Sunday, November 4, 2012

Once more but with feeling!

Early this summer I bought a 1x1 frame set off craigslist. Specifically I bought a Race Face crankset with a Surly 1x1 frame set attached to it. The plan being, upgrade the crankset on my 1x1, and sell the frame set for what I had into it back on cl.

oh the plans of mice and men.

I brought the parts home and commented on the nearly new condition and my loving wife says "I would like a 1x1 too." Which is the truth. She's always borrowing my bike. rides it everywhere. 

So with a heavy heart I said goodbye to the crankset and we started collecting parts.

I had a gordo rim built around a schimano hub, but not disc. It came with the Instigator, which I switched to disc last summer, but had just picked up a new wheel for. SOOO, this dust collecting double walled beast of a rim made the cut for a new bike. So I tore that apart and rebuilt it around an sram x9 cassette hub. I built a second gordo rim onto a shimano disc hub with a three leading three trailing spoke pattern.

We went with bb7 brakes, partly because I am familiar with them and partly because the older 1x1 frames don't have brazons that play nice with hydraulic brakes. Mostly the familiar bit. I didn't think of the compatibility bit until I was actually running the cables. My fear of change seems to have saved me headache for a change. I called it a win.

Geared at about 2.15x1 the bike is a little high for riding single track in Lebanon Hills, but great for ambling around the city. No stalling on those crappy hills St. Paul has every four blocks. We had some 2.25in Kenda tires handy.  I'd like to put something a little nicer on like nevegals or minions, but that'll be later. 

The bike is light and zippy. The wheels feel great. She really likes the new bike, and now we have black and white 1x1s. And they are pretty spiffy if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blast from the past

I was rereading a post from '08. Back then I really really didn't like hoppy beers, and for the most part I suppose I am prett low key when incomes to hoppy beers. But I'd say, that in the intervening years I have developed a palate for even the more hop forward bes like dogfish head or steel toe.

Sweet child of vine is damn fine too.

Also, tonight I was clocked by a speed limit sign at 13.
 I was pretty excited:

 Four years ago I got a road bike up to 19 mph for a couple moments and averaged 8 riding home. Tonight I averaged 13 on a single speed pug.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Crazy talk part 2

I was swayed by another blogger to try a bizarre setup with the bar ends not on the ends. Time will tell if it is inspired or crazy.

I have the power!

Speaking of crazy.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How to lock your bike

I no longer own cable locks. We were at the Fringe Festival a few years ago, and locked our bikes up on the corner of Cedar and Riverside in Minneapolis (look it up if you don't know the corner). While we were enjoying the local theater scene in the Mixed Blood Theater our locks were tampered with.

The tumblers would not turn, I suspect glue, so we took bolt cutters and liberated our own bikes.

The cheap toolshop bolt cutters we used went through 14mm braided steel like it wasnt there. False hope is all that comes from cable locks I say. Now I carry a Ulock or a Forgetaboutit chain (or both).

Everything not bolted on I take with. Everything bolted on that I am leaving is locked down. two locks are better than one. I figure more than two locks attracts unwanted attention.


I just glossed over some things.

Back in 09 I was riding the Miyata that I bought off Craigslist. But I was unhappy with the performance of the brakes. So I pulled together my spare change and bought from a friend a used 1x1 frame. I had taken a wheel building class and with the newfound confidence built a set of three leading three trailing wheels. It looks as good as you'd expect. geared 1:2.15 with 170mm cranks I am pretty happy with the set up. I have battered rack bolted on and collapsable wire basket zip tied to it on the non drive side. Mostly, the bike was built from parts from the SBR or bought/bartered from other's reserves. The bike has mismatched 160mm  disc brakes.

We bought my wife a Long Haul Trucker and promptly changed the handle bars over and again till we found the set up she liked. Midline levers were as important as anything in making the noodle bars comfortable. It started off life with us with the MKS battle ax pedals and we switched them out for mks tourers. And we took the v brakes off the Instigator and got rid of the crap oryx that the bike came with.

The Instigator has an enabler fork on it and I have sewn a frame bag. I don't have a rack on this bike anymore, it never was made to have one and was battle against its nature. The enabler fork improved the handling I think, and I usually ride it as a 69er. I upgraded from the v-brakes to bb7s. I keep turning to this bike for riding single track. I tear through the woods, crashing on occasion, without worry--this bike is nearly bombproof.

