A few mods before cycling today

PSI dial
I’ve giv’n her all she’s got captain, an’ I canna give her no more. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It turned out that I had 4 too many large links (or 8 links in total) on my new chain.  It was a fairly easy swap as there’s nothing particularly special about the pins.  The joining pin has a snap-off extension simply to make it easier (possible) to join a new chain.
I also increased the pressure in my shocks.  The rear shock can apparently take 300 psi and I had about 180 psi in there.  Try as I might I couldn’t get more than 250 psi in.  My pump would hit 300 psi but the needle would slowly sink to a lower level.  Despite much pumping I couldn’t get it closer to its maximum.  Anyway, the sag is now much less and I won’t bottom out as much.
I also found a nice Columbia backpack in Mountain Designs to fit my Camelback and all of my stuff.  It doesn’t have a dedicated holder for the water nozzle, but the sternum strap will do the job adequately.
I even found 20 mm pedal spacers at The Cyclery so that I could put my Time ATAC clipless pedals back on for non-technical ride, but I’ll leave them for now.
Slight issue is that my brakes need bleeding.  The front brake lever is almost touching the handlebar.  There’s enough braking to stop me, but the feel is less than ideal.
Last change is to Strava app from MapMyRide.  As nice as the MapMyRide app is, there are a few inconsistencies that have not yet been resolved.  Of slight annoyance value is the Facebook integration which might post a dog walk without my knowledge and against my settings.  The website is good but I have to navigate many layers to get the view I want.  And some graphs show my rides occurred at 200-210m ASL instead of the true range of 600-800m ASL.
Just as with MapMyRide, I won’t be able to embed Strava code to my blog (should I upgrade to WordPress pro?) so you’ll just have to join.
I’m taking on the Bonner Widowmaker today.  How many stops will I need to make?

MapMyRide suggested settings

MapMyRide is a great little app.  I can keep track of what I do and compare with others who have ridden the same paths.  However, there are two settings that can cause issues and confusion.


I like to share my bike rides, because it suggests something favourable about me and it is friendly competition to my friends.  It’s nice to have your weekend presented on FriendFace as maps and hills and calories burnt instead of swearing at football results and photos of drunken antics, either of which future employers could make judgements on. I don’t share my dog walks.  (That’s another thing to like about MapMyRide; there’s so many types of activity you can record or log.)  Partially because I’m happy to record those km for myself. There are sharing settings on the app.  However, these are overruled by your sharing settings in your MapMyRide profile.  So if you save a workout without sharing and mark to “only me”, but your profile is set to share, you’ll share.

Thank you for contacting us! I show that your account is connected to Facebook online https://www.mapmyrun.com/account/connect/. Also is set to share workouts in the Privacy sections https://www.mapmyrun.com/account/privacy.

If you are using the same log in for both apps then all of this information is being shared, as they are running on the same platform. We apologize for the confusion.

To make the changes:

Website profile: Settings > Privacy > Activity Privacy Settings > Set all to share with friends or private.  Note: If you share with friends, they will get informed through the app, but not through Facebook/Twitter.

App settings: deselect Facebook/Twitter sharing.

To share from the app, save the workout.  Once the details have saved to the website, click the orange share button and select the share medium.

Auto-pause too sensitive?

Auto-pause is a useful function; stop at traffic lights or help an old lady across the street and your workout time doesn’t suffer.  However, it can a threshold that pauses when you think you’re moving.

I’ve been riding (!) some very steep hills lately and I admit that there have been times when I have had to walk the bike.  At very slow speeds (slow, painful walk) the ‘workout auto-paused’ message will remain; you have to move a bit quicker to clear it.   To save iPhone battery I don’t have the display on at all times, so it wasn’t until I was riding home that I noticed the ‘workout auto-paused’ message appear and disappear even though I was travelling at 10-12km/h.

When I analysed my rides on the website, I’d been given a KOM award for riding the 2.85km and 196m Category 3 ascent of Mount Majura in  20:48 at an average speed of 10.1km/h.  (yes, neither the time nor the average speed make sense!)  The true speed is likely to be about 5km/h if I’m lucky.  I didn’t keep track of the real time since I have an app for that.  I’ll have to wait 2 weeks for another crack at it, this time with a second stopwatch.

So switch off auto-pause if you notice the ‘workout auto-paused’ message appear and not clear when you move.

English: Mt Ainslie, Mt Majura from dickson oval
English: Mt Ainslie, Mt Majura from dickson oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saturday ride – new pedals = new legs?

