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Month: January 2013

Meiser Accu-Gauge for Fat Bikes

Today my order of G.H. Meiser Accu-Gauge tire pressure gauges arrived. I’d put in a bulk order of these for a few local folks with fat bikes, as we were all in need of a good low-pressure gauge to let us quantify tire pressures below 10 PSI. This gauge is almost universally recommended by those with lots of fat bike experience, and on initial tests I’m quite happy with it. The brass body has a gasket in it which seals against the body of the Presta valve, and a plug at the end opens the valve. Pressure is then displayed on the dial, and air can be let out (or the gauge itself emptied) by depressing the button on the top.

At ~$15/each after shipping I think these will prove to be worth it. Fat bikes are very pressure sensitive, so after learning exactly what pressures I like for what conditions this’ll do nicely for replicating that. Thus far I’ve been relying on a basic squeeze test to see if the tire feels appropriate. It’ll also be usable for regular mountain bike wheels, but I tend to be a bit above 30 PSI for my rear tire, limiting this gauge’s utility.

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Full Travel at Ray’s

Small oil and dust marks on one of the stanchions of the El Mariachi’s Reba fork show that I made use of the fork’s full travel when at Ray’s MTB Cleveland yesterday. I was there as part of an IMBA event, having driven down that morning and back in the evening.

I was initially on the fence about going (didn’t want to pay for a hotel or drive that far), but I’m really glad that I did. I met some new people, had a really great take on an espresso con panna made by a guy named trainwreck (who was also riding everything in the place on a rigid 29er with a front fender) at a table at the side of the place, rode a lot, and only crashed once.

The crash was early on and happened when I caught my derailleur (then pedal, then bar) on a short railing and tumbled over the railing down on to the pavement. The only damage was a sore shoulder, bent derailleur hanger, and broken derailleur cable housing, both common and easily solved problems.

The coffee was pretty interesting, made using a handpresso wild hybrid to dispense espresso into a small cup half-full of heavy cream which had been whipped with a small battery-powered whisk similar to the IKEA PRODUKT. This then had chocolate shaved on the top and was drank after the espresso and cream mixed themselves together. It was very tasty, and a quite-welcome afternoon treat after being up since 4:45am.

After leaving I initially headed to the Buckeye Beer Engine with Erik and Kristi, but after finding out that there was a 30-40 minute wait for a table I ended up just heading home. While I would have loved to have eaten there, the wait plus eating time would have put me home about midnight, and driving alone isn’t much fun at those times.

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Broken Garage Door Opener Spring

While cleaning my desk this evening I was startled by a loud banging crash from the garage; a noise which faintly sounded like the garage door collapsing. No, it wasn’t someone sliding on the ice and crashing into the building; the garage door opener spring had broken (photo), dropping the door and unspooling the lift cables (left side, right side).

Living in a condominium means that the association (which is collectively funded by the co-owners) pays for repairs such as this, so I called the property management company’s emergency repair number and set things in motion to get it repaired. Because there’s a significant extra charge to the association (of which I’d indirectly pay for part) to have the work done at night I opted to let them come tomorrow and get Danielle’s car out of the garage myself. This took a bit of lifting, the floor jack to get things started, and then more lifting and propping things up with some spare wood before I could back out Danielle’s car.

Lowering it down was no easy task, as by the time the last panel rotated to vertical I was unable to support it myself, dropping it the remaining twelve inches with a deafening bang that gave me a bit of a headache. Regardless, her car is out, repairs are queued, and all is good. I knew this was going to happen eventually as all garage door opener springs eventually go, I’m just glad that it happened now; a rather convenient time.

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Falling Into Lake Huron in January

I can now say that I’ve fallen into Lake Huron, on a bicycle, in January. And it wasn’t a big deal.

Taking advantage of this weekend’s unseasonably warm weather (almost 60°F in mid-January along the lake!), James and I headed out to Lakeport State Park to ride on the beach and generally explore whatever we could find in the area. This was a good time, netting 2:12:16 of moving time poking around on beaches, exploring random trails in the park, and poking around some roads necessary to get around sea walls that people had built straight out to the water line. While we were able to ride around a few of them, many (as seen in this photo) simply extend out across the beach to the water line.

Due to Lakeport being a good ways north, there was also quite a bit of snow to be found both in the woods and along the beach. While poking along the beach we happened across a snow and ice-topped sand bar and decided to ride on it. This generally went well, but at one point my front wheel slipped slightly, and the place where I chose to put my foot was undercut ice, which I immediately broke through. I then tried to put my foot down on the sand below it, but being waterlogged and quicksand-ish I sank in it and toppled over into the lake, submerging most of the left half of my body and soaking my shorts, jersey, shoe, glove, and part of my bag.

The photo of me at the top of the page was taken by James just a few moments before I toppled gracefully into the water.

This was nowhear near as bad as it could have been, as I didn’t really feel cold so we just continued riding. I slowly dried off, and the rest of the ride (roughly another 1.5 hours) was great. The worst part was my left foot which had become completely waterlogged, coupled with my lack of socks due to forgetting them at home. No blisters were formed, and my foot was just starting to wrinkle by the time we were done, so everything was good.

