Sunday, January 21, 2007

First Trip with Bike Friday

Tomorrow I head to San Diego with my new Bike Friday tri bike. Last time I was there in October, I brought everything I needed to go running and do some open water swimming but I missed out on some great cycling. This time will be different!

To fit into a suitcase, my Bike Friday both folds and comes apart. The things that come off are the pedals, seat post, ti boom, stem, handle bars (which split in two but remain connected to the bike, so they're in the picture below) and the wheels. All that is needed to remove these things are an allen wrench and a pedal wrench, which were provided with the bike. Very easy, easier than fixing a flat tire.

The frame is what folds. To do that, I just use my fingers to remove a wing nut on the frame by the chain rings (see green arrow) and fold under the chain stays. Voilà!

A DVD that came with the bike shows how to put everything in the suitcase (as well as how to unpack the bike). Since I did not order accessories for touring (racks or a trailer to pull the suitcase), I have extra room in my suitcase where I can put my bike shoes, Profile Design aero bottle, energy bars and other small things. The only thing that won't fit is my bike helmet but I am bringing another roll-on anyway so no biggie.

With more practice, I should be able to pack and unpack my bike in about 10-15 minutes. It took about double that this first time, excluding the time I spent watching the video.

The Bike Friday is now ready to go!!!

Next time, I will discuss other travel bike options I considered (Ritchey Breakaway, Airnimal and the S and S Coupling system) and why I went with a Bike Friday despite its higher price tag.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Possible Serial Rapist

Warning to all females who run, jog, walk in the UCF Orlando area (my area) ... there has been another attack on a female jogger early in the morning.

This one occured just down the street from where I live (first suspect sketch). There was another similar incident back in October about a mile away (second suspect sketch), and possibly others.

News coverage about this latest incident can be found at WFTV and WESH. Though the sketches don't look too similar, the general descriptions are: hispanic male, 5'9"-5'10", 180-210#, wearing grey hooded sweatshirt, long dark pants.

I know it's hard to believe such things could happen in such a nice area but it really could happen anywhere, anytime (even in broad daylight) and to anyone.

So please, please be careful.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

And the Answer Is ...

A folding bike!

Yes, MarathonChris44 and 2 others who emailed me directly were right.

But this is no ordinary folding bike ... in fact, there is no other one like it. The folks at Bike Friday built it especially for me.

What I wanted was a tri bike that I could take with me on travel easily (i.e., one that fit in a regular suitcase and didn't incur extra airline handling fees), that didn't require much mechanical skills or time to put together and take apart, and that rode like my usual tri bike but could climb nearly any hill (where I live is flat but not necessarily where I go on travel). In order to fit me, the new bike had to be small -- my QR Caliente is a 48cm size frame. And I wanted the exact same handlebars/aerobars, brakes and bar end shifters, just in case I ever wanted to race with it too.

They said, "No problem. What components do you want on it?" I then handed the phone to my husband. I did select the red and black paint scheme, though.

The end result was a modified petite Air Friday Ultegra with three chain rings.

The two very different things about this bike are the smaller wheels (451 vs 650) and the unsupported seat post. The smaller wheels allow the bike to fit easily in a standard suitcase. Performance-wise, they supposedly accelerate faster and handle better on a technical course but have higher rolling resistance than larger wheels (so perhaps not quite as fast on a flat course but not bad at all during today's 53 mile test ride, really). The titanium seat boom is a definite plus. It acts like a shock absorber going over bumps resulting in a much softer ride -- hallelujah!!!

But best of all ... no more 1-2 week long lapses in my training several times a year, no more back pain from renting the wrong size or type bike, and no more missed opportunities to cycle in some great areas while on travel.

I am one very happy triathlete!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What Could It Be???

WOOHOO! My belated Christmas present finally arrived yesterday. It is in the suitcase pictured.

Any guesses?

Here are some hints:

1. The suitcase is not big enough to hold a 700 (or 650) bike wheel.

2. The suitcase and what's in it together weigh about 35-40 lbs.

3. The suitcase is pretty much filled.

4. It is designed for people who travel a lot.

5. It will help a triathlete.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

OMG, I Goofed!

Being relatively new to blogging and this blogger tool, I did not realize I had turned on Comment Moderation at some point. This prevented a number of previous comments from automatically appearing when posted. Only when I transitioned to using the new Google blogger today did I see that I had some 38 comments waiting to be reviewed!

I've just turned off this feature and allowed everyone's comments to be publicly viewed. Please forgive me for this oversight. I most certainly welcome comments and will read all those that I just found out about.

Monday, January 08, 2007

BIG news for 2007

Whew, I'm back from Hawaii and done with the holidays. But boy, have I got some BIG news!

Nope, not pregnant.

Big as in just bought a condo for retirement in Kona!!!

Let me tell you how this all came about.

First of all, you know a place is really special when every time you return you can only think of going back, even if means parking your butt on a plane for 13-14 hours.

You know you can handle the stress of making a big commitment and traveling a lot after having signed up to do an ironman and set out on a goal to run marathons in all 50 states.

You know you can make ends meet if you've been managing to do it year after year to keep your race habit alive. And now, no kids are left on your payroll.

So why not retire to the Big Island?

Since my first visit in the early 90’s, that rock in the Pacific has felt like home to me, much more so than where I actually grew up (S.F. Bay Area) and where I've lived the past 10 years (Orlando). I love the turquoise waters, ocean sunsets, black lava beds and warm tropical weather. But more importantly, I feel really comfortable in the laid-back, small town of Kailua Kona … blending in among the many Asian-Pacific Islanders and being mistaken for a local rather than a foreigner, seeing familiar Oriental foods in supermarkets, and even adhering to the custom of removing one’s shoes before entering a home.

During my recent visit to the island, the list just got much longer.

This time, as a triathlete, I noticed several excellent places to do some open water swimming, miles of dedicated bike lanes as wide as car lanes, challenging hills and wind conditions. I fit right in with all the other nut-cases -- I mean, athletic types -- swimming, biking and running around. If I need extra motivation to train hard, there are special Kona Ironman slots at the Honu Half Ironman, which are only available to Big Island residents who have lived there for 3+ years.

Besides having all the things I'm looking for in a place to retire, the Big Island is also one of the few places in the U.S. that is far enough away from everything so that workaholics like my hubby would have a chance to relax, put down the dam Blackberry and smell the plumeria. He's one of those guys who has a hard time saying 'no' at work and ends up having to do and travel a LOT more than he should, it seems.

But what about earthquakes, hurricanes, floods?

Well, I've spent most of my life living in earthquake country (CA) so occasional ground shaking doesn't bother me much. I would gladly trade a 6 month Florida hurricane season for a rare Hawaii hurricane. And since oceanfront property in Hawaii is outside our budget, the biggest threat of flooding would come from a backed up toilet. (For the record, only cold and snow would cause me to rethink living in Hawaii.)

So next month I head back over to Kona to close on the new condo. Though we won't be retiring and moving there full-time for several years, we'll have a place to call home during future visits. I promise to take more pictures and post them on my blog. Just got a cool broadband card so I can bring my laptop and stay better connected while on travel, which looks to be a lot in 2007.

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou (which means "Happy New Year" in Hawaiian)