3/31/2009

Road find of the Day

Folding stabby knife!

Stabby stabby stabby!
Found just over the Ottowi bridge. I have been really hurting for road finds the last couple years. Los Alamos is not that big a place and only has a few roads really, so it is difficult to find stuff, not like Knoxville, which was a non-stop road find fiesta. Lots of roads, no one walks around so little competition for tools there in Knoxville. I seem to find lots of utility knives. This is at least number 5, but only the third usable one. By far the nicest too, what with the folding action and the case and the 5 new blades in the handle. I also find an inordinate number of english sockets. Mostly 3/8". What are your common road finds?

I don't count truck lugnuts, but I have a lot of those too, including lots and lots of "locking" lugnuts that obviously don't work. Mostly I only pick those up if they are right next to me at a light. I pick up lots of ejected pedal reflectors off the trails too, but neither are really satisfying road finds. Lugnuts are an impressive amount of machining and plating though for something that falls off so often.

3/29/2009

Yearly Apricot Blossom Snow


This year it occurred on March 26-27, 6+ inches of snow accompanied by an overnight low of 15 degrees or so. Last year we got 4 apricots, two years ago we had a billion. Lets see what we have this year. It seems like the blooms are a bit early this year, but we will see, I think, for future reference the first blooms started on 3/22.



2008 snowy apricots on 4/10/2008


2007 snowy apricots on 4/13/2007, looks like blooming started on 3/20/2007

3/26/2009

2009 Pajarito Pinhead Challenge Race Report 3/14/09

Pre race, we went up next to the antenna up there


Oh the pain. Still, best race ever, or at least dumbest, or more accurately, the race I am least prepared for, yet still participate in. To refresh your memory, this is an uphill downhill ski race. Starts and finishes just above the lodge at the Pajarito Mountain Ski resort (9200ft). In the middle it goes over the top of the mountain (10,400 ft). Since I will probably refer back to it alot, here is the race report from last year.

Zac and I in pre race dork mode...


So anyway, there are lots of things I am good at in cross country skiing, but extended uphills (first part of the race) and scary downhills (second part of the race) are not it. Despite this I get absurd enjoyment from this race. Part of it is that it takes 15 minutes to get to, part is that it is free and part is maybe the whole nordic vs. skinners part. The trail jeep road on the west side of the mountain is groomed for nordic skiing, but those on skins can take a steep shortcut up dogpatch. This allows the nordic folks a fast, long way up, but allows the skinners a shortcut to even things out. There is a middle traverse section of the mountain top that is groomed and pretty much a big advantage to the skaters, and then a steepish downhill down the "I don't care run" that is frankly terrifying on skate skiis and the skinners are at a HUGE advantage, especially if they like going downhill. The skinners usually are on some sort of tele, backcountry or touring gear. The nordic folks are usually skaters, although one guy showed up on classic touring skiis and took the nordic route this year.

Jeri prerace, victory was hers in the womens race.


Unlike last year, 9 of the 12 starters were skinners. Clay and myself skated and Martin classikked. The conditions were odd. After a dearth of snow since january, we got about 8 inches on the ski hill the day before the race. The warm temps and lack of snow put some sections of the back side of the mountain unskiiable, but there were some steep roads that were substituted. The nordic side of the course had been groomed the night before but it was really soft. The dogpatch shortcut was ungroomed. The downhill was groomed, but only one groomer width wide.

Stretching at the startline


The race started a bit late and with a flurry. Clay got out to a really fast start, I sort of flailed behind him in second and super strong skinners Rich and Hans apparently were skating on their backcountry skis not too far behind me. All action at the front and back of the race are hearsay as I was middling the whole way.

The start, Clay out fast, and me doing the pterodactyl behind, caw caw.


As Clay and I headed up the road it was clear that this was going to be a slow climb for the skaters. The snow was really soft and some of the ski resort's snowmobilers had passed up and down the groomed trail churning it up more and making it even softer. I got into a slow rhythm, not wanting to blow up like the year before.

