This Space for Rent

Mar 31, 2011

More bee pictures!

Elderly bumblebee

An elderly bumblebee that I rescued from our mailbox.

Mar 30, 2011

Picture of the day

Fishtank & reflection

Some fish, and their reflections, in a fishtank at our barbershop.

My own private smugness flotilla™

More cargo than I could fit on a porteur rack

The trek waits to depart from the Seven Corners New Seasons, laden with many more groceries than I could ever hope to carry on the mlcm.

Mar 28, 2011

A somewhat more comprehensive chain lube job

lubricating a bicycle chain

When I came home from riding the Three Capes R300 yesterday, my chain was, as I may have mentioned, completely free of the evil taint of lubricating oil (most of which was left besides the Wilson River Highway, but some was soaked into road gunk that was caked onto the cassette.) Now, cleanliness may be next to godliness, but bicycle chains are the exception to the rule, and I wanted to get lubricating oil back into this chain while I pondered what lubricating regime I should use instead.

So I pried the chain off the bicycle, dunked it into degreaser overnight, then wiped it down with a cloth, coiled it up in a shallow pan, and dumped my entire bottle of chain-L over the thing. Then, after eight hours or so, I pulled the chain out, hooked it over a nail in the rafters, put the now-empty bottle underneath it, and have had it sitting there since then as the thick lubricating oil s-l-o-w-l-y creeps down the chain and back into the bottle.

The chain-L oil started out as a sort of pale straw colo(u)r, but the stuff that’s draining back into the bottle is more a dirty black (from the metal dust that’s being pulled out from the inside of the bearings as the excess oil drains?) I’ll need to drop a rare earth magnet into the bottle to try and coax that dust away from the oil I might want to use, but I hope that this will keep the chain oiled for the next thousand miles or so (which is, what, a couple of R400s and a R600? Or perhaps a couple of R200s, a R400, and the local loops I run everyday) of breveting around.

All-purpose rando bikes

The MLCM & Theo Roffe's Miyata @ Llewellyn

I took the mlcm over to Llewellyn to deliver Silas’s backpack, and what did I find but another randonneur’s bicycle.

So I shot them both.

Mar 27, 2011

Frontiers of dirt, velo-style

I cleaned the Three Capes grime off the mlcm today, and, my, it’s amazing just how much dust was scraped out of the bicycle. Probably three cups, maybe more, and this includes some newly caked on greasy dirt that had to be chipped off the so-filthy-it-didn’t-even-look-like-metal-anymore cassette.

And the bicycle is still not completely clean; I’ll have to break down and actually wash it off to get the last layer or three of grime off the little nooks and crannies.

Oy. I guess I’m lucky that the mechanism actually bothered to keep working after it absorbed 50 miles worth of highway 6’s road grime.


A highspeed scamper out to the coast and back

Looking towards Cape Mears from Cape Lookout


Yesterday, Orrando put on the yearly running of the Three Capes R300, and despite a weather forcast that varied between 80% chances of rain to 80% chances of showers, I took leave of my sanity, went out to Forest Grove, and joined the mob.

Last year, I rode out to the start of the loop (waking up at 3:30am and riding the ~25 miles from home out to the Grand Lodge, then looping around in one fell swoop. This year I also rode out there, but I did that on friday night because I’d arranged to share a room with a few other fellow lunatics, which meant that I was a little fresher when 6am rolled around and the lot of us (70? people thanks to the lure of it being a death march year) wound out into the rain.

(no picture of the start; the CBC doesn’t do low-light photography. But I did get some others)

Just as it was with the equally wet Birkie, I hadn’t made any arrangements to ride with people, so I just picked a comfortable pace, then dialed it up about 10% to try and keep up with some of the faster riders. This worked better than it did last year, because I managed to keep up with a few of my faster friends across the Gales Creek valley (on the Forest Grove version of Stringtown Road) and a little way up Gales Creek Road. I kept up with Mike J. and Joshua B. for maybe 6 miles before they turned on the gas and pulled away into the murk, never to be seen again; after that, I stuck myself to a group of people who I mainly don’t know (Asta C. and Jeff M. were the only ones I recognised) up until the (allegedly;it was actually manned) info control partway up the ramp on Timber Road, where I got my card signed, turned myself around, and was out of there before the rest of that group unravelled themselves.

