Riding in the snows

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Just like much of the rest of the country we got some good snow yesterday. The forecast called for an inch or three, so I rode the raleigh twenty to work in light flurries and an inch of powder. But the snow, she did not stop, it became, STORMWATCH LOSALAMOS 2006. By 5 pm there were 6 inches of powder on the ground. Which, in los alamos, due to us living on a mesa with few routes out of town on somewhat twisty mountain roads, adding that half the lab lives out of town, means complete auto gridlock.

Co-workers who live in santa fe (45 minute drive normally) took upwards of three hours to get home. Wooo. It usually takes 10 minutes to drive from the office to my house, 15-20 during rush hour, and about 15-20 by bike depending on the bike and the weather. It took me 30 minutes of plowing through beautiful fluffy powder on the side of the road to get home. Neighbors took over an hour for the same three miles by car. I passed hundreds of motorists stuck in stopped traffic. It was great. Plumes of powder were flying everywhere. One of my best winter commutes ever.

There was a ton of build of snow build up on the wheels and hub and frame. It even covered the lower headlight. Despite having some nice studded tires for my MTB, the storm took me by surprise so they are still hanging on a hook in the basement. But the good part is that I discovered that the tioga 1.95 tires are fantastic at low pressures in the snow, and not terrible in the ice. I will mount the studded tires tonight to maybe go mountain style bikiling tomorrow.

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Todays morning commute today was a bit sketchy with ice and slop and foul smelling ice melting dirt everywhere, but since schools were delayed or cancelled, most people came in late. So I had the streets and the lovely 3 degree (F!) weather to myself. I think it was my coldest commute since I lived in boston many a moon a go. I had to dig out a balaclava (mmmm delicious buttery balaclava) and the heavy winter gloves and the wind proof sock things The return trip tonight was OK, the roads pretty clear and it was a balmy 17 or so. No problem except for the poorly burning diesel engine. I need to invent a balaclava that is made out of airfilter fabric.

Hopefully this bodes well for a real winter this year. I even saw some xc ski tracks in the park and roads this morning.

Ah gratuitous cat pictures

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Feed your head

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I got the cats some christmas presents this year. They arrived yesterday and I decided to declare it christmas for the cats, because as cute as they are, cats are easy to fool into thinking its christmas.

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I happened upon these excellent knit and catnip filled dimsum cat toys from save chairman meow. They are beautiful and filled with some of the headiest catnip ever, none of that crappy seedy stalky stuff, pure catbud. They also help support chairman meow (and some animal rescue) a once sick kitty who has now recovered, leaving his gradstudent moms struggiling to manage vet bills on meagre grad student stipends. Having spent an inordinate amount of someone elses money keeping the brave mosca healthy while working on my dissertation, I can sympathize completley.



I also got a wonton and a gyoza, Wendy the chairman meow mom threw in a fortune cookie for good measure. They are all excellent and beautifully made, and completely irresistable to the cats.

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The toys came in a chinese takeout box and the cats needed no help in getting going.In fact wink256 bit elena because he smelled the catnip on her hand. We gave them the whole box unopened and watched.

Next came bedlam.

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It was a catnip induced throwdown, it was the decline of western civilization, it was nancy regans worst nightmare, they got hopped up, they got lovey, they fought, the got munchies, they crashed, they threw one of the toys in the water bowl overnight so they could drink catnip tea.

click for the video cats opening their present.
Osmium gets the best of radium in the battle for the dumpling.

Here are all four cats getting high:

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The catnip residue made the box almost as good a toy as the dimsums:

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Anyhow, these toys rule. If you are tired of pet store crappy toys, treat your cat right and go over to chairman meow and get yez some high quality dimsum treats. There are also nice tshirts and greeting cards too with great catorevolutionary motifs.

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A return to the zia caboose...

Elena and I had some shopping to do in santa fe. I hate the southern portion of santa fe shopping, so elena graciously drove me to the southern cerillos hell and did the shopping while I toodled about on my picnica. I met her downtown a couple hours later and helped her shop at the great weakness, whole foods, and then on back to the alamos.

