Don't Drink & Blog...

Hi everyone, sorry about that last post, or at least the way it ended. How pathetic is that to comment on my own writing not once but twice. And to have leveled with you not twice but thrice! What can I say, I was drunk not just with wine but also with the joy of blogging here at Moscaline, which I consider to be the best blog in the world. I can't promise it won't happen again but I assure you I am not now imbibing and this post should be coherent from start to finish.


So let's get to it! Here in Iowa we are enjoying what would reportedly be called Women's Summer in Russia and I am finding it most agreeable. I have been working outside this week, building a porch for one of Tarik's favorite cyclists, and it has been nice to soak up a little more warm sun even as talk turns to winter and snow and skiing.

For those of you who enjoy cycle touring, I alert you to this adventure which should be beginning any day now. Mauro is a most likeable Brasilian man living in Iowa City and he is about to embark on a one year ride to Brasil.
This is him with his custom Teesdale with its custom Brasilian flag paintjob and one of his daughters. Mauro is really tall and went for the 26 inch wheel so the bike looks pretty crazy, plus the super upright aero set up. He said they had to use tandem cables for the rear derailler and brake. The bike looks to weigh in at 45 pounds (yay centerstand!) with no gear or water, which will set him back another 90 pounds or so. Stout wheels required!


Up here in Iowa City we have rides that leave from a city park every Tuesday and Thursday night between spring forward/fall back time at 5:30pm. As far as I know there is no other place in the world that has anything like this going on. It is a pretty good ride, if your definition of a good ride is hammering until your teeth clunk off your stem whenever you hit a bump and then you get dropped.

It was a chilly evening as we rolled out tonight, everyone in attendance on cross bikes with lights except for the Eppens 0n their custom rigid Quiring 29er tandem with lights.

That's them at Chequamegon this year on said Quiring, they won the tandem title outright (no masters combined age or "mixed" rigamaroll necessary for them) for the fifth year in a row. That is Brian up front, his wife Kim on the back and it is her birthday. That plus tandem equaled trouble.

So we rolled out East on gravel and turned North on a B-Road (no maintenence, just dirt or mud if the rain is falling) where the pace went from hard to really hard. The road was super chopped up from rain last week and it was good motivation to stay up front. We rolled through and were quickly onto the next challenge, Hedge Apple. That is what we call it, an abandoned road of not more than a mile that is literally littered with big roly-poly Hedge Apples in the grass. This is typically where this ride will detonate and tonight was no different. I was happy to play my cards right and come out first but on the next section of B road that was just 200 yards off (there is some great riding out that way, if you are into this sort of thing) I got pretty tired and the mighty tandem came raging by. There were still more B roads ahead, and relentless hills and it was getting dark and sure was cold, too.

At 6:35pm I decided it was a good time for me to start tapering for this weekends State Cyclocross Championships so I started sitting in a lot/always. The Eppens had decided that the best way to celebrate a birthday was alone so they went to the front and drilled it.


When the dust settled (and the Eppens finally sat up) I caught up and there were just a few of us around (it was a small group after all) and we were all really tired. I was expecting a jovial romp with lively conversation for the last four miles into town but what I got was more looking at the back of that tandem as we thundered in and scared the crap out of a poor opossum that was just minding its own business trying to cross the street and finally I made it home and collapsed.

Well, not exactly. You see, I have agreed to guest blog here for Tarik until he gets the hang of fatherhood so I am trying to offer something for every facet of his loyal readership. I have the longwinded ride report covered, lets move on to cooking!

So Cody and I made soup for dinner. Really good soup. Taste of Autumn kind of soup. Butternut Squash, that is, grown at an organic farm that I rode by tonight that is owned and farmed by Ira Ryan's mom. So buy one of his bikes! The soup turned out well.

Okay, what might be next you ask? CATS! Of course. We have a couple, (l to r) Wayne (midwest alter ego of Wink, methinks) and Ritchie, who is the sweetest little killer you could ever hope to meet.

This is them post chow. Okay, so I gotta level with you that have so bravely plowed through this entire post, that in addition to butternut squash soup we had wine for dinner and Cody got tired and went t o sleep and I have ben finishting the bottle by myself and I gotta level with you , I am a bit typsi so I am going to wrap it up but do not dispair! This blog will continue until Tarik ca rreturn and spint that blog gold agian like only he can.


Guests in the House of Moscaline

Before we introduce ourselves we must give a big congratulations to Elena & Tarik and say howdy-do to little lady, Aida Mae. We're pretty excited about this whole thing.

While Tarik perfects his diaper-changing skilz, gpickle & I will be filling in.

Mostly because I promised Tarik a photo months ago but also because cargo bikes are simply cool machines, here is one of our stable, sitting in the entryway of my studio with a high quality, dual-sided beasty bell on its handlebar. Said bell given to us by none other than the recently babified author of this blog. (Thanks again. We heart it!)

