December 29 Returned to New Mexico in the wee hours, slept, woke up to light snow getting heavy. Split a couple of barrowloads of wood, hopped on the stud shod Big Dummy to get tacos Headed out again a few hours later in worsening conditions to go to the bank and get groceries. Mileage: 10.17 miles
December 30 Snowing heavily in the morning. Shoveled almost a foot or snow off the driveway. Watched the snow fall and caulked the tub. Decided to bail on the ride to the golf course and xc ski plan and just headed out for a neighborhood cruise on the big dummy. It was probably 25 and blowing. The roads were either packed snow or ice or unplowed. The studded tires did no wrong on the ice and packed snow. The trails and park were under too much snow to ride so I stuck to the road. It was a good cold little ride. Mileage: 6.3 miles
So these two days added 16.47 miles of studded tire big dummy riding to the previous 92.03 on the fixie friday for a massive 108.5 miles, aka 174.6 km. Not even halfway there to the 500km goal, but I did some good rides, lots of errands and rode everyday. I call it a win. Surf on over to the rapha blog to see how everyone else did.
OK, here are the first few days of the Rapha Festive 500 attempt.
December 23rd Got up early, got to the airport, chased the baby through the infinite halls of Pheonix airport, got to Santa Barbara (see I cheat!) unpacked the fixie friday, headed to the markets to get some beers and sundries: Fiddled with the non-working cyclocomputer for a while and then gave up and rode back to a bike shop to get a new bike computer. Mileage: 5 miles (low estimate for fairness sake...)
December 24th: Rode to the butterfly grove in goleta, some muddy riding/running to find the family, tried to keep the wee ones from getting the butterflies, headed to lunch, ate a burrito, rode back on the foot hill route, up to mountain and down. Ran a bunch of errands. It were a good day. Stem QR wireless computer mount hack with super pro bidon Mileage, 35.66 miles.
December 25th, Christmas with the family. Rode from the hotel to my brothers house. Tried to sneak in a ride while Aida napped. She did not nap, my ride was enshortened. Probably saved me from a very wet ride. Mileage: 5.65 miles
December 26th, Rode out with my bro toward mountain, he turned back after five miles, I headed for parts unknown. Great ride, found the bike butt mailbox, did a loop and lots of climbing. Mileage 20.28
December 27th. Got out for a good afternoon ride. Completed the mountain to sanysidro loop, back through montecito and downtown. Absolutely beautiful day. Lots of wet on the roads. Mileage 24.92
December 28th Rode from the hotel to my brothers house. Put helmet on for ride, but baby would not nap, so I put helmet away and walked to get coffee and treats with the young lady. Got back, packed up the bike and headed to the airport to return home. Mileage 0.52 miles, but I did ride.
So the total for the warmish part of the festive 500 was 92.03 miles, aka 148.11 km. So still a bit short of the planned 500 but probably one of my best weeks in december since I have lived in NM, tune in tomorrow evening for how the final two days went...
Ah, winter, she is here. A good day starting with snow encrusted riding, ending in really snow encrusted riding.
Got in a 14 miles of wintry goodness culminating in riding home with four inches on the trails sliding around on the big dummy.
In that vein, I announce my attempt to achieve epicness this holiday season. I am a sucker for a good logo so I am in it to try it and fall far short. Go me. Follow along with my meagre milage with the festive 500 tag.
Usually I would be blogging winter stuff right now, but it is so dry and (relatively) warm, I actually had to water some trees. We have no snow to speak of in Los Alamos thus far, so here is some sad old news...
My favorite tree planting, posthumously anointed Kenny, is an aspen I planted in the front yard. It went yellow this year and was growing slowly, yet steadily, into a tree, potentially offering shade in the hot summer afternoons. Alas the morning we left for New Zealand, I found it smashed asunder:
Neighbors saw sparring mule deer in the front the afternoon before. You bastards. You killed Kenny. I have since cut the remains down and added it to the kindling pile, hoping that some aspen suckers come up from the root.
I think I took this photo a mere handful of hours before the deer got the tree.
