Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Winter Riding in Alaska

Sometimes I check out the regional forums on MTBr.com and find some gems. This is a report of a winter trip on bikes in the Alaska forum. Brrr. Very Cool.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Fix 26

One of the things that intrigues me about the history of cycling are the old British clubs. A lot of them would host fixed gear time trials in the winter off season. A good description of the kind of riding I'm thinking about is mentioned in this article on the 63xc.com website. It is an image that is strongly appealing to me. Iron men on steel wheels riding against the clock across the icy fells and moors. No matter the weather or road surface, they persevered against the elements to the finish.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a racer, but I'm thinking about organizing something of this flavor in my neck of the woods. I want to keep the whole thing low key, so I'm thinking about one of my favorite local routes through a rural area, mostly paved but with some unpaved sections, and a fair number of hills, about 1200 feet of climbing over 26 miles. Date TBD, but edging towards early March. Rain, Snow or Shine. Fixed only. No organization but me and a clock, no prizes but bragging rights and maybe a pasta feed at Chateau de Hjalti post event. The first event will have a limited number of openings, but if everyone has a good time and it doesn't stress me out, I may make it a regular thing.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments or at:

Friday, January 27, 2006

Busy busy

Busy with life and not doing too much bike-wise. I did get out last weekend, and I've been fooling around with a front rack on the Fuji. All the discussion over the KOG list about the Kogswell Porteur has me thinking about front racks and I had this one in the parts pile. It isn't as elegant looking as some of Nitto's offerings, but the price was right. It was a great map platform last weekend and once I get a mount rigged up it should be a more stable bar bag platform as well. The new hub and rim for the Quickbeam arrived, so I hope to go to a local shop and pick up some spokes this weekend, and I'll be set to venture into wheel building.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Scorcher and artist Rudi Nadler is selling prints of his linoleum block work "Prisoner" to support his racing the Great Divide Bike Race later this year. I finally got my copy framed. Rudi is planning to race this 2500 mile, mostly dirt, race on a fixed gear bike. Consider supporting him.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Fun with Maps

Does anyone else love maps? I can't get enough of them. I have all kinds of paper ones, but use the ADC and DeLorme Gazetteers most, with a few USGS Quads thrown in, and lots of small venue maps, like those of various parks. For my GPS I can choose between DeLorme Topo USA, and Magellan's Mapsend Topo/Streets Products. I have tracked most of my rides into the Magellan product because it is the easiest and quickest to use for my purposes. I download the track, name it and take a screenshot of the map and profile for use in the pages. How about on line? I have looked at Topofusion a bit and like it, but use Google Maps more. Google maps covers the US and Canada, Great Britain, and Japan. I like Streetmap.co.uk because at the most detailed level they use Ordnance Survey Maps, the best looking maps in the world. Of course, I only go to the UK in my dreams. What is you favorite online mapping resource? What is best for Italy? Germany? France?

I ask because I'm looking at different options for displaying maps in my ride journals. There are a couple of Japanese sites which have interesting mapping. I am usign them for examples because I'm not familiar with any examples in english. If you know of any, let me know.

I like the 3-D aspect of this one: High ground Net. Pick any of the tours and scroll down to see the neat detail.

How about Camepota.Net? Here a master map links to sub maps with areas highlighted, which in turn link to ride reports. The maps in the ride reports have the photos linked from the map as well as in the text.

Here is a final Japanese example: Cyber Cyclist's Home Page. This site uses a Google Maps API to link points to pictures.

I found an online product which will produce the code to do this for me, MapBuilder.net, and I'm playing with the tools now. You can link photos into the marker descriptions. I'll be playing with the photo formatting to get a good size to link to from the thumbnails. I also need to find a good way to mark the actual routes with a "polyline." Here is my report from Jan 10 in the way I've been doing reports so far. Compare to the same report using the new tools. The blue section is a test of route marking using polylines. Each marker has a photo, but only one is links to a larger vesion. To get the markers to line up correctly I use the time the picture was taken as the title. What I like about this setup is being able to zoom in or out, a feature sorely lacking in my current map graphics. I should also be able to do a county overview map linking to each ride. Take a look and let me know what you think.