Last summer I borrowed a friend's Pugsley and fell in love with the platform. I learned a few things along the way. Hydraulic brakes for example are great when they work, but if the line pops--then you are screwed. Late in July I was looking on craigslist and found one for a song. I've been commuting on this primarily since, and every ride is giggles. The bike came to me single speed, 36x18 with a second cog for 36x20. The bike looks like an 09 model? When I bought it the handlebars were at a bizarre angle that seemed completely unnatural. I left them in case the guy I bought it from was on to something. Seems he was. I have adjusted my other flat bars to match now. Climbing is more comfortable with smiling bars. Today I gave it fangs.

Handlebars for bicycles

Everyone seems to have an opinion about handlebars. Flat, riser, noodle, attack, mustache, and what have you.

I've been using flat bars for the last three years.

The Miyata I bought came with a flat bar, and I still use that bar on the 1x1 I built. The Instigator came with an old Azonic world force riser bar. the Long Haul Trucker we have has had mustache bars, bull horn bars, riser bars and now has nitto noodle bars. My Pugsley came with a Salsa Mo'to flat bar. Angled up slightly it might be the most comfortable bar I've used.

A while back I'd seen a thing about bar end grips being put in the middle of a flat bar, and have mulled this idea over since. I imagined this for riding through the suburbs,--a mockery of the pathletes on their skinny tires in lycra sausage casings.

This afternoon I finally put them on.


pictures to follow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

a quick trip to the east! part one of ?

Last week we jumped into a plane and went out to Providence, RI to see my cousin open for Dark Dark Dark.

While we were out there we went out to eat. A LOT. And the food was excellent. One place we went to was the Duck and Bunny, where they will put ice cream in a Guinness, like a dream out of Steinbeck. 

Also they pull a great shot of espresso. look at that froth. Perfect.

My cousin in Sugar Honey Iced Tea! They played a great set, and thats not just because I'm biased. 

Emily Wells played the second act, what she lacks in numbers she makes up for in energy.

And of course Dark Dark Dark. the band has seen some changes since I saw them perform with Spirits of the Red City. No cello, no playing with the opening acts, only one accordion. They played some new and some older songs, I really do love this band. I wouldn't have made the trip if my cousin hadn't been playing the same show (really, flying across the country for 36 hours would be a bit fanboy) but I am so glad we did.

Here's another picture from the Duck and Bunny.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I will do science to it

Some coffee doesn't need more cowbell, but I think this elaborate method of brewing makes the best cup.

credit due to Dresden Codak for the title.

edit: For those wondering: this is a yama japanese siphon pot. The system regulates the temperature and agitation of the grounds naturally. I use an ounce of medium grind (approximately 3-4mm grounds). Lately I've been enjoying malabar coffee because of the slightly peppery flavor, but I usually go for a coffee with subtle nutty notes. Floral coffee grates on my palate, which is odd because hoppy beers don't as much as they used to.

and greetings to the folks from Can You Stay for Dinner

making coffee

 The other day we picked up some coffee at The Angry Catfish, where they sell Intelligentsia coffee beans. Since I had just dismantled our coffee grinder I thought I would go crazy and test out the finest grind again. The beans were Lima Union and roasted four days before I made this coffee.
The coffee came out smoother than any turkish coffee I've ever made (not that I am all that great, but I can be happy with results can't I). The coffee did  not have the right mouth feel, but I think that was me not adding enough coffee to water. 

Further experiments will be needed. I made it with two teaspoons of coffee to about 6 ounces of water. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

the ongoing saga of the Jetta

Back in 2009 we replaced the oil rebreather hose on our 2001 Jetta. In the last week we've noticed an exhaust smell in the car again. Irritatingly enough another piece of hose has worn out, pouring oily residue into the engine compartment.

A few weeks ago we drove to wisconsin and back, averaging 32mpg with the ac running. Keep in mind our car has 184,000 miles on it though.

Monday, August 27, 2012

lens tests part II

So here are the next six pictures with the camera shooting from above. The methodology was the same: iso 100, f stops at 3.5 or 2.8 then 8 and 22, and I had a pizza.

For the 35mm lens I accidentally focused on the light meter rather than the page which was how I wanted to show how shallow the depth of field really could be. The demonstration still works though.

In the last few pictures the sun peaked through the shades.  That was what wrecked up the whole thing. I'm so annoyed I don't feel like writing much more about it.

f3.5 1/20

f8 .3sec

f22 1.3sec

There isn't a huge difference between the 35 and the 45. The 45 does have a wider aperture, and frankly I do not see the loss in focus on the edges, but then, like I said before the Canon has a much smaller sensor than the 6x4.5cm film the lens was made for.

f2.8 1/50

f8 1/6
f22 1.6sec
I was sitting around reading 6 Days of the Condor and decided to take some comparison shots.