Boring post, but I need to actually write this down as I keep getting emails from people asking these questions. I added this link and my contact info on the sidebar if you have questions.
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Like I said last I linked to his videos, I hope that Danny MacAskill sleeps in piles of money. My only criticism is that I think the same music should be used last video again. That is the Ass killingist music there is. Otherwise? Just watch. Over and over again. until you think you can do what he does. Next thing? This happens:
Logical extension of trying the front flip and/or nosewheely thing on the big dummy.
A few years ago we had a sorry square of earth next to the house that nothing grew in and the cats were using it as a toilet. Elena's grandfather was a professional gardener and gave her a huge number of gathered seeds that were unlabled and old. I added some new compost to the square and all the seeds and a drip irrigation hose. Thus was born the demonstration garden. Lots grew, little was identified with the exception of the radishes, after they bolted, and the hollyhocks when they burst into wevil covered bloom the second year. Inspired by this, I reclaimed another small barren cat claimed square of land on the backside of the house with zinnias, morning glories, california poppies and peppers (from a wind damaged ristra). Success again. I attribute the success to unrestrained application of seeds, some new improved soil and water. Not all the plants did well, but enough did to deter the cats. Now onto more complex demonstrations.
We have a wood stove that generates lots of ash. We have lots of mule deer/bear/racoon/fox/coyote leavings in the yard. We also have cat and window killed critters in the yard: mice, gophers, birds and snakes ( and airplanes). None of this stuff goes in a compost heap. But it does go into the demonstration compost heap. Which is under a 50 year old lilac bush in the back corner of the property. So the thinking is that the soil has never been improved there. Lilac bushes do well with alkaline soil, but you can easily over alkilize the soil with wood ash. Hence tempering it with poops, coffee grounds, leaves, dead things. I also threw in an old chile ristra (left over from demonstration garden two) to deter critters from digging into it, along with some cut flowers and other stuff I did not want to throw in the primary compost heap. So there you have it. Either I will kill the lilac bush, or it won't notice, or it will magically bloom prodigiously next year. I don't expect much success or failure, but hopefully the combo of all of the ingredients will cause none of the single ingredients to be that bad an idea. I will rake it out in the spring and see if deadthings and poops decompose. Presence of worms is unlikely but will be considered victory.
Anyhow, one of my much anticipated highlights of the trip to NZ was a chance to ride the Schweeb at Argoventures in Rotorua. Schweeb lately has been the source of much press and online ridicule as it got a google investment and a wired article as the "future of transportation!".
It is basically a hanging recumbent monorail. It is fun to ride. It is really fun to ride really fast. I am not impressed with it as the future of sustainable transportation as you can't ride a monorail faster than the dude in front of you. And then they would just add a motor to it anyway and then it would become a singlepod monorail. But as a fun race around real fast type thing, it was an absolute blast. In fairness to Schweeb, check out their FAQ which more or less address most of the criticisms to a point. I am not here to conduct a critique on this as a transportation alternative, as the Schweeb in rotorua is merely a carnival game as a concept demonstration, so check out the Schweeb website and read away.
It is billed as the first cycling monorail, but there is at least a currently operating clunky themepark one in the UK There was also both a above and below rail cycling monorail in Smithville NJ in the late 1800's: I have also heard of them in Japan. Kolelinia is a concept for a regular bike on a monorail, sort of a single rail railbike if you will. Anyhow, onto the schweeb!
Schweeb Scorching in Flip Flops
The schweeb is a recumbent in a pod with a track overhead. It has a simple seat, narrow bars and then a normal crank with a single chainring and a 7 speed IG hub that has a second chain on the non drive side that runs up to some sort of powertransfer mechanism between the schweeb and track. I completely forgot to ask or poke around in the drive mechanism, so I will just say it magically drives the schweeb pod around the track.
New Zealand is a country of extreme sports opportunities. Everywhere you go there is BungyJumping, sky diving, jet boating, cave rafting, etc. etc. etc. Argoventures has most of these plus giant inflatable hampster balls to roll downhill in. And the Schweeb! While there was a steady stream of bungy jumpers, swoopers and jet boaters at Argoventures that day, I was the only Schweeber. As Elena overheard some onlookers say, "that looks like exercise". However, the Agroventures is connected with the Agrodome that features a spectacularly interesting sheep show, which I can't recommend enough. Aida got to see so many sheep and lambs that her head almost exploded.
