27 June 2011


Just shy of 570 km and the molding bead down the centre has worn flush with the tyre surface.  It wasn't quite flush—is still not everywhere flush—with that surface at 500km.

I hope this may bode well for the expected lifetime of the tyre.  (Schwalbe Marathon Plus; they have a remarkable reputation, but Toronto has some rather nasty streets.  So I've been finding the reputation cheering.)

The angle, well, with the Experiment in the stand, the front wheel never hangs quite straight.  I could presumably haul out a plumb bob and alight everything so it did, but that would inevitably move the clamp away from its present pleasant "matches the seat post for hoisting purposes" position, and it doesn't seem worth it.

26 June 2011

A Win for Discretion

So instead of going birding or grabbing a camera, I went for a bike ride this morning. (I dread the probable consequences of trying to stick to my end-of-summer trip plans if I don't manage to get into much better shape first.)  The route, well, the route had some issues, especially around getting back from the Birchmont Ave end, but the rolling average stayed above 5m/s and I went a bit further (64, as distinct from the intended 60, km), so I need not be ashamed.
Also, Gerard and Harbord streets early on a Sunday morning, for decadent cosmopolitan "before 10 AM" values of early, are remarkably empty.  This is something to remember for next time.

Just before this picture was taken—I even had the camera out already, I was taking pictures of the fountain, but I didn't notice what was going on until it had more or less happened—the dog, I presume some sort of border collie, waded into the pond at Woodbine Park and attempted to ask a pair of trumpeter swans [1] if they would like to play.  The (presumed) cob swan adopted a particular head posture that I would expect went with a hiss, and whether due to some deeply buried bit of mammalian evolution that still puts in the "that noise? theropod!" association when brains get constructed, or some level of "hey, wait, I am up to my neck in water" discretion, the collie decided that it would be best if it got out of the pond and went back to its people Right Now.
It's not often you seen a collie have quite that much sense.

[1] Squee! in a park! in actual Toronto, not the waterfront urban-wilderness-fringe, even if it was a park just barely inside my idiosyncratic emotional borders for "actual Toronto".  And yes, completely sure; I have some pictures from much smaller distances, and the red bill lining shows in one of them, never mind the long, all black, wedge-shaped bill.

25 June 2011

OFO—Happy Valley

That's not too far off, colour-wise, when the clouds thinned a little and there was a softening of the morning rain.  (By afternoon it was a case of being a bright sky, occasionally intimating that it had not forgotten how to rain.  But for most of the morning it just plain rained, with varying degrees of haste and thoroughness.)  Happy Valley is billed as old-growth; it's not, it's not even particularly close to it, but they're trying, and going the right way.  In another three centuries it will, if undisturbed, start to resemble wildwood.  (Though to really do that they're going to need hundreds of contiguous square kilometers, enough for a stable population of apex predators on the big leaf-munching ungulates.  Given current Canadian demographic trends with regard to urbanization, such may yet come to pass.)

There were birds; surprisingly plentiful birds for the end of June, never mind "for the end of June in the rain".  Some of them—the scarlet tanager, the field sparrow, the indigo bunting—took on a quality in the scattered, refractive, fluid surrounding of diffuse light a seeming that in clear daylight only in bluebirds and great egrets have, the character of a creature that burns through from some other, more vivid reality, to shine in ours with a fey outline of presumptive solidity that reduce those things behind and around it to the drabber status of backdrop.

19 June 2011

A modest lapse in forethought and planning

I managed to lose a Tubus rack stay through the floor some time ago (rolled under the skirting board, and instead of a minor bit of ragged edge in the flooring and then solid subfloor, there was a hole. I'm still moderately appalled about that hole). So I ordered a replacement via MBS Tandems, who are the local-for-at-least-Ontario values of local Tubus dealer, and can make good on Tubus' policy of making every single part for every rack they sell individually available.
So I thought I should try to cycle up there when the part came in; it was supposed to be the Saturday after the Niagara trip, so it would be a good "keep going at least moderate distances" ride.  Then the Niagara trip didn't happen due to getting hit by a car, and then I didn't get on the bike again for two weeks due to lead times for rim replacement, wheel building, the inescapable interference of work, and necessary maintenance.  ("What is with this nigh-subliminal new-front-wheel wobble? not fender scrub, not the brakes, it's square in the dropouts, not... *ping* goes the front skewer when I elect to see if a bit of tightening will help.  Entirely the sort of thing that is infinitely better to discover on a repair stand than when riding, and I was highly reassured because when I rode the Experiment with rebuilt front wheel back from the LBS something hadn't sounded quite right, and now I had found it.  But there's a certain inescapable delay if one does not stock skewers in the parts kit, which I had not been.  I'm pretty sure the car was the last straw for the skewer; there was a little bit of kink and it didn't go where the nut was.  The SON28 hub continues working without complaint, so I am now officially impressed by their toughness and durability.)

Google said it was about 75km; I thought I about it and figured, that will hurt a bit, but I can do that, and Zingerella was willing to come along, so if I did wind up lying in a ditch somewhere in a state of collapse, there would be someone available to call 911.

