The invisible elk

Sometimes on my way to work I ride through a little grassy wash at the tip of a canyon where mule deer nest for the night. I often startle them as I ride over the ill defined trail and head up the other side of the canyon.

Yesterday I was clanking along when I felt a large presence rise along side me. I cleared the rocky bit and looked up the trail to see a huge bull elk with a giant rack of antlers staring down the trail at me. We kind of stood there for some minutes as time contracted and I started to try to figure out my options if mr elk decided to walk over me.

It occurred to me that this possibly was blog gold, either with a photo or a story of getting trampled not 100 feet from a major road, so I fished out my cell phone to snap a grainy pic of the majestic beast. As I reached into my bike saddle bag for the phone, the elk slowly turned and trotted up the trail.

I followed quickly wielding the phonecam ahead of me to snap at will and spotted the beast standing 20 feet off the trail, again looking right at me.

I snapped a photo and a few moments later the elk tired of the game and trotted back up the canyon. Here is my evidence:

Go ahead, click on the image for flickr and view it big.

So somewhere above there is an elk. A big one, with big antlers. I swear. It is, if I rely on my imperfect memory, facing the camera. I am guessing it is either on the left under the sun, or on the right in the dense trees, but it should be there. I can't find it though. Maybe it is only visible to people with polarized sunglasses? Maybe only I can see it?

It is not too common to see elk in or near town at this time of year, in fact, this is the first elk I have seen below 8000 feet since 2003. Just my luck that it turned out to be an invisible one. Maybe a predator elk newly arrived from a distant star to hunt humans?



somewhere on the long way home from work

For the second time this summer a person who reads the blog made their way to Los Alamos. Yesterday it was Ted from the northern flatlands. I dragged him around the perimieter-bayo canyon-north mesa tip-bmx track-bridges loop for 17 miles of mostly single track with barely any pavement betwixt. Ted pointed out that I live in a good place. He is right. Thanks for visiting Ted.


Some more garage sale goodies

To wrap up the fairly successful garage sale season a few thingies over the last couple of months:

Boston Lead pointer, 50 cents,
My favorite thing when I pretended to study architecture as an undergrad was lead holders. I have dreamed of owning a nice lead pointer for a while and was thrilled beyond belief when Elena picked this pucky out of an acre of chintzy crap and asked me what it was:

Vulture that I am, I asked the propritress who was selling off a deceased relatives possesions if there was a box of funny pencils to go with it. Alas, no luck. The box this came in is great. It touts ""More speed -
Gets the desired point faster". I have to admit that I never even knew that speed was an issue for a lead pointer. But I am really glad I have the fast one.

The "my buddy" tackle box. 2 bucks.

The trek that will fit elena probably, No bucks. Heh.

Saved from the dump essentially as it needs "alot of work".
I think that means I have a small miata six-ten to sell...

All of the 2008 season's scores here


Faster than on my bike

Via the Pfister

Adam Kimmel presents: Claremont HD from adam kimmel on Vimeo.

So these younguns are bombing claremont in oakland on their longboards at speed while passing a HD camera between the two of them. Yikes. Having ridden this road more or less weekly for about 5 years, I can say that the first couple turns are actually much tighter than they appear on the video. Secondly, they are most likely descending faster than I could on my bike. Thirdly, the road they are on probably is lousy with eucalyptus nuts and detritus, firebellied newt carcasses, mid lane reflectors and the like. I am pretty sure I have almost died on my bike over cooking the big bend on this road.

So thats starting at grizzly peak and claremont (A) and heading downhill which is to the left.

View Larger Map

Maybe it is because I know this road pretty well that it really struck a chord with me, but the drama keeps on building as they keep on getting to the bottom with the auto traffic, residential parking and side roads increasing in frequency. When I lived in the east bay, I would often see downhill long boarders dropping off the ridge to oakland, but they were power sliding every corner to keep their speed under control. These guys are barely checking their speed except for the two big bends at the top.

I don't think I am even of the same species.


More big dummy fun.

A baby swing (like my purse?)

