Road Find of the Day - Carbon Fiber Kill Stick

I went up the ski hill on the road bike over the weekend, more pics later. On the way up I found a evil looking arrow on the road. Nice job moron hunters. The tip was all smashed from the impact with the road. Morons.

Did I mention that hunters are very often morons? I can't really think of any safe reason to find an arrow in the road. Morons.

Anyhoo, to punish them I freed the arrow. I carried it up the hill in my hand, stashed it behind a tree, rode up to Canada bonita through the mud and snow and then got the arrow on the way back down. Wrapped the nasty head in bark and cliff bar wrappers, secured with zipties and then used the straps on my handlebar bag to hold it on.

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Worked great, I descended for 7 miles and made it with the arrow safely on the bars. Good stuff. Thanks moron hunters, but you know, cool moron hunters, cause, you know, they hunt with arrows, which is cool. Morons


Subtle like a fork in the head

Happy halloweenie

eat candy 'til you're greenie

damn kids, stay off my lawn


Caboose home

So down there in santa fe a few blocks south west on the lamy trail from the teaming intersection of Cerillos and St. Francis lies the train car graveyard. Where men wield torches and take apart our rolling history. Previously blogged here.

On my goathead laden ride yesterday I cruised by again and found a strange RR car. I think this caboose is getting ready to be a house somewhere:

click for nice santa fe mountain panorama with SF baldy way off in the back.

The weird part is that the caboose has been stripped of all paint and is rusting evenly but it has these nice Zia windows, that presumably were a part of the original. I can't imagine that they replaced the windows before doing the rest. :

click for bigger view of battle jitney

I am not sure why no one has run off with the windows yet. The lamy trail near santa fe is kind of a transient superhighway with a bunch of little hobocamps nearby.

Looking inside the car you can see that they are putting some insulation in. I think:

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I will have to go visit it again to see how it progresses.

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I also saw a really nice airstream trailer modded as travelling glass gallery at the santa fe design week exhibit. The gallery website is here but no pics of the airstream. There also was a funny bike exhibit too with some art bikes of the chopper type and a nice fiat car converted to human power drive. There were also a bunch of old bikes and parts from the collection of cross legend Laurence Malone. I missed his talk last week, it would have been interesting, I think.

Bicycle Fixations

I wrote a little guest article/photo essay over at Bicycle Fixations, surf on over and check out Challenges in Chengdu and the rest of solid bicycle stuff on this site and knickers.



Update 8/5/2007, added two pics of midsummer growing goatheads at the end

Most people call em goatheads or puncture vines, but no goat looks like that. They are the true heads of satan heself.

Really, what goat looks like that?

So here is how it works. The weed grows as a low lying vine with little yellow flowers. See the bottom of the post for flowers and green thorns. The flowers turn into little thorn stars like this as they dry:

There are somewhere between 4-6 cabezas del diablo in each little rosette. Meaning 8-12 thorns per flower. Oh, and there are maybe 20-1,000,000 flowers per plant. And the plant can grow in fields if there is a wet growing season. Little bastards.

So what happens when you run over a plant with your bike? This:

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Thats something like 12 thorns from one plant in the front tire of my Bridgestone Picnica. Usually as you ride along the fat part of the thorn (the half head) breaks off, presumably spreading the seed, and leaving the thorn (satans horn) deep in your tire broken off flush with the surface. Fortunately a good tube sealant can handle hundreds of thorns, which are easy to pick up in a few miles of riding along the railtrail in santa fe in the winter. While sitting at coffee I pulled out well over 100 thorns out of the 12 inch tire in 15 minutes. Pumped up the tire and it held no problem. Woo! I have much better luck with the true goo and specialized airlock sealant than Slime sealant.

Spent a few hours today slowly cruising the backroads and tiny paths of Santa Fe on the Picnica today. Maybe some more pics tomorrow...

Some midsummer young and green goatheads hardening up for another rough fall:

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Blogger beta?

If anyone is using blogger beta, please hit me with an email or comment. I am eager to switch as they finally have implemented tags, but a fair number of my readers are on safari or opera and apperently beta is not working with those browsers all that well yet. So, if you have publishing or viewing experience and opinions on blogger beta, hit me in the comments or at tsaleh "at" rocketmail dot" com. Thanks pals.


Monastery Lake Cyclocrost Racing


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Usually (in my very limited previous 4 race experience) cross racing in NM seems to be wide freeking open, grassy field with limited altitude change. This is kind of sad. I think this is the extreme of the eurocrossification of the US cross scene. I don't mind eurocross, but a bit of a mix is good, no?

