NJ-NY trains

My folks live about an hour from NYC by train. Hazlet to Penn Station in NYC via the NJ Transit's North Jersey Coast line stretches from the beaches up through the raritan bay to the meadowlands of north jersey before disappearing below the river and depositing you in the bowls of Penn Station.

The sweeping cattail swamps of the meadowlands are both the indigenous landscape and the default decay of the crumbling factories located along the tracks. Stand still long enough and the cattails will get you too.

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While stopped waiting for the tracks to clear in secacus station.

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As you get north of the raritan river, you can start to see the NYC skyline peeking over the cattails, swamps and industrial detritus of North Jersey:

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Of course your day of trains has only just begun, from Penn Station you can get whisked anywhere the subway can take you. Here Prince St Station:

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Happy New year all. A few more back log posts to come and then reports from xc skiing and the new year.

Hauling NYC

We went into NYC a few days after christmas for some walking around and drinking of coffee and suchlike. This time I was somewhat motivated to take photos. Thus I share unto thee, dear blog readers.

NYC is a great city of hauling crap by human power.

Hot dogs schlepped by old cart up on 9th and the lower mid thirties.

click for big angular panorama that I am pretty proud of

Saw this guy on an old cycletruck hauling what turned out to be fish. I hunted him for many blocks until I got a good photo, 9th and 42nd or so.

click for nice street scape. Note the hipster sixties woman replete with saddle shoes.

A few blocks back at 9th behind port authority I found the motherload of cycletrucks at the fish shop.

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Hard to see but the bike in the background is flipped over for repair involving vicegrips.

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The home office of revolution rickshaws on ninth. I could not see inside that well, other than the big rickshaw butt in the window.

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On the other end of town at prince and something in soho a nice modern low slung front hauler and the pave it crossed to get there.

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Arty shot where old and new NYC meet, ooooh arty, and grubby.

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A few shots of the burgeoning pedicabstand up by 5th and central park:

Old style

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Newstyle, last cabbie in new york who can legally smoke in his cab?

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The typical NYC food delivery bike, crapped out MTB with huge wald basket. This one was unique in that it was new and not completely covered in electrical tape. Give it a few months:

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Funny Home depot ad over the subway:

It was a pretty good day to see bikes in NYC, I think the freezing and windy weather plus the holidays cut down on the massive quantities of hipster fixie riders I saw last summer, but the workers were out in force and it appeared to be an excellent day for the pedicabs.



Got back from NJ in the beginning hours of a storm that seems to have parked itself over NM.
A day of travel plus 60 hours wating for the storm to pass in a house in Albuquerque with no internet access means no blogging for a bit.
Thankfully we were in far better digs and company than the Motel 6 I got stuck in last time I got caught on the wrong side of the closed highway.

Went for a nice walk at inches 4-6 in albuquerque on the first day we were stuck ther. Albuquerque is at a mere 5500 feet altitude and is pretty far south, so it does not get all that much snow. Los alamos and Santa Fe got 2-3 feet in the same storm,
but for ABQ this is a big deal, the 11 inches made the "snowiest day ever" in Albuquerque, whatever that means. Plus an additional 5 inches the next day made it pretty darn good.

Click for inadvertant movie demonstrating epic snowbuquerquetacular!

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I saw a two seperate groups doing this, I am not sure if this is a local or national trend, but boy did this look like a bad idea

Elena, her pop, and lobo:

I have more photos from the second day stuck in ABQ when we skied in the streets and the drive home and the two feet or so we got here in Los Alamos and some back log from the holiday back in NJ. Stay tuned blog readers.


Cornering the mutant headless zombie market

Apparently The Gap is making a strong power play for the mutant headless zombie market as evidenced by their overt store displays.

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Nice bike rack.

Here in the motherland for the hollerdays. Seen in redbank.

See another good bike rack in seattle here.


Raleigh Sports

A few days ago, I sent an email to the CR list ISO R nuts for the missing cotters on my 1966 Raleigh Sports that I rescued from a garage sale. Anyhow, I got a million replies on or off lists for sources for little raleigh parts. British Ebay and bikeville were the most useful links. But a fellow raleigh-phile donated a set of worn but usable cotter nuts to the cause.

