Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Someone photographed the fatboy without his bike:

Image courtesy of How to Avoid the Bummer Life

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Heat sucks...

...but Reed is at the Farmers' Market with heirloom tomatoes, so that makes it better. A little.

Also, Brewery Creek have their melons in a couple of weeks early. If you've never had a Brewery Creek heirloom melon, go get one. Now you'll probably get sticker shock because you are used to sad imitations at the grocery store, tasteless, hard critters for 39 cents a pound. If you like melons -- and you do, you just don't know it yet -- try one from them. Richly flavored, redolent (you can smell their stall from 40 feet) and in a variety that will leave you speechless.

It's hot and I hate hot. But melons and corn and tomatoes are in and this makes things a little better.

A little.

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Fat boy gets a new bike

The bottom bracket cassette on the Sirrus added an unwanted lateral movement. What is it with me and bikes? Am I so fat they turn to powder under me? Gah. Since the bottom bracket isn't all that difficult to fix and I happen to have the tool to open it up.

Of course it isn't as easy as the manual says because the cassette is seized in the BB and the splines are so shallow the tool won't stay in. After fighting with it Friday night and getting totally frustrated, I quit and had dinner with my in-laws. This morning, I decided to find a bolt that will hold the BB tool in place while I get a hernia trying to get the bloody thing loose. Two trips to the hardware store later and a fine thread 8mm bolt (don't get one that is too long...) is the trick. A grunt or two later and the cassette is free!

Mrs Yam asks what plans I have for the day and I suggest that I need to find a part to fix the bike and perhaps we can check out garage sales and see if I can score a serviceable used bike. Mrs Yam then blows me away with the statement that we could go through this with more used bikes and eventually have a garage full of broken bikes or we could just go look for a new one.


I was going to visit Jim and get a cassette, so we could start there. I ride a sweet Rivendell Bleriot. Oh my, so this is what a bike that fits feels like. We then go to Freewheel and see that they have a Trek 520 and a Surly Cross Check. I like the Cross Check, but I'm looking for a bike that I ride distances and this is really a great commuter (and cyclocross, but I don't do that) and we move on to the Hub Bike Co-op.

Criminey, they have complete Long Haul Truckers. This is what I'm looking for. Nice geometry, good feel and a nice set of components included in what is my price range. I finally find a custom built 52cm LHT and it fits great. Almost as good as the Bleriot.

They're really nice and they'll build a stock one that is still in the box and give me a call when it's done to test ride it.

I'm sure it's almost as nice as the Bleriot.


I decide to go back to HC and ride the Bleriot to see if it is really as nice as I thought it was. I mean, you don't buy a car on the day you start test driving 'em. That's stupid -- you have to consider, ponder, reflect. Drive the ones you like again. Reflect and then you start the purchase process. Don't let your emotions cloud your mind.

"I'll take it."

As Jim rings it up, I chat with a fellow that rides in on an Xtracycle and then we have to get it home. Mrs Yam says, "If you can't fit it in the backseat, I get to ride it home." Mrs Yam can't drive a stick. The bike doesn't fit in the Honda so the honor of the first ride goes to me darlin' bride.

I can't complain, I guess

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

All gone

Darn, the blackberries are gone. Mrs. Yam and I hiked Afton State Park last Sunday and stumbled across a patch of blackberries that must have 5 acres. As we climbed out of the ravine, I heard me darlin' bride make a little "eep" sound and then say "do you see 'em? Do you see 'em?"

Bloody blackberry bushes 8-10 ft (2-3m) tall, filled with ripe berries. Not that they're really berries, but drupelets. Anyway, since we were walking the dog, we had a couple of poop bags handy and we scrambled into the brambles and picked away. These were the real wild type, with rose-like thorns on the branches and thorns under the leaves besides. Well defended, to say the least.

Of course getting a handful of berries and stuffing them into your mouth was enough to convince us to brave the thicket and to climb in and harvest some. We put up with a sulky dog and spent a happy 45 minutes filling a bag with berries. I'm sure this is illegal, but we had no way to push back millions of years of evolution, and we couldn't help ourselves. A woman hiked by, commenting "They are delicious, aren't they?"

We just mumbled and drooled juice...

After schlepping the full bag back, we used them for our breakfasts for the following week. What a find.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Math error

In Tuesday's post, I calculated how many gallons of gas equivalent I have in excess fat. In rereading the entry, I saw this:
Human fat tissue contains about 87% lipids, so that 1 kg of body-fat tissue has roughly the caloric energy of 870 g of pure fat, or 7800 kcal.

and I realized that value for a 1kg of fat has been calculated for me, so my reducing the excess weight by 13% was in error. I should have used the original value times 7800 kcal/kg giving me an excess of 198,120 kcal.

