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Month: August 2008

North Country Trail (Kalkaska Area)

My bike on the North Country Trail in Kalkaska County, MI just northeast of the Eagle Lake public access.

This weekend Danielle and I headed up north to my grandparents house to both visit them and see the area. We spent time in Traverse City, Petoskey, a number of places between, out in my grandparents row boat, and generally had a good time.

On Monday (25-Aug-2008) I headed out to the local segment of the North Country Trail (NCT) starting at Pickerel Lake, as detailed here. In short, this was a really, really, really nice ride along narrow, winding hiking trails through all manner of Northern Michigan terrain. The trail seems intentionally routed between trees to keep ORVs off the trail, but it’s still very (and legally) bikeable.

My ride on Monday only ended up being about 15 miles of NCT itself as the long slow uphills and frequent sharp turns made for slow going, but there were also some really nice, smooth downhill sections. All in all, it’s an excellent trail for casual, relaxing, get-out-into-the-woods riding. Here is a graphical map of the route I rode and here is 25-Aug-2008_NCT.gpx detailing the route.

Except for a rear mech full of shrubbery and a slight fear of running out of water I had no problems along the way. I’ve had a lingering problem with shifting at both ends of the bike, and I have come to the realization that I need to replace some chainrings and the rear cassette as they are both bent. My chain has also stretched quite a bit, so I’m thinking that I should probably just replace most of the drivetrain soon. I might even do the whole shifting system, but that may be a bit drastic (read: costly).

Here are the photos I took while on the ride:

· My bike near the North Country Trail trailhead at Pickerel Lake in Kalkaska County, MI.
· Low fallen trees across the trail on the North Country Trail in Kalkaska County, MI east of Pickerel Lake.
· What I believe to be a well head just off of the North Country Trail in Kalkaska County, MI.
· Warning: Hydrogen Sulfide sign on some oil / gas drilling equipment just off of the North Country Trail in Kalkaska County, MI.
· My bike on the North Country Trail in Kalkaska County, MI just northeast of the Eagle Lake public access.
· A pump at an oil well just off of the North Country Trail in Kalkaska County, MI. It wasn’t running.
· Oil extraction equipment just off of the North Country Trail in Kalkaska County, Michigan.
· More oil extraction equipment off of the North Country Trail in Kalkaska County, Michigan.
· A bunch of leaves and twigs that got caught in my rear mech as I tried to ride away from Eagle Lake. Whoops.
· Small spur of the North Country Trail heading down to Eagle Lake in Kalkaska County, MI.

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Moving from Waveform

Tomorrow I will begin the move away from Waveform Technology to Clear Rate Communications. Within the last six months I have been having a number of weird problems (to be detailed at a later time) with Waveform, prompting the move to a new provider. At the same time I’ll be moving to a much faster box, Provided everything goes as planned I’ll be moved over to the new box by the end of next week.

This means that, during the move, all of you who I host stuff for will be down for a little while. If there are any problems, just get a hold of me and we’ll sort it out.

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New US Distribution for On-One?

My sister Sarah riding up to the top of Mt. Sheldon at the end of The Snake on the mountain bike trails in Stony Creek.

First, have an unrelated photo of my sister having just ridden up The Snake at Stony Creek, which ends at the top of Mt. Sheldon.

Second, I’ve been considering building up a new, dedicated to mountain biking bike, so that mine can be set up for touring-type stuff. When looking at frames I’ve started to think that the On-One 456 Summer Season (alternate, better photo) would be a nice frame for me, but being sold in the UK it’s a bit hard to get. In response to a message I sent to Brant at On-One asking him how much the frame would cost shipped to the US, he told me:

Right now, LOTS.

Next week – quite possibly LESS.

We’re on the brink of changing the way we sell into the USA. Hang on!

So, this sounds like really good news. I think On-One might actually be getting US distribution. Hopefully the prices for the frames won’t be too much higher than UK prices after going exchange rate, as I think this would make a nice, cheaper frame to build up for just offroad uses.

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Magnetic Shaving Derby

Screenshot of nyarla's game Magnetic Shaving Derby.

