Saturday, September 29, 2007

I'm back!

So, yea, it's been a few days. Last I left off I was heading to St. Paul for work Wednesday and was going to try to get in some biking while down there. Well, the best plans are always affected by work, right? I didn't get things worked out as fast as I had hoped and was still sitting at a computer hours after I wanted to be on my bike already. O-well, there's always Tuesday... I have... no, "get" (yea... right) to go back Tuesday. So, weather depending, I'll try to ride down there again.

In other news, it's been wet and cold here the last few days. I've been caught in a few rain storms but 1 was worth it. Temp was a nice 68! I thought it was cooler so I had the sleeves on my jacket. After about 3 miles I got quite warm and took them off. At that exact time, a small sprinkle fell, which felt nice. 30 seconds later it was a downpour and the wind kicked up and next I looked it was 61. By this time I was quite wet, so no use putting the sleeves back on, I just enjoyed the ride.

As I got closer to my turn off of London road, I noticed a very crisp rainbow form. It was completely full, from one side to the other- the most bright and complete I've seen in a while, so that made the ride nice! But more so- soon after I noticed the first rainbow, I noticed it was a double... I haven't seen a double in probably 6 years. While I was gawking at the rainbow, I had a thought... "I wonder how many drivers are gawking at this too (while talking on their phones, heads bent upwards)" I figured best to move over a bit more. :o)

On to a different subject- "On your left"
I used to not really say "on your left" very much, if ever, until that fateful day when I ran into a jogger (or, more accurately, he ran into me). I used to think that people are somewhat readable or predictable... well, I don't think that any more. However, it seems that many bicyclist do think that way. I've ridden behind a few people on the way into or out of downtown and not one of them used "on your left", so when I say it, I scare the people a bit more then I would on a normal day.
I typically say "bike on your left" and most (85%) say thank you and are truly thankful, given the other riders I've seen lately. So, you can continue to blow past people without warning, but not me, maybe you'll think twice too after you've ran someone down! :o)

Last but not least...
I bought two things today! Yea for shopping!
I stopped by my no-so-local bike shop, the favorite of MN Bicycle Commuter's, Twin Ports Cyclery. I live way east and don't get west very much at all but I volunteered to help out the fun folks who run the "Haunted Shack" in Morgan Park. I love Halloween and have done a few haunted houses and decided this year to try to hook up with someone local who runs a fine show- some say the best around! So, anyhow, I stopped by the shop and looked at the following... Trunk bags, panniers, lights, boot covers and fenders. I bought the fenders- in bright yellow too! Bonus! Props to Mn bicycle commuter- the person at the store was very helpful and quite nice! Some shops have their noses in the air and will talk down at you if they feel you maybe "don't know enough" but not there- I'll be stopping there again for sure.
I also bought my 20 watt mr16 light bulb so I can finish my headlight project! Maybe I'll have time for that tomorrow.

Anyhow, I think this post is long enough so see you all later!
Jeff

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

St. Paul, here I come!

Well, I have to go to St. Paul tomorrow for work so I'm going to bring my bike with me! I'll be just 14 blocks from the Capitol building so I'd like to go get some pictures and maybe take a tour of the Capitol if time allows. If not, I'll just go for a ride.

I'll be honest though, the thought of riding down town St. Paul has me a bit nervous. I sometimes think that Duluth drivers are worse then anywhere else, but at least we have wide streets and slow / sparse traffic downtown here. We'll see how it goes- if tomorrow I have pictures I'll say it was a good day!

On another note, yesterday road crews moved the lane markers on London Road. Near 35th East I think I recall... It's the section where northbound has a left turn lane, but they made the normal north bound lane there take up the whole road. Yesterday they moved the markers to the west, giving about 3 feet to the shoulder which is nice for us bikers! Now if we can just stop motorists from using the shoulder for passing on the right...

See ya.
Jeff

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's raining it's pouring!!!

