31 December 2012

Our Lady Of The Darkness

Well, right now, she's being Our Lady of Complaining About the Closed Nature of Doors, but she's not being excessively insistent about it.  (She's already sprinted through the apartment door and dived into the apartment of the patient artists next door once already, so she's had today's Out.  Even if she was unable to Snorfle All the Things.)

2012, well, wrote a novel, remained useful at the stuff I actually get paid for, may have figured out a non-bending drivetrain solution for cycling, saw some birds, and had the number of people I know for whom my weird brain is unreservedly a feature go from one to two.

2013, well, I hope more cycling.  And some more birds.  And another novel, because the setting has momentum.

11 November 2012

Lest we forget

Cha Till Maccruimein
(Departure of the 4th Camerons)

The pipes in the streets were playing bravely,
The marching lads went by
With merry hearts and voices singing
My friends marched out to die;
But I was hearing a lonely pibroch
Out of an older war,
Farewell, farewell, farewell, MacCrimmon,
MacCrimmon comes no more.'

And every lad in his heart was dreaming
Of honour and wealth to come,
And honour and noble pride were calling
To the tune of the pipes and drum;
But I was hearing a woman singing
On dark Dunvegan shore,
In battle or peace, with wealth or honour,
MacCrimmon comes no more.'

And there in front of the men were marching
With feet that made no mark,
The grey old ghosts of the ancient fighters
Come back again from the dark;
And in front of them all MacCrimmon piping
A weary tune and sore,
On gathering day, for ever and ever,
MacCrimmon comes no more.'

Ewart Alan Mackintosh (1893-1917)

No more, no more, no more forever, shall love or gold return the fallen.

30 October 2012

Not as four-dimensional as it looks

Well, OK, it exists in time.  The angle I took this at manages to make it look like it's having trouble with the existing in space part.

Tubus Carry rack, via Peter White Cycles; Arkel GT-18 pannier, via my inestimable local bike shop, Cycle Solutions on Parliament.  And they fit!  They fit like they were made to fit!  (Even if I might want to tighten the bungie up a bit.)

This is one of those extremely cheering things, when one was guessing based on dimensioned drawings and hope.

16 September 2012

Some data points

A530 pedals; presuming they don't collapse in a heap sometime in the next 5,000 km, they're made of win.  Not fangy, easy to clip into and out of even with SH-51 cleats, not quite as thick as the M324s, and generally better support around the cleat.

High Sierra cranks -- wow.  A 17% increase in the pedal circle diameter makes a difference, or maybe a 30mm spindle and good bearings makes a difference; legs less sad, average speed up, comfortable rowing-along speed way up.  (Must figure out where to ride that isn't chock-full of people strolling about line-abreast in oblivious groups, though.  Fewer ten pound dogs who figure they can take me and the bicycle would also be welcome.)

Less good -- something about the whole process rattled the pluperfect out of the fenders and racks, so that I lost the left side front fender stay bolt, the left side rear rack bolt to the dropouts, and the left side rear rack bolt to the seat stays was about halfway out when the rubbing front fender clued me in that something was wrong.  Right side bolts were somewhat loosened but nothing like as bad as the left side.  More power transmission means more frame flex?  I have no idea.  I'll admit I use lots of anti-seize on the rear rack bolts but the front fender bolt was into a nyloc nut with no grease whatsoever; I'm kinda surprised it rattled loose!  (Had enough spares with me, but need to carry more.)

Also, first time down the new and improved Pottery Road; hit 52 kph while braking.  Less obviously suicidal than the old version, but still not a source of joy.  (that the up side is a separated lane is very much a source of joy.)

13 September 2012

A substantial relief

So after the spider-anodizer bent some, and the Post Office bent another, my High Sierra crankset showed up yesterday.

The prized out of the bubble wrap view, above,

 and this the taken-to-component-pieces view.

