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Month: June 2012

Excited Hefeweizen

After work yesterday I brewed a very simple hefeweizen and put it to ferment. This morning I found that it had blown out of the airlock, even though it’s not a particularly thick beer. Nor was the yeast pitched at a particularly high temperature (~75°F), so the yeast shouldn’t have gotten too excited.

The Activator pack did inflate quite quickly yesterday so maybe the yeast is particularly strong, but I still wouldn’t have expected this to happen. A blowoff tube has since been fitted so everything should be fine. Now I just need to wait for it to ferment.

The recipe I’m using is as follows, as told to me by Andy, the owner of Cap N Cork Home Brewing Supply:

· Six Pounds of Wheat Dried Malt Extract
· One Ounce of German Hallertau Hop Pellets (@ 60 Minutes)
· Wyeast 3056 Bavarian Wheat Blend Yeast

Ferment for ~11 days in primary (until it’s done, plus a few more days), transfer directly to the keg, carbonate, and drink fresh.

I’ve got pretty high hopes for this beer. Much of what I’ve brewed lately has been reasonably complex (for extract brewing) so I’d like to have some simple, easier recipes like these tested and available.

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Improvised Lock Picking Tools

Walking out of the house to the Wednesday Night Stony Creek Ride I realized that I didn’t have my keys seconds after pulling the locked door shut behind me. After running through a number of ideas (most of which involved calling for help and missing the group ride) I ended up fashioning a half-diamond pick from a cable tie, then using it along with and using a plastic sword toothpick (as a tension wrench) to pick one of the house locks and get back inside.

I have a set of lock picks and while they were (unfortunately) locked in the house with the keys, experience playing with them in the past let these tools be used successfully. The white nylon pick was quite flexible and too thick to easily use, but I was still able to use it to rake the pins and open the lock in a couple of minutes. I then made it to the group ride on time.

This shows just how easy it is to pick the cheap house locks from Schlage, Kwikset, and the like.

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Almost-Lost Phone

Today I almost lost another phone. While heading out to Addison Oaks I set my phone on the top of the car, put something in the trunk, then apparently forgot the phone on the car before leaving. By the time I reached 23 Mile and Schoenherr I wasn’t sure where my phone was, and thinking I’d left it behind I turned back and looked around the house for it. Being unable to find it I called it, only to hear a ringing outside where my car was.

So, where was it? Just as seen above, sitting on the windshield of my car, down against the wiper, positioned just where I couldn’t see it. (Yes, I had a second camera handy, which is a good thing because I didn’t want to move my phone before I took a picture of it.) Apparently it slid down from the roof at some point, then stayed where it landed even in 50-55 MPH winds and through a couple of stop lights.

I’ve been feeling a bit out of it today and this seemed to be right in line with that. Even riding today just didn’t feel right…

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Broken Bell, Punctured Saddle

Tonight in lieu of a ride at Pontiac Lake I stopped off at River Bends on my way home. The ride itself was pretty good and uneventful, except for a sudden fall about 3.5 minutes into my ride, right at the original start of the single track. This is a somewhat loose corner where one has to weave around a tree while entering off of two track, and I did so wrongly, washed out my front wheel, and hit the tree.

I ended up hitting the handlebar with my thigh, breaking off the bell (as seen above), catching my ankle somewhere on the downtube, and landing on my hands/chest. Except for some bruises on my legs I’m just fine, but it was very frustrating. In the process of falling I also tore my (relatively new) saddle, turned the seatpost, and turned the stem a bit. Oh well, at least I’m okay.

Later on in that same ride I came across a deer with new, fuzzy antlers who wouldn’t move off the trail for me. I decided to turn back and go a different way, as I’d rather not have a deer decide it wants to make me move.

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Lumberjack 100 Weekend

This past weekend was Lumberjack 100, the race that I signed up for back in March. For the past three months I’d been riding a lot to try and be ready for it, but I didn’t do enough. After two laps I felt rather beat, and despite Erik and I heading out together on a third lap I gave up about 4-5 miles in, just after all of the hard initial climbing. A light rain had also started at this point and it didn’t help my lack of interest in continuing.

I suspect that the dust, heat, and sandy trail played a part in making it hard, but I think that I just wasn’t properly prepared for what the race entailed. In the end I logged 73 miles, about 27 short of finishing. My quitting was almost entirely due to general fatigue, not any particular soreness. Even the day after the race my legs weren’t sore and just felt a bit tired, and three days later I had no problem riding hard on a single speed. The data from that day can be seen here.

Looking back on it I’m frustrated with myself for not carrying on, but at the time I felt amazingly tired and at the end of the previous lap I’d stopped having fun. Part of me thinks that I could have finished, while the other part of me really isn’t sure. I really wanted to finish, but I didn’t. Maybe I’ll give it another go next year… I’m just not sure I want to do the months of riding again to get ready. At least next time (if there is one) I’ll have a good idea of what I did wrong.

The weekend overall was a really nice time up north with Danielle, Nick, Marty, Erik, and Kristi. Without them I wouldn’t have even made it up there. From the super-fun long rides to keeping me excited about it, from cool weather dirt road rides to fat biking in the snow they, along with many other friends, played a huge part in keeping me going to even try the race. They are great.

The day after the race, after we’d all had breakfast at Dagmar’s Kozy Kitchen (yes, it looks weird, but they have good food) and parted ways, I took a few detours on the way home. My first stop was at the Mortimer E. Cooley Bridge over the Pine River along M-55 just east of Wellston. This somewhat historic bridge (seen above and also here) was quite nifty to see. I’d driven over it a number of times previously and realized just how high it was, but had neve stopped to look.

