Observations

Everyone’s a Pro Lawnmower:  Lawn mowing is such a big deal these days.  Whats with all this lawn mowing, and how did it become so cool?  Isn’t lawn mowing like a chore or like a job.  It’s not like you’re fighting fires or flying jets.  If lawn mowing is so cool, why isn’t vaccuming, ironing, dishwashing and dusting?

(Shauna’s note:  The answer is simple, its because men usually do the mowing, they like to make things seem more spectacular then they really are.  It’s like cooking, most men don’t cook, but if you give them a grill they’re like, “I’m the grillmaster” and they become professional cooks for the afternoon.)

High Frame Rate video:  Last year youtube began supporting videos with frame rates higher then the ol standard 30 fps.  I just noticed how much smoother some videos appeared, especially fast moving cycling videos.  1080 60p videos are pretty neat.

Sometime a gift is not really a gift:  Recently several bike racks were given to the area through a few Illinois agencies.  Inmates from the Hardin County Work Camp were brought in to install the racks.  The installation consisted of sitting the racks on the ground and hammering them into the ground with some 6 inch carriage bolts.  The event created a great photo op.  I guess eventually someone realized that hammering 6 inch bolts into the dirt was not really going to work and the racks disapeared.

For the last few days work crews have been removing dirt, creating forms, and pouring concrete pads where the bike racks sat.  I’m sure the racks will return and be properly bolted into the concrete.  I have no idea what it cost to install these racks but I’m willing to bet it costs more then the racks are worth.   I’m pretty certain the the bike racks along the bike trail will see very little use.  Still photo ops aren’t free.

Horse trail damageHorses and wet trails suck:  Shauna and I did some hiking at Lusk Creek.  It’s horse season.  The equestrians are coming out of the woodwork with the spring weather and unfortunately the ground is soaked from Spring rain.  The effect is trails that are very difficult to walk.  In a couple of months when its 90 degrees every day they’ll be dry and beat down flat again.

Why I’m Not on Facebook:  There are many people out there that use facebook that shouldn’t be allowed too.  A vast amount of interpersonal communication occurs without words, much of the true message is in the form of gestures, tone of voice, stuff like that.  Many people seem to think that communication on facebook in the form of poorly worded, short statements, possibly followed with a cartoon graphic is real communication.  Some people seem far too interested in these posts.  Some people are just really into drama.  I ain’t got time for that.

KIds on ATVs:  The other day I was out riding some back roads and encountered many kids on ATVs running up and down the road.  Riding ATVs on the road is illegal, but I really don’t care about that.  When 10 years blow past me on 50cc motorcycles over and over again I get a bit annoyed.  I’m probably just jealous that they are faster then me.

A Very Bad Week:  A friend of my wife’s who lives far away lost her husband to a heart attack earlier this month.  The next day this friend fell and broke her arm badly requiring surgery, her car broke the next day.  Kind of reminds me that my problems aren’t really problems.

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The Aquarium Story

It’s been a nasty rainy weekend putting a damper on riding, but a problem crept up that needed attention anway.  I found water underneath my 55 gallon aquarium.  As I’m sure you’ve probably noticed if you’ve read anything here, I like to find a good deal, sometimes buying used pays off. sometimes it doesn’t.  This is a story of one time it didn’t pay off.

About ten years ago I had Convict chiclids really neat fish, until they kill each other.

About ten years ago I had Convict chiclids really neat fish, until they kill each other.

I’ve had at least one aquarium now for about 20 years.  I started with a 5 gallon and have very slowly moved up.  A few years ago I bought a used 55 gallon aquarium because I decided my 29 gallon tank wasn’t big enough.  I found the tank on craigslist, it was a few towns over, but a 55 gallon tank, stand and lights for $125 seemed like a good deal.

A Gourami from 2011

A Gourami from 2011

When we found the house Shauna urged me to drive away.  It didn’t look like the kind of house where anyone would live.  I didn’t take her advice, and instead we went inside to check out the aquarium.  Inside we found the dilapidated house to be very clean and the people that lived there to be very accommodating.  The aquarium in question was about halfway full and  the home of 3 turtles and it looked pretty rough.  The stand was a home made structure that looked cheap and the tank itself looked really old and worn out and the hoods were useless.  How does an aquarium, an object that just sits around and holds water, become worn out?  I don’t know but I highly recommend not buying a worn out one.

