Thursday, February 25, 2010

Carbon Fiber Sweetness

I dropped my Element off to get the camper top
Installed next week. It's mostly carbon fiber and fiberglass.

Here's the base that's bolted to the roof.

And here's the top unit. Sanwiched in between is the sleeping area.

I cannot wait to pick it ip and try it out.


Travels Through The Original Disneyland

I got an early start out of Panguitch, Utah and had planned to just blast down the Interstate to Chula Vista. But, being easily distracted by the many route possibilities here, I detoured north of Vegas to visit Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead. Valley of Fire is dramatic due to the brilliant red color of the rock outcroppings amidst all the brown desert. The day was overcast so the pictures really don't do the contrast justice.

After passing through the park, one enters Lake Mead Recreational Area which runs along Lake Mead to Hoover Dam. The going was slow due to a massive road rebuilding project but I was able to scope out a number of stealth camping locations for future trips.

I had to skirt the hell that is now Henderson and Las Vegas. My daughter and I came through here in the mid-90's and there was nothing here but desert. It's nothing but casino's, strip malls and housing developments that may define what "slumburbia" will ultimately look like.

From here on, I travelled I-15 across California. Once you leave Nevada, you cross the Mojave National Preserve which is miles and miles of open desert. I find it beautiful country because of the desolation.

It went downhill from there as I entered the sprawl that surrounds LA and San Diego. I hit rush hour just north of San Diego and I seriously cannot imagine doing that drive every day.
Thank goodness for GPS because it did lead me to the KOA I am staying in near Chula Vista. After dumping my gear, I headed into town and had a most excellent pizza and adult beverage.

I am here until Saturday getting some logistical stuff done for the trip. I am serving as the mechanic this time which I know scares the hell out of Mark at HC. I can wrench but I wasn't born with the innate mechanical ability that people like Mark have. Some of the new technology confounds me, especially that carbon stuff!! As my dear old dad used to say - "if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit".

I'm not dragging the laptop on the ride but I may post photos and comments from my phone.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wandering Among The Hoodoos

I left Ft. Morgan, Colorado at the crack of dawn and headed west across the Rockies. It was another clear, sunny day so the traveling was easy. I managed to get through Denver without hitting much traffic and headed up the mountains.

I 70 takes one through the Eisenhower Tunnel and passes Vail before slicing through Glenwood Canyon, one of the most beautiful stretches of road anywhere. I stopped at a rest area and just hung out, enjoying the very warm sun.

Dropping off the Rockies, the snow levels decreased a bit and by the time I got to Grand Junction, there was lots of dirt visible. Just past Green River, I headed south towards Hanksville to take the scenic route thru Capital Reef National Park and Grand Staircase.

At Hanksville, this gas station/convenience store is cut into the rock.

Decisions, decisions. So many destination possibilities, so little time.

Heading west towards Torrey, one begins to see the red rock hoodoos that are such a unique feature of this area.

These look like sentinels guarding the mesa.

Capital Reef.

Grand Staircase Escalante

Unfortunately, most of tomorrow is a final interstate slog to San Diego so there may not be much to photograph. But, you never know.


Day 1 Westbound

Made it to Fort Morgan Colorado, east of Denver. About 750 miles from St. Paul across half of Iowa and Nebraska.

Except for a few snow showers near Albert Lea, weather was clear and sunny. No pictures cause there really wasn't much interesting to see.

I'm off across the Rockies today and plan on driving the scenic route thru Capital Reef and Grand Staircase so stay tuned for pictures tonight.



Saturday, February 20, 2010

Frostbike Bling

A group of us attended QBP's annual dealer show and as usual, there was lots of cool new stuff.

This is Dave Gray's ride on the Arrowhead 135. Mark and I spent some time chatting with him about snow biking, equipment and the fun had making bike hacks.

Salsa has a ton of new stuff including 3 new titanium frames. The El Mariachi Ti 29'er was extremely sweet.

Salsa also showed their ingenuity with a line of new racks. The one pictured can mount front or rear and has an assortment of mounting options which will make this a huge seller. They also will have a lowridet front rack as well as a new touring rear rack that is slightly less robust than the Surly Rack but still capable of carrying a full touring load.

