Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Catching Up

With a cup of Nicaragua Matagalpa from Flagship Coffee Roasters (defiantly filling a large Starbuck's cup), the ASUS tablet up and running it's a good time to make an attempt to catch up on several things.

Tablet Computing

Because I'm typing this text using the ASUS MeMO I'll update its years-worth of usefulness. After a lot of research I purchased the MeMO as a replacement for an aging and failing MSI Netbook. Its primary use is as a portable word processor and sometimes internet surfer and it does both these things adequately after adding a bluetooth keyboard (Anker Model A7726) and finding an application (TextMaker) that mated well with Word 2000.

The single nagging problem with the ASUS is the abundance of bloatware the manufacturer puts on the machine. It is more an irritant than a problem except when multiple downloads occur. In general the MeMO is a satisfactory replacement for the Netbook; more transportable, quicker to start up and does what it was purchased to do.


Bicycle Computing

When my VDO bike "computer" ceased working I discovered the VDO C3 Wired Cycle Computer at model was no longer available except in a wireless model. I've never had good fortune with wireless computers and the wireless VDO I purchased as a replacement failed to function properly. I've no need for most of the data that modern bike computers can provide, but the VDO's "Navigator" function (which allows for independent tracking of intermediate distances) was extremely useful when touring. I could not find a similar function on any devices at a price I was willing to pay, until I discovered the SunDING SD-563B, a wired computer costing about $10.

Not only does the SunDING have a count-up and count-down function for time and distance like the VDO's Navigator function, it is back-lighted, too. Unlike the VDO and many other computers, the relevant information I want to see most is always visible; time of day, current speed and distance traveled. Stopwatch, average and maximum speeds, count-up/count-down and even temperature are all available in one of the three modes accessed by pressing a single, centrally located button. The display is large enough be read with my aged eyes. I gave a SunDING to a friend who rode the 2016 RAGBRAI where it functioned so well that when someone cut the wire from the pickup he purchased two more; one as a replacement and the second as a back-up.

The first of the SunDING computers I purchased functioned frustratingly, resetting for no apparent reasons at unpredictable times. Because of the success my friend had coupled with the low cost I was willing to take a chance on getting a second one. The replacement has worked properly for many months and miles. Like my friend, I also purchased a second one just in case! With the SunDING readily available on both Amazon and ebay at a range of prices from about $6 to $16 or $17, the purchase of two is not a budget burden. One additional consideration is to purchase from someone selling in the USA thereby avoiding the long wait typical of China Post where delivery can take twenty to thirty or more days.


Cellular Fix

It's been more than a year since I upgraded to my current smartphone, the LG Stylo. The phone is oversized and fits the broad category of phablet, but is a good choice for my large and mildly arthritic hands. I was disappointed when I found a crack in the back plate of the phone and anticipated having difficulty finding a replacement. My worries were misplaced. On ebay I found an assortment of replacement back plates. I ordered one (Unbranded/Generic) priced  at $1.99 and free shipping (by China Post) from forever-mall888, figuring it to be a minimal risk whether it fit or even arrived.

When the back plate arrived after about a month, which was still within the anticipated delivery time, it not only fit, but was more than a back-plate. The vinyl-like material wraps around the edges of the phone providing some impact and scratch protection. All of the necessary cut-outs for USB, camera, speaker, et cetera, are where they need to be. After two months of use I see no evidence of undue wear which suggests that it might outlive the phone.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fixing ABT through Haile

Alachua County patched the numerous cracks on ABT where it parallels Haile Blvd. It has been suggested that problems with the clay base caused the problem. Perhaps the warranty from Hipp on their paving was limited to 90 days?

Patching of ABT along Haile Blvd

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Archer Road Connector Reaches ABT

The stretch of sidewalk passing in front of Kimble Wiles Elementary and Kanapaha Middle Schools is no more. As of Friday, August 12, the concrete gave way to dirt. Presumably the county plans to cover the dirt with asphalt but ran out of time before the first day of school.

The story offered while ABT (Archer Braid Trail) was being extended through Kanapaha Park alleged that the school system had denied its permission to allow the Archer Connector to join with ABT; almost two years later it happened. Ordinary citizens can't expect to understand the reasoning that made this 0.4 mile stretch untouchable in 2014 . . . or something. Nonetheless, regular users will appreciated it when completed.

