Wednesday, February 27, 2008

News Flash

Girl Scout cookies arrive at the end of the week.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My English 3-speed hits the road and it's jolly good

In 1963. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech, “Lawrence of Arabia” won the Oscar for best picture and Beatlemania was starting to sweep the UK.

Also in that year, my newly refurbish English 3-speed was built. It’s a Montgomery Ward Hawthorne, which was built by Hercules. By 1963, Hercules was owned by Raleigh, which means my bicycle probably rolled off the Raleigh assembly line in Nottingham, England.

Something about old English 3-speeds intrigues me, so in January I advertised for one on our local Within hours, I got an e-mail from a fellow in Fieldbrook.

Here’s what he had to offer. He sold it to me for $40. That seemed like a fair price for both of us. I got it home, took it apart, sanded it down, painted it and put it all back together.


Here's the finished product. It's basic black with white pinstripes. I outfitted it with a leather bag (an old camera bag from the 1960s) to give it a classic look.


This is what's called the "trigger." You wankers might be tempted to call it a gear shifter, but that would be incorrect. My other bikes have tires, but not this one. It has "tyres." I kept all the old, funky cables that came with it. This bike has all sorts of what some people might call blemishes. I call it character.


Here's a little pully for the cable that runs from the trigger to the 3-speed rear hub.


It even has the original handlebar grips. I added the Mickey Mouse bell, which is probably about the same age as this bike.


It has cottered cranks. I figured that after 45 years the bottom bracket probably needed to be greased. I removed the cotters with a hammer and ruined them in the process. I called around to the local bike shops to get new ones. Some of the clerks didn't know what I was talking about. Then I called Will at Henderson Center Bicycles. He had cotters for $1 each, plus other old 3-speed parts if I needed them! He also sold me some Phil Wood Tenacious Oil and instructed me to place ten drops in the rear hub. Clearly, Will has been in the bike business for a long time.

Front medal

This plate on the front is all banged up. But that's OK. It's a 45-year-old bike. What do you expect? The first order of business after fixing it up was to take it out and get it covered in road grime. It's a sweet ride.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lord Ellis & Berry Summits

Up until this morning, I had an over-inflated sense of my physical fitness. I woke up early with plans to take advantage of the sunshine and ride on up to Berry Summit on my bicycle. Heck, if I was making good time I might even jet on over to Willow Creek and get some French fries for lunch. No problemo.

I fueled up on coffee from Sutters Mudd, pedalled across the Arcata Bottoms and made my way east on State Highway 299.

My bike2.13.08

I stopped at this industrial site near Glendale to consume a delicious lemon/poppy seed muffin. I felt good and my 1980s Cannondale was performing beautifully. It was reassuring to have new tires. Being that this is a Frankenstein bike pieced together from a variety of sources, it has a 27” rear wheel and a 700cc front wheel. The rear bag contained lots of food and water. You’re on your own on 299 after you pass Blue Lake.

As I climbed Lord Ellis, my legs felt tired. Before I reached the top, I knew that Willow Creek was out of the question. Even Berry Summit was questionable.

Lord Ellis Summit.2.13.08
I was relieved to reach Lord Ellis Summit. This photo sucks, but it’s my trophy shot, dammit!

Self portrait.Lord Ellis.2.13.08

My bike played in the snow as I snapped a self portrait. Then I descended down the other side of Lord Ellis and froze my ass off. I had a light pair of fleece mittens which were totally inadequate. My fingers had a purple hue.

Down Lord Ellis, looking east at Berry Summit2.13.08

Here’s looking east. I needed to get to the bottom of that valley, then climb up that mountain.

Berry Summit.2.13.08

It was a long, difficult climb. I was a happy camper when I reached the top. I consumed a PBJ, Fritos and lots of water.

Vista Point.Berry Summit.2.13.08

Here’s the view looking west from the Berry Summit Vista Point. I was kind of freaked out when I looked at those mountains knowing that I need to descend back down to Redwood Creek and climb back up to Lord Ellis Summit. I tucked my head down and did what had to be done.

Arcata Bottoms birds.2.13.08

About seven hours after I started my ride, I was nearly home. The Arcata Bottoms resembled a scene from “The Birds.”

