• 21st April 2010 - By greg

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    I completed a 250 km training ride yesterday and I’m a bit shelled today. It was one of those really great training rides and I think the temperature reached an unheard of 22 degrees C (71 degrees F). That kind of summer temperature for April 20th in Calgary is about as good as it gets, and I have sun burned legs and face as a result. As I battled up the final hill on my NoCom Lowracer last night at about 6:30 pm, thoughts of a hot, cheesy pizza, glass of vino and my comfy bed helped propel me up the final grade.

    The training day video called “Chasing Sheep”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0eLOwm-Mkc

    After I got home, I had a refreshing shower and started devouring that pizza. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I’m going to feel at the end of a 14 hour day out on the Pacific ocean. There won’t be a shower, I’ll have to settle for a dehydrated meal, and my capsule-bed is a cocoon-like 2.5 feet wide at my shoulders and 12 inches feet wide near my feet. And, it will be constantly moving in every direction – up, down, right, left, rolling and pitching. On top of that, I could very possibly be dealing with some sea sickness as well, and for the first couple of weeks, the fear of being in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night. I’m sure you can understand why I’m a bit apprehensive about what I have set out to accomplish.

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    I’m wondering exactly how on earth I’m going to be able to pull this off. I realize that I need more training. I need to know that I will be able to adjust to this new harsh reality.

    The good news is that I think I’m getting there. Slowly, but I do feel that there has been progress on that front. I spent quite a bit of time in WiTHiN during the off shore sea trials with Clive (watch the video here) and my escort boat Theodora – including sleeping on board WiTHiN. I found that at the end of a long day of pedaling, sleep came easy, fast and deep. But, that was while docked in the calm Ucluelet harbor. I was unable to sleep in WiTHiN safely docked in my shop the first couple of tries, so I am pleased to see that there has been some progress on that front.

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    At one point during our offshore sea trials in Ucluelet, I found a spot in the middle of the channel where my drift due to the tidal current was slow enough that I figured I had about 30 minutes before being driven into the rocks. So, under the watchful eye of Clive in the escort boat Theodora, I climbed into the cabin in the back of WiTHiN and lay down for a while. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine being out in the middle of the Pacific and going to sleep. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad. Even though I could hear the waves smashing against the rocks all around me, and I was being tossed about by 10 to 15 foot swells coming from 2 different directions, I found that when I closed my eyes while drifting, I could imagine that I was on an air mattress floating on Whitefish Lake on a hot summer day during my summer vacation. For some reason, drifting in WiTHiN in the big swells while laying down with my eyes closed, really dampens the extreme motion.

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    I’ve also spend 60 hours in WiTHiN with Bryon during our inside passage sea trials trip (watch that video here). I didn’t sleep much then, but the circumstances were a bit stressful, as we were always pretty close to shore and were constantly dealing with tidal currents, dead wood and kelp.

    To further my ‘environment acclimation’, I am planing on a 4 day trip by myself to Okanagan lake next week or the week after. My goal will be to pedal WiTHiN 200 km from Penticton, BC at the south end of Okanagan lake to Vernon, BC at the North end, and then back. I won’t step off WiTHiN after I depart from Penticton and I’ll tie up to mooring buoys to sleep. The lake isn’t big enough to drift at night without risking being blown into shore. I could make another trip out to the coast, but I have not been able to find an escort boat for an overnight trip. Plus, with the winter / spring weather conditions still in effect, there seems to be a gale warning on average every 2 days out there now (in fact, there is yet another gale warning right now. Wind 40 knots and seas 3 to 4 meters). I’ll have to deal with those kinds of conditions when I am enroute to Hawaii, but I can’t risk that being so close to shore. My recent experience in Ucluelet with the knockdown was really great experience, but it reinforced to me that being so close to reefs and a rocky shore with 10 to 20 foot seas and gales being somewhat common maybe isn’t a very safe plan.

    I’ve been thinking about what message to myself I should post in the cockpit of WiTHiN to help me stay focused on continuing to persevere in order to hopefully, eventually adjust to this new living environment. I realize now that I’m going to have to take some of my own advice: “ONE DAY AT A TIME”. I need to focus on making it to the end of the day, not the while 4500 km enchilada journey to Hawaii. When I wake up in the morning and start in on a long day of pedaling, my goal, and sole purpose in life at that moment will be to make it to dinner and bed time. It’s simple really. I think that small rewards will be crucial to my psychological survival. Maybe one of my favorite dehydrated meals, perhaps some chocolate, then perhaps a movie or episode of a favorite TV show and then sleep.

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    In other news, we are making slower than expected progress on the modifications to WiTHiN to counter the unexpected effect from a strong side wind. The first modification is a method to shift the 100 lbs of battery weight from side to side. I thought this would take a day or two, but we are now on our 4th day and still not finished. One of those – too far to turn back things. I hope it’s worth it. The solution is very slick – a car seat motor to shift the battery box from one side to the other. This solution actually seemed easier to implement than lines and pulleys because the motor / gear system in the car seat assembly has locks built-in (a car seat stays where it is when you slam on the breaks or get rear-ended). Plus if the motor stops working, or my battery dies, I can take manual control of the gear and still take advantage of the locking (we don’t want 100 lbs of lead acid batteries sliding willy-nilly around the cockpit do we?)

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    The other change is a new larger rudder. The stainless steel frame work for the rudder is finished and now needs micro filler and glass.

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    And finally, PedalTheOcean inside passage sea trials trip is one of the segments on today’s (Wednesday, April 22) Daily Planet show on Discovery Channel.

  • One Response to “Chasing Sheep”

    • Aaron on April 22, 2010

      Your sea sickness worries reminded me of my thoughts on inner ear fluid viscosity. I wonder if there’s a difference between clumsy/nimble/seasick prone/seasick immune people or cat’s fluid. What would happen if you used a thinner fluid or a solid?


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