26 April 2011

What I hope I'm seeing....

In this kind of thing is that my fellow Canadians are plenty smart enough to figure out that if you want different policies than those of the Harper government, you don't vote for Iggy.  (Iggy would doubtless present them with less of a kitten-eating snarl.  But he's the tool of the Liberal party corporatism faction, which basically means Bay Street and Bell get whatever they want.)

And yeah, the NDP don't have experience governing.  And they can't count, in general, as well as having serious difficulties with what I would consider forward-looking policy in a number of areas.  We can plausibly hope for good advice from the federal civil service, and the NDP are most unlikely to approach the job with the kind of active malice either pro-corporate faction has.

What I really hope I'm seeing is the demise of the Federal Liberal Party and an eventual NDP/Liberal merger, as the populist wing of the Liberals slides to the left.  But that's far more in the land of hope than reason.

I'll be hoping for the Green Party to embrace the scientific method, next.

24 April 2011

Still kinda chilly

Sometime after 15h00 there was an exterior clock/thermometer thing, in the bright sun on Gerard St., and it said that it was 10 C. ("Cooler near the water" has some bite to it, this time of year; the forecast high of 14℃)

45 km, no actual ow (though the right SPD cleat needs a bit of tweaking); legs apparently getting toward the slightly-underdone end of noodly.  Did not expect the parade, or the other parade.

Parade number one actually turned into a parade near the end of the ride, crossing University on College; when I first encountered it, I was down by the Exhibition grounds and the Coliseum and initially mistook it for an enormous NDP rally (lots of orange).  It turns out to be the Sikh Khalsa festival/parade, but I wasn't expecting it and the path along the lake shore was clogged.   Parade number two made it hard to get north past Queen St. at the far eastern end of the loop; I had no idea they had an Easter Parade in the Beaches, nor that it had whatever kind of clout it takes to get Mayor Ford to walk a parade route.  So I wound up struggled through the water purification plant, up the end of Queen Street, and managed to wander on to Gerard to go west and home without getting lost.  (I dislike having no GPS.)

Southwest corner of Grenadier Pond. Not bad for a point-and-shoot.  You'd think I'd remember what an unspeakable horror Ellis Ave. is (steepening decreasing radius blind curve with cars hurtling down same); perhaps today's reaffirmation of the horror will stick for the rest of this year.

The Khalsa parade, or, rather, a tiny fraction of the Khalsa parade.  The police stopped the marchers to let streetcars through, which is also when cyclists get through.  Many cycle-cops, too; looks like most of the parade route and all the inside barriers.  (I so approve of cycle cops; it does wonders for how people drive downtown.)

This is but one example of why one should be very, very wary of "Waterfront Trail" signs between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Cornwall.  This is what you hit after following the sign into 300m of loose sand.  (This is recoverable; that stuff to the left is a 30° bare earth slope you can walk your bike up, and lo!, there is a road.  But that 300m of loose sand/beach edge, etc?  Not a trail.)

It's not a parade without a pipe band.

It's not an Easter Parade without inappropriate bunny ears.

This looks really odd, but I didn't print out a map today, since "follow the lakeshore/Martin Goodman trail until you get bored" is not supposed to be challenging.  Next time perhaps I shall actually find Kew Gardens, and get some flower pictures.

22 April 2011

It was cold

The plan had been to take the GO train out to Oshawa and cycle back to Guildwood GO station.  That gets around the wind direction -- forecast to be from the east -- and the horrible problem of the Hunt Club Hole, the section of the Toronto waterfront where there just isn't any good route to ride a bicycle.  It would also have let me check out what Lower Highland Creek looks like from a birding perspective.

This plan ran into a couple of problems.  Firstly, it was cold.  Not actually freezing cold, but 2℃ with a damp wind is cold enough.  And secondly, by the time we got to Second Marsh, Zingerella's TPB managed to develop a bad brake rub problem, later diagnosed in the warm, with a stand, as "you need to keep using the skewers the disc brakes were set up with or re-setup the brakes and brifters from zero"; switching to locking skewers seems to have squished the rear triangle in the half-millimeter required to cause the problem.  (The TPB is indeed tiny, and hasn't got a lot of clearance anywhere and certainly not in the drive train.)  Since riding a bike with the rear brake on isn't a good plan, we scrubbed the ride, went back to the Oshawa GO station, and took the train home.