The pictures were taken in terrible lighting conditions. The natural light was bouncing off a brick wall and through a set of cheap blinds. My light meter registered 20 foot candles. I set the camera on a tripod and the mirror lockup. The body is a Canon 20d set to iso 100, and I had a pizza for lunch.

 This picture is taken with the 35mm lens at f3.5 and the shutter speed at 1/25. I used an old condensed copy of the oxford english dictionary to illustrate the depth of field. Again, crap light.
This one f8 at .5 seconds

 f22 and 2 seconds

Without moving the camera I switched out to the 45mm lens and here's the difference
notice the shallower depth of field of the f2.8

deeper at f8 

 and f22

Still without moving the tripod everything got weird

clearly the 80mm lens does not focus as close in as the other two. Close as I could go, the page is completely out f focus. not exactly making my point on how awesome this lens is. boo.

 f8 brings it in better

 f22 there might be words printed there!

Because of the terrible fail that the 80mm lens had, I moved the tripod and set out the light meter with the ol' dictionary. The pictures came out a bit better I think.

 Look at that! 80mm pulls through with the shot
 but f8 looks better

 you guessed it f22.

more later, this is getting long.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

eight years of learning the hard way.

Some people think the fastest way to get past a chain link fence is running headlong into it. If you have enough momentum you'll just knock that bastard over. This seems to be my approach to buying things. I see where I want to go and by god if anything thing like reason is going to stop me from getting there.

Eons ago (2004) I bought a Mamiya 645 1000s. And it didn't work.

The good people at National Camera traded my recently purchased camera body straight up for a different one (to explain I bought the body for a wicked price at the tent sale, really I came out good on this) that did work. What I didn't realize at the time was that the lens I had bought also would become the most treasured piece of camera equipment I have ever bought. I like it more than my polarizing filters even (oh my!).

The 80mm 1.9 is the fastest medium format lens ever made. It takes damn crisp pictures and will shoot night as day (haha he made a funny).

The trouble I was having with it was the cost of processing though. At about 20 bucks a roll to develop I was going broke trying to use this awesome piece of machinery. Whats a guy to do.

My brother revealed the solution to me: adaptor ring. Last year we picked up a cheap adaptor ring of Amazon for the 645 to a canon eos. The d20 is not a full frame sensor and the switch between mediums makes the 80mm lens act more like 110 or something, but it still has rich color and amazing speed.

But wait, there is more.

This year I picked up two more lenses. One is very unpopular: the 45mm 2.8. The interwebs will tell you about how the 45mm has excellent optics as far as the middle of the lens but sacrifices crispness on the edge of the frame (talking about the c lens(the one I got)). But with the mad cropping factor of my setup the fuzzy outer edges are out of the equation. Since the lens is unpopular it is also cheap.

The other is the 35mm 3.5. also a great lens makes group photos easier for example. I wish it had a wider aperture but I like having the wider view.

(she is sitting on my lap)
After using a Tamron 28-80 and a 70-200, the prime lenses take getting used to. I have to move myself more to get the shots I want. But I think the obsession with zoom has been pressed out of me. If a Mamiya zoom lens dropped in my lap I'd use the crap out of it I'm sure, but I'm not rushing out to get one either. The color I got from the Tamron lenses always seemed blah, when I was shooting film or when I switched to digital.  Something else that drove me crazy was the motors for the autofocus sounded like an immersion blender after the first year. Don't get me wrong, I do not regret buying those two lenses. But there is a difference in quality--maybe thats the difference between $200 new camera lenses for a Canon and $200 used lenses made for a Mamiya.

I think I knocked over a fence, but it took buying two cameras and some additional bits to make it happen.


To be clear: the crazy talk was actually the best thing I ever did for the Instigator. The ability to switch tires around willy nilly has been a boon. Last summer we bought a FatBack and a Pugsley and the 135mm hubs and disc brakes make everything interchangeable. I have not hidden the bike as a straight 26in wheel set since. I have a 29er front wheel on it now and the geometry is significantly better. The ride with a larry is still smart and it corners like a crazed antelope. By leaning forward I can whip the shit out of hairpin turns in Lebanon Hills. Also I can crash without much worry about damaging the bike. The added bosses for water bottles or pumps or anything cages or racks makes an otherwise tour resistant bike more comfortable.

What I really want to talk about now is camera lenses.