Trailforks, Pinkbike, and OSM

For years I’ve been pretty enthusiastic about OpenStreetMap (OSM) and using it to map trails (MTB and otherwise). While there are a bunch of other ways to map trails online (Google Maps, MTB Project, Trailforks) I have stayed away from contributing to them because of the one-way nature of submissions; your contributed data gets locked behind their license. While MTB Project and Trailforks both claim to allow some manner of reuse of data, it’s nothing as useful as OSM‘s Creative Commons (CC) based licensing. Effectively being the Wikipedia of GIS makes it extremely useful for those of us who want to both contribute data and build open maps on the larger set.

Then suddenly last night I read this article on Pinkbike discussing how they took OSM data, parsed it to highlight mountain biking routes, and are now using it as the base map for their Trailforks mapping site. They built a tool on top of the open data and made something great.

This is really, truly excellent.

This sort of reuse of public, open data in OSM is the exact reason why I contribute to it. The folks at Pinkbike / Trailforks have taken a useful set of data from all over the world, processed it, and made something good. This would not have been possible with the data locked up in Google, MTB Project, or even the stuff contributed directly to Trailforks.

I look forward to where this’ll go. The Pinkbike article mentions that they’ll be reimporting the data a little different in the future, and talks about how they are going to have another article about tagging to better support Trailforks. While OSM has some minimal standards for MTB tagging (eg: mtb:scale:imba) I look forward to a bit more de-facto standard around this.

Flat Bars?!?

For years I’ve been riding mountain bikes with fairly swept handlebars (1, 2), commonly referred to as “alt bars”. After trying a few I’d settled on the 23 degree sweep, 710mm wide Salsa Bend 2, and it’s been comfortable for pretty much all of the mountain bike riding that I do. Whether fast single track, dirt roads, or winter exploring, they seemed to work.

I recently picked up a 2015 Salsa El Mariachi SS and it came with an 11 degree sweep, no rise, Salt Flat 2 bar. Not having any spare Bend 2 bars I decided to give it a go. At 700mm it’s roughly the same width as the Bend 2, and on the first few rides on the SS it was comfortable. I’d noticed that on the Bend 2, coupled with the Ergon GP1 grips, I’d often have my hand rotated so the grip sets diagonally across my palm, effecting the same grip as a less-swept bar. So, I decided to swap out the bars on my other two mountain bikes (the rebuilt El Mariachi Ti and the Blackborow) and give it a go.

Thanks to a combination of eBay, Facebook, the MMBA Forum, and some personal connections I was able to get a take-off 750mm Salt Flat 2 and a Salt Flat Carbon for a total of $100. Cutting down the 750mm bar was easy, and save for having to shorten the front brake cable on the Blackborow (to prevent rub) swapping bars on both bikes was easily done on a lazy Saturday morning.

Now I’m just waiting for weather to get better so I can put in some good, long rides and see if they work out as well as I’m hoping. At $100 out of pocket I think it’s a worthy experiment. If it works out I hope to sell the Bend 2 bars for about that, or if not, sell the Salt Flat bars to cover a Bend 2 for the SS. (I don’t really like the orange, anyway…)

Goodbye, 2013 El Mariachi Ti

Today it was time to say goodbye to the 2013 Salsa El Mariachi Ti. After getting a warranty replacement for the broken frame then buying and selling and shuffling parts to rebuild it into the beautiful blue 2014 bike, the call tag to have the frame sent back to Salsa still hadn’t arrived… until this week.

Prior to today I’d been storing the frame at my house, hoping against a return, hung on the wall of my office (alternate view) where I’d see it every day. Sure, this is just a bike frame, a mostly-static piece of metal that held together more complicated bits to form a bicycle, but it was also the focal point of a machine on which I experienced an entire range of emotions and adventures.