Hundred pounds of stuff from the pet store/hardware store. Hoses, cat food, grass seed, other metallic sundries, a metal garbage can, coffee grounds for composting

Jet engine prototype

Disc brake fork did not fit in the tray, so I towed it

Flip around tow configuration

Towed the Schwinn home 5 miles from work after a sidewall tear

Previously on big dummy fun: what can I do on a big dummy
Good stuff.


I blame Tyler, or The Lance Armstrong Comeback Post

Lancipoo done gonna come back and whip him some skinny eurocyclists.

I think I wish him luck.

I keep thinking and thinking about this and I can only come up with a big "good for him."

Lancypoo has lots to lose here. If he flops in france next summer he looks like a moron at best. I am sure he realizes flopping starts at second place and only gets worse from there. If he wins he shows that he is still class of the field going on three years since his retirement, and he has as many TdF victories as that phelps guy has medals in Beijing. He can raise quadrillions for cancer research, clear his name of doping innuendo, cement his legacy as the greatest cyclist outside of Merckx, and launch his career as a politician - all in one very tiring 21 day stretch.

Go read the vanity fair article. Lots of interesting stuff in there and hinted at, but Lance is spot-on on one point: he is a tabloid joke. I can't remember the last time I picked up a tabloid and did not see a picture of him looking drunk and cross eyed with some blonde ten plus years his junior. Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey and ashley olsen.... Ashley Olsen? Olsen Twins Ashley Olsen? Seriously?

I can see his desire to focus a bit. I can see his desire to get back in the limelight for what he is good at. I can see his desire to try to clear his name a bit by winning a tour under the current antidoping microscope. I can see his desire to get his foundation flush for forever, instead of just for the next 10 years. I can see his desire to really put some serious cash into cancer research.

But still I am not sure what is really driving this, he has been and can continue doing a lot of good without throwing a leg over a bike again. Maybe it was the constant lingering suspicious and innuendo from him being the dominant racer in the doping era, but it might have been watching the TV and seeing Carlos Sastre win. The same guy he put 3 minutes in on the last TT in the 2005 tour.
All his major competitors from his glory days have been discredited. Who is left? Here are the top ten from 2003-4-5 tours, Lancypoo's last three wins. Striken Names are those who were busted for doping (Mancebo is a judgment call, lets call him a doper as he retired immediately on being associated with operation puerto, and came back only after it was obvious there was no teeth to it).

2005 tour top ten
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 86.15.02
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 4.40
3 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 6.21
4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 9.59
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 11.01
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 11.21
7 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 11.33
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 11.55
9 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 12.44
10 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 16.04

2004 tour top ten
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 83.36.02
2 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 6.19
3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 6.40
4 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 8.50
5 Jose Azevedo (Por) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 14.30
6 Francisco Mancebo Pérez (Spa) Illes Balears - Banesto 18.01
7 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 18.27
8 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 19.51
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank 20.12
10 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 22.54

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor 83.41.12
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Bianchi 1.01
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom 4.14
4 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC 6.17
5 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 6.51
6 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 7.06
7 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 10.12
8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole 12.28
9 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 18.49
10 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com 19.15

What do we learn from this? No one who has not been caught doping has finished a tour within 6 minutes of Armstrong during his winning streak, for the three years shown, or all 7 tours if you go back to 99 and apply the same reasoning. The last two guys that finished in virtual second by this half assed retroactive reordering, Leipheimer in 2005 and Kloden in 2004, would be Lance's teammates should he return to the Astana team.

(Also notable is Oscar Pereiro, who really is not that bad a bike racer, that would be a virtual 7th, 4th and win in 2004-5-6.)

So really who is going to beat Lance if he shows up in any kind of shape?
Sastre? I think Lance out TT's him by minutes and minutes.
Cadel Evans? I don't think he can handle the stress.
Contador/Leipheimer? They will be well paid to shut up and ride for Lance.
The Shlecks? Only if they can make up for losing 15 minutes in the prologue.

I think the end story is that Lantz Y. Pantz wins decisively next july and he wins as clean as they can tell with the modern testing, which means he is as clean as everyone else who makes it to the finish, just like he was from 1999-2005. In his mind the TdF is one big low hanging fruit due to the lack of credible threats.