We even found a bit of beach treasure (a Made in the USA stainless steel spoon for James and three quarters, two pennies, and one nickel all in a single pile for me) while riding along! Despite this, I think I’ll seek out a different destination for the next beach ride. This was a lot of fun, but I’d rather find a place where the beach can be ridden much further in a given direction.

The route ridden today can be seen here on Strava, and here’s some photos:


GoPro HD Hero 2 Soldering

Steve Kinley with MiSCA was having problems with his GoPro HD Hero 2 camera and set about disassembling it, but in the process inadvertently disconnected the wires from the back side of the internal speaker. Knowing that I’ve done a bit of electronics work he asked if I’d take a look at it, so I did.

In the end I was able to reattach the wires to the speaker, and also fix the other end of one wire which was damaged during the original issue and came off of the PCB during reassembly. This was quite a pain, but it all seems set now. Hopefully it’ll keep working right for him.

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Grimm Brothers Brewhouse Sooty Brother Grätzer Ale

After trying the Magic Mirror I had one bottle of Grimm Brothers Brewhouse beer from Erik and Kristi left, a bitter, smoked wheat beer of a style known as Grätzer (lots more history here).

This is pretty tasty, and has me thinking about trying to do some sort of smokey beer with wheat for my next beer. Maybe just something like a lighter wheat beer with a bunch of smoked grain for steeping… The two flavors go together much better than I’d expected. Not that I anticipated this beer being anything other than great (everything I’ve had from Grimm Brothers has been great), but this is really hitting the spot.

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Synergistic Combinations of Surfactants

Danielle and I recently got new glasses from SVS Vision Optical Centers‘ Mt. Clemens location. While we had a great experience there (would recommend, will return), along with her work safety glasses she received an eyeglass cleaning kit with some rather amusing wording on it. On the back of the kit the advertising text tries to use big words to sell the product:

SVS Lens Cleaner is unique in that it actually wets out the most hydrophobic of surfaces and then allows the synergistic combinations of surfactants to emulsify the soils or contaminants present, making the lens easier to clean. This is achieved without any detrimental effect on the expensive lens treatments such as antiglare coatings or easy to clean topcoats.

Yes. That’s exactly what I was looking for: synergistic combinations of surfactants.

If this didn’t read so well I’d think it was just Engrish, but instead I just think that some copywriter did it just to see what they could get away with. It’s great.

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FS1330 – Salsa Alternator Dropout Set 12×142 w/Maxle

In preparation for building up a new bike that I have on order I purchased QBP #FS1330, the Salsa Alternator Dropout Set 12×142 w/Maxle. This is a set of swing plates for Alternator dropouts which allows a 142mm x 12mm rear axle to be used instead of the standard 10mm quick release. While the wheel set coming with the bike won’t work with this, I hope to eventually get a through axle rear wheel so I wanted to order the plates and axle before I needed them.

I was not able to find photos of this item online before I ordered it, so now that I have the set I wanted to post some photos for others. So, here they are: FS1330 – Salsa Alternator Dropout Set 12×142 w/Maxle

Looking at this in person I can see why it’s so much more expensive than the normal replacement swing plates. Beyond the inclusion of the Rock Shox-branded Maxle these are machined instead of cast, with lots of small details. These probably aren’t produced in nearly the quantity that the normal swing plates are.

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Cold Ride with a Cold

This morning I woke to find myself with a cold, but Dominic convinced me to go anyway, saying that during his rides on days when he is sick the ride has made him feel better. I’m glad I did, as getting out for a full lap of River Bends (regular+seasonal+pavement+two track+newest segment) just before the sun set really felt nice. I only saw two other people during the whole ride; a couple who seems to be out there walking their dogs almost every day.

The photo above (or here, slightly larger) was taken after riding the S turn, a series of banked curves out in the Seasonal Loops that appear to have built (or formed) by some motorcycle riders in previous years. Due to the inches of powdery snow I wasn’t able to get up enough speed and actually ride the berms, but it was still fun. The trail leading off to the right is a good example of how nicely packed most of the other single track is now.

Here is another photo, this one showing powdery snow stuck to the Big Fat Larry. I love how riding in snow cleans all traces of dirt from one’s tires.

And yes, I did feel better after the ride.

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Pelican 1020 Case for Google Nexus 4

For the last few years I’ve been using a Pelican 1050 case to carry my Google Nexus One phone when biking, hiking, mapping, etc. This past Monday I received my new phone, a Google Nexus 4, and set about fitting it into a new case. The Pelican 1020 is the closest fit, but unfortunately it’s just slightly too tall to hold the phone flat inside the case.

Setting the phone at a slight angle allows it to fit nicely in the case, and with the addition of two block of neoprene foam rubber (layered and held into place with contact cement) the phone is soundly secured in the case. The block near the top of the phone holds it from rattling around, and the thicker block near the bottom keeps the phone from sliding around if dropped soundly on its face.

This is not the most elegant solution, but until I can find a better-fitting case it’ll do. I’d love one which allows the phone to nestle in as nicely as the Pelican 1050 did needing just a bit of extra foam, but that’ll take some digging, if they even exist…