I'd forgotten that the summit of highway six was almost 1600 feet

And then, in the pouring rain, I went back down Timber Road, then turned west and started winding up Highway 6. Due to the road increasingly pitching up, I managed to catch up to Susan O. (of Team Estrogen fame) before the increasing grade sucked me back.

I finally passed Susan at the summit (which I’d managed to convince myself was at 1200 feet, so the actual 1586 came as an unexpected surprise that forced me to stop and take a quick photo before pushing off for the long plunge down to Tillamook) when she was relayering, but was not tremendously surprised when, 12 miles east of Tillamook, a paceline consisting of Susan, Asta, and a fellow from the Seattle Rando mob came screaming by me as I was pulling my heavy cold-weather gloves off. And since I didn’t want to let an opportunity pass me by, I jumped for the end of the line and proceeded, at a high but sociable speed, the rest of the way into Tillamook, then around the north end of Cape Mears.

While this was going on, Asta and I did an unofficial test of the spatter-generating abilities of our rear fenders and (in my case) mudflap. Not having a mudflap turns out not to be much worse than having one; Asta won the vertical throw part of the competition, but it was a narrow vertical spray that I could avoid by riding a foot to either side, while my mudflap diffused the spray from my rear wheel so that she couldn’t escape from the roadmuck of doom unless she rode about 50 feet back. And this meant that by the time we reached Tillamook we were both pretty mud-splattered.

I made one unfortunate tactical decision in Tillamook. Susan, Asta, and I had all made a very quick run into the Safeway there to get our cards signed and to get something to drink, so when I left I saw the two of them about a block and a half away and scampered to catch up. This was good in that there was a nice north wind blowing us up to the north end of Cape Mears, but it was bad in that they were going just a little bit faster than my sustainable cruising speed. So when we rolled around the end of Cape Mears and started going up the “paved” (it is paved, but the entire north end of Cape Mears is on a slowly moving landslide) Cape Mears Loop Road, my forward movement dropped to a crawl and the two of them vanished into the distance.

And at the top of Cape Mears? Headwinds. Asta and Taylor T. were at the top delayering, but they pulled out as I approached and vanished into the distance after no more than 3-4 miles. And then I wound along Netarts Bay Road and Whiskey Creek Road by myself, seeing no other cyclist except for tiny dots faaar ahead (thankfully there had been some roadwork done on Whiskey Creek Road; some of last years tire-destroying potholes had been patched enough so they could be avoided.)

Looking south towards Cape Lookout

As I proceeded southwards along the edge of Netarts Bay, I could see what looked like a storm covering the summit of Cape Lookout, but when I reached the end of Whiskey Creek Road there was nothing left up there but scattered clouds and sunshine.

The long climb up Cape Lookout

Scattered clouds, sunshine, and the teeny detail of a two mile long 900 foot elevation ramp. Which I climbed at an average of about 3mph (4mph moving, but I stopped twice “to take pictures™”) and was overhauled by first a fellow (from Seattle, I think) on a Surly Pacer, and then Ed Groth and Jeff, who I ended up sticking with for the rest of the loop.

If not for the headwind, the trip down to Pacific City and the Little Nestucca River highway would have been very pleasant.

Actually, let me correct that. If not for the headwind and the tiny detail that the downpour on the east side of the Coast Range had washed every bit of the lubrication out out of my chain the trip down to Pacific City would have been very pleasant. As it was every time I tried to stomp my way up a grade the chain would start skipping as if was trying out for the state jumprope competition, and when it wasn’t skipping it was sounding like 96 agitated baby mice. So the only way I could build up any sort of speed would be to slowly and carefully accelerate, because any energetic jump meant that the chain would climb up to the summit of the gears and either bound energetically from tooth to tooth or just derail, leaving me coasting slowly to a stop (I really like having a 1×9 transmission, but one bit of lagniappe that a front derailer brings to the table is that it helps enourage the chain to actually stay in the neighborhood of the chainrings.)