Along the way I took some photos for your viewing pleasure.

I took the arroyo chamisas bike trail that runs from the sams club gas station to the santa fe high school where it connects to my old favorite the lamy trail. They had put in a frisbee golf course on the trail since I last rode it. There also was some really funny graffiti paint over modifications, some sort of ongoing battle between the kids and the man. There were big square black paint on the trail where presumably grafitti was painted over. Next someone came along and painted the squares with white paint into little heads:

Last time I rode the trail there were 10's of these, but the black censor paint covered all but two this time...

Next the lamy trail and its dirt trail. Some of the arroyo crossings were a bit sketchy on the 14" wheels, but I managed. You get to see all sorts of neat trestles on the way. This one seemed built in incremental haphazard repairs:

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Shortly thereafter I found a couple of xtracycle warantee registration cards on the trail. Weird eh?:

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Then I arrived to the watering post and the zia caboose. First it looks like the "no hump" train is up on blocks and getting farther on its way to being stripped:

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I checked out the zia caboose and it is definitely getting rebuilt. Lots of progress since last visit. It has proper locks on the door and the windows are blocked off. But you can see lots of repairs, like new windows on the side, new conduit and the like.
Picnica and the zia caboose:

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Big zia made of circular saws on the far side of the train:

I ended the ride at the historic santa fe station:

Grabbed some coffee at the too hip to serve you in a timely fashion aztec cafe, got some comic books at the local comic book store and rode on to whole foods just before dark. It was a good tiny ride on a nice warmish afternoon.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, I think I may have saw carfree families goats somewhere on the path too, I almost took a picture, but someone was doing yard workwith the goats and I did not want to freak anyone out.

The twenty back on the road...

In august in the midst of moving, I quickly stripped the fork off of my raleigh twenty and ran it down to santa fe to Margo Conover of Luna Cycles whereupon for a minimal fee she brazed on two nice canti bosses on the ridiculous fork. It is nice to have a local framebuilder. Alas, she has retreated to the north, but santa fe's loss is boulder's gain, where I am sure she will do well amid the carnival of superhigh end bikes.

Margo and her nice garage shop in santa fe:

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The canti bosses

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See the whole fork here, it has a cartoonishly long steer tube

Here is the bike rebuilt up.

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This is a good use for v brakes, but apparently I only had super high end paul's Vbrakes in the parts box and the brake levers were canti only. So I dusted off some LX cantilevers and got it running post haste.

The first act was to get a ladder and few rakes from the old place back to the new place. About a mile transfer loaded as such:

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It was slow going, but not too bad. See a video of me riding it here. The bungy cord held it in, the worst part was the ladder forced me onto the nose of the saddle, so it was a bit uncomfortable, but not too bad. I followed it up with a run to the hardware store to get a 30" bow saw and a sledgehammer and wedge so I could split some wood. It works great and stops great. I also replaced the indicator spindle thingy on the sachs 5 speed hub, so I can finally get to 1st gear again. It is easy to bend the spindle on the sachs hubs during hamhanded wheel changes, but easy enough to replace. As winter is here again, it is nice to have another bike with a generator hub going...

See some more specs on the bike here.


Dumbest rear wheel ever...

My bridgestone picnica has one weird rear wheel. Wheels on folders are often weird, but this one is really odd.

First it is a nice 14" 253mm size. Which is not all that common. Stock tires are 14x1.75" slicks. I found some 14x2.25 knobbies in my LBS to replace em. But if you are looking for them online: bicycle south carries them, Dahon uses them for their sweet pea bike and can supply them. If you want your LBS to order them the supplier Hawley has the slicks and J&B looks like they carry the knobbies. There look like there are a bunch of 14" sizes, so be careful, you probably want the 253mm size (sometimes listed as 254mm). The helpful guys at bicycle south told me it is common on wheelchairs and scooters. So there you go...

Second it is a 20 hole hub and rim. Then there is the odd shimano single speed mini cassette hub.
And it has a drum brake. And it has chain tugs. And the kickstand mounts on the rear wheel. Whoo. Lots going on there.