5:30 check of the weather online showed a rather large storm heading right for Duluth so I got out of work asap but still got soaked. The ride really wasn't bad, but I did think of two things I wanted to research on the way home: 1, shoe covers, and 2, stopping on wet pavement. I've only been caught in the rain a few times, and always forget to be careful when stopping. Like today, put the rear brake on medium force, tail slides out to the left, I felt like I was going down, no time to get foot out, but luckily let go of brake and physics does the rest :o) Gotta love gyroscopic motion! I was just wondering if there's a trick to stopping better in the rain on wet pavement with slick tires- owell...

Other then that, my brakes barely worked at first anyways- and this morning the rear would howl and screech like a flock of geese- it was funny- scared a few pedestrians... I'll have to adjust those a bit.

Just hope my shoes are dry for tomorrow's ride in the rain.

Friday, September 21, 2007

WOW! That is SUPER bright!

Ok, so maybe the 50 watt bulb was a little overkill :o)

I got all my parts at HD today, and quickly got the light built, for the most part. It ran for about 15 minutes at a crazy bright output, and then quickly degraded. That may be in part to the super old batteries of the cordless drill I used, but more likely that AND the fact that it was 50 watts. I think I'll keep this setup, make another 20 watt setup, and put a "high / low" switch in line and use them both. I drained the battery completely, hoping to remove any memory it may have built up- we'll see how that helps. The only thing that didn't work so good from the instructable was the "no-hub coupling" that I found, it didn't work quite right, so I'll look again tomorrow.
My bill today was 14$- some parts left over, and I'll see if I can figure something better for keeping the bulb in place.
Have a good weekend!
Jeff

Thursday, September 20, 2007

DIY Light- I think so!

Riding update: well, there hasn't been much riding. Today I rode to work, but not home. I've been so insainly busy at work I haven't been able to spare even 15 extra minutes. I would work at home remotely, then get a ride w/ my wife on her way to class, then she would pick me up later. Anyhow, our project is finally back to a somewhat normal status, so riding can commence once again.

With all the night riding I've had to do lately, I've been looking at headlights a lot. I've stopped at both LBS's I shop at and haven't been impressed with either's selection of lighting. Either the lights seem dim compared to my UK Sunlight SL6 Dive light (8 watt 201 lumens xenon lamp) (40$) which their site says can be used just fine out of the water, or they cost 300$ or more. I figured I'd find something better or build a mount for the SL6.

So next I looked online for DIY headlights and found many many differnt setups but one in particular looked quite nice, and super cheep.

First off, I want to let you know about the cool site which I just found, "Instructables.Com" which provides instruction for how to make just about anything it seems. Quite nice, but their ads slow their site down which is slightly annoying, but none-the-less I found this--> "BIKE LIGHT 500 Lumen "Mt.Bike" for under 10 bucks". 500 lumens for under 10 bucks- now that's just what I'm talkin' about!

It uses a common halogen bulb among the DIY lights I've seen, the "MR16". The expensive part is the power system: batteries. However, I've got a spare 14.4 v drill battery which will work just fine! So, as soon as I can get to Home Depot and batteries plus and that light store down there too (can't think of the name) for the parts, I'll be set!

I'll be sure to take pictures of the build and resulting light when I get to it. I wanted to this weekend but Saturday is the "Lester Park Rendezvous" which we'll be going to (I'm working @ noon there for the Police Reserves, so look for me if you go) and I also promised my daughter we'd try to fly kites and use my free passes to the Omnimax- so, we'll see what I get done.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.
Jeff

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Trip to the lighthouses

On my way into work today I took a very small detour to the lighthouses. I took some pictures, some are below, others are waiting for a software install so I can make a panorama.

On my way home I took London Road. The drivers on that road make me a little mad sometimes, like tonight. I always watch for people taking lefts when heading north because EVERYONE (nearly) will pass them on the shoulder (bad for bikers). What's worse is when someone actually does obey the law and waits patiently behind the left turning vehicle, but the person behind them doesn't, but the the first person gets to turn, so the second in line begins forward, only to have a car on their left, trying to get back into the lane before hitting me... The back car honked and the car doing the right thing, so I turned back and pointed at the passing car and mouthed "You're wrong, not them!" Then when they passed me I pointed at the shoulder and said "MY LANE!"