So by the time we rolled into Pacific City were were well ready for a break, which came in the form of a coffeeshop where we parked ourselves for half an hour to eat pastries and coffee.

And then south for a couple of miles, followed by a turn to the east and 85 miles of either sidewinds or tailwinds. The trip up the Little Nestucca River was not very eventful, being unmarred by emergency stops for food or to reseat tires, and the descent down into Grand Ronde was unmarred by the nasty road grooving that was there last year (the road department there must be fairly severely pressed for money, because the repaving job appears to be mainly large patches of new asphalt with a cursory rollering, but patches of new asphalt are much better than having to ride right along the verge to try and keep your bicycle from being eaten by grooved pavement.)

A tiny bit of rainbow north of Ballston

And, finally, we rolled out into the valley, where we saw the most happy sights of all; it was sunny, ALL of the flags were stiffly pointing north, and Aeolus’s hand was pressed to our backs not-so-gently encouraging us to fly north as fast as we were capable.

And we flew, only slowing down where the route dodged east or west to get around obstacles. Joshua caught up to us for a while (but Ed & I were flying along at the front (chatting about whether to organize the Verboort populaire again this year [yes, if we can] or to organize an August R200 [ditto]) so I didn’t actually see him) but fell off around North Valley Road.

The sun went down behind some clouds about the time we passed Gaston, so we almost finished the ride while it was still daylight. As it was we walked into the Grand Lodge 14h23 (exactly three hours faster than last year) after we departed from the east parking lot, which isn’t quite as fast as I was running in the Birkie but which is still shockingly fast.

And then I hung around the Grand Lodge for about 20 minutes, then joined a small group of Portland-bound riders (Asta, Ed, Jeff, Theo R.) for a run into the Hillsboro terminus of the east-west interurban, and from there rode home and tried to get a good nights sleep.

Things that didn’t work:

  • Well, obviously the chain didn’t work, so I’m going to have to revisit my cleaning regime
  • and my rear mudguard doesn’t work either (but I’ve got a pack-cloth shopping bag that I got from the opening of the Clackamas interurban; it’s from one of the religious hospitals along the line, so it’s got some horrible faithy motto on it which keeps me from using it as a shopping bag, but I think that it would make excellent material for long mudflaps if I stiffen it with aluminum wire or tubing.)
  • my thick woolen gloves are very warm, even for long descents, but the padding annoys my hands. And it’s really difficult to pull them off when I’m moving.
  • Not enough fruitcake. I’d gone through (almost) all of it by Tillamook (one slice had fallen under the pile of wet discarded layers in the handlebar bag) and from that point on I had to resort to science diet (shot bloks and energy gels) when I started to get hungry. And I didn’t boil up potatoes this time because I didn’t want to have boiled potatoes sitting out all night before the brevet, so my choices were woefully limited. And science diet (particularly the Clif science diet) is naaaaaaasty stuff.

Things that did work:

  • Wool. I was pretty much completely soaked by the time I returned to highway 6, but I stayed warm nevertheless.
  • Betting that the descent from the summit of highway 6 would be the coldest one. It was /really/ cold, but short, and it had warmed up before I plunged down from Cape Mears.
  • The big rando bag worked! And people complemented me on it, so I think this is probably my signal to start warming up to sell them. (I still don’t have a sewing worktable, but I’ll have to make one ASAP; using the floor and the dining room table for sewing and pressing is less than optimal.)

And, shockingly, despite going around the loop at an average rate of only 3% slower than Birkenfeld, I’m not dead. (Which is good because I need to take the trek out shopping this afternoon, and it would be difficult to do this if I was dead.)

All in all, an excellent loop. A++++, would ride again. But perhaps at a somewhat more leisurely pace.

All the pictures can be found here.

Portrait of a rotten state

The scum at GE paid no taxes, but were given US$3.2 billion in tax credits last year, thanks to a combination of patronage and outright bribery.

Honestly, it’s as if they want a communist revolution in the American Imperium.

The CBC hides the grime

The MLCM at Sourgrass Summit

What you don’t see is the thick layer of road grime that covers every nonfendered part of the bicycle.

