A Bit Inconvenient

Fallen Tree on Bike TrailIt’s hard to see, the picture isn’t that great (I was facing the sun, and it’s a cell phone), but on the way to work this morning there was a tree laying across the bike trail.  No warning signs, no detour signs, nothing.  Moreover, I was told that it had been there yesterday as well!

This is a major (as bike trails go) transportation corridor for cyclists in the Folsom area. Had this tree fallen across a road intended for motor vehicles it would have been removed immediately! I hope it’s gone on the way home, it was difficult to press through the branches!

Rules Trump Reason

Riding in to work this morning I was passed by a school bus. Just ahead of where the bus passed me there were some abandoned train tracks that crossed the street. They’ve been out of service forever. There are signs indicating that they are out of service. There are big heavy chains hung across the tracks on each side of the road. Yet, the driver (who most likely drives this route every day and knows that the tracks are out of service) came to a complete stop, looked both ways, and then continued on. Shocking.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the rules actually say to stop at ALL tracks, even those out of service. Why? So that the drivers don’t take on a lazy attitude and not stop at an active track? I’d like to argue the counter argument that the driver is now becoming so accustomed to this silly routine where the look is just out of habit, a motion of the head, not a real look, that they may be inclined to do the same when they do approach a real track! It goes both ways, you can’t legislate reason! THINK! Use common sense!

Tour Preparation

Preparing for the TourI decided it’d be a good idea to do a shakedown ride before heading off into the middle of nowhere. I loaded up the bike just as I am planning to ride it off into the sunrise (I’m leaving in the early AM, headed east!) and set off on a 15 mile loop around the lake.

Good thing too, since it immediately exposed a problem with the new cassette. There was a horrible griding in a few gears. I turned around after about .5 mile and rode back home. At home I put the original cassette back on and rode it around, the noise went away. The chain and original cassette only have about 1200 miles on them, so a worn chain is probably not the cause, but I guess I have some investigation to do tonight. 🙁

Time to Hit the Road

bigclimbone.JPGI can’t wait. Concentration escapes me. I just about have everything ready. Have I forgotten anything? I’ve thought it over so many times that I can’t see how it’s possible.

The picture is a screenshot from Google Earth. I’ve turned elevation exaggeration all of the way up, but that’s about how it’ll feel on a bike anyhow!

0813071433.jpgI’m planning three days of riding. I’ll be riding my Trek 520; a great touring bike, but with a brain-dead gearing setup. I’ve made a few changes to the bike to get ready for the big climbs. I replaced the 30T granny ring with a 26T ring (look at that jump!) and replaced the rear 11-32 cassette with a 11-34 cassette. It’d be better to put on a mountain crankset, but I didn’t want to spend that much on a new crankset and bottom bracket. Someday. I also replaced the rear rack with a Jandd Expidition rack to prevent my new big bags from swaying into the spokes, which happened far too often with the stock Trek rack. I installed a front rack long ago.
bigclimbtwo.JPGI packed over the weekend (yeah, far too early, but I’m anxious!) and weighed the bags, tent, and sleeping bag. The total weight, before food and water, was 35 lbs. Water is heavy, so I’m expecting the total to be about 45 lbs. Interestingly, that makes the total weight much less than I used to weigh, even without a load!

0715072150.jpgI can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait… By the end of the tour I will be quite familiar with my friend named Brooks…

Help Me Settle a Debate!


I’ve been debating with a coworker about which is a more useful tool for general purpose hacking, which one can solve more problems? Zip ties or duct tape? Help me settle the debate by voting on my poll!

Which is a more useful hacking tool, zip ties or duct tape?

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Please tell me why you voted the way that you did in the comments!

Dollar Coins

sacdollar.jpegThe few times that I’ve used the light rail to get to work faster (when I sleep in!) I’ve received dollar coins as my change. This got me thinking about the situation with coins in the US.

On a trip to Israel and England last year I found that their currencies had far more coins of larger value. I found myself using coins much more. Being unaccustomed to using so many coins it was strange at first, but I began to adapt and by the end of two weeks I was much more comfortable with the idea. This has got me to thinking… why won’t Americans accept the dollar coin? We’ve had so many of them, yet they’re never used in general circulation.

Consider the situation with light rail. If I take paper bills I run the risk of being unable to get the machine to successfully accept my money. Bill readers are notoriously unreliable! If I take quarters I have to feed the machine eight quarters. The time to do this is small, though still annoying, not to mention the bulk of six extra coins.

Today, with much trepidation, I tried one of my dollar coins in the vending machine at work. Success! It recognized it! That is MUCH easier than feeding a bunch of quarters, nickles, and dimes!

Considering that the average lifetime of a coin is something like 30 years, vs less than two years for a dollar bill, and that it’s 100% recyclable, vs something like 20% for paper bills, the dollar coin is even more appealing. Though, I wonder how the transportation emissions to move the coins from the US mint to the various banks compares.

