer once again. Maybe it’s better not to have too much weight on the actual tricycle. I will invest in the purchase of the smallest torque wrench I can find to help keep those bolts tight. Ugh, that means extra weight.
Shifting at the front chain set and derailleur was a bit off due to cable stretch. I made an adjustment which helped, but it’s not 100% yet. I have to complete a nifty double, trigger/thumb move to get down smoothly to the middle chain ring. Getting to the smallest chain ring is still a problem. I’m working on that.
In spite of the mishaps and sore muscles I am very glad I took the ride. I now have first hand experience on what to look out for and how I may actually perform on the trip. I will take another loaded ride before arrival time of the PCTA.
Preparation and rehearsal = success. Learned that in the Marine Corps. David’s shakedown runs are the smart and necessary way to prepare for this kind of trike road venture. Good luck, David, and have a SAFE journey.
Thanks, Ken for posting. If you think of anything else that may help me, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
BTW David: another useful feature of the purifying pump is that you can pump old water out of the CamelBak and new, purified water into the bladder without taking it out of the Fast Back – 4.0 or removing it from your trike for those functions. You can always add a purification tablet; also without the need to remove anything from the trike. The Fast Back unzips and allows access to the CamelBak fill port.
Really enjoy reading your blog. I am “the other guy” who accompanied Steve and Glen on the CCTE a couple of years ago. I ride the “YELLOW BEAST” 2010 Catrike ROAD and pulled the Burley NOMAD bike trailer that weighed out at 60 extra pounds with gear to pull up those grueling hills on my near-300 mile portion of that most memorable and special trip.
What I discovered on that trip – I will never pull a trailer again on a long-distance overland touring trip – this was, I firmly believe, the major cause of my pretty severe knee problems which led to my unfortunate “early out” on that adventure.
Secondly, I had packed probably 3 times the gear, food, clothing, camping gear, and other stuff that I thought I really needed to take. Steve had warned me in advance about all this stuff and I chose, mistakenly, to disregard his advice. DON’T DO THAT!!! Steve has put hundreds of hours in determining what and what not is needed on these adventures. Please, for your own sake, listen to him carefully and intently. He IS the “Guru” of trike trekking.
I was really surprised to hear about the Azub coming apart the way it did. Seems really strange, as I know their engineers have put all effort into designing a thoroughly first notch product. Your “expandable rubber plug” idea seems a really good one.
BTW, I have the 100 oz. CamelBak Water Bottle mounted behind my seat in a FastBack – 4.0 Hydration Pack that I purchased from The Hostel Shoppe for around $68.00. This worked out great and I really had no water heating problems during the CCTE that was anything other than the first sip when accessing that water supply. I mounted the extended “watering tube” out of the pack, up the left side to the top seat support frame tube, traced the tube in a long loop around the top of my rear rack to the right side where it is readily accessible during riding to pull it forward and sip out of the bite valve. I used a small shut-off valve that is available from REI to isolate the water supply in the bag from my bite valve. This facilitates the ability to remove the bite valve and tube and hook up a very light-weight Katadyn Hiker Pro water purification pump to fill the CamelBak, making sure that in route you do not get sick from unwanted bacteria or other bad guys from your on-board water supply. This all worked excellently on the CCTE and is permanently mounted on my trike for all riding, especially during these hot summer CA months (also, I have pics of the installation of you’re interested). I believe that this consideration in take-along equipment may be a better choice in what weight of stuff to carry along, than a lot of the electronic “fun stuff” other than perhaps your GoPro.
I live in Rancho Cucamonga and would love to ride with you sometime. Give me a holler at my email if you want and we’ll take a jaunt.
Keep up the great work,
Thanks for the great advice and encouragement. Believe me, I have read Steve’s extensive writings with great care, and many of my decisions are based on what I learned there.
I like your idea of the Katadyn Hiker Pro water filtration pump. I have looked at similar devices and thought they might be useful on trips where I would be more isolated. On the PCTA I would probably be okay because there are many places to buy bottled water if I wanted to. That not withstanding, I do have some water purification tablets that will be used if I have doubts about the water supply.
Concerning the trailer, my only purpose in towing one would be to get the physical weight off of the tricycle. I wouldn’t be loading it with extra food or other supplies. Of course, in removing the weight from the tricycle, I will have added 13 lbs. of dead trailer weight and an extra tire on the road with its accompanying drag/friction and replacement inner tube. Looks more and more as if the trailer will not make the trip.
The expansion plug worked very well. It is installed and I am sure will do its job if the that situation arises again. I will post pictures soon.
Yes, I definitely want to take a ride with you very soon. I will contact you at your email. We can send pictures to Steve to let him know we are doing well. Take care, my friend. Talk to you soon.
