Beauty, Old Yeller and the Beast

Discussion in 'General Bike Discussion' started by shiboleth, Mar 31, 2010.

  1. shiboleth

    shiboleth New Member

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    I have been a hobbyist making air resistance indoor cycling exercisers for more than a quarter of a century. I now have three such machines in my life. The first is an old reliable that I designed and cut and got a friend to weld together. I will call it "Old Yeller."
    I created it because when I was working at Romic Cycles in Houston and riding with the Houston Bicycle Club and the Third Eye Bicycle Patrol I was getting plenty of miles on the weekends, but with work and all the various pursuits of a single man in the big city I was having trouble putting in enough miles during the week. I was able to afford a Schwinn XR-5 exercycle and this helped some, but it was really very different from riding over the road. And in Houston it was a magnificent sweat generator. I even got a cheap box fan and set it up to blow on me while I pedaled. Eventually I thought of using squirrel cage blowers rigged to run off of the wheel. Turns out this is not only a good way to generate a breeze, but it puts up a surprising amount of resistance. Later I added a three speed hub to create ranges of effort that really simulate the feel of riding.
    Of course none of this does anything for upper body strength and after trying pushups and dumbbells and grip weights and swimming; (great except I couldn't during the winter) I started looking at the Schwinn Airdyne. I saw one on Craigs list for $75 advertised with a broken speedometer. I bought it and tried it out. Turned out to have a problem with the cotter pin on the right offset crank. It just had a little hitch in its get along that caused the crank to jump a centimeter after crossing through top dead center. This was very annoying, and I did not know at first if it could be fixed. It could, and I did; but it cost me. The possibilities had been revealed however, and I was an immediate fan. It helped that the 80 year old Missouri farm girl down the street rides her airdyne regularly and was quite fit in spite of a childhood bout with polio.
    I started cruising Craigs list again. Before too long I found a very cherry AD5 Airdyne and bought it. All it needed was a little dusting. Everything Worked just as it was supposed to. It was clean enough to fit right in to the decor of the living room. It was a beauty. I have even persuaded my wife to ride it once. (so far)
    Remember that first airdyne that I got for 1/10 the new price. I had a built up Nexus 7 speed wheel that I had intended to use in my next generation roadless monocycle. I wondered if that would fit into the frame of an airdyne. I stripped the old airdyne down and tried it and voila! it fit. This brings us up to the present. I do not know whether an airdyne equipped with my style of braking mechanism will yield more of a workout than the original Schwinn design, but I am in a postion to find out.
    This is what I will be reporting on: The building of the beast to a point where I can use it for training, My use of Beauty to stay in shape while I work on the beast, The fate of Old Yeller. Happy roadless monocycling, Bob
     

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  2. shiboleth

    shiboleth New Member

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    Beauty, Old Yeller and the Beast II

    Got eight miles on Beauty this morning. Here is how I break up each mile:
    0-.1 hands only palms down
    .1-.2 hands only palms up
    .2-.4 hands and feet
    .4-.6 feet only (good time to take a drink or use the stereo remote)
    .6-.9 hands and feet gradually increasing effort
    .9-.0 hands and feet but relaxed arms
    Then start all over again. The last four tenths of the final mile I work as a gradually increasing effort until for the last tenth I am working like mad and achieving speeds around 85 RPM.
    I did eight miles like this today and finished gasping (that's a good thing.) My plan is to add a mile to my four or five sessions every week 'til I get to ten mile workouts. Soon after that the Beast should be ready for load trials. I have been doing this for three weeks now and I do feel as though I have more energy and my upper body seems firmer and more knitted together. May just be a fantasy though.
    As for the beast, I have been considering the effects of changing from a from a fixed hub setup to one with a freewheel. In a regular Airdyne the locked hub assures that the offset lever system that translates the back and forth motion of the hands into circular motion of the crank is subject to enough rotational momentum to carry it over Top Dead Center. I have noticed just in messing with the mechanism that it has a tendency to freeze at TDC. I had completely detached and removed the jack shaft that the Airdyne uses to get enough rpms to run a fan efficiently, but now I am thinking about re-attaching it. Perhaps it will add the momentum I need to keep the gear train moving. Of course, a freewheel mechanism has its advantages, One can stop pedaling/stroking almost instantly. The wheel will coast down under the influence of the brake just as a bike does on a level surface. I have already installed Knee Savers inserts that convert the cranks from 1/2" to 9/16" pedal shafts. It is my intention to use spd pedals and cleats so that at last I can work some of the pull muscles in my legs. I wonder how that will work out. Bob
     