Mar 26, 2011

Annoying bicycle discovery of the day

If I take my bicycle out in enough heavy rain, it washes all of the lubricating oils out of the chain. This is particularly annoying when it happens at the start of an R300, when losing the lube means that I get to deal with a squeaking skipping chain for the remainder of the loop.

And, no, WD-40 is every bit as much of a non-solution as you might expect it to be.

Time to consider a slightly different approach to lubricating the chain. Maybe the hot wax treatment?


Mar 25, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite sneaks up on a bowl of gelato

Dust Mite goes out for a bowl of gelato.

Mar 24, 2011

Still in service

EPT 100 on the McBrod Ave lead

The working Eng! sits on the McBrod Ave. lead on Tuesday afternoon (while the new replacement working Eng! remains in the shop yard with repair parts scattered around.)

Mar 23, 2011

Last minute repairs

Despite the tweaking I did on tuesday, all it took was a short 1000' climb (from downtown to the Zoo) to bring out the chorus of clattering noises that were bedeviling me. So off I went to the LBS to buy another bottom bracket, and this time I splurged and spent $16 for a Truvativ unit because it didn’t come with a plastic non-drive-side cup.

This may have been the right choice™, because when I pulled the Shimano unit that was in there I discovered first that the threads were positively infested with grit, and, secondly, after I put in the new bottom bracket and started cleaning up the old one so I could save it as a spare if it turned out that I could service the bearings, that said plastic non-drive-side cup was actually shattered and only holding itself together by a couple of fragments of plastic.

I’m not going to bless the sealed bearings in the rest of the Shimano bottom bracket yet, but I could certainly see how a broken cup could act as a very nice pump to inject fine Oregon grime into the threading, as well as make lovely creaking and clattering noises as the bottom bracket slowly pushes the grime into places where it’s not supposed to be.

If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I’ll have to take it out for a fairly long loop to verify that this was not a horrible mistake on my part. And then sometime next week I’ll need to figure out whether the non-plastic parts of the old Shimano bottom bracket are still functional.

Stratovolcano picture of the day

Mount Hood looms over Portland

I foolishly decided to ride up to the Zoo early this morning, but I was rewarded for my decision by this view of Mount Hood (well, the view I had was better, but the CBC is what it is) when I reached the south end of the Rose Test Garden.

Mar 22, 2011

Not a nice sound for a bicycle to make 4 days before a R300

Over the last couple of days the MLCM has developed an annoying feature in that after a dozen or so miles of riding a tinkling and pinging sound (like ball bearings rolling around) starts coming off the nondriveside of the crank when I pedal. It happened first a couple of days ago when I was running to the end of the (paved portion of the) Springwater Trail and back; about 2 miles away from the end of the trail it began to jingle annoyingly, and 5 miles later (before I got back to downtown Gresham) it had died away, then today, after about 20 miles of riding (out to Noahs, then down to Milwaukie) it came back and tinkled annoyingly all the way out to 44th on Railroad Ave, then all the way up to Johnson Creek Blvd, and then briefly along the Springwater Trail as I looped out to 82nd.

Today I tried to isolate it, and I isolated it down as far as the non-drive-side of the crankset. The crankarm seemed loosish, so I pulled, cleaned, regreased, and reassembled it. But it still seemed loosish, and it looks like the spindle is moving in the bottom bracket in ways that spindles are not supposed to move (it seems to be moving more than the corresponding component on the trek does.)

And, no, the frame doesn’t seem to be cracked down there – I cleaned it off and looked over it with a flashlight and ran my fingernail around to see if there were any suspicious cranks in the powdercoat.

I suppose I could just replace the bottom bracket (I’ve got enough parts to assemble a loose-bearing bottom bracket, or I could fork out $14 for an even cheaper Shimano UN-26) but I’d really hate to do a hardware changeout just before I run the bicycle out to the coast and back.

I’ll have to run it for another 30 miles later today and see if reseating the crank makes any difference. If not, I guess it will be last-minute bottom bracket time.


