Saturday, November 28, 2009

On the Association between Riding and Cooking!

Another gorgeous day in DFW. The weather was just perfect. It was a bit windy but I will take that gladly. The skies were azure and if only I knew how to translate some of those sounds I make when I am immensely enjoying a fine thing such as today's weather, I would put'em down here :)

The children were running around the backyard, barking at passersby. The birds were chirping. I could not have asked for a better day.

I went for a short ride to REI Dallas to check out their new bikes. REI was NOT crowded today. I was told that they started their seasonal sale last week and hence the crowds were somewhat equally distributed across the days and hence there were no big peaks of customers to tackle. They were playing Christmas music at REI. I guess the joyous season is here. It is time to be merry and jolly and share our happiness with others. I love it.

At REI, I saw this nice commuter bike with Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub and a Shimano Generator hub (front), front and rear lights, rear pannier rack, mudguards/fenders, disc brakes, etc. The whole works!
The bike is called Novara Fusion and is pictured below:

I did not test ride this bike. But I was quite impressed that the bike came with the basic things essential for a commuting and for a reasonable price. Having added many of these essentials to my bikes, one piece at a time, I can definitely appreciate a bike that came with it all, at least the basics, until you can upgrade to whatever your heart desired. The front light seemed pretty good. The rear light was not powered by the generator, for some unknown reason, but was powered by batteries. The taillight was controlled by a sensor. While there are some negative reviews of this bike based on its performance in winter, I was still impressed that REI could put together a reasonable commuter bike at a reasonable price point.

This bike prompted me to daydream about my ultimate bike setup. One of the things I would like to have some day is a front wheel with a hub dynamo. I understand there are two popular choices: 1) Shimano Hub Dynamo and 2) Schmidt Hub Dynamo. I have read some reviews about both of these and I think I will get the Schmidt dynamo hub, if I get one. Lots of reviewers say it has less drag. I think the Schmidt is a bit more than the Shimano dynamo hub.

Christmas lighting, Texas style?


By now, I hope at least some of you are wondering, why this post is entitled "On the Association between Riding and Cooking". There is definitely a reason for it and I have attempted to explain it below.

I have observed that riding puts me in good mood, even if I am sore. The fresh air, hours of not sitting in front of a computer and programming, the burning of the calories and the whole concept of "out with the bad and in with the good", etc., put me in a fantastic mood.

After riding for a while, I am usually dying to satisfy my stomach's curiosities. Please note that the brain's curiosities were satisfied first :)

So, when I come back, on many days, I have noticed that I cook. While it may not be a cause and effect relationship, as some Statisticians might argue, nevertheless, I have a feeling that there might be a itsy bitsy degree of association between the two.

Even if there isn't one between my going out to ride my bike for a long time and me cooking a nice meal, there seems to be a strong correlation between, shall we say, my disappearance for a long time on the bike and a really sumptuous meal on the table when I return?

Well, today was one such a day :)

Pictured below are Caramelized Plantains cooked in coconut oil and spiced with Jerk Spice. Thanks to my lovely wife!

Pictured next is a great mouth-watering bowl of Trinidadian Vegetarian Callalou*. Again, thanks to my beloved wife!

Pictured lastly is my version of South Indian Egg Curry! This dish, the way I prepare it, is not meant for the faint at heart!! Please note that the green chillies are garnish and not be consumed (unless you are a daredevil!).

So, my dear reader, what types of events in your life, in your opinion, are highly associated with your riding?

Peace :)

* My wife's recipe is slightly different!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Ride with a Purpose of Nothing, Nada, Zilch!

I am still digesting the food from Thanksgiving. This whole process has made me slower than molasses on a cold day! Apparently, this affects my thinking process too :)

Today, I said I will just take a good little ride on the bike, see what's new on the trail and off I went to ride the Campion. We had great weather today. The skies were blue and the high was around 72 or so. It was just a beautiful day!