I'm told Campy cranks work this way, with the central spacer and bolting together.  It took a bit of fiddling to get the spacer to play nicely, and I was very glad I had the correct extension for the 6mm hex driver socket, but it did all go together and get torqued to the specified 50 Nm.

The pedals are Shimano A530s; the goal is to have something less fangy than the impressively durable but also wrapped in a thin strip of  stainless steel as is readily sharpened by encounters with curbs  M234s.  

All together again; I went round and round some lane ways (parts of Toronto stick lane ways between residential streets, and the garage is off the lane way) and managed to convince myself that toe clearance wasn't an issue, despite the SKS Longboard fenders or the 195mm crank arm length.  (Having completely failed to notice it as an issue despite repeated right-angled turns.)

Pedal clearance seems OK, too; the spreadsheet on the Sheldon Brown cite suggests I'd hit at 64.13mm, and the tip of the crank arm is 70.  So it's tight, but it's not too tight, or at least it doesn't seem to be so far.

Seat went down a bit, so I probably want to move one of the spacers up on the stem, too.

Also, to go for an actual ride and see if anything in the drive train bends, but so far, so good.

12 September 2012

Eventually she gives up

with marping at me to stop doing that pointless bicycle stuff and pay attention to her, as is my obvious sole function, and tries to blast me away from the repair stand by sheer cuteness.

02 September 2012

Small victories

So, I've been developing this bad habit of bending chain rings, to the point where I began to suspect the cranks, or, rather, that one of the arms of the spider was out of flat a bit, and Not Helping in consequence.

Getting 180mm cranks involves a substantial wait for things to be put on a boat; given that, throwing money at the problem means there's no difference between 180 and the 195 various proportional-crank advocates say I (or, rather, someone with my leg length) should use.

Everything I've seen suggests crank length has nothing to do with total power output (at least over short periods of time); that is entirely about pedal velocity.  I am hoping the larger circle will lead to less fatigue, since I'll get more time per unit of pedal distance in terms of muscle recovery.

So, back on 30 June, I ordered some 195mm cranks from High Sierra.

They showed up, due to High Sierra having a bunch of supplier problems involving spiders, on the 29th of August.

With one arm of the spider poking out of the box; it looked a bit scuffed, but otherwise intact, so I was an idiot and didn't think anything of it or try to complain to the post office.

The spider arm as was poking out of the box?  Its chainring bolt hole was just a bit out of round as it arrived.

So back the whole thing goes, where it shall presumptively get a new spider.

This, on the other hand, is managing to fit the third water bottle cage with 35mm tyres and SKS longboard fenders, which took me three tries and a lot of fussing.

But it makes me happy, because it's surprisingly easy to need bottle number three.

19 August 2012

Not the usual otter

African spotted-necked otter.

No idea why it's looking quite that morose, but, hey, how often do you see a morose otter?

05 August 2012

Some austral duck

Another non-penguin from the penguin pool.  (The penguins were either hiding from the heat in the deep shade or rocketing about under a couple of metres of water; either circumstances made them excessively challenging photographic subjects.)

The DA200 has its limitations, but down-sun it's really quite splendid.

04 August 2012

Such a marvellous bird

What used to be the fur seal enclosure at the Toronto Zoo (which I keep wanting to call the Metro Zoo, since that's what it was before Toronto got amalgamated) is now a penguin exhibit, the fur seals having gone to the aged critter home.

To keep the penguins company, there are a bunch of other austral waterfowl, including some Great White Pelicans.

03 August 2012

Seeing in darkness

The Clouded Leopard (I think there are two; there's definitely only one in the picture) at the Toronto Zoo have an enclosure at the back of the Malaysian Woods building, next to a tank of snakes and back of a space full of birds and butterflies.

In respect of their crepuscular nature, the enclosure is dim, draped with frondy, trailing vegetation, backlit (windows to daylight), and coated all over with dimming film (with bubbles, which means there are strange diffracted colours every where in the background of the original image), which means that the above image, pulled out of the perceptually much dimmer RAW camera image, represents more detail than I've ever seen in there with bare eyes.