1st Commute

With the promise of a warm afternoon, I finally got up the gumption to ride in to work today. Cold and dark to begin with, and I'm STILL not convinced that 75 gear inches does anything for me that couldn't be done with 66 gear inches, or even 60, but I made it to work with time to cool down and change, so the first big barrier to 2006 commuting has been overcome. I won't be taking my really hilly route home. Instead, I'll be riding not quite as far to the in-laws for dinner, and putting the bike in the family van for the trip home. Still, a hopeful start, seeing as I didn't start riding my bike to work last year until sometime in June.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

DIY Question

While I'm on here tonight, does anyone local (DC area) who reads this have or know of anybody with a brazing setup? I need to try throwing a couple of canti-mounts on to the rear of the old Diamondback, a custom rack mount on the fork, and to get the rack together. I'm going to make the old girl into a Porteur and paint her up for the missus to ride with me on the towpath and suchlike places. If it was just the two sets of mounts I'd just benz-o-matic it, but the rack will take a hardier bit of brazing. One of the basement clean-up rules is that all partially completed bike projects have to be finished or disposed of. Harsh, I know.

Update - 18 Jan.

Ok, I've been remiss in not blogging for a week. Nothing much to report on anything fun. One kid with a cough and one with strep throat. Work beating me down. A threatened re-org could bring woe unto me. Too windy and or rainy for this wimpy one to be riding outside and lets face it, riding the indoor trainer makes for poor reports. Personal tonnage creeping SLOWLY down. Did some outside work in the cold, clearing fencelines on the southeast property line. Best to do it this time of year, even though it isn't a joy to do, by spring the thorns grow fast. Saw an awesomely beautiful, huge, red fox (Vulpes vulpes) crossing a neighbors field. Really, really red. I hope he lives close by. He was probably out looking for a little fox honey of his own. That time of year, ya know.

How about this: I dropped a mint on a new hub. We'll have to wait for pics until it gets here though. This will be for a bombproof rear wheel on the Quickbeam for off road use. No more stripped threads. With a riding buddy moving closer I'll have to start working on the offroad stuff for real, just to come in last. There goes the "save money" resolution from a few days ago with a bonus for ticking off the spouse ("It Costs HOW Much!!!"). Made it to the 18th, a new record for me. The only place I'm making progress is in cleaning the basement. One load to the dump and another to Goodwill. Now to get the freebies and stuff for sale going. Sorry Steve, no Phil Dick sci-fi. I have William Gibson, Steve Perry, AD Foster, Jack Chalker, and many others (fair amount of cyberpunk) are free to good homes. You pay shipping or come pick them up. I'll get a real list together.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Feel the Power

A couple of weeks ago, Kent Peterson blogged about why he uses Power Grips. I'm not entirely sold, but I though I'd give them a try. I'm thinking especially about conditions like we encounter at the SSPBE, where cleats clog up with snow, ice and mud pretty quickly. Usually, I run Shimano 324's with a platform on one side for this situation, but Power Grips may be a good alternative.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


While not exactly a Christmas gift, my dad had been saving his old laptop for me, and I picked it up on the recent trip to the midwest. He needed a faster one with wireless, lots more disk space (prolific science writers need that sort of stuff), while I don't need much, just enough space to load a few ride tracks and pics, and a modem to check email. First order was getting a mouse, I'm not keen on super-sensitive touch pads. I'll need to track down a decent car charger and maybe a spare battery and I'll be set. Most of my recent entries have been done on this.
Thanks, Papa, you're the best!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bonus Ride

I hadn't intended to ride today, but yesterday afternoon my wife's car died, and for some reason wouldn't take a jump. This morning I dropped the kids and her off at school, picked up a new battery for it, and took it back and installed it. This did the trick and it started. Hooray!. Next I took my wife's car back to her school, stopping to pick up my bike on the way. I dropped off the car and had a very nice ride back to to where my truck was parked. I even had a chance to drop in on Mt. Airy Bikes and say hi to John and Larry, since that was on todays route. Nice!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Sunday Ride

After I did the personal Time Trial in Woodsboro Sunday, I drove over to Loys Station Park to start the real ride. I was looking for an area which wouldn't hurt me too bad with the higer gearing I was riding that day. The northeastern part of the county was excellent for that. Nothing too hard, but nothing dead flat either. I think I'll do OK with this gearing, but for any real hills, let me have something in the low 60s or lower. A few more photos HERE.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The B5 Challenge