The usual suspects were sitting on the many branches in the water. I go to this trail so many times, I wonder if these guys are used to me by now. Some of them just laze around with no worries whatsoever, it seems.

There were lots of people on the trail although not many bicyclists. I think I saw a total of may be 5. I was very surprised that I didn't find a lot of bicyclists on the trail. May be them all went to the BF Ride. I couldn't go as I had made other plans. I bet that ride was a lot of fun.

The parking lots on the Campion seemed busy. Lots of pedestrians and roller skaters today. While I wish they wouldn't ride with the headphone on, I was still glad to see so many people being active and enjoying the outdoors.

One thing I did NOT enjoy was the sound of hundreds if not thousands of gunshots. I think there is a shooting  range adjacent to the Campion around California crossing. I felt sorry for the birds and for myself. Now, if this trail is a Nature Trail, and they proudly claim there is a bird watching area on it, why the heck would you want a shooting range in close proximity? I wonder how one can go about getting people's support for something like this. Don't get me wrong, I don't care if people want to hone their shooting skills. I just wish it was a bit farther from the biggest Nature Trail in town, where lots of beautiful birds congregate.

Please check out the video below. It will give you an idea of the sound of the gunshots I just talking about.


I found one of my buddies fishing by the Trinity. These guys are amazing at catching fish. I love watching them pluck that unsuspecting fish with such ease and elegance. I guess he is having the COD for dinner :)

I found the lawnmower tracks intersting. It looked as though someone had laid a plush carpet there and vacuumed it as well.

And then the lone bird in the sky caught my eye. I tried to photograph it, while it was in motion, to the best of my efforts using my little Digital Camera. It turned out to be not too bad! There were hundreds of birds out and about today. I guess everybody wanted to enjoy the nice weather today.
 
I like to call the picture below, "Fruits of Mother Nature's Labor". Those berries look so beautiful. They look like some kind of cherry red grapes, don't they? I the vine had thorns on it and so I had to be very cautious when taking this close-up shot.

So, my dear readers...
  • What did you do today? 
  • How was the weather in your neck of the woods? 
  • Did you get a chance to ride your bike today?
Whatever you did today, I hope you had a marvelous day!

Peace :)

Gikma does a green delivery!

Gikma has gone different places, gone fetching food for the children, all that good stuff. But never had she gone selling/delivering stuff. But, we can't say that anymore!

Gikma did a delivery of some very special soaps to JavaMeUp in Irving.

There she is! Proudly carrying our products on her back. The troubles that she would go through so we can be happy :)

I am not sure if I mentioned that we make handcrafted wholesome soaps at home.

Below are a couple of example of the kind of soaps we make.

Pictured below is our Topaz/Citrine Gem Chunk, the birthstone soap for November.


Pictured below, next, is our Chocolate Mint soap bar! Looks good enough to eat, doesn't it? Believe me, it is not for eating, but sure does make a great soap bar for your after ride ablutions!

So, there we go! Hopefully, I have made you curious about our soaps by now! Please do visit our soap blog and let us know how we can serve you!

Peace :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another Short Ride to Grapevine!

My friend Shoaib and I were planning to ride to Lewisville Lake on Saturday (Nov. 21, 2009) but due to technical difficulties Shoaib had to ride his MTN Bike with slicks on it. Hence, we did not venture further than Grapevine, but this time we took a different route. It was a short 30 odd mile ride. Short and sweet, though one stretch of it seemed treacherous! Not much shoulder on this stretch of the road (see pic below)!

 The Gaylord Texan from across the Grapevine Lake. I called to see if they had any openings for the Thanksgiving Brunch. Alas, they did not :(

Apparently the dam on the Grapevine Lake is managed by the army core of engineers.

This tree reminded me of my experimentation with my coiffure :)

I wonder if this is what they call the dam? Anyhow, it looked so nice from up above, I decided to photograph it anyways!