I was very angry as it's a big pet peeve of mine. Especially when the looser in the back honks at the other person! Come on! Anyways- I'll get down off my soap box now and post some pictures of a much less stressful part of my day!
Lake Avenue




















The Lift Bridge
















The North Lighthouse x2




















The South Lighthouse

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Can you see me now?

Since I purchased my Super Flash I've been trying to stop along side someone at a stop light to ask how visible my light is. Well, on the way home tonight an SUV pulled up along side me and had their window open (it was like 68+ out tonight @ 7:30, nice ride home). I asked "Excuse me... Could you see my light pretty well?" They both quickly and quite assuredly said "YES!" I'll take that as a good thing! I'm thinking of buying another one. I seen that you can mount them on the seat stays- I figure two blinking out of sync would really draw some attention. We'll see though.

On another note: today was the 2007 North Shore Inline Marathon. I volunteer as a Police reserve for the city and got to help with today's event. I had to get my butt out of bed at 5:15- but it was worth it.
It was pretty amazing watching the elite racers doing their thing! Props to everyone who raced and finished- even the last few I clapped on towards the finish!

Congrats to everyone who raced today!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A scary ride home

Yes, tonight was probably one of the scariest rides I've ever had. It started out quite pleasant. I had to work late again, so I left a little after 7. Got to the lakewalk and thought about riding out to the lighthouse to take some pictures but decided I should get home to the family. Riding was nice, there was no wind and very few people out that late... Well, until I got to Leif Erickson Park... Today was Friday night, and on Friday nights in Leif Erickson Park they have "Movies in the park". (I've not gone to a movie there yet, but really wanted to... Maybe next summer!) I remember my wife telling me about it, but I didn't recall what movie it was going to be. I was guessing Lord of the Rings, and yup, that's what it was. Again, I thought about taking some pictures and staying to watch some of it but needed to get home plus I had about 15 minutes to sit and wait and it was pretty chilly (47 or so).

So, I continued on down the lakewalk. I couldn't believe how many rabbits I seen tonight, there must have been close to 50 along the way. So, this is where it gets scary... I again thought about stopping to take some pictures of the rabbits, even slowing down while contemplating the thought, when it happened... I came around the corner by the steps behind Perkins and there it was, about 10 feet off the path... Yup, a skunk... He looked at me like "hu... wa? what the heck is that yellow thing coming at me??? Run away, run away"... He turned tail and I was like, "oh crap, here it comes..." but with tail held high, he ran off into the brush.

I think I'll take my chances with traffic on Superior St. from now on when it's past dusk; the wildlife out there is crazy!

About two weeks ago, on my way into work I was almost hit by a young deer. I had just stopped out get something out of my bag and was just barely going again when I heard some really funny sounds on the pavement to my left, coming towards me. I looked and seen a deer darting right at me. I locked up the brakes, as did the driver in the lane next to me, and just missed being hit by about 2 feet. I looked at the driver in the car, he looked at me, and we both laughed. :o) Come to think of it though, I'd hate to get hit by someone swerving to the right for a deer, glad that guy was paying attention.

On another note, I stopped by the other bike shop today- the one I don't like as much as the other one, to check out their lights. They have the extreme low end and the extreme high end- neither of which I want. I think I might do a DIY bike headlight... We'll see.

I'll have more night rides through Wednesday I think- on top of 10-12 hour days at work- I think I'll get some good comp time after that though- so all's well.

Ciao!
Jeff

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Night Rider

We've been sooooo busy at work lately that I've had to push my ride home time out pretty late. Yesterday on the way home it was just about mid sunset and I felt I needed something in the back to get me noticed. As I mentioned, I was looking at the cateye products so this morning, I stayed home a bit longer so I could stop by the LBS when they opened. I checked out their fare and was recommended the Planet Bike Super Flash which looked good, and seemed very bright in the store even- so I bought it (feeding my instant gratification need).

