Wednesday, July 31, 2013

E.L.F. by Organic Transit

A friend from work turned me on to this news report from Durham, NC about the ELF velomobile from Organic Transit and this does look like an interesting project. It a covered trike with solar-powered electric assist (to power the 120lbs) with some other car-like goodies like turn signals and I assume some cargo room for groceries, I'm going to do some more reading, but here are some other links.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Upcoming...cSogn 2.0

My Rawland 1.0 was the original build (received from seller) with the WTB DirtDrops and a Carradice. Rawland 1.1 was the same basic roll with an added rear rack and Noodles (best ever, those bars), along with requisite fat fenders.  I've decided to undertake another touring option, this the cSogn in mixed-terrain/all-terrain mode with the Jones Loop bar, a piece of gear that is now on its 3rd mount in my home. I'm keeping the racks but will also be moving to 2.25 27.5/650b RacingRalphs for plenty o' cush and some gription for the dirty stuff.  Without the tires and full baggage I won't call this the Full Reveal, but on a 15-miler, the Jones Bars were pretty damn awesome. Due to the long head tube the bike sits way up, but I'll be using it for dirt touring and later for commuting, so I like the upright posture. It felt great, but, then again, so did the Troll under loaded. Tires, then weight. *Then* proof will be in pudding...or not.

Black-crowned Night Heron in all its cell phone glory along Beargrass Creek Trail. Earlier in the week is was Ol' Blue, the GBH. They seem to trade off.

Friday, July 26, 2013

QB For Pondero

First, look how useful and proportional that fine Carradice is on the back of the QB. How could you ever roll without one?

Secondly, I have numerous bikes. You have and I have had numerous bikes. Does any have better manners than the QB? Spinning the QB *is* bicycle riding. Others go faster, farther, jump logs, carry weight, but the QB is to spin pedals and propel oneself.


Sloughing off yesterday's sloth. Hit the coffee shop. Kleen Kanteen in hand. Early morning mist sunbeams no phone pic can convey. Stops along the way. QB so sure-footed. Essence of spinning pedals.

Leaves of Three, let them Ugh! My long-legged friends are gone, so we have to find the little critters in the bushes instead. Knee-high weed path, where does it lead? Abandoned. Carolina Chickadee party! QB, still sure-footed. Big trucks zoom by, but leave room. Thanks.

Mystery girl on her own two-wheeled ramble. Re-enter the streets. Keep a step ahead of the geezers. There He is, Ol' Blue. Make pace up golf course hill. QB descends like no other. Roll in. Look for bird pics.

**In lieu of making a long bird list, I made mini-lists at some of my viewing spots. The only two non-IDS- and by that I mean I see the Damn Bird but still can't figure it out- are a brown fuzzball, almost robin-sized, and little grey/light grey birds in the bushes.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


The forecast was for low 60s and I needed to get out for a #microadventure, so after a great grill out with the fam I hustled my gear and headed out on Seafoam somewhere around 10.00pm. Again I used my stealth spot not far from the house (3 miles). Rather close to the site I turned off my dyno and rear light to get into "stealth" mode. Not 25yds down the road I was passed by a police car who fortunately didn't stop me in my moment of lawlessness. Diving into my spot, I quickly set up, this time both bug spray and a mosquito head net.

Having had a bit of grape drank with our grill, I passed out rather quickly, hoping for a solid wake-up time where I could make some camp brew and generally chill in the fresh low temps. Instead, right around 3.43am (I looked at my watch), I bolted awake to the clamor of what sounds like a plastic trash can catapulted down a concrete driveway. It was neither motorized nor animal nor glass nor any other kind of sound I could identify. The problem was that I was *wide* awake at 3.44a.m. I settled down and tried to get back to sleep, but to no avail.

I eventually pulled up shop, feeling like a boy scout scampering back to the house for fear of bump in the night. That said, crazy sounds while illegally camping out in a public place make for reticence or caution. I ambled home on Seafoam and got in my normal bed and slept another several hours. I wouldn't call it a memorable #microadventure, but one worth the effort.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Yesterday was fundamentally strange more than anything else. I "pottered and faffed" in the morning, only to be run out of the house by the wife. I jumped on Seafoam and undertook a 50-miler in known regions, but included the nasty little Pendleton climb just for fun.  I felt pretty good for the first 15 or so, up through Iroquois and onto Penile.

By the time I reached the left-hand turn onto Bearcamp I had that "not quite today" feeling. I stopped at the little parking lot in JMF for a brief break and grinded up the Bearcamp acclivity before feeling a little better along the rolling Bearcamp run.

