Thursday, January 29, 2015

to every problem...

Of course it's too small; you can see the original over on today's Oddman*.

It reminds me of the often-misquoted Mencken quote, "There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong."

*I'm impressed by Oddman's choice today; he too often (not always, maybe not even usually, but still too often) goes for the easy laugh without the explanation or the necessary elucidating information. His stuff is usually entertaining (often in a lowbrow, Benny Hill kind of way); I'm glad he posted this instead of just the top two panels.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

a certain bicyclist

I stumbled across some fun, silly, but still smart bicycle writing from the mid-1980's, and I want to be able to find it again. It's pretty neat; you might want to bookmark A Certain Bicyclist.

The illustrations alone are worth clicking the link.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

tour de franklin date

Tour de Franklin date is set: April 26. I plan on leading my usual "B"-ish ride on the metric century. It's the day after the Princeton Freewheelers Spring Fling... so be warned.

Hope youse-all can come. I'll have info about how to sign up for my team when I can set it up.

Monday, January 26, 2015

why pay taxes

Couldn't have said it better myself. Luckily, I didn't have to.

(John Green is one of the people I wish I were. He's the author of The Fault in Our Stars and the host of a bunch of the Mental Floss Youtube Videos.)

Pic stolen from today's Oddman.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

high points

I went over to visit Laura OLPH's blog, and, among all of the sturm und drang about the proposed Penn East pipeline, is a post titled, "I Guess I Know What I'm Doing This Summer". The entire text of the post is, "Hoo boy." and it links to this post on Tom H's blog.

Tom wants to hit the highest point in each county in NJ this year.

Sounds great to me. If I'm available & healthy, I'm in.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

out-of-shape, scary, wet & icy ride

What did you do with your MLK Day?

I did a short ride up Coppermine and back. I'm blaming the slow pace on being out-of-shape after not riding much (indoor exercises just don't cut it), and the roads that were wet and still icy after the ice and rain yesterday. I didn't even get up over 25mph on the downhill on Old Georgetown, the descent was that scary.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

maybe a project

I hate my commuter bike that I use only rarely. It's heavy and ugly; the welds are gobbed like wads of gum; the suspension seatpost sags after a while, so I've set it a little too high when I first get on, and after a half-hour or so it's a little too low. I ought to put cyclocross in-line brake levers on in addition to the drop-brake levers (like I have on the Yellow Maserati), but I haven't, probably because I just don't love the bike. The best thing about it is a beautiful Nitto drop bar to which I attached friction bar-end shifters and aero brake levers that work with the Vee-brakes on the bike.

After Laura got Beaker, I had toyed with buying a lovely lugged frame for myself, but that totally won't work. There are a number of reasons for this, but the one that is most pressing for me is that if I build a bike that's too beautiful, I'll be afraid to use it. I know this because I sometimes need to use a cane to support myself; I have a small collection of canes, including one that's attractive and just the right height, that I didn't use for years for fear of wrecking it or wearing it out. I need utile more than beautiful.

I first cast an eye on the Soma San Marcos. Lugged and handsome, it was designed by Grant Petersen at Rivendell Bikes. Larger versions have a double top tube for added rigidity, and it's got long chainstays so I'll be able to keep the front wheel down on 25% grades... but it's too pretty to be a bike for use, and too quotidian to be a bike for eye candy.

Soma's got a number of other frames (I looked at the Wolverine and Double Cross), but then I remembered the fork on the Yellow Maserati. When I was building the Yellow Maserati, the carbon fiber fork on my first bike had developed a worrisome scratch, and I kept reading stuff about carbon fiber failures that had me uneasy (Alberto Contador's experience last summer has not improved my confidence). I had built the Yellow Maserati with a Surly fork. What does Surly have?

Well, lots, it turns out. I want room for wide tires, and not really a tourer like the Long Haul Trucker... but there's that cyclo-cross frame, the Cross Check, that has a lot of what I'm looking for:
  • Lots of sizes;
  • Chainstays longer than those on the Yellow Maserati;
  • Braze-ons for fenders and racks;
  • Price includes the fork;
  • External cable routing, and setups for downtube shifters (or not);
  • Room for wide tires...
  • ...and you can get a black one. (I'm color-challenged.)
I've already scouted out rims, a crankset, and a rear derailleur. I can use the Nitto bars and the brake levers I have, and finagle the bar-end shifters onto the downtube (and if that isn't comfy, I can always use these guys on the downtube to put the shifters back on the bar ends). I can probably build it up as an eight- or nine-speed with a nice wide range, because of the friction shift setup. I've still got that last BG2 saddle.

I may have a project.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

nbbx ride 1/18/15

As I write this, the Sunday weather is iffy... but if it looks like it's going to hold through about 1:30-2:00, I'll lead a ride from the New Brunswick Bike Exchange* on Sunday, 1/18, starting at 10. We'll start from the Sandford Street side of PRAB at 90 Jersey Ave in New Brunswick.