Fellow cyclist, big guy, and sometimes fixie rider Al Maviva came up with a neat idea for some of us that would like to loose some weight, but do so in a healthy way that doesn't detract from our cycling. He is calling it the Big Bulky Biker Bodyfat Biathlon (or B5) Challenge . I'm not a competitive guy, but this seemed to me to be something I could take part in, so I signed up. The two parts of the biathlon are weight loss and a three mile cycling time trial. The bathroom scale held the ugly news Friday morning at 275. Ouch, Christmas wasn't as good to me as I thought. My goal for June 1 is to loose 10 pounds a month and be down to 225. Sunday I rode my first/baseline TT. The stretch of MD 194 between MD 550 in Woodsboro and the light at Daysville Rd. is exactly three miles, according to both my bike and truck odometers. It also has a good shoulder and is pretty quiet on Sunday mornings. Finally it is mostly level, although I think it is a gentle climb over the whole three miles. I rode my Fuji fixed gear, with a newly installed rear 15t cog to give me a 75 inch gear. That is big for me, but I'll get used to it. 10:17. I suspect that that is pretty slow, but I don't have any yardstick to compare it to. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Junk Priceless heirlooms

This is a pic of my basement workspace. Now I know you are asking yourselves, "What is junky about that?" Well that is the neat corner, because we have to keep access to the door. I'll be working to unload some pretty cool, but excess stuff. Bike parts, Bike Books, Bike Magazine back issues, camping gear, craft/garden/homesteading books and assorted items, a ton of Sci-fi, history, medical (paramedic) and other books, two children, kids bikes and stuff and whatever else I can convince the real power in the house to add to the pile. I'll list anything i think is interesting here before I head to the BOB or MASS or othere lists with it

Friday, January 06, 2006

Another Goodie

Here is another goodie that came my way at Christmas. I haven't used a bike computer for years, but my last one was a Cateye Cordless, so I put one on my wishlist. This very nice one showed up. Hooray! It is different from many computers in that the sensor mounts near the rear wheel (left chainstay) so it can track both wheel and crank revolutions. I'll put this one on my Fuji fixed road bike this weekend, and it will be ready to roll for both trainer duty inside and winter duty outside.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Be it Resolved

Like so many people whose blogs and posts I read on the internet, I can't decide if I like or dislike New Year's Resolutons. Some people say why make something your aren't going to follow through with anyway? I can sympathize with that outlook, for there are plenty of resolutions I've left hanging out there alone. But there are also ones on which I've followed through. Last year I told myself I'd ride my bike more. I did, over 1400 miles worth, and I'm proud of that. It was a start, and more than the couple of hundred miles I rode in 2004.

There is no reason not to make a resolution at any time of the year (or not make any resolutions at all), but the new year seems to be a particularly good time for new beginings, so what harm is done? Any time someone wants to make a deal with themselves for their self-improvement, I say go for it.

That said, here are a few of mine:

Bike related:
1. Increase total mileage over last year - Mainly by increasing the number of days I bike commute.
2. A Fixed Gear Century - 100 Miles, no coasting.
3. More off road - The weekends I spent on my Overlooking rides last year I want to devote to offroad this year. Also look into finding some trails on the commute home, maybe through Linganore. Skinny tire skills among the woods and rocks.
4. Bike Camping - Get out a couple of times this summer, some with the kids.
5. Get a bike together for my wife.

In other areas of my life:
A. Practice my banjo more (some people hope I'll break this one).
B. Do more drawing and carving.
C. De-junk the basement. This includes a lot of bike stuff.
D. Have a real garden this year.
E. Lose weight.
F. Save money.

Ha ha. I threw in E and F as a joke. Those are always the first to go.

I guess there are a few other personal ones as well, but I don't think I'll publish those for now.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hip Flask

I tried to buy a Surly Karate Monkey bike several months ago. No luck. By the time they were in stock I had already bought my Quickbeam. I still like the company though. Here is something I thought was neat, so I put it on my wish list for Santa, and look what showed up. A hip flask. Cool. Even better is the 12 year old Highland Park single malt which has filled it up and is waiting to fill it again. Remember, don't drink and ride. Only when you're stopped.

New Years Day Ride

I was planning to ride out solo, but on returning from Ohio, I found the Frederick Pedalers were doing a New Year's Day Ride. Five of us showed, and did a nice easy 16 miles. One flat. Not me for once.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Matt Chester

Matt Chester makes custom bike frames out of titanium out in Idaho. Very Nice Frames. I go back and forth on aspiring to one of his frames. I think I need to get a lot more miles under me before I'm ready to commit to a custom, really so I know exactly what I want. I suspect I'll have to go custom eventually for an all day on/off road rider. He obvously puts a lot of thought into everything he does, and I enjoy reading his thoughts on various subjects. He is one of the "real" less is more people, and in that vein, walking the walk, is going to give computers a pass. I have a link to his blog over on the sidebar, but he says it will probably go away in a few weeks, so read it while you can... I'll miss his blogging, but all is not lost, because he intends to publish a zine called 700see.

"'Simple' doesn't necessarily mean 'easy.'" - Matt Chester