Monday, April 29, 2013

BikeSnobNYC In The Cleve!

This weekend we headed up to that city by the lake to hear BikeSnobNYC shamelessly promote his new book Bike Snob Abroad.  I live about a hundred miles by car from Cleveland so needless to say I just threw the Ti General Purpose Bike on the rack and motored my way north instead of pedaling.  I stopped on the way and picked up the Road Queen and her bike. 

The way I like to visit any city is to get my car parked as soon as possible and take to the streets on foot or better yet by bicycle.  We found a spot a couple blocks from the Market Garden Brewery where Bike Snob was set to appear and with a short spin we arrived on the scene.  The weather turned out to be wonderful on Saturday with a sky clear and blue and the blossoming trees soaking up the spring time sun.
A few of us rode our bikes to the book signing.
It was great fun to meet Eben Weiss aka bikesnobnyc.  I've been following his blog for a few years now and really I have to give him the credit for inspiring me to start my own blog here on the web.  His presentation was quite entertaining and he is just as funny orating as he is writing.  The fresh ales served up by the Market Garden Brewery were also top notch and I highly recommend having a taste if you ever find yourself in Cleveland.

At the signing we met a guy named James who rode his home-built long wheel base recumbent.  Kudos to him for braving the mean streets on that thing.  When I ride in the city I prefer my city bike.  James is a computer programmer by day but in his off time he likes to unwind by welding steel tubes and he seems pretty good at it.  Check out some of his work on his flickr page: 


After the event we took off on our bikes to explore the city.  We planned a route that would lead us northward towards the lake to a couple city parks on the water front.  Bikes are a natural way to get around and see the sights.

In no time we cleared the dirty industrial sections of town and after passing through a made for bikes tunnel under some railroad tracks the Great Lake Erie came into view.

Our first stop was Edgewater Park.  Continuing west we toured through the suburb of Lakewood and ended up at Lakewood Park.

From this point we found some good views of the Cleveland skyline looking back across the water.

The water temperature at the time of my writing this is 43 degrees F.  While the air temperature was in the 60's the breeze coming off the water was quite chilly so as the sun started sinking in the west we decided to head inland and made our way the seven miles or so back to where we left the car.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Early 90's Diamond Back Apex

This was my first serious mountain bike.   I purchased the Diamond Back Apex at North Division Cycle and Ski in Spokane, Washington in 1992.  The frame is good old Tange Chromoly steel and rides as smooth and steady as it did twenty years ago.  The bike was equipped with the long discontinued Deore DX mountain bike group that featured the then cutting edge under bar integrated trigger shifter/brake lever pods.  Back in the day I think the bike was considered just a basic mid-level mountain bike but to me I was on top of the world as I cut my mountain bike teeth in the Rocky Mountains of Washington, Idaho, Western Montana and Alberta, Canada.   

I've been dragging this bike along with me through the years and while it has spent much of it's latter years hanging in semi-retirement I get it out once in a while and take a sentimental spin.  Just for fun I converted it to a single speed in the mid 2000's.  It's a good no-nonsense ride around town and quite zippy once the 46-16T gears are spun up.  Another thing I did away with at that time was the flashy red paint job and hideous 1990's neon accents.  Primer gray lends an old school look that I find pleasing.

Keeping the old Diamond Back around really paid off because my son who is 12 years old had already outgrown his Trek that he got in 2011 by the end of last summer.  I installed a spare set of 26" wheels and some fresh tubes and he was off.  I wasn't sure he'd go for the single speed because he's grown accustomed to shifting gears.  His initial comments were "Wow! it's pretty light" and "I like the gray paint it looks cool!"  As they say the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.

The bike will be fine for the shorter around town riding that he does and he can use the experience to help decide what kind of bike he may want next.  I wouldn't mind spending a bit more for a good bike for him now that he is ready for a full size frame and wheels.  I just want him to be very sure of the style of bike to best fit his own needs as a rider.

Testing One-Handed stability.

During the initial test ride we were out about 2 miles from town taking a picture break when suddenly the rear inner tube on the Diamond Back let out its air in a long pssssss.  I had just put a fresh tube into the rim so I'm not sure what happened but I went to the local bike shop and got some new tubes.  We'll do a thorough autopsy on the flat and should be up and rolling soon.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mail Pouch Tobacco Ad

A while back I posted a shot of a Mail Pouch Tobacco Ad and I learned that the painted on brick murals were less common than the ubiquitous barn siding versions.  For that reason I was pleasantly surprised as I drove down the main street in Bellville, Ohio and noticed this fine example.  

It is interesting how the Mail Pouch add was not the first advertisement to grace the side of this old building.   Time and the elements have worn away the black background exposing a ghost image of an older ad.

Monday, April 15, 2013


This weekend fans of manually generated Morse Code radio-telegraphy gathered on the high frequency bands to participate in the SKCC Week End Sprint.  I managed to log a few hours in my new and improved operating position and had a good time making contacts on my wireless set.

