Archive for January 2014

Welcome to the LW Coaching 100 mile Finishers Training plan.

For the last two years I’ve followed the LW Coaching 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race — Finisher Plan for the 12 weeks prior to Lumberjack 100 (LJ). I purchased the TrainingPeaks version of this plan in 2012 and it’s worked well for me, so I’m going to do the same this year. However, there is something about the TrainingPeaks site — maybe it’s the visibility of weeks of stuff-to-do at a time — that feels very daunting.

Today I applied the plan to the 2014 calendar, set to finish on Sunday, June 22, the day after LJ. While the first day of actually doing stuff isn’t until April 1st (this is an LTHR test), just seeing the calendar again is a little intimidating. However, it means that nice bicycling weather shouldn’t be too far away… Even if it is structured and training, I tend to really enjoy the rides. Here’s to that continuing this year.

Kuhnhenn’s Solar Eclipse


Danielle wants me to use up the special beers that have been sitting in the fridge for a while, so tonight after a ride on the trainer I opened up this bottle of Kuhnhenn Brewing Company‘s Solar Eclipse. This is a barrel aged imperial stout, aged from 2009 to 2012 before being sold. My good friend Brian gave me this bottle a while back, and I’d been saving it for a special occasion. I guess that was tonight, to celebrate a nice weekend with friends.

At 18% I’m sipping this slowly (it was opened at 9pm and isn’t gone nearly two and a half hours later), but that seems appropriate for a beer like this. As it warms and sits the flavor changes, and I’m enjoy it the whole way through. This really is good, and something I’d like to get more of. Thanks, Brian!

Another Elegant Cadence Sensor Magnet Option

I’m apparently on a quest to find ideal neodymium magnets for triggering the cadence side of ANT+ speed/cadence sensors such as the Garmin GSC-10 and Wahoo Cycling Speed/Cadence Sensor. I’d previously tried wide/thin (10mm wide, various thickness) magnets such as the one seen here on the Salsa El Mariachi Ti which sit on the end of the pedal spindle. This works well on the El Mariachi Ti where the crank boot supports it from the side, but on bare cranks it’s not difficult to knock the magnet off. My friend Jeremy has lost at least one magnet this way.

A few days ago I received some 8mm x 10mm (diameter x height) neodymium magnet cylinders via eBay and these seem like an even better solution. On Crank Brothers pedals with 8mm hex sockets in the end of the spindle, these magnets slide snugly into the 8mm hole, with a bit over 2mm poking out. This works great for triggering the reed switch inside the cadence sensor, and unlike other magnets which simply stuck to the end of the spindle, roughly 75% of the magnet is inside of the pedal so it won’t be possible to knock this one off.

Removing the magnet as needed is pretty easy, too. Because there is no flat surface at the bottom of the hex socket the magnet is relatively easy to remove. It can easily be pulled out with another magnet, by sticking a flat piece of steel to the top, or grasped firmly (say, with pliers or some strong finger tips) and slid out. While getting to this fastener outside of a shop isn’t usually needed, it’s good to have the option.

Well Seasoned Cast Iron Pans: Flaxseed Oil

Our house has a couple pieces of cast iron cookware, but it wasn’t seasoned very well and Danielle and I both wanted to change that. After some separate but overlapping research we both found that using flaxseed oil is best for seasoning cast iron cookware due to the high quantities of α-Linolenic acid (ALA) that it contains, as this will polymerize nicely during the seasoning process.

Sheryl Canter’s post Chemistry of Cast Iron Seasoning : A Science-Based How-To was the basis of much of the information used, but I disagree with some of her techniques (eg: applying very thin layers of oil then wiping them off until no longer visible, starting with a cool oven) as being overwrought. Starting with a clean, dry pan (scrubbing to get food residue off and putting in the oven at 200°F to facilitate drying) I instead did the following, using some food-grade refrigerated flaxseed oil purchased at Whole Foods:

  1. Using a piece of a synthetic fabric sock (a square about 2″ x 3″), spread a layer of oil on all surfaces of the pan. It should look oily, but not have any drips, sags, or pools. Be sure it is an even coat. Paper towel (which I tried at first) left lint residue that’d burn into the oil and get stuck in the coating.
  2. Put the pan in your oven and set to 550°F or so. The temperature needs to be above the smoke point of the oil, because during this smoking the ALA will polymerize and thus the cast iron becomes seasoned.
  3. Once the oven indicates it’s at temperature, set a timer for an hour. During this hour the cast iron should reach the oil’s smoke point, which’ll release a bunch of somewhat unpleasant smoke. Vent the house if you can.
  4. After an hour has elapsed, or once the oil is done smoking (you’ll get a better feel for this as you repeat the process) turn off the oven, open it up, and slide out the racks so the cast iron can cool.
  5. When the cast iron has reached a temperature that it can be handled with bare hands, repeat these steps as many times as desired.

To season our cast iron cookware I used seven repetitions of this process. Each took a couple of hours, but most of that time was waiting for the oil to smoke or the cast iron to cool down. The result on one of the pans, a Lodge Wedge Pan that Danielle received for Christmas from my parents, can be seen above. Prior to the flaxseed oil seasoning it had a factory season on it, which was a dull, thin-looking surface that only seemed sufficient to prevent corrosion during shipping. After receiving a proper season the pan was not unlike a used PTFE non-stick surface and quite pleasant to use.

