Sunday, September 30, 2012

Harvest Moon I

I managed to get out and take a couple of photos of the Harvest Moon tonight. Here is Part I.

Peace :)

Long way from home?

Crepe Myrtle flowers are very common in many parts of North Texas that I have visited. Until tonight, little did I know about the origins of the plant. Wikipedia has some interesting information about the Crepe Myrtle.
In our garden, we are lucky enough to have about 10 different Crepe Myrtle trees. Some are not as big as the others, but we have some tall ones. The flowers are very pretty and they come in different colors. This particular one, pictured above, is a pink one, presented here in beautiful B&W.

Peace :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Product Review: Sea To Summit Stuff Sack

I carry my tools and bike repair essentials in a stuff sack in my bike bag. Prior to coming to Texas, I always wanted to have a waterproof bag to stash my goodies. So, back in 2008, I bought an Outdoor Research stuff sack from REI, for this very purpose.

About a year ago, my old stuff sack bit the dust. The coating inside the bag started coming off, getting all over my hands every time I reached in to get something out of it. This got boring in a heartbeat and eventually got myself in trouble at home, for making the floors dirty. Now, the situation escalated from dirty hands to one of creating extra work of cleaning the floors and I decided that I would get rid of the old bag and get myself a new one.

After doing some research, I decided to get a Sea To Summit stuff sack. I have another Sea To Summit stuff sack for my sleeping bag and that has help up pretty good so far. Sea To Summit stuff sacks are waterproof.
These stuff sacks come, obviously, in different sizes. I chose the 8 Liter version, as I like having a roomy bag. It compresses very well after all and the weight difference between a 8 Liter version and a smaller one is negligible.
Now, I have my tools that I carry on my bike, organized nicely into ziplock bags and no more messy black stuff all over the floors in our home.
When all the tools are put into the new stuff sack and it is closed-up, it looks like it does in the picture below. The contents/sack can be compressed further to fit into the typical under the seat wedge type bags.
I particularly enjoy the very nice closure system in the new bag and the fact that it doesn't have that rubberized coating like the old one did. Another thing I noticed is that the new bag does not have the same musky odor as the old one did, not just because it is new. I attribute it to the newer technology.

I don't expect to have any problems with this bag. I will post about it from time to time, if there is anything new worthwhile to share.

Have a Great Weekend!

Peace :)

Yucca

Since the temps have fallen a little bit, in my neck of the woods, I ventured into the backyard a bit, last weekend. I was happy to find the Yucca plant was thriving very well.
The sun was setting and I saw the little light that was left was making the Yucca flowers glow, very gently, yet very beautifully. I captured this shot in color, but processed it to give it an antique look.

Peace :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

ABC-CYS Quick Check?

Ever since I got a wheel with the dynamo hub built for the Americano, the stock wheel that came with the original build has been hanging in my shop. It has hanged there for quite a while, as I seldom ride the Americano without the dynamo wheel. It wouldn't make sense to ride it without the lighting. So, the spare wheel built on a Velocity Dyad has been resting.
All was well, until, 3 months ago, when I heard a strange voice coming from the front wheel. At first I thought the SON was acting out, but it wasn't the dynamo. I wouldn't expect any trouble from such a high quality piece of equipment like SON anyways. It was too dark to see anything clearly. So, I rolled the bike around a bit and the noise went away. Alas, I didn't bother to do a thorough investigation.

Two weeks ago, I decided I would the Americano on a Saturday morning ride. So, I got all excited about the prospect, aired-up the tires and got on it and BAM. The crazy noises started again. I thought the wheel was out of true, but that was only the secondary failure; I saw one spoke had popped out of the rim. I checked some more and there was more than one spoke in despair.
So, I took the dynamo wheel off and put the stock wheel on and carried the spare on the Americano, to REI Dallas.

When I got to the shop at REI, Jerry pointed out that there were a total of 5 spokes out of the rim. What was crazier was that there was some kind of nasty smelly liquid inside the wheel. I have a suspicion that the cats of the house are messing with my bicycles. Now, cats, if y'all are reading this post, please note: THIS AIN'T COOL :( 

Jerry was nice enough to accommodate my repair into his busy schedule. After I got done in the bike shop, I browsed a bit and then headed back home, with the dynamo wheel back on the bike.

So, I learned a new lesson. It is not just enough to do the ABC Quick Check, but it is important to do the ABC-CYS Quick Check; CYS = Check Your Spokes! Better yet, don't think anything for granted!

Happy Friday!