198120 kcal * 4.184 kJ/kcal = 828,934 kJ or ~829 MJ

829 MJ / 131 MJ/gal = 6.3 gal of gas equivalent.

That amount would then get me between 180 - 250 miles. Still not very efficient considering that I could ride that in, say, 3 days.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How many gallons do you have around your waist?

Human fat tissue contains about 87% lipids, so that 1 kg of body-fat tissue has roughly the caloric energy of 870 g of pure fat, or 7800 kcal. In principle one has to create a 7800 kcal deficit or surplus between energy intake and use to lose or gain 1 kg of body-fat. (or 3500 kcal per pound). However, if one eats 7800 kcal more than the body needs, one won't necessarily gain 1 kg of fat, since muscle and other tissues may be built. The same way, if one eats 7800 kcal less than their maintenance level, they may not lose 1 kg of fat, since muscle and sugars may be metabolized to generate energy.[1]

Okay, so let's see, 56 pounds to lose to get to 200 pounds. That's 25.4 kg of fatty tissue or 22.1 kg of pure fat.

22.1 kg * 7800 kcal/kg = 172,364.4 kcal

172,364.4 kcal * 4.184 kJ/kcal = 721,172.65 kJ or 721 MJ.

There is approximately 131 MJ of gas in a gallon of gas[2] or

721 MJ / 131 MJ/gal = 5.5 gal of gas around my gut, or about 150-200 miles with the Honda. I can certainly bike farther than that on the fat I've got.

[1] Wikipedia entry on Calorie - Trivia note #3
[2] Wikipedia entry on Gasoline - Energy content

Good idea

Twibright Exciter

Time-Saving Exercise Bike for Computer Users
Replace Belly with a Six Pack without a Time Investment

Lots of people today spend large amount of time in front a computer without moving. That's bad for their bodies. But now, with Twibright Exciter, Internet surfing can have similar effect on your fat level and aerobic fitness as wave surfing. Exciter is an exercise bike designed to be ridden when using a computer. It can be connected to power a laptop, LCD monitor or a desk lamp and this way the user has a great motivation to continue the exercise.

Have Fun riding an Induction Generator with Your PC

We designed Exciter with SEIG, Self Excited Induction Generator. Ordinary 3-phase squirrel cage asynchronous motor and some capacitors create a difficult to understand generator circuit. When Exciter is pedaled above critical speed, positive electromagnetic feedback is established and powerful voltage oscillation appears. This manifests as three-phase sine wave on the motor output. This is rectified with 6 diodes so that all three windings can work together into a single load. Exciter then produces up to 120 watts of line voltage DC power, which can be used to power computer or laptop power supply, switch mode AC/DC adapters, fluorescent or incandescent light bulb.

Wow, just what I need. I just happen to have a broken bike (I garaged it while on my roof rack) and I could take this build this for this winter. I could generate enough power to run the Powerbook and get into riding shape at the same time!

I'd rather ride in the winter than now -- criminey, it must be 60% humidity with 73 degrees at 7:30 in the morning. Gonna prove to be a sticky, icky day, with a high above 90. And I gotta work at the liquor store tonight too. I rode slowly as to not work myself up too much, but that didn't work. In this weather you're going to sweat.

Bleah. This is my least favorite time of year. I'm not really heat tolerant and I hate humidity. Normally, I'm just a cool, collected guy, but weather like this just makes me that fat, sweaty guy I really am. Bleah.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Giggling little bastards...

A post of posts.  I have been unable to bring myself to write, yet I have much to say. Never happened to anyone else, I bet...

The party the title speaks of are raccoons that Mrs Yam and ran across a week ago while camping. We camped near Owatonna at Rice Lake State Park and our campground was a gorgeous cart-in on the lake. Friday night was cool with a breeze to keep the bugs away and a cloudless sunset. Dinner was cooked over an open fire and some beers were consumed. We retired to our tent and then the fun started; the raccoons raided our site. Chittering and giggling, they attempted to break into our food, but me Mrs is smarter than a raccoon and purchased locking tubs, so DENIED!

This of course didn't stop them from attempting it, but a couple of claps and a flashlight in the face sent them over to the next site where the pickings seemed more to their liking. Our poor neighbors never were able to shake the fearless vermin. The next night we decided to avoid tempting fate and put all comestibles that would interest them in the car, their poor campsite was ransacked a second night. I don't think that they slept much due to the noise.

Still riding the Sirrus. I haven't built the wheel for the Expedition as the funds have yet to appear. Mrs. Yam is forgiving, but if I have a bike to ride, then money for bikes doesn't have priority. She's right, but it doesn't make it any easier.