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Unfortunately it is really hard to get the rear wheel out without taking the chain off the chainring, which normally is not that big a deal, except it is darn near impossible to rerail the chain while it is in the chaincase. So I took it off. Here is what the 51t chainring looks like under that chainguard:

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Thats a 51x14 drivetrain with a 14" tire for a 51 odd inch gear. mashing.

Now reactionary mechanics are probably smugly saying how superior forward facing dropouts are. I call BS. They are, in this case, useful for only one thing. Getting the rear wheel out without having to derail the off the chainring. I am not convinced that the chain would not fall off the chainring anyway while you were working on it. Secondly, the wheel might bonk the chainguard on the way out. Just like the wheel often will hit fenders or chainstay bridge on the way out the front facing dropout. Not always. But often it does. Finally the rear facing dropout inline with the chainstay gives, by far, the most options for gear changes. Not that I can ever change the gear ratio on this fairly obscure hub and crank, but I love the utility of rear facing dropouts. Especially with fixies, coasters and hub braked bikes that don't run rim brakes. If you angle the dropout, you loose some of the effective lenght. If you have angled short horizontals that face forward you loose a considerable amount of rear wheel adjustability. Short front facing horizontal dropouts is one of my least favorite specs on frames. I would much prefer that my wheel hits the rear of the fender as I pull the wheel out rather than bottom out on the immovable chainstay bridge or front fender. Anyhow, these are some nice utilitarian dropouts, I like em:

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Chaintugs however, are utter travesties of bicycle gear. I kept em on in this case as they are a stock chunk on this bike, but whoo boy, they may make tensioning the chain easier, but they sure don't make it easier to get the wheel out. You have to undo the chaintug almost completely to get the wheel far enough forward to get the chain off. Stupid for a bolt on chaintug, that makes two wrenches to get the rear wheel out. Yuk. Is it that hard to get chains tensioned? Does it help the simplicity of your cool fixie? Nope. Like I said though, there is so much going on with this rear wheel that there is little reason to make things better. I think this is a prime candidate for a coaster hub. That would eliminate the huge drum brake attachment, the cable run to the rear and would allow me to change gear ratios. If I can find some, uh, high quality aluminum 14" rims I might do it. Or maybe a nice 12" rim. I read somewhere that the japanese version of the picnica has 12" rims. I would love to cram a 16" 305mm rim in there as you can get some nice maxis hookworm tires in that size among other high pressure wide slicks, but I am pretty sure I am running tight on the front already and might not have room in the rear. A project for another day...

I guess the only way to make the stock rear wheel dumber is by running it with bobnutz, you know so I could pull a bob trailer behind. Anything else I could do?

The tires went in pretty easily. They did not seat like champs. I spent some time getting the front seated, but got lazy on the rear and paid for it as now I need to get it reseated while on the bike, or take it off again. I also slimed the tubes AND duct taped in some Mr. Tuffies so that I can avoid taking it off if at all possible. Here is a shot of the whole bike with its new tuff looking knobbies:

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Here are a few more photos of the bikes quirks:

Handlebar reflector and bell:

Fork Crown:

Some photos of the bike in it's mostly stock condition here.


More catbell...

The murdery cats had a pretty good run going last summer until we belled them all. Birds, snakes, gopher, mice etc. The belling kept them only to gophers. Since we moved they have barely kilt at all. However, I saw some bird feathers in the yard last week. Now it could have the mean orange cats that live in the neighborhood, it could have been the windows, or it could have been the murdery cats again. So I combined cyclocross with saving birds and belled wink256 so all birds will know where he is.

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Now I just need to get him to graze the yard...
Previous bike related wink256 adventure here, though he has resisted being leashed, I have belled him and compelled him to ride a bike. I am attempting to teach him to be the bike shop cat, but he will not sit down when in the shop and tends to be a pest. I will prevail...


Good bikey weekend.