  3. shiboleth

    shiboleth New Member

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    Beauty, Old Yeller and the Beast III

    The hardest part of riding indoors is getting started. If I can figure out how to get my butt planted in the saddle and my legs pushing the pedals around I've pretty much got it knocked for that day at least.
    It turns out that trying to use one of these regularly is a good way to get odious chores done. There are many things that seem easier to do when the other choice is to climb up on Beauty and bust out some miles. Dishes, vacuuming, cleaning the toilets, no problem; just don't make me get on that thing and sweat for thirty minutes. I've got to admit that since I set these goals and started this program the house is in much better condition.
    This reluctance is somewhat overcome by the fact that the first few tenths of a mile are not too hard. My mental reaction is, "This isn't so bad." Then somewhere around the 1.5 mile mark I start thinking of other things that really need to be accomplished. The devil on my left shoulder implores, "It'll only take a minute or two and then you can get back on the Airdyne with no harm done." Such sweet temptation and always in the good cause of some undone household duty.
    I have a rule for this. Basically if there is any way it can wait, it will wait. That's it. This results in a virtually unbroken string of rides that once started, were completed without stopping. That is a good thing because uninterrupted training is better training.
    Today is the third day. I take every third day off from the Airdyne. I might do some heavy housework or even go for a bike ride with my wife, but my feeling is that the airdyne is just too intense when used properly to do every day, day in and day out.
    Of course, even recovery days have their problems. My muscles feel tired and achy and my attitude is funky as well. Great draughts of coffee help, as does just getting up and moving around. I seemed to have dragged through most of the day now (It is 5 PM) and I am looking forward to the opportunity to ensconce myself in my zero gravity chair and enjoy the home theater system I rigged up in the rec room. I love mysteries and police technicals as well as mindless revenge fantasies. I did a little acting in school and I can appreciate the expertise of everyone involved in a scripted TV drama even the ones I don't particularly like. Ah, but I digress. More next time. Bob
     
  4. shiboleth

    shiboleth New Member

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    Beauty, Old Yeller and the Beast IV

    Got my eight in before breakfast today. Took me a few seconds under thirty minutes Just snarfed down a cup of Chock Full of Nuts Hazelnut and did it. Then hit the shower before cooking breakfast. Thought about the beast while riding. First problem I'm working on is how to mount the shifter for the nexus hub. The handles on the Airdyne are thicker than standard handlebars and they go back and forth so they will flex the control cable. That's OK as long as the cable doesn't go into the spokes or rub on the tire. I have been too lazy to go out and extend the chain and see if it will actually run around both the transfer sprocket and the hub sprocket without catching or binding.
    There will also be a problem mounting the airbrake. The motion of the handles means that the main struts of the squirrel cage supports can't be too thick. I'm thinking of fabricating something using a 1" X 1/4 bar with angle crosssection to serve as bearing mounts. I will also have to make the struts long enough so that the bars won't run into the squirrel cage housings at the far end of their back and forth cycle.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2010
  5. shiboleth

    shiboleth New Member

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    Beauty, Old Yeller and the Beast V

