Jul 31, 2010

A lapse of time

Tomorrow is Saturday. This means I'll be taking the train out of the city, up to Peekskill, NY to ride at Blue Mountain Reservation. I'll be riding with a mellow crowd of guys and taking it easy. The weather is supposed to be perfect and I know the trails will be absolutely sublime. I'm anxious to see how my new Tioga tires grip the earth. They have really stiff, tall nubs and I'm not sure how they'll hold, although online reviews say they're great. I swapped out my flat pedals for another set of Crank Brothers Candy pedals that I had laying around. These ones came on my Cannondale and I never used them because I had a pair of Eggbeaters in store for that bike. For fun, I set up my camera on the tripod exposing one frame every two seconds. I then dumped the images into Quicktime Pro at a rate of ten frames per second to end up with the time lapse video below. It's late; I've got to get some shut eye.

Jul 29, 2010

Time to climb

Opening my mail box (the old fashioned one... in which you receive physical mail) this evening I was pleased to see that EMS had sent me a complimentary copy of Rock & Ice Magazine. I've spent a lot of loot at EMS in the past year, so I think that's pretty nice of them.

Flipping through the mag I realized more than ever that I've got to get over to Brooklyn Boulders with my buddy Kreuter pronto. It's been several weeks since we've climbed together. Life has been quite busy though. Hell, he even got engaged this past week! (Congrats again bud!)

Evening commute

The ride home from work tonight was pretty uneventful. I had planned on exploring a bit, but decided it would be best if I just got home so I could grab groceries and let the mut out for some relief. I did, however, chase down and blow away a couple of guys on motorized bikes. (It's the little victories that sometimes make life so great right?) They were loud and smelly, but it looked like they were having fun on them. I stopped soon afterwords to take a snapshot of the elevated tracks I enjoy riding under so much.

Before stopping home I swung in the grocery store and picked up a bunch of random items: bung wad, gherkins, jalapenos, BBQ riblets, fake chicken patties and some Stoufer's french bread pizzas. Staring at those pizzas through the foggy freezer door made me realize how much I miss meat. I used to love those "deluxe" pizzas with the little sausage & pepperoni chunks... Now the thought of it nearly turns my stomach. (Public Service Announcement: Don't read Eating Animals, if you want to continue eating that kind of garbage).

When I was unlocking my bike outside of the store I saw an old hunch-backed woman hobbling by with all the speed of a slug on a salt-lick. I never want to get old.

7.5 miles of morning bliss

Last night I went to bed entirely too late because I stayed up watching a good movie; Eastern Promises. So, I was pretty tired when I woke this morning. Tired and cold. I like to let the air conditioning crank all night and when I awoke, I was spooning Doris for all she was worth (She's a veritable hot water bottle). Nevertheless, I rose, showered, stuffed my clothes in my old messenger bag and walked my bike out the door at 6:00am. I threw a leg over my road bike and headed north towards Fort Tryon Park.

Being sneaky I poached the paths through the woods in Fort Tryon Park. I felt a bit guilty rolling over the stenciled "No bikes on pathway" warnings, but those feelings left once I had switched into cyclocross mode and was blasting through the woods. Too bad the paths are so short; I could have used more than the 30 second stoke I got out of that frowned-upon maneuver.

Popping out onto Broadway, I turned north and churned the cranks up through Inwood, across the Broadway Bridge, and into the Bronx. I really love riding under the 1 Train as it rumbles so loudly on the elevated tracks overhead. I rode under the train until it reached the end of its line at 242nd street where I shot out from under it and kept spinning up past Van Courtlandt Park.

The only real hill in my 7.5 mile commute greeted me just out side of Yonkers. I got out of the saddle and rocked the bars side to side to help reel in the climb. After a few minutes I plateaued in lovely (not really) Yonkers. Passing a White Castle, numerous bodegas, gas stations, auto shops and Latin restaurants, I coasted down to the Hudson River and stopped. Looking north and south through the morning fog, I could barely make out the Tapanzee and George Washington Bridges. It was 6:35am. I was early and had plenty of time to change into work clothes and grab some java.

I have to say, I'm glad it didn't rain on me. Although its really coming down right now. I forgot to bring my fender, so It looks like I may be getting the dreaded "wet ass" on the way home tonight...

Jul 28, 2010

Kindling for commuting

Tomorrow morning I'll be riding in to work. Forecast is calling for thunderstorms (oh my!). My commuting fire has officially been rekindled by a blog I've recently been following. I'm not going to let a few drops smolder these embers. Although it's not much of a commute from upper Manhattan, through the Bronx and into Yonkers, it's always awesome getting a ride in before work starts. I'm counting on those endorphins to propel me through the morning and, at least, get me to lunch. I'll be taking it easy, as I'm still hacking up a lung as residual crappiness from my cold refuses to leave me. I'll see if I can get some snapshots with the iPhone and squeeze out a lunch time post.

I put a brand new pair of Eggbeaters on my road bike tonight (Gosh they're purdy!) and as usual the bike is dialed in. I so love Crank Brothers. I've owned so many pair of their Candy and Eggbeaters over the last few years. I run them on both mountainbikes, the roadie and my fixed. The design is simple, performance is great and on top of that, they're incredibly easy to rebuild.


The singlespeed with new knobular rubber.
I'm looking forward to tearing up some singletrack at Blue Mountain on Saturday morning (T minus 3 days and counting). I haven't taken the singlespeed out in quite a while so I gave her some TLC this evening. Aside from throwing my egg beaters back on Saturday morning; she's tip top. I still have flat pedals on this bike from when I loaned it to my friend John a while back. I must say, the knobby tires I picked up at Tread Bike Shop after work today are quite malicious looking. A big change from the Kenda Small Block 8's I had on there. (see?) They ought to make a world of difference, although I'll be sure to let you know with a nice picture-heavy ride report on Saturday.