April 2013 SKCC Week End Sprint

14.052 MHz    AA5VE    Texas
14.052 MHz    W7GVE    Arizona
7.050 MHz    N8KR    Ohio
7.056 MHz    W0INS    Missouri
7.058 MHz    K8WSN    Michigan
7.053 MHz    N5RB    Mississippi
7.055 MHz    KC0M    Missouri
7.052 MHz    WA1OTZ    Connecticut
7.051 MHz    VA2SG    Quebec Canada
7.050 MHz    W9DLN    Wisconsin
7.053 MHz    N0UMP    Missouri
7.058 MHz    WA1HFF    Massachusetts
14.051 MHz    W6KGP    Wyoming
7.056 MHz    WN4AT    Alabama
7.055 MHz    WA1VIL    Massachusetts
7.053 MHz    N9ZXL    Illinois
7.053 MHz    W0CSR    Missouri
7.055 MHz    K8NB    Michigan
7.055 MHz    KB1NHV    Vermont
7.055 MHz    WW4DX    North Carolina
14.055 MHz    F6HK    France
7.055 MHz    AF2Z    New Jersey
7.114 MHz    K2RFP    New York
7.053 MHz    KL7GLL    Virginia
7057 MHz    W5KDM    Mississippi
7.057 MHz    NG2T    North Carolina
7.057 MHz    KE3O    Maryland
7.057 MHz    N5JPX    Mississippi
7.057 MHz    KG4WNA    Kentucky
7.057 MHz    KA1KU    Massachusetts
7.057 MHz    K1EDG    Maine
7.055 MHz    WS8K    Michigan
7.052 MHz    WI0S    Minnesota
7.057 MHz    K4GM    Virginia
7.054 MHz    WB0PYF    Missouri
14.053 MHz    NG7Z    Washington State
14.050 MHz    KZ5OM    California
14.047 MHz    K0JV    South Dakota


In other news at W8MDE I've upgraded my station computer to this new Toshiba laptop running Windows 8.  Progress marches on so instead of grumbling and hand wringing I've jumped right in.  The Windows 8 operating system is a bit different but not a big deal.  On the surface it looks and acts more like a touchscreen controlled Android device.  Clicking on the windows start button brings up a "normal" looking screen with a task bar at the bottom and desktop icons reminiscent of previous windows operating systems.

Happily the learning curve is not too bad even for someone like me who is not computer savvy in the least.  I've been trying to get more hands on with my computers and I recently learned how to clean and de-fragment my hard drives.  Wow! computers work a lot better with a little regular maintenance.  My idea of "hands on" technology is a Morse Code key.

Saturday afternoon I downloaded the popular PSK-31 program "digipan" successfully and plugged in my Signalink USB interface completing a hard link between the laptop and my transceiver and in short order was having a PSK-31 conversation with a station in the North of France.  Computers really are getting better and better.  This unit functioned perfectly from the start and didn't give me any static regarding the separate soundcard in the Signalink USB. I didn't have to reconfigure any of the computer's internal soundcard settings to get the digipan software working correctly with the interface and my amateur radio.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cycling Update

Spring finally showed up here in Ohio this past weekend.  To say that I was ready to get on my bike and ride would be the understatement of the year.  I've been busy with my home renovation projects and that has not left much time for riding.  Fortunately until now the weather has been cold, windy and rainy so it's been easy to work indoors and I have gotten a lot done.  

On Saturday the skies were sunny and the temperature climbed into the 60's.  My friend the Road Queen and I enjoyed the afternoon on our bikes and traveled from Lexington to Butler, Ohio and back along the B & O Trail in Richland County for a total of just over 23 miles.  After many weeks of upright riding on my commuter bike it was grand to get out and stretch my legs aboard the recumbent.  The Road Queen even even took a try at piloting the HP Velotechnik and after a few miss-starts she was flowing somewhat smoothly in a straight line. 


Another thing the warm temperatures and sunshine of spring bring out besides flowers are classic cars. I'm not a car guy but I am a craftsman and I love tinkering with tools and machines so I can certainly appreciate a good street rod.  On an urban bike cruise around town on Sunday morning we spotted this  old International and I couldn't resist a closer look.  

I could use that to haul some mulch for the flowerbed. 

After lunch we spent the afternoon relaxing on the patio.  I like to kick back with a little bicycle maintenance; Very much so when I can do it under a warm sun in the backyard.  I've had a set of brake and shifter cables to replace the control lines on my Ti General Purpose bike laying around for nearly a month but have been too busy to get to the job.  The outer jackets on the old cables were literally disintegrating after six years or more they had been in service.

As a long time bike rider and home bicycle mechanic I actually enjoy doing my own work.  After replacing cables on existing bikes or installing them on new ones over the years repetition has allowed me to become quite comfortable with the task.  In this case a re-cable job is particularly easy because the old jackets could be used as a sort of template to cut the new outer jackets to the perfect size.  I'm a bit OCD so I like my cable lengths and routing just right and any amount of time and effort is worth it to dial in perfection.

I don't own the Park Tool cable cutter and I probably never will.  I prefer my Dremel tool and a cutoff wheel to cleanly sever my cables and jackets.  The rotary cutting action makes a perfect slice without a single strand of the cable lifting out of place.

Of course the Park bicycle stand I use and love is considered an essential tool for my activities.  Getting the work up to eye and hand level really enhances the ease and enjoyment of bicycle maintenance. 

While I've not been getting in many fun rides I have been putting in a few miles commuting.  Last week I logged 4 out of five days on two wheels leaving the four wheeler at home in the drive.  On my way to work on Monday I admired my new black cabling.  They coordinate nicely with the fenders and other darkened components of the Ti GP bike if I do say so myself.