Total distance: 67 miles

Aches and pains: Everywhere!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

My new laptop

At the McKinleyville Press, we pride ourselves on our technological prowess. We strive to be on the cutting edge of advancements in newspaper technology, be it the latest in digital recording devices, cameras or computer software. However, it wasn't until today that I finally got my first laptop.

laptop in case

As you can see, it comes in a sturdy, fully portable case. I could carry it around town, take it on a plane, or even use it at the Vista Point.


It has a full-size keyboard and is fully functional even when the power goes out. It's a Deluxe Noiseless portable Remington. The font selection is seriously limited, but it will print in any color you like, as long as it's black.

typwriter stamp

My Dad graduated from Berkeley and then landed a teaching job at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, Calif. He needed a typewriter, so he bought this used one for $35 in 1959. That was probably a decent amount of money at the time, considering that a teacher's salary was about $5,000 a year.

I searched the internet and determined that this typewriter was manufactured sometime between 1940 and 1942, so it's 66 to 68 years old. It works as well as any other manual typewriter I've ever used. Although I must confess that the last time I recall using a manual typewriter was in the 1980s.

It was headed for the thrift store, so I offered to take it off my Dad's hands, and he obliged. I don't know what I'll do with it. Perhaps someday I'll build a cabin in the woods and use it to type my manifesto.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Campstove Experiment

When going on a long bike ride, it’s nice to stop along the way and enjoy a hot cup of tea or, if I’m feeling decadent, a hot chocolate. But who wants to pack a big, heavy stove?


My backpack stove, above, is relatively light and compact. The lid doubles as a pot and the little brass fuel tank is downright pretty. I’ve brought it on a couple rides, but doing so seems silly. If I’m going to carry something on a bike, it needs to be small enough so that I can tuck it away in a corner of my bag and not notice it. Not only must the stove be small, but so must everything else, including the cooking pot, fuel, etc. Space is at a premium. Oh, and so is money.

I began researching stoves on the internet and was intrigued by Esbit solid fuel tablets. They’re little squares made from some kind of alcohol substance. I went to buy some tablets. They cost about $7.50 for eight of them. Or, for $9.99, I could get eight tablets and a German-made Esbit stove. The Esbit stove is bigger than what I wanted, but for a couple bucks extra I figured I would have something for my survival kit. I’d use the fuel tablets to design and test out my own homemade, custom bike stove.

I came up with a neat concept – my stove should be so small that it fits inside a small mug. The mug would serve as a cook pot.

Homemade stove in bag

The tiny bag on the left contains the entire stove and “cook set.” Nearby is my retirement account and some other crap to give you a sense of its compact size.

homemadestove in pieces

Here’s the stove in pieces. I made it out of an old aluminum Sterno can. The Esbit fuel tablet is in the middle. To the left is a small metal stand that the fuel tablet sits on top of. I tried the stove Monday night and it didn’t work very well. So I added a foil “windscreen” with the idea that it would direct the heat upward and heat the sides of the mug.

homemade stove with mug

I filled the mug with delicious MCSD tap water, lit the stove and slapped everything together. After about 9 minutes, the entire tablet was burned up. The water was warm enough for tea, but it never boiled. That wasn’t every impressive, especially considering I used the stove under optimal conditions in my garage. Are Esbit tablets a crappy fuel source, or is there a flaw in my stove design? One way to find out was to test the German Esbit stove that came with the tablets.

blurry espit

Here’s the stove. It measures 4” x 3” x .75” and weights only 3.5 ounces.

esbit unfolded

Here’s the stove unfolded.

Esbit stove with pot

I placed a pot from my mess kit on the stove, filled it with water and lit the mother up. In about four minutes I had boiling water. I only burned about 10 percent of the tablet, which I was able to blow out. It can be reused. If this test is any indication, I could heat several pots of water with a single tablet.

So, the Esbit fuel is excellent and heats water quickly. My homemade stove is a disaster. Back to the drawing board.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Free tats in Mack Town

I came across an offer for free tattoos in McKinleyville while perusing bicycles and boats on the local craigslist. It's very tempting, but I think I'll hold out for a free genital piercing, preferably conducted by a rank amateur with shaky hands.

Free Website Counter
Hit Counters