Today was a second attempt on the ‘widowmaker’ climb out of Bonner.  Last week I managed to climb the concrete path (average 5%, probably 8% in parts) without dying.  However, the grassy climb (well over 5% and probably 10% average) was well beyond my abilities.  Pedalling was hard enough but I simply couldn’t stay balanced long enough to make any sort of attempt at it.  Several times I went off-piste because I couldn’t keep the front wheel down and in turn, couldn’t ride up the steep track.  And since I use clip-in pedals, it gets a bit hairy when you start to tip and you need to get your foot out.  It’s even worse when you’re trying to take of and you can’t quite engage the pedal.  At best I rode 10% of the track, walking the rest.  My colleague Amandeep stopped a few times but did ride the entire length.  His effort was telling as after a short climb I asked him to take my picture and it took him 2 minutes to get his gloves off!

So in preparation for today’s ride I purchased flat pedals.  My reasoning was that I could move my knees in and out much further and retain balance much more easily.  I could also start off without struggling to engage.  The reduction in power, because I could only push down on the pedals and not in a (more-or-less) full circle, should be balanced by… balance, I reasoned.

Time ATAC and Shimano SAINT pedals. Big difference
Time ATAC and Shimano SAINT pedals. Big difference

The difference is quite obvious when the pedals are compared side-by-side.  In the picture above, the spindles are both aligned to the solid line on the left; it appears different because of parallax.

  • Width (from crank): 120mm vs 85 mm
  • Contact width: 100mm (20mm~120mm) vs 60mm (25mm~85mm)
  • Weight: didn’t measure, but the Saint pedals are lighter.

The ride, the climb, the pedals!

I wore an old pair of 3/4 cross-trainer shoes.  While the grip was not perfect and slips did happen, grip was regained very quickly and without interruption to pedalling.  (Though I will have to modify my bunny hop style.)

Back to the climb Take 2: everything was suddenly less frightening.  The climb was no flatter than last week and I suspect that my front wheel lifted on the same bumps.  The difference was that I could remain upright without much thought or effort.  This was a real surprise.  I had expected to be moving my knees side-to-side in a rather comical way to maintain balance, but that was rarely necessary.  I had to stop about 6 times and I admit to walking a very steep section of about 10 m, but I got up that bloody hill.

The rest of the ride was the border track, then the flat Pipeline Rd, up to Goorooyarroo and along to rejoin the Pipeline Rd.  Instead of dropping to Horse Park Drive for an awful ride back to the cafe, we turned around at the peak of the Pipeline Rd and returned to Mulligan’s Flat North track, through Forde and back to Cafe Guru (Canberra’s own coffee, don’t you know.)

It’s true that the pedals did not hold on to my shoes like clip-ins.  There were a few moments when my shoes slipped, but never far enough to be bothered by it.  But there was something else happening beyond balance…

Balance is not the only thing, grasshopper

There was something better about these pedals and I reckon it was the increased width of my feet.  I suspect that up until now I have been pedalling with my feet too far inboard.  Moving my feet out by 30mm or more has obviously changed the alignment of my legs.  I noticed my quads being used for first time in a while; I think that my hamstrings (and lower legs) have been doing most of the work.

It felt like I was using more of my thigh muscles, with the result that they hurt all over.  No, it actually felt like the work was spread out a bit.

Here’s the 3D flyover version of the route.  And no, I can’t embed it for you… http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/render_route_video?route_key=4968668242483609601&site=mapmyrun.com

12 Volt battery woes – Part 2

Having an indicator to show the charge level of the battery has been a boon.  However, its location is not very convenient.  In order to charge the battery I had to open the hatch and keep it from closing while the charger was plugged in.  It was not easy to position the charger.

Another trip to Battery World at Phillip to pick up a CTEK COMFORT INDICATOR PANEL M8.  I chose the model with the 3.3m leads so that I could fit it into the dashboard near the steering wheel.  Convenient to see the charge level and convenient to plug in the charger.

The battery is on the right rear behind the back wheel.  So it was a straight and fairly easy run along the sill to the dash.  Using my Kinchrome Panel Removal levers I popped off the plastic sill covers; from the front, the driver’s side kick panel (held to the firewall with a plastic nut), the front and rear sills and the B pillar cover.  I lifted the panel that includes the HV battery vent, but I didn’t have to remove it; it was sufficient to see where the metal clip for the rear seat was.

Note: The B pillar cover is a bit tricky.  Tip: Remove the cover from the seat belt bolt and then push the seat belt down until the bolt fitting is pointing to the floor.  Then you can pull out the B pillar cover over the bolt.

The sills on the right hand side contain the 12 volt battery cables in one clip and the rear window washer fluid pipe in another.  There’s enough room between those clips for the cable to sit snugly.  The cable routing from the rear door sill to the battery takes some trial and error, but there is a safe path.

First problem – the panel

The panel is larger than the Toyota standard.  There’s a 1.5 mm ridge around the opening and the CTEK panel would not fit.  And I had to fit it first before I could run the cable.

There wasn’t much in it.  I took a sharp hacksaw and cut into the corners.  Then I cut away only the bottom and left ridges.  This was enough to allow a tight fit and avoid more cuts that could have damaged wires behind the dash.