The old tank in the basement.

The craigslist tank in the basement.  The stand it came with is long since gone.

I could tell Shauna was not going for it, but I didn’t get the hint.  I had borrowed a truck and driven a long way, so I made an offer of 75 dollars and I knew that it wasn’t worth that when I made it.  The guy went back and forth and eventually accepted the offer.  We got the tank home and spent the next several hours breaking down the 29 gallon and setting up the 55 gallon.

When it was filled and decorated and the fish were swimming around I was happy.  The tank was huge and looked great.  Three hours later there was water dripping into the floor.  We worked well past bedtime dismantling the 55 gallon tank and putting the 29 gallon back together.  It was very frustrating.

I resealed the 55 gallon aquarium and set it up in the basement, where it didn’t leak, at least for awhile.  Over the next few years I would end up resealing this tank 2 more times.  Because of it’s penchant for leaking it stayed in the basement, which is kind of sad since it had many nice fish in it, including a very large plecostomus.

After this latest leak I announced to Shauna I was through with it, no more resealing.  We found a good deal on a tank and stand combo deal at Petsmart, with all the associated coupons and deals we were able to get a 60 gallon tank and stand along with a 50 dollar Fluval filter for 250 dollars.  We should have done this a long time ago.  It looks so much better then the setup we had before.  I love to buy used and get a good deal but sometimes you get what you paid for.  When comes to supporting 600 pounds of water and fish maybe it’s not such a bad idea to buy new.

The new tank, not quite finished yet.

The new tank, not quite finished yet.

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Look What I Got at GoodWill #5 Sweet Shoes and Sweeter Shirt

Shauna and I took a trip to St. Louis today since it’s her birthday week.  Yeah, apparently she gets an entire week, where I got half a day.  Anyway we went to the Zoo and checked out a few places, a couple of GoodWill stores along the way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I got a pair of Nike road bike shoes with Carbon Soles for 6 dollars.  They are like new and have new SPD cleats on them.  The shoes are several sizes too small, but I still needed the cleats, and hopefully I can hook someone up with some really nice shoes, anyone out there size 42.

I also got this Wrangler western style shirt which may become my new jersey for cool weather mountain biking, add a cowboy hat and I’d fit in on the trails way better then with lycra and a helmet.

 

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2015 Weight Loss

Well the first quarter is over so I thought we’d take a look at the 2015 weight loss.

2015 weight lossAs you can see Shauna has taken a commanding lead of 7 pounds.  She’s down 20 for the year and I’m down 13.  When people ask about how she does it there is a very simple answer.  She writes down everything she eats and doesn’t go over a set amount of calories for the day.  She also exercises about every day.  I on the other hand burn far more calories but haven’t really worried much about my calorie intake.  It hurts me that Saturday is doughnut day at work and we weigh in every Sunday too.

I got in about 170 miles last week, riding every day.  You’d think that would equal a weight loss, but maybe I’ll get some delayed returns on that investment next week.  Also easter candy was half off and I really like Peanut butter eggs.

 

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Shawnee Bluffs Mountain Bike Park

So there is a zip line course in Southern Illinois, I find that kind of hard to believe.  I can see people in a touristy area on vacation spending 75-85 dollars a pop to do something like this, but here?  It’s been around for a couple of years so it there must be people interested.

The owner has recently decided to expand into mountain biking, he’s had a couple of the major trail building companies give him estimates for a world class mountain bike park.  Now he’s put up a crowdfunding campaign in an attempt to finance the construction of this park.

After reading the campaign I’m blown away by the cost to build trails.  The first phase of the project will require almost 100,000 dollars.  I can’t tell from the documentation but I’m going to make an estimate that this is about 3 miles of trail that wind back and forth over the same hill.  No doubt these trails will be excellent, and I’m sure that I don’t really know just expensive it is to build trails, but… A friend of mine built one of my favorite trails in the Shawnee in his spare time.  It’s a mile long, but no it doesn’t have any berms or places to grab wicked air, but its fun to ride.