So, yeah, technically dubious picture, but I'm happy about it.

11 July 2012

Apparently it's a curse

Exchanged emails with the custom crank provider concerning expected delivery date.

Things will be another two to three weeks because, for some inexplicable reason, their whole current batch of 110 BCD spiders is bent and it will take that long to get new ones.

This does indicate that their quality control is good.  I am hanging on to that awareness just as firmly as I am able.

30 June 2012

Cycling is for the delicate

At least relatively speaking.

After much flailing about online, much peering at catalogs at the LBS, and subsequent discovery that any 180mm SRAM crank that isn't carbon (that being the shifters and the bottom bracket and I really like the current setup, if only it wouldn't bend in inappropriate ways) would have to come by sea from Taiwan as a special order per the available distributors, I went and looked at the Experiment standing there with no cranks and snapped a little.  (I am paranoid about carbon and the prospect of carbon fibre slivers gives me the cave creeps in a comprehensive way.)

The combination of a crank and BB from High Sierra and chain rings from Praxis will either not bend or I'm going to have to find a new hobby.

And yes, I know, it's almost certainly something like one of the spider arms on that particular rival crank being ever so slightly proud and greatly encouraging the chainrings to fold, rather than an instance of the Everything Is Fragile problem, but that's just not how I'm feeling about the whole thing right now.

(and, also, yes, I know; it's an issue of materials that I can afford to fix.  Tiny subset of first world problems, problem.)

And July is generally not good cycling time due to risk of poaching or poisoning anyway, and I shall keep telling myself that.

The Rickshaw, looking very un-Rickshaw like with the front platform rack off (because otherwise getting on the GO train would be a dubious prospect indeed!) somewhere along the waterfront trail back from Oakville, which was a lovely ride but right at the sensible limit for riding the Rickshaw for distance.

28 June 2012

Not the desired result

The answer to "how long does it take Graydon to bend a Blackspire chainring" turns out to be "about 80 km".

Suspicion has fallen on the spider integral to the particular Rival crank all those bending has been happening on; it's possible one of the arms isn't quite flat with respect to the others.

And certainly the guy at the LBS was nicely flummoxed, which is something.

24 June 2012

The continued Experiment

 So I got Hugh Black of True North Cycles to repaint the Experiment this spring; this was about the only way of getting the car-scuff from May of 2011 off.  I also got him to retrofit the ability to use SON SL hubs into the front fork. (These feed up through a wire in the fork and take the return via the fork, so there isn't a concern about removing small connectors before you can take the front wheel off.  Figuring out how to connect the existing light to the fork for the return was interesting, but ultimately successful.)

And then I had to get it back together, something that was happening while I had the poor forethought and planning as to move.  (Although the new quarters have way more space for doing things like working on bicycles.  And wider doors.)  So the basic re-assembly took rather longer than planned, and I managed during that to totally botch the rear Berthoud fender install, and realized that the front fender daruma bolt wouldn't work; there was no way to keep it from crushing the in-fork wire, which emerges from under the fork crown.  So I gave up:

This is probably the only time I'm ever going to ride the experiment without fenders, but I took it over to the LBS and said "help! fenders!" and got the problem solved. (Matt, at Cycle Solutions on Parliament St., is a great guy in good company.)

