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Day 90 of #30daysofbiking

Woohoo! Today was day 90 of riding at least 5 miles per day.

I’ve seen a lot. Bugs, rain, dark, light. One flat, one loose crankarm, one seriously creaking crankset, a couple of broken spokes, and a couple of different configurations of fixie.

I’m slated to travel for about 2 weeks at the end of July/early August. By motorcycle. Which means bringing a bicycle will be difficult. I’m tempted to rig up a carrier (the motorcycle is a Vision, which has more than enough capability to carry a bicycle) and bring the fixie. Something about rolling through Sturgis like that appeals to me.

Holga .d

I’m not usually one to fawn over concepts.  Usually, they are the over-hyped, under-thought product of student industrial designers who are convinced that they can ignore basic laws… like physics, usability, etc.

But this one has me thoroughly smitten because it’s so right:

The only criticism I can level is that it looks too nice.  It’s very Leica.  In fact, this with old Leica glass would be pretty cool too.

If somebody were to make this, and do it right (cheaply),  I wouldn’t be able to resist.

There’ some serious fun to be had out there…

Wow. This looks like a lot of pai… er, fun:

The normal 40 feels like a long way.  100?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  It hurts!

Then there’s the westside dirty benjamin- 100 miles on gravel  Let’s hope they do it again in 2011.  No way was I going to survive that far this year, but if I keep this up next year should be doable.

I think I might ride around Lake Pepin soon.  It’s about 70 miles, nicely scenic, and I have a place to crash in Lake City.  A cursory search reveals that I’m not the only one, or the silliest one, to have this idea.  These silly bu… er, recreationists? Have been doing a 3-speed tour around the lake since 2006.  In period garb.  All I have to say is: CHAFING!

I guess that’s what do when you’re into re-enactments, bicycles, and you live nowhere near anything that has a relationship to the Civil War…  More power to ’em.

Anyway, I’ll probably take the road bike.  Or set up the fixie with a gear (42-24?) that might let me scale the precipice south of Maiden Rock with quads intact.  Need to get this one done in July though.  August looks pretty crazy right now.  Holler at me if you’re in- there’s room to sleep about 3 people on the boat in Lake City (more if there are couples.)

Volcanoes and Victorys

This is simply stunning:

Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull – May 1st and 2nd, 2010 from Sean Stiegemeier on Vimeo.

I love a good timelapse.  These are just outstanding.  I particularly like the camera movement during the shot- it must be what a snail feels like.

Today was day 29 of #30daysofbiking, so I celebrated by riding the fixie all 32.3 miles into work to pick up my Vision (our top of the line touring bike.)  I worked on the bike a few years ago (front and rear suspension, along with some other stuff), but I really wanted to get a Cross Country as that was my most recent project.  Turns out they are hard to get, so I popped for the Vision, and I am very happy with it.

The bike has everything (Mine is pretty much a carbon copy of the one in the photo above.)  Heated seats, grips.  4-speaker stereo.  Cruise control.  Electrically adjustable windshield.  HID driving light.   The storage is ample, the seat is comfortable, and the engine is powerful.  You can tweak the aerodynamics to suit your preferences as you ride.  Heck, you can even hook up your Ipod and control it through the control pod on the left handlebar (XM and CB are also available.)  Those badges on the side?  Yeah, they light up.

Mine is going to get a few select improvements- more blacked out bodywork, a cupholder, etc.  Don’t laugh.  One of the significant determinants as to whether I ride my bike or drive the cage is whether I can listen to NPR and drink coffee.  With this bike, I can do both.  Plus, black is cool:

not named sue

Some complain about the space-age look.  I like it- it’s sculpted, and the lines all make sense to me.  I remember seeing the bike take shape in the early stages of the project… it was far out.  The early sketches were not diluted much in the making of the bike.  In fact, the original styling model looks like a running current production bike.  Not many companies can or will do that- the marketplace is littered with products that were diluted by endless rounds of focus groups and surveys.  Not this bike.

I also like that the whole lineup makes sense.  You look at all of the Victory motorcycles in a row, and it’s obvious that they come from the same family, from the same small, passionate team that isn’t afraid to take a risk and do something differently.  It’s plain as day that we stand for innovation, style, and performance.  I know that sounds like marketing drivel, but it’s true.

I’m excited to see where this bike will take me.  The storage and comfort means I should be able to get pretty much anywhere with a great deal of camera gear.  It’s going to be a good summer!

Fortuitous fixie ride, a garage sale, and Hasselblads

So I head out this afternoon for my daily >5 miles of two-wheeled self abuse.  It’s day 22 of 30, and so far I haven’t repeated a ride yet.  I’ve repeated some stretches of road, but every time I go out I try to take a different turn and find a  road I haven’t been down yet.