Kanapaha Middle
Kanapaha Middle

Wiles Elementary
Wiles Elementary

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Get A Whey: Energy Made Locally

Anyone who tours by bike or takes part in demanding rides over long distances understands the need for convenient food that can be consumed along the way. Whether devouring or savoring the ubiquitous "energy bar", the consumption alone instantly boosts mood if not energy, but the fuel does get to where it is needed, assuring a few more productive miles. A touring rider usually has opportunities to stop at fast food and convenience joints, even where routes meander around traffic heavy places. Of course, there's also fast food America in all but the most isolated places. Irrespective, the energy demands are such that regularly adding carbs is a necessity.
I have relied on Lara Bars as my go-to fuel since discovering them in 2010 or 11. I've sampled and used others and have a box holding a large number of accumulated "energy bars." Friends and acquaintances often give me products and often they are wholly satisfactory. The accompanying image is a small sample.

"Energy Bars"

When Get A Whey bars appeared at Haile's Farmers' Market I bought some to support the Gainesville maker of the product.

Get A Whey Bars

The bars are substantial at three ounces (eighty-five grams). Because they are whey based they have significant amounts of protein and you can make your own decision about how much of what kind of carbs is best or how many calories you want (260 for Banana and 250 for chocolate). Overall, Get A Whey compares favorably to most popular bars. If there is a questionable element it is sodium which reaches 220mg in the chocolate flavor. Non-scientific logic suggests that replacing sodium would be useful if you're sweating a lot.


Ultimately, what matters most is whether the things are edible and both banana and chocolate that I have tried are tasty. they might be too crumbly for some but that quality also makes them easy to use while moving and don't want or are unable to pay close attention; pretty much stuff, bite, chew, repeat. Additionally, their sweetness does not turn your fingers sticky. No one likes sticky handlebars.

Sustantial Get A Whey

At $3.50 they might seem pricey compared to national name-brand products (they pack almost 30 grams of carbs) but they're made locally and are competitive in quality, so I will make sure to have some aboard on my next multi-hour ride.
More information can be found on Get A Whey's facebook page or website and they can be purchased every Saturday att eh Haile Village Farmers' Market.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

When Inutitive Isn't

At my recent physical examination, courtesy of the Geriatric Section of Randall VA) I was advised to add supplemental calcium and Vitamin D to my diet. I checked the amount of each in the 50+ multiple vitamin I have taken for a few years. When I compared it to iconic One-a-Day'sÒ 65+ both were present in greater amounts. The cost appeared to be significantly less, also, and where vitamins are concerned cost is a primary consideration, but 150 tablets for slightly more than half the cost of 50 of the other brand seemed wrong.

When the name of a product is "One-a-Day" its dosage should be obvious, but when I checked my aged-eyes couldn't find a definitive statement to "take one tablet with meals" or something similar. After hanging some readers on my nose and looking more closely . . . The pictures show the proper dosage.

Usually, I'm not moved by the inequities of "ageism" but needing to put on reading glasses to find that the intuitive answer was the wrong answer took me aback. I say, "Large Print for Old Eyes!"

vitamins for +65
vitamins for +65

get out the magnifiers

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Gloves Matter

Call it Old School or throw-back, but I prefer crochet back cycling gloves with real leather palms. They are what I wore in the 80s and when I try more modern gloves I return to them. I usually have three to four pairs that I rotate conscientiously and seldom wear the same glove on successive days. High quality gloves last about a year before the typical signs of break-down become excessive; fraying, seams parting and crocheting unraveling.

I have mostly purchase Nashbar gloves because they are the least expensive (less than $12 and frequently on sale) and they have always held-up well. Planet Bike’s similar offering are generally twice as much or more; upward of $20 in some bike shops and $15 or more online. I have enough experience with both brands to recommend either. When I had an issue with a pair of Planet Bike’s, I returned them, with an explanation, and received a replacement: a reflection of their good customer service. I have never had a similar failure with Nashbar’s.

Nashbar, back
Nashbar, back
Nashbar Crochet Gloves

Planet Bike, back
Planet Bike, palm
Planet Bike, Taurus, Crochet Leather Cycling Gloves

The third brand I wear regularly comes from Aero-Tech Designs. Unlike the other brands I have a very small sample. I bought a pair three years ago and until a few days ago that was my only pair. They had become ratty (at best) so, along with some other things I purchased a replacement pair through Amazon (less than $20). I was critical of the first pair of gloves because I thought the thumb hole was too large. In retrospect that was a pretty minor complaint because, now, years later, I prefer the fit of them over other brands. That I can still wear the original pair is pretty positive, too. Below are my new and the old Aero Techs.

