I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!
The house up close.
Of course, there has been family, there have been gifts, and there are miles that have been driven. We are back home safe and sound, though, our first Christmas living in our house (we closed last year on December 19th and spent agood part of Christmas Eve repainting the insides of the closets before we moved in), and that's a wonderful gift right there.
I just left this comment on the Orton Foundation's Facebook page after they linked to an article on "20-minute living." It got me thinking about all of the people in Vermont who build a "green" house on a 5 acre lot and then drive many miles to and from it to conduct all of the business of their daily lives. Am I being too harsh here?
"A lot of people in places like Vermont are going to have to change ther idea of what affluence means in terms of housing choice. The paradigm right now remains "get enough money, move as far away and as deep into the countryside as you can, and use subsidized cheap gasoline and single-occupancy vehicle trips to do it" Until we start calling that what it is (rural sprawl) we will continue to be oil-dependent and we will continue to consume natural resources at an unsustainable rate. I don't care how well insulated your house is or if you have solar panels. If you live in the country and live a distance from work that can only be driven, you are contributing to rural sprawl."
here and about my own experiences with brake chatter on the front wheel of my Scattante commuter and how using a solution recommended by Nippleworks had worked out for me. Lennard Zinn (of Zinn and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance fame) has a post up today over at Velonews that lays the whole problem and its various solutions out very neatly. Nippleworks noted that Zinn's diagram looked much like their own- I'm sure Mr. Zinn saw their diagram because I emailed him about it a month ago when his Tech column mentioned that he was planning on writing about fork chatter.
It is interesting that both manufacturers he spoke with (Van Dessel and Ridley) cited increased stiffness in their cross forks (via a 1.5 inch steerer diameter instead of a 1.125) as the primary way they were working to solve the problem.
The best solution, in my mind, would be for the UCI to go ahead and (gasp) allow disk brakes in cross competition. My interest as a person who uses a cross bike for commuting and not for racing, is that I'd love to see a higher-end cross bike spec'ed with modern brakes (or at least the studs that allow their use) that are not dependent on what's going on at the rim to do their job.
Finally, the material I wrote before includes two significant mistaken assumptions. First, I talked about using Kool-Stop Salmon pads, but I have since heard that while they are a great product, they are a very grippy pad, which would make the problem worse. Second, I supposed that using a lower-profile cantilever brake might help. However, shorter brake arms would mean increased mechanical advantage as the fork flexes backward, pushing the pads ever harder against the rim. I'll keep my wide-profile Tektro, I guess.
I'm in on the Google Wave beta. It's an interesting application and it has a lot of potential, but it isn't much fun without people to collaborate with. I also have a bunch of invitations available. Anybody who would like one is free to drop an email address in the comments below or send me a message via this blog or Facebook or what have you.
It's been a while.
Long enough that the seasons themselves have changed. Although we had a long dry fall, with really excellent weather through all of November, snow has finally come to the Champlain Valley and winter feels as if it is finally upon us. The blue and yellow fixie is on a hook for the time being and commuting duties have fallen to my studded and fender-ed single-speed mountain bike. It is such an utter tank compared to the Trek, and spinning away from a stop feels as if I am engaging a giant flywheel. It gets the job done, though. Plus, with a beater bike, I'm not afraid to things like riding the last half mile home on a totally flat tire instead of stopping to fix it. It didn't thrash the tire or tube, and the rim that I built a couple of years ago was as true as ever when I got home. The addition of Christmas shoppers divining on unfamiliar streets and a small amount of ice has made things a little more interesting in the last week or so, but i really hope to ride a little bit every month of the winter, and every day I can until at least the new year.
I have been able to extend my riding season further in time than last year. I attribute a fair amount of that to the fact that Kate and I are not in the middle of buying a house as we were at this time last year. Our daily commutes are more regular and established and the need for us both to be immediately available to one another right after work is nil. Also, I'm much better set up in my basement shop now to handle the occasional repair or even to easily swap out bikes as conditions change.
So no house buying to occupy our time, but something always comes in to fill the vacuum. Kate has been teaching a writing course through the local adult ed. program and I have signed on to be a ski instructor for the winter weekends.
It feels like a big leap to be making. I taught a season at Snowbowl out in Missoula back in the 05-06 season, but my last really intense season of instructing was in 1998-1999, at Sugarbush in one of their seasonal programs, generally referred to as Snow Blazers. And I'll be doing it again. I applied to work at Sugarbush back in early October and through a series of training sessions and meetings with people on the staff, I've been asked to join up with that program again. It's more than I could have hoped for. While I have no problem teaching individual lessons half a day at a time, 'Blazers is special because you work with mostly the same kids throughout the season, every single weekend from halfway through December until the end of March. That's a lot of days on snow and a long stretch of working two jobs seven days a week for me, but it will be worth it. I'm looking forward to finally pursuing my PSIA certification and upping my own skiing and teaching skills while getting outside and out on the mountain as much as possible.
For the winter, I've gone ahead and put Sugarbush's snow report RSS into my Google Reader. The report seems to come out at about 8:30 each morning and covers what's open, what's opening, how much snow has fallen, and any special events that might be coming up on the mountain or in the Mad River Valley in general. You can get the report as a podcast through iTunes as well, if that's your sort of thing.
December 7th, 2009: Ski & Ride Snow Report Audio Podcast
What else? I have a couple of home improvement projects to document, including landscaping around our newly-rotated shed, fixing our bathroom fan, and installing an enhanced compost and leaf-mold setup in our backyard, but those each deserve their own posts. I'll get some photos of those projects and the mountain as time allows, but it's going to be a busy winter.