Rambling Jack's Laboratory
A McKinleyville-based repository for ruminations and assorted rubbish.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Review of 2007 "Resolutions"
Before I write about resolutions for 2008, I need to review my resolutions for 2007. I wrote about them in my Jan. 5, 2007, blog entry and was careful to call them “goals” rather than resolutions. I’m not sure why, but here they are along with the results:
2007 GOAL: Continue to use a bicycle instead of a car as much as possible. This involves learning to adapt to adverse weather conditions.
DETAIL: The key words here are “as much as possible.” I could have used my bike much more than I did.
2007 GOAL: Continue to hone my rusty bicycle mechanic skills to the point where I can take a bicycle almost completely apart, put it back together again and have it properly adjusted and in good working order – all within a short period of time.
STATUS: Partially accomplished.
DETAIL: I completely rebuilt two bicycles and did major surgery on several others. I’m still a little slow doing so, but I could be worse. Some of the complications come from the fact that I’m working on 20 year old bikes and trying to swap parts off other bikes to fix them.
(The Wall at the TUC.)
2007 GOAL: Ride at least 100 miles in one day.
DETAIL: I completed the Tour of the Unknown Coast in May. Although not 100 miles, I consider my ride to Willow Creek and back during my pre-TUC training to be a nearly equal accomplishment, even though it was short of 100 miles.
2007 GOAL: Take more landscape photos and nature-related photos on my bike trips. These are photos taken for no other purpose than my personal enjoyment.
DETAIL: This goal is the equivalent of vowing to each more French fries drenched in catsup.
Come next... 2008 resolutions!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Ho! Ho! Ho!
To counter my overindulgance in gravy, meat products and adult beverages, I snuck out of the house today for a bike ride.
I wanted to test out Lance Armstrong's statement that "it's not about the bicycle," so I used my old five-speed Schwinn Suburban.
I headed north along the Hammond Trail.
Here's an old Hammond Railroad track.
It was cool and gray. Trinidad was my destination.
The way this sign is written, I can only assume it's intended for tandems. Right? So I rode recklessly down the hill rather than walk.
I was making good time on the Suburban.
This was the biggest hill I had to climb. Big whoop.
I was wet and cold when I reached Scenic Drive, but in good spirits. This is the view looking south.
I carried my bike down to Luffenholtz Beach and admired the surf.
We've had a lot of rain. as is evident by the amount of water in Luffenholtz Creek.
When I got to Trinidad, there was a massive present waiting for me!
The next stop was the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse...
...then the Trinidad Pier.
The crab fleet took Christmas off.
Then I pedalled home. Although the total trip was only about 21 miles, I'll wager that it's the longest single trip this old bike has ever been on.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Every once in awhile I come across or hear of folks who want or need bicycles, but say they can’t afford them. If what they’re looking for are fancy racing bikes, then I’m sympathetic. The bicycles I like at our local bike stores usually cost more than $2,000, well beyond what I can afford. That’s one of the reasons I spend time wrenching old bikes.
But if you’re looking for a bicycle for general transportation purposes, you should be able to pick one up for free, or really cheap.
Take the bicycle above, which I used today to go to town, pick up mail at the post office and do a few chores. It cost me $11 at a thrift store and all I had to do is cover up some rust, apply some grease and pump up the tires. (I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to fix the rear freewheel and make it spin, until I found out that this bike has an oddity called a front freewheel.) It’s a nice, sturdy bike and the fenders keep you nice and dry. Using this bike instead of my car for a portion of my travel, the pay-off period in terms of gas savings was probably a week and a half or less.
Of course, I’m a big-time newspaper publisher who controls the means of production, so I can afford the whopping $11 price tag. For the proletariat masses, I might suggest a less expensive alternative – $5 bikes from Humboldt Sanitation and Recycling right here in McKinleyville.
It’s hit and miss, but there are often several bikes parked near the scales. What can you get for $5? I noticed a few weeks ago that they had a female version of the bike pictured above. It appeared to be in perfect shape. This week I was there and Jerry Eaves picked up a decent mountain bike for $5. It looked nearly new, except for some rust. Jerry rode off into the sunset on a mountain bike with index shifting and spanking new tires. Not bad.