There was one area along the lake where they had some nice shelters, BBQ pits, and a pavillion. It cost $1/bicycle (more for motorized vehicles) to enter this area. We rode around the place just to check it out. Nothing too exciting except a MTN bike trail that was in this area. We didn't check out this trail although parts of it looked like doable from afar.

What is a bike ride without a feast to celebrate it? We stopped at Fat Daddy's in Coppell to check out their sumptuous burgers. They are really good burgers. Can you keep a secret? I only tried the Garden Burger but my buddy tells me their burgers are awesome. The manager of this restaurant is a MTN biker. Well, we should all go there just for that, don't ya think?
 
The ambiance at Fat Daddy's ain't bad for a burger joint. They have free icecream for dessert for all customers. On Wednesdays, they have $0.99 kids menu (Disclaimer: Please check with the restaurant before you venture out, just in case the policies change).


Proudly presenting to you, my fabulous lunch at Fat Daddy's. Their fries and fixings like Chipotle Mayonaise  are awesome!

I am still planning to ride to Lake Lewisville over the long weekend, if time permits. Time is kinda tough to come by right as I am admist a lotta projects! We shall see :)

Peace :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Salute to a genius!

Not related to bicycling, directly, but this technology is so phenomenal, it could be used for so many things, including cycling!




Sunday, November 15, 2009

Grapevine, Here we come!

On Saturday, I rode to Grapevine, Texas with my friend Shoaib. It was a great day to ride. We rode a total of 43 miles from my home in Irving to Grapevine and back. We rode some trails in Grapevine, near the Grapevine lake and I saw less concrete jungles and that was a great feeling.

I saw richer foliage and different colors along the way. This made my day. I love Fall. It is so nice to see leaves change colors. Here is a tree with rich colors!

On the way to Grapevine, there were little man-made lakes, such as this one, which were surrounded by nice vegetation.

We came across this Dodge truck, which had no windshield. It was a unique looking truck and I thought it deserved a picture. Which year I wonder!

The batteries of this ole truck were outside the truck. I haven't seen such trucks in a long time. I have seen lorries in India which had their batteries outside of them.

This truck hauled this interesting looking boat. I guess the boat was okay. It didn't look broken down or anything. I saw tons of trucks hauling big boats to the lake around here. Not very surprising, I presume!

Pictured is Shoaib's back. He is a strong rider! Up ahead of him, you can see the Gaylord Texan. That's a massive place. Shoaib tells me they have a great brunch on the weekends. Gotta check it out!

There are some cool camping sites near the Grapevine lake. The folks working at the campsite were awfully nice to let  us ride the campgrounds and check it out for ourselves. I am mighty tempted to check out this place on my first S240.

Here is a first look at a portion of the lake. The building pictured below is a lodge that one can rent for weekends and such. It had a great deck on it. I would love to rent this place for a weekend. I wonder how much it would cost...:)

Here is a scenic view of the Grapevine Lake. Lots of sailboats and motorized boats in this lake. I wonder if it is busy all year.

From this point on, we rode the several trails that are near the Grapevine Lake. I was pleasantly surprised by the nice networking of both the paved and Mountain bike trails in Grapevine. Great job, City of Grapevine!

Being a touristy town, downtown Grapevine was buzzing with tourists and holiday decorations. Along Main Street, there were bunches of little shops that sold different things like Cowboy Hats, Jewellery, Women's clothing, etc. Grapevine had the charm of a small town. I even saw a Polar Bear and some Penguins. They got'em all here in Texas, don't they?

Grapevine boasts really nice Christmas decorations! Here is a sample. I think this town would look great in the evenings when all the lights are lit up.

All that riding made us hungry and we chose to get a bite to eat at the Main Street Bread Baking Co. in Grapevine. This place had some good breads, pastries, decent coffee and great music (Arabic, French and Spanish)! It was a great Boulangerie and I would definitely recommend it!! I am so reminded of Return of The Pink Panther (with Peter Sellers) and Dr. Evil, every time I use the word Boulangerie.

Here is the scene from The Revenge of The Pink Panther.