Given my nascent cross experience in nonsanctioned races in the early mid/late nineties in public parks and vacant lots in san francisco, I think true american cyclocross is junglecross, festooned with singletrack and natural barriers such as huge freeking redwood logs, the kind you have to throw your bike over and then climb over after. The clever balance in keeping a junglecross course "cross", rather than a mtb race, is making a race filled with silly runs, singletrack and the like still faster on cross tires than big fat knobbies. Not easy, but doable.

What am I getting at here? As a single speed cross racer I favor jungle cross courses, but I like cross in all of its forms. However, constant roadie like cross courses wear me out. Until this week, all 4 of the cross races I have seen in NM have ended in 4+ person sprints. That all changed on sunday.

Instead of some park or middleschool in Albuquerque, I headed down to Santa fe and then up north to east of Pecos to monastery lake. Ummm, beautiful wild wooly northern new mexico mountains. Good location.

Next I see the course. Dirt cobbly road, followed by triple barrier run up, followed by 1/2 mile of road, followed by fast tight single track descent, double track chicane, increasing steepness runup with bariers and log (log!!!), sketchy steep singletrack decent, more chicaney goodness then through the freezing cold almost hub deep feeder stream, then short singletrack section with 10 ft slippy mud strip and finally back to the dirt cobble road. The course climbed steadily from the stream to the first half of the road making the non technical sections a painful cardiovascular exercise. Great stuff.

The only rest in the race were the technical descents. Perfect.

The stream crossing was 100% ridable, but got slighty more slippery and less smooth as the race progressed.

I loved it. Best NM course ever. Other people did not love it. A couple of people spent an ENORMOUS amount of time and energy explaining to the organizers and volunteers how it was a dangerous course and how they WERE not going to race and how it was going to ruin their standings in the race series. Now I can respect that you don;t feel comfy racing so you just don't race. But making a big scene about it is not really that cool. Nor is essentially verbally abusing junior racers who spent alot of time working on the course. If you are going to complain that much, please don't race. Especially on a course that really was pretty mild. Especially while the C's and juniors are racing just fine thank you on the "dangerous" course. There was only one slightly sketchy down hill turn, but nothing that has not been part of a UCI race or even nationals in the last 5 years. Crap. At least one of the primary whiners raced and did quite well, but schadenfreudistically I was glad to hear that muffed the stream crossing on the last lap and lost a vital points winning position. heh. Well in my day we raced cross with actual crosses tied to our backs and we liked it...

Anyhow. I have no idea how I finished, I think I ended up lapped by the first two, among the top B's and toward the end of the A field but not dead last in the A's (like I was apparently last week...). I had a blast and was good and pooped, mudsplattered and lungfilled with dusts.

Huge props to A winner taylor layne who stacked hard in the opening barrier jumble 1/4 mile into the race, passed me 20 minutes later like I was sitting on the trail and then lapped me just before the end on his way to victory. Studly.

click for short movie of the stream crossing (2.1 Mb quicktime)

Getting back to the balance of jungle cross vs. mtb, the course struck it just right. The technical singletrack downhill short and sweet. If you did not have technical skills to hit the downhill fast there were ample opportunities to make it up on power sections. The long road section was much faster on a cross bike, but was really hard as there was a subtly nasty climb on it and a nonsubtle headwind the whole paved way.

I rested on the short downhills, blasted the running sections best I could (which went really well) and went deep into my pain cave on the dirt road and the paved section which actually allowed me to gap alot of the guys around me for a bit. It went well. I am happy.

I may skip next weekends races and then road trip up to boulder for UCI races first weekend in november. As there is no danger that I will win, I will race the B's and watch the fast guys go at it. Go go tiny fast bikers.

Cross cross hup hup hup!!!


Make wood

uh huh huhhuhhuhuhuhhuh,

Other than bike racing and working I have been completing small projects about the fraction of an acreage. During the last few weeks, armed only with a hatchet, a 24" bow saw and a tie down, I have been making firable piles of applewood. We have a huge old apple tree that had some big dead/halfdead limbs. Observe the greenish wood:

Observe the dryish wood and kindling:

Observe the giant apricot tree that need some serious trimming next:

Anyone have any non fire ideas for nice tightgrained fruitwood? The apricot tree looks to be even harder and tighter grained than the apple tree. I think the chunks are at the largest 8" in diameter. Can you make axe and hammer handles from them?
Otherwise I will have nice smelling fires this year.

More cross reports soon.