But still, the only possible way for him to look good here is to win. He looks really bad if he does not win and he could possibly be completely disgraced if he gets pipped for some sort of doping test. He has set the bar pretty high and I expect and demand that he follow through, completely transparent antidoping testing with publication of his results (something that has been promised but only sporadically delivered by many a CSC/Garmin/Highroad). I expect him to follow through on his promise to meet with antidoping crusaders/reporters David Walsh and Paul Kimmage. I expect him to really do some serious good in cancer research. I expect him to show that this is not a big exercise in ego and there is a greater good.

The excellent Boulder Report has his thoughts here, spinning some sort of political/sports management power thingy at the end that I do not quite get. Personally, I blame Tyler:

Tyler Hamilton is the current US Pro national champion.
Tyler, who is older than Lance by a few months and has had zero significant results since returning from his doping suspension, somehow outsmarted the entire clean young force of the future Garmin/Chipotle team and will be wearing some hideous stars and stripes rock and republic jersey next year. I bet Lance saw that and thought, shit, if he can win the US national champs at the age of 37 and clean, well I can beat the whole world. Just watch me.

And I think I will be right there by the TV rooting for him. I can't think of a reason why not. So:
Go Lance.

(I think)


Summertime carrot chipotle salsa

If you are mildly industrious and have a bumper crop of veggies you can make this all from your garden. I have a one month window to get tomatoes and peppers ripe before frost kills em so I have only succeeded once. Feel free to modify and leave suggestions in the comments. Thanks to the modern miracle of the supermarket you can make this year round, think of it as liquid salad, delivered atop corn chips - delicious fried corn chips.

The basic needs
  • 28oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (or 28oz of fresh tomatoes)
  • two dried smoked chipotle peppers (often available from the religious candle aisle at your local supermarket) - this imparts good flavors and spiciness
  • two fresh peppers (I like poblano and anaheim, but this works with any peppers, hot or not)
  • clove of garlic
  • Cilantro

  • Does your supermarket have a religious candle aisle?

    To make it better
  • 2-4 Carrots
  • one small or large onion, any kind
  • 2-4 limes or lime juice.

  • Here is how to make it, ignore the first 2 steps if you only want the simple recipe.

    1. Put some olive oil in pot over the stove
    2. Coarsely chop onion and carrots add to pot. Sautee for a bit until softish. Maybe 5-10 minutes.

    You can make em even coarser

    3. Add can of whole peeled tomatoes (peel fresh tomato equivalent by briefly dunking tomatoes into boiling water, skin pops right off, see?)

    can o' maters.

    4. Coarsely chop fresh peppers add to pot
    5. Remove stems from dried chipotle peppers, split them if you want, add to pot

    Add as many or as few peppers as you want, the dried chipotle ones add the smokey flavor

    6. smush garlic a bit, add to pot
    7. Get pot simmering, stir infrequently, cover and wait twenty minutes, don't cook for too long, or it tastes dark evil and crappy, kind of like cafeteria ketchup. When it is done remove from the stove.

    7.5 you probably should be drinking a beer while you wait, if you are not already
    8. While you wait for it to simmer, collect the leafs of the cilantro. Discard the stems, this is my least favorite part. I try to trick Elena into doing this part with limited success.

    If you use the stem it gets a bit stringy, if you are lazy just use the whole head of cilantro

    9. Also, while you wait, juice the limes.

    This juicing tool rocks, I am throwing my reamer in the trash

    10. Take the cooled pot contents and put in a blender, put the lime juice on top and the cilantro on top of that

    Blending hot stuff is bad. Wait till it cools

    11. Blend to a pleasing consistency.
    12. pour into bowls
    13. Eat. With your beer. Yum

    If you have the touch, this all equals one filled to brim blender load. Careful blending hot things, they burn when they splatter out all over you. Wait until it is not hot to blend. Have another beer. Now blend.