I turned left onto Pendleton and briefly stopped to adjust hat, helmet and glasses for the next half-mile of serious climbing. The gps read sections of 10-19%; I don't think Pendleton is that steep, but sources put its average gradient at 9.9%, so maybe so. I still felt alright coming through there into my stop at the gas station for some sustenance. Mind you, if the wife rolled up here at 30 miles and offered a ride home, I would have taken it. I didn't feel fresh and I'm pretty sure I had just done 30 miles into a slight headwind, maybe even spent a little too much energy, burning too many early matches in the name of "tempo". I ate some crap and drank not enough water and headed out for the return, hopefully with some tailwind to work with.

Shortly, along my early Blevins Gap run, I knew I was in trouble. You know the feeling, the lack of ability to turn the gear., the discomfort in the saddle, hand positions, sore back. "That" kind of day. I stopped at a spot I won't discuss, but one that is calling me for a stealth S24O. The first climb up Blevins went slowly, much more than usual. The second Blevins climb after the turn necessitated a quick stop to stretch the back. That Brook saddle on Seafoam is giving me all sorts of problems. Somewhere in there I walked a couple times, to stretch out and to just walk instead of riding.

By the time I hit the Lamborne bike trail I was officially cooked and uncomfortable. By the time I hit the short climb on Manslick I was searching for gimmicky short cuts through the neighborhood, where I found a nice tree at Kenwood Elementary under which I rested and maybe maybe napped for some minutes. This was 40 miles in, not 80 mind you.

I picked myself up and plodded through Iroquois and Southern Parkway, finally stopping at Dairy Kastle for a swirl cone pick-me-up in lieu of a coffee. I decided to suffer the shorter Audobon cut-through with the walk-able Illinois hill. I walked up Valley Vista a bit too. Cooked.  In a way, my ride continued. Once home I didn't really answer the wife's questions and instead sat on the patio in a kind of haze, probably napping outside in the chair a bit. After showering I think I napped upstairs on the couch as well, all for a straightforward 50-miler. Heat? Humidity? Fitness? Bike choice?

I did it though, and later had a nice meal with the family. The day ended up fun, cotton ball clouds lit by the fading sun.

Monday, July 15, 2013

S24O B&W


After a nice early evening meal with the fam and my dad at Mayan Cafe,  I decided to get my camping jones out and do a stealth S24O near the house. I shan't divulge the location, but I had been scoping an appropriate spot, one where I might not be seen by friend or foe. 

I will now point out the slightly alarming transition of my mother into that which is similar to her brothers. She tried to engaged me ever so slightly about handguns and creeps in the night and whatnot. Yes, there are creeps. Yes, they do sometimes do things. But, no, in no way do they make me want to own a handgun for S24Os.

I grabbed the minimum goods: bivy, pad, silk sleepsack, light, stove, cup, coffee "stick", book. I forgot three key ingredients to the fun: fire (had it, didn't pack it), fuel (never had it), bug spray (had it, didn't pack it). The short ride over was very pleasant and my entry point to stealthland was devoid of folks when I arrived. The beauty of the bivy is how quickly you can set up. The ugliness of the bivy is the threat of rain, or in this case, mosquitos. I failed to pack the bug spray and near the woods the biters were heavy and feeding on me like ticks on a deer. I had had notions of reading by the trailing light and headlamp, but to expose much skins was certain exposure to the buffet.  As the pics below suggest, I did peek out and take some pictures of the cloud formations overhead as the crepuscular light enveloped the folds of earth.

I didn't sleep terribly given that I was using only the 3/4 thermarest built more for climbers than for my mass. I did have to sleep ensconced inside the bivy than preferred b/c of the mosquito quotient. Around 4.00am- early- I sort of woke up. As I gazed at the dark night I saw a shooting star directly overhead, a sign to rise and move on with my adventure. I pitterpattered about and packed up, wishing I had some fuel for a very-early-in-the-morning coffee. Instead, as I sneaked out of my "spot" I though of whether the nearby McDonalds might be open for a ridiculously early coffee and breakfast. I crept past the truck idling silently, its yellow parking lights two flaming eyes in the night. Maybe Mom is right; maybe there are creeps.

MickeyDs was closed until 6.00, so I casually pointed homeward to finish my S9O. Later, still early, I did go back to the Golden Arches for some bad coffee and worse breakfast. Next time I'll do a little better stocking the wagon for the long journey.

And I'll buy a Bug Head Net. Maybe even today.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Big-time Bike-n-Bird

I did one of my slowest rides ever today, averaging 9.7mph moving and 5mph overall, and it was a *great* day on the bike.

