Sunday, July 31, 2011

Exiting July on the Flatland Commuter Project Bike

A part of July went into this project

Whatever else I might say about July, 2011, some good, some not, I'll give it this much: I'm riding out of the month on a fixed gear bicycle very suitable for my commuting needs, that I converted from an old ten speed with a lugged steel frame. July, you month of ups and downs, highs and lows and all went by too fast, see ya!

First ride

Some observations from my first attempt to do something like this. I obsessed about the chain line and noticed that it is not straightforward to measure accurately down to the mm to the center of an angled seat tube. At this point, though, it looks like the chain line is somewhere around 2-3mm off. I am using a 3/32" road chain, OK actually a 9-speed 11/128" chain, which seems like it may tolerate that 3mm deviation from the ideal. I'm not sure that the chainring will clear the chain stay if I pull it in another 3mm with a new bottom bracket anyway, but this is both a therapeutic and educational project for me, and a bottom bracket to give it a try is not expensive, so I would put it high on the "try next" list. After removing everything not needed for a fixed gear commuter, and putting on some new, lighter wheels with aluminum rims rather than the old steel ones, the bike currently weighs about 23.5 pounds. My goal wasn't to try to end up with an extremely light bike anyway, I was just curious to see what the difference would be. I went with an 18T cog with the 52T chainring from the ten speed, based on the experiences with the 42x16 on my other bike. So far it feels about right. 

Mechanically everything seems good, although I'm a little doubtful about the headset which feels not quite right no matter what I do to it, and there was also this slight TING sound that I couldn't identify sometimes during heavier pedaling, kind of like my shoelace was tapping against the frame except it wasn't. Got to figure that out. Under steady spinning at a good cadence it was quiet and smooth, though, which is what I was hoping for. The different geometry of this frame compared to my other bikes will take some getting used to--I could tell it was a different bike, certainly, one that will eventually feel familiar. Oh, and the saddle was just one I had on the shelf, not one of my favorites, and will need to pick up a replacement next time there's a sale. The old front center-pull brake works great, and was easy to set up. 

Sightseeing at Horseshoe Falls

The SR crank and chainring is interesting to me. The crank and chainring are actually bonded together, so I didn't have recourse to the chain line adjustment approach of mounting the big ring inside the spider, which would probably give me the 2 - 3mm I need. I mentioned it in the earlier post on this project, but I'll just say it again to give context, I did flip the asymmetric bottom bracket spindle around which helped some with the alignment, but I could really use that extra little bit more, I think. But it seems like it may work OK so I'm willing to try it for a while. Oh, the other doubt about moving it closer, other than the chainstay clearance, is that the inside part of the crank that the spindle goes into (what do you call that part exactly?) is already pretty close to the bottom bracket shell, I'm not sure that there's much more that 3mm of room there, either. These are the kinds of things you end up looking at when you repurpose an old ten speed for a new use, I guess.

52T SR "two piece" crankset on the Rebel

So a sensible future change might be to swap a track crank with a 48T chainring, I know. I didn't do that as part of this initial conversion mainly because I wanted to re-use some of the original parts. Also I like the look of this.

Interesting cable end treatment on the old brake cable

I noted that the old brake cable ended in a neat, sharp point. I'm not entirely sure how that was done. Grinding wheel and solder? It's kind of cool and evil looking at the same time. Anyone still do that?

More work left to do on the FLC project: pick out a rear rack, decide if I'm going to paint the rack, decide if I'm going to touch up all the dings on the frame or not, find and alleviate the TING sound, hope for a saddle sale soon, obsess about the chain line some more (the 2 to 3mm seems OK, but is it really? Should I measure again?), and ride the thing some more. Much more. I did not figure out where the hell July went on the ride today. I tried, but I still don't know, except that it's gone now. My instincts tell me I need more rest and also more time in the saddle. Ha, don't we all, you could probably say, don't we all.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fixed Monocogular Adventures Beckon

16T 1/8 inch color?

