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New Toys

March 16, 2011 1 comment

It’s been a week for new toys. I think I’ll start with the one that is directly mine.

That is a Trek 7300 bicycle. I picked it up last Friday. It isn’t the first Trek I’ve owned; I had a mountain bike a few years ago that I sold about a year before I moved back to Illinois. This bike is a  little different; they call it a hybrid. It has thinner, faster tires like a road bike, and the slightly more upright seating and mild front suspension of a mountain bike. It’s good for both bike path and recreational road riding, which is what I plan on doing. I live a couple blocks away from a bike path that gives me access to a pretty huge trail network. I also have a lot of very quiet, rural roads surrounding town. The trail is still very soft from snowmelt, and still snow and ice-covered in spots, so my first few rides have been on the roads around town. My first ride on Saturday, I made about 3.5 miles before my legs completely gave up. Two months on the elliptical has done great things for my cardiac endurance, but there’s some different muscles at work when actually biking.

As you can see, my ‘bike computer’ is a bit of overkill. It’s my iPhone running Cyclemeter. I also tried Runkeeper‘s app, but I found Cyclemeter a little better for what I wanted. It uses the iPhone’s GPS to both map my rides, and track my speed. I may add an actual bike computer in the future; the GPS is a little iffy for instant feedback on speed, although the ending average is pretty spot on. Cyclemeter also syncs with Dailymile, so I’m tracking my workouts over there. Feel free to spy on me.

The last two rides I’ve done have been just over 6.5 miles, which makes me feel like I’ve gone somewhere. I have friends who run further than that as a quick workout, though, so I have some work to do. That particular loop is a pretty fun one to ride, although the last mile and a half is mostly uphill on a gravel road. Ow. I should get a bit faster on that last mile once the road dries up and solidifies a bit more. I can add mileage pretty easily by taking a loop around the south of town for when I start blowing through the 6.5 miles. And, eventually, it’s a 32 mile roundtrip to McHenry via bike path…I think I’ll get there. Actually, I’m not worried about getting there. It’s the 16 miles back, and the fact that the return trip is mostly uphill. Eek.

So that’s my toy. Now, let’s look at my father’s toy that I plan on playing with this spring:

That is a 2010 Agco DT225B. This is the last model year of tractor that will have an Agco brand name on it. Dad wanted it, even though the tractor it is replacing was only a couple of years old. Agco is phasing out the orange paint, and consolidating brands. Moving forward, it’s red paint with the Massey Fergusuon brand name, or yellow paint with a Challenger brand name if you want to pay a bit more money for some fancier options. It’s a bit sad; Allis Chalmers orange was an iconic brand in the tractor industry, and it’ll be sad to see it finally go away completely.

My family has always had orange tractors; none of this red and green stuff everyone else talks about. The recent DT series has been absolutely excellent. I’ve driven recent models from all three major tractor lines, and these tractors take a back seat to none. Agco is putting a Continuously Variable Transmission (essentially, no shifting! No gears! 0-32mph in one smooth acceleration) in all of their large tractors, now, and it is light years ahead of anything CaseIH has, and much better than Deere’s IVT. The DT 220 that we’ve run the last two seasons had a CVT in it, and I loved driving it both for primary tillage, and running the grain cart in the fall. I’m really looking forward to running the new machine for NH3 application this spring. Need to arrange that around my work schedule at the coop, somehow.

One thing this tractor has that the DT220 didn’t is an autosteer system from Topcon. It’ll take some of the stress out of NH3 application and primary tillage. We were out at the dealership today to get a little training on both the autosteer  system and all the computerized tractor controls. The Topcon reminded me of some of the systems I’ve run from Trimble, but I think Dad was a bit overwhelmed. The tractor itself has a lot of complicated settings and capabilities, as well. I see a lot of manual reading in our future, and I’ll have to see if I can get over there some weekend after the machine is delivered to ‘play’ with it before we try to do any serious fieldwork.

The dealership had this sign on one of their buildings. I think it came off the old Allis Chalmers factory in Milwaukee. In any case, the only part of the AC brand left was the orange paint, and now that’s gone, too. But Dad’s got one of the last new orange tractors!