This spring was very windy here in western Kansas! It was difficult to find a morning to ride with low wind! We watched the weather forecast and went for it one fine cool morning! Our route is mostly flat road with one hill to go down and climb back up. We see beautiful green wheat fields, cow/calf herds and sage brush pasture. I tried to capture the sunrise, which are fantastic in Kansas, but the picture doesn’t do it justice! The bike I am riding now is a Zenetik. I have the American Classic wheels, and also the carbon fiber fork installed. You will see I am using a different saddle than the standard RANS CF1/CF2 seat. We are happy to show you the Cloud Nine Comfort Cruiser seat that has been made custom to fit with the RANS seat mounting brackets. This seat is proving to be a comfortable seat that can be used on all models of the crank forward bikes. The Cloud Nine seat has multi-stage foam, a contoured bucket design, and measures 11.25″ long x 11″ wide. The issue we are having is the availability of it. Due to Covid, the bike supplier warehouses are empty of inventory! We may not see them until September but I believe they will be back in stock. Watch for it on our website.
I feel like spring is just around the corner! I certainly hope so and I also hope with the warm weather coming, this pandemic will fizzle out!
A bright spot in our lives is the ownership of a Penny Farthing! This is something that has always been intriguing to me-they look so cool! According to my research, the Penny Farthing was invented in 1871. The bicycle was popular in the 1880’s. The one we purchased has a 54” wheel. Jerrell and our son Dylan had never ridden a Penny Farthing before but are avid unicycle riders. They both stepped up on the bike and took off-never crashing once! The bike was named after the penny and farthing coins of the time. It soon became obsolete due to the coming of two wheeled bikes with chain driven gear trains and comfort through pneumatic tires and was marketed in comparison to penny-farthing as “safety bicycles”, which reduced the danger of falling.
It has been a dream of mine to ride the Katy Trail in Missouri! This dream is now a reality! Interest was shown from some of my friends who own, and ride RANS crank forward bikes. The plans started taking shape, and, Viola, the date was set, and we started getting the bikes ready! Two of the girls rode Fusions. One rode a Street and I was on a Citi. All the bikes had 2” wide tires on them except the one, which had 1 ½” tires. They did well for the leaf covered trail as well as the soft spots on the trail, due to the moisture on it. The 10 speeds on a Citi was a non-issue due to the relatively flat railroad bed. Now, when It came time to ride in Hermann and Augusta, I needed granny low! There are some serious hills in those towns!
To haul our gear, rear racks were installed on the bikes. Various brands of panniers were used. I used the Arkel brand and loved them! I didn’t even notice the extra weight too much! I also had a topper bag on the rack. It was ample storage for the miles we traveled and the snacks we hauled, not to mention the Coke!
The Katy trail runs from Clinton to Machens and is 240 miles long. A cold spell passed through the area on the week we were there. One morning our ride started out in temperatures of 32*! This is when our gloves, earmuffs and shawls came in handy! If our legs were pedaling, we stayed warm. We did see temperatures in the 50’s to 60’s with the sun shining. That was a welcome sight! The girls and I rode parts of the trail from Rocheport to Augusta. Our total miles we traveled was 173, with most of them on the beautiful trail with leaves below us and a canopy of leaves above us! The colors gave us spectacular views of reds, yellows, and oranges! The river was also a highlight to see in amongst the trees! We enjoyed all the quaint bridges that we rode over. Our biggest riding day ended with 50 miles and the least traveled was 37 miles. For lodging we stayed in bed and breakfast or Air B&B’s. The experience was wonderful! The RANS crank forward bike is a must for riding in comfort and style! The next better would be on a RANS recumbent!
September 1, 2019
This tour will not be my first rodeo in this arena. Having done several short (300 to 400 mile) and one long (2400 mile) tours, I have a good idea what will work for me on the road. As such, my bike is custom from the ground up. Being 67 years old, my git-up-and-go has got-up and went and I am hoping this trip with provide me a reminder. As such, e-assist was very appealing to me and is now integrated into my ride. It is a Bafang 750 watt motor, with a true mid drive set up.
This will be a credit card tour, as I have camped out on most of my other tours. Distances traveled will reflect motel location more than any interest in pedaling long distances. I really do like a shower after spending several hours on the road. Not having to set up or pack camping gear is a decided plus.
If you would like to follow Paul’s tour, below is a link to his journal.