This generous raleigh-phile, Neal, has a really impressive collection of old raleighs. Sports, Lentons, D's, competitions, etc. Ranging from the 30's until the 80's. His site is really worth checking out. My favorite one he had is the mindbendingly shiny 1966 Chrome Raleigh Sports he has. The chrome is nice and totally changes the character of the bike, from the flat black and pinstriped understated workhorse, to the blingy eye candy. Apparently these bikes were dealer sales incentives in the 60's. Wow! Check out all the photos on his page, but he also sent me this glamour shot, apparently it is nice enough that it lives in his living room:

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I got another email from Mark who directed me to his customized hot-rodded Sports over in cyclofiends gallery. Here is a photo I stole from the page:

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Pretty neat bike. I really like the red rims, bars and cranks with the flat black frame. So hot-rod. That is roughly what I had in mind for my sport, but a bit more stock. I am planning on using a similar bendix 2speed coaster brake hub and some 584 rims with fatty rumpkins on them for some fat multi surface tires that hopefully ride better than the 590's that are easily available.

I was just looking at some car show pictures last week and wondering why the clean flat black and red look has not been done that often on bikes. There has to be ways to include the hot rod look without making dumb looking lowriders and chopper cruisers.

click for source at coops blog.

The pinstriping and boxlining and flamboyant paint jobs on the british bikes seem to be the right idea, but a bit of customization from there you could have some nice hot rod bikes. There is some good stuff on the venerable bikerod and custom webpage, but lots of crap. OC chopper style bikes are not the droids I am looking for, but this and this are steps in the right direction.


Ambling about Santa Fe

Last weekend after the snowshoe race spent a bit of time wandering around the square in santa fe. Winter usually is a great time to wander around downtown, it is usually better in January or Feb when it is still a nice chilly winter wonderland, but it relatively free of the tourist masses that plague the center of the city in the summer and around the holidays. Fortunately it was relatively calm this weekend. So in conclusion, I recommend, upon joing the hordes of tourist plaguing the city different, come in february when it is cold so there are no other hordes of tourists.

After the race I was ravenous so I first went down to Tia Sophias for some green chile covered bacon breakfast burritos. Now there are a bunch of places on the plaza in Santa Fe that people get breakfast at, the Plaza, Pasquals, but I am a Tia Sophia's man for breakfast:

I suggest the saturday am choriza breakfast burrito or the huevos rancheros with beans, cheese and extra green, glaaaarrgh, extra greeeeeen. Also the coffee is super weak so you can drink it by the gallon flavored with delicious cinnamon sugar. Or bacon.

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Then I hoofed it up a few blocks past the La Fonda hotel to the the little park next to the St. Francis Cathedral. Here lies one of my favorite pieces of public art, a statue commerating the first settlers in Santa Fe. The first spanish settlers came to santa fe area in 1598, so this statue, placed in 1998, marks the quadricentennial of spanish occupation of native lands, I mean arrival here in New Mexico. Actually, the long spanish history here in NM makes it a really interesting place to live. Archaic spanish is spoken in the rural area outside of santa fe, also, there were lots of spaniards that came here to escape religious persecution in Spain, with some crypto-jew and penitente practices that continue in pockets today.

Anyhow, this statue is odd and beautiful and has chickens and pigs, along with conquistadors, friars, and peasants.

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I really like the chicken and pigs. More public monuments need to have chicken and pigs. And sheep!

26" Nokian Extreme 294 studded tire review

We had something like 10 days of snowy/icy commuting followed by a short break followed by a pretty durn big snow storm that hit monday night and continues as I type this. And we have a snow day today. Snow day! Thus some epic length blog reviews...

Because of winter acually arriving this year I probably have nearing 100 miles on my single speed MTB shod with the Nokian extreme 294 studded bicycle tires. Riding was in ALL conditions: fresh powder on dirt, 6" fresh powder on old icy snow, crusty snow, untracked snow, skiid/snowshoed snow, packed walked on snow, icy rutty snow, glare ice, black ice, dry pavement, mud, dirt roads, rocky trail with and without snow, single track, off camber stuff, huge swaths of ice left when the streets are not plowed for weeks and compacted, sidewalks, road, deer trail, game paths that are probably closed gov't property,etc. etc. etc.

As with almost any studded bicycle tire, you should probably get it through Peter White Cycles:

He has pretty much all of them available. Your LBS might be able to get SOME of the Nokians and the schwalbe through their distributors, but Peter tends to have the best stock of the most tires.

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OK. That said, on to the review.