    Pretty quick, pretty delicious.
    The rules on the spicy/ameliorant are as follows:
  • Peppers are spicy, usually
  • cilantro distracts from the spice
  • lime juice cuts it a bit more
  • Sweet balances the spice
  • carrots are sweet
  • corn is sweet

  • If you play this right you can have a salsa that is both really spicy and is edible by people who hate spicy foods. I don't condone catering to these people, what I like to do is put lots of spicy stuff and sweet stuff in for a carnival of mouth flavors.

    Places to use this:
  • As a dip for chips at home or at a party
  • Put the crumbly end chips from the bag in a bowl, pour salsa over it = salsa cereal.
  • Scramble some eggs and cheese when they are about done pour salsa over it in the pan, heat it up good, serve = delicious
  • as topping for monster sammiches,
  • etc...

  • You can also cut back on the tomatoes (none or 2 fresh) add a whole bunch of squash or pumpkin or carrots or potatoes or other root vegetables in the first step (the chop and sautee until softish step) and blend the crap out of it to make a pretty good soup in the fall/winter. Good veggie soup plus good bread should be pretty similar to good salsa and good chips.



    Its alive!

    From pereira cycles flickr stream:

    click for source

    That is a King BB actually installed on a bicycle that is actually being ridden somewhere. It is actually a really really nice single speed with out the back dropouts AND a fixed disc brake position. Worth looking at, here. Well done.

    I think I have a 8 year old "have you seen me" CK bb t-shirt in the bottom of a box somewhere. Heh...


    A Squirrel for a girl

    When I was out in MN visiting with the Large Feller, his daughter Chloe was hunting Minneapolis Tomato eating squirrels. She asked me what squirrels were like in NM and I told her that they are weird. In honor of her big Schwinn ride effort I post these photos of the rare NM Nappy Squirrel:

    I took these pictures in Bandelier National Monument here in NM, I think this might be a spotty ground squirrel?

    The other main species in Bandelier is the Aberts squirrel. In the winter they have super excellent tufted ears:

    click image for source, the Bandelier Data sheet on the Aberts Squirrel

    unlike the mean Minneapolis squirrels that steal garden veggies and might shiv you if you look at em funny, the Aberts Squirrel stays out of town and off in the forest. They love peace and ponderosa pines.

    Ok, so big congrats to Chloe for riding the heck out of a big bike.


    The mighty rain bucket

    We have had some minor flooding problems in our basement the last year or so. We have a flat roof with gutters on all sides save the north. However, due to a cruel joke, it seems most of the water that lands on our roof drains on the north side of the house and then soaks up against the house and in special occasions makes it through to the basement. My solution to this problem has been to dig and redig trenches often in the middle of the night to keep the water draining away from the house into the back 40(th of an acre). Trenchy:

    December 2007:

    August 2008:

    This has lost its thrill. When we bought the house the inspector suggested we put some gutters on the north side of the house to keep just this from happening. Everyone's reaction was, what? North side gutters? Are you crazy? they will just freeze up and not work!

    With all due respect, everyone is an idiot. We finally put gutters in on friday. More specifically I hired someone to do it. I could have done it myself but I do shoddy work and I had no access to seamless gutters, The two runs of gutter were sixty and thirty feet. The gutter guys had the cool seamless gutter former and happily they were done in a day, did great work and showed up. If you live in rural NM you realize that the combination of "great work" and "showing up" are hard to come by in this state. If you are local and need some gutters ping me at my email I will get you their info.

    The gutters might not work in the winter, but the biggest problem I had last winter was when it rained over an inch (twice) in the middle of winter and melted all the snow on the roof and it all drained onto the north side of the house. I figure the gutters will work just fine in this case and I will be able to pipe the water to the edge of the property pretty easily. If this fails I will get passive or active gutter heating tape.

    With the gutters in, we had a big problem with where to put the water. Here is what the new gutter output looked like in the middle of a downpour:

    The solution was that we decided to throw down and buy the 200 gallon monster bukkit:

    It filled up in three hours Sunday night. Maybe half an inch of rain after the barrel was hooked up. It has been a great rainy august with well over 7" of rain at the house, hopefully the barrel will serve well.

