Archive for January 2012

MMBA Expo, Good Swap Meet Finds

Today was the MMBA Annual Expo in Lansing, MI, and part of this included the swap meet where people will bring spare/old parts to sell. There’s a few parts that I’ve been casually keeping an eye out for, and today a bunch of those found their way home with me. Spending a grand total of $40 I happened to acquire…

…a new CamelBak bladder for my trail work pack. (Only 1.5L, but it should be fine…): $10
…a nearly-new Shimano LX 11-34 cassette for the (temporary?) 1×9 conversion I’m planning for the El Mariachi: $10
…a 1.0mm Surly Toob: $10
…a Continental 26×1.75″ Hometrainer tire, in the original orange: $5

Thus far I’m really happy with all these purchases. Each was something that I needed, and each was something that someone was looking to get rid of. The Continental Hometrainer tire seems to be particularly great as It doesn’t make a chirping / squeaking sound while on the trainer, which results in an overall quieter ride.

I also thought that the expo came out rather well. (Nice job, Di!) I particularly liked how all the swap meet people were scattered amongst the vendors instead of in a swap meet ghetto at the back like they seemed to be last year. The snow and venue out in Lansing made for a long day, with ~1.75 hours of driving to get there and ~2.5 to get to my parents house afterward, but it was all quite worthwhile. The positive validation for the snow tires was rewarding after all the rain we’ve been having.

Nitrile Gloves for Wet Brush Preservation

Wanting to reuse a foam brush for applying another coat of stain in a few hours I normally would cover it in plastic wrap so that it doesn’t dry out. Since I was wearing nitrile gloves while staining I instead removed one, turning it inside out while doing so, stuck the brush inside, and closed it off with a rubber band. This should be sufficient to keep it wet until the current coat has time to dry.

Fruit of the Loom Boxer Briefs: El Salvador vs. India

This afternoon I received a package containing 8 packs (32 pairs) of underwear; Fruit of the Loom Boxer Briefs. While they were all purchased from Amazon at the same time, some of the packs were made in El Salvador and others in India. The ones from El Salvador are made of fabric from the US while the Indian ones apparently use domestic fabric.

The difference between the two can be seen in the image above, with the center/top pair being from India and the two side/top pairs being from El Salvador. The Indian fabric is a bit softer with a finer, less ribbed weave. I wonder which version will hold up longer.

Tokyo Banana

Jeff recently visited Japan and brought Danielle and I these Tokyo Banana snacks. These are banana custard filled sponge cake and are excellent. Apparently these are one of the most popular souvenir gifts from Tokyo, and for good reason.

I particularly like the English writing on the front of the package which reads:

People gather to TOKYO from here and there with memories of their home. And then, TOKYO gets everyone’s home town. TOKYO BANANA.

I’m hoping that these’ll be available at local Japanese shops.

Two Six Packs of Hopslam

Bell’s has released this year’s batch of Hopslam and per usual it’s not at all stores. Thanks to Jon Boughner pointing me to Busch’s in Rochester Hills I was able to pick up two six packs for $15.99/ea. I believe there were six or eight cases of it sitting on display just waiting to be purchased.

I’ve got one pack sitting in the fridge, and I’ll let the other sit (and age) in the basement until warm weather arrives. Hopslam is always a nice surprise for people when summer comes around.

Official Map for Addison Oaks Mountain Bike Route

This afternoon an updated copy of my previous map of Oakland County’s Addison Oaks park’s Mountain Bike Route went live on, Oakland County’s portal-ish website for “…all there is to see and do in Oakland County…”.

With some spare winter evenings and a few days off work around Christmas I was able to get the first version completed, and then after working with some great folks at OCPR this new version was developed. Beyond some readability and Point of Interest enhancements it now bears a logo, my Trail Courtesy logo, and can be folded into quarters (for distribution in a map box) and still have all title and all logos visible.

I’m really happy with how it came out, and I’m particularly glad that Addison Oaks now has a usable map of the mountain bike route. It’ll be good for new people to find their way around, trail day work, and trail development proposals.

If you’d like to download a copy for yourself, it is available from either of these three locations: Addison Oaks Park Maps · Oakland County Park Maps · MMBA Trail Guide.