I'm hoping for a major lottery won so that both the Fargo and Ti El Mariachi can find their way into my garage this summer.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Heading Out

next week for the west coast to work a few bike trips and do some exploring. I can only hope, at some point, my Element looks like this:

or will be seen doing this:


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Swap Meet Psychology

Swap Meet -- "a type of bazaar where inexpensive or secondhand goods are sold or bartered."

The reason for the definition will become evident in a minute. Jim and I attended the Twin Cities Bicycle Swap at the National Sports Center in Blaine. There were lots of vendors and the crowds seemed consistently heavy so hopefully, it was a success for the organizers. It was fun to visit with customers and friends and I came home with more cash than I went with and lightened the personal inventory a bit so I met my goals.

None the less, people's behavior and expectations at these events never cease to amaze me, despite having attended them for years. As defined by Wiki, the goods typically sold are inexpensive and/or second hand. Obviously, "inexpensive" can be interpreted a number of ways, but generally the items are used and sold for less than their retail prices. People's expectations are usually set at the point where they expect to get killer deals on used bike stuff and most are not disappointed.

However, given the breadth of bike stuff out there, many people simply don't know what they're buying. Well, well used mountain bike tires were being sold for $20. Many people were on the hunt for used rims. Seriously -- once most rims have been laced to a hub and ridden, they are rarely worth re-lacing again. People just seemed fixated on buying well used crap and ignored items that were priced higher but would probably serve them better.

I was attempting to sell some used Campagnolo cranks at what I know is a good price -- and was willing to haggle. A gentleman came by several times fondling them but he just couldn't seem to pull the trigger. On his last pass, he asked if I had the dust caps. Obviously, if I had them and they would have been installed on the crank arms. And those dust caps are worth more than the cranks themselves.

I also had for sale, a new old stock (NOS) Campy bottom bracket in the original box from the late 1970's. One of the local gurus's, whose knowledge of old bike ephemera is legendary, showed some interest in it and pulled it from the box for inspection. Apparently, what he saw was so unique that he borrowed the item and consulted with two other local gurus for a full 5 minutes. End result -- there was some question as to the whether or not what he saw was consistent with his encyclopedic knowledge of this particular item. Forget the fact that the item in question would be completely hidden within the recesses of the frame when installed and was offered at a good price -- it simply wouldn't do.

Oh well. It was still fun people watching. But seriously, the word in the Wiki definition should be spelled "bizarre", not "bazaar".


Friday, February 12, 2010

It'll Be a Bed of Flowers

At least the roads will be if we follow this approach. Apparently, the pot hole situation in Britain has gotten to the point that one enterprising fellow has taken to filling pot holes with dirt and flowers,

Once the snow melts here, most of our streets will become garden lanes.


Those Crazy Brits -- Part ?

This approach will keep you cool while you while away the hours on your trainer. Watching TV or reading a book may be tough.

And of course, there's the spring tune up to think about.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Own Your Own Velodrome -- Update

UPDATE: It just hit Craigslist for -- $299k.

More info, especially tax stuff and aerial photos here. It has a pool.

This house is for sale down near Northfield, Minnesota. It has an 8 car heated garage on 5 acres -- and it's round. Looking at the pictures, I am pretty sure you could take laps around the inside edge of it.

What's amazing is that the taxes shown for 2009 are based on an assessed value of $1.5 million. It's selling today for $315k and owned by a bank. I am pretty sure they'd take $299k if you asked real nice.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Grand Canyon Revisted

Mike C and some friends took a little snow biking adventure from Jacob Lake south towards the Grand Canyon. This is essentially the same trip I lead last year and posted about but Mike's pictures are far better.


Friday, February 5, 2010

And, Finally

A story about a 72 year old Brit who has logged over 906,000 miles -- on the same bike! He is the leader of the 300,000 mile club, sponsored by England's CTC.


Yo, St Paul and Minneapolis

Listen up and read this. I know we're not Copenhagen and we're not asking for salt and plowing to be focused on the bike lanes.

But could you get the plow drivers to at least scrape a few feet of the lanes? I'm getting sick of cars honking at me.