    The barrel has a built in overflow port that we piped out to the back of the property. It is great. It cost a fair bit, but if I never have to get up in the middle of the night to dig trenches again it was worth every penny. Additionally we can easily use this to water the fruit trees in the back of the property, once we get some more hoses.

    It took a fair bit of work to get it in, I pulled up the grass,leveled the ground beneath and put in 9 pavers below it. All in the middle of a big storm. But with some good whomping with the flat-ground-whomper tool and some luck I got it pretty even and filling.

    On sunday after the storm broke, I went back and put in a few more pavers and stones so I can walk out there and check on the barrel in the middle of the rainstorm without walking in the liquified soil in the area. Hopefully the soil will no longer turn into a clay-mud bog again, but we will see...

    Now I feel like I can take advantage of the free water from the sky and put in a small apple tree to go with the peach and plum I put in earlier in the year with the moronic tax refund.


    The Olympics on a Bicycle


    I got 100% suckered into the olympics this year. I am not proud, but I watched almost everything. The swimming and the track and field were sublime. I even watched gymnastics. I found the mens gymnastics fairly compelling. The US team seemed to be made up of a beautiful melting pot of cultures: chinese, indian, russian, asshole texan. In general the male gymnasts were happy, reasonably well fed and mostly old enough to buy their own cigarettes. The tiny girl gymnasts on the other hand...
    well, I feel as if I was contributing to the corruption and aiding in the harming of minors by watching, but I could not turn the TV off. All the gymnasts kind of looked like Tweety bird to me with their large heads and even larger eyes perched atop tiny bodies, but man could they ever jump and twirl. All I could think off when I saw Shawn Johnson is that USA cycling needs to get her on a BMX bike NOW. With her somewhat astounding bike specific musculature and ability to flip and fly through the air, I think she would be a shoo-in for gold in london in 2012. I am sure she will shoot up an inch or so in the next couple years making it impossible for her to be a gymnast anymore so she will be out of a career. Come on USA cycling, get her on a bike. I was thinking she would be great match sprinter too, but I am not sure, at 4'9", that she would fit on a UCI legal track bike.

    Other olympians I would like to see on a bike: Usian Bolt and Michael Phelps. In the same race. I am not sure what race it would be, but I am thinking either the kilo or the 4k pursuit. After being floored by Phelpsie the first week and completely and utterly gobsmacked by Bolt the second week of the Olympics, I was searching for a way to have the two of them compete against each other. I thought Greco roman wrestling or judo would be a good start, but Elena cleverly suggested a bike race. Bolt is built for all out sprints, while phelps has a fair bit more endurance as even his shortest races are the equivalent of two of Bolt's longest event. Bolt is clearly better proportioned and muscled for cycling and the runner to cyclist transition is not too hard. Phelps has tiny legs compared to his muscle encased lungs up top, so the race would have to be long enough to bring in the endurance advantage. I think a 4k pursuit would be a nice compromise. If phelps won that easily, maybe a kilo, or perhaps a keirin race. Any other ideas? If I were president of the IOC I would have arranged this race as the showcase for the closing ceremonies. Instead we got Phelps being abducted to London while the Chinese were able to steal Beckham away for some cloning experiments to aid their World Cup team in 2018.

    Finally, did anyone else visit the scary upper NBC affiliate channels to watch the rowing? Normally I could not care less about rowing, but I liked to watch the stately bicycle proceedings alongside the furiously stroking rowers. It was very soothing. It seems that coaches and perhaps fans or other VIP's were issued comfort bikes so they could ride along side the race. Even the announcers called attention to the peleton following the races. They used that exact word and it was very apt, most of the riders were getting sucked along in the slipstream of the group, not pedaling at all. By the finals there were more than 20 riders rolling along during the race. I am not sure if this is common elsewhere. I remember running and riding along side rowing teams on the Charles when I was an undergrad, but it was impossible to do so during the Head of the Charles regatta due to the crowds. I would throw you a link, but it seems NBC is very diligent about enforcing their copyright on YouTube and the nbcolympics website video player does not work with firefox three. Asshats. Anyhow, believe you me, it was very soothing to watch late at night.

    previous olympics and bikes post