And, here is Dr. Evil's great speech :)


After doing some serious researching of the menu, being a vegetarian, I chose the only Vegetarian sandwich available at this place. I am not complaining! There were breads, bagels, and pastries that I could have eaten, instead of a sandwich, but I was craving something other than just bread. Below is the menu:

This is the Open Face Veggie Sandwich I ordered. It was worth every penny! They layered this sucker with grilled Mushrooms, Zucchini, Eggplant, Red Bellpepper and topped it all off with some Gooda :) The sandwich came with a side of Kettle Cooked Potato Chips and a delicious wedge of a Pickle!

I found this map near the restroom at the eatery. I am really not sure what it is as much of it was written in French, which I can not understand after lunch :) But, the map was pretty and I decided it deserved a picture. May be one of my knowledgeable readers will be kind enough to enlighten me about this map!

Did you know the history of Grapevie? I did not know anything about it when I went there. Here is some fine reading for y'alls who are interested in this charming Texas town's history.

Image above courtesy of Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau.

After lunch, we rode back to Irving through Coppell. We rode around Coppell's bike trails a bit. Coppell also has a decent set of trails. Traffic in Coppel is still messy, if you ask me.

I thoroughly enjoyed riding to Grapevine. I would love to ride there again.

Peace :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Custom Taillight Holder (Design II)

Late in August 2009, I wrote about a custom taillight holder that I had co-invented with a buddy of mine. I was using it up until recently. Sadly, it bit the dust during the Babble Ride.

While I can mount my Dinotte 140R-AA on the seat post, that setup is only good as long as I do not carry my rear trunk, which I plan to use tomorrow.

Ta-da...time to create a new Custom Taillight Holder! I tried creating one tonight and that's what this post is all about :)

Below is what I am trying to replace.

Here is the current state of the functional one above :(



I have attempted to document how I created my Custom Taillight Holder below.


Step 1: I needed the right El Cheapo tube for mounting the light on. I chose an old metallic broom handle.

Step 2: I cut the tube down to the length you desire. I think it is a good idea to keep the tube short! I used a traditional hacksaw to cut the tube down to the desired length.
 
Step 3: It may be a good idea to file off the rough edges caused by the hacksaw. I need to :) For doing this you can use a traditional file or be lazy and use a grinder like I did!



Step 4:  Measured how far apart the two holes on the Tubus rack were. I need to mount the metal tube to the rear rack.

Step 5: Drilled two holes in the tube so it can be fastened to the rear rack. 

Here is the almost-finished product!
 

Step 6: Measure the darn holes in the rack before buying fasteners using a guesstimated diameter!


Luckily, I had some spare bolts at home (not Zinc coated) which I used for fastening the Custom Taillight Holder to the rear rack. I will be (most likely) replacing these with Zinc coated fasteners soon!
Step 7: Wrapped the ends of the Custom Taillight Holder with Green Duct Tape. That's how Green I am :)

 Step 8: Fastened the Custom Taillight Holder to the Tubus Logo Rear Carrier.

And, here is the finished Custom Taillight Holder!

In the picture above the looks cocked to one side but I fixed it after looking at this picture!

Lessons learned:
  1. Be precise like an engineer (SteveA, can probably give me some coaching in this area!) :)
  2. Measure everything at least twice before going out and buying stuff based on "measurements" and guesstimates.
  3. Aluminum tubes are not super strong but they do work.
  4. Old mop/broom handles play a very important role in creation of new devices*. 
Good help makes things so much easier!

*When I taught  my daughter how to ride her bike sans training wheels, I found it very difficult on me to have to bend down to hold on to her bike so she didn't fall. I thought very hard about the problem at hand and ...... I came up with a silly but workable idea. I shoved a mop handle under the saddle all the way down, along the down tube, of my daughter's little bike, when teaching her to ride it without training wheels. It worked great and I did not have to bend down to hold the back of the saddle to prevent her from falling.  


Peace :)