These tires are marketed as the tires to use when you want to go riding off road and on singletrack while there is snow and ice on the ground. From Peters marketing blurb:

This tire is for aggressive riding off road in any conditions. This is a very tough tire, suitable for all riders in all off-road conditions. The aggressive tread pattern will be slow going on paved roads due to high rolling resistance compared to a smooth tread summer road tire, just like any knobby mountain bike tire. Don't get these if you're commuting in an urban area, since they are overkill. The Hakkapeliitta is a better choice for that. But if you want to ride the same single track trails you ride in summer, when the snow's a foot deep and ice is everywhere, rutted from cross country skiers and snow shoes, the Extreme 294 is the ideal tire.

Pretty clear. I will concur that these tires absolutely feel like crap on the pavement. They feel like they are stuffed filled with marbles. They have tall knobs with studs on it. Yukko, but my winter commute contains little of this. I go through shady neighborhood interstitial sidewalks and footpaths that retain snow and ice for weeks, to a bridge and then a 1/2 mile of pavement to a few miles of single and double track to work. Occasionally I take a big singletrack loop that cuts out nearly all the pavement past the bridge and has both slightly technical rocky singletrack and smooth singletrack.

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I will also whole heartedly agree that these tires work GREAT on glare ice, icy roads, icy bridges (I have to cross a high exposed bridge every day on the way to work), packed icy snow trails and the like. Good stuff. In fact, they often encourage you to traverse (successfully!) completely icy off camber slopes which you probably would not have ridden if they were dry and snow free.

Here is my big complaint on these tires. They are terrible on technical rocky trails (with or without ice and snow) on a rigid singlespeed. If you are used to riding big wide tires at low pressures for the suspension/float/traction you will find these tires abysmally narrow. They are marked 26x2.1, I measured them on my sun 0xc rims at 45mm at the widest point on the casing and about 47mm tall off the rim. This is a very narrow tire. Maybe suspension makes it OK, but I am of the opinion that full time commuting on a boingy bike in the ice, snow and random corrosive deicer is a bad idea.

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My first plan was to run them at low pressure which works OK, but then you hit a rock or curb that is submerged in the snow and you pinch flat and you are left trying to fix a flat at night in the snow and cursing the finns for making such LAME extreme tires. Feh... These should be at least 50-55 mm to be useful on the off road conditions that they advertise.

These tires are also pretty crappy in fresh snow and slushy snow, as they are too narrow and you are forced (or at least I am at 190 pounds) to run them at higher pressure than you normally would want to in conditions like these. I much prefer my Weirwolf 2.5 tires (54/56mm on the same rims) for snow trail riding. They work great in everything off road except for ice. Wide low pressure trumps narrow studded in snow and on rocks.

For MTB commuting on the pavement, the hakellepita's would probably be a far better tire. But beware, my 700x45mm nokian hakepelitta tires measure out at 36mm wide by about 42mm tall. Which is much narrower than they are marked.

Overall, I will keep riding these tires, they keep me from crashing and killing myself on the icy rutty stuff, but I really really wish they were 10mm or more wider. The Nokian Freddies Revenge apparently are 2.3" wide, but I have not been able to find someone who has them to measure them and PJW is out of them at the moment.

The carbide studs are in excellent shape despite riding that has included bare rocks, pavement, dirt and concrete. If the Hakkapeliitta tire that my brother and I have used on and off since 2001 is any indication, the studs and tires should last effectively forever.

On an unrelated to the tire snow performance note, I find rim brakes to be laughably useless when you are travelling in snow at or deeper than the rim. My commute home has a few miles of snowy flat trail followed by a short but steep little down and up an arroyo. Usually I have not used my brakes in a while leading up to that, the feeling of panic as you cross the threshold of the hill and you realize you have zero braking ability is memorable. My ideal snow bike would be an internally geared disc braked hub rigid bike with 2.5" studded tires front and rear. I have my eyes on a Kona Humuhumunukunukuetc bike as they have a ton of clearance, are relatively cheap and would probably even fit 2.3 studded tires and fenders (maybe...)

The rare Pauls Component Snow hub:

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Some other snow tire ride reports/reviews/pics:
Kent Peterson ride report on Schwalbe studded tires
Sconnyboy's Bullwinkle Commuter
Hjalti posted a link to this movie in the comments, 10 minutes of icy snowy riding on studded tires and squishy disc bikes. Good stuff!
Scott posted a non studded ride report on the perimeter trail, which is where I generally go for winter MTB rides.