From finally completing Lumberjack 100 to getting in over my head on the NTN Singletrack in Marquette, from the first trip to Brown County State Park to getting caught in straight-line winds at Stony Creek, from hard and long rides at Poto to all-day adventures from home simply enjoying the local trails… This frame was a big part of what I’ve experienced on a bike. Every time I looked down between my legs or up after a crash, there it was.

183 rides…
5200 miles…
459 hours of glorious movement.

No longer ridable the frame had become art to me. A piece of material embodying memories; a memento. Something to look at every day and remember past good times and think about those coming in the future.

Still, I understand why Salsa doesn’t want broken frames out in the wild, so tomorrow morning I’ll be dropping it off at Rochester Bike Shop where into a box and off to the scrap heap it’ll go. I’ll still have all the great memories, it’ll just be time to find new art for that wall…

…and keep riding.

Mission Blocks

When up riding at the Vasa Winter Sports Singletrack with Kristen we met up with a group which included Patrick Mier, and he gave us samples of his new product: Mission Blocks. These are a new, and very tasty, chewable food intended for eating on the go; a better version of Clif Shot Bloks and whatnot.

These are around 100 calories/pack, which seems pretty good. Wanting to take in ~300 calories/hour when doing extended rides I’ve never been fond of using blocks like this as a primary food source, but they are a great way to get a little extra sugar as needed, or if you just want something tasty to give a few calories on a shorter ride. Much nicer than the traditional gel packet.

The most immediate difference I noticed between these and other blocks that I’ve tried is the texture. Even when out on a cold day these are much softer than other types of gummy blocks that I’ve tried. This leaves them much more palatable and less likely to stick to your teeth.

The only downside I currently see  — and this may be key to the softness — is the use of gelatin. Based on a Facebook picture this appears to be beef-based, but the origin wasn’t disclosed on the package. This could be off putting to anyone who doesn’t eat beef, so hopefully there’ll be a switch to a non-animal gelatin source as the product matures.

With the product just getting off the ground it’s going to be neat to see where it goes. Patrick’s definitely on to something good here.

Salsa El Mariachi Ti Rebuild (2013 to 2014)

Just before Christmas I was cleaning up my beloved 2013 Salsa El Mariachi Ti to put it away for the winter when I noticed a crack in the frame (photos: 1 · 2 · 3). Back in mid-October, around the time of the Fun Promotions 8 Hours of Addison Oaks race, I began hearing a ticking sound when pedaling hard. I chalked this up to cassette noise that’d plagued the bike in the past and kept on riding. It turns out this noise was a mostly-broken seat stay; something which I didn’t notice until I finally washed the bike. Something which I likely rode on at Iceman 2015 and in Marquette…

Since this was purchased new I was eligible for a warranty replacement, but as Salsa no longer makes this frame I was only able to get a 2015 Spearfish, with Fox CTD rear shock, as a replacement. A great frame (photos), of comparable value, but not what I wanted.

After a bit of searching I found Belgen Cycles in Richmond, VT who had brand new, old stock, 2014 Salsa El Mariachi Ti frames available. I purchased one (new, and thus another warranty), picked up a few parts, and rebuilt my bike. Using a mixture of parts from the 2013 El Mariachi Ti and some new bits (drivetrain, tires, saddle, bottle cages) I’ve now got a bike that I’m excited to ride once trails are ready.

The complete build is as follows:

Frame: 2014 Salsa El Mariachi Ti, Medium, w/ 142×12 Alternator dropouts
Fork: Fox Racing Shox OE, CTD w/ Open Bath Damper (Rebuilt by Fox)
Headset: Cane Creek 40 ZS44/EC44
Crankset: Truvativ 2011 2×10 X0 GXP (00.6115.422.070, Blue)
Bottom Bracket: Truvativ GXP (XR / Black)
Chainring: SRAM X-SYNC Direct Mount, 32t
Derailleur: SRAM GX 1×11
Shifter: SRAM GX 1×11
Shift Cables: Jagwire (Bulk)
Cassette: SRAM XG-1150 (10-42)
Brakes: Shimano XT, Levers: BL-M785, Calipers: BR-M785, Front Rotor: SM-RT67-M (180mm), Rear Rotor: SM-RT67 (160mm)
Stem: Salsa Pro Moto 1 (100mm)
Bar: Salsa Bend 2 (23°)
Wheels: Light Bicycle 35mm rims, DT Swiss 240 hubs w/ Bontrager 54 point ratchets, XD driver
Tires: Front: Schwalbe Racing Ralph HS 425 29 x 2.35″, SnakeSkin, TL Easy / Rear: Specialized Fast Trak GRID 2BLISS Ready, 29 x 2.2″
Seatpost: Thomson Elite (Straight, 27.2mm x 410mm)
Seatpost Collar: Salsa Lip-Lock (32.0mm)
Saddle: Specialized Phenom Comp, 2016 style, 145mm
Pedals: Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 (Blue)
Grips: Ergon GP1 BioKork (Large)
Other Bits: Niner YAWYD top cap w/ Southern Tier cap, Garmin Edge 510, Garmin GSC-10, Mirracycle Original Incredibell, Specialized Zee Cage II (1x Left, 1x Right), Planet Bike Superflash Stealth

The bike is currently built with tubes, and as pictured weighs just under 26 pounds. For now the tubes serve to stretch the tires and press the rim tape into place. Once it’s time to ride I’ll switch to tubeless which should drop a bit more weight. While the rear-center of the bike is slightly shorter due to pivoting the Alternator dropouts all the way forward, I suspect that this build will ride nearly identically to the 2013 El Mariachi Ti. I hope it does, as that bike helped me complete quite a number of personal accomplishments. I hope that just as many great memories can be made on this one.

Big, big thanks to Zac and Josh and the other folks over at Rochester Bike Shop for helping me through the warranty process, getting a replacement, and dealing with my very particular order for the other parts that I wanted.

Photos of the complete bike, including some of the parts and steps of the build process, can be seen by clicking either the image above or here.

Full CD Collection Ripping Workflow

Back in 2003-2004 I ripped ever CD I owned to 192kbps AAC, a very good sounding format which was cost effective to store on disks of the time. This was a great achievement, and for the last 12 years I’ve enjoyed having all of my music in a central digital format. Now that storage is cheaper and I have some time, and before data rot sets in, I wanted to re-rip the collection to archival-quality Apple Lossless format. (This format was chosen for compatibility with my currently preferred software and hardware players, and being lossless can easily be transcoded to other formats as needed.)

My previous ripping operation was performed with a dual CPU PowerMac G5 and iTunes. While iTunes’ eject-after-import feature facilitates disc swapping, the workflow was selecting a stack of CDs, inserting them one at a time, then manually validating tags and artwork. At the time CD metadata providers didn’t have many of the discs, so a great deal of manual cleanup was needed. This was tedious, and something I didn’t want to repeat…

Not to mention there was no good way to assess the accuracy of the resulting rips…

Twelve years later, with better tools available, and finding some time in the form of a holiday break (Christmas Eve to after New Year’s) I began thinking about re-ripping my CD collection. Having recently moved my web hosting (this site, nuxx.net) to Linode, my old server was sitting unused at home and I only needed some modern software and an autoloader to set up a high performance CD ripping workstation. The requisite tools were purchased and I got to work. 411.3 GB later and most all of my physical CDs (1241 albums) have been imported as cleanly as possible, ready for listening on a myriad of devices, hopefully for years to come. (Duplicates were not ripped.)

Since ripping an entire CD collection is a desire of many friends of mine I wanted to share  the general setup and workflow that I used. It went well and was mostly hands-off, with only occasional manual intervention needed when the auto-loader jammed and then tool-assisted cleanup of tags and artwork. By using high quality ripping software which supports AccurateRip I was able to ensure that the vast majority of ripped tracks are affirmed error-free and effectively digital archival quality.

Most Inaccurate tracks were caused by damaged discs; typically reflective layer scratches, cracks, or scuffed polycarbonate.