No, I think the 18T 3/32 inch b&w gets its turn

Best of rides to you this weekend, whether you opt for fixed monocogular, or freewheeling polycogular. Or freewheeling monocog. I would not recommend fixed polycogs, no, hands get too greasy, and a derailleur is out of the question in that configuration. The question I will be pondering on the weekend rides: wait, where did July go? And, where's the coffee?


Thursday, July 28, 2011

All Stop: Tire to the Line and Foot Down

Not an optional suggestion

Steve's post about the "Idaho Stop" and cyclists' behavior at intersections in general caused me to reflect on my own habits when encountering the red octagon on my bicycle commute. That, and the guy on the bicycle today who ran a red light and would have hit me on my bike if I hadn't evaded. It seems to me that the reasons given for cyclists to roll through stop signs are that they slow us down, and that it takes more effort for a cyclist to come to a complete stop and then get back up to speed. Both are true, but are not sufficient reasons for me to break the law.

Stop signs slow cyclists down: yes, they do. But I don't ride my bicycle because it is the fastest way to work. Actually, I ride because I enjoy the time on the road without email, cell phone, or other distractions. I've mentioned this before. If getting to work as fast as possible was of paramount concern, then I would work from home, which is an option, and be at work instantly. If I was a bike messenger transporting a newly harvested heart for a transplant patient, or an elite racer in an actual race, or faced the exceptional situation of being late for a meeting, then slowing down would bug me. But none of these is the case on my typical day. If you are habitually late for meetings or have to rush to get into work every day, then you have other challenges to tackle, and placing blame on stop signs for slowing you down is just distracting you from focusing on the true issues. Your haste is not a sound basis in favor of changing the law. Haste is not a virtue.

It takes more effort for a cyclist to get back up to speed after coming to a complete stop: yes, it does. I don't ride my bicycle to work because it's the easiest method, either. In fact, I appreciate the exercise, I enjoy the exertion, and don't look for ways to make my route easier or less work, which would rather defeat one of the reasons for riding in the first place. I don't go out of my way to make it so difficult that it would be unpleasant, I mean I could add real difficulty by strapping cinder blocks on my rack and riding fat knobby tires over the mountain on the way in or something similar. All I'm saying is that small added challenges are welcomed and not avoided; the brief slowdown and added effort to get back up to speed is part of the ride. "I like the ride but I don't like the effort of pedaling back up to speed after a stop sign," appears contradictory to me upon brief analysis. What? Why? Talk me through that. Bad knees? OK, fair enough, me too, but my problem is bad knees, not stop signs, I don't blame traffic signals for my physical infirmities.

Regarding the "everyone does it" argument: please. I once drove up to a four-way stop in dinner plate-flat farmland in the late fall at mid-day, and could see that there were no other cars, or anyone else for that matter, for a mile in every direction. My passenger, Dr. M visiting from Nigeria, started chuckling as I slowed down, and was laughing heartily as I came to a complete stop, looked, and then proceeded. "Americans," he said, "Stopping when no one is around." He was probably right in that situation. I do not think that running that stop, or rolling through it, is cause for concern. But, change the situation to a busy four-way with vehicles coming from every direction, two or three deep waiting their turn, and everyone including bicycles better come to a complete stop. Unless you're the cyclist wearing the "FRESH ORGAN TRANSPORT URGENT RUSH" vest, I'm unclear what the big hurry would be that would justify acting otherwise. (And Dr. M, by the way, proceeded to tell me that driving in the cities in his country where everyone DOES do it is pure chaotic mayhem, which I don't mind avoiding.) "Everyone does it" is a specious and unconvincing argument for rolling stops.

