Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Big Picture


Hand's down, the best post on one of the best photo-blogs ever. Check it out. RSS it. Follow it. You'll be impressed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

flickr and self promotion

Since time has been tight in recent weeks (funny how a baby will do that to you), I've had little times for photography (or biking for that matter, but that's fodder for another post). Lately, in an attempt to quench my creative desire, I've been going back through the thousands of photos in my archive and trying to find the few gems that may lie hidden among the crap.

So far, I've found a random shot...

or two...

(maybe three)...

...that I don't mind much. Hopefully there will be more.

In addition to going back through the old photos, I've decided to start joining various flickr groups (for which I have appropriate photos) and adding my images to the photo pools. I figure, as much as I like having my 15 or 20 friends and contacts see my work, I'm not doing a very good job of expanding my audience. At this point, I have ~215 shots in various groups, and ~392 not. Time to find appropriate homes for them, while adding more to the inventory.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The new, new steed

With the demise of my last "new steed", I'd been on the lookout for a new bike to fixie-up as a one-geared-wonder road machine. A couple of weeks back, a candidate presented itself to me for consideration. A guy who sells old-ass bikes both on Craigslist and at a couple of local flea markets advertised a "ridiculously large" (~67cm), circa 1980 Schwinn Traveler road bike.

I told him that being ridiculously large myself (~195cm), this sounded right up my alley. I met him at one of his usual haunts and gave the bike a test spin. It rode quite smoothly. There were a number of oddly-colored painted touch-ups on the frame, but it seemed solid (hopefully). I managed to talk him down from his asking price by telling him he could have pretty much everything off of it, aside from the frame, fork and cranks. Less crap for the crap pile in my basement, and more crap for him
to fix up other long-in-the-tooth rides in his inventory.

I hauled her home, stripped off the remaining useless bits, cobbled together enough useful bits from fixies past and rebuilt her:

My initial test ride was last weekend. My kid had a lacrosse game ~8 miles away, practically on the local bike path. It was an agonizingly windy ride out (but the ride back was a breeze!). A few times, I literally had to stand up and pedal on a flat section of path cuz the headwind was so brutal. While the gearing on this build was the same as on my Sekai (42x15, 170mm crank), it seemed much more difficult. During the wind-tunnel portion of the ride, I decided that when I got home, I'd re-tool the Schwinn and make it 40x15 (since I happened to have a 180mm crank set w/ 40t ring lying around the crap pile).

My initial test ride with the new and improved 40x15 gearing was today. This time, the kid had lacrosse tryouts (for a different league) out in Leesburg, at a location again easily accessed by the local bike path. Being generally outta shape and on a test-ride, I decided to drive about half way out and ride the rest of the way (~7mi each way). The gearing was noticeably more spinny, but seemed more comfortable for my a fore mentioned outta-shape azz. (The lack of wind didn't hurt matters either.) Sadly, while I had no trouble finding the town of Leesburg in general, finding the specific school at which tryouts were being held proved more challenging. After tooling around the streets of old-town Leesburg for a couple of miles, I decided to throw in the towel and head home. Test-ride mission accomplished, meet-up-with-the-kid mission a total failure. Upon closer inspection (once arriving home), there apparently are not enough streets named "Catoctin Circle" in this world, as Leesburg decided it needed two. The correct one about a mile further out than the other (incorrect) one. SE? SW? Really, what are you...DC? You need NWs and SEs?? No, I didn't think so.

After the ride, I was hungry and looking for something different. Decided it was time to give Phở a try. Used the phone and Google Maps to find a local Phở joint and told them I was a total phở noob. They suggested the "starter phở", which included eye of round, flank and chicken (I think), but thankfully left out the fatty brisket, tendons and tripe. Downed about half of the as-big-as-my-head sized bowl before I noticed the bottle of hot sauce (rooster sauce?) on the table. After sampling trace amounts and deciding it was OK, I added a significant number of dashes to my soup which took it from "Eh, it's pretty tasty" to "Holy crap, this is good!!". This might be my new favorite post-winter-ride meal. The rooster sauce gives you the sweats in places you never even imagined you had sweat glands.

"Good lord...are my fingernails sweating?!".

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


A couple of Sundays back, I had the opportunity to explore some new trails. My oldest kid had an all-day lacrosse clinic at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. I took the opportunity to scope out some local trails.

After dropping the kid off at W&M, I had a few hours to myself. Area trail reviews tended to favor the Marl Ravine Trail at York River State Park, so that's where I headed. After finding the park and asking a local rider where the trailhead was, I suited up in cool weather gear, mounted the (still-fixed) Monkey and pedaled off into the unknown.

The trail was fast, fun and a hell of a workout (particularly for my non-ridin'-ass). The terrain was what you would expect if Fountainhead and Rosaryville got together, got bizzy and made a baby trail. Flowy, but not as flowy as R'ville. Lotsa quick up and down hills, but not as grueling as F'head. Total distance is anywhere from 6 to 7 to 9 to 14 miles, depending on who you believe. The trailhead says 5.8, I think, but the paper map available at the park entrance seems to say 9.1. I've ridden my local ~7 mile loop fixed a few times, and the Marl Ravine *definitely* felt longer. Probably didn't help that there was a ~1.5 mile ride from parking lot to trailhead. I definitely felt that at the end of the loop. I also took the opportunity mid-ride to take a break in the woods and just soak up the total silence. A rare item you don't find at many local trail systems.

I had planned on posting a GPS track of the trail. I meant to pack the GPS in the backpack, but managed to leave it safe and sound in the truck instead. So no waypoints for you.

Props to the Eastern Virginia Mountainbike Association for building and maintaining the trail system there. Apparently, they had been out cutting new trail as recently as the day before my ride. Well done! One request, tho: When you get to the one and only intersection with the vague marking "Raccoon Run --->" and "<--- Bluejay Jump", how about an idea what one is getting one's self into. I was actually looking for the longer route and decided on the "Raccoon Run" option, since it seemed to be more in-line with the trail and flowed more naturally than the other. But I have no idea if that was better/worse/shorter/longer than the other cleverly named path.

The entire endeavor took just about two hours (including gearing up before and gearing back into street-clothes after). Afterward, with time running tight, I tried finding a local pub for a beer and burger, but came up empty. I sadly had to settle for an Appleby's (Applebees? Whatever.) for a mediocre brew and uninteresting burger. Following that, I picked up the kid and took off north-bound on the leisurely three-hour drive traffic.