I think that the next time I go to the bank I’m going to ask for a roll of dollar coins to start spending, especially on the transit vending machines!

SOLD: Recumbent Bike For Sale

Well, I’ve decided to sell my recumbent bike. I’ve found that I just don’t ride it as much anymore, and I have too many bikes in my garage. It’s in great shape, and only has a few thousand miles on it.

It’s a ’98 or ’99 (I’m not sure which) RANS V-Rex. New they sold for about $1300. It has some upgraded components: the original SRAM 9.0 stuff was upgraded to SRAM 9.0 ‘Betsy’ SL with composite brake levers, which was, as I understand it, a special component group (see attached pictures). I’m also including the Sigma Sport BC800 computer, Planet Bike recumbent fenders, RANS rear rack, RANS kickstand, RANS over-seat bag, mirror, and bell.

I’d like -SOLD- for it.

You can contact me at (—) ——–.

Click for larger pictures…

Moving The Kayak, Trailer — Phase2

**** This is a continuation of Phase 1. ****

Trailer After Maiden Voyage0805071314.jpg0805071317a.jpg0805071317.jpg

I’ve completed the trailer. I had to make a few changes along the way, but that always seems to happen. The pictures here were taken after my first trip to (and from) a launch point about three miles away. The route included a few hundred feet of vertical climbing as well.The trailer performed flawlessly during the trip. I got a lot of double-takes, (friendly) horn toots, and general comments. My favorite was the Prius owner who, while unloading his kayaks, said, “Now, THAT’s carbon neutral!”

The top kayak attachment bolts to the flat bed using four 1/4″ holes. Bolts are passed through from the top, with a fender washer, lock washer, and wingnut on the bottom to hold the assembly together. The boat hangs on two webbing straps that run across the trailer and the stern end rests on a cross member by the hitch. The boat sits backwards since the stern is much heavier, allowing me to place the wheels further forward (for maneuverability), while still having an acceptable tongue weight. The majority of my time was spent finding an acceptable balance between tongue weight and trailer position. I didn’t want too much tongue weight since it’d break my hitch, or mess up the handling of the bike.

The boat is wider than the trailer, so it has to rest high enough up that it clears the tires, which causes the bow (rear when loaded) to sit much higher in the air than the stern, but that’s probably a more stable configuration anyhow.

The overall assembly is probably heavier than it needs to be. Making it out of aluminum would probably reduce the overall weight, though compared to the 85 lbs of the boat, it’s probably insignificant. My original plans called for the boat to support itself and for the hitch to attach to a front section that strapped to the boat. Unfortunately, it moved around far too much, so I ended up using the 8′ 2×4 seen in the picture to support the length of the boat and to attach the hitch. This added a few pounds, but made the trailer easier to pull. A side benefit that I didn’t consider until much later is that the trailer can be pulled without a boat attached, which my original design wouldn’t have allowed.

Moving The Kayak, Trailer — Phase1

Trailer, Prior to ConversionOK, now that I have my new Kayak, I need a convenient way to get it to the lake. Lake Natoma is a little over a mile from my house, so driving there seems quite silly. By the time that I lift the heavy kayak up on top of my car, drive to the lake, pay the $5 day use fee, take the boat off of my car, etc, I could just ride my bike there! I have this old child trailer that I’ve been meaning to convert for cargo use, so here goes…

Trailer, During ConversionPhase 1 is to convert it from a child trailer to a flatbed cargo trailer. A cargo trailer would have many uses in addition to the kayak, so even without the kayak this’d be a worthwhile venture. Once phase 1 is complete, I’ll continue to phase 2, which is to build a kayak cradle on top of it and move the tongue forward. The final phase will be to convert an old Rubbermaid tub and lid to fit on top of the flatbed using the same mounting holes as the kayak cradle.

Trailer, Flatbed Conversion CompletePhase one is complete. I removed all of the excess parts from the old child trailer. Once it was stripped down to just a rectangular frame I drilled some 1/4″ holes along the perimeter and bolted 1×4 strips fore-aft to support the 1/4″ birch plywood bed using carriage bolts. Not much to say about this step, it was quite straightforward and took maybe 2 hours total, including cleanup.

So far, so good…

Continued in Phase 2.

A New Kayak!


Finally… I got a kayak! After various rentals I liked the Wilderness Systems Pamlico 160T the best. It seemed the most comfortable after a long day, and one of the more efficient. The seats (Phase3) are the most comfortable, that’s for sure! I can sit in those all day long with no discomfort!

Now I just need to practice my stroke to avoid injuring my wrist or elbow, both of which get sore with my novice stroke. I use my arms far too much — need to learn to use my torso!! My back muscles could use a workout anyhow since I work a desk job and sit all day!

I didn’t get the rudder, so steering will be an issue with much cross current, but I might add that later.