Uh, hit me with some more studded tire reports and reviews and I will add em above. For some reason I thought I saw more about the blogosphere but can't find them today...


RIP, Mosca, slayer of hummingbirds, seeker of warm laps

After 18 long and fruitful years of evading coyotes and eating hummingbirds in the Nambe/Pojaque area of Northern New Mexico, dear Mosca has passed on. She leaves behind her loving parents Paul and Susan and legions of fans in the form of friends, family, various housesitters and possibly long time readers of this blog.

As said long time readers might realize, this blog was started as a means to communicate the activity and health of the ill tiny mosca to her parents as they were in Paris for 4 months. I was taking care of her, feeding her pills and to the vet while they were away. Of course the blog's focus has changed a bit since those days, but the name remains the same.

Aparently, despite her severe illness last year, she had a very fruitful 2006 until the last few weeks, even, improbably, killing the resident bat.

Mosca, you will be missed. May you roll in warm dirt and eat delicious hummingbird heads forever.


Santa Fe Snowshoe classic 2006 race report

Got up somewhat early saturday and drove to santa fe for the annual pending snow Santa Fe Snowshoe classic. I had mild misgivings due to a lingering bad stomach from something thjat is going around and a thoroughly tweaked back from some overzealous yoga on thursday.

I had a peanut butter and honey on toast, an espresso and a handful of advil and hopped in the car for the suprisingly short drive up to the Santa fe nordic ski "center" up there at 10,000 plus feet over santa fe. I always budget at least 1 and a quarter hours for the drive, but again, it took just under an hour and I was among the first racers to have arrived.

Me triumphantly posing after the race wearing the tights I won at this very race 2 years back:

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The race was really underattended. Maybe 30 total racers. Given that there was obviously going to be snow, I was expecting it to have more racers. They usually have an excellent prize list and raffle too. This race was a running race last year due to lack of snow, but last time I raced it in 2004 there was less snow and lots more racers. But there were a few fast looking guys and my friend Zach showed up who is definitely a faster runner than I.

Before the race, the Kahtoola snow travel system company had a tent and demo snow travel systems to try. They consisted of a neoprene overboot with nasty looking crampons that stood on its own as a running/hiking shoe OR clicked in, spd style, to a snowshoe base. It was pretty slick and worked pretty well. They had enough demos that pretty much half the field ended up racing on their boot/snowshoe system. Pretty cool. They also had some light weigh strap on crampons for running/hiking shoes that looked really nice and light, but I did not try them. Over shoe and snow shoe:

Anyhow, the race was one or two 5k loops around the nordic ski trails, ranging from stamped down snow to crusty untracked powder to hard ice ski track. There was about 95% coverage with a few bare spots and lots of rocks and stumps sticking out. There were also 4 or 5 trees down across the course which are much more tricky to negotiate on snowshoes than you would think.

Zach looking fast post race:

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The race starts with a fairly significant hill and I managed to be up with Zach and the two other leaders at the top of the hill. Running at 10,000 feet is not so easy, nor is running in snowshoes uphill. By the top of the first hill my legs felt fine, but I was cardiovascularly about to pop. I looked back and saw a huge gap to the rest of the pack, so I vowed to stick to Zach for as long as I could. At this point, one of the older guys took off andnone of us ever saw him again.

The course from here went through some rolling hills for a couple of kilometers with lots of obsticles and hairpins. Unlike last time I did this race where I fell at least 10 times, I actually had some running snowshoes that I borrowed and only fell twice the whole race. I felt pretty good through this middle section and watched as Zach and one other guy slowly gapped me.

From here the race had a long climb broken up by short downhills that seemed interminable. Here I lost focus a bit and watched/heard a tall fit guy also from los alamos named jason slowly sneak up behind me as I plodded miserably up the hills, with my heart about to explode. Fortunately, he was a slow steady type and my downhill speed put a big enough gap on him for him not to catch me on the up hill.

Also fortunately for me, the end of the race came with an icy downhill which I sprinted to finish the 5k race in 3 overall behind Zach in second and the first older guy. I think my time was around 26 minutes, which was pretty swell as I think it was faster than 2 years back, despite the fact that I did not run nearly as much this year. One guy ahead of me continued for the 10k, as did Jason behind me. Jason ended up overhauling the leader and winning the 10k in 52 minutes, which is really impressive as he negative splitted on the second lap. If I had to keep on going, I am pretty sure I would have run a 35 minute second lap.