Only it turned out to be about not quite 98 km due to routing issues (a combination of "never been there before", "Waterfront Trail signage requires arcane knowledge", and "bicycle relevant traffic stats are hard to come by; perhaps we should go another way, here?").  On what was, I must acknowledge, a really nice day; sunny, usefully (meaning "cooling" and "not actually a headwind") breezy, and relatively low traffic.  (Turns out I drink water at 60ml/km on a nice sunny day, something to keep in mind for the future.)

The Experiment leaning on a tree in Suncor Park, where I elected to stop for a bit and see if lying on the nice cool shady grass would induce my left leg to stop cramping.  (It eventually mostly did, though coming back happened at a much slower rate of advance that going to had done.)

It wasn't Niagara; the time/speed graph looks like seismograph output, courtesy of numerous stop signs, stop lights, and etc.  But it does reassure me that 100km days are doable, and as new-front-wheel tests go, it seems reasonably definitive.

I may need an under-helmet cap of some kind to keep the sun off; my scalp is feeling just a bit scorched this morning.  And the Specialized gloves aren't as sunblocky as I should best prefer, either, but everything else seems to work just fine.  (Though I am going to have to find a way to make something that's quick-energy food (the lead time on the pickup from the mixed nuts seems to be about an hour, which presents timing challenges) and remember to take some, next time I go for that kind of length.)  Zingerella (who has a touring weekend coming up well before I do) managed 16 additional km, what with starting rather distant from my domicile, and both she and the TPB held up better than I did.

15 June 2011

Live View

The zebra enclosure is such that taking pictures through the fence is kinda challenging; the traditional solution is to  hold the camera over the fence and use live view focusing on the rear LCD.  I am pleased to report that the K5 (unlike the K20D) seems to manage this pretty well.  Have to try attaching it to a telescope next.

And yes, it really is that green; lots of rain and several warm weeks have encouraged the vegetable kingdom.

12 June 2011

Wood ducklings

Momma Wood Duck and all nine ducklings weren't especially co-operative about being sufficiently concentrated that I could get them all in the frame, but it did sometimes happen.
The green is about right; the duckweed is lamentably shiny; I could have wished for a different sun angle, too, but oh well.

Wondering where the lions are

The lions—at least so far as I was able to notice—were not out at the Zoo.  It's possible that it's still a bit chilly for them, or they're still shedding winter coat and not looking the least bit regal, I don't know.  But the lion enclosure, as a sort of "for the love of wisdom, child, don't climb this fence" last-ditch (well, right before the ditch, and a substantial plummet is the ditch) anti-stupidity measure has what I take to be wild roses planted along the "this is a far as you go" rail fence behind the "really, stop here" rocks.  And whatever it is, it's blooming.

It's the sort of flower that makes me want a better monitor, but, all caveats concerning the plasticity of memory notwithstanding, this is rather true to life as I recall it, sun-dapple and all.

08 June 2011

Tradition in an age of marvels

The tradition being that one's first pictures with a new camera are of one's cat; the marvel is that this is a handheld 1/11 second exposure of a stealth cat on a white thing and next to a shiny thing.  At ISO 3200, because it was that seriously dim.

I am so very glad I'm not trying to do this with wet chemistry.

04 June 2011

Everybody's irises are blooming

One of a goodly patch I walked past yesterday.

03 June 2011

Gang Aft Agley

So the plan was to cycle around the Niagara Peninsula this weekend; take the GO train to Aldershot, and away off past Hamilton and into the Niagara Region, specific routing to be determined by actual prevailing winds on arrival.  (Clockwise or anti-clockwise, that is the question...)  B&B all booked, maps printed, everything packed, etc.

What I didn't plan on was getting hit by a car on the way down to the GO station.

I don't think it's a door prize when you get hit with the outside of the door; guy on delivery pulled out of a wee parking lot into me. Fortunately, this happened at a low speed, in part because I'd already slowed down because I thought the previous small movements of the car meant he was parking, rather than un-parking, and proceeded past on the supposition that he'd finished.  He acknowledged that he hadn't shoulder-checked before pulling out, I've got a photo of his driver's license, and I don't imagine I'll need it, since I have a slightly bruised right hand and a tiny bit of road rash below my right knee; too trivial to describe as damage.  (also a light jacket with a hole in it and a knee warmer, ditto.)

The Experiment, well:

That's a mechanic at the LBS checking the degree to which the front wheel is potato-chipped; enough that I need a new rim, is the short answer. ("It would never be the same", discussing an attempt to straighten.)  I had already rotated the right shifter back to vertical (it was rotated about 90 degrees to the right), popped the right hand side front fender stays back in, and field-expedient straightened the handlebars with respect to the front wheel.  And, pretty obviously, some new bar tape.  Based on the queue depth and the expected order time for the rim, probably Thursday before I get the Experiment back.

So no bike trip around Niagara; called due to lack of bike.

Plus side?
Well, being hit with a car could have been arbitrarily worse.  It was within ready walking distance of home, too.

Arkel XM-45 panniers hold a lot of stuff.  All the electronics survived, including the dynamo hub.  I was going to have to re-tape the handlebars anyway, to rotate the crosstop levers back up to a more ergonomic position after taking the Arkel bar-bag mounts off them.  The mechanic at the LBS was really happy to get his hands on R2C shifters.  Zingerella left the whole thing of breakfast bars here, on purpose.