Jul 27, 2010

Citizen Soldiers

Over the last few weeks I've been watching the Ken Burns documentary: The War. My grandfather, an American infantryman in the European Theater of Operations makes World War II of special interest to me. I can't explain why, but I feel a deeply rooted connection to the soldiers that fought in this war; a war I feel was actually worth fighting, as opposed to today's war. One of the best books I've picked up on the subject is Stephen Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers. There are so many amazing stories that I never would have heard about without this book. Stories of courage, sacrifice, guts, ingenuity and humor told by the soldiers that made it home. I'll have to give a full report on this book when I finish it.

Jul 26, 2010

iPhone picture of the day

iPhone snap shot, processed in the phone using the Tilt Shift Generator app and Shake It app, uploaded to my server using an FTP Picture Upload app and blogged using the Blog Press App.

Back to work.

It's Monday and I'm back at work after being at home, sick for three days last week. I actually missed doing my job here at Kawasaki. As someone who loves trains, being an Engineer at this company is quite rewarding.

I'll be traveling to DC in the next few weeks. WMATA has ordered a few hundred new subway cars and I'll be helping to supply them. And then, in a few months I'll be traveling to Japan, Spain, Sweeden and possibly Austrailia (I'm keeping my fingers crossed, and my lenses polished!).

Jul 22, 2010


Yesterday was a big day for the this ol' blog. After receiving a bunch of comments on various blog entries I discovered that blogger had chose my blog to feature as a "Blog of Note" (BON).

At the moment I have managed to catch a bad cold, despite it being the middle of the summer. The comments that poured in yesterday and today really lifted my spirits! And I've been enjoying checking out the blogs of those who left comments on mine.

It's nice to know that there are people out there reading my random gibberish. My gibberish pertains, mostly, to biking, New York City and photography with a smattering of random foolishness mixed in here and their. At any rate; I give my thanks to Blogger and all of you people out there in the www. :]

Jul 14, 2010

Phattire video

Last Sunday, while riding at Sprain Ridge Park I took some footage with my iPhone (3GS). This involved perching my phone atop rocks and logs, held fast by small twigs and pebbles. An iPhone tripod would have been really nice although goes against my low-tech intentions. Once I had the phone precariously balanced I'd grab my bike, ride through the scene, and double back for the camera. I did this about ten times until my battery was just about dead. To make the most of my footage I added the "out takes" and camera grabs. At any rate, enjoy.

Jul 12, 2010

More miles under my tires

Yesterday I went back to Sprain Ridge and put the knobbies to the singletrack again. I got there late in the afternoon, around 1:30 and it was hot but not unbearable like it has been lately. Fortunately, a lot of the trail network at Sprain Ridge is covered by a dense canopy.

Aside from riding every trail I could, my other goal was to test my prototype Grapefruit Spoon Chain Guide. As it turns out, my "backyard rocket-science" did not prove to be completely successful. I dropped my chain about ten times during my 3 hour ride. Each time my chain dropped, was equally frustrating. I fiddled with the device and adjusted the height countless times before just giving up. I see a new purchase in the near future.

On the plus side, I did take a lot of video with my 3GS. I'm going to splice it together tomorrow night and see if I can post up a little vimeo action for ya'll. Stay tuned.

Jul 11, 2010

Grapefruit Spoon Chain Guide

It seems that I never use my big (42 tooth) ring when I ride at Sprain Ridge or Blue Mountain. The trails are so technical that I end up staying in my 32 tooth ring. So rather than continue to bash the bajeezus out of my big ring, I replaced it with a Truvativ bash ring. Nothing fancy, just something to protect my teeth when I slam into rocks and logs.

There were some positives that came out removing the chain ring: I got to take off my front derailleur and shifter. With only one chain ring up front, instead of three, I won't be needing them anymore. And with removing a few links from my chain, I lost a little weight off the bike in general. With the positives came some negatives though: dropping the chain off the chain ring is pretty easy to do now. I had to come up with a chain guide that would keep the chain on my chain ring. With a little ingenuity and some household tidbits I fabricated my Grapefruit Spoon Chain Guide (patent pending). I found the thin stainless steel spoon ideal from both a malleable standpoint as well as a maritally responsible one. And actually, I'm not sure that our good Crate & Barrel spoons would have worked much better in this application.

I'm off to Sprain Ridge Park in a few hours to test my prototype....

Jul 10, 2010


Yesterday I took a train up to Sprain Ridge Park and ripped around in the woods for a few hours. I got there around two o'clock in the afternoon and didn't see another soul on the trails (That's a first). The weather was hot and humid; the trails were bone dry, the vegetation; wilting from the heat. I took it easy, stopping often for snapshots with my iPhone, to catch my breath and take in the sights. I love the terrain at Sprain Ridge. The topography is one thing, with enough hills to tire you out, but the ground itself is a perfect mix of baby-head sized rocks, rooty sections, logs, switchbacks along exposed rock faces and bermed turns.

The ride was perfect, even with the small time-out I took to fix my 42 tooth chain ring. I had smashed it into the rocks a few too many times and bent the tips of several teeth in towards the center line of my bike. I knew I'd need the big ring to get back to the train and didn't want to prematurely fatigue (loosen the links) my chain, so I grabbed the nearest file (rock) and went to town on those teeth. (Blurry photo of teeth burs here.)

Jul 2, 2010

Video Friday

That's right, "Video Friday", said as though I regularly embed hip videos, on a weekly basis, for your viewing pleasure. Perhaps it'll catch on and I'll be posting up some rad works every 7 days; we'll have to see what my viewer base thinks (Are you two listening?).

I found this video over at Prolly's website. I'm lovin' it.