In the in-between scenario, not desolate emptiness and not rush hour four-way waiting dance, the situation is; UNKNOWN. And unknown is a dicey setting to throw your two-wheeled machine heedlessly into the intersection without adequately stopping and looking. If you roll the same stop sign every day, you can learn the hard way on that 1-in-1000 day that conditions change, whether a slippery surface from a light rain, or a ball game letting out, or construction, or distraction, or fatigue, or whatever, and you should have stopped, looked, and assessed the intersection for a couple of seconds.  Anything else than strict, canonical four-way stop behavior is dicey, uncertain, and potentially unsafe, with no compelling argument why the less-safe behavior is outweighed by the benefits of less slowing down or lack of increased effort for cyclists. On the flipside, slowing down gives you one more moment to reflect. Speeding back up burns more calories.

This post reflects my current thoughts and behavior based on the current traffic laws of my state, which require cyclists to observe stop signs. Occasionally, as the Friday Cyclotouriste recently learned, authorities here enforce that law. I would rather not see cyclists get traffic tickets. But I don't know why we would behave in a manner which would give authorities reason to issue citations to us, and any explanation we could offer to the officer, other than the URGENT ORGAN TRANSPLANT messenger, isn't going to cut it.

Nor would I advocate special laws like the "Idaho Stop" for cyclists at stop signs, since I am only confident that they would be safe in the middle-of-nowhere certainty scenario listed above, and introducing ambiguity of who-does-what at stop signs is also not a positive step. I do agree that the move to replace YIELD signs with STOP signs with wild abandon was probably misguided, and we would be better off on the surface streets with more inverted triangles and less red octagons, but that appears unlikely to happen. So slow down. Stop. Wait your turn. Look around and experience the world around you. Check that the intersection is safe while acknowledging that your fellow human beings share the road with you. Do the four-way stop dance. Enjoy the feel of the pedals beneath your feet. A little extra effort to start up again is good. The stop sign is not a personal affront to your urgent rush. And if it is, perhaps it's the urgent rush you ought to consider, as to causes and options, rather than blaming the red sign, which is just there to perform a simple function.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Color Decoding for the Benefit of the Urban Botanists League

It's tough being a cactus in the big city

All this blue staking is a sure sign of excavation to come. These cactii, trees, succulents, and flowers better prepare themselves. From a document linked on the site, all those different colors have meaning, which I attempt to decode for the benefit of the Urban Botanists League (protectors of urban cactii, trees, succulents, and flowers): around the spot marked in white where an excavation is proposed, the SAFETY RED indicates power transmission and distribution, the SAFETY ORANGE indicates either telephone telegraph(?) cable TV or fiber optic cable, the SAFETY GREEN indicates a sewer system, and the SAFETY PRECAUTION BLUE indicates various types of water systems. I stayed there in the heat for a few moments contemplating the possible implications of "SRP SIGN MARK 20' RADIUS" to a cactus but I couldn't quite figure it out, except that it includes the word "sign" which always makes my bicycling heart go pitter pat with contemplation of something informative, encouraging, or thought-provoking being installed. THIS WAY TO ART, it might say, pointing out the various directions and distances for bicycling to art from this spot.


Monday, July 25, 2011

My Sister Says I'm Addicted to Bicycles

My sister, visiting from the Great Midwest, states bluntly, upon viewing my stable of velocipedes, as I set out for a glorious mid-Summer Phoenix Sunday ride: "You are addicted to bicycles."

I must listen to her, and heed her words, for she is wise beyond knowing, and patient beyond understanding: she teaches  at a grade school where the majority of the kids qualify for reduced-rate lunches, and where most of them will move to a different school before the year is over. At first, I think I might plead my case with her, explaining that cycling is my way of balancing my ekstasis [έκ-στασις (ek-stasis), "to be or stand outside oneself, a removal to elsewhere (from ek-: out, and stasis: a stand, or a standoff of forces)] with my eiron, but she prefers plain-speaking. "Perhaps I am indeed," I reply to her, "Would you like to give it a try? First ride's free, and it looks like a fantastic warm overcast morning for a ride along the canal."

