Sunday, September 2, 2012

Several Nice Rides

I've done a bit of both riding and upgrades since my last blog entry; I'll talk about the upgrades in another entry here. In the last two weeks, I've been on nine rides (counting commuting to and from work as a single ride) and my total on my Sofrider is now just over 1,500 miles (since the middle of February).

First, my friend Andrew and I went on a very nice 25 mile ride to just inside New York state and back.  This was Andrew's first big ride he and his wife Amy had their baby 3 months ago (and since his rear wheel was being rebuilt, he rode it on my comfort bike instead of his bicycle).  We averaged over 12 mph with 1200 feet of elevation gain.  Given that it was his first long ride since the Bloomin' Metric Century in May and it wasn't on a bike he had ever ridden before (and given that he had thought he'd want to ride "five to ten miles"), it was huge success.

I had several very nice commuting to work rides.  This ride, for example,  had a nice 9.7 mile loop in the morning with an 7.7 mile loop home with an average speed of both laps of just under 14 mph.  On another ride in to work, I saw a family of deer crossing the road.  Most of them ran off before I got out my phone, but you can almost make out of two of them.

Two of the family of deer I spotted.  The others got away before I got out my camera.

Apparently summer is coming to an end because I'm getting on the rode while the sun is still waking up.  Here is a nice shot of the sun rise over the Long Island Sound.

A nice sunrise. It isn't actually as dark as it looks; the light from the sun triggered the auto-light level in the camera.

On my ride to work this Wednesday, as I was finished climbing a small hill and about to turn onto a nice stretch of downhill, I caught a glimpse of something blue.  In my mirror, I saw a fully spandexed road bicycle rider in my mirror, complete with his Team Garmin jersey.  Since I had a slight downhill (about 1% grade), I decided to go for it and try and hold him off.  I was huffing and puffing (unfortunately, I let the Garmin batteries die so I don't know how fast I was going) and making pretty good time. But I saw him gaining in my mirror.  After about half a mile, he passed me and said: "Impressive!  Very impressive!"  to which I replied (with a big smile on my face): "I tried!"  For the next mile, he lead, but he didn't drop me.  I was within 10 meters or so until I turned off to head to work.

August was a busy month for us.  My parents came to visit us in the beginning of the month.  Kate and the monkeys went up to her parents house in Vermont.  When they got back, my sister Debbie, her husband Alex, and her two sons came to visit last week.  And during all of this, my big monkey just started kindergarten!

My bigger nephew wanted to try Julia's trail-a-bike.  He just turned four and he is just a little bit shorter than my big monkey.  So when she was at kindergarten, Alex and I went for a ride.  Alex rode Kate's bike pulling my little monkey, and I rode my Sofrider pulling my nephew (since it's harder balance with a trail-a-bike since I have experience pulling one).

Although my Alex is originally from Maine, he and my sister now live in Illinois, where it is flat.  I did try to point out that here in Connecticut we have hills ("I'm from Maine, I know hills.").  So off we went. The ride turned out to be a little tougher than either of us expected.  We did a total of 8 miles. Alex might have grown up riding in hills, but this was his first time pulling a trailer up them.  And he's grateful that he was pulling up my little monkey who is significantly lighter than his big monkey.

In my case, I've been riding pulling my big monkey on trail-a-bikes since she was three years old (first using a gator bar pulling her 12" bicycle with my folding bike and now her Trek trail-a-bike), so she understands how to balance very well.  My nephew had never ridden one before, so he wasn't nearly as experienced as how to balance.  And he's a lot heavier than his cousin.  Being on my Sofrider, my center of mass is a lot lower than it would be on my comfort bike, and so it was sometimes quite a bit of effort to keep everything balanced.

At first, he wasn't pedaling at all and even without that complication, I was spending a lot of energy making sure we were well balanced..  When he first started to pedal, I was surprised by how much effort it took on my part to keep us balanced (my arms were sore a couple days later, so it was quite a workout for me).  By the end of the ride, however, we were going up one last hill where not only did he pedal, his pedaling helped.  And most importantly, he had a blast.

Yesterday, while my big monkey was at her cello lesson, Andrew came by and he and I went out for a ride (he rode on my comfort bike, and I was riding my Sofrider pulling my little monkey in the trailer).  We rode a total of 11.5 miles, including the biggest hills up which I've ever tried to pull a trailer.  After reaching the peak of the last hill (almost 90 feet in 0.3 miles or an average grade of 6%), I was ready for a rest.

The little monkey and me taking a quick breather before continuing on our ride.  That little monkey really likes his cantaloupe. 

The ride home was quite a bit easier since we had a net drop of about 200 feet.  We averaged just over 10 mph, of which I was really quite proud considering everything.

All in all, I rode just over 125 miles and really had a blast!  As I mentioned, I've now put on just over fifteen hundred miles on this bicycle.  I'm very happy with the Sofrider and would highly recommend it to people who think they might be interested.  In a couple years (read: when I might be able to afford it), I can easily see upgrading to one of the higher end Cruzbikes like the Vendetta or Silvio.


  1. so I have been looking at this cruzbike for a while and found your blog here. thanks for taking the time to post. one thing that strikes me is that you have in only 6 months done quite a bit of work on upgrading and repairing/replacing things. would you recommend starting with a higher end bike or are you still pleased with this particular purchase. I am still pondering the cruzbike fwd design itself and then also which one. I have a nice mtb at home that has better components than the sofrider. your advice is appreciated.

    1. Hi Phil,

      I thought about this a lot before starting. If I had to do it again, I would do what I did: Start with the Sofrider. I bought it with every intention of upgrading the double to a triple. It wasn't until after I had several hundred miles and experience climbing hills that I realized I wanted to go quite low as far as the granny gear goes.

      Depending on your mountain bike, you could consider using a Cruzbike conversion kit. This is cheaper overall and you get to use the components you already have.

      I can see myself eventually upgrading to one of the high end Cruzbikes, but that won't be anytime soon and I'll probably go big (e.g., the top of the line Vendetta or whatever it is in a few years). I might do something in the future like convert a folding bike so I can have something with wich I can more easily travel.

      If you have the money, the Silvio and the Vendetta seem to be fantastic bikes (I haven't seen either one in person). For most people, I think starting out with the Sofrider makes sense.

      Good luck!

    2. (Apparently I can't edit my comments - oh well)

      p.s. I think the 22" (459) Quest would be a good choice for a lot of people as well. I think the 26" Quest (same size tires as I have on my is geared too high for somebody of my climbing ability around where I live (although it would be fun on the downhills!).

      If you are planning on pulling trailers or a trail-a-bike, I'd go with the Sofrider, Quest, or conversion.