P.S. Happy to be here!


Aida Mae Saleh


Weighing in at 8 pounds 11 oz and 21.75" in lenghth our little girl was born yesterday. She is great!

If you want baby news, surf over to babynogblog I should have copious photos posted started saturday or so. No internet access at the hospital.

If you are looking for bikes/cats/etc. I think I have a couple guest bloggers lined up for the next couple of weeks while I take a break. So keep on checking in.


Wink256, gratuitous

Post bath:

With his pet boy:

wishing a happy anniversary to us:


Off road dummy

One of the reasons I really wanted to get a big dummy is that it is an off road capable singletrack hauling machine. There is a nice trail through pueblo canyon between my house and downtown.

Probably 2.5 miles of single track and double track with some nice views.

The bike handles pretty well off road. The rear wheel is underweighted on climbs so it spins a bit without careful climbing style. But unlike a normal mtb you don't have to worry about accidental wheelies. Similarly it is hard to properly weight the front wheel when you hit a little dip or a loose turn due to the large wheel base. I am also running slick tires. But overall it handles pretty well through the local off road conditions. Including singletrack. As long as I am cognizant of how long the bike really is and whether the freeloaders are stuffed or not, it is not too hard to ride single track here. Additionally, you can ride down some stupid steep things and through some technical things that are easier on the dummy than a regular MTB. As long as you have traction. The big dummy does suck on anything you could high center on. Logs and some curbs and dropoffs are bad. Constant vigilance...

I usually ride down town, load up with whatever I am buying and then ride the roads back home with the load. Like this full load of groceries and coffee grounds for composting.

I have had some issues with the long wheel base. Mostly clanking hops up onto curbs at speed. It is much harder to unweight the rear wheel than on a normal bike. I have hit the rear wheel pretty hard before, but actually pinchflatted today. When I went to fix the flat I noticed this:

I lost part of one of the freeloaders strap a riding home with it unbuckled a couple of weeks ago. I had not idea where it went or when it happened, but I did not think too much of it at the time. When I went to change the tire today I found the remains wrapped between the disc brake and the spoke. One of the Big Dummy's hazards is getting stuff caught in the rear wheel and having no idea it is there until it is too late. With the snap deck and the free loader bags you can't really see the rear hub at all while riding or otherwise. Additionally the long chain and wheel base degrades the "feel" of the rear wheel, and deck and bags muffle sound pretty well. This is the third thing that got up in there. One plastic bag, one tumbleweed like thing and this strap. The first two had to be repaired to get rolling, the plastic bag actually locked the cogs to the spokes and created a disconcerting psuedo fixed wheel with a huge delay due to the long chain, all while giving Elena a ride to a friends house. This one was unnoticeable until this week when it started clanking around back there a little bit. Not too big a deal but it is something to be aware of.
It is also kind of hard to check if your rear tire is well inflated and inflate the rear tire while it is on the bike. Again, something to force myself to be aware of.

Overall I have been riding the big dummy almost exclusively this month including about 25% off road. I also have an offroad route on the way to work that is pretty fun on the BD. It is great when I am not going to go for a really long ride on the way in or home. Probably 6-15 miles a day so far this month, I loves you big dummy.

My next plan is to get some fatter slicks. Probably a 2.5" hookworm up front and a 2.35 road apple on the back. In retrospect, I wish I set my bike up with large marge rims (and a rohloff...) like this one: here, here and here. Maybe next time I build wheels for it. I don't think I am going to fit fenders on it. It runs pretty dry for the rider due to the virtual fender of the snapdeck/freeloaders and I think I would rather have really fat tires...


icy green tomatos

Had a pretty hard frost on Monday which killed all the veggies. So I picked all the green tomatoes. I got about 10 good ripe ones this year out of 5 plants, I must improve the soil next year, but I sure got a pile of green ones.

I made some fried green tomatoes by dipping them in breadcrumbs salt and pepper and pan frying them in olive oil. They were OK, but not great.

So I used the rest in a couple of big batches of green tomato salsa. I used this recipe but just threw in unpeeled and quartered green tomatoes instead of canned or ripe ones and cooked it a little bit longer.

It is delicious, if not aesthetically pleasing. I may freeze a bit of it in ice cube trays for use in eggs over the winter.


Road finds of the week, Baseball!

Muddy baseball found on the UNM-LA parking lot. Just in time for the LCS. The third baseball I have found in the street in Los Alamos this year!