The weather has been absolutely lovely for mid-July here in the upper Midwest, so I've taken full advantage to biking to work. I'd tell you the mileage, but I've been unable to get the bike computer to talk to me in anything other than European. I put a new battery in it and I am able to program the wheel size, so I have an idea how I'm doing, but the thing only speaks metric. Oh well, c'est le guerre...

I was gonna bike to da bar, but the sky got sparky and riding on the Sirrus' skinny tires in the wet without fenders along with the lightning talked me out of attempting it. I wasn't too far from home when the heavens opened, so I managed to get home to change and take the car.

I'm a puss, I know. I'm dealing with it, so should you.

You know, I haven't the attention span to watch much TV or most movies, but I have no problem staring at a campfire for hours. I'm looking forward to my next foray into the wilderness.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Bikin' to da bar...

Rode to Town Hall after work facing a fairly stiff headwind while heading North, but when I turned onto the Greenway, the wind was (sorta) at my back and I merrily pedaled Eastward to Minnehaha. My buddy Bob was there and it looks like he's going to keep the Raleigh. Drat, I wanted a steel framed bike. So we drank beers and chatted and I offered to fix it up for him. The thing hasn't seen daylight in some fourteen years. Crashed it just before he bought his house, bent something (or so he thinks), moved in and put it in the basement. Now that the Park Board is finishing up the Grand Rounds, he's interested in biking again.

Oh yeah, drink the Town Hall's India Brown Ale, it's really, really yummy.

I really like the Greenway -- it's flat, it's fast, it's really pretty with all the gardens going in and, best of all, no cars. I would love it if we had more of them. Hell, let's just take a lane off of each of the freeways and make 'em bike lanes. Take another lane and make it expressly for buses. One or two lanes for cars, that sounds just about right.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What the...?

What is today, National Maim a Biker Day? Some fuck in a Sysco truck failed to stop as he was leaving the parking lot of Southdale and nearly flattened your humble narrator. I spread the love by showing him he was No. 1 in my book as I swerved to avoid him.


Diff'rent bike and dodging death

Well, as surprising as it may seem, the bike lost another spoke last week, and I haven't ridden since It seems I have to replace the wheel (again) because adding spokes doesn't do me any good. Why? Is the rim bent and it's taking out the spokes, one by one? Is the tension difference between the spokes so bad that they are breaking under the strain? Am I so fat I can't keep a wheel?

The only thing I can think of is to rebuild the wheel with a new rim and spokes and see what changes. Thing is, I've never built a wheel before, so this should be interesting. Since some of the biking blogs I've been reading have mentioned Hiawatha Cyclery, I decided to check them out and see what they have. I spoke to Jim about a new wheel and he seems to think that I can rebuild the wheel. I'll stop by and pick up a rim and spokes and a dishing tool sometime this week or next.

I also got to ride a Pugsley! What a cool bike! Thumping around on those monster truck tireswas an absolute gas. And that bike was smooove. They outfitted it with a Brooks saddle and some Nitto cruiser-like bars and had the frame painted powder-coated orange. I guess they didn't like the standard Surly decals and color. Whatever.

So, how is Yam getting to work? Is he stumbling back into cager-dom? No! With the bike without a wheel, I was getting antsy to ride, so I resurrected Mrs. Yam's Specialized Sirrus from it's basement exile and decided to bring back into road-worthy shape.

First was to wash the cobwebs from it. Ew. Then, adjust the derailleurs. Shimano RSX with the integrated brake and shifter. I've never seen 'em before, but what the hell, I'll take a shot at it. Once I figured out how they work, I realized that the rear shifter wasn't bringing the chain down to the smaller cogs. Crap, if the shifter is busted, I'd have to replace it and I wasn't really in the mood to take it all apart. Then, a little birdie by the name of Jamie told me of a trick: spray some Tri-Flow inside until it starts coming out the bottom. "Sometimes it works..."

This was sometimes. It shifts fine now and the brakes are okay. I got it done Monday while I was suffering from a combination of allergies and the reaction to the allergy medicine; sure, it dries out your nose, but it dries out everything else too. It's still filthy, but it runs and is it fast. Geeze, it's been a while since I've been on a road bike, and I've forgotten how fast these things are. But, with the aluminum frame and skinny tires, you feel every little bump in your teeth.

I rode the Sirrus to work today. It's fine, but I'm not used to riding without my rear view mirror, so I need to get into the habit of looking over my shoulder more, so I don't get creamed. Speaking of creamed, I was almost fit for soup today as I was taking a left into the parking lot at work. A bus slowed to let me turn, but some jerk was driving too fast (speed limit: 30mph) and passed the bus on the right and almost took out my back wheel.

Who needs coffee when adrenaline is so much effective at waking you up...