Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just a Shadow of my Present Self

The old Tracking Shot of the Ride to Work Shadow is always a crowd pleaser. This is along the Monona Terrace Convention Center here in Madison. Not an original idea by a long shot—here's another.

In other news, I'm working on a comparison of a few dynamo-powered LED bike headlights. Should be blog gold.

In other other news, the typing is coming along nicely and beginning to speed up a little. May be able to type at a respectable speed someday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

3100 and Counting

Yeah, I know that for a long time, one of Grant's rules was "don't keep track," but it's one that I never really heeded. So, for the fourth year in a row, I find myself someplace north of 3k miles of total riding. I'm a piker compared to some of you, but I'm pretty happy with it. Might like to see what the high side of 4k looks like. Think I'll try that next year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Which is More Important

There was a crane on the bike path
...for the bike commuter, a sense of adventure or a sense of humor? It's cheating to say "both."

Ideal was putting some barge into the lake this morning (the lake is to the left in the shot above) so it was time for the bikers to break out their mad cyclocross skilz.

This guy? Fail.

Monday, November 09, 2009

My Summer Vacation

So back in July, I had a couple of days off, and that kid and I were trying to think up something to do. We talked about going for a bike ride and the idea of doing the Planet Trek came up. It's a pretty cool thing—a scale model of the solar system spread out over 23 miles of bike path. Every object has its own placard describing its stats and relative size. The sun is represented by a 24-foot circle of flowers, Jupiter is the size of a hula hoop and Pluto is the size of a marble. With the marble located in Mount Horeb, this was really too far for the ten year old to ride in one day. So without really thinking, I suggested we could do the trek in one direction one day, camp overnight and return the next. Once I said it, there was no taking it back, and the kid was determined to do exactly that.

So here she is:

Ready to Go
and me with the Big Dummy, loaded for bear:

Loaded Up
My first mistake was waiting until almost noon to leave the house. I had figured we could make maybe 8 miles per hour over 32 miles and be in camp by six or so with stops. Not so much.

First stop, the sun:

Sun Diameter
See how happy? It wasn't to last. We then proceeded to visit the other placards in town in relatively quick succession. Pluto, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres (an asteroid), and Jupiter went by pretty quickly. We stopped for a saddle adjustment on her bike and for a couple of other things:

Then there was Saturn, last of the happy planets:

You'll notice that there's quite a distance between Saturn and Neptune. Probably about 14 miles:

14 miles can do quite a little bit to change one's mood:

Of course, my mood always improves with a stop at the Riley tavern for a samnitch or two (as it did on last winter's Shakedown Cruise for a Snowbike):

Lunch at the Riley Tap
The last 7 or 8 miles were uphill and rather grueling for the youngster. We were stopping at a pace of about once per mile at this point and her conscientious penchant for remaining well-hydrated made for a couple of very much anticipated potty stops. She was still doing well, but not getting any more enthusiastic:

Here we are on Pluto. Learning is fun.

The next part, between Mt Horrible and Blue Mounds, was a little farther than I thought and by far the most difficult part of the trip for the little human on the Big Dorky Bicycle. The saddle is a little too big for a kid, so her seat was sore. We stopped at a convenience store, and by some mad twist of fate, thank goodness, they had a bottle of baby powder.

Six miles and 7 rest stops later, we arrived at the turnoff into Blue Mounds State Park. Just one more 350-foot climb up a 10 percent grade to go. Oh, and then find the park office. And a site. No, really, it was easy. We bought firewood at the camp office, loaded it onto the DumV and arrived on site at about 7:30.

I didn't take many photos in camp because we were pretty busy setting up the tent and cooking dinner. Did manage to get one snap of the weenie roast:

Camping at Blue Mound State Park
We slept pretty well but for the nighttime raid by La Coonsa Nostra. These were not your ordinary cuddly Disney raccoons, but snarling, nasty, streetwise thugs bent on stealing our hot dog buns at any cost. They managed to figure out how to knock down the stuff I had hung in the tree in about 15 minutes. I finally ended up taking our little cooler and what remained of our dry goods to an adjacent site and asking a fellow camper to shut it in their car to be recovered in the morning. Egad.

After things settled down, I still didn't sleep all that well. Seems a little silly in retrospect, but I was worried about how I was going to get that kid home the next day. She was tired and sore and we had talked about calling the missus to sag her out.

Day broke and that kid slept until about 8, but rolled out of bed all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We had some milk and cereal, our eggs broken having not been properly stowed. We roasted a couple of hot dogs, drank some coffee and decided to treat ourselves to a proper breakfast in Mount Horrible. After finding out that the pool didn't open until noon (thus missing the major attraction at BMSP) we broke camp and hit the road. After a very slow and careful descent out of the park, it was smooth downhill sailing toward home:

Heading Home

See that smile? What a difference a good night's sleep can make!

We ate brunch at a brewpub in Mount Horeb called the Grumpy Troll.
Burgers and fries tasted pretty good right about then. Outdoor seating.