Success Results:

  • 14069 tracks (92.3%) are Accurate
  • 144 tracks (0.95%) are Inaccurate
  • 1024 tracks (6.7%) were not in the AccurateRip database.
  • 1 track was a hidden track 0 in the pregap, which had to be ripped specially, and thus couldn’t be checked with AccurateRip.

Hardware / Software Used:

  • HP ML110 G7 w/ 24GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 3x 1TB HDD, USB 3.0 Card, AMD Radeon HD 5450 (Needs to be a sufficient computer to handle ripping, encoding, and displaying Aero graphics with ease. Built-in video card was not sufficient.)
  • Dell 2005FPW Monitor (1680×1050)
  • Acronova Nimbie USB Plus NB21-DVD
  • HP SATA DVD Drive (Internal, identifies as hp DVD-RAM GH80N.)
  • Samsung USB DVD Drive (External, identifies as TSSTcorp CDDVDW SE-218CB.)
  • Epson Perfection 3170 Scanner
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • dBpoweramp and PerfectTUNES (w/dBpoweramp Batch Ripper and Nimbie Batch Ripper Driver)
  • Mp3tag (Incredibly useful tagging tool with powerful scripting.)
  • CD cases organized into numbered boxes of 30-50 discs.

Workflow:

  1. Use dBpoweramp Batch Ripper to rip all CDs. Label output folders by the box numbers containing each CD; this will make manual metadata validation/cleanup easier.
  2. For each disc that is rejected, use dBpoweramp CD Ripper to rip the entire disc. This is likely a metadata issue as CD Ripper has access to more metadata providers than Batch Ripper. Or it may be the drive failing to recognize the disc.
  3. Use AccurateRip from PerfectTUNES to scan the entire directory structure, then use the built-in information tool to get a text file listing all “InAccurate” tracks.
  4. For each disc with “InAccurate” listings:
    1. Delete entire disc. (I opted to do this instead of re-ripping just the InAccurate tracks, as metadata differences between CD Ripper and Batch Ripper could lead to file names that are clumsy to fix.)
    2. Look disc over and clean if necessary. This, coupled with using a different drive, seems to resolve about 50% of ripping issues. Be sure to use proper technique: soft/clean/low dust cloth, wiping from inside to out (not circularly).
    3. Re-rip discs using dBpoweramp CD Ripper in fast mode.
    4. Re-rip individual tracks with secure mode as needed. Note that re-reading of bad frames can take hours per track, and that some tracks just won’t match AccurateRip or even rip securely. (Some of my discs are sufficiently damaged that I was not able to rip certain tracks.)
    5. Some discs may need to be ripped with Defective by Design settings, particularly in case of copy protection.
    6. Make a separate list of discs which have been accepted issues.
  5. Run AccurateRip (part of PerfectTUNES suite) to confirm all tracks and check against list of accepted issues. Repeat #4 as needed.
  6. Run the Fix Albums tool within Album Art (part of PerfectTUNES suite) to attempt automatic acquisition of artwork for all albums.
  7. Start with the PerfectTUNES suite components to fix artwork and metadata:
    1. In ID Tags go through a series of directories at a time sanity-checking metadata. Compare each CD case to the tags as needed, confirming that artwork looks sane. Keep a document listing artwork to later review.
    2. Use the Album Art tool to attempt bulk fix of art on all albums.
    3. One box at a time add artwork using a scanner and online resources. Then fix Low Resolution artwork.
      1. An Epson Perfection 3170 scanner connected and configured in automatic mode, clicking … next to an album then Acquire (from Scanner) will automatically scan, rotate, and crop artwork from a scanner. This seems to fail on thick-case (Digipak, clamshell) albums and is inconsistent on mostly-white artwork.
      2. Decent artwork can be obtained from Discogs.
      3. Add observed metadata errors to a document for later review.
  8. Use Mp3tag to clean up tags. Useful filters and suggestions include:
    1. (albumartist MISSING) AND (compilation MISSING) – Find tracks that are not part of compilations but did not get Album Artist set.
    2. %_covers% IS "" – Find tracks without artwork.
    3. compilation IS 0 – Find tracks with Compilation set to No. This can be removed using the Extended Tags editor.
    4. "$len(%year%)" GREATER 4 – Find tracks with Year fields longer than four digits (some metadata includes month and day).
    5. (totaldiscs IS 1) AND (discnumber GREATER 1) – Find disc numbers higher than 1 when the total number of discs in the album is 1.
    6. Selecting all tracks, exporting to CSV, then reviewing in a spreadsheet program can help find misspellings, duplicates, etc. For example, look at unique values in the Artist column to find misspellings like “Dabyre” vs. “Dabrye” or “X Marks The Pedwalk” vs. “X-Marks The Pedwalk”.
    7. NOT %ACCURATERIPRESULT% HAS ": Accurate" – Show all tracks that do not contain the AccurateRip header indicating an accurate rip.
  9. Fix any noted errors using a combination of ID Tags, Album Art, and Mp3tag.
  10. Prepare for archiving by renaming all files using Mp3tag:
    1. The following Format string for the ConvertTag – Filename renamer will move files to e:\final_move with the following formats, without most invalid characters for Windows filesystems, truncating the artist, album, and track lengths to 64 characters: e:\final_move\$if(%albumartist%,$validate($replace(%albumartist%,\,_),_),Various Artists)\$validate($replace(%album%,\,_),_)\$if(%albumartist%,$replace($validate($left(%artist%,64)-$left(%album%,64)-%discnumber%_$num(%track%,2)-$left(%title%,64),-),\,_),$replace($validate($left(%album%,64)-%discnumber%_$num(%track%,2)-$left(%artist%,64)-$left(%title%,64),-),\,_))
      1. Tracks with Album Artist set: ...\Artist\Album\Artist-Album-Disc#_Track#-Title.ext
      2. Tracks without Album Artist set (compilations): ...\Various Artists\Album\Album-Disc#_Track#-Artist-Title.ext
  11. Make a backup. Make many backups…
  12. Import into your preferred music player. In my case, iTunes on OS X:
    1. Album or artist at a time, delete the old, MPEG-4 versions and import the Apple Lossless tracks.