This has led to some discoveries.  I have a couple of locations scouted out where, when the light is right, there should be some decent photographic opportunities.  I’m looking for lush but sparsely decorated landscapes that will allow the sky to be a good backdrop and no power lines or anything muddying up the shot.  I have a buddy working on an XS650 Bobber (for the uninitiatiated, that’s a motorcycle built in a certain style) that I want to shoot when he’s done.  He built the rat rod I shot last summer.  He loved the pictures- he even got a coffee cup made with my favorite printed on it.  Only thing is, the picture has power lines and way too much going on in the background.  That car really belongs on the Salt Flats to get a decent shot.  It’s pretty Mad Max.  Slapping it in farm country doesn’t match the car’s character.

As I’m getting rolling and the legs are starting to warm up, I notice a sign for a garage sale, so I bank hard right and roll through the development to the house.  Turns out it’s a photography studio that I noticed on Google Maps once:

Of course, I missed the cameras and lenses that they had at the garage sale.   Only got to talk to them for a little bit, but Jeff and Lee Ann clearly share the same passion for photography.  Jeff mentioned that he has a Hasselblad for sale.  With the 40mm lens.  Damn.  If I didn’t already have a full Bronica SQ setup, I’d be tempted.  We chatted photography for a bit.  Jeff’s an amazing photographer.  He also looks to be a pretty shrewd businessman.  I guess you’ve got to be in order to support yourself with photography.

After that nice little interlude, I found a lovely little road that snaked up, down, and all around and made for a nice little 7ish mile loop.  It will make an awesome run when I get into the marathon training.  A bit hilly, but last I checked there were no absolutely flat marathons around here anyway.

On a totally unrelated note (or maybe not…) I actually abandoned a Crossfit workout today.  Just didn’t have it.  I got my running intervals in on the treadmill as a warmup, then went to do the workout, which basically consists of finding your max squat, shoulder press, and deadlift.  I could understand hammered legs, but my shoulder press was weak too, so I said “bugger this for a lark” and went home.  First time in a long time that’s happened.  I wonder if the biking has anything to do with that?

Hmmm.  Must keep an eye on that.  I’m thinking that after the #30daysofbiking is up a few days off might be a good idea.


After much faffing about cleaning, soaking shutters in solvents and practicing loading film into the film holders without looking, I shot some large format tonight on the way home from the gym.  The Stillwater Lift Bridge never rolls its eyes, wanders off to go play with its trains, or closes its eyes just as you fire the shutter, so it became my first large format subject.

I am pleased to report that I managed not to totally screw anything up.  Got the whole darkslide thing more or less sorted out.  You don’t have the benefit of a light-tight idiot-proof container for holding your film like you do with 35mm.  It’s all up to you, and whether you keep track of what film holders have unexposed or exposed film in them.    Pull the wrong lever at the wrong time, and you could lose your exposure, or re-expose it.

Everything worked pretty well.  My only major goof was running the developer (HC110 dilution B) a bit warm.  I reasoned that the film I bought (from a shady Russian character at the camera show) was probably old, so I did the first three shots at the nominal development time of 8 minutes.  Bad call.  Those puppies are dense, indicating overexposure/overdevelopment.  I figured it was the latter, so I dialed it back to 5 minutes for the second three shots, and that seems to have produced better looking negatives.

Luckily, modern scanning and image manipulation technology allows us to do things that Ansel Adams devoted entire books to, so I was able to rescue the overdeveloped negs.    I was a bit worried after seeing the previews, but once I got everything into Lightroom I was able to pull them back from the brink sufficiently.  Image quality suffered, but given the size of the negative there’s more leeway.

I get some weird shadows in the sky on some of these shots.  Need to dig into that a little more.  Time to join APUG, methinks.

Note:  all of these images link to the Flickr images, which contain the high-res versions.  I only used 600 dpi for scanning (For 35mm I typically use 2400, and for medium format I use 1200.)  When it counts, my cheap old camera will be able to generate 100+ megapixel images.  Now that’s progress!

Obligatory cycling content:  What’s not progress is the Brooks saddle on my fixie.  That damned thing is getting harder, not softer!

Still going

Just finished day 6 of #30daysofbiking
I’m really enjoying it. Legs feel a little stronger, which is good because I can’t ride any direction without hitting F@#$ing hills. There. Is. Nothing. Flat. Here.

Tonights ride was fun. Rode up V across 64:

Found the Anderson Scout Camp, which overlooks the Saint Croix just across from the boomsite. What a beautiful spot. (too hilly, though.)

Hardest ride so far was the ride into town (one big dip followed by the drop down to the river, across the liftbridge in the dark, then all the way back up to the top through town to get to the gym). Not helping matters much was that the workout called for heavy squats. I didn’t go that heavy, as I knew I had to do the climb up to Houlton on the way back.

Ow, that was a grind. I took the road bike. On the fixie, I would have had to walk it.

Stilll enjoying this. good fun.