Great view of the fog enshrouded valley


Not much happened for a while. There were some spectacular views on the course, Clay was beset upon by a trio of yellow dogs, but their owners called them off before they ate him. Things got really slow for me and Clay disappeared far off into the heights of the mountain.

Rich skinning close behind me at the start


After awhile we crossed courses with the skinners. I saw my buddy Zach skinning up just below me. He informed me that he thought he was about the 5th or sixth skinner on the course, which put us in the 8th or ninth position. After one more switch back the skinners and skaters joined courses and we headed up a steep off camber groomed trail toward the aspen lift. This part was my darkest hour. It was so soft and so off camber that I was getting no glide and not even able to actually move forward. Zach actually trudged by me on his skins and started to drop me. Oh the humanity. Fortunately after a while the course firmed up a bit with the altitude and I was able to catch up to Zach and drop him. There was a fast short downhill followed by some rolling terrain and I was able to catch Rob and pass him (almost exactly in the same spot that I caught him last year) and almost catch another skinner, Ken, before getting to the top of I don't care. For comparison sake, last year I had passed all the skinners by the top of the descent, but got passed by three of them on the descent...

Flurries blew in midrace


The descent was really soft and I did my best to try and stay upright the whole way, but I quickly crashed pretty hard twice, once almost hitting myself in the head with my own ski, so I decided to try some alternative methods of getting down the hill. My first plan was to try to slide down on my hip like last year. It was too soft and I ground to a halt. I then sort of fell into the successful plan. I basically sat on the tails of my skiis and glided down the slope, half on my ass, half on my skiis. When it was steep, I would grind my butt into the snow and essentially, uh, snowplow with my crotch. When it was a more shallow slope I would kind of paddle with my arms to maintain momentum. It worked pretty well, but I am sure I looked ridiculous. While I am dedicated to you dear readers, my dedication does not extend to wishing that video of my ignominious descent existed.

Jeff, Hans, Clay, post race, 4th, 1st 3rd respectively


About halfway down the slope Rob came blowing by me in a full tuck. I think he took no turns at all. Very impressive. I continued my dog-ass-wipe descent and finally got to the jeep road back to the lodge. As I turned onto the lodge, I attempted to get some speed up, but surprisingly, this descent felt much faster than I remembered it and I ended up snowplowing quite a bit. Fortunately no one else caught me and I finished up. A foggy snow flurry had blown in and I was soaked from the effort of the climb and from rolling in the snow on the descent. I quickly retreated to the lodge to change.

Me finishing, do I look scared? I ain't.


As we gathered in the lodge and swapped war stories, the race fleshed out. Rich and Hans had gotten to the top well in front and Hans ended up being the class of the field and finished in a very impressive 31 minutes. Rich took second. Jeff made it up to the top in third, but was using light backcountry gear and fell alot on the way down. Clay actually out descended him on his skate skiis (and did not fall once, which is really impressive) and took third. Jeff followed in for fourth. Toti was in fifth. Ken and Rob in sixth and seventh.

Race organizer Karen, thanks Karen!


I was 8th, Zach finished in 9th at some point behind me having some descent troubles as well. Turns out the half groomed downhill lead to some spectacular crashes in the soft powder. Here are some overall results:
1. Hans, Skin, 31:56
2. Rich, Skin, 34:05
3. Clay, Skate, 37:31
4. Jeff, Skin, 38:32
5. Toti, Skin, 38:55
6. Ken, skin, 43:17
7. Rob. Skin, 45:13
8. Tarik, Skate, 47:30
9. Zach, Skin, 52:39
10: Ron, Skin, 56:33
11: martin, classic, 1:02:58
12 Jeri, Skin, 1:22:11

Race organizer Jean holding the results


I think I was much faster down hill this year and much slower up hill this year, but the overall result was exactly the same, eight place, and a time that was about two minutes slower. They ran a nice awards ceremony that broke the 12 of us down by both age and technique. Pretty much everyone won either a hat or a pint glass. After the race I ate the hell out of a giant breakfast burrito at the ski lodge cafe and then had a beer as part of the skiesta festivities featuring three local microbrewers. Good stuff and a great time had by most. I awoke extremely freeking sort the next morning from the hard poling up the hill and the hard crashing on the way down. Go races!