Mar 20, 2011

Project of the week

Two pinned-together rando bags

A friend ordered a rando bag, so I’m making up a tiny production run of them so that they can choose a colo(u)r. These ones are the end of my red (burgundy?) cordura and some of the violently orange waterproof safety fabric that I couldn’t help buying when I was last at the Mill End Store.

I need to scrounge through my pile of fabric to see if I’ve got enough velcro and bias tape for the both of them (and I may need to go back to the Mill End Store if both of the colo(u)rs are too objectionable to live.)

Time consumed so far: ~40 minutes to cut and pin them. (I didn’t need to actually pin them together here, but I’ll count it anyway.)

Mar 19, 2011

Project of the day

baguette pudding

We had an old stale baguette, so I hacked it into little pieces and made it into a pudding.

Mar 18, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite does not blend in with the surroundings.

Railroad picture of the day

ATK 128 approaches the Steel Bridge

A pair of twinkies pull the northbound Coast Starlight under the I84/I5 bridge tangle.

Mar 17, 2011

bicycle photo of the day

sheltered xtracycle

The Trek sits out of the rain in the sheltered playground at Llewellyn.

Mar 16, 2011

Convincing me to take up framebuilding, one crash at a time

This afternoon, while on the way to the store, the front wheel of the trek wobbled sideways just as I started to accelerate away from a stop, which trapped my foot on the wrong side of the wheel and resulted in a slow stately starboard capsize.

Which, thanks to not being able to get my foot untangled from the wheel and my pedal in time, ended up crunching my right side into the street and leaving me with an impressive bit of road rash on my right elbow and a bruise or torn muscle in my ribcage.

Add to this the problems I have squeezing fenders under the fork (when I’ve got 28mm tires on the bicycle, I can’t get a fender to thread between the brake and the tire. I’ve tried cutting holes into fenders to make them clear the brakes, but what ends up happening is that they vibrate to destruction much faster than I want them to) and the amazing amount of xtracycle shimmy that the thing has when it’s heavily loaded, and it sounds like a recipe for getting a built-as-an-xtracycle frame and going from there.

But there are some problems with that:

  • First, xtracycles come out of the mountain biking world, so everything is built for 26" wheels. So if I put 700c wheels under something like a Big Dummy, I don’t think I could get more than 28mm even if I dropped the fenders. And one of these years I’d like to put a set of 33mm cyclocross tires on the thing and see how it would work on some of the more exciting gravel roads around town.
  • Secondly, and more importantly, all the stock cargo bikes out there come from a mindset where the rider will set bolt upright and have upright handlebars. And I, um, don’t follow that mindset – my idea of a comfortable position involves drop handlebars 2-ish inches lower than the saddle (and my attempts to position the handlebars at or above seat height up simply resulted in me spending all of my time in the drops cursing the headwinds that I couldn’t get out of anymore) so I can go between using the brake hoods or the drops.
  • Thirdly, the popular production longtail cargo bikes (Kona Ute, Big Dummy, Yuba Mundo) aren’t really to my taste. All of them have steeply sloping top tubes (The Big Dummy used to have a nice curved one, but it was still sloping) and my taste in what makes a bicycle look good includes a flat top tube.

Now the simple way of getting around that is to find one of the half-dozen-or-so framebuilding shops that will build cargo bikes. But that would put me back at least $2000, which is a lot of money for a frame. If I built one from scratch (either by buying a whole stack of lugs and tubes, then brazing them artistically together, or by taking a junker frame, chopping off the rear triangle, then buying enough tubes to make a somewhat longer triangle, it would not only be modestly cheaper, but at the end of it I would have had practice in how to build a frame (similarly to the front rack and rando bags I’ve made; I’ve spent about as much money on equipment and stock as it would have cost to buy a rack + bag, but I’ve made multiple racks and bags out of it and have gotten to the point where I can pretty consistantly make ones that work and don’t look hideous.)

There is the tiny detail of time and money, of course, but the whole idea of having a cargo bike that doesn’t trap my feet at random intervals is very appealing, as is the whole idea of being able to construct them myself.


Domestic vermin picture of the day

Cat versus shoe

Buckeley investigates one of Russell’s shoes.

