Archive for April, 2009

Fund-raising brochure

I was told that bringing some brochure or business cards as giveaway would be a good thing, especially with officials in South America. A brochure hand-out about the project would convey instant credibility if not some air of authority (?) – but in any event always serve as conversation starter 🙂

Preview of Panamerican Peaks brochure

This is a draft of this brochure. (Click on the image to download the pdf format.) The final piece will be in English (front) and Spanish (backside) before this is going to print.

Any feedback is always welcome.

1 comment April 23rd, 2009

Only 2 weeks to go

t – 14 days: With another 180km ride yesterday I achieved 50% of my goal of putting 1000km on the recumbent pre-departure. (Check out a series of videos here.) Things are coming together nicely with the bike now. I’m getting used to the under-seat steering, the super-comfortable seating position and the slow riding uphill. Actually I had wanted to do at least one ride in rainy weather, but there aren’t that many such days in South Florida this time of the year!

Seiran recumbent at Stuart Inlet

Soon this bike will see the waters of the Arctic Ocean and then the Pacific for most of next year!

In between rides I’m browsing other websites’ equipment lists and finalizing my own through various small additions. Soon the packing will begin, working on the impossible job of squeezing everything into two big bags and the bike box…

Also spending time on various logistics, like communication strategy and details. Contacting various magazines to see whether they are interested in this story…

Add comment April 23rd, 2009

Training Ride on Lake Okeechobee

This morning dawned clear and relatively cool (60F) with only moderate wind (9mph N), almost ideal conditions for a long bike ride. And I need to put more training miles on the recumbent to figure out all its kinks before flying off to Canada/Alaska in just 3 weeks…

After dropping off my son Philip at school in Wellington I park my car near the bus station and take the Palm Tran 40 line out to Belle Glade near Lake Okeechobee. This gives me the option of either riding all the way back or hopping on the bus again on the way back.

Parking my car at bus terminal and unloading Seiran

The bus ride takes about 50min, during which I call my parents back in Austria for a quick chat. Then the ride starts in refreshingly cool morning air. I will only ride a short section on the levee due to the headwind up there and also some fortification work which closes sections off. I take a short video clip with my little Olympus Stylus 790 SW digital camera.

On the East side of the lake I arrive at the tall bridge at Port Mayaca at 9:45am. From here you have a good view of the lake, the canal and surrounding sugar cane fields.

Seiran at Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee

Seiran at Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee

After about 2 more hours of riding and enjoying the scenery I reach the town of Okeechobee on the Northern tip of the lake. There I search for wireless Internet access points using my iPhone. I locate one Gourmet Coffee shop and ride there, only to find that this shop doesn’t seem to exist anymore. However there is a McDonald’s with Wifi. I can also use the Super-sized drinks they offer – with free refills 🙂 – and so I treat myself to a BigMac meal and write this Blog post.

There will still be a long ride (3-4 hrs) ahead of me on the way back, but this time with tailwind. Looking forward to that; but now I need to apply some more sunscreen not to get burned this afternoon…

Add comment April 16th, 2009

Game on with SPOT

SPOT Tracking DeviceI decided to bring one more piece of electronic equipment: The SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker. Like other GPS systems it receives location information. Unlike conventional GPS, however, it also sends that information or distress calls to satellites, thus actively broadcasting its location even beyond cell-phone coverage.

You buy the device and then purchase an annual locator / tracking service. This can be used as emergency locator service and hence potentially safe lives. That said, the more regular use-case is to track progress automatically: When in tracking mode, the system will attempt to send out its location every 10 minutes and the backend service will update a map with received signals. In the meantime family and friends can follow along in a web browser.

More details can be found on the SPOT website at

I tested this on my ride yesterday and it allowed my wife to know where I am several times during the ride. It didn’t work perfectly, the signals aren’t received in exactly the same time intervals, sometimes there are gaps. But it can be expected to give a few dozen points of progress each day on the trip.

Sample screen shot of shared SPOT tracker website

Sample screen shot of shared SPOT tracker website

My current public tracking page for training rides is here. (For information how to customize, see the Help bar on the left side.) I’ll set up a dedicated tracking site for the Panamerican Peaks project prior to leaving on May 7.

Add comment April 14th, 2009

First Recumbent Test Ride

After several weeks of procuring and fine-tuning the new recumbent bike I finally picked it up from the dealership last Friday. A few parts had to be replaced, including the front disc brake, but now the bike is in pretty good shape.

Today I went for my first real test-ride up North along Jupiter Island to Hobe Sound. Here is a little video-clip after my first hour on the recumbent:

As expected, the position is comfortable, but different from what I’m used to; different muscles are used and so it will take some time to fully get used to the supine seating position. Also for first-time recumbent riders like me it takes time to get used to the rather iffy and nervous handling of the bike, especially when riding with only one hand. Also, slow riding and tight turns require much more attention than on a regular bike – I hope I will still get more used to this.

There are still a few things I will need to tune to get an optimal experience:

  • The gear transmission ratio is too low. At 32km/h (20mph) I’m already using the highest gear, and I can’t spin it faster than about 38km/h. I will have to install a larger chain ring in the front (the old one was worn down a bit already and with a new chain it’s a good time to swap it out anyway.
  • The pedals are still not far enough out so I can’t fully stretch my legs yet. I will need to extend the chain a little more to accommodate that.
  • The bike computer’s position on my right handle bar is only temporary. I can hardly read or operate it; besides it is in jeopardy in case the bike falls on it’s right side. It will probably be best mounted on top of the main frame tube between the legs.
  • There will likely be a couple of other things, but I consider this a promising start.

    I’m also testing some other equipment today, as I’m uploading photos and videos as well as writing this Blog post on my Dell Mini 9 Netbook from Hobe Sound, courtesy to the free wireless Internet of its library which I found using the WiFi Finder on my iPhone … (The library is actually closed on Mondays, but the wireless still works 🙂

    Now back on the road for some more training and test miles!

    Add comment April 13th, 2009

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