Getting there had the unfortunate consequence of managing to bend the 50 tooth chain ring; since I'd acquired an Avid steel ring over the winter to hopefully avoid that happening, I was kinda sad.
The recommended fix (again via Cycle Solutions); 7075 aluminium alloy and much thicker than the standard SRAM rings.  I feel a little silly with high-end racing drive train components (today's ride had an average rolling speed of bang-on 5 m/s.  This is so not racing speed!) but if it doesn't bend (and so far, it's lasted longer than SRAM Rival and Avid steel chain rings have) it could be Chernobyl Canary and that would be OK.
Also, it shifts really nicely.
 Less OK is the whole notion of leaving the apartment; Aoife doesn't approve of that, and figures that if she keeps a good grip on the bike parts, I might finally display some social sensitivity and figure that out.
I was a big meanie and took the chain ring away and installed it anyway; the one in front is the Avid steel ring that I removed.  The cranks are rather chewed up due to the (connex, mostly nickel, thankfully apparently indestructible) chain getting dumped on it repeatedly due to the Avid ring being bent.  (Only about three-fifths of a chain thickness, but that's more than enough to dump the chain if the load comes on it wrong.)
The Experiment, all back together.

I got to keep the third water bottle position, despite larger tyres and new fenders, by resorting to a very minimalist Avid water bottle cage.  The front two are Lyzene, which have the advantage of working well with the Lyzene back-of-the-bottle-cage pump mount (you can just see it lurking back there) and holding ferociously; the bottles do not rattle whatsoever.  Which means the finger rings don't hit the frame and make me wonder what's about to fly off the bike.

Now if I can get some weather that avoids humidex or smog advisories...

17 June 2012

Wandering up and down in the world

In square 17B of the Toronto Count Circle; there were birds, but what I took a picture of was bindweed.
 I think these are otter tracks; could be mink, could be something else entirely, but looks mustelidish.
 Rouge Park.  There's something to be said for getting up early in the morning.
And I should probably produce a bicycle post one of these days.

15 May 2012

Relative difficulty

This guy?  Very easy to photograph, though I advocate stepping over sleeping snakes, rather than (as the well meaning proceeding person had done) trying to prod them off the path with a stick.  Little guy, and bright pink mouth lining, but this does not seem to suffice for online identification purposes.
 This guy? nearly impossible; an apparently traumatized skink, hiding under the boards of the pond observing platform near the visitor's centre at Point Pelee.

Port Credit

It's a really pleasant and almost totally flat ride to Port Credit from Toronto.  Great place for a picnic, and next year I shall make a real effort to avoid picking a day there are two marathons and attendant mass running-for-charity events being held on the waterfront.

23 April 2012

Settling in

While I have been building this
 Aoife has been doing this:
Which luck, I'll eventually get a good shot of her clambering around on the sprinkler pipes.

15 April 2012

Moving in

For the first time in my adult life, I'm going to have a kitchen sink at the right height.
This has required a certain amount of utilitarian rustic carpentry to build the sink stand, a second trip to IKEA to get the filter baskets which are not included in the box with the sink, and a whole lot of Not Paying Attention To The Cat.

The good thing about drilling and sawing and general carryings-on?  Cardboard.  Vast expanses of cardboard, from which the clearly deficient wood-obsessed monkey can be properly ignored in the "see? my paws are tucked up, I am indescribably relaxed" pose.

There's a good deal to go -- no bike bench yet, for example -- but it feels like progress and will feel more like progress when the washer and dryer get hooked up and the sink gets plumbed in over the next couple days.

25 March 2012

First ride for the Rickshaw

 This is what one might describe as a landscape about a month ahead of itself.  (That mass of dirty snow is from the rink out of frame to the left; we didn't get that much snow on the ground at any time all winter this year.)
 The Rickshaw, viewed from off the starboard bow.
And off the starboard beam.

That Axiom rack I still think is very pretty, but it's out of production for an obvious reason after I went to put it on the bike; one has to dismount the deck and then get creative.

I still need the non-temporary summer tires, to figure out which of the possible water bottle mounts works with the locks in the lock holders, to add some kind of decking for the front rack (I am less and less thinking that a slab of plywood is a good idea; it seems very likely there will be far too many angles from which that's just a sail), and the thud-buster seatpost.  Got in a very pleasant and uneventful 12km test ride, all the same; the Alfine 8-speed hub is making me think of putting a Rohloff on the Experiment (not very hard, but the silence, the shifting, and the shifting while stopped has much to recommend it), and while the overall directional stability isn't as good as the Experiment (meaning that the front end shakes if I try the "shift track to one side at speed by swinging my legs" trick, rather than behaving as though there are rails in the road) it's pretty good in an absolute sense.