And speaking of baseball, Elena and I have been doing dome serious playoff couch surfing of late. A few things I am impressed with so far this playoff season.
1. Somehow I never noted Craig Sager or his suits before. I guess I don't watch much sports anymore. Just awesome.
2. The return of Casey Blake. I enjoyed watching him play in the post season last year for the Indians, and I am enjoying watching him again this year with the Dodgers. He appears to be very tall and smooth fielding at third while also packing some power at the plate. His stats tell a slightly different story. A-Rod he ain't, but anyone who looks like a hired gun for the House of David Barnstormers is a-OK by me.
3. The array of sidearmer/submariners in the playoffs this year. Boston has Lopez and Masterson, the rays have Chad Bradford who has craziest delivery I have ever seen, he pretty much scrapes his hand on the mound as he pitches. That plus the Brad Lidge Slidermatic, Paplebon's geeked out intensity and knuckler Wakefield's planned start tonight makes for pretty good playoff pitcher watching.

Back to road finds, also found recently was this 1950 silver dime that I dug up while planting tulips.

Probably been in the dirt there beside the house since shortly after it was built. Buried treasure!


Racks racks racks

The rack revolution is going strong. Check out the work at this past weekend's insufferably cool Oregon Manifest - alex w's photos here among others about the net. Almost every bike there seems to have some sweet custom racks. Maybe I will go there next year.

Some other nice racks I have seen of late.

From suckapants.com, a great blog (often not safe for work ) running the gamut from music to bikes to exploring the abandoned margins of the american urban experience or something, I saw this very sturdy looking rack probably used originally for clearing cows off railroad tracks:

Click for source post and original image "Punk aint dead, it just rides a bicycle now"

From my bedroom window yesterday, I spotted this rack:

Not a rack, but I wanted to install this very cool narrow basket on my bike:

But elena made me put it in the bathroom:

Yes Jill, racks are the new chickens.



Due to impending major additions to the household, we kicked the cats out of the third bedroom and converted a closet to a cat loft/litter cave. With lights and fan. I did the design, but am pretty swamped, so we were glad to find a local handyman to do the demolition and rebuild. He also hung a door so we can put the kitties away at night in the large carport converted into a laundry room/mudroom/catroom/studio.

More or less what the closet looked like before, this is the one next to the one we converted

The plans!

Finished closet, see switches for light and fan in the bottom right

Feedthroughs to facilitate cat movement

Wink 256 and Deeeeee model the finished catty corner

more cat cave pics


Need a bigger bow saw

Los Alamos had a big forest fire in 2000, the result is that there are a ton of burnt standing and fallen trees in the area. The trees are good and dead, but usually the main trunk of the tree is excellent burning material. You can buy a wood cutting/gathering permit from the forest service for 20 bucks for 5 cords of wood a year so you can heat your home. We don't have a wood stove yet, but will get an insert this year or next. The wood gathering helps clear out the deadwood and transfer the fuel load off the mountains and into neat piles next to your home.

My buddy Adam and I went up into the mountains to retrieve a load of wood. Unlike the rest of the much more efficient wood gatherers we used only hand tools. They got more wood, but we made far less noise. Here are some pics and videos of the enterprise. We will go gather more meagre amounts of fuel when we become less sore. We pretty much suck at this and need bigger bow saws...

The inadequate handtools of doom!

Interesting Wood bugs abounded

Aspen field, roots lived creating the new growth, we dropped a big standing dead aspen, we are morons:

The day's haul

Ash blackened rubes

My half of the haul

Need the bigger bow saw

I made a pretty good pile of wood

Mostly aspen and ponderosa pine. Next more gathering and more sawing and perhaps some splitting action.


Old media profile!

Mountain Flyer is the mostly off road magazine of the mountainous west of the country. It has finally hit its stride in issue 10 by featuring me in the community section! Go me. I think it is slowly transitioning from Rocky Mountain centric to a slight bit more national feeling. Kind of how Bike is a West Coast bike mag and Dirt Rag is an East Coast mag, but they both still have enough interest for the national audience, Mountain Flyer is heading ther. The magazine has strong Los Alamos roots as the publisher Brian Riepe grew up here and a number of writers (including my interviewer KoachK) and editors still live in town. So check it out online or on your local news stand.

last time I hit the big time


Weekend mornings bike loop

The weekend morning loop.

mile 1.6, check the po box at the picturesque LA PO:

(hey, what for you no write no more, that pobox208, 87544, damn!)

Mile 2.0, get the breakfast burritos

Mile 4 or so, open the burritos

Mile 4 continued, Eat the hell out of some burritos

Then, maybe a nap, or a longer ride or more coffee or some yard work or...


New chicken!

Elena won't let me get chickens, but her friend Ruthie gave me this great chicken print made from a painting she made to make up for it. I am temporarily sated. Thanks Ruthie!

Elena correctly points out that we probably have too much going on to get chickens right now. But at least I have a cool chicken to call my own.

Take that portland.


Monkey Bicycle

Clever tiny furry people they are. Monkeys in India roll on the Atlas Goldline Super.

Click pic for source photos

Moscaline's far flung correspondents, my cousin and his wife, Keith and Lauren, are gallivanting about the world a honeymoon adventure. They were kind enough to snap the above photo for me in India. Thanks pals.