Tuesday, January 9, 2018

There Was A Bike Fight Tonight

Soulful Soups and Spirits hosted Bight Fights put on by The Bike Hub. It was fun but it was also hard work. Go as hard as you can for 60 seconds. The loser is eliminated and the winner moves on. I did a very respectable .55 mile but the animal I was up against did .66 miles. What a relief--for me.

Bike fights will be held the next two Tuesday evenings at 7:00 pm at Soulful Soups. $10 gets you an entry and two beers--tall cans of PBR, Rainier, or Oly (I think. I stopped them at PBR.)

Because that's where the fun is.

Monday, October 9, 2017

It's Cyclocross Season Again

I raced in Moscow, ID yesterday. I wasn't prepared for racing but I raced nonetheless. Well, I wore a bib number and rode around the course until I had to stop. I'm about five pounds heavier and I haven't trained for 'cross at all so it was no mystery to me why I wasn't as fast as I've been in the past. I usually do more than one race because I really enjoy being on the course. Yesterday I did the single speed and Cat 4 back to back. Then I had a couple of hours rest before the men's masters 60+.

To top it off, since I hadn't even ridden my cross bikes before the race, the single speed race was my practice. While approaching the barriers shown in the picture it was like I forgot how to dismount and I wiped out. It was pretty funny. Fortunately, the worst of it was a small flesh wound.

Me in my Sunday best.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Acoustic/Electric Cigar Box Guitar

I'm 99% done with my first full-fledged cigar box guitar. It's an acoustic/electric. I used a piezo for the pickup. It's hot glued directly under the bridge and it works great. I made a ton of mistakes during the build, which means I learned a lot. I hope my failing mind retains this new found knowledge. 

Lessons learned: Measure twice more again. Take more off the back of the neck and round it out more. Do a scarf joint and angle the head back so the tuners are not in line with the fret board. Drill the fret marker holes in the fret board before gluing it to the neck. Be more patient with the file while smoothing out the ends of the frets. The slightest slip will mar the fret board. Measure three more times, dammit! 

I was pleasantly surprised at how well installing the frets went. Of course, using a template to mark the frets and a fret board miter box to cut the slots were the main contributors to my success. Filing down the rough ends was tedious and there were a few moments when I got too confident and the file slipped and ground away at the end of the wood instead. 

Things to do for the next one:  Add a brace for the neck. Do a scarf joint at the head. Improve upon the height settings for the nut, fret board, and bridge. Install a proper pickup.

The jack, volume control, and piezo.

 Chiseled some of the inside so the volume control would fit.

Kinda sloppy.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Oregon Outback - Day Six

For our sixth and final day we stopped by the general store to buy breakfast and snacks and hit the road. Instead of the 90+ degree weather we had been broiling ourselves it was going to be 80 degrees. Most of the ride was going to be down hill so the last 60 miles was going to be easier that the rest of our trip. But it was also very windy so it wasn’t as easy as we were expecting.

We headed out on Highway 97. We flew when the wind was behind us, but most of the time we leaned into a side wind. Passing trucks added some sketchiness with the swirling air currents in their wake pushing us in unexpected directions. Fourteen miles later we left the highway and hit the gravel.

But now we were alternating between a head wind and a slightly back-to-your-left-tail-but-also-side wind. At least we didn’t have any traffic. We diverted from the established route to stop in Grass Valley to grab a bite. Unfortunately, it was Monday and everything was closed. So we had to follow Hwy 97 another 10 miles to Moro where we found a grocery store that had a small deli inside. We lingered because it was our last stop of the day before finishing.

Leaving Moro we had to climb. Into a head wind. Like a 20 mph head wind with 30 mph gusts head wind. The ascent wasn’t that steep, except for a couple of 6-9% spots, but that wind would almost stop you in your tracks.

John remarked that he would probably be faster if he walked his bike. Once we crested we had an easier time going against the wind on the long descent to the Deschutes River. We finished at the Deschutes River State Recreation Area and called Susan, John’s wife, to let her know we had arrived safely. She was about an hour out, which gave us plenty of time to shower and change into clean clothes.

The most enjoyable part of riding the Oregon Outback was riding it with John and Geoff. They are both great guys. We watch out for each other and we are good humored together. Next was the experience of passing through a countryside with a great combination of variety and solitude.

And then there were signs of the past. Worn and rusted machines setting out as if to display a greatness that once was. Buildings with weather-beaten boards held in place by nails hammered decades ago by the hands of men who had dreams. Untold and unknown stories swirl in the wind leaving you to conjecture about the physical objects before you. We pass by on our simple machines and find our own stories. Stories that may one day blow in the wind through forests, along rivers, across high deserts, and leave others to wonder about what they see.