The Brew Hauler

This past Saturday when I stopped at Cap N Cork to get some brewing supplies I also bought a Brew Hauler. This low-cost (~$12 or so) strap system made out of nylon webbing fits around a carboy making it much easier to carry. Instead of having to carefully lift a full (and potentially wet) carboy and hug it while carrying it around the house I can now just lift the nylon straps and carry it.

This worked well on the initial test of carrying a carboy of Chocolate Milk Stout from the laundry room into the bathtub where it’s fermenting, and I suspect it’ll work well after that. While looking up info on the product I did find this report of it not working right for one person, but I suspect that they didn’t have it set up quite right, resulting in the carboy sliding out one side of it. I’ll keep a careful eye on it, but it seems like it’ll be just fine.

Another Proper Winter Bike Ride

Here’s a photo from down in the Seasonal Loops at River Bends during today’s ride. The creek is wider than ever and wasn’t worth riding at these temperatures, so I carefully walked across the bridge that someone had fashioned from a few old logs using the bike to help balance myself. With the logs being a bit wobbly it was rather interesting; I probably should have just ridden through the water.

This ride at River Bends happened when I was on the way home (by car) from a ride up at Addison Oaks and Bald Mountain – North Unit with a friend. He and I met up at Oakview Middle School to be between the two parks, rode over to Addison (where he hadn’t been in 10+ years), did a lap there, then went over to Bald Mountain and rode a lap of the east part of the North Unit (red trail). The weather out there was absolutely fantastic, with sunny, blue skies, not much wind, and a nice line down most of the trails. While a little more snow may have been fun, it’s hard to ask for better winter riding weather.

If you’re interested, here’s the lot of the photos that I took today:

· Roger’s Vassago Jabberwocky at Addison Oaks after the last of the initial climbing.
· Looking at the flaky, asbestos-like snow on the trail at Addison Oaks.
· Roger walking up Fall Line Hill (Telemark Hill) at Addison Oaks.
· Roger standing in front of Prince Lake as we rode the top of the levee.
· Me (Steve) standing on the levee in front of Prince Lake at Bald Mountain State Recreation Area while out riding with Roger.
· Heavily rutted single track at River Bends, likely caused by people riding muddy trail just before it froze.
· Mukluk leaned on an impromptu bridge in the floodplane / seasonal loops at River Bends.

First Properly Snowy Ride of 2012

With the unseasonably warm weather that we’ve been having in Michigan today was the first properly snowy ride that I’ve been able to go on. Jeremy Verbeke and I headed up to Stony Creek, parking at and heading in through the hole in the fence, and rode a full lap of the trail, including all of the single track and a bunch of two track in the southeast part of the park. Today’s 18°F, little wind, and slightly cloudy skies was as perfect of winter riding as one could ask for.

The trail conditions were perfect, with a good layer of firm, packing, tacky snow on almost everything and no mud. There were some notable frozen ruts throughout The Pines which were clearly the result of over-anxious riders during the last few weeks freeze/thaw cycles, but they weren’t anything that I can see being a problem long term. Most of the trail was in great shape.

Riding, while hard, was otherwise uneventful. Despite snowing riding (and Jeremy’s first time out properly riding in snow) neither of us fell, nor were there any close calls. This was a really nice ride.

Public Domain Mountain Bike Trail Courtesy Yield Sign

Public Domain Mark

In mountain biking literature it’s common to find graphics which replicate a yield sign and indicate that, as a courtesy while riding trails, cyclists should yield to both hikers and equestrians. I recently found myself needing one of these graphics for a map that I’m working on, and while it’s easy to find small raster (PNG, GIF, etc) versions online I was unable to easily locate a vector copy, much less one that had a license allowing free reuse. So, I made one myself and it’s available as public domain for anyone to reuse.

This graphic, as seen above, can be downloaded from here in EPS format: mtb_trail_courtesy_yield_sign_v1.eps

In making this logo I used cyclist, hiker, and equestrian graphics provided by the National Park Service as part of their Map Symbols for NPS Maps. Being released in October 2011 these are as up to date as possible. Curiously, these symbols have just one symbol for “Bicycle Path” which seems to combine all cycling routes under one symbol.

I believe this artwork (mtb_trail_courtesy_yield_sign_v1.eps, MD5 checksum 4aac401c347b80675a673e756a604480) to be free of known copyright restrictions and I am thereby releasing it into the public domain. If this artwork is reused elsewhere a citation (to Steve Vigneau / would be appreciated, but it is not necessary.