Big tesuque breakfast burritos freezing hands something about running

Whoops, I got most of the way through this race report and then forgot to finish it. So here goes... The race was 10/07/06, the week before the cross race posted below...

click for too large aspen vista trail vista from the race start

Earlier in the week, I was all fired up to do the road apple rally up in farmington. Something like 30 miles of swoopy really fast singletrack and one of the oldest MTB races in the US routinely won by crusty old durango fast guys like Ned Overend or Travis Brown. However, wednesday, I geared up the singlespeed to appropriate manly gear like 36 16 in prep for the race. Thursday morning I ride it to work and find I really can't turn the pedals over. The chainline is crap and front wheel has an annoying hop that I can't true, and I am tired from work, and I am cranky and I am whiney, and it hurts when i pedal, wah wah wah wah wah. So I whuss out on the race sleep in on friday and ride up the ski hill on the road bike as below.

Ahhh. Good biking adventure, some sleep and I feel good. Really good. Since farmington is 3 plus hours away and there is no race day reg, I change plans and hitch a ride with my buddy Paul to near the top of the santa fe ski hill for the big tesuque run. It starts up on the aspen vista trail on the santafe ski hill at 10,000 feet and climbs six miles up a fire road to the radio towers at 12,000 feet and turn around run back down for a total of 12 miles.

My goals were simple, run all the way up and then don't hurt my knee or hip coming back down. Secondary goal was to hit about an hour on the way up. It worked pretty well. Acheiving the goals were complicated by the fact that I had not run more than 5 miles at a time in the last year and a half or so, and also it was cold as crap at the top. I am guessing 42 and overcast at the start, 35 and rain at the top and then 40 or so and raining at the end.

The race went pretty well despite the weather and lack of running. I warmed up the first mile, struggled a bit in the the next few miles and then got my rhythm and churned on up to the summit. The first few miles were kind of annoying as I was stuck between two walk/runners and just in front of a hypoxic woman who was gasp honkin with every step. Now I do not begrudge the walk runners, as it is obvious that it works pretty well for going long distances offroad on steep stuff and I was not running all that much faster than they were walking, however... I named one of the dudes "runaway" and the other "Ketchup". Runaway would walk until I caught up with him and then seemingly sprint off and then start walking again a ways up the road. Ketchup would run from behind me to just in front of me and then begin walking. The middle miles of the race were framed by Ketchup and runaway with soundtrack provided by hypoxic shriek breather. Somewhere around the middle of the race, ketchup and shrieker faded off behind me and runaway done ran away and I was alone with my task. There were a few crusty old runners who blew by me late in the ascent, the kind of grizzled vets who probably don't function well at altitudes below 11,000 feet and run over fourteeners 5 times a week. With about a mile to go (for me) the leaders came coalescing out of the fog and streaked down the mountain. The winner apparently came in at 1:18 somewhere near a course record.

I hit the top in about 35th in 1:06, and then I ran down the whole way, stopping only to trip on a microscopic rock and tear a huge amount of flesh off of my hand, and stretch a bit. My knee is a little sore still (now a 10 days later) but not enough to effect riding or the cross race this past weekend. I was pretty much done running at the top but it was cold as crap and I was 6 miles from the car. The air was thin and the wind was blowing and the rain was coming down in sheets and my glasses were fogged irrevocably. So I turned at the top, looked around at the non existent view with mist closing in on all sides, and trundled on down the mountain. Approximately 200 people passed me on the way down. I could not really see and was pretty stiff. It took me about a mile to get re-warmed up on the way down as the short strides of the ascent were replaced by the loping breaking strides on the decline. After getting my grove back, i had two miles of smooth running and then about 2 miles of painful running before tripping and limping on to the finish. It seemed people were passing me constantly. I was pretty dissapointed to see it was only 20 who passed me on the way down according to the results. The grand total was 1:57 or therabouts, 55th out of 120 and a stern vow to get offamybut next year and race road apple instead.

The best part of the race was the epic quantity of breakfast burritos at the end. I shamefully admit to eating two, although there were something like 300 hundred, both veggie and smoked bacon filled. I also drank lots of coffee. And froze my ass off despite changing into dry clothes. Paul and I finally took off for lower altitudes when the awards finished and I could no longer feel my hands despite holding hot coffee in one and a hot burrito in the other.

The end.


Cross and Truth in advertising?

Made it down to albuquerque saturday for a cross race that went much better than expected. Saw some good stuff on the way back.