Peace :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Next book in line

The next book I will be reading is "Just Ride", by Grant Petersen of Rivendell Bicycles.
Back in the day, I read lots of fiction and non-fiction; books on a variety of topics; authors such as Ayn Rand, Richard Bach, Asimov, Tolstoy, Toffler, Heller, etc. Now a days, I can hardly read anything other than bicycling related material, for entertainment. I still read technical articles for work.

I am almost done with my the Sanders book.

I am eagerly looking forward to reading "Just Ride".

Peace :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Thing of Beauty

As John Keats said it best, when he said, "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever".
Need I say more?

Have a Great Weekend!

Peace :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Eye candy: Terra Ferma

I befriended Ron a few months ago. Ron and I have ridden once so far, mainly because of our fairly busy schedules.

Ron is a passionate cyclist, who has very fine taste in bicycles.

Below are some pictures of his Terra Ferma, steel racing bike. It is very light. Even I could lift it with just one hand. Not much commentary, in this post; just some pictures of a fine bicycle!
Campy and nicely color coordinated bicycle!
Really nice head badge!
Wild Hogs, I believe is my buddy's team in school!
These pictures were taken in a hurry. I will try to post some more in the future.

It is almost Friday, eh?

Peace :)

A Bromptonite gone Multi-modal!


In a post, a few months ago, I talked about my friend Michael McNair, who got hit by an automobile, while riding his bicycle to work from home, back in May. Michael was hospitalized for roughly three plus months. By God's grace, Michael survived the nasty accident, miraculously, and was discharged from the hospital late last month. Michael is still in therapy, but he is in one piece.

Below is a picture of McNair from the summer of 2010. McNair is the one with the goatee, whose wristwatch is visible in the photo. I am the fat guy with glasses. Just kid din' - it is just that big shirt that I am wearing that has made me look like a blimp :)
Anyhow, two weekends back, the McNair's had a open house to celebrate Michael's release from the hospital. I decided to go see my friend, whose return from the hospital I was eagerly waiting for. I was pretty pumped about going to see Michael. However, I didn't want to drive to go see him. I didn't want to ride all the way and back either, given how hot it was that day. Plus, I believe Michael's home is roughly 28 miles from where I live. I wanted a green-compromise. The solution I came up with was to take public transportation part of the way.

The first part of my trip was  to ride from my home to the Farmers Branch DART station, which is about 6.5 miles from my home. For the second part of my trip, I got on the Green Line to Fair Park station. I think it took about 30 minutes to get to Fair Park from Farmers Branch.
While I didn't venture out to check out any point of interest around the Fair Park station, I did notice there was the Women's Museum; a landmark I want to visit sometime.
Fair Park station was reasonably clean, compared to some other stations I have had the pleasure of visiting, elsewhere. However, on a toasty day, my recommendation would be take lots of ice-cold water with you, if you are riding the DART. The platform gets toasty and I had a difficult time finding a water fountain. Brahma didn't seem to mind though!
I have travelled on the DART train before. It doesn't matter how many times I ride the train, I never get tired of it. There is always something new to learn on the train; you can read a book, strike a conversation with an acquaintance, meet a new friend, so on and so forth. This time, I befriended a Dallas Police Officer, who is a Mountain Biker; who has not only ridden a bike in the States, but also in Germany, while he was in the Service overseas. It was a great conversation, given the wide range of topics we covered. Well, as you can imagine, many of the topics were around the Brompton and my helmet and how both of us had similar taste in bicycles and bicycle accessories.
The third and fourth parts of my commute were on DART buses #60 and #385. On weekends the frequency of DART buses is not great, but it is still better than not having that option.
I eventually got got to McNair's home a couple of hours, or so, after I left home. The trip wasn't too bad in terms of travel time, given this commute took place in Dallas. I have travelled similar distances in much shorter time, elsewhere.

Behold - the very lucky and great fella, Michael McNair! Needless to say, I am overjoyed!
There were quite a few nice bicycle memorabilia in McNair's home. I couldn't help taking a photo of this wine rack. Neat!
Hello Coco!
After a very nice visit, with my friend and his family, and other visitors from DORBA and Michael's work, I headed back to Irving. The first two parts of the return trip were on buses #385 and #60, respectively.

Here is me and Brahma, on #60, on the way back to Dallas.
Overall, it was a great trip to go see my friend. There was one glitch on the DART bus (see below in the Postscript), but it was a better way to travel, than driving my car to Garland and back, burning all that gas for just one person.