Mar 15, 2011

Punctuating an errand

If you're going to have a flat, this is a pretty good reason for it

I went over to Noah’s Bagels for a dozen bagels at noon, and on the way back home (and after being positively dumped on with rain and a tiny bit of hail for about 11 miles of the loop) I was just coming down on the Westmoreland side of the Bybee bridge when the rear tire made a satisfyingly large *poof* sound, followed by instantaneously going flat.

Fortunately I was only about 4 blocks from home (three blocks from home when I decided that the tire was just too flat to ride on in) so it was easier for me to just hoist the bike up on my shoulder, run it home, then pull out the trek and gallop over to Llewellyn to pick up the bears. It was only after I returned that I took a look and realized that I would have no problem finding where the flat was this time.


Mar 13, 2011

A noticably filthier bicycle

The MLCM at the Black Bear coffee shop

The MLCM after ~148km of riding in the rain.

Mar 12, 2011

Going nowhere really fast.

Timber summit from the other direction, and with much less rain

Today I went out to ride the Birkie, which goes from Forest Grove to Birkenfeld, then back to Forest Grove (it departs from the furthest east parking lot at McMenamins Grand Lodge, and it finishes in one of the sitting rooms inside the Grand Lodge, so it’s actually a very indirect way of walking 500 feet west, then 20 feet south.) There must have been something in my breakfast cereal this morning, because I rode this ~500 feet (124.2 bicycles miles) in no more than 9h13 (13.3mph brevet average, 15mph moving average,) which is not only the fastest I’ve ever run a R200, but which includes a couple of leisurely stops at the outgoing and incoming controls in Vernonia.

The route up to Birkenfeld goes from Forest Grove up to Timber, climbing ~900 feet up to the summit above Timber, then dropping down to the Nehalem River valley which is fairly flattish, but no lower than about 700 feet for the entire ride up to Birkenfeld. The initial climb is fairly stout, so I didn’t bother to try and chase any of the fast riders out of town, but instead rode along and chatted with a few friends out to the edge of Forest Grove and a way down Gales Creek, where I thought that I should start making a run on the hill so my inevitable slowdown there would be less painful.

But, funnily, no slowdown happened. I shot up Gales Creek like I was launched from a rocket, overhauling a collection of riders who normally are much faster than I am, shot up Timber Road almost as fast, then geared down and ground up the last 500 feet of the ramp at what is for me a ridiculously fast clip (and passing a few more riders along the way.) By the time I’d crossed highway 26 (in the RAIN, I will add – it rained most of the way from Forest Grove to Vernonia, then most of the way from Keasey to Birkenfeld and most of the way back to Vernonia,) I was ahead of most of the slower riders, but passed a few more before I rolled into the control at Anderson Park (where I skipped past a couple of really fast riders who were taking a longer stop than I was.)

North of Vernonia is a little detour up to Keasey, where there’s an info control. Last year I didn’t see any of the fast or faster riders passing me on the 4 miles up, but today I saw them go by a mile or so into the detour (6 miles ahead of me; ~25 minutes at the mile-per-4-minute rate I was going.) And then when I rejoined highway 47 3 miles north of Vernonia I was greeted with a stiff tailwind, which I took full advantage of by blowing down the highway as fast as I could go, leapfrogging increasingly faster groups as I went along, and eventually gathering up, then dropping(?) some of the people who I know as being really fast riders indeed.

No, I don’t know how I did this. The tailwind helped, I guess, but I wasn’t the only one who had a tailwind in my favor.

Coming back wasn’t quite as fast, because the tailwind had become a headwind, but I managed to overrun a few people who had passed me by when I stopped 25 minutes in Vernonia (again), and when I reached Gales Creek Road I was toodling along at 20mph (it’s a fairly stiff downhill, so even with a headwind it’s pretty easy to get up to that speed, even after 185k.) And that’s when a really fast moving paceline sailed by me at 23mph, with all of the riders waving “hi!” as they flew on past.