Burger king is apparently breaking ground in the breakfast department:


Also a nice lumberjack derived vietnamese food further north:

The race:

All told it was a good race, I remained whole, did not trip and was pretty competitive for at least the first 45 minutes of the hour race. The course was actually a really good single speed course despite having approximately 5 feet of elevation change. Lots of soft grass, hairpins and a long ridable sand section and a long sand running section. Good stuff. They ran the A's and B's simultaneously which actually was pretty cool, it filled in the back of the A pack with B sandbaggers, which made it alot more fun for me, being in the back of the A's and all. I almst did not get lapped, but a few untimely chain derailments and final lap tiredness on my part let the top four guys blow by me in the last half mile. Oh well, the upside was I got to watch the top four guys hammer each other until they all dropped off but the victor. I even remembered how to get on and off the bike at high speed by the fourth lap or so. I was sand spattered, happy and really hungry at the end, the perfect mindset for the ensuing huevos rancheros. 10 years of cross in the bag. Woo!


Cross is here and others internets diversions

Thanks to JimG and the Cr list, an inspiring cross video from 1944. Get some old french dudes, its remarkable how little cross changes, put giro alien helmets on em and they would fit right in. If i can maintain some semblance of motivation I should be racing in albuquerque on saturday for my 10th year of cross while wearing the stripes. Cross cross cross cross cross cross cross cross.

Also via the CR list, a nice NPR short on the rumbling of a fully wooden velodrome up north somewhere. Now if they could follow that up with the whosh and suck the peleton in a big crit or road race goes by, it would be great. Having only ridden on concrete veledromes, I am envious of the audible aspect of the wooden ones. I am sure the old wood ones in the pre WW2 era were even more rattily.


mini movie review: Little Miss Sunshine

Did you like welcome to the dollhousebut find it too painful to watch due to its cruelty? Little Miss Sunshine is a somewhat feel good version of that. Cruel, painful, but much less so than the other one. Good stuff. And funny too.

little miss sunshine at amazon or your local videostore.

Book Review: American Prometheus

In honor of yet another country breaking through the kiloton (maybe) barrier, getting all nukyler and making the world just a little less stable, a mini-review:

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Wow, this was quite a book. It is approximately 1 million pages in 5 point text with virtually no margins. Even though it had more words than the OED, I found it fascinating. No exaggeration though, if you have trouble reading small tightly spaced text, this book could be borderline illegible, go for the hardback, it is slightly more readable.

The book traces Oppenheimers life from childhood, to his troubled physics prodigy years, onto his time as a pinko physics professor in berkeley, to father of the atomic bomb, to his post war life as a influential science advisor to the whitehouse, and then on to his high profile loss of his security clearance in a kangaroo court and the sad ending of his life, a broken man.

Being a liberal, a scientist and a los alamoosan it was a very interesting and highly relevant read. Seeing the genesis of the town where I live and the lab where I work was great. It was also very interesting seeing Oppenheimer's transition from borderline communist to perhaps the most influential scientist in the post quantum era.

Obviously there are huge political and moral issues raised in the book. I think book treats the complexity of development, testing and deployment of the first nuclear weapons superbly. It concentrates on oppenheimer, but gives a nice context for the political climate duiring the second world war and how the attitudes of the scientists and politicians evolved in the post war period. It is striking the degree of political influence that Oppenheimer had after the war, especially compared to how little influence scientist have in the current administration.

This book is very sympathetic to Oppenheimer and is written from a liberal perspective, I think. I am not sure if it is enough to anger current right wingers, but I would not be suprised. It certainly does not gloss over his foibles, but it does dismiss his trial as a political sideshow from the McCarthy era. I think I would have preferred the book to be slightly less blindly supportive of Oppenheimer. His work and the absurdity of the trial against him probably would speak for themselves without the taint of oversupportive bias.

If you like good non-fiction and biographies, this is a good one, even if you don't live in these fertile atomic lands.

Get it at yer local book shop or amazon


How much trouble can I get in on 25mm tires?

So the question was, can I, using only my road bike, get to where Cañada Bonita hits the barbed wire fence seperating it from the Valle Caldera?

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Answer: yep.

So it takes about 9.5 miles from my house to get there via los alamos canyon, about 8 of which is climbing from the ice rink all the way to the top. The last 2 miles or so is on doubletrack and then singletrack through the xc ski trails atop pajarito mountain. I have ridden through Cañada Bonita a billion times on the MTB, but it is often not that fun getting up there on a mtb. The off road routes are climbtastic and take a long time. Climbing up the ski hill road on a road bike is much easier, still painful 2000+ foot climb, but relatively fast, especially as it is newly paved. I think it took me 1hour 20minutes to get all the way to where the picture was taken. Well under two hours round trip.