Aida and I and the mighty Merino and other lesser sheeps
Prices at Agroventures were not too cheap, Schweeb cost $39 NZD for one ride, it was the cheapest ride there, other rides were $49 or more. Fortunately I had a $5 NZD ticket for the Schweeb as part of the Single Speed World Championships, so I took advantage of it. I did spend a further $35 NZD for the photo/video package so I can share the schweebishness with you, my small yet loyal handful of blog readers. The track is a 200m oval with dual tracks with two small hill/crossover features so you could race two up on a similar length track.
They had a Schweeb contest as part of the SSWC, but I was not in town early enough for that, but they ran my race the same way they did for the race party night. One lap to get up to speed and a flying start for 3 laps. They recommended get rolling for half a lap and then crank it for the start line then keep on pedaling. They also recommended keeping it in gear 4 or 5 max.
Pre race looking good
So they took an elegant portrait of me sitting on the track, I stood against a height gauge so they could set the seat for me. Note this is what I was riding in, long shirt, shorts and flip flops. It was not too hot or sweaty. I climbed in the pod, they took another photo, they locked me into the pod, then pulled the pod back and pushed me off the start line and I started pedaling. I started in first, got around the first turn and then ramped it up and started pedaling hard. Floating in my tin can
As I got going I was surprised how much the pod banked on turns and wobbled coming out of turns. It was difficult for me to go all out the first lap as I had no idea what to expect and the banking and wobbling was a bit unsettling. By the second lap I figured out that I was not going to rip the pod off the track so I tried riding faster. It was a weird experience. It was hard to tell where I was on the track. The up and down at the crossovers were at first disconcerting and then fun. The wobblyness turned into uncontrolled slamming back and forth as I got to higher speed. Clearly some leaning was in order, but as I had no idea where the turns were or how to compensate, I did not even try.
Banking hard through the start finish
When I finally got my rhythm the race was over, I finished 600m in 57.8 seconds, as a contrast, SSWC race winner Garth Weinberg also set the schweeb record at 51 seconds. My time is an equivalent average speed of 23mph, Garths was about 26mph. My best standing start kilo time on the track was about a 30mph average, I think my best standing 500 was around a 28mph average. Now I am not in that kind of shape anymore, but I a bit surprised that it was not possible to far exceed that with a flying start on the super aerodynamic aeropod, if not by me, certainly by Garth.
Finally, when I climbed out of the pod I could barely walk as my quads were so pumped up. I used to ride lots of recumbents when i was on the UC Berkeley HPV team, but had not been on one in over a decade, so I forgot how different it was to ride hard on a recumbent. I would love to see how Sam Whittingham or some similarly well trained HPV'er would do on this.
In conclusion, this was a blast, I wish I could ride it again to get the hang of it, I am pretty sure I could easily shave a second per lap, especially with some confidence that I wasn't going to break it and with some strategic leaning. Most of the photos above with the exception of the first video (shot by Elena) were from the photo package I bought. Now here is the video they shot with the in pod camera while I was racing. The footage of me is interspersed with stock footage of exterior view video, but it is still fun to watch. As has been pointed out, I make funny faces, so watch away!
Pick up tumbleweed on pedal on tricky singletrack descent, make transition to road, pedal a few times, pluck tumbleweed from foot, remove glove, pedal through the parking lot, fish phone from pocket, take photo, upload to flickr, put phone in pocket, merge into traffic, chunk tumbleweed into gutter, turn onto interstitial path, put glove on, ride to the light, track stand for a bit, cross street, hop on singletrack to bridge, head on home.
Got in from colorado late last Friday night, got up early saturday and saddled up the breeze and rode downtown for the Ruby K yum Run 10k trail race. It was cold on the way to the race, i was barely awake enough to eat, but I got an espresso, a banana and a couple of blue flavored gummi cliff blocks down the gullet before the race.