But there is a problem: she is a runner, and would prefer to cover some miles with the slap slap slap of her feet against the ground, and views my insertion of two wheels frame seat pedals chain etc. as extra added unnecessary weight and complexity. "Just run, brother of mine," she suggests. And I am sympathetic to her perspective, since I too have known the experience of running, but at this juncture it is too much impact for certain of my bodily parts or structures to comfortably or even possibly endure, and while running does possess many charms of its own, I find those of cycling to exceed them. So I explain, "I shall opt out of the run today, and stick with my cycling, for I love it."

"What about it do you love," she inquires, "Tell me one thing that I can understand."

"Here, I can show you one of those things, although you may not comprehend it, and I do not expect you to also love it: I love the sound my tires make in the gravel beside the canal."

She appreciates that I find satisfaction in the sound, but does not share my love of it. I don my helmet and gloves, preparing to ride off into the morning, while she and the others in my family stare after me, and wonder what has become of me. But they also notice that I am in good shape, and of good spirits, and recognize that there are other worse, and/or more expensive, and/or less healthy things for me to get all wrapped up in, and on reflection, they appear prepared to grant that this particular hobby, or pastime, or fitness outlet, has merit. As I think about where I'm going to go to find gravel, I turn to her, and suggest, "You know, there's a great shoe store that's just a short bicycle ride from here, and I saw in the paper they are having a sale on running shoes today. Want to ride over with me?" I watch her carefully as she feels the grip of my clever scheme, and I come closer to recruiting one more member to the fold.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Good Aluminum Polish: Elbow Grease

Elbow grease polish: Free!

Before I applied the mother's polish to this old caliper from the FLC project, I decided to rub off some of the surface grime. The more I rubbed, though, the better it looked. I think it must be a natural characteristic of aluminum to polish up on its own if you rub it, maybe due to the thin layer of aluminum oxide being a good polish? A little lube on the pivots and this thing seems good as new, almost.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ode to the Bearing

Behind the scenes bicycle enabler

Cyclists don't always give ball bearings the credit they deserve. I say that because it's possible to alter many of the pieces and parts that make up a bicycle, different frame materials, different configurations, carbon fiber this, suspension or not, three wheels, one wheel, recumbent, increased bottom bracket stiffness, and so on, but there's one essential component which makes the high efficiency rolling machine possible: the ball bearing. Or at least, the bearing, since there are variations used in some parts because we can't seem to leave well enough alone out of a belief that ceramic needle bearings (I don't know if they actually exist) would yield .001% less friction on the drive-side or something. Not that there isn't oneupmanship with ball bearings themselves: once you find out that there's a grading system, and Grade 25 is possibly better and very attainable, you're headed down a slippery slope. Or at least, spinning around a slippery race. 

Ball bearings: I love them. Keep them happily gooped up with grease and relatively clean, and they last a long time on a bicycle, performing their critical supporting role. This one is from the FLC project headset, before careful cleaning. Cages, or free? Hmmm.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pawprints in the Dust

neighbor cat posted on my wall

I caught a glimpse of him moving across the yard at dusk, a black streak silent in the grass.

After the dust storm, he left a message for me written on the window of the car that I would drive if I didn't commute by bicycle every day. Snapped a picture, rushed inside to get inside and cool off. Didn't look closely or think, didn't have time.

Later popped the card into the slot and reviewed the photos. Came across this one: whoa? What the heck? I didn't recognize it at first, so abstract, some kind of Cartesian grid with...oh yeah, my car window with dust and pawprints.

He came, he saw, he scampered, leaving a few pawprints in the dust, heading off to new directions and adventures, not looking back, not giving it a second thought. It sounds like a good idea: leave a few pawprints in the dust, a message no one reads, scamper off to new adventures, don't look back, don't give it a second thought.