The ski trails are in great shape. Los Alamos has a serious problem with downed trees due to windstorms on the upper trails. Especially where the fire went through, but often with live trees too. The xc ski club and tuffriders mtb club do excellent work keeping the trails passable and it was good. Just a few trees down on the parts I rode, not including the arm size sapling I moved off trail. I must help them more.

The trails are slightly rocky, but pretty smooth and were quite easy to get up on the road bike. The aspen leaves down all over the trail made it a bit tricky and slippery and hid the rocks a bit, but it was not too bad.

Coming down was a bit sketchier, I made a little loop coming down the all access area of the xc ski trails, which was a fair bit rockier. I rode slow and steady and made it back without dabbing at all (up or down) save the gate at the bottom of the trail.

Ideally this would be done on cross tires, but this was pretty easy on the 25mm specialized road tires I was sporting. They sit about 26mm wide on open pro rims. I was running an All conditions pro up front and a mondo pro in back. I have well over 1000 miles on the front, the back is pretty new. I love these tires. They are round and light and, at least for the all conditions pro, are very cut resistant. My all time favorite road tires are the michelin pro races in 23 or 25, but they cut easily, which is less than ideal for the rough los alamos road riding and stupid dirt diversions. These specialized pro's are really nice.

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The singletrack upwards in this pic leads up toward the pipeline and guaje trail junctions, I think I probably could get to the top of the trail seen in the photo on my road bike and down a bit on the other side, but not too much further. The trails go to big rocky fireroads for a while, which would probably be pinchflatastic. See scotts blog for some similar photos and an idea what lies beyond.

It was a really good fast ride. I am guessing by late november this will be impassible on a roadbike, and possibly impassible via skis, with full on skiability by the new year, if we are lucky. Do your snow dance now.

Here is what it looked like in two winters ago, the last time skiing was possible. Picture taken from almost exact the same place as today's:

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Garagesus brings me a bike

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Garagesus was good to me last weekend. A quick 3 stops and 10 dollars later I own yet... another... raleigh... project... bike. This time some sort of 1966 (from the AW hub) enamled black raleigh 3 speed roadster with 590 wheels. The bike, judging from the speckled bird crap and horrible sunburn on the brooks saddle, spent some time outside, but this being NM it is in pretty good shape. What is not in good shape, is the bike itself thanks to the too smart for his own good scientist who was the previous owner. It obviously was about 20 minutes into an overhaul by the guy who thought, it was just a bike, how hard could it be. It sports a new rear tire and the right pedal has been taken off. It is also missing the hub cones and shifty mechanisms, the brakes, the levers, the front fender, the nuts from the cotters (?!?) and other bits. I am guessing it was midway through dissasembly when the scientist guy either could not get off the left pedal, or got really scared of the innards of the Sturmey AW hub. Or maybe it took until he went to the LBS to find replacement SA innards and then got scared off. Hmm...

Anyhow, all the stuff missing is not there. The previous owner was sheepish and evasive when questioned directly about missing parts, justifying my theory above. Luckily I have a JC higgens donor bike mouldering about for just such an occasion with a suitable front fender and a seventies AW hub to make things right.

I am up in the air about whether to make this a 3 speed with chromed steel rims, or with Aluminum rims, or if I lace up a coaster brake to the OG rims, or if I make it a 584 bike with maybe with a 2 speed kickback bendix, I can use the 584 rims I got off a schwinn hybrid I got at a garage sale last year. Hmmm...

It was worth it just for the weird B72 saddle:

Lots of proofhide, a bit o' tension and a touch of skirt lacing and it should be good to go.

For those who enjoy such things, here is a high res photo of the developing basement lair. There is a fridge, a workstand and enough room for about 15 bikes behind me when I took the pic. This is the first dedicated bike workshop I have had since 1997 or therabouts.

Thanks to sweetnourishingbikes for garage sale bike display inspiration.



Went for a twilight road ride up toward the Jemez after an extended double spoke replacement on the rear wheel of my road bike.

Coming out of Los Alamos Canyon I paused to snap the nightly roost of the creepy turkey vultures:

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I pass by these trees almost every day on the commute home. I have counted as many as 20 in a single tree and 40ish in adjacent trees. Tonight there were "only" 25 in two trees:

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Here is the nice view from the bottom of the canyon near the ice rink, with omega bridge high over head and the Sangre de Christo mountains way off in the background:

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I live about the same altitude of as the bridge, I think it is about 2.5 miles to work across the bridge and in directly and maybe 5 or a bit more through the canyon with a stiff climb. I choose the canyon as often as possible.