Hmmpf. Now that’s an opportunity that’s receding quickly in the distance. So what to do? I know – I’ll sprint after the paceline and attempt to latch onto the end. So I cranked up to 26-ish mph, reeled them in, then followed along up to the edge of Forest Grove; when the paceline disintegrated at the ramp up into Forest Grove I shot past them and rolled the last three miles to the Grand Lodge at ~20mph (picking up two of the riders who jumped in behind me when I slowed down at the crest of the hill) arriving at 4:13 (and then turning around at 4:18 and riding, at a much more leisurely rate, into Hillsboro to catch a train into town.

One thing I did differently today is I took the train out in the morning (along with 5 other randonneurs; both cars were filled to the brim with rando bikes, leaving late arrivals having to stand with their bikes instead of sitting down and chatting) and back in the afternoon, which reduced 50 miles of shuttle move down to 18 miles with a railroad intermission. And I’d loaded up my rando bag with half a dozen pieces of science diet (gels, gelatine cubes; I ate one package of each when it was raining too hard for me to want to pry open the rando bag to retrieve fruitcake or potatoes) as well as a dozen pieces of fruitcake (of which I ate two, and gave two away to a friend) and a sack of baked potatoes, none of which found their way to my gullet.

And I made the mistake of changing the chain on the bike last night, but the new chain has 2-3 stiff links which would hop off the cassette if I pedaled too forcefully. So I had to pedal faster, and try to keep the rotation even, which may have helped increase my top speed.

And I took a largish stack of pictures most everywhere where it wasn’t raining (which means that most of them were taken on Timber Road, because that’s where it wasn’t raining. But you can also enjoy the latest picture I took of the shay, which isn’t quite on Timber Road.)

1 comment

Rando junk

A vice grip saved from the road just south of Birkenfeld

I rode the Birkie today, and spotted this vice grip sitting on the road just south of Birkenfeld. It would be shameful to let it go to waste, so it’s now sitting at home waiting for me to clean it in a solvent bath, steel-wool some of the rusty patches out, and plunk it into my toolbox for later use.

Mar 11, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

The stowaway

Dust Mite attempts to stow away in the rando bag (or maybe it’s just trying to get to the fruitcake.)

Trolley picture of the day

A southbound train crosses Flavel Street

A whole bunch of activity at the Flavel St & i205 station.

Mar 10, 2011

Non-science diet

Birkenfeld cake

It’s Birkie brevet season again, and I’m doing the essential preparations for the loop more than one day ahead of time. And by “essential preparations”, I mean fruitcake – sure, I could load up on science diet (Clif bars and the nasty gels and goos which start to get really appealing when I’m 200+km into a loop and just want to get calories into my system without wasting my valuable time chewing, but which are pretty appalling before that point) and go, but nibbling on baked potatoes and fruitcake works just as well and taste better in the process.

So it’s another Moosewood Italian fruitcake, freshly baked early enough to cool, but not so early that it will all be gone before 4-in-the-effing-morning on Saturday.

Yum! Yum! Yum! Yum! Yum!

Railroad picture of the day

EPT 100 crosses 13th Ave

The sun had (deceptively; half an hour later it dumped hail and torrential rain for easily 25 minutes, and then a hour and a half later it was warm and sunny again) come out, so I went out for a short 20 mile loop at 11:30, and as I was heading west along Andover Street in Garthwick, I heard a high-pitched locomotive whistle tootling in a fairly urgent manner. It was windy enough so I couldn’t tell exactly where it was coming from, but I thought it might be one of the Portland Traction railcranes doing something with the ex-carbarn siding that’s being extended(?), so I was pleasantly surprised when I rolled around the curve onto the tail end of 13th and saw the working Eng! scampering into view from the west.

Alas, the poor CBC doesn’t deal very well with the whole focus concept when the camera and target are both moving, so it decided instead to focus in on the tree that sat between me and the SW-1. But I’m not terribly choosy, as long as I don’t look too closely at the resulting photo.