For those of you with an R4 or other method of playing homebrew on the DS, I strongly suggest you check out nyarla‘s in-development game Magnetic Shaving Derby.

It is currently up to version 0.5, and here is a direct link to the zipped .nds file (mirror on

I think it could still use a bit of work, but it’s a really fun quick-play game. It would definitely be interesting if there was something like a bonus scrotum shaving round, a goatee / sideburn bonus, and maybe slightly different control of the magnet / blade, but as it stands it’s a pretty darn fun game.

UPDATE: I’ve been told that there’s another version coming soon, so keep an eye on nyarla’s site for more info.

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lighttpd on

Instead of fighting with traffic I decided to sit around for a while after work and add to the article I’ve been working on about the lighttpd configuration on I’ve really begun to like lighttpd, despite it’s few quirks and limitations.

Articles covering the configuration of lighttpd are easy to come by, so I wanted to detail how I have put together lighttpd, php-cgi (as a FastCGI), cronolog, and some custom configuration to make a web server which runs PHP apps under the UID which owns each vhost, rotates logs out automatically, and generally performs quite well. With this configuration I’ve been able to withstand both individual sites being compromised and unexpectedly high loads.

So, if you want to read more about it, here you go: lighttpd

If you would like to read a bit about the server behind, you’ll want to look at this article. Note that the configuration detailed there will be changing as soon as I migrate from to the much more powerful

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Bloomer Park Trails

Part of the ridge trail at Bloomer, which I was too afraid to ride down. I ended up walking most of this.

Tonight was the regular Wednesday Night Group Ride at Stony Creek, but instead of the normal 6:30pm meeting time I met up with some others at 5pm and headed over to do a lap at Bloomer. Except for not knowing my way around and getting lost a few times I had no problem with most of the riding, except for what is known as the Ridge Trail.

That up there is part of the Ridge Trail, which seems to be a bunch of very narrow, winding, tight, bench cut trail down a ridge. Looking down on it I felt quite intimidated and didn’t want to risk falling. I ended up telling everyone else to go on ahead and walking down, then riding the last bit of it. These trails were making me wish that I had hydraulic brakes, because it seems to be a bit difficult to apply my front brake light enough to keep from locking the wheel, but heavy enough to keep speed under control. Rear brakes are almost useless here because of the incline.

Later on while at the top of a section called The Snake, on a particularly steep / tight right hand turn I fell and just happened to land knee first on a rock. I wasn’t able to stand for a minute or so, then had to walk my bike up to the top of the hill and just stand there for a while. I ended up cutting my knee and bleeding quite a bit, but the part that actually hurts is my knee cap itself. It’s already feeling better, so I imagine in a few more days it’ll be just fine. That’s part of riding a bike off road, though, eh?

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Stone Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

A bottle of Stone's Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.

I posted this photo instead of the one of the beer poured into the glass because this shows off the logo better. That said, this beer is excellent. Nice and bitter while still rich and oatmeal-y / chocolate-y / all the good things about stouts of this kind.

Also, I’ve been up since 3am. I had my alarm set for 4am, but at 3 I had to use the bathroom, then after that I just laid in bed awake. Today’s work required me to be downtown at a particularly early time, but at least I got to watch the sun rise from a nicely expansive office in a very (well, relatively, given the city) tall building.

After work I was able to get out to Stony Creek and ride around on the trails. I ended up meeting up with someone I’d previously met at the Wednesday night group rides, and he and I rode around a bit before he headed back to his car. I was both riding hard and feeling tired, so I ended up having a couple accidents.

The first one involved hitting the little finger on my left hand on a tree and cutting the knuckle. In the second I tried to go over a new log pile, but for some reason I almost went over the bars and ended up rolling on mostly the front wheel into the tree right after it, with my bike hitting the handlebars and stopping, while I hit the tree with my left pectoralis. Thankfully nothing was hurt, it was just a bit of a shock.