On the plus side, even if it was all effectively to and from GO stations, I got in about 25km, which puts me solidly over 100km on the Experiment, and nothing untoward has occurred in the Experiment's mechanicals.  The new tiny pocket camera -- a Fujifilm F550 --  seems to actually do what I want (be small, take decent pictures rapidly), and I got a train ride out of it.

On the less plus side, legs continue extremely noodly; I need to figure out how to stash the bike securely at work, so I can get some non-weekend riding in by riding it home. Also, the Arkel bar bag isn't in an acceptable position and correspondence with a helpful person at Arkel confirms that I'm not missing something, obvious or subtle, I'm just using the wrong bars for their bar bag mount system.  Which is a pity, because I really like those bars; they're comfortable. I've got a Rivendell (or possibly Rivendell-style) Mark's Rack inbound, and now I need to find a bag to put on it.  (Suggestions are welcome!)

Starting out at Exhibition station; the bag angle issue is obvious.  That's as low as the bag can go with the  crosstop levers at a usable -- not ideal, but usable -- angle.  Which is a pity, because I really like that bag.
Leaving Oshawa after having scrubbed the ride.  Picture taken mostly to see what would happen; Fujifilm's EXR managed to get inside detail and stuff outside despite the whole dim-train-sunlit exterior, so I'm impressed.  (These are all scaled, but otherwise straight from the camera, JPEGs.  The F550 knows how to  do raw but I haven't attempted to ask it yet.)
Zoom test; the cattle (or possibly swine) car in the background in the shot above.  Also an auto-focus test, and yay!, it will ignore foreground objects when asked nicely.

Current forecast suggests Sunday might be sunny and lack 60 km/hr wind gusts, so perhaps I shall get out again and try chipping away at the noodly.

16 April 2011

Mechanistic endevours

In no particular order:

  • the Brafasco at 31 Parliament, so far downtown that it isn't really downtown anymore (it was, once, but then downtown drifted west in the late 19th) carries copper anti-seize in a small, portable tube-of-paste format suitable for sticking in the rack bag with the rest of the implementia.
  • if you need bike fasteners, particularly metric sizes of socket head cap screws, you need to know you will require them about a week before you need them; nobody seems to carry them, but everybody can order them. (Which means knowing exactly what I want, in order terms, rather than being able to say "one like this" and hand it to somebody, getting it back with many of its fellows.)
  • Yay! torque wrench! (it's important to have an indication of "stop tightening" that comes before "when the wrench slipped, there were sparks".)
  • copper anti-seize gets everywhere, clings to everything, and is remarkably difficult to get off a smooth surface.  (It isn't coming off a porous surface whatsoever.)
  • following the instructions to upgrade the firmware can still brick your GPS device.
  • I need, someday,  a much taller repair stand.
  • Aoife is deeply paranoid that I am going to pet her head while my fingers are greasy.
  • one can pervert automobile electrical connectors to connect the dynamo hub to the tail light.
  • someone, somewhere, has to make hand de-greaser in a small, convenient size, but I haven't found out who just yet.
  • it is looking distressfully like there isn't any way to get the Arkel bar-bag mounts to play really nice with the cross top levers on this size of handlebar.  So once wee front platform rack gets here, I am going to need a different front bag.
  • Zingerella has the Bike Snob book, which means I have now read the definitions for the various types of cyclist to which the Snob regularly refers.  I am apparently almost a retro-grouch.
  • the Experiment looks really strange with no rear rack mounted.
  • having the Experiment in a condition where it's not immediately ready to ride makes me twitchy.

13 April 2011

If there had to be a ping noise...

Didn't get lost, even with route finding in the dark; 42 km at a rolling average speed of just under 5 m/s (4.97) which wasn't too bad and can be attributed to my noodle-like legs and the route finding in the dark.

The ping noise was both main bolts -- the ones into the rear dropouts -- of the rear rack coming lose, no doubt encouraged by a ferocious pothole or two at the southern end of Royal York Boulevard and a possible excess of anti-seize compound.  The lightly loaded rack then settled onto the fender, the brake, and the rear derailleur, which seems (surprisingly, at least to me) to have avoided causing damage.

Zingerella's TPB had the under-the-down-tube bottle cage bolts in place, though no bottle cage; these were long enough that shifting into the smallest two cogs would have been ill-advised, but my noodly legs already considered that ill-advised, so it wasn't a problem to have the rack back on that way for the rest of the trip.  In future I will remember I can sacrifice a bottle cage if I have to, though I'm also going to get some spare bolts and use the bottle cage braze-ons the Experiment has in the same place to carry them.