There are some rather nice wood and metal stairways leading down to platforms along and beneath the bridge, specifically to allow for easy viewing. While nicely maintained, the foliage along the stairways could use a bit of a trim as much of it was poison ivy growing up through the slats (photo). I had to tread carefully to avoid stepping on any, as squishing it against the metal grating would surely leave uruishol on my shoes, leading to it ending up all over the car, house, etc. That’d be bad.

Finally, after visiting the bridge I headed over to Cops & Doughnuts in Clare, a surprisingly good bakery from which I purchased a doughnut (apple fritter) and coffee for myself, and a cinnamon roll which I dropped off with my dad on the way home. Being Father’s Day I wanted to be sure to stop by there. It was surprisingly easy to get to their house on the way home, so that worked out well.


Sweaty Shoulder Deposits

This is a detailed photo of sweaty deposits left on the shoulder strap of my hydration pack that I usually carry when riding. Due to the summer time heat and ingesting a bunch of electrolyte-laden sports drink while riding, the result is this: salty, crusty residue left on most everything that I wear while riding, particularly after long rides.

Note that this sticks off the fabric by roughly 1mm. I washed it (and a bunch of other crust) off tonight, so hopefully the bag will be a bit more pliable once it dries.

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How I Clean My Bicycle Chain

Here’s the steps that I use for cleaning my bicycle chain:

  1. Remove chain from bicycle. SRAM Powerlinks make this easy.
  2. Put chain and Powerlinks in a bottle (PETE or glass, not polycarbonate).
  3. Fill bottle roughly 1/4 full with Finish Line Citrus Degreaser (or any other strong citrus degreaser), place cap on bottle.
  4. Agitate (shake, rock, etc) bottle, then let it sit with the chain submerged in degreaser. Periodically agitate, letting it sit for half an hour or so.
  5. Remove the chain and Powerlinks from bottle using needle nose pliers.
  6. Put chain and Powerlinks in laundry tub and rinse with lots of hot water. Be sure to rinse inside the rollers, between plates, etc.
  7. If outer plates continue to be dirty, coil chain (as when originally packaged) and scrub using a toothbrush and a little bit of degreaser. Rinse again.
  8. Take chain outside, holding one end, and spin it above your head as if you are a wrestler in a video game. Do the same again holding the chain from the other end. This removes most of the lingering water.
  9. (Optional.) Place chain and Powerlinks on the rack in the oven. Set oven to 250°F. Remove oven from chain once oven is up to temperature. Place on a metal surface to cool. This removes the remaining water.
  10. Lay the chain out on a metal surface and put one drop of ProGold Xtreme Chain Lube (formerly known as Voyager) on each roller. Prolink is also a good lube, but it doesn’t last as long. Put a drop on the inner part of each half of the Powerlink.
  11. Pick up the chain by both ends and lift one then the other, allowing all the pivots to flex, working the lubricant into the chain.
  12. Lay the chain back down in the puddle of lubricant and let it sit for a while (30 minutes or so).
  13. Wipe the outside of the chain down with a paper towel. There is no benefit to having lubricate on the outside of the chain; it’ll only collect dust.
  14. Reinstall chain.

After cleaning the chain leave the degreaser in the bottle. Over the course of a few days the sediment will settle out, and the remaining (relatively) clean degreaser can be poured off of the top, the sediment rinsed out, and the clean degreaser returned to the bottle for the next time chain cleaning is needed.

When the chain starts making noise and more lubrication is needed I do follow-up applications by applying one drop per roller while the chain is on the bike, pedaling backwards for a while to work it in, then wiping the chain down with a paper towel.

Using ProGold Xtreme I can typically get around 200 miles of somewhat-dusty SE Michigan mountain bike riding out of an application. The regular Prolink is a bit less, maybe 50-70 miles before the chain starts making noise.

I also use this technique to remove the factory lube from chains. While it is a good lube it’s a bit sticky for my tastes, as it seems to pick up dirt and gunk rather quickly and leave a fair bit of greasy dirt residue on the drivetrain.

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MTB Trail Mapping Workflow with OpenStreetMaps

With recent map drawing activities (1, 2, 3) I’ve been asked about the process I use for creating maps. What follows here is the workflow I used with OpenStreetMap (OSM) for the CRAMBA Stony Creek MTB Trail Maps, and hopefully others will find it useful.

I expect I’ll be following this same workflow for the next maps created, and even possibly revising previous ones using this process because it provides more solid base data than my previous method which consisted of little more than manually tracing SVGs of GPS tracks in Illustrator. It also helps get more map data in OSM, which is basically the cartographic version of Wikipedia.

One note, using OSM data in your maps requires that the resulting map be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license. This basically means that anyone else can redistribute and reuse the map (or portions thereof), as long as they provide appropriate attribution and license their version in a similar way. As I’m intending these maps to be freely used by the general public (as part of my work with CRAMBA) I’m happy to do so, but others should be aware of these restrictions before getting too far along in the process.

Here’s the workflow:

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New Stony Creek MTB Trail Maps

I’ve been unhappy with Stony Creek’s official mountain bike trail map for a while now, as its routing is a bit physically inaccurate and missing some trails used during races. This led me to want to draw my own, and with recent forays into OpenStreetMap proving quite successful I’ve been able to get working on the map itself.

Tonight everything came together and I was finally able to publish the maps, and as a bonus I also documented three of the more popular routes. The more-formal announcement for these was made over on, but each map can also be seen here:

· Regular Map
· Fun Promotions 6 & 12 Hour Race Route
· Tailwind XC Race Route
· Wednesday Night MMBA / CRAMBA Group Ride Route

I’m sure some changes will be needed down the line, but for now I’m quite happy with how they came out. Making maps is fun.

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