This summer’s vacation took us, the Nichols family, to a campground north of Gunnison, CO. One of the planned daily activities was to ride the scenic Taylor River Road. This was a 17-mile ride (one way), from our campsite to the Taylor Reservoir. Jerrell and Dylan started out at 8,400’ elevation on the RANS Phoenix. There were challenging/fun (depending on the direction) 8-10% grades along the route topping out at 9,500’. Following are some observations from the riders as written by Jerrell.
Due to the steepness of grades and the high altitude/low oxygen environment, stable, low speed handling was needed from time to time. The Phoenix excels at this! Dylan’s comment on the ride up was, “It was a blast!” Dylan could out climb me on the ascents, he’s 100lbs lighter (that’s my excuse anyway)!
The descents were a different story as he soon became a spec in my rear view mirror, gravity works! No exact speed was recorded on the downhill sections but the closest guess would be around 60 MPH based off a comparative experience. The questions from an anxious mother to her son were, “did the bike seem unstable at high speeds?! Did you feel like you might crash?!” Dylan’s comment was, “Oh no, not at all!” I can second Dylan’s comment regarding the high-speed performance. This bike really delivered when it came to inspiring confidence in its stability and ease of control throughout the entire range of speed and terrain this ride had to offer.
The scenery was spectacular. The temperature was just right. The traffic volume was low, and the drivers were courteous. This is definitely a ride I want to take again!
I found the words, “You can’t be sad when riding a bike!” I would like to take the privilege to add, Especially a RANS bike! The Alterra 700X ST has been the bike of choice for the spring of this year. Shown below is the beautiful colors of the powder coat paint the customers chose. The pink Alterra is called “Pretty Pink.” The name says it all! This color was chosen by a 12 year old girl. If you will notice, the Pretty Pink bike is set up with the SRAM Eagle 1 x 12 drive train. This gives the bike a clean look with no front derailleur. With the 11-50 cassette in the rear, you have ample gear range. Another added benefit on this bike is the Dynamo hub.This feature enables the front and rear lights to be wired in. Now, how sweet is that! The lights are always on when riding and you never have to charge them! This is the way to go!! RANS is now using the Urban handlebar on the Alterra. The Urban bar may also be used on any bike with the correct riser.
Over the holidays we had a special visitor: Robert Holler, from Rose City Recumbent Cycles in Portland, OR. You never know when a snow storm might sweep through Kansas in the winter months! Robert found this out as well as Jonathan and Alanna from Rose City! Jonathan and Alanna did not make it due to the weather, but Robert weathered the storm in Denver, CO and was able to arrive in Montezuma a day later than planned. When it was time to leave for home, a mechanical issue on the airplane that was supposed to take him to Denver delayed his departure. Between that and the total lack of any available seats for returning on January 1, he stayed an extra 36 hours here! While Robert was here at RANS, we visited of course about bikes, experiences about bike rides and much more! Jerrell and Dylan showed him around the factory. He was able to see first hand how we build bikes – in particular the Phoenix. He had seen quite a few images and several short video clips regarding the Phoenix build, but seeing it in person provided a whole ‘nuther perspective.
One exciting event that happened January 1. The RANS Phoenix was voted Recumbent of the Year 2018 on Bentrideronline! Thank-you to everyone who submitted a vote towards the Phoenix! This two wheeled recumbent is a super smooth riding bike! It handles very well for it’s long wheel base length. A couple of the reasons why it handles so well are the seat-height-to-crank ratio and the new front fork geometry. The seat to crank position allows for more efficient transfer of power to the ground and the fork geometry provides for greater maneuverability and control as well as exceptional ease with straight-line riding, even in a Kansas cross-wind. The Energy bars coupled with the Krieg handlebar provides more solid steering and control. The rider can dial in the handlebar set-up so as to clear the knees and receive the correct arm reach adjustments. The handlebars are not an issue for visibility. They remain well below the line of vision.
When ole man winter opens the door here in Kansas, I have to find a different place to exercise than the great outdoors. My friends and I set up our bicycle trainers at RANS in the assembly room. This is not as nice as riding bike outdoors, but is much better than not exercising at all, especially after the holiday treats I tend to inhale!! The trainers that are being used are made by Cycle Ops. They work well for us! Once the winter is over, we can pick them up and store them until next winter! The bikes being used are the crank forward Cruz, Dynamik, and a Fusion.