*No link; site's down.

We'll do the usual route: about 16 miles, at a leisurely pace, through New Brunswick, Franklin, and North Brunswick. There will be a couple of long, little-used roads to get your speed on, if you want, but we'll all join at stops and turns. Lots of stops, nobody dropped.

Helmets required. I probably won't have the car (I keep extra helmets in it), so bring your own.

We'll stop at Better World Cafe for coffee (they have sandwiches & cookies, too, and wifi). I expect to be done by 12:30-1:00.

If the weather IS iffy, watch this post; I'll update by early Sunday if I'm cancelling. If you don't see anything, I'm going... and if I'm all alone, I'll do a different route.

Edit Jan 16 4:22 am: Not lookin' good. You should probably plan something else...

Edit Jan 17 5:16 pm: Bag this; weather's too iffy. "A foolish consistency..." Go do something else, and we'll try again around President's Day.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

"nope, it's the other way" cold ride with tom h

I was sure it was going to be too cold for a road ride this weekend... plus, we were switching from Verzon DSL to Optimum cable and VOIP for our phone and internet service, so I had a number of phone-number changes and suchlike chores to do, so I wasn't sure I was going to get out on the bike at all this weekend. But Tom H sent out an email about an off-road ride around the Duke Mansion in Hillsborough, and with some reluctance (and many warnings from The Excellent Wife [TEW} not to come home with frostbite), I set out this morning to Duke Farm for the start.

Folks who know me know I'm always early, so I wasn't surprised when I didn't see any other cyclists in the lot. Shortly thereafter, though, in rolled Barry Y, and then Joe M and Tom (who, sensibly, didn't get out of the car until he absolutely had to; it was that cold). A few minutes later, Laura joined us, so we were five.

Tom told us that the Duke Farm was originally an estate owned by a man who made his money in hydroelectrics, and the grounds are full of man-made lakes and waterfalls. The current generation, however, is more interested in sustainability, and the farm is now host to a number of earth-friendly technologies. This barn, with the excellent horse relief at top, is now largely solar-powered and uses rain water for non-potable water needs (really, though, I just needed to get a picture of that horse...).

Below, another picture of Joe M's Bridgestone with the cork grips and tape, and bar-end shifters (and suspension stem). I love the way this bike looks.

Tom didn't have a clear idea of the course today, so there was quite a bit of "wait, let me look at the map; nope, it's the other way", which, along with many stops for pictures, means that a lot of you would have hated this ride (presuming you'd even come out on such a cold day). You can see this on the route, although some of the out-and back was to investigate some of the features of the farm, such as this unfinished foundation:

Tom told us that Old Man Duke started making enough money in tobacco that he figured he ought to move to North Carolina, so he abandoned this place for there. There are still excellent waterfalls, though...

... including this one that was constructed to be dramatic, and I'm sure it is, in season:

A few other pics, including us at an unfinished building that has become a sculpture garden:

So, yeah, between the cold and the stops... you probably would have hated this ride.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

exercise keeps us young

Although it's going to be too cold for me to ride today, I thought I'd post a link to this article in the NY Times about how exercise keeps us young (thanks to The Excellent Wife [TEW] for the link).

From the linked article:

In the new study, which was published this week in The Journal of Physiology, scientists at King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in England decided to use a different approach. They removed inactivity as a factor in their study of aging by looking at the health of older people who move quite a bit. “We wanted to understand what happens to the functioning of our bodies as we get older if we take the best-case scenario,” said Stephen Harridge, senior author of the study and director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London.
To accomplish that goal, the scientists recruited 85 men and 41 women aged between 55 and 79 who bicycle regularly. The volunteers were all serious recreational riders but not competitive athletes. The men had to be able to ride at least 62 miles in six and a half hours and the women 37 miles in five and a half hours, benchmarks typical of a high degree of fitness in older people. 
TL;DR results:
 As it turned out, the cyclists did not show their age. On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age. As a group, even the oldest cyclists had younger people’s levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability.  

Read the article; it's not all as simple as that, and, of course, the results don't last forever. My favorite part is the description of "serious recreational riders": men who have to average 9.5 mph, and women who have to average less that 6.75 mph. TEW doesn't like to ride more than about 25 miles, but she could do 25, come home, take a nap, and get up and still finish the rest in the allotted time.

I also like the chainring tattoo in the pic (it's from the article).

Friday, January 9, 2015

charlie hebdo next wednesday

After the shootings at Charlie Hebdo, I decided to look at their website to see what they say (and to see if I want to subscribe in support).

It may have changed by the time you see it, but as I write this, there's a graphic of a fist holding a pencil, and the following text (in French; these are my translations);

  • Because the pencil will always be above barbarity...
  • Because liberty is a universal right...
  • Because you support us...
  • We, Charlie, will publish our magazine next Wednesday.
And, in a box:

Charlie Hebdo
Magazine of Survivors
Wednesday, 1/14

I'm moved to tears.