    Easter morning. Didn''t even take time to make coffee. Just grabbed a cold orange-flavored caffeine drink and climbed aboard the beauty. At about mile four I realized that this was a new week and I was committed for nine miles. Got it done in around 34 minutes and finished before eight AM. Then made our coffee and hit the shower. Really had to do it early since after Easter service we were going to Hoover's. They serve fine american food that will stuff you like a Thanksgiving turkey. It is hard to ride an airdyne when the handles keep poking you in the gut 'cause you're too full.
    Later in the afternoon, I enjoyed the zero-grav chair while I watched the skinny boys duke it out on the roads (I use the term loosely) of Flanders. No real surprises. Cancellara was killer good and won the one race he had dreamed of winning this year. Lifting the sculpture they gave as the overall top prize seemed to be the toughest part of Fabulous Fabian's day. He made that ride look easy even when they were bouncing over cobblestones so hard you could hear the brake levers and the derraileur cages rattle.
    Monday is a recovery day. I sure hope I'm not as funky as I was on Friday. I'm still working on solutions for the Beast. Maybe I'll have an inspiration. Later. Bob
     
  6. shiboleth

    shiboleth New Member

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    Beauty, Old Yeller and the Beast VI

    Wound up taking Tuesday off. Didn't mean to but I got involoved mowing 1/2 acre and was just too exhausted to try to ride Beauty after that. I hope the mowing worked more or less the same muscles more or less the same way.
    Finally got around to stringing The Beast's chain so it snakes around the chain wheel and the hub and the sprocket on the jack shaft. This gave the chain system a little momentum to carry it over top dead center. Now I need to drill out the wheel mounting frame so I can install the 5/16" eye bolts I want to use to hold the squirrel cages in place. I also calculated that I have to shorten the gear shift cable by about 18" as well as figure out a way to attach it to the right handle. I'm hoping that I can do it with a long bolt and the skillful use of a pair of pliers.
    I did get in my nine miles on Beauty today (Wednesday, 07APR10). I realize that if I am to meet my goal for the week I have to ride every day through Sunday. Five days a week on means only two days a week off. I'll try to hit it again early in the morning. It is getting a little easier which I hope means I am getting a little more fit. I really like the way the Airdyne uses my arms in addition to my legs. Whoever designed it is a bit of a wizard. The connecting rods come into an offset that is only about 2'' long. This means that the mechanical advantage of the handles is much less that that of the foot cranks. So the arms push harder but with slightly less velocity than the ends of the pedal cranks. I think that this is meant to comply with the way arms work. The motion is somewhere between swimming and boxing. Arms and legs work together in a coordinated fashion to provide a thorough workout.
     
  7. shiboleth

    shiboleth New Member

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    Beauty, Old Yeller and the Beast VII

    Wow! I achieved my goal and used the Airdyne five days last week. I'm well on the way to doing the same this week and now my sessions are ten "miles" long. It took me a few seconds less than forty minutes this morning. And in my finishing sprint I think I may have touched 90 rpm. I was somewhat spurred on by the fact that I had just read an article in my AARP newsletter that recommended exercise as the number one safeguard against many of the plagues and imfirmities of old age. I am still following the same pattern for each mile. I try not to use my hands except for the 2/10 of a mile that I do using only my legs. I was having trouble with standard water bottles. They would either not go into my jersey pocket readily using only one hand, or they would hang up and resist being drawn out of the pocket. I found some hip flask shaped plastic bottles and some valve tops that fit them. I fill them with orange "Spark" and store them in the referigerator so they will be nice and cold when I do my next ride. I only need two more by Saturday. On Sunday I wil start working on the intensity of the ten mile ride. Improvement should be seen in the elapsed time for that distance.
     
  8. TxCyclist

    TxCyclist Administrator Staff Member Admin Staff

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    Beauty is the yellow cycle right? I don't see any gauges on that cycle. How are you keeping track of miles spun on it?
     
  9. shiboleth

    shiboleth New Member

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    Beauty, Old Yeller, and the Beast VIII