I want to share with you today about the RANS field trip Jerrell and I were privileged to take last week! The first stop was with the RANS dealers, Angle Tech, in Colorado Springs, CO. Angle Tech is skilled in adapting bikes/trikes for special-needs customers. Angle Tech’s crew, Kelvin, Kirk, and Josiah, together with Jerrell and I, traveled north and toured different points of interest in Denver. Our first stop that pertained to special needs was Aspen Seating Clinic. This clinic specializes in comfortable seating solutions for world class wheelchair athletes, down to the most discerning of wheelchair users. Here we were shown how the entire process happens. Each seat is custom fitted to each individuals. The customer sits on a bag of foam “beans” and once the customer has properly settled in, a vacuum is pulled on the bag, which locks the “beans” in place. The seat surface is then scanned, from which scan a 3 D image is made. This 3 D image I then sent to a CNC machine, and the seat is cut out of a block of foam. The foam then is used as the mold to create the plastic seat base, after which, a seat cushion is fabricated on the CNC using the same 3 D “pattern”. When completed, fabric is sewn around it that fits to precision! This is an amazing process!
After our visit to the Aspen Seating Clinic, we visited the world renowned Craig Hospital which specializes in neuro-rehabilitation and research of patients with spinal cord injury and brain injury. It was interesting to tag along with the Angle Tech crew and see a different world that is out there! We cannot deny the fact that these injuries do happen and that there is help as much as can be for each situation.
To finish out our busy day, we were able to stop in at the DaVinci frame shop, and made one final stop to visit John Morciglio, the carbon frame builders shop. It was very nice to see the good ole Bridgeport milling machine and the years old lathe that Todd used at DaVinci. Ideas were swapped and shared at both frame builders shops!
The next day found us flying the friendly skies to Portland, OR to visit Rose City Recumbent Cycles another RANS dealer. Jonathan and Robert received us graciously into their shop! Rose City is a highly rated bicycle shop and a must-see, if you are in the area or otherwise. Much discussion and idea swapping about the wonderful machines called bicycles was going on back and forth!
We visited Terra Cycle while in Portland as well. This shop manufactures idler wheels for recumbents, glide flex stems, mounting hardware, fairings, and much more! It was fascinating to watch the CNC milling machines turn out all the precision cut parts! The “arm” would choose the holder with the correct tool, install it into the spindle and BUZZ, the tool would cut material away from the aluminum piece and bingo, the “arm” would select the next tool holder with the correct bit. All this is done by computer programing. We also were privileged to watch the fairing blowing process. It is a critical process of heating the Lexan to the correct temperature for the proper length of time. Truly amazing! Out of a flat piece of material which was placed on a jig, arises a bubble called a fairing! Terra Cycle has a great crew of workers! We enjoyed our time there!
On our last day in Portland, Angle Tech and RANS toured a frame builder’s shop called, Breadwinner and then Chris Igleheart’s. All of these shops are in the business of building bikes! Chris is known for his fork building expertise. Very nice to visit with an old timer who knows the tricks of the trade! I found a milling machine in his shop that had the Nichols name on it! Just like our last name is spelled!
Portland is a beautiful city with lots of trees and lots of bikers! I loved to see the people out on bicycles! It didn’t look like it mattered what kind of weather it was outside. I still saw people biking! The leaves on the trees were yellow, red and orange. A lot had fallen to the street and were piled high in the gutters. We are glad to have had the chance to go and visit Portland!
Like Kelvin Clark says, we have come back home with our brains fatter!
The trip highlights center around the encounters with the many people met along the way. Seattle, the mountains, the plains, the lakes, the East. Each with it’s own culture. Culture must surely be that which has evolved over time and that which works for the area. To experience and feel these differences adds to the adventure.
The bike used was a RANS Phoenix. A former tour was on a RANS Stratus. The handling characteristics of the Phoenix showed a marked improvement over the Stratus although the Stratus was easy to ride. Incidents involving the bike were limited to two flat tires, one broken spoke and a failing free hub.
The experience was a positive one and is certainly recommended for any who care to undertake such. The challenges are less physical and more mental/emotional than one might expect. Adjustments can be made along the way to minimize those challenges.
James and his RANS Phoenix have successfully made the trip across the United States! He has the bike packed up and ready to ship. Tomorrow, September 25, he flies home!