Aero Tech, back
Aero Tech, palm
ATD Cycling Gloves Natural Cotton Crochet Leather biking glove

back, used!
back, used!

One thing you will see from the image is that I am not very concerned about the appearance of the gloves. Yes, I hand wash them occasionally and I hang them to dry, but I like the battered, road-weary look of them and don’t need a new pair if they get some bike crud on them. The old Aero Techs are beyond crud and will be retired.

One caution about these gloves  . . . you will have a waffle pattern of tanning on your hands if you ride a lot and it occasionally attracts enough attention for people to comment.

I always purchase size 9 and have never had a fit problem because they all stretch and shape themselves to my hands in a matter of a few rides.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Didn't Realize I'd Been Gone So Long

Been hearing and reading a lot of bicycle safety recently. Some observations and opinions follow.
  • My personal safety is first and foremost my responsibility.
  • In a close encounter of the physical kind with a motor vehicle, I lose.
  • The Idaho Stop makes sense: Idaho Statutes, 49-720.
  • Sometimes sidewalks are the best place to ride.
  • If time matters a lot, don’t ride a bike to your destination.
  • Should you be riding beyond walking home distance if you cannot take care of a flat tire?
  • Should you be riding anywhere without the necessary items to repair a flat tire?
  • You can dress for rain and you can dress for cold, but clothing does very little to make it easier to ride into the wind.
  • No, I do not NEED a car.
  • No, I do not want a ride, but if I need one I will ask.
  • If you claim “Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Rules” then stop signs apply to you, too.
  • As with many things in life, the best price does not guarantee the best service, so find a Friendly Neighborhood Bike Shop for parts and repairs.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

LEJ's Bavarian-Style Pretzel Rolls

LEJ's Bazarian-Style Pretzel Rolls

I like LEJ’s pretzels a lot and I generally buy one every Saturday Morning at Haile's Farmers' Market. Now, there’s one more thing to like . . . a lot. Their new addition is Pretzel Rolls—both round and long—that are not simply the device you use to get the sandwich filling to your mouth. LEJ’s pretzels are long on flavor and add their own flavor to something like one of Nana Pat’s mustards. The rolls are no different; ham and cheese, Lebanon bologna, and pastrami each worked well.

One roll remaining frm the bag of four. I could make burger, but that was too obvious. Instead, I opted for a tuna melt, a messy proposition with most rolls. It turned out to be a damn good sandwich. The rolls are probably not a part of an everyday sandwich. Grilling burgers and sausage? Yep. Ham and cheese and serious mustard? Yep. Tuna melt? Looked and tasted good.

LEJ Bavarian-Style Pretzel Roll
LEJ Bavarian-Style Pretzel Roll

Halved and Hollowed
Sliced open and hollowed slightly

Preparing to wrap with parchment paper
Wrapping in parchment paper proved to be best way to warm rolls.

Wrap loosely,like a tent
Wrap roll loosely, but completely.

Warm in oven
Warm in oven set at 170 degrees or so for about 10 minutes. Rub, paint, dab or spread butter on warm surface then sprinkle with coarse salt (provided).

Add filling
Add tuna and cheese then broil until cheese melts to preferred consistency.

Preferred consistency
Preferred consistency.



Sunday, July 12, 2015

Đại úy Chuck and the NCOIC; What Worked?

It makes for a better trip if more things work than don’t. Because someone considering setting off on an unsupported bicycle tour might have happened upon the story of Đại úy Chuck and the NCOIC I figured it’d be a good idea to point out some our “goods and not so goods.”

Pretty much everything deserves a passing grade because any failings or shortcomings were resolved or overcome. Obviously, anyone thinking about bike touring is gonna need a bike, but discussion about what’s-the-best-bike can be found elsewhere because the Co-Motion Periscope Torpedo Tandem is not a typical touring choice.

Because some of the equipment was well-used touring gear, camping lack any drama. Big Agnes performed flawlessly as a tent. The Lynx Pass 3 tent, a three-person tent, was excellent as a two-person tent for two guys over six feet. Its single vestibule was inconvenient, but large enough to keep all four panniers under-cover at night. Đại úy carried a Big Agnes sleeping bag with integrated pocket for an inflatable pad and pillow, while I used a Kelty and a minimalist foam pad; neither of us had much trouble sleeping.