In the third crash I was going fast (27MPH or so, per the max speed stuff on the computer) down a steep, long, somewhat winding hill. At the bottom I had to turn, but when I went to turn left both of my wheels started slipping, so instead of turning I just rotated and somewhat laid the bike down and slid to a stop. It was an interesting fall, and I scraped my knee up a bit, but nothing bad. Some guy came up and asked if I was all right, then said that it looked like I fell right and would have been fine, but he wanted to be sure. It was generally fun, and I need to be sure to fall that way in the future.

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Century on a Bike

So, I’m likely going to have some time off of work soon. During this time I think I’d like to try and ride 100 miles in a day. I’m curious, though… Are these 100 miles typically done in one go, or is a break (say, for dinner) acceptable?

I’m thinking that I could probably do a ride up to Lake Orion, back by my house, then out to Metro Beach and back in a day if I’ve had a couple lengthy warm-up rides in the week prior. This should, if I’m thinking right, put me at just about 90 miles. It would not be difficult to tack on another 10 after that.

With my house being in the middle, it’d be a convenient place for me to stop and consume a large pile of food before heading back out. Is this what typically considered acceptable?

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Bike Photography and GPS Fixin’

Yesterday I headed out to the grand opening of the Skills Park at Stony Creek Metropark. I’d intended to ride a bit, but I ended up spending most of my time there just taking photographs like the one above. (That one was taken by sitting under the gap in the Flo the Fro stunt and using the Peleng 8mm fisheye. If you’d like to see more of the photos, take a look at the album entitled Stony Creek Skills Park Grand Opening.

After getting home and meeting up with Danielle we went and got food, swung by my work to pick something up, went to Best Buy to grab a pack of universal screen protectors for my new phone (eek, expensive!), then I came back here and fixed the Garmin Edge 305 I’d previously mentioned. My first attempt was to bridge the connector PCB to the main one with wires, but there wasn’t quite enough room for them. Instead I just ran the battery pack wires directly to the related test points on the main board then sealed the thing up with hot melt glue.

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Snip Snip Snip

The cheap Fiskars pruning shears which I used to trim back a bunch of growth on the single track at Stony Creek.

Today I decided to head out to Stony Creek and do some more bike riding, but also take along my pruning shears so I could cut back some of the vine / bramble overgrowth on the single track which catches on clothing and slaps people in the face. Two or three hours were spend riding around, stopping, cutting, then moving on to the next bit.

There’s a particular part right near the top of The Snake, a winding generally uphill climb where one has to go next to / under a very large shrub which is overgrown enough that I had to lean far forward in order to keep from hitting / scraping my head on the woody growth and its occasional, large thorns. I cleared a nice passageway through this, and on a test ride back through the area I didn’t notice the area I’d trimmed, but I did notice that I no longer risked hitting my head.

I didn’t do any trimming in the last half (aka back nine / final third) of The Rollercoaster because I normally find that area too fast to easily stop on my bike and go back to cut things, so I think I’ll try and head out there another day on foot to trim it.

Other than the cutting it was a long (18.4 miles), but uneventful ride. I came across quite a few people going the wrong way on single track without helmets, friendly hikers, and someone who shouted at me for going the wrong way because I’d parked my bike facing up the trail (although off to the side) while trimming an area in The Pines.

Oh, I also need to remember to lubricate those shears. The whole time I was cutting they were making an awful squweeCHIRP sound. That’ll happen after a shower and before I do the electronics work discussed yesterday. I’m stinky enough that it’ll likely corrode the solder.

Here’s the photos I took today. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a before / after of some of the more overgrown areas which were cut back:

· The cheap Fiskars pruning shears which I used to trim back a bunch of growth on the single track at Stony Creek.
· Grown crystals of salt (and other things) on my CamelBak.
· A sign indicating that the skills park at Stony Creek is closed. Its grand opening is tomorrow, 17-Aug-2008.
· The stone table in an Asian style in with the Sheldon Estate in Stony Creek Metropark.
· The Sheldon’s old tennis court, now filled in with plants. This is right behind the stone alter.
· In Stony Creek, looking through the rows of trees at the stone alter near where the Sheldon Estate was.

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