If you donate 25 dollars to the campaign you get a day pass to the park, hence a day pass cost 25 dollars.  I can completely understand the charge to come use private land in this way and in the scheme of things 25 dollars isn’t a bad deal considering the cost of building and maintain these trails and the cost of insurance.  I wish Shawnee Bluffs success and hope they are able to make a go of this.  I’m also reminded how thankful I am for the vast amount of public land in the Shawnee National Forest.

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Wild Action in Flanders and This Week’s Goal

The Ronde Van Vlaanderen or Tour of Flanders happened Sunday, it’s perhaps the biggest one day race of the year, internationally it may not rival the popularity of Paris Roubaix, but the Flandrians love their racing and it looks like everyone in the country is on the streets watching.  I watched the race this morning, the entire 180KM that was shown on Eurosport.  I think it was 3 hours, yeah I got up extra early to watch this.

The racing was great, though the conditions weren’t epic like the Belgium racing has been lately, there was little wind and clear skies, but the huge miles and cobbled climbs kept the racers on their toes.

Excitement was added to this years race in the form of crashes, specifically crashes with cars.  I’ve always been surprised that more riders aren’t hit, I’ve only seen it one other time a few years ago in the Tour when Johnny Hoogerland was knocked into a barb wire fence by a passing car.  This year the same thing, minus the fence, happened to Jesse Sargent, ending his race with a broken collarbone.  The culprit, a Shimano Neutral Service car that was trying to pass the breakaway for some reason.

flanders_car_accident flanders_car_accident2

A little later Shimano struck again, this time the neutral service car ran into the back of an FDJ team car knocking it forward into  Sébastien Chavanel ending his race, but fortunately causing no serious injury.

I’ll abstain from giving a play by play of the finish, as much more qualified writers have done.  I’ll just say that perhaps Sky should rethink putting the whole team on the front of a 264KM monument, they looked pretty tired near the end.

shimano_againIn local news I’ve made it my goal to ride everyday this week, the temps look great even if it’s going to be cloudy with spotty rain and storms.  Hoping to get at least 100 miles in this week.

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Misleading Video and Sunny King Criterium

Lets start off today with a video someone posted in the comments of a recent post.  The Post was Old School in the New School about riding an old bike and trying to hang with guys on new full suspension bikes.

The video is well made and I was initially very interested in the premise.  Putting the three major types of mountain bikes up against each other in a shoot off.  A XC hardtail, a mid travel full suspension race bike, and a longer travel all mountain trail bike.  The test commences with the rider pedaling some single track and then talking a bit about the ride at the end of each section.  Nice.

bike_test_vid_captureThen the stupidity kicks in.  Back at the pub they lay out the results.  The Hardtail was the slowest bike, the Mid Travel the fastest, and the long travel in the middle.  These results are on a course that took a 2 MINUTES to ride.  Those times have no statistical value whatsoever.  They claim the course has a “good mix” of all the terrain and features you would encounter on a typical mountain bike ride, but how is that possible on a 2 minute trail.

The major advantages of a hardtrail are weight and power transfer, these advantages are going to become apparent on longer rides and especially long climbs.  The truth is that there is no type of mountain bike that is better then any other, there may be one that is better for the type of riding you do.  If you like to bomb and let it all hang out and your trails offer some opportunities for that then you want the longer travel.  If your trails have longer climbs, double track or road sections, and you want to maximize your pedaling efficiency you want the hardtail.  Middle of the road?  Choose the mid travel.  It’s not that complicated.

Here’s a much better video comparison on wheelsize.

Over on the road side of things I’d like to shout out to the Sunny King Criterium.  The race in Anniston Georgia produces a Livestream video each year that you can watch on their website.  They use 5 cameras and the announcer provides excellent commentary.  It’s a very slick and professional presentation and a great way to watch critierium style racing.  I especially like that they have video of most of the various categories.  If you have 9 hours to kill watch it all, or maybe just fast forward to the race you want to watch.

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