Issues:

  • Autoloader would occasionally jam. Seemed to be caused by:
    • Discs sticking together; ensuring they are gently placed in the loader seems to help.
    • Some discs are particularly thin or thick; these would often fail to load properly. Manually rip these.
  • Autoloader only supports standard size CDs, so mini or artistically cut CDs must be ripped in a normal drive. The USB drive is a laptop-type with a snap-lock spindle, which is better for artistically cut CDs.
  • Off-balance artistically cut CDs must be ripped at 1x to mitigate vibration. This can be problematic during initial spinup.
  • Some discs didn’t read well in one drive or another. If a rip would not be error-free in one drive, it’d frequently be fine in another.
  • Some discs are not present in AccurateRip.
  • Dirty discs caused more problems than I’d anticipated. Discs seemed to be scratched or dirty for a number of reasons:
    • Previous poor storage techniques (DJ or CaseLogic-style slip cases).
    • Outgassing of liner notes caused cloudy white buildup on some discs; could be removed with alcohol.
    • Discs lacking paint over the reflective layer are more susceptible to damage; particularly if stored in slip cases.
  • I suspect that less-common discs may have invalid information in AccurateRip. (Tip: The number after the Accurate Rip CRC indicates how many other users the rip matched with.)
  • In order to use either dBpoweramp CD Ripper or Batch Ripper via Remote Desktop, the following group policy must be enabled: Local Computer Policy → Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → System → Removable Storage Access → All Removable Storage: Allow direct access in remote sessions. This setting is detailed in this article from Microsoft.
  • PerfectTunes Album Art will lump together albums with differing versions specified with parenthesis. For example, “Pearl’s Girl (Tin There)” and “Pearl’s Girl (Carp Dreams…Koi)” will both show up simply as “Pearl’s Girl”. This can make artwork assignment challenging. To work around this I’d name albums something like “Pearl’s GirlTin There)” until artwork is assigned, then change the name afterward.
  • PerfectTunes ID Tags will occasionally fail to set the Compilation tag when it is the only attribute being edited. Work around this by using Mp3tag and editing the extended tag COMPILATION to 0 or 1.
  • PerfectTunes Album Art will not always show missing art. Work around this by using Mp3tag with filter %_covers% IS "" to find specific tracks without art assigned.
  • Mp3tag had issues renaming the artist “Meanwhile, Back In Communist Russia…” due to the ellipses at the end. By replacing the three dots format (…) with precomposed ellipses (…) the issue was resolved.