I had not really run in a month, except for Friday when I ran up and down the sand dunes at the great sand dune national monument. Barefoot.
So when I woke up for the race my feet hurt a bunch, my quads were sore and I had less than 5 hours sleep. But I was ready to go.
I talked to a few friends at the start. They did a fun line up where there was one start line in front of the post office. The 10k trail runner lined up on one side to go down central and the 5k pavement pounders lined up on the otherside to go up central. The gun went off and maybe 15 10kers took off down central.
The course took the trails behind the aquatic center and dropped into acid canyon and came back up and did a loop by the golf course and dropped back down the canyon more or less to the bridges trail back up and into town. I understood the course in theory, but the exact nature of the trails was unclear. Nor were they particularly well marked, but most of us made it back OK without getting too lost.
Anyhow, the race starts downhill and I am sort of running and chatting with aerobic monster Hans. He is chatting gregariously while I am breathing hard. A group of three of us drop into the canyon first. The initial switchbacks are pretty steep and I am higgledy piggledy going down. I look up and Hans has gapped me something fierce and the second place guy is also a fair bit ahead of me.
As we cruise along the bottom of the canyon a little fast feller blows by me and sprints way up past #2 over up to Hans in a short bit. I settle in to a rhythm and get dropped by the frontrunners. There are about 5 people coming up behind me, but I am cruising along OK.
We hit the nasty switchback climb out of acid canyon and I drop two guys who were closing in on my. The top two women blow by me here and I watch Susan put a good gap on the second placed woman in short order. I put my head down and run on. We hit a trail I have never taken before, which should prove useful for future cross bike rides. I turn my ankle quite well on the low part of the trail and then climb up a stair steppy technical climb to the north golf course side of the perimeter trail. A bearded fellow closes in on me and I wait for him to pass, but he never does. After some smooth trail I look back and I have dropped him pretty good. We hit a feed station with delicious chlorine/soap water served from large gatorade coolers of uncertain age and head south on the upper rim of canyon south golf course side. See?
As we descend technically demanding terrain into the canyon the feller I dropped comes back right on my back and I am forced to pick it up a bit. It smooths out and I open it up and then forget to get my leg over a rock and stub my toe and hit the dirt hard. I get up somewhat surprised that I am not passed. It dawns on me that bearded fellow is great at technical running, especially downhill, but not so great at running fast on the smooth stuff. Fortunately I realize, but for a few bites, it would be all smooth and climbing all the way back to the finish. I just needed to not pack it in and push it.
Easier said than done as my utter lack of run training plus soreness in the quads from the previous days sand running adventure has left me feeling like I need to just walk on home. But with the dulcet tones of the shitty Rufus Wainright cover of halleluja echoing through my head (the one where he enunciates "do you" at the end of each verse instead of the original Cohen rhyming "do ya", it is Hallelujah, not halleluyou, moron. Alas it is Aida's favorite song so we listened to it 400 billion times on the way back from colorado the day before) I press on.
I am delighted to discover that the sewage treatment plant in the canyon is completely gone replaced by a wildflower meadow with a nice clean bit of new single track in it. Discovering two new trails within a couple miles of the house is a great bonus to racing. I see the second place woman up ahead of me while I attempt to drop the guy behind me. We loop on this trail over to bridges and I am on the home stretch. One nasty climb out of the canyon to the finish to go.
As we climb out of the canyon, instead of going straight out of the canyon on the fireroad we turn onto twisty little trails, all alike, but without any course markings. Again, I know what we are trying to do, but the exact mechanism of staying on course out of the canyon is not really clear. I am pretty sure I do it right and motor on back to the pavement to the finish. Turns out I am the fifth overall finisher, fourth among males. The dude behind me finishes a minute or so back and the second place woman magically appears a few minutes behind him after getting well and truly lost on the twisty little singletrack all alike. She still finishes second among women though, or so it would seem...
I stick around for awhile, watch the finishers, cheer for pal Siobhan on her first 10k race ever finishing strong on a tough course, watch the kids race, chat with pals, find that my evil sister "Saleh Tarik" has finished second in the women's race. I protest the results and find myself relegated to 6th place in the mens race due to age grading of the results. Alas, I am old and slow, but not old enough apparently. I am working on it.