Mar 09, 2011

Theropod picture of the day

Flashy Crow

A small murder of crows was harrassing a red-tailed hawk out in front of our house this morning, and stuck around long enough for me to (a) realize that they weren’t just being chattery for no reason, (b) realize that there was actually a hawk involved, (c) walk out onto the porch so I could see the hawk and the crows sitting in the sweetgum trees, (d) come back into the house, (e) remove the super-tak & the m42 adapter from my pentax, (f) attach my Quantaray zoom, and (g) go back out onto the porch and get one good picture out of a dozen attempts.

When there isn’t much light outside, the purple fringing coming off this lens is impressive, but so are the zoomy bird pictures.

Mar 08, 2011

bicycle photo of the day

March MLCM

The MLCM leans up against the schoolhouse wall.


Mar 07, 2011

Railroad picture of the day

A side view of EPT 100

The working Eng! helps me demonstrate barrel distortion with the CBC.

Mar 06, 2011

Trolley picture of the day

Two trains at the Clackamas mall station

Two trains at the end of the line just east of Clackamas Town Center.

Mar 05, 2011

Tweak of the day

New derailer

After a couple of months of increasingly flaky behavior from the old Sram X-5 derailer, I finally replaced it with a new (and cheap. Don’t forget the cheap!) Shimano RD-3400. One obvious difference between it and the X-5 is the length of the cage; the X-5 is designed for your typical mountain bike gearing, so it can pull about 60 links of chain. The RD-3400 is meant for road gearing, and it pulls about 30 links.

If I had an superalpine double (42-28) on the front of the mlcm that would probably be too much for this new short-cage derailer to handle, but I don’t. And 21 links is well within the specs, even if the largest gear is ~1 inch larger diameter than it’s supposed to be.

It means I’ll have to retrain my learned shifting a bit, but I don’t have anything else with a 9-speed rear end, so it’s not as if I’ll confuse myself in the process.

Railroad picture of the day

The W&P train in the sun

After 5 days of staying home being sick as a dog, I finally managed to drag myself out today to catch up on the shopping and managed to get caught by not one but two trains (to the tune of sitting at the crossings for ~40 minutes while the trains crept slowly on by.) The second train, however, turned out to be a P&W train being led by a (the only?) W&P eng!, which appears to be in the process of slowly being relabelled into P&W markings.

Alas, the sun was to the west but I was trapped on the east side of the crossing, so the pictures are not quite as good as they could have been.

Picture of the day

Clouds, highway ramps, railroad signal

Clouds, highway ramps, and a railroad signal.

Mar 04, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Mite Rack

Dust Mite relaxes with a couple of bottles of wine.

Photo of the day

Still life with coffee, donut,ice cream, and disembodied hand

Coffee & treats at the ice cream parlour.

Mar 03, 2011

Domestic vermin picture of the day

Another Mavis-shaped cat cushion

Mavis cozily naps.

Mar 01, 2011

New Code!

Discount is now up to version 2.0.8 with a small batch of new features, tweaks, documentation changes, and feature revisions:

  • Modify table handling to make it hew closer to the markdown extra implementation
  • Put an optimization in to make table detection faster
  • Documentation patches from David Banks
  • argument prototype tweaks for Solaris, from Allen Otis
  • --with-github-tags configuration option to to include - and _ in the acceptable characters for maybe_tag_or_link() (code from Ryan Tomayko’s discount SCCS on github.)
  • in the markdown program, -f? gives a list of the known flags.
  • --with-id-anchor configuration options to have the table of contents code emit id= instead of the dummy <a name= anchor I replaced it with (name= is depreciated in xhtml, and may vanish.

Most of these changes won’t change the way the code works, but the changes to table handling will; markdown extra tables revised the parser so you can escape : and |, and between that and the extra parsing needed to make my table detector work the same way as the markdown extra version, I ended up with discount running memchr() on every line three times to detect |s for tables.

I revised the internal data structures so that every line carries a flags word, and turn on one of the bits there to tell the rest of the code whether a | was seen when the document source was read in in the first place. This one little change gave me back about 5% computing time running against the reference markdown testsuite.

I’m not completely sure whether these changes will have unexpected side effects, but I’ll never find out about them if it just sits at home. So here’s some nice fresh New Code! for you to test out and see!


Obéir c'est trahir, Désobéir c'est servir


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