Peace :)

Postscript:

Disappointment with lack of common sense in some DART operators
On my return trip, the driver of bus #385 didn't say anything about me bringing my bicycle onboard. However, the driver of bus #60 told me that I couldn't bring my folding bicycle onboard. I told him that it is a folding bike, which can not be securely carried on the bike rack in the front of the DART bus. Unfortunately, he wouldn't budge, in spite of the very sparsely occupied bus. I finally offered to sit in the back of the bus, which seemed to pacify him. This is something I plan to take up with DART. This  disturbed me a great deal, because I saw strollers aboard; as well as people with luggage larger than my folded Brompton. I understand that a folding bike is not something one sees often, on DART buses, in Dallas, but give me a break. Does it take more than the brain power of a stone to figure out that, by the simple process of examining the size of a folded Brompton, that it should be allowed on board? Especially when there are hardly any passengers on the bus??

I am not quite sure that DART regulations specifically prohibit the bringing a folded bicycle onboard; especially, a Brompton, given how compactly a Brompton folds.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the regulations of MTA. They do allow folded bicycles on many buses; not on express buses, however.

I briefly read through the DART regulations regarding taking a bicycle onboard. I will have to do some more digging before I can make any definite conclusions.

How could you be Sleepless in Seattle?

Someone told me that the movie, Sleepless in Seattle, was shot in one of those buildings on the banks of this body of water. Alas, I forget the name of this place.
I am not sure if that is true, but I certainly enjoyed shooting this snap. Fog adds special flair to this photo, in my humble opinion.

But, tell me something: On a cold, rainy, foggy looking day, such as the one pictured above, how could one be Sleepless in Seattle? :)

Peace :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Old Student, New Tricks and Quack-Quack!

Last December, I went to Evansville, IN, to spend Christmas with family. It was a good ole time. The highlights of the trip included a visit to see some friends in New Harmony and to teach my niece how to ride her bike, safely.
My niece enjoyed the instructions and the challenge so much that she decided to come see me in Irving.  Actually, my niece's parents relocated to TX and they visited us over the Labor Day weekend. It was a lot of fun to get together with family and spend quality time with everybody.

One of the things my niece wanted to do, not surprisingly, was to ride a bike with me. She did not bring her own bike or helmet. So, I bought a new helmet for her and loaned her the Raleigh Twenty. I was hoping to leave home early on Sunday morning to ride, but as it turned out, by the time finished breakfast and left home to hit the trail, it was noon. So, we put on sun-protection and headed out.

It is amazing how easy it is to teach a youngster how to ride safely. It doesn't take a lot. But, it takes some common sense and knowledge of riding in traffic to teach it right. The fundamentals, in all walks of life, are very important.

We didn't have any specific distance goal in mind. We decided to ride as long as we wanted to. It turned out that my niece was quite the rider, for her age. She rode a good 6 miles in all, in spite of the heat. Good job, niece!
On the way back, we found some new duck friends hanging out on the trail. We had to stop and ask them to please make way. The "passing on your left" thing did not work! These ducks reminded me of Duck for President!
After we tried many different ways of announcing our approach, we decided we will walk our bikes very close to them to let them know we really needed their help! Finally, the three duck-a-teers made way for us and off we went pedaling towards home.
It is not everyday, these days, that I have the chance to work with a youngster, who is really interested in riding his/her bike. But, when the opportunity presents itself, I tend to jump at it, as often as I possibly can.

Where did my bicycling fundamentals come from?
My dad drove his bicycle in traffic everyday for many years. At least till I was 10 years old. He rode his British Raleigh Roadster, to the college where he worked, daily. I figure he must have rode roughly 10 kilometers, each way, five days a week. Below is a rough map of the city where my dad worked.

View Larger Map
My dad rode in his work clothes; in a nice suit - comparable to a tweed, possibly! My dad taught me how to ride a bike, not necessarily the vehicular cycling part, but the fundamentals of how to ride a bicycle and maintain a bicycle. Thank you, dad! I miss you.

I learned to ride on my dad's bicycle, which was much taller and heavier than me, at least when I first started learning. My first riding lesson was learning how to balance, which was achieved by leaning the bike correctly and adequately. To practice balancing, I would simply push on the left pedal with my left foot and then simply lift my right foot up off the ground and go until the bike came to a stop. I would repeat this process, until I got tired, almost everyday. Then, one fine day, I realized I could ride that bike by doing the monkey-pedal maneuver. i.e., you insert yourself, somehow into the diamond of the frame and pedal. I didn't get on the saddle and ride it like it was meant to be ridden, until a few of years later.

Final thought
I have had the fortune of teaching many a youngster and some adults how to ride a bike. I do not think I know enough words to express how joyous an experience that is.

Peace :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cold and grey day!

Photo from 2004; taken in Seattle, WA.
Cold and rainy day!
But, never a bad day for an appropriate outdoor activity of one's choosing.

Peace :)