Overall great race, needs better water, more runners and better course markings. The course is surprisingly tough but excellent. I will try to do it again next year. I am, as of 5 days post race still enormously sore. I should run more, and get older and faster as well. My back is killing me to the point of not sleeping well due to a tweaked rear back lung brace muscle pull I sustained upon falling. Racing is good. Where the hell were you the rest of you real runners? Until next year.
Its been a rough couple weeks at work, lots of weird hours and bonus lightning round laptop work at home, but I have managed to mostly keep my commuting to hours where the sun shines, or just after it dips behind the mountains, so I have not needed to use my lights yet this season, until tonight. I had to finish something tonight, so I did and rode home in the gosh darn surely pitch black of night at around 8:30 pm. It was a lovely night for it. Warm, with patches of really cold air blasting down the mountain heading for an overnight inversion layer in the valley below. I spied a pair of reflecty eyes off in the woods on the way home, probably mule deer, most likely not mountain lion, but a nonzero chance of chupacabras. There was no traffic to speak of. I got this great picture of me riding beneath the beauty enhancing glow of street lights.
I try to grin when i ride at night so the car's headlights reflect off my teeth.
I have been riding the Schwinn breeze all week as I have been pretty much heading straight in to work 3 miles and then coming home three miles at the end of the day with no lunch trips or offsite visits or nuthing. It has basket and fenders and for some reason is the only currently belit bike. I need to figure out my winter light inventory again. Some things are brewing on the bike front, but best just try to make em happen before reporting. I am trying to replace that which is unridden, with that which is. Sound good? Ok then. Back to the sleep.
I started another blog for short one liner photo posts, mostly links, probably all bikes. I will try to keep moscaline rolling with longer posts with the occasional shorter one thrown in, mostly bikes, but also cats, travel, life, house, etc... But maybe not as often or oftener. But check out the Velocanoose if you want miniposts, thats where they will be for sure
Also, I might like some co-conspirators. Email me if interested, I will not accept just anyone. Let me know who you are and why you are a master of the title-photo- sentence(link) format for bicycle knowledge.
Finally, Velocanoose is from a David Bowie song, really. Go ahead, listen to all of his catalog. It is in there somewhere. It may or may not be on Hunky Dory, the best album ever, but you should listen to it anyway just to make sure. Listen to it again. If you can't find it, maybe you should go and get the wild the innocent and the E street shuffle and see if it is there.
If you have a new fridge that is really energy efficient and has really big door seals that are prone to sticking and not closing all the way I suggest that you replace the incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs.
Our AMANA fridge came with 2 40 watt incandescent bulbs in the fridge and one in the freezer. When we left the door on the refrigerator ajar overnight last year the bulbs pretty much cooked all the food. It melted all the butter. We threw away everything. I replaced those bulbs with these little 1 watt LED spotlighters (20watt equivalent) at 9.99 apiece at the local hardware store. Now we don't have heaters in our fridge.
Like an idiot I forgot to change the one in the freezer. Last week we left it ajar and it melted everything. Including some really nice buffalo steaks and some frozen fish that cost way more than the 30 dollars in LED replacement. I think there are real LED fridge bulb replacements out there, but the little spotlighters were easily available in my local hardware store and fit in the space of the incandescent appliance bulb.
I am not saying that leaving the fridge open is now a painless exercise, but I am saying at least you won't be actively heating your food while your fridge is open. The new fridges are so well insulated that a couple of 40 watt bulbs can actually cause the fridge to melt/burn ( according to our appliance repair man).
So in conclusion. You will save a fairly minimal amount of energy as the bulb is off when the fridge is closed, but you will save yourself a whole bunch if you accidentally leave the door cracked. The bulbs do heat up really fast. By the time I opened the refrigerator, removed the cover and started to remove the bulb they were already too hot to touch.
Or you could be not-an-idiot and never leave the door open. I recommend this path the most, but I find that the seals on our fridge are sticky enough that they defy me regularly.