Pawprints in the dust once read, once remarked, then forgotten.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Celebrate These Phoenix Summer Streets by Riding My Bicycle

Party decorations

The heat and humidity are rising. During drive time, the winds pick up, and dust fills the sky, while rippling waves of stored sunshine shimmer off the asphalt. I'm tired from work. Yet I tell you: traffic is my party, the streets move and flow about me and I am joined with them, I celebrate the motorists gridlocked at the light and waiting to enter the non-moving arterial as I weave around, through and across their motionless metal boil on my lithe two-wheeled machine. I make eye contact, I indicate my intent, I go in an expected and logical direction, and it all works. I point between two stopped vehicles stuck in the clot, look at the driver, he waves me through. I don't presume anything. I stay flexible and react defensively, head on a swivel, my machine turning and going where I tell it as I pick a route, test it, and alter it as needed to move safe and sure.

Desert signage

I hear other cyclists say they are mad at motorists: I cannot concur. I welcome the automobilists in our public spaces, I appreciate sharing the road with them. I read other cyclists write that they are tired of traffic, but I disagree: I flow with it sensibly and smoothly, my motion predictable and confident, my hand signals clear, my manner unhurried and polite. For I find that in my patient and friendly stance, I am met with patience and friendly and unwarranted gestures: as if cars reflect my positives back at me, their greater mass and power amplifying it, and enhancing my confidence that the right path is the right path. It's emotion magic, communication power, non-verbal telegraphic communication and practiced technique in action, the road ballet which lessens severe injuries and death which would surely be higher if we didn't know what we were doing. We do. We do it. We mostly do not run into each other.

Bike lane visibility enhancement, paid for and installed by homeowner

Angry at lack of consideration for cyclists? Look at what this neighbor had done, installed a wide angle mirror at the end of a driveway partially hidden by tall oleanders, to see cyclists, and to be seen by us, during the exiting transition which has proven to be one of the more significant conflict situations between cars and cyclists. Cause for celebration!

Saguaro stop!

These streets are rich to overflowing with sensations, data, input, information, signs, symbols, signals, indications, hints and directions, all to be absorbed, appreciated, employed, used, digested, and stored in the internal map of this specific locality, and I am open to it, soak it in, aware and tuned in to what is the same, what is different, what is new and interesting, what's fast-moving and heavy, what under control, what isn't.

Does humid air intensify scent? Diesel vehicles obviously have their own scent, but do cars? City buses? Sight and hearing are the obvious important senses for a cyclists on the street, but what about smell, and touch? You'll laugh when I add taste in their, too, but think of it: the taste of a fresh-picked orange, or of a hot coffee from the favorite cafe along the route, and it too plays a role in the navigation, the experience, the celebration. I'm spinning a good cadence against a headwind and not breathing heavy. It's humid, and I smell them, the metal tang, the petrol VOC fumes, the leaking unchanged oil burning and the squirting power steering fluid from the screaming pump, the smell of hot brakes and soft rubber tires melding into the scalding asphalt. There's paint and chemicals, but also green, fresh mowed grass, the leaves of a thousand trees and desert plants looking for pollinators and savage storms. It's a summer street party in Phoenix. I celebrate it on two wheels. Get up. Go ride.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Once You Get Going.... FLC Teardown

Apparently this is my idea of taking it slow

Yesterday I may have mentioned something about going slowly with the Flatland Commuter (FLC) project. Let's see, something like "...I'll probably be working on this for a while, as I'm not in any hurry, have somewhat limited bike tweaking time.." along with some mumbling about wanting to think it through. I can't remember; it's all a big blur of parts and bolts and degreaser now, fogged over by looking at the clock and a floor covered with bike pieces and noticing that it was midnight.

It was my destiny (but not the socks and shoes: been there, done that)

At this year's VNSA book sale, I picked up a great bicycle maintenance book from 1973. It turns out to be perfect for working on a ten speed of the same era! It's kind of like I somehow knew that I would be buying one.  I note that it also promises "the why" of bicycles. Hmm, I'll have to dig into that.