Day first and day last were blessed with heavy rain (and wind and lightning). Stopping to put on rain covers makes no sense when you’ve experienced the dry-bag nature of Ortlieb Rollers. Yes, they lack exterior pockets and are essentially rubberized duffels, but better to root among dry things than sort our wet stuff.

Among the most useful pieces of camping equipment was the JetBoil Java Kit. It is impossible to deny the value and efficiency of the JetBoil at behaving like a French Press and brewing good coffee quickly. Using high quality coffee contributed to the JetBoil’s success because Flagship Coffee Roasters' Cuppa Joe responded well to rustic locations, making mornings more pleasant.

One of the things we did not use but might have needed was a water filter the Đại úy has acquired for his intended walk of the Appalachian Trail. We were never unable to get water, but availability was limited on The GAP and the readily available water on C&O was purified with Iodine. This contrasts with the numerous resources when off of trails.  Similarly, having a good supply of on-the-trail edibles is important; Kind, Lara, Luna, Clif, et cetera. As with water, places to get food when touring on roads and highways are common . . . and you’ll eat anything!

Next time I’ll tell you about the bike and its accessories, then, eventually, about maps and directions and anything else that seems relevant.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Đại úy Chuck and the NCOIC - Intermission

Any trip is a collection of events, like most of life, I guess. The sum of the events is the story that you compile and modify over time sharing with anyone showing even modest interest.  One of the funniest stories of our trip was far from funny when it happened, but adding my part of the story to Đại úy’s changed the event from being as scary as possible to something bordering on slapstick. For me, The GAP did not begin until there was hard packed dirt or gravel under the tires. For Đại úy, it began soon after escaping the two mile section of W. Carson St where it parallels the Ohio water front before passing under the West End Bridge.

We’d received a police escort to the beginning of Montour Trail where it leaves Pittsburgh International Airport and most of the next hour or so was spent on a bike friendly trail of hard packed gravel. It had been a pleasant beginning. Wooded sections, babbling creeks and the scent of flowers had to, occasionally, compete with the din of heavy, high speed traffic, but after that first fourteen miles we rode twelve in city traffic of varying densities, sans trees and brooks and sweet aromas. While I indulged in the challenge of navigating through urban traffic (PA-51) and dodging potholes, Ða?i u?y was battered by the compressive force of the wind blast from each passing truck and clinging gamely when I zigged and stopped quickly.

As trying as the first too-many miles of PA-51 was, the final two miles were even worse. Traffic on the usually heavily traveled surface street was reduced to a single lane with no room for anyone to squeeze past a heavily-loaded, slow-moving tandem bicycle. At intersecting streets breaks in the endless line of concrete barriers allowed us to get out of the way and allow backed up traffic to pass. Two miles never passed more slowly!

Perhaps, after years of finding convenient routes through behind building and through parking lots, I should have anticipated that a trail through a true urban setting would not resemble the bike paths to which I’m accustomed. Eventually, we reached an industrialized area where a marked bike lane or path made navigation simple; time to make some time!

Đại úy observed, some days later, that it helped to have an uncomfortable, demanding day as Day Number One. Any idea that the ride was going to be easy was washed away, literally, when a severe storm joined our adventure. When there’s lightning in the area do not seek shelter under trees. Well, there were few trees and even less potential shelter, so we rode on with lightning striking close enough to make flash and sound pretty much simultaneous. Several times Đại úy asked how close a strike was. “Not close at all,” I’d lie. For Đại úy, the story turns cute, or funny, or even damn funny when he says, “I knew he was lying ‘cause I could feel the hairs standing up on the back of my neck!”

I’d weathered the same weather in August of 2012 in North Carolina on NC-101 crossing the Intracoastal waterway and thought I’d drown if I inhaled too much. Choices? POR; press on regardless. Or greater concern to me were crossing and recrossing of the railway that required climbing steep, slippery inclines on one side then descending on the other. Oh, yeah, and negotiating too-tight turns! Slippery. Raining! Loaded!

Wonder how we looked? It’s a heavily used Trail, so bike traffic is common. Tandems? Tandems with trailers? As we rode past an eatery a young boy gasped, “Whoa!” as we rode by and I imagine that reaction was pretty common. So, seeing us teetering and easing our way around and up and down might have been amusing. From where I sit now it is very amusing!

By the time we’d covered half of our first day’s expected mileage we’d overcome or survived a buncha stuff. It wasn’t definitive, but there was a strong suggestion that we were up for the task.