    The old yellow one is named "Old Yeller." The almost new airdyne is "beauty." The old stripped down airdyne frame that I'm messing around with is "the beast." I apologize for not being clearer about that. I should concentrate less on art and more on good reportage when writing about this type of material. Old Yeller actually has a cheap bike computer rigged to it. I wasn't trying to get a good image of it in the attached photo, but you can see it through the glare mounted over the "T" of the stem and bar. I had to subjectively choose a wheel size index number that feels to me like the proper resistance for that speed. I think I have done pretty well because there is a very close correspondence between times on this machine and times for similar distances over the road.
    I did my ten "miles" on Beauty again today. The reason I put quotation marks around "miles" is because I have no idea of what that actually means with respect to an airdyne. I do know that even on an empty high oval track I couldn't go ten miles in less than forty minutes. I conclude that the airdyne odometer is optimistic. My ambition is to ride tomorrow and take Saturday as a day of rest. I've been trying to see if I notice any effects of this training. Perhaps my carriage through my upper body (lats, pecs, and quads) has a bit more tone. All that time spent using only my arms ought to do something. Alas, my belly is no smaller. I feel that the central core doesn't get much out of an airdyne workout. I guess I'll have to throw in some yoga. Sun salutes, anyone?
     

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    Last edited: Apr 16, 2010
  10. Flatbroke

    Flatbroke New Member

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    Do indoor miles count? thats a running debate with our local riding group. Nice collection. Looks like the seat in the last picture could be real hard on the cousins by the way its positioned
     
  11. shiboleth

    shiboleth New Member

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    Beauty, Old Yeller and the Beast IX

    I have continued the pump out 10 mile rides at the rate of five a week on the Beauty. I can't tell if it is doing my any good, though my arms and shoulders seem to be toning up a bit.
    Flatbroke had a very good question. Do stationary bike miles count? I always counted my miles on Old Yeller because it seemed to me that it took the same effort to crank out a mile on that as it did on the road. Beauty does not quite have the same resistance, but does use the upper body as well. I am taking about 38 minutes now to run off a ten mile on the Beauty. That is almost certainly faster than I could do it on an actual bike, but not by much. I count airdyne miles.
    I never felt as secure counting miles on my XR-5 when it had only the original felt brake pads on a rim weighted with a solid rubber wheel. I almost laugh when I see an ad for one of the well known spincycles bragging about its "35 pound flywheel." That particular feature has absolutely nothing to do with resistance after you get it rotating. All the extra weight simply serves to help smooth out the jerkiness inherent in any system which uses mechanical braking to provide the resistance to effort that makes it an exercise machine. In fact the momentum stored in the flywheel of these devices actually helps the user over come the resistance of the brake. These devices also share the characteristic that something is worn away in the process of using them. Usually it is either brake pads or a belt. I could ride the XR-5 twenty five miles in about an hour, which was way faster than I could ride a bike even thirty years ago.
    Old Yeller develops a significant amount of rotational momentum. The take-up roller weighs a couple of pounds and it is going around at a fairly high rate for a human powered component. I estimate somewhere between 600 and 1,000 rpm depending on gear and cadence. Those of you who remember high school physics may recall that momentum varies directly with mass, but as the square of the velocity. So a little round chunk of hard rubber can store up enough energy to smooth out the ride even though it weighs only a small fraction of the 35 pound wheel on the $1,000 machine. Airdynes are similar in that the relatively lightweight wheel is boosted up to significant speeds through two step gearing and thus stores quite enough rotational momentum to smooth out the action of the machine.
    I confess I don't know much about the electromagnetic braking devices. Reviews indicate that they are fairly realistic in their effect.
    To sum up, I would count the miles from airdynes and some other air resistance devices and probably from the modern electromagnetic resistance machines as well. I would not trust the mileage from machines using mechanical braking devices of the caliper or strap type.
     
  12. shiboleth

    shiboleth New Member

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    Beauty, Old Yeller and the Beast X

    Oh the pain and humiliation, (slaps forehead and grovels in self disgust.) I missed eight days of workouts because I got a stomach virus. I am working my way back up to ten miles per on the Beauty, but have only got to seven so far. It is getting warm around here which means I've got to do some work on the beast so I can exercise arms and legs and create my own cooling headwind. Beauty looks nice enough to be in the living room, but doesn't actually throw enough air as far as I am concerned. I just cannot understand why some folks buy the optional "fender" to eliminate getting any breeze at all. I guess one man's meat is another man's poison. I am also getting in a few real road miles with my wife, but those don't actually amount to much. In a few minutes we will leave from the house to ride five miles and end up in the pool. Now that is going to feel good!