Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A marvelous weekend

Me Darlin' Mrs and I spent the weekend camping in Beaver Creek Valley State Park. This is an absolutely gorgeous park in the very Southeastern corner of Minnesota. It is geologically different from most of the other parks as it was formed not by glaciers, but indirectly by their meltwater runoff. It is a valley about 100 feet below the surface of the surrounding rolling farmlands and the park's creek is fed by a spring that flows from the rocks that form the eastern side.

There is a single road that runs the length of the valley and sit on either side along it. This is an advantage that you don't normally get in state park campgrounds; you aren't crowded together with neighbors mere meters from you in all directions. BCV campsites are spread apart and afford you some quiet and solitude, something I dearly needed after the previous nasty week at work. I don't need to go into the details, but when you receive and email stating "No service interruptions are expected," this doesn't necessarily mean good things will happen...

As we have already hiked all the Hiking Club trails, we have now taken up the Geocache Challenge the parks are hosting. So we are on our second go around in visiting all the parks and we'll be looking for the little ammo boxes via GPS (thanks again, Matilda!) Our typical State Park venture consists of getting to a park, setting up camp and then hiking or geocaching before dinner, eat, sleep, get up and either break camp for another park or run off to nearby park or parks to participate in whatever activity we're currently up for and to scratch them off the list. A lot of driving around, no time spent looking into the parks, just a quick run through and collect the stamp, thank you.

This weekend was different. We stayed put and just hung out, moved slow, took naps and walked around the beautiful scenery enjoying the fine summer weather. I took my technologically beaten soul and wrapped it in ash leaves and soaked it in the cool, clear spring water of the park. This is one of my favorite parks and it is highly recommended. I'm much better now, thank you.

Just in time as I'm on call again this weekend and I just received another email that has the line "No service interruptions are expected."

Oh Goody...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Today is a good day to die...


The best line from a totally fascinating post from a Thai restaurant owner.

I've changed the way I eat, and I've lost weight because of it. The real change isn't from the reduction in calorie consumption, but from the way I look at what I eat. That Crapplebee's monstrosity doesn't look the least bit enticing -- to me it is as appetizing as three day old road kill on a plate.

(h/t Norwegianity)

Sunday, June 07, 2009


So a server died on reboot while patching and the Mrs. had the car. I biked in the misty rain (for which I and the garden are duly grateful) to the remote data center to fix flaky server. Not the way I wanted to spend my Saturday night, but I liked the bike ride since it burned off all the grumpiness before I got to the server room and I was able to calmly work on the machine and slowly ride back in the rain.

I like biking in the rain at night. The streets are abandoned after 23:00 in Richfield so I can use as much of the road as I like. I just wish there was a decent place to get a beer around here after an emergency run like this. You know, something to take the chill off...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Murphy was mean to me...

...but I sorta deserved it.

I took the new (old) mountain bike I bought from KM out to Murphy-Hanrehan's MTB trails with a co-worker of mine on Thursday evening. Now, I've never done single-track before, and my trail riding really consisted of fire roads and very little of that.

All right, I'm really a freakin' newbie MTB'er, happy?

Anyway, I went and hit the Beginner and Intermediate trails whilst following Jeff. I was lucky in that Jeff is experienced enough to know how to treat a rookie (but forgetting to bring his shoes with cleats helped a bit too). Riding a MTB on single-track is a quite a different experience after riding rigid commuters and straight, paved streets (no, duh!). The Boingy Factor is something that I needed to take into account when attempting to apply power to the bike while climbing, for example. A fat guy on a sprung bike loses power when he stands up to pedal and the front shock absorbs most of the energy, though of course standing up in a fully wooded single-track isn't such a great idea in the first place and your humble narrator figured that out in rather short order...

I wanted to start this sport to improve my bicycle handling in general and I can see that I was correct in my assumption -- now I need to apply this in practice. Quick downhills to right angle turns to short, steep climbs while avoiding roots and rocks and the increasingly encroaching trees does make one pay close attention to what one is doing. I was able to follow through the first round without incident and that brought my demeanor from cautious and alert to straight up cocky. After completing the first lap of the Beginner/Intermediate, I was ready for a second go.