Post-seasoning the cast iron can be easily cleaned with water, a plastic bristled scrub brush, and a gentle plastic scrub pad / sponge that’s safe for non-stick pans. This has easily removed everything we’ve had stuck to the pans and left the season intact.

† While flaxseed oil and linseed oil are the same thing, products labeled as linseed oil are commonly for wood finishing and usually contain drying agents and other things that you probably don’t want in contact with your food. Thus, it’s best to just suck up the seemly-high price of buying food-grade flaxseed oil at a local store knowing that it’ll be safe. Don’t worry, one bottle will last you for a long time; this process does not go through it very quickly.

Other oils could be used, but flaxseed oil will be the most efficient readily available oil due to it’s high ALA content. This portion of the Wikipedia article on α-Linolenic acid listing the ALA content for a number of different oils, showing that flaxseed is around 55%, while canola and soybean (both frequently branded as vegetable oil) are 8% and 10%. If a lower ALA content oil is used, it’ll take longer to build up a thick coating of seasoning (polymerized ALA).

New Helmet Pads for Giro Xar

After ~2 years (and maybe four months of need) I finally replaced the pads on my daytime helmet†, a Giro Xar. I’ve been quite happy with this helmet, and it’s done well for me, but the soft pads inside were soundly compacted and some parts were starting to delaminate. This meant that there would be large lumps inside the helmet if I didn’t put it on very carefully.

At $4.99/set for the pads I should have done this a while ago. The replacement is as simple as pulling out the old pads and sticking the new ones to the velcro.

† At night I wear my old helmet, a Giro Phase. This one isn’t quite as comfortable as the Xar, so I keep a light mount on top and use it mostly at night. It’s also a backup in case something happens to the Xar.

Stinky Elk Antler

A couple years ago Danielle purchased an Elk antler as a toy / treat for Roxie. While Roxie initially enjoyed it and chewed into one end, she soon lost interest. Today, in an attempt to renew her interest, I cut it in half with a bandsaw. This is one of the stinkiest tasks I’ve performed, as the resulting dust smelled like a strong, meaty, rotten animal smell: exactly the sort of thing Roxie loves. Even wearing a dust respirator some of the smell still crept in, and now the garage smells strongly enough that I can’t walk out there.

Once half was given to her she took a keen interest and began licking the cancellous bone at the center. Hopefully her interest in it will continue and she’ll finish it this time.

(Note the dark-colored rot-like area, perhaps mildew, that had seeped in from the end she first started licking. Or maybe that was the more flavorful bit?)

Drip Tray for Indoor Plants

We have a number of plants being kept indoors for the winter, one of which is a bay tree. This afternoon Danielle repotted it into something larger to get it ready for spring time, but this new pot didn’t have a drip tray, which makes keeping it on the carpeted living room floor a bit problematic. After heading to a local home improvement store to get a drip tray I found that the offerings there were not satisfactory. A cheap ($2) drip trays was so thin that I’d have been able to tear it, and a thicker one (think soda bottle wall thickness) was $4+.

Instead of either of these I purchased a cheap, store-brand silver plastic bucket and cut off the bottom 4″ to make a different style tray. This was only around $3 and is much, much better than the pre-made trays. I was also able to size it for a narrow gap so that any collected water won’t evaporate too quickly and will serve to keep watering the plant.

I feel a bit wasteful throwing out the plastic from the upper half, but I don’t have much use for a segmented, ridged plastic hoop.

Gmail Rejects Itself

This morning I received the bounce message seen above from a Gmail server ( saying that my IP has been sending too much unsolicited mail. The amusing part? The IP address being complained about,, is one of Google’s devices, and the original message was sent via Google Apps. Thus, Google has rejected a message from its own mail server and bounced the error to an end user.

In the last 30 minutes I’ve received four of these. I wonder when it’ll stop.

Back Roads…

Quite a while ago now, back when I was 17-18-whatever, not long after after graduating from High School, I spent a lot of time just driving around randomly with friends, listening to music, poking around random dirt roads and interesting areas doing little other than driving around and talking; essentially hanging out in a car.

I now realize that many of these areas where we ended up are the northern Oakland County dirt roads where I’ve found myself riding bicycles with friends. I’m really happy with the way life has turned out and thus while I recognize that such days-gone-by were great, I don’t particularly want them back. They were good, but are best left as memories to be reflected on while enjoying the now.

(Photo above is Jered and Wendi from thus autumn when we rode an extended version of the Flying Rhinos Back 40 Challenge on some of the aforementioned dirt roads. It started a bit cool, but was otherwise a great weather day.)

Failed Bushing Hackery

Danielle’s desk chair began wobbling, and disassembly of the base showed that a nylon bushing had come apart allowing the chair to wobble side to side. The image above shows my attempt to rebuild something like this bushing out of nylon cable ties, but this somewhat failed. The chair no longer wobbles when in the lowest possible position, but it has enough friction that turning is difficult and the hydraulic height adjustment doesn’t work. I suspect the friction of these little cable tie heads is too much for the lift assist.

It’s too bad the low position is a bit too low for Danielle to be comfortable sitting at her desk. Maybe if I’m lucky I can find a replacement bushing, although I don’t see a way to get it installed as the top of the tube for it is crimped to hold it in place. Maybe an entire chair base assembly would be needed.

Oh well, at least it doesn’t wobble any more is usable as a low chair.