I was a bit bummed that it only had a seat post mount but I rigged it up on my rack with the reflector mount that came with the rack. The seat post wouldn't work as my bag is generally pretty full. So, on my way home tonight at like 7:40 or something, it was pretty dark, especially on parts of the East Lakewalk and London road. I was going to get a head light too, but they had two that were 45 (I think I recall 45) lumens, one a helmet mount (10$ less then the other), the other was a handlebar mount. Well, that put an end to buying a head light that morning because I am Mr. Indecisive.

I think though, that the helmet mount makes more sense, but I think I want something stronger then 45 lumens, more like in the 200 range. I don't want to spend mega bucks either, so I'm not sure what I'll do yet. I might just find a way to strap my nice scuba light I have to my bike, it's quite bright but I'll look super geeky- but hey, who else is out riding at 8PM? Not too many people I bet :o)

If you have a suggestion for a headlight, please let me know! I like personal references better then website advertising...
C-ya!
Jeff

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I call it luck, what do you call it?

Wow, I am so lucky! What? You don't call gale force winds and temps just below 50 luck? How about if I say I actually brought my camera today, and it was Wednesday night? What does Wednesday night have to do with anything? Well, Wednesday night just so happens to be the night of the sail boat races in Lake Superior. If you haven't seen them, I feel sorry for you as it's quite a site to see, especially when it's quite windy!

So, yes, I call it lucky. I've been wanting to get photos of the boats for some time now, and also, I love when the lake has big waves. Granted, the waves tonight, while large, were nothing in comparison to what the lake can dish out. I've also not checked out the cribbing that washed up last winter- so that was an added bonus.

So, since I was able to take some pictures, I suppose I should share them with you now...
Here are some of the waves crashing agains the washed up cribbing.

















Some of the sail boats...



























Here's the cribbing from a distance. Below is a link from the Minnesota Public Radio's site from when the cribbing first washed ashore.



















here
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2006/12/20/duluthcrib/

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Auntie Em Auntie Em..."

Yea, it was that windy today. Gusts upwards of 40 mph I think. Temps in the morning were 58, on the way home was even less, 55. Hu... I just tried to figure out the wind chill for the way home, the Weather Channel says it cannot calculate for temps over 40, that's odd. Well, I'm no weatherman but it sure felt cold. My ears were getting quite a chill which does not help given the fact that I still cannot hear 100% out of my right ear. I'm on the end of a few weeks of being sick- sinus infection said the doctor. Seems like everyone I know has caught this bug.

Now that the temps are a' changin I've been quite consumed by the thought of riding once the snow hits. Mind you, I've only been commuting since April so this will be my first winter of riding my bike. I have fond memories of riding in the winter while a kid. We used to pop the front wheel up and firmly plant it into a snowbank, launching us over the handlebars and into the snow. I'll try not to have that happen this winter :o)

As I look forward to the shorter and colder days I'm preparing a mental list of stuff I need to buy. Topping the list right now is a nice light set. I'm thinking the Cateye TL-LD1000 for the rear and probably the HL-EL530 for the front. If anyone has an opinion on these or others please let me know. I'm also going to need some new tires (I have the nice road tires with the knobies on the side only) and for sure some fenders. I plan to make my own studded tires for when it gets really icky out there, I figure I have a couple of months yet (knock on wood) before I need them.

One last item. I called the parking garage right next to my building and asked them if I could park my bike there in the winter- they said sure! I was quite happy because I didn't know what I was going to do with a snow/dirt/sand covered bike in my office... If you ride in the winter- where do you keep your bike at work?
Peace!
Jeff

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Oh what a beautiful morning"

Wow- it was so nice this morning on my way in to work. I did not get to leave until 9:30 which gave the weather a chance to warm up a bit from the 48 degrees it was when I woke up.

I was wearing my wind jacket as the breeze was still a bit chilly but when I reached the lakewalk I had temps around 61 so I took off my sleeves. I noticed today how much more quite my bike is. I recently put on a new chain and rear cassette and that seems to have made a huge difference. I love being able to enjoy the lake in the morning- it was so peaceful and quiet with a hint of the smell of fall on the wind.

I'm going to start to bring my camera. I've been wanting to get pictures of the lake steaming up around a ship for a few years now but as I've always been in a car when I see such an opportunity I've not had the chance to get the picture.