After the race the winners in the mens and womens 5k and 10k ended up winning crescent moon racing snowshoes or those boots from kahtoolie. The rest of the podiums got nice pottery and waterproof sealskin socks.

My second place under 40 mug:

So now that I have raced snow shoes twice, here is my advice for new racers:

1. Just do it, borrow any snow shoe and go try it, it is pretty fun.

2. That said, running snowshoes make a huge difference on packed trails and shallow snow. They are lighter and thinner profile and you don't trip as much.

3. Never wear shorts. I did that two years ago and had lots of cuts on my ankles from hitting the snowshoes against them and even more on my knees from falling repeatedly on crusty snow. Tights are good.

4, I am ambivalent about gaiters, your feet do get soaked, but in a short race when it is not miserable out, it seems to be more trouble that it is worth.

5. That said, bring spare socks for after the race. I forgot to and would have suffered mightily had I not won a pair of waterprrof socks as a prize.

6. After two whole races, I think running snowshoes with heel crampons are a bit better. I did not have them this year, and the shoes got a bit sideways as I ran on off camber stuff.

7. Make sure you have your shirt tucked in at your waist and have a tight fitting upper layer. When running fast on non-packed snow, you kick up an enormous amount of snow which seems to hit you in the neck or the small of the back and tends to be unpleasant.

8. Don't overdress, snow shoe running is really hard and generates lots of heat. I can't imagine wearing snowpants or rain jackets. Do wear gloves though, to protect your hands as you fall.

9. Try not to step on soft stumps with your crampons, they don't come out easily.

Anyway, thats the long winded report. More photos from the rest of the day later maybe.


Early christmas/ good luck crossers

mmmmm, I unpacked a bike box had not seen the sun, according to the east bay express cradling the frame, since 12/2000, when I packed up a ABF truck in emeryville ca and moved to knoxville tennessee. Other than the really cool old bike in the box (pics soon) i found some strange curvy parcels wrapped carefully in newspaper. I opened them to find two NOS bridgestone Arc bars. Wooooooooo! I am not sure I even knew I had those.

Also, have a great crossy time there in RI if you are racing or watching or just, like me, follering along on the e-net. It looks like the masters racing today was a humdinger. Kudos to my buddy Sam for top tenning a loaded masters 30+ field. The real fireworks are tomorrow. Hold on to your hats...

I am off to hurt myself snow shoe racing tomorrow am if I can get my ass out of bed, so look for a report or lame excuses by sunday...


Throwaway blog post

Are tenacious D and claritin D brothers?

Raleigh Twenty Hinge

Mmmm crusty:

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I generally don't like folding the twenty as I put the big milk crate on the back and I find the steel on all the nice l-bolts are buttery soft and rust quick. I think they are also some weird non metric, possibly raleigh specific size, don't quote me on that. The l bolt holding the seat collar stripped.

See most recent photos here, and some others here.


Finland snow bikes!

No this is not my long awaited (by me) ride report on a solid week plus of commuting on Nokian Extreme (extreeeeeeme!) studded tires.

My former morning-meet-at-royal-coffee-and-then-ride-on-up-the-berkeley-hills-to-work-buddy Laura is off in Finland sampling poops for some sort of delicious poop flavored environmental study, possibly a craptacular study no less. She has a blog here: Finland Laurita. Good stuff.

I asked her to send me some good finland bike pics and she delivered with these.
Click them for big uncropped photos that show many odd finnish bikes covered in snow.

So surf on over to her blog and look to see how the finish apparently generate power:


Thus endeth the cross season,

Not with a bang, but with a whimper, with me sound asleep in bed. Ah yes, my hope for a five race season went up in flames as I was feeling like crap when I got up at 7:30 this am to get ready to go. I did not sleep well last night for some reason, some lingering cold, or aftereffects from my birthday dinner on thursday or something, so I went back to bed and awoke late in the morning.

A leisurely breakfast and some wood chopping left me feeling pretty good, so I did a little afternoon run in on the perimeter trail as a big snow storm hopped over the hills behind me. The last mile or so of my run was in a winter wonderland of swirly flurries as the sun set upon Los Alamos.

Looking back up from whence I came as the snow engulfs the foothills:

Ah well, I guess I am not 100% psyched to drive 2 hours to Albuquerque for a one hour race. Although today's race sounded like it would be great with a hill top banquet with the race coming by the eating area three times. Good job khsnm team on the series this year. Maybe I will be slightly more in the mood next fall...