A Wonderful Short Film

An excerpt from the film L'Ours, produced in 1988. I saw it once in a theatre and it is visually stunning. I found this via a link to one of the blogs Seaburg sends me to as part of his sleep deprivation scheme. Bastard ;-)


They Will Take Over The World

I wonder what the trail on that fork is, hmm?


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

He's Not A Yooper, But . . .

he could be. It would be a fun party to attend, that's for sure.

From the Detroit Free Press

"A 62-year-old Independence Township man remained hospitalized Monday with injuries he sustained after authorities said a rocket-like backpack he rigged to power him on a sled exploded.

Oakland County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a backyard sledding party in the 6000 block of Townview at 7:35 p.m. Sunday to aid the host, who had burns over 18% of his body, Undersheriff Mike McCabe said.

"Apparently, he has this sledding party every year, and he always does outrageous things at it, but he's never blown himself up before," McCabe said Monday.

The man had been drinking before the accident, McCabe said.

The man constructed the backpack from a used auto muffler, which he filled with gasoline and gunpowder, McCabe said. Wearing a motorcycle helmet, he got on an orange plastic sled.

"He asked another person to light a wick and then began to sled down a hill. At some point during the ride, the device exploded," McCabe said.

The man, whom McCabe would not identify, suffered second-degree burns to his face and right side of his body, and possible eye damage."

And including the fact the man had been drinking in the article was really unnecessary, don't you agree?


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oh What A Difference . . .

5 months makes. In September, I was hiking the canyon country of Utah, enjoying the warm, dry days and the cool nights. When I found the skull , I carried it out of a canyon on my back.

Now, she sits on my patio. After another 3 inch snowfall, I'm pretty sure she wants to be back in that canyon as much as I do right now.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Can The End Be Near?

It's All About Choices

I have spent quite a few hours this cold, dark, winter poring over Gazetteer maps of Arizona, California and Utah, looking for out of the way places to camp, hike and bike. Given that I will have a few weeks to amuse myself in those areas in the upcoming months, the choices are endless.

One of the projects I am working on is converting my Honda Element into a camping vehicle. It has many of the same attributes as the VW Campers of the past, and is generally more fuel efficient and reliable. It won't have the built in living quarters the VW did, but it's close.

So, I am getting my Element converted to this in about a month, and I cannot wait.

I intend to test it exploring some of the back country between Palm Springs, California and Tucson, Arizona for about a week. I am also attending a class In Flagstaff at the end of March, and may find my way home via Monument Valley and up into Utah. It should be the perfect exploration vehicle.

And then I saw this.

Check out the site here. Ok, it's huge and looks like a trash truck but imagine the adventures one could take. Alaska to South America? No problem. Africa from the Mediterranean south? Check. I especially like the list of features they have on a used one for sale here in the US. End of the world approaching? No problemo!!

Ok, it costs $600k. Like I said, it's all about choices.


Slipping and Sliding

This weekend found me back at Scout Camp with the "Pugulance". Given that football season is over here in Minnesota, attendance was over 700 parents and scouts combined both days. There were lots of bumps and bruises tended to, and both an adult and scout went to the local ER, one for observation for a head injury and one for a dislocated shoulder. But, by all reports, everyone had a blast -- the snow tubing hill was extremely fast and the broom ball court was in perfect condition.

Almost the entire camp is covered in a sheet of ice, and the field where most of the activities take place is a combination of smooth fast tracks where campers have beat a path, and deep holes. I made a number of trips across both to tend to the victims of aerial snow tube launches, and by the end of the second day, people were cheering me on as I bounced through the holes. Based on the minor injuries I was being called for, I'm pretty watching some dumb ass riding a bike over and through what amounted to frozen gopher holes, was worth the price of admission.

I leave before dawn to get to camp, and this weekend, the full moon was absolutely stunning. I am told this will be the largest moon visible to us this year given its proximity and with the cold, clear skies, it was a treat. Taken with my cell phone camera, the picture above does not do justice to the moon's size and clarity.

The icing on the cake was the bald eagle that circled the field for several hours on Sunday. It flew low enough several times that one wondered if it was casing all those nice plump little scouts for dinner.