As my many readers know, I've been on a bird kick lately. I like bikes. I like birds. I like nature. I like fresh air. #Outsideisfree, as my friend @Lithodale says. Yesterday afternoon I spent some good time observing and trying to identify an interesting raptor gliding around the neighborhood for the better part of the afternoon. I watch him from my patio and in various places in the yard and even saw him/her again when we came back out hours later. Birds really high in the air are tricky, but once I saw this pic online (courtesy of the Nat'l Audobon Society), I finally was confident to say it was a Mississippi Kite, which doesn't show up in Louisville as part of its range. An outlier, but a beautiful bird to watch swoop, dip and sometimes dive with grace and speed.

Yesterday's afternoon inspired me to get up early (which I subsequently did with little problem) and hit the road on Seafoam to go find some birds. What I thought would be an hour or two ended up being 5+ hours of riding, stopping, viewing, picturing, searching, listening, and enjoying the 60s-70s temps in the 'Ville summer. It might have been the best half-day of the summer, so far.

After yesterday's multi-minute raptorfest, today start interestingly a mile from the house when I looked to my right and there was a damn hawk hanging out in a driveway, just standing there. My gear was all put away b/c I wasn't prepared for such early viewing, but I hustled to grab my phone. Of course, the critter flew in the shrub. See him? I don't either. Some robins eventually chased him into an upper tree. I rode on. (American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Hawk-undetermined)

My first stop as often is was Caperton Swamp, my fav spot for finding wading birds. I found no waders nor the Kingfisher, but I did find enormous numbers of mosquitos from our recent rains. I felt like a Nat'l Geo photographer with my gear surviving the elements. With little-to-no waterbird action- perhaps due to algae growth as exhibited in pic-, I had to concentrate on the North Field, as I'll call it as well as along the shores. Frankly I don't see how birders do it, all the calls and hidden targets. I'm sure there were multitudes of birds there; I even saw an interesting three or four *very* far away in the binocs, but no good IDs. Things got interesting, though, I I heard a rustle at the water's edge and I went to check it out. Out of my left peripheral vision I saw something dart across the path into the bushes. Was that an otter? No way. Rat, weasel, mouse, snake.  I stayed there looking around and a few minutes later, lo and freakin' behold, his buddy otter slinked across the trail just down a bit. It *was* an otter! I was there for birds, but I'll take a wild otter spotting any day, week, or year. Pretty miraculous! Eventually I did get some bird nibbles and spent a bit of time watching Carolina Wrens, a Carolina Chickadee (please see pic below, and be sure to read the commentary), and in the field a probable Yellow Warbler. I stopped later to get a bead on another interesting/new bird, but they move fast, hide easily, and I don't really have a freakin' clue other than that there was lots of mosquitos out. (Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Common Grackle, American Crow, Yellow Warbler, Kingfisher-call, something gray like a Tufted Titmouse with head crest- undetermined)

Good morning

Caperton Swamp with a summer algae bloom. It wasn't like this just  weeks ago.

More camera fun. There is a bird in there somewhere. I don't remember what.

This is my life. I was practicing with 4/3 camera and had this Chickadee in sight. I'm not very fresh with the controls, so the camera decided to take a pic of the maple leaves instead of the white, fluffy blog more in the center. Funny. And sad.

I had suffered enough mosquito attacks and frustration from the 500 bird calls I couldn't ID, so I rolled Seafoam along the Cox's Park trail towards the waterfront. I was pleasantly surprised that, while warmed up looking into trees, saw the big, brown lump of a raptor, my second of the day, in a mostly dead tree along the trail. I stopped and looked a bit and took both cellphone and camera pics. My son is letting me try is Nikon 4/3 camera out. It's got a standard lens and a reasonable telephoto, something the cellphone certainly isn't known for. A complaint of his at the time was the lack of viewfinder. Today I had the same problem, trying to squint in the sun and find my little feathery friends while being blinded by the morning sun. I don't know that I'm a big enough camera nerd to put a review through the paces, but generally I like the interface of my (still muddy) Canon S90 the best, but the more powerful telephoto is nice. It's a hawk with another pissy robin nearby, but again not enough info. for an ID. (Hawk- undetermined again)

Full size Hawk and pissed-off Robin

Getting his Hawk on-, cropped from 4/3 pic.