Big thanks to Dina for taking photos. All but three in the report are from here. Go see the rest here She got most of the racers finishing and more shots before and after the race.

Post race fueling

3/18/2009

Juniper pollen plagues moscaline

Despite tiny armies of juniper pollen infesting my entire respitory system, I have still been busy. Here is a brief update of recent activities:

1. I have been doing a fair bit of ski racing. I am three race reports behind. If I don't get on it, I will be 4 race reports behind by saturday night.

2. In betwixt ski waxing I have been desperately trying to get more than one bike running simultaneously. I think I had 6 or 7 down with flats or mechanicals as of last saturday. I am a lazy mechanic of late, but it is hard to predict things like oddly broken chains and bizarrely defective tubes:

There is a leak in that tube somewhere, but only that one bulbous section will pressurize, so I can't find it.

3. I have put about 50 miles on the 24" Hunter BMX bike this week in commuting and messing around. This is mostly due to the fact that is was my only functioning bike without studded tires. I suck at jumping still, but it is fun to ride. Cats are nonplussed:


4. I have discovered new ways of working out using only body weight resistance. Aida loves it:


5. Team baby blue bicycle dropped in for a visit as I was waylaid by the persistent pollens. They seemed to want practice babyholding, chad photographs as oddly as usual:


6. Between this and all the damn unicycle kids in town, I have some hope for the future:


7. Patch kits are confounding. I don't think I have ever had one that was useful at the time I needed it on the road. This was a new and unique failure, usually the glue just deliquesces, leaving behind a useless tube carcass:



8. The bees, they are kaput. I will report back with details, but they did not come out when the neighbor bees did, and they did not seem to be cleaning their stoop as they usually do. Our bee keepers took the hive away today, hopefully I will get some answers tomorrow. Our neighbors bees are going gangbusters, maybe a interbee war, or maybe just bad luck...

3/13/2009

and put your helmeton


Instead of buying a new helmet, I plan to reuse Aida's bumbo. Clever, eh? Now where did I put those protein pills

3/09/2009

These are for you



It has been warmer than usual since mid january so these grew, and then it was 18 degrees and hailing and snowing a bit, so I picked these for you.

I also wanted to be more like the LFOAB, so I shaved, for very similar reasons he did.

3/06/2009

Never done this before


Or at least never done this and kept on riding.
The good news is that I did not crash in traffic when it happened, and I made it about two miles home before I figured out what the dealy-o was. I did drop the chain a few times, I thought I just bent a link, but no, that ain't bent. I now have two bikes with bent or broken chains. Both relatively new chains. Crap.

If you look carefully you can see the juniper pollen on the chainring. We are beset with eye-itching-sneezing plagues of it.

3/03/2009

Ubikequitous 6, Tolstoy

It was also during his sixties that Tolstoy learned how to ride a bicycle. He took his first lesson exactly one month after the death of his and Sonya’s beloved youngest son. Both the bicycle and an introductory lesson were a gift from the Moscow Society of Velocipede-Lovers. One can only guess how Sonya felt, in her mourning, to see her husband pedaling along the garden paths. “Tolstoy has learned to ride a bicycle,” Chertkov noted at that time. “Is this not inconsis-tent with Christian ideals?”
Elif Batuman, The murder of Leo Tolstoy:
A forensic investigation
Harper's Feb. 2009.

Ridiculous and very enjoyable tale of attending an international Tolstoy conference in Russia.


Possibly similar posts:
Neils Bohr on a bicycle

previous ubikequiti