Monday, November 24, 2008

a bucket over my head and a marshmallow in each ear

I looked at the 10-day forecast, noticed that the temperature is expected to creep above 40 degrees a couple of days this week and I found myself excited.

Yup, this is winter, getting excited about 40-degree weather. (Of course, if it would snow and keep snowing, I'd be all for the colder temps.)

The worst of a PA winter to this son of the cold western deserts? No sun.


It was a bad football weekend. Vandy, BYU, Denver...all disappointed. And the Oklahoma-Tech game wasn't worth the price of admission, which, if you watched it on TV like I did, was free.


This song, or the mood of this song, is how I feel right now (follow the link, but ignore the stupid slide show, just listen). If someone asked me how I was I'd say mais ou menos.


Today is the first and last day of the school week for me. This is good.

Friday, November 21, 2008

hardtails, cell phones, snow, and

I spent a delightful two and half hours in the woods yesterday on the new Stumpjumper. A few notes from the ride:

(1) h/t vs. f/s. On relatively calm terrain, including the fire roads and double track that make up much of my "off-road" riding, the hardtail is so obviously superior. But when I got into the super rocky, root infested single track for which Michaux is famous, I began to miss the cushy ride of my full-suspension ride, and did indeed find it more difficult to keep my rear wheel on the ground when climbing.

(2) In south central PA, it's now officially cold. Tuesday night (I tried to write about this in my last post) it was cold. Atop the mountain, high teens. Yesterday it was cold. Atop the mountain, high 20s. It takes me a while to get back into the swing of cold-weather riding. Fortunately, yesterday I remembered to bring along a change of clothes--at least a change of clothes from the waist up. It doesn't matter how technically advanced your clothing is, wet is wet, and if you sweat like I do when you're working out (like when you're climbing 1500 feet out of the valley on your mountain bike) you're going to get wet. About an hour and a half into my ride I stopped and stripped off the wet stuff, put on new dry stuff, and was completely comfortable the rest of the ride. (Except my feet, but I've given up on trying to keep my feet warm.) In my opinion, an essential trick to staying warm on a long winter ride, ski tour, or whatever.

(3) With t-mobile, I have super crappy cell phone coverage in the woods. I'm told from Verizon and Cingular users that their coverage in Michaux isn't too bad. If you spend any time in Michaux, I'd be interested to know how your cell service is. I'm afraid it's time for me to change service providers.

(4) When it's cold (like now), and in the middle of the week (like yesterday), I don't mind riding my bicycle on the AT. I've never encountered a hiker. Whadda y'all think? Is this anti-social behavior?


It's snowing outside right now. Snow is beautiful.

I'd like to see a couple of inches of accumulation. That would mean cutting fresh tracks this afternoon. I love that.


I also love (well, maybe not love, but I'm feeling good about) the new look at

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

what is fear

[I decided this post was too dumb to keep up. Count yourself lucky that you didn't get to read it.]

Monday, November 17, 2008


So the weather was so bad Saturday that I spent most of the day in my basement putting together my new bike...which is to say ripping components off the Fuel and putting them on the Stumpjumper.

This stuff never goes smoothly.

First, I realized that if I was going to do the job right I needed the use of three tools I didn't have. So off to the bike shop. Merv was kind enough to let me throw my frame on his stand and play with his toys. I effaced my headset and bottom bracket (well, I attempted to, then Merv took over because I didn't know what I was doing). Then I pressed my headset.

I would have thought that in buying a used frame the headset or at least the bottom bracket would already have been effaced. But no.

Second, in either pulling off or installing my rear brakes (I've disc brakes in the front, linear pull in the back) I broke off that little metal pin that goes in the frame to engage the spring. Crap. Brakes are now useless.

Luckily (sort of) I have a spare set of linear pull brakes from my cross bike (I replaced the linear pulls on the cross rig with cantis). I put those on...but the arms are about a centimeter shorter than the brakes they replaced, which gives me about 3-5mm clearance between the rear tire and the brake cable. So this falls into the category of a short-term fix. I've now got to get a new set of linear pulls...or a disc compatible rear wheel (I actually have a disc brake caliper to put on, I just don't have a disc compatible rear wheel--did have, but sold it to Kris).

Third, who knew there were so many standards for bottom bracket shell widths? I didn't. Turns out the Fuel has a 73mm bottom bracket shell and the Stumpjumper has a 68mm shell. In the long run, I think this is good news. The very wide Q-factor on my mountain bike always bugged me, but I figured it was just a factor of the triple chainring. I didn't realize that the shell added 5mm.

In the meantime, this has caused a headache. Of course it took me way too long to figure out that it was this difference in BB shell size that was keeping my bottom bracket from installing correctly. When I did figure it out, and when I figured out that the shell on the Stumpjumper is the same as on all my road bikes, I had a brainstorm: pull the compact crank off my tt rig (remember I bought a new crank for that) and use that for a while. That seemed like a good idea until...

Fourth, I now know that a 50-tooth outer chainring on a double crank will not fit on an '07 Specialized Stumpjumper. The 50-tooth chainring won't clear the chainstay. Ok, so I'll just take the outer chainring off. A 34-tooth single chaingring crankset will work just fine for a few shakedown rides. Right? Wrong.

