Friday, March 30, 2012

No Title Necessary

This post speaks for itself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monkey Bars

The primary tenant in my frontal lobe these days is this cross-state tour madness. I have roughly 3 months to get ready and I'm nowhere near even close to being ready, so it's really put up or shut up time. I still feel like I can pull it off, but it will have to become *the* main focus of my extracurricular life and I will have to somehow manage my work life a little better so that it doesn't suck every last ounce of energy out of me.

And then there's the back thing. I'm cleared to ride (yay, truly), but at a level that puts only "moderate stress" on my muscular and skeletal systems, for the time being. And oh yeah, I was told that I should not be riding drop bars, for now.

Translated and filtered through my bike brain, that meant that I should be doing utility riding on not-too-hilly terrain on a flat bar bike. To the shop nerd within, it was welcome justification for modification to existing equipment, in order to directly comply with doctors orders and optimize the healing experience, of course. The victim of my enthusiasm was my Karate Monkey:




After (Salsa Bend 2's)

Of course I have no free time in my life right now and so I fought and fought to carve out a few hours to line up stuff and put it together, and so this would naturally be the optimal time for additional problems. Like my second Busch and Muller light failing at the mounting boss. (First was here.)

Both light housings failed weirdly - the plastic didn't just fracture, it sort of crumbled into many pieces. The material selection is suspect in my mind, as it seems to lack ductility and toughness. I'm not spending any more money on your dumb ass plastic-housed lights, B&M, so take that.

But I wasn't about trashcan the busted light, either. I'm too cheap, and I have crude metalworking skills, and therefore I can (attempt an industrial fix).

It's held on with double-sided foam backed sticky tape and screwed together in four places on top of that, as you can see. Little bastard's not going anywhere, guaran-damn-teed. It is a little heavier, though.

So with all the technical excuses problems out of the way, I guess it truly is time to put up or shut up.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Different Brand Of Nerdiness

Hurting my back has been a little too scary in terms of having to deal with the thought of not being able to ride for who-knows-how-long due to my body falling apart, and so rather than face my fears I have chosen to throw myself into a new dual obsession that is not quite as physically demanding except maybe at the extremities of the activity.

Yes, photography. And no, this will not become a photo blog any sooner than it will become a swimming blog. But I am smitten with the photog virus and I have been taking classes and devouring books and manuals like there is no tomorrow. To my surprise and delight, the physics and math of photography are just deliciously geeky, but alas, the pure scientist will fail at photography - while the principles must be understood, success is ultimately the domain of the artist. Which is why it's such a monumental challenge for me. And maybe why I am so totally over-my-head into it.

I have no idea where this interest came from, but it has been building for a while and if you follow along, you may remember that I recently acquired both a new higher-end point and shoot Canon S95, along with an amazing integrated iPhone 4s cam. Both are ridiculous in terms of what they deliver in packages their size. And both will be mightily utilized.

But what has become blatantly obvious just a few short steps up the trail of my learning curve is that you can't cheat physics in terms of focal length and sensor size. There's a good reason why DSLR's take way better pictures than point and shoots. Yes, they are cinder blocks to lug around, and I won't always wanna do that. But sometimes I will. Mike Curiak, who documents some of those awesome Alaska journeys that I go on and on about packs SLR gear on his trips, so it's really hard to make the argument that it can't be done.

Just so you don't loose all faith and hope in me as a bike nerd, let me just say that 95% of my interest in photography is about what bikeness I can capture in higher quality than I have been. Most especially, I wanna be able to take some worthy pics on my cross-state tour, if it happens. Later this year, Patty and I have a trip planned to an especially scenic place, so there's also that.

At any rate, I guess that's my long-winded justification for buying yet another camera - an entry level SLR. My current arsenal, then:

The other thing that becomes blatantly, painfully obvious to a photography beginner such as myself is that book learnin's necessary and okay, but that you can't learn to take pictures without lots of hands-on trial and error. I'm particularly big into the error part - you would not even believe the number of total krap pics I take.    Brandy and I went on an extended photo-op walk through Manito today and I quickly trash-canned most of what I brought home, but I did think this one was fun, cigarette butt and all:

Since we were there anyways, we took some time to ponder how awesome of a pump track could exist in this space. It is so profoundly appropriate for that exact purpose. All things in due time.

And speaking of pump tracks, this little one has weathered Winter and is now peeking out at Spring. I just don't have the time or energy to do another full pump track season and so it's days are numbered, but I think a righteous farewell blowout Wood-sesh weekend is in order. Sometime in April, I'm thinking.

Considering what other people have told me about how berms get totally compacted during the winter, I think mine weathered the cold and dark season pretty well. Maybe a testament to all the hours spent by me and gobs of other people manhandling those wicked tampers. Not to say that there isn't any evidence of winter but all in all, damn close to picking up where we left off.

Awful lot of what appear to be dog tracks toward the lower right.

"Wasn't me, boss. Some other dogs must have jumped the fence."

In closing, let me just wish you a happy daylight savings time Sunday. It'll be a bitch getting up tomorrow but on the bright side, daylight until about 7. Hell yes.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Pretty Fantastic Weekend

For a guy who doesn't even ride anymore, I'm sure having boatloads of bike fun.  This weekend was particularly over the top, though.

As John mentioned, we road-tripped over to the wet side, the main purpose being to pick up Alex's original frame jig. He's planned and now fully implemented the rad v2, and his offer was to place v1 with me, at not even his cost. It wasn't an offer I took lightly, as it wasn't about the amazing deal, but about making sure that I could actually put it to use.  I ended up being pretty sure that I could/would, and that maybe this could be the raw beginnings of cultivating some hobby frame building here in Spo, since we seem to have a bit of interest and such a killer pro resource to draw off of. But that's getting way ahead of things - first step will be to just build something.

You'll be seeing lots more pics and details, but just to give you a rudimentary idea of what it looks like, here it is in Alex's shop . . .

And here he is, demonstrating some of the setup details . . .

There are a few parts I need to fab, and that effort is already underway . . .

While in Seattle, we visited the rad Pies and Pints and I was able to catch up with Andre and meet Rory and Andrew and Betsy. Sorry, no pics, but it was righteous. The next day I met Alistair and Jimmy and we all visited the R&E Cycles open house. Holy living hell - what's going on in the basement of this bike shop is something that's gonna take me some time to process.

On the way back to Spo, we stopped to check out the bridge over the Columbia at Beverly.  Just as a service to someone who might be considering a cross-state bike tour on the John Wayne Trail and who might be thinking about this way across the river. All I can say is that it's closed and don't even think about it.

Once back in Spo, the order of business was moving my lathe over to Glens's shop. Yes, I just picked it up a year ago, but it makes sense for two reasons: First, the environment in my shop is killing it - lack of temperature control + massive amounts of moisture lead to rust . . .

Second, though, is that I'm over my skis in terms of what I can manage, time-wise, and while I'd like to throw myself into learning the machine, it just ain't happenin' right now. Meanwhile, Glen's business is at the point where he could really make use of it, so it's kind of a no-brainer.

Moving out . . .

Settled into the new digs . . .

There was also the checking out of John's new Elephant and a visit from Eric, sporting his rSogn and talking all manner of tours and fabrication.

I have not the blog energy to do it all justice, but it was a splendid weekend.