Cost:

  • Time: Hard to fully quantify, but overall process took about four weeks of spare time. Most time was spent waiting for the autoloader on initial rips and then manually cleaning up artwork and metadata issues. I was typically able to run 3-4 boxes of discs through the autoloader per day, then spent some lengthy evenings working on tagging and artwork. The use of the autoloader then PerfectTUNES and Mp3tag made the process feel very efficient.
  • Hardware:
    • Acronova Nimbie USB Plus NB21-DVD: $569.00
    • USB 3.0 Card: $19.99
    • Internal Power Cable: $1.99
    • AMD Radeon HD 5450: $31.76
  • Software:
    • dbPoweramp and PerfectTUNES bundle: $58

Workaround for Acronova Nimbie USB Plus, QQGetTray, and OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) Failure with USB 3.0 Cable

I recently acquired an Acronova Nimbie USB Plus NB21-DVD to automate portions of some CD and DVD projects I’ve been working on. This has worked great on Windows 7, but on OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) I was unable to get QQGetTray to work. This software faciliates programs which support action-on-insert and eject-on-completion to work with the Nimbie autoloaders by detecting ejections (via tray opening) and triggering disc changes. Thus, it’s pretty important…

So, how does one make this work? Use a USB 2.0 cable instead of the provided USB 3.0 cable.

How did I find this workaround? After a bunch of searching and digging it just happened to be buried in a response from Acronova in the Customer Questions and Answers on the NB21-DVD’s Amazon page:

The new OS X El captain has changed the way it handles USB 3. In the meantime, instead of using the included blue USB 3 cable, use a USB 2 cable to operate Nimbie under USB 2.0 mode.
By Acronova on December 1, 2015

While writing this post I received a reply to a support ticket I opened with Acronova saying the same thing, and further messages indicated that the QQGetTray developers are still working on the issue.

Frustrating, and surprising, but it works. This workaround is not mentioned anywhere on the product’s site or knowledge base, nor is there any info listed about a fix for QQGetTray. While this keeps the drive from being able to rip at full USB 3.0 speeds, I can deal with this compromise in order to get a toolchain working to avoid manually swapping discs.

The symptoms are that OS X successfully sees the optical drive via a USB 3.0 SATA bridge, was also seeing a USB 2.0 device called NT21, yet QQGetTray would report “Status: No devices found” and fail to actuate the loader mechanism. This was on a Late 2014 iMac with Retina display, model ID iMac15,1, running Mac OS X 10.11.2. When connected via a USB 2.0 cable (instead of the provided blue USB 3.0 cable) the optical drive is then seen as hanging off the internal USB 2.0 hub along with the NT21 device. It all then runs as USB 2.0, and QQGetTray works properly.

Aluminum Polishing Disappointment

A while back I stupidly put my Bialetti Moka in the dishwasher. Due to the alkaline detergent it discolored and pitted, no longer looking bright and shiny. In an effort to restore its look I researched restoring aluminum cookware that’d been washed in a similar manner and found that polishing with potassium bitartate (cream of tartar) should work well.