Fifth, hardware stores are about the worst place in the world to shop for anything even remotely related to a bicycle. Since I don't have any crankset bolts that will accommodate a single ring setup I figured I'd throw a couple of washers on the outside of each bolt to take up the extra space. My local hardware store only sells washers that are very wide. So a 5/8 inch washer clears the bolt, but then is too wide to fit the indentation on the spider where the outer chainring nests. So I've got this funky looking crankset with five washers sitting at weird angles holding on my single 34-tooth chainring.

Last night, after I finished grading my papers and then finished adjusting brakes, installing the chain, and throwing on the saddle (by now 1:30am), I'm finally ready for a test ride.

Awesome. It feels much lighter than the one kilo difference in frame weight*. And the hardtail feels like a real bike. It GOES when you pedal, like a bike is supposed to, instead of that f/s wooshy sluggishness. But, when I pedaled hard...

Sixth, the chain drops. Apparently my five skewampous oversized washer crankset fix was a failure. At least at high torques. All that work for nothing. I'm just going to have to wait for that properly fitting bottom bracket.

* A Rival compact crank w/ bottom bracket weighs a lot less than a Bontrager mountain triple with a cartridge square-taper bottom bracket axle, which may account for some of the perceived weight difference. Also, no front derailleur.

An amendment: I am truly awful at verb tense agreement. I remember my sixth grade teacher getting after me for it and I still can't tell a story in a consistent tense. I don't know, maybe if I write well enough otherwise the error can be dismissed as a creative eccentricity.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ice cream: I like it

It's true. I do. A lot.

But my cravings seem to ebb and flow. And, ironically, I usually crave it much more when it's cold outside than when it's not. So I'm a winter ice cream eating man (goat). And I could really use a bit of that sweet, creamy goodness right now.

A couple of thoughts on making the most of your ice cream eating experience.

(1) In my opinion, ice cream is at it's best when it's at its coldest. Melted ice cream? Blah. So a while ago I took to keeping an empty mug in the freezer. A cold mug keeps ice cream cold longer. I'm not sure why I stopped doing this because it's a really great idea.

(2) Lately I've taken to eating my chocolate ice cream alongside my hot chocolate. I highly recommend this. A few bites of the cold chocolaty deliciousness, then a few sips of the warm chocolaty deliciousness. Mmm... But never mix the two in the same container. That would be sacrilege. Also, end the ritual with your last bite of ice cream...or you'll be headed back to the freezer for more in a minute or two.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

the wee goatling -- pics

the hero (before)

the goathead (after)

the man paw

the fish eyes

the stretch

the reality I

the reality II


The little goatling wriggled his hornless head from his uterian sleeping bag this evening and emerged victorious.

Election day '08. Born on the day the first black man is elected president of the United States. That association won't soon be forgotten. Remarkable, methinks.


Valerie woke up this morning with distinctly different contractions. We sent Audrey to school cautioning her that today might be the day, and that she may be going home with a friend. We voted. We packed up last minute items. We farmed out Marian. Then we headed off to the hospital. Checked in around 12:30. The baby was born at 5:56. (At 2pm I told Marian's babysitter we'd have a baby by six. Uncanny predictive prowess.)

Mama is a very brave, strong, powerful woman. She went unmedicated (if you know her: of course she did). And she was remarkable. It's nuts how a woman's body just knows what to do. And the kid too. I've watched three goatlings emerge from that vagina and it still seems pure slight-of-hand. Magically, it just all works out.

And our midwife was fabulous. A calm, relaxing, empowering, peaceful influence.

Last night I had a dream that Valerie's water broke at the polls. Close enough!

Reuben Anders Wilde Goates, welcome to this big, wide, crazy world!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm a winner!

Of auctions. Two of them.

I'd been commenting (complaining) that I have been bidding on and off for years, but have never won anything on eBay. Sunday, I won two auctions. (Which is to say that I shopped victoriously.) Also, that dude with the brakes took me up on my offer. So now I've spent way too much money. And I'm a little ashamed. (But just a little.)

What did I get? It's show and tell time.

(1) A Dura-Ace 7800 crankset...

...for the TT rig. I built it up with what I had on hand, which was a Rival compact. Compact cranksets are not for TT bikes. Now I'm on the lookout for a real TT frameset. ;-)

(2) The Negative Gs...

Again, the TT bike has some very old (circa 1990) 105 calipers on it. Brakes that came off my '90 Specialized Allez Epic. I think I'll put the Negative Gs on my road bike and my Rival calipers on the TT bike.

(This was totally a luxury impulse buy. Or, better put, an impulse negotiation buy. I made an offer that I didn't think would be accepted. But when it was...)

(3) Finally, a third Specialized to add to my arsenal.

Except the one I bought is a more charcoal/quasi-black color. My Trek Fuel broke. I decided to replace it with a hardtail. I'm pretty stoked.


As you can see, being injured has not been cheap.


I am finding this idea increasing interesting.