Oregon Outback - Day Five

The next morning we left Ashwood behind and started climbing. About five miles later we kind of topped out and the countryside became more sparse. There were fewer trees. The heat was pressing down on us and we had very few opportunities to stop in the shade. 

I didn’t quite have my bearings but we could see snow-covered mountains way off in the distance. I think we were looking at Mount Hood to the northwest and the North and South Sisters to the southwest. Today we were passing through Antelope and stopping in Shaniko. Again, it was to be a 30-mile day so we were in no hurry. We rolled down to route 293 and followed that to Antelope where we stopped to take shelter from the heat.

The Antelope Cafe sported an ancient Closed sign and there was no sign of a gas station. We stopped a woman driving by and asked her if any amenities were available in the area. Nope. Nothing. I asked if she knew where we could refill our water. She invited us to stop by her mobile home just down the street. I thanked her and we got back under a shade tree and ate a snack. There was a historical display in front of the house we were by. Antelope had a storied history back in the 1980’s. A guru from India named Rajneesh practically rook over the town by importing homeless people from elsewhere and using them to pad the voter rolls in his favor. His chief deputy was involved in an attempt to poison people with anthrax and from all accounts seemed to be a pretty psychotic person. The whole thing turned into a real shit show and I’m sure the locals were relieved when Rajneesh and his followers departed and the clean, quiet, country living returned. 

While I was reading the display a woman came out of the house and told us the “park” next door, named "Bolton Place", was for cyclists passing through. We noticed the half shelters, but not the water spigot, and there was no clue that this was for public use. 

In the meantime, the woman we spoke to earlier drove up and handed us a gallon jug of water with ice cubes in it. That was very nice of her and we thanked her profusely. We filled up from the gallon jug and topped off with the spigot. Then we started climbing in the heat again but this time on asphalt. John and Geoff had triple chain rings but I was grinding away on a double. On the bright side, I got a good shot of them well ahead of me on the switchback near the top of the climb. If you squint you can almost see Geoff's yellow jersey and John's white one.

We arrived in Shaniko in the early afternoon and headed straight to the ice cream shop, which also sold sandwiches. While we hung out a lot of people came in for the ice cream. One couple got ice cream for their two children and went back outside to their VW van. 

John pointed out to me that the dad was checking out my bike. I’m always ready to put in a plug for the Elephant National Forest Explorer so I went outside. Alex, from Santa Cruz, saw a write up on the NFE a couple years before. (All the components on that bike are on my bike. Glen gave me a deal on them.) Being a bike builder, Alex built his own bike patterned after the NFE. It was hanging on the back of his van. 

He even had the same Gevenalle shifters that I had. He told me the paint looked so bad because he made the paint himself. He needed to repaint the bike but hadn’t gotten around to it. It was cool to find someone with an appreciation for bikes coupled with the ability to make them.

John, Geoff, and I explored Shaniko. The town has many old buildings, a couple of which pass for museums. One contains dusty and rusty relics from the first four or five decades of motor vehicles. You could hear the bats up in the rafters. Faded track prints lie alongside the old train station, boarded up and festooned with Danger signs. 

The Shaniko Hotel has a classic look but is no longer open. A notice from the Board of Health stated the hotel’s cafĂ© was now closed because of code violations. An old chapel could still be used for small weddings if it wasn’t used for storage and had a little upkeep done. 

A woman runs an antique and gift shop. She lives about 120 miles away but stays in town on days her store is open. A gas station looked like it had been closed recently but the fire extinguisher on the building was last inspected in 2005. Other than the sandwich and ice cream shop and a restaurant down the block, there didn’t appear to be a lot of commerce going on in Shaniko. 

The kind people in the ice cream shop said we could camp overnight in the vacant lot next door. A “No animals allowed” sign meant we were not likely to come across any droppings, and we didn’t. They had a spigot outside we could use, too, so that was a sweet deal. We bought a couple of beers at the general store and got a kick out of the guy running the place. No response to any greetings or questions. He would just tell you your total. We joked about ways we could make him speak but we left him alone. 

The town closed up after 5:00 pm and we essentially had downtown Shaniko all to ourselves. Geoff used his climbing skills to get on the roof of the hotel to take some photos. I wandered around near dusk and took more pictures. That night I woke a couple of times as a truck or car would pull in and the driver would get some sleep.