Looking forward to meeting and riding with you soon,
Gary; alias: YELLOW BEAST TRIKER
Good work on your shake-down ride. Sorry to hear about that steering problem. I think I’ll go check my bolts as soon as I’m done typing this. I liked your explanation of what you have packed where, but I kept waiting in vain for a brief tour of your cockpit. Please show us what you have attached up front.
You mentioned wanting to mount your camera somewhere other than your helmet. Ram Mounts makes an entire system of mounts for cameras, GPS devices, and so on. I’m sure there is one to handle your video camera. http://www.rammount.com/Home/tabid/37/Default.aspx
Good luck with follow-on training rides.
—Dave (davebeedon [AT] comcast [DOT] net )
Thanks for the web site tip, David. I will check them out.
Hi David, I just discovered your blog and have been looking it over. You have a great blog! I am glad you came thru your mechanical problems you experienced ok and are able to carry on rather than lying in a hospital bed recovering. You have quite an adventure coming up. Lastly, thank you for taking a stand for Christ on your blog. He is an (the only) AWESOME SAVIOR, King of all kings, and soon coming One. John 3:36 tells it like it is. God bless you and your family and may His angels watch over and keep all of you safe on your upcoming trike journey! STEVE
Thank you for your prayers on the behalf of me and mine. I try not to beat people over the head with the Gospel – I understand that some are not quite ready, but Christ is the real reason this blog exists, and you never know what “good ground” the Seed may fall onto. So, at the Spirit’s leading, a word for Christ Jesus goes out.
Yes, this will be a big life-altering trek for me. I know it’s something I will never forget. I am very excited, and looking forward to it greatly.
David, congratulations. Now that you have had a good shake down ride, how do you feel about the Tricon? Do you think it will hold up well? The reason I ask is that I have narrowed my trike purchase down to Azub and Ice. If I am going to spend that kind of money on a machine I want the best bang for my buck.
I know what you mean. Yes, I think the TRIcon will hold up fine. When I made my final decision I went by the seat of my pants, literally. The ICE machine was nice, but when I sat on the TRIcon it instantly felt more solid and smooth. I rode both machines with no hands on the handle bars on purpose. The ICE machine was much more subject to oscillation and pedal steer than was the TRIcon. However, the ICE machine does offer front suspension for smoothing the ride up front; the TRIcon does not, but there is a price to pay. For the money I think I made a great decision with the TRIcon. All else being equal, one must remember that they are mechanical devices, which need diligent maintenance to operated correctly.
Hope this helps.
Thank you for the review. I am pretty set on the Tricon at this point. I have no point of reference since no one near sells Ice or Azub. So this will literally be a seat of the pants. However, I will be watching you. I am not near purchase time yet but close.
I have to say the folks at Azub have been really nice to speak with. One of the things I want to do is have them do the base powdercoat but not apply any decals or stickers. I want to do a custom military stencil job over their paint. Since I was in the Air Force I want to have a No Step painted on the “wings”, the Air Force logo, a remove before flight flag, among other things. I will be sure to provide pics once I have them.
The last thing that sold me is that no one has them. So a trike with a customer paint job is going to stick out if stolen.
Just to be clear, AZUB is the manufacturer of the TRIcon. I think you can’t go wrong with their product. I know first hand that they will accommodate any painting scheme requests that you put forth. Honza and his team are great to work with.
I think your painting and stenciling ideas sound fantastic. I can’t wait to see what you come with. Please post pictures when you get her looking like you want it.
You are correct about the TRIcon being a rarity. No one in my area has one, and the wild color scheme I have let’s others know – yes, she’s all mine. Good luck; be careful out there. God bless you and yours.
Hi David, congratulations on your shake down rides. It’s the best way to learn what will and won’t work for you. In the unlikely event that you lose your steering again, remember next time to use Brake Steer to your advantage. Braking with your left lever would most likely pull you away from the curb. Reading your story was de jevu all over again as I lost my steering due to vibrations going downhill at about 25mph. Great Fun! 🙂
Oh, no! 25 mpg? I hope I can remain cool enough to remember to use brake steer. Wow! Where were you when your steering went out?
David, about the steering problems: do you use the handlebars to help you standing up out of the seat?
Hello! No, I don’t use the handle bars at all. Usually I will scoot forward to the edge of the seat then lean forward and power up from a deep squat. Sometimes I will hold the main center beam on the frame to help me up if I am tired. Don’t ever remember using the handle bars. Why do you ask? Is such a practice bad for the tricycle itself?
Some people use the handlebars as standup aid, which they aren’t meant for. This puts strain on the construction and should NEVER be done.
Thanks, for that tip, Ivo. I’ll keep that in mind and make sure I don’t put stress on the handle bars in that way. I know some manufacturers offer a specific addition to help riders dismount. I didn’t order anything like that for my TRIcon.