#30daysofbiking day 2

Okay, so I came to this whole ride your bike every day for 30 days thing a bit late (more than halfway through), but I dig the idea so much I thought it would be worth jumping onto.  I’m wondering if a #30daysofrunning is in my future?  Followed by #90daysofphysicaltherapy?

I’m so glad I did.  I just had one of the best short rides of my life.  Conditions were perfect (there was nothing good on TV… ), the sun was low in the sky, and I found one of my favorite roads ever.  It’s short, which is the only thing wrong with it.  It winds its way down into a little river valley and then trundles along twisting and turning.  There were trees, and houses.  Nothing special, just comfortable little late 60’s ramblers that had been well kept.  You got the feeling that people were happy there.  There was an old couple sitting on a bench watching the stream flow by.  It was lovely.  Normally, my “happy places” don’t have so many people around, but this one qualified.

Here’s the route:

I took the fixie.  Only forgot it wasn’t a fixie once.  Turns out your instinct to stand up and coast to absorb a bump is wired very differently from the “my legs are tired so I will stop pedaling”  circuitry.  I have managed to turn off the latter pretty successfully over the last ~20 miles of fixie-acclimatization, but the former surprised me.  Makes my tentative plan to take a fixie off road one day seem even more inadvisable.

Anyway, I found out that I am going to have to be especially careful around wildlife.  The bike is so quiet, I snuck up on a squirrel so successfully that it got within a foot of my front wheel before it scrambled out of the way in a furry and energetic fashion.  This is the second time that’s happened.

Obligatorycameracontent: I brought the Olympus XA, which fits perfectly in the new CamelBak I got recently.  Click on the image to go to Ken Rockwell’s thoughts on the camera.  The XA and I go way back.  It was my first camera, and I acquired it by kicking a rock on the trail while we were  on a hike in Big Bend National Park in Texas (it was the Windows trail, if I’m not mistaken).  Turns out it wasn’t a rock, it was an Olympus XA that somebody had dropped.  We asked all week at the ranger station whether somebody had asked about the camera, but nobody had, so it became mine.  The only thing wrong with it, besides a dent in the back and lots of grit, was a missing shutter button.  My dad cleaned it up and I used it for many years, but I don’t know where it ended up.

I found my current camera at an estate sale for $10 (on Ebay they can go for $150, but that’s just people hoping to prove PT Barnum right again).   I love the manual control you get.  It has everything you need, and nothing you don’t.  The viewfinder is great, and it takes good pictures.  Perfect for travel.  With practice, you can operate it more or less one-handed, making it perfect for rolling pictures.  I’m not brave enough on the fixie to do this yet, but I can on a bike with a freewheel.

Mini-review of new Camelbak:  I bought the CamelBak Octane 18X at our local REI when I got Owen’s bike.  Two things sold me immediately:  It weighs nearly nothing, and it has stash pockets with zippers on the waistband.  I put the iPhone on the left and the camera on the right, and you barely know they are there.   This will also be useful for gu/gel packets, though I doubt I’ll carry them next to anything electronic.

The back gets a bit sweaty- it doesn’t have the off-the-back features of the more sturdy frame-type hydration system (my old Deuter Race Air is the gold standard in this regard), but the Camelbak hugs your body and feels like a piece of clothing rather than an external pack.  So far, it’s been very comfortable and has worked well mountain biking and on the road.

It took Camelbak (and everybody else, for that matter) forever to get the bite valve right, but now they have.  NO drips.  Ever.  They’ve also nailed the length of the hose- it never hits your leg, even when you’re hunched over on one of those Quasimodo-style climbs.  Believe me, I was hunched today.

There is plenty of space to stash gear, and you never have to worry about it puncturing the bladder- they are in separate compartments.  As a bonus, the zipper at the back unzips and allows the bag to expand.  This is great because hydration packs tend to resemble footballs when they are stuffed with gear.  They feel terrible on your back when they are like this.  Yesterday, the pack took my soft shell very nicely without going all football-y.  Full marks for storage.  For me, it’s the perfect blend of a wearable pack that can handle a decent amount of cargo.

Problems:  There are a lot of fairly unruly strap-ends.  They are pretty lightweight, so they aren’t as bothersome as some, but I’m going to have to figure out how to get them restrained.  I guess this pack is more meant as a daypack for hiking, so maybe it’s my fault for using it in the wrong way.  (But it’s so *light!*)  All of the buckles are a proprietary design that’s not the same as the typical fastex buckles.  They work well, but are slightly more sensitive to alignment when you buckle them.  Also, I worry about durability.  Standard Fastex buckles are bombproof; any knockoffs or redesigns that I’ve seen have ended up failing at some point or another.  These appear to be fairly lightweight, and could be fragile.  Best not to step on them

Overall, I’m very happy with the pack so far.  Much as I hate to admit it, I like the color as well.  You can’t go wrong with yellow and black.