The rear rack has a lot of spring, being, if left to its own devices, rather wider than the rear dropouts. So I think I need some bolts with flat heads that I can thread through from the inside and some nuts and lockwashers for the outside, and this will tend to stay on better.  (Also, the rear light needs better mechanisms of electrical connection.  Now that the rack is off the bike, taking it somewhere to find out what little slide-on connectors fit will be simpler.)

The Experiment does not like making U-turns on bike paths.  On the other hand, it has a degree of directional stability that feels vaguely supernatural and continues to be inexplicably easy to pedal.

10 April 2011


Every now and again I manage to sneak up on Aoife quietly enough that she's not completely unpacked from whatever cute pose she was sleeping in by the time I take the picture.
It would have been better with the chin on pile of paws, tail over nose, pose, but I'll take what I can get.

Bicycle trivia of the day

The Town Bike, with racks and fenders but without any actual bags on the racks: 16.65 kg
The Experiment, with racks and fenders but without any actual bags on the racks: 15.88 kg

The Town Bike has less frame and what frame it does have is aluminium.  It also has smaller handlebars and an aluminium front rack, versus stainless on the Experiment.  I would have thought the wheels on the Experiment would be heavier, as well.  (front dynamo, 40 hole tandem touring hub in the rear.)  I can't see the drive train (3 vs 2 chainrings, newer and nicer, on the experiment) making up all of the difference but something is.

Can't say as I think it's a bad result....

03 April 2011

Escaping Profligacy

One of the things that has been bothering me, in a ghosts-of-Scottish-ancestors sort of way, is that going out and getting the Experiment was expensive. So I've been somewhat grimly expecting to be paying the usual 10x for 10% worth of improvement at the top of a utility curve, at which point I would have to admit to myself that I was being Profligate. (Profligacy is not, precisely, a sin, but one couldn't possibly defend making a habit of it.)

Then March[1] elected to be full of snow, sleet, and similar gloptastic behaviors, and I managed to sprain my right ankle and tear my right calf muscle in a completely un-bicycle related way, so there was this decided pause between getting the Experiment and actually being able to go for a ride.

I got to end the pause this weekend; a 13.7 km loop to the LBS for a bell (the good councilors of the City of Toronto have seen fit to make not having a bell on your bike a ticket-able offence, and it's a substantial ticket) on Saturday and a 37 km loop down to Tommy Thompson to look for the adult male King Eider currently reported as recovering from being very, very lost in Cell 3 on Sunday.

So I knew the Experiment fit; that was obvious from the ride-round-the-parking-lot part of picking it up. That was, after all, pretty much the point; not having to worry about heel strikes on the panniers, and hopefully getting less fatigue out of the whole position-on-the-bike thing.

What I didn't know is that it would be easier to pedal; SRAM Apex is about one notch better as a drive train than the Shimano Tiagra on the town bike, but that shouldn't be worth 3 or 4 kph. (Probably more; I went floating through 30 kph on the flat during the early part of the Sunday AM ride, and I'm in no kind of shape. That would have been a distinct struggle on the town bike.) The Apex gearing, by the by, seems highly suitable to my riding style; I hope I still think that after another month or two, but for now it seems like a good decision.

I also didn't know I'd go 15 km without feeling like there was any need to change hand positions; some of that has to be the notably gooshy bar tape, but wow. That's a huge change from any previous bicycle I've had.

So, perhaps I haven't been profligate; this is seeming like a qualitative, rather than a quantitative, improvement.

I did see the King Eider, and a bunch of other ducks.  I ran into a surprising number of birders from the TOC in the process, too.

 I also discovered that the fairly light carbon tripod I use for the scope has undergone a certain degree of de-lamination in the centre column. This is probably due to pushing its load rating a bit with a large gimbal head and hefty scope, but it ought to have been well within the load rating. I'm not delighted about the tripod, but it does make me feel a lot less like an irrational twitchy person about going with a steel fork for the Experiment.  (I'm also pretty darn pleased I didn't make this discovery due to the scope, gimbal and all, falling off.)

And, hey, finally got in some actual bike riding.

Don't seem to be getting any complaints from the unhappy ankle, either.

[1] tonight's forecast, very likely true from looking out the window, is for between 10 and 20 mm of rain or wet snow or it can't quite make up its mind, followed by 5 to 10 mm of rain on Monday. [2] Sunday morning was lovely, though.

[2] various persons with basements aren't going to like this. it's possible various subway stations aren't going to like this.