Oh, and to find the actual Berthoud klik-fix mounts for the seat; there are two of them around here somewhere, and I went and put them in a Safe Place.

18 March 2012

This bicycle thing is addicitive.

It was somewhat foggy on Saturday, and the forecast's notion that this would burn off by mid-morning turned out not to be the case; it was gloomy and atmospheric at True North. (That's a stonking great crow, not a raven, but you would have had to have been there to hear it calling to be sure of that from this picture.)

The Experiment, down to a frame and delivered for  a combination of fork upgrades to allow SON SL dynohubs to work and re-painting.  (Re-painting being about the only way to get the car scuff from last May off it.)  I continue to be astonished by how much the frame doesn't weigh, all by itself like that.

 The front platform rack for the town bike. I'm referring to this bike as the rickshaw, since much of the goal in having it is to be able to take Aoife for bike rides.  (She appears to really like this, and it makes her much less determined to bolt outside, which I consider a net win.  Cats smart enough to figure out you can't reach through parked cars and to sit there contentedly while you try to entice them out with treats can be very bad for getting to work on time.)
So I'll need to make a deck and a lid for the rack; the deck should be pretty easy, and the lid may well be lamentably like a challenge.

Complete pictures forthcoming when I've got some.

15 March 2012

Swans with rock and duck

Mute swans really are a nasty invasive species in Ontario, but it has to be said they've got a firm understanding of the looking elegant.

14 March 2012

Obscured ducks

I was originally quite excited about these guys, having thought from the first glimpse that they might be rather early teal.

Getting a better look revealed a pair of gadwall in indirect light, which is solidly in at-least-they're-not-mallards territory but not quite as exciting as teal in Corner Pond.

13 March 2012

Sometimes it works

I take a fair number of photos of flying birds.  It's not all that difficult, thanks to modern autofocus and the whole digital marginal costs are minuscule thing, but I don't usually get a really crisp lock on the bird.

Sometimes, though, I've rolled enough dice and it just works.

12 February 2012

Unexpected mass distribution

I've taken the Experiment entirely apart, in the expectation of sending the frame off to be painted and the fork  to be updated to cope properly with a newer dyno-hub.  (Repainting being about the only way to deal with the car scuff.)

Having got it apart, picking up the frame gave me a "is this real?" moment; 150 grams difference between the whole frame and the fork.  Not something I'd ever noticed before, since the combination is under 3kg and the total assembled weight—fenders and racks and gps, but no bags—is just about spot on 17kg.

It's going to be interesting getting it all back together.

22 January 2012

Humber Bay, mostly

 There were (I think) two kestrels; this tercel and a falcon who amused the company assembled by hovering.
 Scaup.  Very likely greater scaup, of which there are a great plenty along the Lake Ontario waterfront at this time of year.
 All dressed up and just not spring yet.  Male hooded merganser; reflective white and light-drinking black feathers on the same head is in some sense fundamentally unfair to the photographer.  (Or at least the little stack of chips in the Fuju F550 doing its best to make this come out right.)
 Northern pintail; this one has been kinda hanging around with the mob of mallards all winter.  Could be lost, could be sore of wing, could be lacking any compelling reason to go further south, I have no idea how one would tell.
 Glaucous gull!  An excellent bird for the Toronto waterfront.
Northern mockingbird, mocking us by not being a shrike.

It was a pretty good afternoon; all three merganser species, both scaup (greater and lesser), and more ruddy ducks (15+) than I've ever seen in one place before.  No snowy owl and no shrike but really quite a good day anyway.