My path took me to EvaBandman, where the water levels were quite high and not much was in action. As often the case,  I did catch a glimpse of a Black-crowned Night Heron flying overhead, getting the hell out of there, and as ever, the swallows along the bridge. My route along the condo path brought me to the riverfront by Tumbleweed (Tex-Mex restaurant, in case you're wondering), where I stopped on a platform and took a peek at the river. After that I rolled by preparations for Forecastle Music Festival. We attended last year, but aren't going this year. The weather is going to be in the low 80s with little humidity. Perfect. (Black-crowned Night Heron, Red-winged blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Domestic Duck, Mallard Duck females, Killdeer, Rock Pigeon, Swallows-I'm bad at identifying swallows, tawny sparrow-undetermined)

The next stretch of the morning yielded the greatest surprises. I was riding the early portions of the Riverwalk and glacing at the shoreline shallows with its usual mix of trash, detritus, and ducks. I saw a nice log with a menagerie if geese and my eye spied an interloper, an uncommon visitor amid the usuals. The boy's 4/3 telephoto worked better here, getting me a little closer to the group and to the individual in question, what I am going to assume is a Double Breasted Cormorant. He's the grey and orange fellow on the right of the left log. The maps suggest that like my Kite yesterday, he's not where he's supposed to be. White futzing with the camera and binocs and such, a pair of GB Herons came waltzing in for a bit, before getting spooked and leaving again. I'm so used to seeing these in the confines of the narrow Beargrass Trail that it was nice to see these large birds in flight across the mighty Ohio (canada goose, mallard duck, double breasted cormorant, great blue heronz)

DB Cormorant almost center

"Black Swedish Duck", which I was excited to see until the googling told me is domestic breed of duck. Not quite as cool.

Heron flying above the river. You can make him out in the middle, or enlarge.

Alas, dear Bicycle friends. I admit that my bicycling didn't make it too far down the Riverwalk. Every time I had the chance to open the throttle and ride, I found another reason to stop and smell the roses. Well, there weren't any roses, but I did stop. I visited yet another observation deck, this one beaten down with decay. when a bird caught my eye to the right, over the McAlpin Locks Canal (behind Seafoam in the pic below). I grabbed the binocs to take a look of this large brown bird, which from afar looked to be the size of a vulture. But vultures sure don't dive towards the water. And is that a white head with big-ass talons hanging off that bird? Holy shit! A Bald Eagle! A Bald freakin' Eagle right here in the 'Ville. I had previously known that there was talk of a nest on Shippingport Island which could be viewed from the IN side. I never thought of having a peek over here on KY soil, but much atop that shitty, weathered, battle-scarred observation deck. What a highlight there. America!!!!! I didn't have time for a pic, so instead I took a pic of Seafoam just so I would have some bicycle content for a bicycle blog. I can't deny. I was pretty jazzed at this point. Yes, birds are cool because of the variety, but on my vaunted Seafoam to see a bald eagle, live otters, a random cormorant- which I associate with the ocean- and random bad-ass hawks, all on the same Friday morning ride. Cool stuff.

My eagle sighting was just before this to the east down the canal.

Mixed-terrain on the day. The usual path is up the band to the left. I head a weird "call" somewhere in here, and then realized it was whistling. I then realized it was coming from the hobo camp off to the right in the bushes.

Ultimately, Shippingport Island had always been my terminus goal for today's ride. I was visiting  check on access given that the location is lauded by birders, but from the IN side.  What I found was what I had previously at Shippingport, a beat-up Boy Scout project set of stairs leading down to the river edge and a large field which yielded some interest. I had a snack and visited the sandy banks of the Ohio before returning to the bench area and spending a good amount of time watching a small raptor hanging out on electrical lines overlooking the field. Later searches revealed that it was an American Kestrel. When I rolled up initially I saw two of these, one flying into a tree in the middle of the field. I'm pretty sure I head that treed Kestrel bitching and "kleeing" for the duration of my visit. Somebody was pissed. (American Kestrel, Carolina Chickadee, Black-Crowned Night-Heron)

River bottoms. Would be great spot to S24O, but they gate close the island in the evening.

Kestrel hanging out. Cropped from 4/3 pic.

Thus (almost) ended the Bird portion of my ride for the morning, well, except for yet more Heron watching along the canal. After seeing some large birdage on my bike roll I stopped at the same ghetto observation deck and watch one GB Heron standing, two more flying around (pretty sure that same two from early in the morning), a BCN Heron flying west, and at least one more juvenile BCN Heron going east. Not sure what they were all excited for. After a bit I moved on. I Seafoamed my way back past Forecastle and onto the Beargrass Trail where I spied *another* BCN Heron flying overhead, along the creek, just as the one had done this morning at EvaBandman. Disquieted birds, they must be. I even took in a couple hills in Cherokee instead of cheating, as I often do. My bum was sore and I was ready to be finished. I mounted a borrowed WTB saddle for Seafoam, as the last couple trips the B17 didn't agree with me. This WTB didn't either. I stopped at Breadworks for a cup, but my watch said I had been out for 5 hours or more. Dang! That's a long time for 27 miles of bikes, birds, mosquitos, and America!

FS Bridgestone RB-1-DONATED

*Donated to a young bike-hungry friend. Good luck!* And to acquaint yourself with the Cult of the RB-1: