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29 Nov 2010

National Automobile Museum, The Hague

I had a 'cheap whole day train travel card'. The real cheapskate tries to use such a card as good as possible, as in, for a long ride. And naturally, that's what I did. I use my card for a train ride to The Hague. The Louwman Museum was on my to-do-list since September. The museum has a collection of 230 cars. Some ordinary road cars, some unique and worth millions.

Does this story involve a 'bent? Sure it does. I used my R604B to ride to several locations in the city. There's plenty of cycle path, but the quality is not what I'm used to. (tiles and bumps, but properly segregated)  More infrastructure related information: even a car museum has a cycle parking, and it's being used too.

Well then, back to the cars. The museum is brand new and, to be honest, could use some more decorating. The collection however, is very impressive. From an original 230 year old coach to several Bugatti's. They have to worlds oldest Toyota and 80 year old cars which have never been restored. I walked around for a little more than three hours and there was always something to amaze me. Browse through my Picasa gallery to see the cars that drew my attention the most.

After the museum I rode back to the nearby forest to eat some sandwiches I carried with me. I found a nice spot near a royal palace. From there on my legs pedalled me to the coast. It was there that, for the first time ever, I road a bike on a real beach. I did have to drag my bike to the coast line, to there where the sand is flat and compressed.

Next stop was our country's centre of democracy. I ate a delicious almond donut from a small stand behind the Ridderzaal. By now it was already 4 o'clock. There was more to today. Our national railway company brought me to Schiphol Airport. Wandering around there is as close as I can get to going on a far vacation for a while. I discovered a, for me new here, concept of 'fast food', Toko Togo. Actually, it isn't fast food. It's fast, but good food too. They sell Asian food, rice and alike. So if you happen to be hungry on Schiphol, there more to choose from than Burger King and other fries selling companies. Toko Togo is something I'd recommend. My rice with broccoli and other veggies was yummy!

Back home at half past eight or so with 25km on the cycle computer.

23 Nov 2010

Visiting record attempts

Sunday's first 74 kilometre followed a route I know well. After that, I started following a track I made on the website of the 'Fietserbond'. An easy to follow route that led me to roads and paths I'd never seen before. It has some variation is height too, something I don't have in my own region. Nothing steep, high or spectacular, but enough to use a wider range of gears than usual. And, I was overtaken by an Aston Martin Vanquish :-).

These scenic roads brought me to Koudhoorn. A small collection of houses in the woods of 'de Veluwe'.  It was there that I had my first rest after 123km. I enjoyed the silence there and ate a banana. I checked the garage of friends that live there, to come to the conclusion that they'd decided to go for a ride. That was easy to understand, the sun was shining and there was little wind. It did mean that I continued my ride without having had a cup of tea. No problemo, the idea to ride past Koudhoorn came in an impulse.

My GPS guided me to Apeldoorn. There, in the Omnisport velodrome, todays main topic was about to start. I was early and it took a while for fellow recumbent riders to arrive. Some of them would do an attempt to break or set a world record. I'd be there to watch it all happen. I talked a bit with various persons and saw things happening on the track. A chain snapped, attempts failed, high speeds where reached and 1 record was broken.

David set a new world record on the 1000 metre. He did it on his own bike, his M5 CLR. The machine I always see him racing on. The bike with which he got lost in the Nijveen time trial. He fell with it on the Trias track. In Zwolle, he had to quite because of a puncture.  And that's why I like what David did. He set a record on his own trusty ol' CLR. I've seen people try to set a record on a bike they've hardly ever ridden before. Let me just say that I don't think that doing so is a good idea...

What was a good idea, was to leave on time. I was tired and had a minor headache. That did mean that I missed Aurelien's 1 hour. It also meant that the headache went away and because of that, the ride home was good. By the time I left Omnisport it was a quarter to eight. It was dark and I had a 110km or so to go. This is the sort of situation that I really appreciate my IQ-Speed headlight. I also was really glad I was wearing long pants know. The day had started in shorts, and even that was warm at some moments. Now the wind was cold and the temperature low. But, as soon as I left Apeldoorn, the engine started running smooth again. The behaviour of tyres and suspension changes when the temperature drops. And on a day like this, the difference was clear. The ride was rougher.

It was just after midnight when I parked the Mango behind the front door. I grabbed a washcloth and quickly changed in to pyjamas. The vegi macaroni that my mom had kept in the fridge was delicious after 266km, 9:50 hours of riding.

16 Nov 2010

5 Dynamo lights

Not long ago I wrote about the pros and cons of hub and bottle dynamos. It ended with the fact that I'd bought a Nordlicht bottle dynamo from Dutch bike bits. It works fine and my lights give plenty of light. Indeed, you also need a proper head light to ride in the dark. Riding on quiet, scenic, rural roads is a thing I like doing. But like I just said, I need lots of lumen to do so.

Lights that are powerful enough for this sort of riding can be pricey. For my Mango velomobile, that doesn't matter. The IQ-speed I have with that is absolutely worth the money. But for my humble Cruiser, there's less money available. For such a case, a home build light often is a solution. And that's what I did. I combined two 3 watt Leds with a narrow lens and some other parts to make a cheap light. Where the IQ has a beautifully and well engineered reflector to give a efficient beam, these ones use more low tech, much cheaper, solutions. 

They're not near as good as the B&M lights. Those give enough light to ride 40kph in pitch darkness, with a velomobile. During my evening rides with the Cruiser my speed isn't much higher than 30kph. At that speed, my home build does the job very well. Because of your point of view, you need more light on a velomobile than on a 'normal' bike.

Now I like building lights and I also like to do some business. So, after hours of thinking, I found a way to make affordable lights in a for me profitable way. The headlight produces about 160 lumen and and weights very little. They're small enough to be shipped in an envelope. (again, that keeps the price low) I've made 5 and you can have one of them for €17,50. That includes European shipping.

You might notice that there is quite some glue on them. That's a way to ensure a strong and reliable headlight. You can hook 'em up to a dynamo and bolt or zip-tie them to your fork crown/handle bar/light mount. You can tell me if you want more that 30 centimetre of wire. Send me a photo of your mount and I'll make something that makes it fit.

14 Nov 2010

Mango maintenance

I get asked quite often what I do when it comes to servicing my Mango. The short answer is: not much. More precise, a tiny bit on a regular basis. I give the primary chain a few drops of oil every 500km. The secondary chain gets some when it doesn't look oily enough. Lubing it is easy. I put the rear end of the Mango on a small support stand, spin the rear wheel backwards, and than I oil the chain. The chain is easily reached when you tilt the seat forwards. Thin racing oil, Morgan Blue in this case, works fine. The whole procedure is a two minute job. I never clean the chain and expect it to last 40,000 kilometre.

Every thousands km or so the front suspensions struts get a few drops of oil. There's a hole in the top of them that makes this an easy thing to do. For this I have a thicker sort of oil. I check the tyre pressure every two weeks, or when I feel like doing that. Depending on the weather, cleaning has to be done as well. Once every few months I wax ('soft' metallic wax, that doesn't scrub!) to body to make it water repellent, just like you'd do with your sports car. Water, car soap and a sponge for the spots that have gotten really dirty. Like I said before, the drive train does not need cleaning. Clean and shiny is what I prefer.

Once a year I lube the pivoting points of the drum brakes.  Before winter really begins, the exposed aluminum parts, wheels and front suspension, get a layer of spray on Vaseline. Sometimes, I listen if  hear something I shouldn't hear. That could indicate that a bolt or nut needs tightening.

How long tyres last is hard to predict. It depends on which tyre you use, your weight, the road surface and your riding style. I corner hards, use racy tyres, but the whole combination of rider and VM weights just over 90kg.

more photo here
videos here
more about Jenease on this blog

7 Nov 2010

Not always a velonaut

Last Thursday I went to a reunion in Haren, 23km from Assen. For the last time I went back to the university building where I'd spent half a year as a trainee. I liked it there. The Biological Centre is about to move to a brand new building in Groningen. Finding a job there would be close to perfect. Anyway, I went back to meet some people I worked with in the first half of 2009.

Now autumn had arrived at his best that day, but the rain was expected to stay away when I would be on the road. The wind was strong and here and there the paths where colourfully paved with leaves. Doing this in my velomobile would be like a walk in the park on a summer day. But, I'd just spent some time improving my Pioneer and was really looking forward to ride it, in the dark. So, I rode like nearly every cyclist does, on two wheels. Yes indeed, this velonaut was ready for adventure, sort of.

Actually, it was easy, of course it was. My Lobbes has a seriously strong head light and his fenders/mud guards do a good job of making every ride, a clean ride. His Nexus 8 rear hub was just replaced with a, very efficient, "78 AW3 from Sturmey Archer. The entire set up gives more than three gears. More about that when I receive the final chain blade.

The ride was fun. My intuition tells me that the gear hub swap made the Pioneer at least 7% faster. Gently, smooth, elegant, lonely, scenic and fast. Words that describe that evening ride. Long stretches of cycle path and an engine running nicely. The ride back home was done with quite a lower average speed. The 5bft wind was enough to lean in to sideways at some points. My legs just kept going and the headlight did an excellent job at making me feel and ride safe.

I'm planning on doing more of these night rides with the Pioneer. I plan on doing a similar thing with my Mango Jenease. Yes, I have plenty to do and like the night.

At the reunion, two thing where a bit disappointing. I only met one former colleague and the project I worked one was stopped. There was good food and it was nice to hear how things had been going after I'd finished my trainee ship.

This morning, I again went out on two wheels. This time on my Nazca Cruiser Yoska. She also received a few upgrades last week. The ride was no longer than 30km but enough to release positive chemicals in my head.

1 Nov 2010

Nordlicht bottle dynamo

My Cruiser is my 'back to basic' bike. Simple and elegant, fast and fun. Eight gears is enough and ordinary components will do fine. No mudguards, no rack, no profile on the tyres. Just to ride, a ride. Worry free, no high goals. However, for a ride in the dark, or in twilight, there was a problem. I depended on batteries for my head light. And batteries need attention. I wanted something that's always there when I need it.

'Go get a hub dynamo' is what some might say. For a special utility 'bent like my Pioneer, that is a good idea (just like mudguards and a protected chain). Lot's of light, always there, for a ride from dusk till dawn. The hub is also there when I don't need it. And also, a hub generator is exactly cheap. At least €70,- or so and close to €200 when you want a shiny, slightly more efficient, SON.

So the solution for your 'go fast' and/or 'basic' 'bent, is a bottle dynamo. No drag when not in use and always there when you need it. Low in weight and elegant. It's the same story for a town bike. People used to complain about slipping dynamos, but honestly, mine never slipped. Well, maybe when it was snowing. But than it was way difficult to ride on two wheels anyway. So reliability is not an issue.

Mounting them the right way is important. People often don't do that. The axle of the dynamo wheel should, if you imagine it longer, cross the axle of the bike wheel.

The Cruiser, her name is Yoska, now has a bottle dynamo. It's a shiny one, nicely made too. It feels well made when I spin it with my fingers. (Pjotr320 likes it already.) This is not just a bottle dynamo, it's a Nordlicht. I mounted it this afternoon and did a test ride after dinner. I feel a tiny bit of drag and I can hear it humming. But it does what it should do. There's another nice feature, it runs on the rim instead of on the tyre. The side of a  Kojak is to fragile to run a dynamo on.

Concluding I can say: 'I recommend this product'. Now, if you feel like buying such a shiny little pedal powered energy device, go visit That's where I got mine too. They also sell lots of other sensible bike related products.