Sometimes I am excited to go race cross, sometimes I am too lazy to drive to albuquerque, so instead I stay in los alamos and go for great rides from the house. Much less driving. I did a nice road ride with Scott and Carrie on Saturday, spent friday night in the bicycle dungeon reshodding the picnica, rebuilt my light cross wheels on friday and saturday night while elena and I watched some DVD's, and did a nice long mountain bike ride sunday.

So on to the photos.

Radium sniffs the picnica wheel prior to the new rubber:

I will post more photos on this later this week, the rear wheel is perhaps one of the dumber wheels ever and worthy of its own entry.

Carrie on the maiden voyage of her new light as crap pink bike:

Scott has more photos and build details on his blog. We did the bandelier loop which, being lazy, I had not done in a few months. I am pretty sure we saw way more bikes than cars between white rock and the back gate on the beautiful sunny day.

Here is a short video Carrie and Scott riding out of Ancho canyon. Note the audible evidence of me riding in too big a gear as I climb past them:

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A nice photo of the panorama at the end of north (?) mesa on today's mtb ride, looking due east or thereabouts:


Here is a nice video of the 270 degree view from here. The end of the mesa here is one of the best mid ride snack break spots I have ever seen. Doing the perimeter trail out to the mesa end and back by the bmx track and through the bridges trail back to my house is something like 18 miles with less than a mile of pavement. I did a few hot laps on the bmx track and did not hurt myself. I did under eat so I bonked a bit. I also was mistaken for scott at the end of the ride. Even though I probably have 40 pounds on scott.

excellent weekend to be on a bike, yep...


im in ur internets, haxxoring ur dope tests

A few weeks back mark sent me a link to this ridiculous floyd landis video parody. Pretty silly stuff.

But is it sillier than this:
An associate of Tour de France winner Floyd Landis...was reported Tuesday to be under suspicion of hacking into the computer system at the French national doping testing laboratory (LNDD) of Chatenay-Malabry near Paris.

See the velonews article here.

Ok either floyd landis has a genius for a lawyer who has successfully shown that the lab is not to be trusted, or he hangs out with people who are as dumb as he looks:

Cripes. I wish I could make this up. Maybe his menonit hacker homies are sweeping the internets changing all truth to lies and vice versa.

The doping news is too fast and furious to keep up in the offseason. I just plain old gave up. I read the landis powerpoint defense. i now robotically agree with whatever his lawyer said. Yes. the Lab is wrong. He is right. I applaud he and his lawyer for going public with the info, rather than the no comment approach of tyler, but we will see what happens when things go south with the UCI.

Speaking of the UCI. They decided to suspend 4 piddly US pro MTBers for missing post competition tests that they did not know about. See Jason Sagers blog for his take on his situation. His main post on it is here. I agree with him that it is his responsibility to be available for the testing and thus it is his fault. But I also agree that it probably would have been pretty easy for the drug officials to call him when he was not there after the race to say, uh, hey, where are you? The riders do need to be within two hours of reporting to doping controlls at all times, so what is the big deal about calling them? This Bart guy also got dinged, see his blog for details.

mark also forwarded on this NPR interview with Dick Pound . Pretty good interview, he does not come across as the reactionary footinmouther that he has been in the papers and cycling press. He does say "aboot" alot, but other than that there was not too much in the interview to object too. I am not sure I learned anything though, but it is worth a listen.

The cofidis affair has actually made it to trial this past week. Significantly some riders may actually face jail time for sporting fraud. David "gimp" Millar probably will not face time as he apparently is too big a name to send to jail, and he has repented and now lives clean. A nice turnaround for millar, after he took the deny and slander others route before finally admitting he doped.

Finally it looks like Tyler may be racing on the Tinkoff team, possibly with der Kaiser ya and Daniello Hondo, also a quasi banned racer. It appears that tyler's re-investigation in the operation puerto affair has fallen off with the rest of the case. Should be a interesting team dynamic. There are also rumors of Tinkoff being interested in Francisco Mancebo. Reminds me of the "all steroids olympics" sketch on saturdaynight live.