On Sunday, I’ll burn enough gas in my compact car to purchase three of these bicycles along with a burger and fries.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Hey kids! Today we’re going to learn how to clean a bicycle chain.
First, you’ll need a chain remover. This compact Park chain remover is a real beauty. When not in use, it should be kept on your mantle or in the hutch next to the fine china.
It’s such a pleasure to use. Just make sure you don’t push that pin all the way out. If that happens, you’re royally screwed.
I read on the internet that the ONLY way to really clean a chain is to put it in a plastic bottle with some degreaser. So I dropped the chain in this empty V-8 container filled with degreaser.
Then I shook the heck out of it. After carefully removing the chain, I noticed that this method didn’t do anything. The chain was still a greasy mess. Turns out you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.
So I reverted to the tried and true cleaning method – dump the chain in gasoline! That mother was clean within seconds. It’s best to do this outdoors and avoid the temptation to smoke cigarettes.
Look at that chain sparkle. You could eat off it, if you don’t mind a little benzine and other toxic substances in your food.
Before putting the chain back on, I removed the crank and bottom bracket. Then I went to Life Cycle in Arcata and purchased a new, longer bottom bracket so I could outfit the “fancy” bike with the triple crank that used to be on the Mighty Panasonic (the bike I used for the TUC). Of course, that wasn’t the end of my expenses. I also needed a new front derailleur, being that the old one wouldn’t work on a triple crank. So I spent about $50 for everything. That means I’ve got a little over $100 invested in this bike.
I put on my old fenders and took her for a ride. Here she is on the Hammond Bridge. There are still some “issues” to be resolved, which I suspect are related to some of the front chainrings being worn out. If I throw an extra $30 at the problem, it might go away. Or maybe not.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Traditional Gaff Sloop
If you're not sure what to give your loved one for Christmas, might I suggest this traditional gaff sloop now on sale on craigslist. It was built in Humboldt about 50 years ago and then refurbished by some fellow in Kneeland. She's a real beauty.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Gas station surrounded by a sea of darkness.12.8.07
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
New blog: Northcoast Bike Rides
If you like to ride, you'll want to bookmark Jim Robbins' new blog Northcoast Bike Rides. Check it out.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Power lines went down this morning in Smith River, meaning the good folks at the Triplicate couldn’t print my paper. So they arranged to have the Times-Standard do the job.
But there was a catch – I had to deliver my pages on a CD and the press couldn’t start rolling until extra help arrived. That meant I had to wait for an undetermined amount of time.
I suppose I could have come home, but I didn’t want to drive back to Eureka if the pressman was going to arrive in 20 or 30 minutes.
So I stayed in Eureka, clutching my cell phone, with time to kill. I ate a bagel with cream cheese, lox, onions and capers and then explored Woodley Island. Life was good.
No fishermen were working today, except for this crusty old guy.
This big-ass yacht was apparently waiting out the storm in our harbor. I couldn't make out the writing on the back, but it's from the Cayman Islands. I noticed someone inside watching something on a massive flat-screen TV.
I went back to the T-S and read old, yellowed newspapers until I felt like my head would explode. I had to get out of that building before I went nuts. So I visited the jetty, from a distance! Look at those waves! Stay back and watch it from the dunes, unless you want to die.
Around 2:20 p.m. the press was rumbling. Oh, what a sweet sound! Chugga, chugga chugga chugga chugga chugga chugga chugga chugga chugga chugga chugga! It was music to my ears. So this week's paper is a little late, but it will get out.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
It's time to start keeping a close eye on the meandering Mad River mouth. One big rainstorm could result in the river's mouth moving up and down the coast, bulldozing everything in its path. The water is low right now, but I noticed a much more pronounced "S" curve than what I recall just a month or two ago. What's that about? From now on, "Mad Mouth" photos will be a regular feature on this blog, at least through the winter season.