Stopped plenty of times on the way back, including a bit of a layover in Riley. No bar food this time though:

Rest Stop at Riley
We also stopped in Verona for ice cream and hunted high and low for Uranus. In fact, the idea that we couldn't locate yer-ay-nus became, as one might expect with a ten year old, the standing joke for the entire trip. We thought we had just missed it on the way out, but on the return trip we even asked a park ranger along the trail, "pardon us sir, have you seen Uranus?" The answer was "no."

Where'd it go?
Again that kid started to drag pretty hard at about 7 miles out, but with ample encouragement and not a few rest breaks, we were home by dinnertime.

The Big Dummy and the Amsterdam actually turned out to be something like the Dynamic Duo. When her stuff was too heavy to carry past Mount Horeb on the way out the first day, I just plunked it on the Dummy and we soldiered on. I have to say that it was a pleasure to ride even fully loaded on the limestone trail. The Amsterdam, while a big heavy thing, beat her little 24-inch mountain bike with its steady cruise and carrying capacity.

Given to do again (which we will, I can guarantee) I think we'll put a better saddle on the A'dam and get her out on it for a few shorter rides to accustom her to it. As it was, she was a real trooper doing 62 miles in two days. Gained a new respect for her.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cyclocross Hurts

I mean, look at that face:

Camrock Cyclocross
Photo courtesy of Renee Callaway, madcross dot org

This was the Camrock Classic Rock of Cross WCA Cross event in Rockdale back on October 18. My very first CC race ever. Chuck and I raced the Masters Cat 4 very first thing in the frosty morning. Started out by getting lost in the road construction on the way to the race, parking across the river and riding across a pedestrian bridge and the last half mile to the course.

The Dropouts that organized this thing are pretty deep in the Masters, so my goals were to 1. finish, 2. not get lapped, 3. not break anything and 4. not kill myself. Resounding success on all 4. I finished 24th of 29 (with one DNF) and would likely have been 25 had Chuck not let the air out of his front tire on the final lap. Four laps in about 38 minutes. Prolly close to lapped, but not.

Yeah, after about the first lap I wanted very badly to stop but hung in there. A little sore the next day but not too bad. Looked at shiny new CX bikes all week but resisted temptation easily, having not that kind of scratch. Maybe a couplafew races next year if the urge strikes...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

What I Did With My Spring Vacation

Meet the Dinkle House. The Dinkle house is that which the Babilonia clan calls home. From the time we bought it in 1997 until this March, it looked more or less like this:

But time came for paint, and it was decided, and rightfully so, that it needed a little more love than just a coat of paint. We decided on new siding and insulation. Piece of cake.

Here are pal Chuck and I tearing off the old sheathing. My advice in retrospect would be to not try this at home. It's a miserable business in many important ways, but I'm very lucky to have a bunch of folks in my life willing to help a guy who's gotten himself in over his head. Special thanks to Chuck, Karen, Joel, Tom, Steve and Bob. Won't soon forget it.

Once the tearoff was over, it looked a little naked:

Bare Studs
You could see all the plumbing and electrical from the street. And hear a lot more of the street from inside the house. Then came the Insulators:

Blown-in fiberglass. Rated at about R16, which is quite an improvement over the R6 or so that we had with the previous material. These guys showed up at ten past eight, were gone by noon and came in $70 under bid. Wish all construction went that way.

Plywood sheathing:

Foam board:

Wrapped in Blue
and finally, spanky new fiberglass siding:

Nearing Completion
This stuff is the new darling of architects everywhere, or so I am told. Six months on it still looks great and is holding up well, but we'll see whether it lasts. All the windows are aluminum clad, so it won't need a lot of maintenance. A little soon to tell whether the insulation has made a big difference, but the weather has turned cold...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

They's Gonna Be Some Changes Around Here

So. It's been a while. Yeah, I've been busy, but I'm sure everybody else is busy too. Must have needed a break from blogging. Having had a nudge from Mr. Stonebreaker, I'm back. And They's Gonna Be Some Changes Around Here.

First, no more pussyfooting around about who I am. My real name is listed in my profile, and you can find me on Facebook and Flickr more easily now too.

Second, I've obviously changed the look of the blog. Got kinda bored with the old one. Hope you like it, cuz it's gonna be around a while.

Third, part of the reason I haven't been blogging is that I broke my little camera back in March and have yet to replace it. No pictures, no story, as far as I'm concerned. Unable so far to accomplish the task of finding a new one.

Fourth, I failed high school personal typing and type like a schizophrenic chicken. It's really hard to bang out regular blog entries when you can only frantically peck about 30 WPM. So I'm trying to learn to touch type. Not going all that well yet.

Fifth, I've been changing my lifestyle a bit and now eat better, exercise more and have lost a bit of weight. Did a cyclocross race recently and am getting a fitness evaluation next week. No, I will not be trading in my personal life for an Ironman berth, but I will be doing a repeat appearance at the DDD this coming January.

Feeling pretty good. And I have been busy.