Thursday, June 30, 2016

Quiet Time

Mike and Mel have gone shopping and the boys are napping. The house is quiet which is rare. It's a very active gang that lives here. Here in the basement every footstep can be heard from Mike's to Campbell's. Even after an 80km ride no alarm clock is required, no complaint here as I can't wait to get up and see the boys every morning but don't want to be the reason they wake.

I finished up the Cycling Challenge yesterday with 80km. I'm pretty sure that is my longest ride of the year. Normally I don't stop. Yesterday I rode 35km and stopped for about 20 minutes fro coffee and a brownie in the middle of Fish Creek Park. Rejuvenated I did another 25km before stopping for a banana and the last of one water bottle. I switched out my bottles and headed for home.

As I crossed the floor of the valley for the third time I suddenly felt stronger as I thought of the long ride not only this day but the whole month. 1000km may not seem like much, I've done more in a month before, but work, weather, and two days driving sucked up a lot of time. For something that started as just "well I ride anyway I might as well throw my name in the hat too" it became a focus. I'm glad to be done and can ride without having to worry about keeping up an average of 35km a day. My appreciation for better tires has never been higher. I remember back to the Conquer Cancer rides and hearing of people that flatted four times in a day over 100km so I guess 4 flats in 1000km is not all that bad and I can now say I've added changing out a flat on the side of the trail to my list of cycling resume.

After all the talk of a grizzly blocking the trail, riding the Legacy Trail from Canmore to Banff and back was a highlight. I don't think I could ever get used to the closeness of the mountains in Canmore. No matter the direction you look, they are right there. My simple five minute trip to pick up pizza was amazing. I had to cross the Trans Canada to the north side of town and saw an amazing light show as the sun set between the peaks and through the clouds. I pulled up in front of the pizza place and stepped out into the street and the Three Sisters were right there just over the crest of the road.

Moraine Lake was busy as usual. The Rockpile was crowded and I've never seen more selfie sticks. Another fellow and I traded cameras and took pictures of each other but they aren't much to look at. You wait about 5 minutes for your turn and then somebody climbs into your shot from the restricted area below the rock wall. I tried to load the Nikon on my tripod but the wind was fierce and everything was shaking so my planned longer exposure shots were ditched. I always feel rushed. Next time I think the camera will stay in the car and I'll just sit there and let it all soak in.

Jess was still under the weather so we headed down the Bow Valley Parkway and managed to see a small black bear rooting around in a field just off the road. He was totally oblivious to the half dozen cars that stopped to rubber neck.

It's been a hectic ten days.
rest stop on the Legacy Trail
Lael in Canmore
Moraine Lake
Three Sisters overlooking Canmore
setting sun in Canmore, good thing I only had my phone
or there would have been some hungry folks waiting for supper

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Day Two

My second day on the road started so early I won't even share the time. I arrived at Mike's door at 12:30pm. It was a perfect day, uneventful and clear weather all the way.

I pulled up and could hear both Cullen and Campbell yelling Papa, Papa! Nothing else will erase the weariness of a long drive so quickly. The last item unloaded out of the car was the bike I had picked up for Cullen, a 12" Norco Ninja. He was very excited for his new bike. Minutes later had pedalled about 12 feet with just a push to get moving. Then a little farther and faster so we headed for the open space that a nearby park provided.

In no time he was doing laps around the entire park. You can see a short video here. After supper Uncle AJ and Aunt Jess came to the park to check it out and he proceeded to learn how to get rolling from a standing start.

This morning Mike and I took him over to Fish Creek Provincial Park about ten minutes from the front door. There are miles and miles of paved and gravel paths to ride. He managed a 5.1 km ride and then another which included stopping for a drink and a brownie. He got tired on the return and walked his bike in. But he learned how to work the coaster brake (pedalling backwards) and soon created his first skidmark. He picked up coasting downhill easily and only gets mad if he doesn't beat you to the end of the section. He loves ringing he bell when approaching anyone walking on the path. It was probably one of the slowest rides I've ever been on but one I'll never forget.

Cullen on 'Jillian', Fish Creek Provincial

Friday, June 17, 2016

Anything But

After making this drive 5? times I was expecting just another boring two days on the road. I was up at 3:15 and on the road by 4:30. Not to self: check the loading of the bikes to be transported in the light of day. First time in the dark is not all that easy.

The last forecast I checked said sun across the prairies for both Friday and Saturday. Well that was 100% correct until I got to Dryden and saw nothing but purple in the western sky. The first drops hit the windshield just outside Vermillion Bay. It continued to get more intense as I moved west. Shortly after crossing into Manitoba the clouds were literally on the road in the distance and I was alone on the highway thinking I should have checked the radio for warnings instead of toe tapping to my playlist. It poured cats, dogs and a few small ponies. Even at 70 kmph and the wipers flapping away like hummingbird wings, it was tough to see. If not on a divided highway I would have been waiting it out on the shoulder. I had passed all my normal lunch spots and finally stopped at a rest stop about 75km from Winnipeg. I checked the radar pages and saw the purple mass of clouds I had just driven through. Parts of Winnipeg saw 41mm of rain in a less than an hour.

As I moved around Winnipeg on the Perimeter highway I got in the middle of a traffic jam. 100 yards to a set of traffic lights saw three cycles pass before I even moved and then another three to get through only to find I had a few intersections to get through before I would clear the logjam. An accident involving a pickup pulling a horse trailer collided with something carrying bags of white powder. I was thinking of the poor horses when I saw the trailer and then the cab of the truck came into view. I'm not sure there were horses in the trailer but there was definitely someone in the driver's and he just has to be hurt. There were a dozen people from an environmental cleanup crew brushing up the powder but they had nothing but orange jump suits as safety gear so the powder must not have been harmful. A good kilometre of the opposing two lanes were blocked off. The entire 4 lane road had been closed earlier so I was lucky to hit the sang when I did.