What remains

With everything mounted on it, the old ten speed weighed in right at 31 pounds. Just for an experiment, to see the difference, I removed the kickstand, which is an excellent and crisp-clicking model BTW, and mounted my lighter aluminum wheels off my fixie, also to check the brake suitability for 700c wheels, since the old ones are 27 inchers. I left everything else on, even though most of it will go, which briefly left me in the odd place of having a bicycle with a derailleur and a fixed cog, a VERY BAD idea, but I also needed to get a view of my chain line situation, and I didn't plan to ride it. 

For weighing and eyeballing chain line, NOT for riding

The results of weighing astounded me: just the wheels (including the rear five-speed cluster) and kickstand made a weight difference of over three pounds. As to the chain line check, the fixed cog lined up nicely with the small chain ring, which was expected. Since I want to use the large ring, though, I scratched my head for a while trying to figure out how to get it into a 42 mm chain line. Recalling my recent service of Yasuko's bottom bracket, I wondered if the FLC project bike also had an asymmetric spindle...yes! So Plan A is to flip the short end of the spindle over to the drive side to see if the big ring will still clear the frame. It looks like it will, but I won't really know until actual assembly occurs. Plan B is a new bottom bracket, Plan C is a new BB and a new crankset, which I don't think will be necessary, but it's important to have a fallback plan. Oh, and the brakes look great, they will have no problem working with the 700c wheels. It seems like that may have even been the intent, back then, to give you some options with your bike. I forget, why did we stop doing that? Off to get some mag polish. Get up. Go ride.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Flatland Commuter Project: Converting an Interex Rebel Contender for Fixed Gear Commuting

I present: the starting point for the Flatland Commuter project bike

I like riding my fixed gear enough that I have often thought of a fixed gear commuter for spinning through my dead flat commute from A to B and back to A (ABA riding). But, as a fairly inexpensive product of the popularity of fixies, the one I currently own has several characteristics which eliminate it from my consideration for a commuter, and which would have to be resolved by any alternate candidates: it's got a track-like geometry which is pretty silly for riding long flat and straight, it has the stupid-tight tire clearance of almost all current road bikes which means no sensible tires and no fenders will fit, and it feels like I would have to do a bunch of other stuff to it that I don't want to think about to make it into a commuter instead of a fun canal bike, if that makes any sense, which it may not, except as further justification or rationalization for pushing forward with a ten speed fixie conversion.

Conceptually at least, and for me personally on my commute route, a fixie makes a lot of sense, as long as its advantages are maintained as adjuncts to my basic commuter requirements around reliability, convenience, comfort, and so on. So far this is only in concept, though, actual experience matters much more to me, so we'll see how it goes when I actually do it for a while.

A relative offered this ten speed to me for free, and after a quick review, I accepted it. What I saw in it that made it appear to be a good starting point for the Flatland Commuter (FLC) project: a nice lugged steel frame with horizontal dropouts and a non-hanger derailleur, an attractive chrome fork, a good crankset, pretty good handlebars, and brake calipers that somewhat miraculously appear to have enough room to adjust down to 700c wheels from the current 27" wheels. On the negative side for this bike are 27" steel wheels, a strange-looking saddle that nonetheless feels OK matched to a heavy seatpost, and good, but old, components. 

I realized all the negatives I just listed will be easily overcome in the fixed gear commuter conversion, which will include new 700c wheels, a new saddle, and a rear rack. This strange agglomeration of good and not-so-good pieces and parts seems sometimes typical of the bicycles that were manufactured during the bicycle boom of those oil-panic early 70s, sometimes strange combinations of what was available to a particular brand and manufacturer at a particular time to match what they thought the not-very-mature but extremely eager market wanted. As bike shops sprang up to meet the rapidly rising demand, manufacturers responded with fascinating good/bad/ugly hodgepodges. My overall approach will be to strip off as much bad/ugly as possible to end up with a good/useful fixed gear commuter. 