Watch out for that sun; it’s important to drink even when you’re not thirsty. When someone figures out how to hook up a drinking tube to a cooler I’d like to hear about it. I’m really surprised there isn’t one for sale somewhere.
Keep up the good work.
You right about the sun. I was also worried about sunburn, which is why I want to make sure I have some long sleeved shirts and some long riding pants. I usually don’t burn, but by the end of the ride I could feel a bit of stinging on the tops of my legs.
My thermal water jug is a perfect candidate for some sort of sipping tube addition. Even with the lid off the contents stay cold for hours. It will simply be a matter of finding some already manufactured lid that uses the same thread pattern. I’m on it!
Hey Dave when you get the long sleeve shirts you were thinking of Walmart for eight bucks.
Do, yourself a favor and go, to a bike or better yet running store and get some good wicking UV rated shirts. The sun will burn right through those cheap “Champion” shirts and burn you alive. The extra money for a few running UV rated shirts is well worth it!
Wow! Really? I honestly did not think of that. I thought as long as the sun was not directly on my skin I would be okay. Thanks for “hot” tip, Sean. I am definitely going to get some long-sleeved shirts, so I will make sure to take your advice. Much appreciated!
I use a camelback which is insulated. I have it horizontally mounted across the back of my seat hanging off two minoura bottle cage holders (the add on kind). Bladder is in upside down so outflow is low. Cold fluids for hours.
Best of luck YMMV.
This is the stuff that will remove the fear from the upcoming trek. Now, just imagine doing this for about 18 more days in a row, and you’ve got it knocked. Piece of cake, right? Ha ha. Hey, where’s your trailer? Is it history? I’ll get this posted sooner or later.
Trailer use is seeming more unlikely these days. The additional 13 lbs. of trailer is not attractive, and I am afraid it may tempt me to bring more than I need to. However, I will definitely be carrying a small insulated ice chest about the size of a lunch box. I just have to make sure the weight of all I am carrying will sit well on the TRIcon.
Nice going David! Loose bolts are bad karma. Loctite should prevent that from happening again. Regarding hydration bladders. I use a Camelbak. I use four hook n’ loop straps to secure under the seat of my trike, with the tube going up to where I can reach it easily. Keeps cooler than being higher up. Ever consider keeping your Arkel tops cooler by using a reflective foil (tin foil held on by bungee maybe) or a space blanket (reflective survival blanket)? Cut, sewn or taped to fit over the panniers (reflective side up), they would reflect the sun’s heat a lot, and keep stuff near the pannier top cooler. I also liked the neat flower pot garden by your house! Keep triking!
Thank you for the great ideas. I have been brain storming on ways of running my Camelbak sipping tube into my insulated water jug. Then I’d have the best of both worlds. I see we are on the same track, because the thought of somehow using foil on the upper panniers crossed my mind also. I’ll see what I can come up with. If you think of anything else please post again.
Good ideas, Fred. The reflective covers might also aide in being seen by automobile traffic while out on the road.
I am glad you did not crash with that loose steering! Yeah… always good to give all the bolts a tightening every so often. I have had a similar experience where I had a wheel axle unscrew itself on my old Terratrike! Loved the tent setup video!
Yes, bolt checking will now become part of my regular maintenance routine. Glad you enjoyed the video.
Very much enjoying your blog, David. I am following you avidly as I am planning on following your example soon in my area. Your experiences and insights are very helpful.
I have some thoughts i hope are helpful: first off, keep in mind that many of your problems have been solved by ultralight backpackers already. Consider using an ultralight backpacking hammock (I use Proforce Jungle) instead of a tent. They are incredibly comfortable, are off the ground, are easy to set up, weigh next to nothing and pack up into a small bag maybe 6″ square. The down side is needing a campsite that has trees or similar supports for their use. Also, consider a one person Bivi instead of a full tent. Next, an ultralight sleeping bag (i use Zpack 20 but Katabatic Palisade is also very good) has the same attributes as the hammock in weight and comfort (your pad provides the needed insulation). finally, a solar charger (I use GoalZero Nomad 7) solves the iPhone and electrical charge issues at least to some degree. I keep my cell phone connected to it while I am not using it and it generally keeps the minimal apps i use when riding from running it down.
Keep on triking!
Thank you very much for the suggestions. I thought about a hammock, but I’m too much of a chicken to not sleep in a tent. I will check out the GoalZero Nomad 7. If you think of anything else that might help me, please do not hesitate to put in your ideas.
Very nice David! I commend you for your first effort!! I look forward to watching more!
Indeed, Joni – thank you. Yes, please return to check out my progress; if you think of anything that would help let me know.