Only emotionally -- mentally I was tired (patching this week has meant some late nights) and physically I was balancing on the onset of bonk as my lunch was long gone and the aforementioned lack of sleep, but I didn't notice. Endorphins and adrenaline is heady cocktail for the tyro, and I was set for another go. I wasn't so stupid to think that I could take on the advanced, but I wasn't afraid of what I knew (or thought I knew).

The second time through was going well, but I was going faster and I was slipping through turns that I hadn't missed before. Cockiness and bonk is a toxic mix indeed and I knew that I should slow down, but I didn't care -- I was doing just freaking fine! Hell, I was ready to pass Jeff! We made to the halfway point where the Intermediate meets the Advanced and we stopped for a breather and I believed that I was doing better than Jeff in that I wasn't nearly as tired (cue ominous music). We started out again and I started noticing the pit in my stomach wasn't necessarily just excitement. Since we're only a mile and a half from the entrance, I didn't care and I would push through regardless.

This is when thing got stupid (things, of course, meaning me). I pushed too hard on downslope and started losing it on a turn, panicked a bit on the recovery and then fogged on brake/shift move and clipped a tree with a handlebar, which gently sent me into the woods.


I picked myself up and grabbed the bike, both being serviceable and continued on. My (over)confidence now rightly shattered, my bonk started to force me too far in the other direction and I became too cautious. I was more worried about the condition of my shifting when I missed a turn, overcompensated and then had another tree snagged the other handlebar, sending me sprawling once again.


This time the rear brake was a bit wonky, but we were close enough to the finish to not be too concerned and I limped, figuratively and literally, to the parking lot and back to Jeff's truck where he I was gently schooled about bonking and trail riding. Lesson learned, my friend, as I have the scrapes (nothing horrible) to prove it and the endorphins from the ride to ignore any pain. Crikey, it's like other stupid things I've done (hockey and rugby), I can't wait to go again...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Jet Cyclist Hits 73 MPH and Lives to Tell the Tale

Motor madman Bob Maddox is back with a twin-engine jet bike that makes the raucous rocket he rode last year look tame.

He recently bolted a dual-exhaust pulse jet engine to the side of an ordinary bicycle, donned a leather jacket and helmet and then held on tight as he peeled off a 73-mph run down a deserted back road. And we thought he was crazy when he hit 50 mph on one of his single-engine contraptions last year.

“When you get up to 60 or so, you’re thinking ‘I really don’t want to know how fast it will go,’” he told Wired.com.

I could strap the jets to the Dumvee...

Please Look When Turning

I just might be biking by...

Jeeze Louise people, pay attention. Damn near bit it three times this morning.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Matilda's castoff

Matilda contacted me about a trade after hearing of my little buddy's demise. She offered to trade a GPS that lie unused for a ride to pick up a bike. "That sounds fair," thinks I and then I look at what they are picking up and my curiosity gets the best of me. I'd never seen a recumbent tandem bike before and happily took up her offer.

We meet at their house early Saturday morning and get to Calhoun Cycle to pick up their new baby. Wow, what a neat bike. Now what I know about 'bents you could put in the back seat of the thing and still have room for my prodigious posterior, but that's a funky set o'wheels. Matilda's sweetie is the captain and they roll the bike out the back for the test drive -- the rear brake is spongy. They notice that the housing is not in the braze-on in the back so the cable is re-run. Still, no go so the verdict is to stay until 11:00 when the mechanic comes in to do a tune-up.

So we pass the time looking at the "weird" bikes; 'bents of all types and sizes, Big Dummys, Hammertrucks (a sorta hybrid 'bent with a Longtail) and folders from Dahon and Brompton. We oohed and aahed over the salesman's Pugsley. I even test rode a 'bent trike. Coffee was drunk and bike routes ridden and wished were discussed until the wrench had tuned the bike and they were ready to go.

Matilda's sweetie had never ridden one and took his first wobbly pedal strokes to get the feel of the thing (pictures are on Matilda's site), then both were loaded on to get the feel and the grin on Matilda's face after the initial ride around the block had me seriously considering getting one of these fer the Mrs and me...

I wished them luck and sped off on their way; I later received an email saying they made it and there were no scrapes and that they were still speaking. I'm sure that they were elated: the weather was perfect, the trails good and they've a new bike.

What could be better?

Thanks again, Matilda. Thank you for the GPS, the coffee and a chance to watch you two grinnin' fools and your new toy. I'm sure you'll smoke the Tour de Tonka now.