In the image above the left panel was the post-dishwasher state, and the right is after a few minutes of polishing with a mixture of equal parts water and potassium bitartate. While a bit of yellowing was removed the aluminum was not returned to its previous shiny state. The appearance change was actually minimal enough that I didn’t bother polishing the rest of the Moka.

I imagine I could remove more of the discoloration and pitting by using some proper metal polish and maybe a buffing wheel, but I’m not going to bother. While the Moka still works fine I was hoping for an easy return to the original shiny appearance. It looks like the recommendation of using cream of tartar didn’t do this.

Bar End Plugs for Trail’s Edge Moose Mitts

Trail’s Edge Moose Mitts are a winter cycling accessory that I’d have a hard time living without and something I recommend to all new winter riders†. They are a mountain bike specific version of the pogie, designed to allow one to wear summer time gloves while riding in cold weather.

As I’ve had mine since January 2009, using them every winter, the elastic straps designed to hold the ends of the Moose Mitts to the bars have become a bit stretched. This, coupled with the Ergon GP1 that I use, has required me to position the elastic band between my middle and ring fingers to keep them comfortably in place. This isn’t bad, per se, but isn’t the most comfortable and sometimes requires fiddling around to get it properly secured. I’d prefer an empty bar, so after soliciting advice from friends I threw something together.

Based on a suggestion from Bob Keller and his Relevate Designs pogies I decided to put a small retention device on the end of the bar for holding the elastic. Coupled with a plastic push button spring lock I have something which I think will work out pretty well. Total cost, beyond parts laying around home, was the (overpriced) $3.70 to pick up a pair of locks from Jo-Ann at 8:45pm. (Purchased via Amazon these same locks would have been cheaper for 10x as many… That’s a good demonstration of the cost of convenience…)

These were assembled by taking some cheap road bar plugs and fitting three small washers, one large washer, and a small piece of neoprene under the head of the bolt on the outside of the plug (photo without neoprene). After tightening up the assembly the neoprene was trimmed flush with the edge of the head of the screw (installed photo). Without the neoprene the outer water spun, and I was concerned it’d rattle while riding.

There are effectively two ways to secure the elastic strap to the bar end: tightening the lock against the body of the Moose Mitt, or tightening it against the end of the elastic strap. As shown above I’ll start with the former because this results in a Moose Mitt position most like when I’d have the strap looped around the grip and between my fingers. One downside is that loosening the strap could result in pulling the lock off of the elastic, which’d be hard to fix when out in the cold. If this becomes an issue I’ll address it by fitting a wishbone-shaped piece in the end of the elastic then sewing it shut.

UPDATE: After my first ride with this setup I think it’s great. The bars were more comfortable to hold, and the cord only popped off once; when I was fooling with the Moose Mitt itself while stopped. I’ll likely keep using this setup for a while.

† I believe that Moose Mitts are considerably better than their primary competitor, Bar Mitts. Specifically, Bar Mitts are made of too heavy of a material (neoprene) and are smaller and harder to get in and out of. For most riding here in Southeast Michigan one warms up quickly and thus only moderate insulation and wind blocking is needed to keep hands warm. This is exactly what Moose Mitts provide. I Back in 2009 I paid full price for mine, but they do happen to be made by my buddy Mike Flack and his wife Abby at their shop Trail’s Edge right here in Southeast Michigan… Moose Mitts also now come with cord locks.

The Worst CD Case Ever Made

Back in the late 1990s some electronic/industrial labels were fond of using nice looking metal boxes instead of the typical jewel case. These cases look great (photos: closed, open), but their design resulted in almost every disc they contained breaking.

In this case design the disc was pressed on to a crimped metal protrusion in the center of the case. Due to the tight fit this caused almost every CD in these cases to crack on removal, or sometimes simply when being stored. As shown above, radial crack running out from the center was the result. Sometimes this would result in what was effectively a very scratched disc, other times it’d cause the entire disc to split in half. It’s a terrible, terrible design.