The bicycle is an "Interex Inc. Rebel Contender" ten speed apparently from about 1974, about which I can find nothing, nada, zilch on the Internet. Possibly after this post is indexed, the Contender ten speed road bike will take its rightful place in cyberspace searches. It has Shimano Tourney brakes, Shimano Titlist front and rear derailleurs, and SR cranks, handlebars, and stem. It also has some interesting MKS #11 pedals, which seem simple, sturdy, and good. One of my only unknowns about fixie commuting centers on the pedal/shoe dilemma. I am firmly attached to my clipless pedals on all but my current commuter, Yasuko, where I opted for platforms because my commute is only a medium distance, and that way I don't have to mess with a second pair of (non-cycling) shoes for work. But with a fixie I'm not sure platforms are a good idea, and clips and straps seem like they would mar any shoes I would wear. Still thinking through that one.

If anyone knows more about this brand or model, I would love to hear about it.

I just like the way these lugs and fork look

The brakes: maybe room to fit 700c wheels. We'll see...

I found a "Rebel Contender" bicycle on the interwebz, but it's a BMX, unlike this one

37 years later, and the temporary peel-off plastic protective covering is still on the head badge

Horizontal dropout ready for fixed gear operations

Beefy! I may not stick with these over time, but will probably start out with them
And just look at those Weinmann brake pads, ah the memories

ROAD CHAMPION, that's me

I'll probably be working on this for a while, as I'm not in any hurry, have somewhat limited bike tweaking time, and want to think through what I'm doing. At this point, though, I think I'm NOT going to paint it, not only because I'm not very confident of producing a better result, but also because I like this yellow color with its signs of age and character, right down to the far-out 70s logo. I haven't 100% ruled out keeping it a ten speed, but for the reasons I've already listed above, I'm pretty confident the FLC project is a GO. Get up. Go ride.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dust in All the Wrong Places

One week After Haboob (A.H.): Still dusty

One week after the dust storm or haboob that engulfed Phoenix, which I totally missed since I was in a cooler, wetter, oceanside location, and even after a couple of rain showers to wash it away, there's still dust everywhere. The stuff even got inside, and I find myself wiping stuff down to get rid of the gritty feeling.

Tiny haboob dunes in my bike lane

Is that an ewok standing on that dune?

After talking with some locals who survived Haboob 2011 more or less intact, I can dispel a couple of rumors I heard: the rampaging dust cloud did not strip the paint off of cars, it didn't last for days, it didn't turn swimming pools into instant actual quick-sand (although it made a total/complete mess out of them), and it didn't wipe the city off the map. One serious side possible side effect that I did read about is a predicted increase in the incidence of Valley Fever, the fungal disease coccidioimycosis or "cocci", which can be very serious. Not much to be done to avoid it if you're here, though, except wearing a mask all the time.

The dust itself is odd, it's fine, almost powdery, but also gritty. It's like sanded sand. And it still seems like it's everywhere. Time to wipe down some more surfaces. Get up. Go ride. 


Monday, July 11, 2011

Back in the Swing, the Next Project

Scene from a cooler place

Just back from a vacation with the family to the more temperate northwest. We rode ferries. We viewed orcas in the wild. And I found that it takes twice as long to drive anywhere in northwest Washington than most other places I'm familiar with. For example, including ferry wait time and traffic, in one instance, it took us five hours to cover 119 miles. On some of the routes we were driving, the cyclists who took the ferry gave those of us driving cars a run for our money. 

Officials frown on riding up/down this ramp on the ferry

Still tired from all the travel. Apparentely, while we were frolicking along the temperate seaside, Phoenix was hammered with an epic dust storm. We came home and found everything outside, and some things inside, covered with a fine, sandy powder. Not sorry to have missed that, though.

Also, as fate would have it, a nice old ten speed has fallen into my possession. I'll post more about it once I get it cleaned up and in good working order. Here are a few hints though.

From a functional point of view, this appeared to work like new

Ah, the old 3-bolt

Still working on getting back into the swing of things. The rhythm of the ride. Happy to be home, kind of looking forward to things getting back to normal. Get up. Go ride.