With a bit of fettling I found a cable path that was neat.

Second problem – not enough cable

Too short, very annoying
3.3 m is not enough

Annoying.  3.3 m should have been plenty, but it was 10 cm short.  No amount of fiddling would make it reach.  I had an idea to retain the original cable intact and create 2 cables to join it to the battery.  However, I didn’t want the fuse holder to be inaccessible under a panel.

So I spliced some heavy gauge wire into the cable.  And then connected the eyelets to the battery terminals.

Crimped, not spliced, strictly-speaking
Crimped, not spliced, strictly-speaking

Replacing the panels was straightforward.

The Comfort Indicator Panel’s traffic light system differs slightly from the Comfort Indicator Eyelet as green is 100%-90%, yellow from 90%-40%  and red for below 40% charge.

The beauty is that I can plug in the battery charger much easier.

You couldn't tell that it wasn't original
You couldn’t tell that it wasn’t original
CTEK charger plugged in securely through the driver’s window.
Ridge in the panel openings visible in the upper left

Very convenient and easy to use and only slightly more effort than I had hoped.

And I still haven’t found (or looked for) the drain.

12 Volt battery woes – Part 1

Two weekends in a row I had to get a jump-start from the Allianz roadside assist.  Either the less-than-1-year-old battery is on its last legs or the something is quickly draining the battery.

Unfortunately it is not easy to analyse the battery using the otherwise sophisticated piece of kit because it isn’t easy to rev or idle in a Prius.  The results of the test were inconclusive.  The Prius does not have an alternator to charge the battery, it uses the HV battery to do that with the HV battery in turn being charged by the small Motor/Generator (MG1).  So the fact that the battery is charging when the car is running doesn’t tell you anything.

So, out to Battery World at Phillip for a battery check and to discuss options.  Their testing suggested that the battery was in very good shape.  So rather than buy a new Optima Yellow Top for $385, I purchased a spiffy CTEK MXS 5.0 battery charger and because the battery is tucked away a bit, I bought a delightfully-named Comfort Indicator Eyelet M6.  Once again Scandinavia comes to the rescue.

The CTEK MXS 5.0 has 4 programs and 8 phases to cover small, large and almost dead batteries.  There’s a special setting for very cold conditions, which I might have to use in Winter.

CTEK MXS 5.0 battery charger.  Does your battery charger have that many lights?  Didn’t think so.

Since the charging current doesn’t get above 4 amps on the normal program, I could charge the battery in-situ without worrying about creating gas or excessive heat.

Since access to the battery terminals involves the removal of several panels, the Comfort Indicator socket provides easy access and it’s traffic light system shows when the battery is at 100%-80%, 80%-40% or below 40% charge.

CTEK Comfort Connector with indicator
CTEK Comfort Connector with indicator and masking tape solution.  I can see the flashing light through the back window, even with the tonneau cover on

So, before I need to use the car, I check the indicator.  If it’s red, I charge the battery.

Now to find what’s draining the battery…

Switch Mobile Phone Providers – a small adventure

I had been with Vodafone for many years after first having a mobile phone with Telstra.  While price isn’t the biggest determining factor, it is true that I moved 10 years ago because Vodafone’s capped plans were very economical.  However, coverage and service has not been great; until a few months ago it was all but impossible to use my mobile phone in my house.  Ironically, the coverage is getting better just as I want to switch.

Internode has offered a mobile phone service on the Optus network for several months and recently enabled international roaming, a prerequisite for us as we travel to Japan about every year.  Internode has a current promotion “Summer SIM” where you can get 6 months of a $20 plan free if you sign up a new broadband, new NodeLine telephone, new FetchTV or extend a current contract for one of those.  As I’ve been with Internode since 2004 and I’m about to be upgraded to NBN FTTH, I was happy to sign a new 2 year contract.

The end of my final Vodafone contract was 3 December 2012.  So I contacted Internode the week before to arrange for 2 SIMs.  Immediately I received an email from Australia Post informing me of the progress of the parcel.  On Tuesday I received the SIMs.  (Special thanks to the extended opening hours of the Aust Post parcel pickup at Mitchell.)

Activation of the SIMs was a straightforward call to Internode.  I was even informed that Vodafone were usually quite prompt at switching  over… no doubt they’ve had plenty of practice recently.  However, the precise time of transfer was anything from 15 minutes to 5 working days.  Nothing to do but wait.

Next morning “Voda AU” still appeared as my carrier.  I had planned to take the SIMs to work (I had no idea which SIM was my number at which was my wife’s) and fit them when the transfer happened.  It wouldn’t have mattered if I had taken them.

As soon as I got home I put one of the SIMs into my phone.  Result: No Service.  Went outside to see if I could get a better signal and received an Invalid SIM error.