Anyhow, like I says, there has been too much to keep up with.
I am agog that Saiz was given a pro tour license despite being caught (allegedly) with bags of blood in hand, I am suprised that basso was signed by discovery without a guaranteed DNA test to clear his name from the disintegrating Operacion Puerto investigation. Sheeesh. Who knows.

Bill posting work bike

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A bill poster bike from london auction, found via Jalopy Junktown.

I think, if I did not think cars were evil things, and I grew up or lived in LA I would be like Mr. Jalopy, Coop or the belly tank dude. Good stuff on their blogs, for the gear head inclined. I am enough of a gearhead of the bicycle variety to really appreciate the depths of their problems, without too much envy.


More chinese cargo trikes

I am not sure how I missed these great shots of cargo trikes from beijing on fixed gear fever.

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Photographer is Daniel Spehr

Note the hugely sagging chain. It was pretty typical of all the cargo bikes I saw in China. My theory is that they come with retrodirect drive and then quickly break that under actual use and convert the chain to single speed normal direct without actually shortening the chain any. Also note the nice head tube truss.


Bike with baskets and shops in boulder

In between the weekends cross races in boulder Elena and I got to hang out with my good buddy Mark in Boulder. I had not seen him since some time in 2005 I believe, so it was good.

Here are Mark and I with bike geek dork grins in front of Vecchios, must have been all the merckx eye candy in the shop:

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Mark is styling with his disco gold schwinn traveler townie bike with SA hub and wald basket:

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In front of university cycles there was an excellent schwinn cycle truck bolted to the sidewalk with the basket filled with wired on loner tools:

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In order to make the basket a bit bigger, it wraps around the head tube. Spectacular:

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Vecchios was a treat, with great mechanics stations, really nice high end bikes, and parts and lots and lots of collectible bikes, jersey's and the like. I got an eddy merckx bike cap, but had I stayed longer, I am pretty sure I would have bought alot of bike tools after seeing their well thought out work benches and pegboards. University cycles was a complete surprise to me. I had never heard of the shop before. It is probably one of the larger shops I have ever set foot in.The pure quantity of high end bikes on the floor was amazing. Its children's bike section was probably as big as your LBS. It also had a really nice collection of collectible bikes hanging from the ceiling, ranging from the late 1800's to recent Olympian's bikes. Most appeared to be restored, but no matter, it was great to see. Both shops are worth a visit


Airplane fornication

Two airplanes tried their damndest to violate the pauli exclusion principle the other day here in los alamos. I am pleased to say Physics reigned triumphant once more. I am even happier to say that somewhat miraculously no one was killed or even injured in the collision.

Apparently the pilots were on simultaneous approaches at different altitudes, were communicating on different frequencies and landed on top of one another upon touchdown and rode piggyback down the airstrip. The relative speed between planes was so slow as to cause little damage. Oh yeah, the planes are both Beechcraft Bonanza planes. They did have to extract the pilot and passenger from the lower plane. Los Alamos has no airtraffic control or tower communication, so I guess planes that happen to be traveling above one another like this can't see, hear or communicate with each other.

The article in the local paper said this type of accident happens a few times per year in the US. Which seems astounding to me. I am not sure which way the planes come into land, but one end of the airstrip is essentially the end of the mesa and drops hundreds of feet , so landing to early or overshooting the end, could have been pretty sticky...

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Read about it here in the los alamos local fishwrap...

Making giant bamboo baskets

One of my favorite thing from my adventures in china were the giant wicker or bamboo baskets that the vendors and others had as such:

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Paul Woloshansky, a fellow cyclist and well travelled bike tourer saw my little write up on Bicycle Fixation and sent me these spectacular photos of men in North Vietnam making giant bamboo baskets for moped panniers. Paul also has some nice work bike photos on cyclofiend, including this well loaded basket seller bike. Paul can be reached at "bikwalla at telus dot net". Thanks for the photos Paul.

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Excellent, eh? If any all of youse dear readers have relevant excellent travel pics I would be glad to post them if they pass my highly subjective and variable standards of excellence. See more of my Chinese bike of the day posts here and here, or try the chinese bike label for all posts related.