The only other high/low lights were a scrawny young moose and about 75 kilometres of construction on the divided highway between Brandon and Winnipeg. Surprisingly other than the construction zones time went by very quickly and even those were mostly at 90kmph without any actual stops so not all that bad.

I'm showered and fed, all set to catch as much of the Jays game as I can before getting some sleep. Another full day on the road tomorrow, one entry in the pool in Calgary says I'll be there at noon. Not likely. I'm guessing 3pm Calgary time but we'll see what the day brings, I'm hoping for a little less excitement.

Monday, May 23, 2016

First Long Ride

Lael trailside near White Waters Golf Course 
Sunday was a perfect day for a long ride. I managed 67 km including the short offroad excursion near White Waters seen above. Lael passed all tests and though not all that fast the ride is comfortable, at least for the first couple hours. Today all my contact points plus neck and shoulders are feeling the effects. I went out for a quick ride today and 13 km felt long. Gusting wind didn't help.

Some excellent news on the computer horizon. Chromebooks will soon have access and compatibility with all Android apps. This month with that rumour floating around they outsold Mac laptops. Now that Google has made it official things should really get interesting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Back to Basics on a Chromebook

Our aging desktop pc nagged me to upgrade to Windows 10 for months. When hockey was done, at least as far as computing schedules, emails and scores go, I finally let it do it's thing. And then it failed to complete the upgrade, three times. It also failed to inform me as to why it failed.

I was already researching a another tablet or laptop. I decided on a Chromebook, basically a browser in a laptop chassis. Much cheaper, leaner, quicker and safer than a traditional windoze laptop. While tablets can do anything a Chromebook can they are a bit tougher to work with as far as keyboarding, plus nearly triple the cost of what I eventually spent on the Chromebook.

I researched and found the minimum specs I thought would work for my needs, 16 gig ssd, 4 gig ram. There are plenty of $200 versions with 2 gigs of ram but reviews pointed me at the higher memory models. I came across an 99% Ebay seller in Quebec with a returned school order of Dells matching the specs and selling for $229 Canadian, shipping free. I bookmarked the page and waited for a weekend. I was 95% through the purchase when I noticed that a) the price had dropped and b) the unit was now only 2 gig. Cancelled.

I had emailed the seller for a few pictures earlier. I sent them another saying I wasn't interested as I was looking for a 4 gig model. They replied that they had changed the auction to show the lower priced model and sent a link back to the one I wanted. A week later a rather beat up Dell box landed via Purolator. If the contents at all resembled the box it would be making a return trip.

But the unit inside was perfect, not a scratch and all the specs matched. A new unit on the Dell site currently sells for just under $350 so $229 tax in was a deal.

I started logging into my google accounts and setting things up. For some reason I touched the screen and it seemed to move. I feared the display was loose in the frame but discovered that rather than a problem I had fallen into a bonus feature. The screen is a touch screen. That model is selling at the Dell site for $550. Somebody made a booboo somewhere.

It boots in about 10 seconds. Google has a $100,000 bounty out to anyone that can crack the software so viruses and constantly updating to have a chance in the defence of viruses is not an issue. No I can't load in photoshop to edit pictures or play games. Yes the web is necessary to accomplish just about anything. But there are work arounds for many things. I can edit the basics of an image. I can work on google docs and email offline.

I use the google environment for just about everything, but with this I can do it when I need to, not when the pc is booted and (finally) ready to. So far I'm loving the simpler, mobile setup.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

This Week on My 3 Grandsons (vol.2)

Brandyn tries to leap back in time to find some spring weather. Campbell and Cullen don the shorts and chill under the sprinkler. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Real Weekend

With temperatures soaring on Saturday, Northwood games complete and even Lakehead Minor on March Break it was finally time to enjoy a full weekend.

I stripped Lael of all the parts that would be replaced and found a few things I needed. I drove Sal to work, grabbed the few items at Petries and picked up my package. I thought it would be a slow day at Petries but the skates just kept coming in for sharpening so I cut my visit short and went home to get started.

Everything went well. The mini-V brakes are simple to adjust but on this setup they require such tight tolerances between the wheel and pads that I decided to pull them and put the Avid Shorty 6s back on. Keeping the wheels 100% true is always a constant maintenance requirement and the cantilevers are much more forgiving.

Cabling the bar end shifters was a snap and shifting worked immediately for the rear derailleur. The front required some major adjustments to the position and limits screws to stop the chain from dropping from the big ring and to get any shifting to the small ring. I had to review some Youtube videos to get the various settings straight in my head. Once I put all the knowledge to work she shifted on the stand but will probably need some more fine tuning after more test rides. Only job left is taping the bars.

We (along with a long line of others with  the same idea) picked up some steaks to barbeque for Saturday's supper. While I worked the grill Sal prepared asparagus, mushrooms and perogies. She even had a drink with supper, a rare occurrence. Sunday we took Brandyn for breakfast and heard all about his adventures in Mexico and then had a video visit with Cullen and Campbell. It was a full couple of days and I didn't want to ask "where id the weekend go?"

frame stripped and cleaned
Ultegra bar end shifter installed
crank installed
mini-V brakes installed but later removed
Saint pedals installed
Lael ready for a test ride