Called Internode.  Nice man asked if my iPhone was unlocked…

Rang Vodafone but soon found their unlock page.  First part was easy; enter the IMEI and the security code and within 15 minutes to 1 or 2 days (getting faster) the unlock will occur.  Second part involved a full Restore of each iPhone using iTunes.

Fortunately the two phones sync with two different computers, so I could run them together.  HINT: Always transfer purchases from the iPhone to iTunes before you sync, restore or update.  However the fun didn’t stop there because of these seemingly innocuous details:

  • My wife’s phone hadn’t been updated to iOS 6.0.1
  • I had just updated my iTunes to 11

Try a restore process when the iPhone wants to be updated and you’ll see what I mean.  I think that I repeated it 3 times.  It was never clear that the restore from backup was working.  I had to watch as the icons and the amount of free space filled in to get any sense of things happening.

And iTunes 11 might have a simplified UI, but I got lost quite quickly. I had to Google to find out how to transfer purchases from the iPhone (1. click on the upper left box and select “Show Menu Bar”. 2. MENU: File > Devices > Transfer Purchases…)

The restore factory settings followed by restoring from backup only goes so far.  Then you need to Sync to get your library in there.  Now I started to see the phones return to a familiar appearance.  An update to the carrier details file and it looked like the job was done.

After a 3 hour operation I finally had 2 phones working on a new network. Internode (ISP)

How much to charge an iPad for a year?

The Huffington Post cites a study by the Electric Power Research Institute into the cost of powering various household devices in the USA. Charging a the latest version of the iPad cost USD1.36 for year at the average power cost of 11.49¢ per kW/h.
I pay about 16.6¢ per kW/h plus a daily supply charge that I’ve conveniently left out so let’s call it 20¢. That’s about 74% more so let’s call it $2.35 to charge a new iPad in Australia.
Maybe I’m a bit lucky because the average the average household electricity bill in Australia is just under 25 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2011-12, which was 194 per cent more than that of Canadians and 122 per cent higher than those of Americans.
Canada gets a lot more hydro power than Australia, which may explain the lower cost. But I can’t imagine that the infrastructure in Canada is easier to manage than that in Australia, where infrastructure costs are to blame for a 40% increase in customer bills in 5 years. Forget about the Carbon Tax, since it hasn’t started yet, so it can’t have been the cause of the increases.
The good news is that if you use your iPad (other tablet devices are available) then you probably aren’t watching the power-hungry TV as much. There, you’re saving money already.

ISP Shaping – feels like early 2004!

My 60GB monthly download limit ha always be sufficient. Despite downloading quite a lot of podcasts, iView and similar from TV stations’ websites, I usually hover around 20-40GB of data each month. Some years ago I reached my download limit (might have been 20GB) and had to suffer with a slight slow down for 3 days. From memory my 512/128kbps connection was shaped to 64/64kbps.

This month I’m well over and I hit it with 8 days left in the month! Despite buying a 25GB data block, which should have kept me fine, I’ve downloaded close to 90GB so far this month. I managed to download 32.8GB and 33.3GB on consecutive days, which has probably placed me on some kind of register. So I am now shaped to 256/256kbps.

When I joined my ISP in 2004 I skipped their 256/64 offering for the 512/128. I had just returned from a trip to Japan where 2.5Mbps was the norm. Rather than leap to 1.5/256 I took the intermediate step. Being shaped to 64/64 was still way ahead of using a 56K dial-up modem.

Now that I can get 14-16Mbps down and over 1Mbps up, shaping the 256/256 is a special type of hell. Considering that there are 4 computers, 2 smartphones and a Wii that share the network, there’s a lot going in and out of the pipe. Feels like the time before ADSL.

As luck would have it, Vodafone have finally updated their network so for the first time in 9 years I can use a mobile phone in my house. In fact I have such a good 3G signal that I’ve disconnected my smartphone from my network to save bandwidth until my new quota takes effect.

Next month I’ll have 200GB for the same price (new plans), however I’ll be metered for uploads for the first time. Remains to be seen if that download/upload limit is enough!

UPDATE: I bought another chunk of Internet, effectively doubling my bill this month. I’ll be downloading til rollover to get my money’s worth.

Watts Clever? Not using a dryer for a start.

My results for a load in the dryer Hoover 5050ED:

  • 2.0 kW/h
  • 1.6 CO2/kg
  • Maximum power 1992.4 W and 1760 W when running
  • Time 42″
  • cost of electricity used 12.9¢
  • When stopped it beeps for a short time and then moves to 0.9w on standby.

Compared to washing a (slightly larger) load with cold water, the dryer is responsible for:

  • 10 x the power
  • 9 x CO2
  • almost twice the maximum power and a sustained power use of about 5 x
  • and cost 3 x more to run for about 1/3 of the time.

Time to devise a low-energy, winter clothes drying solution.