Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Plastic Bike, Mark II, Part II

As I posted close to two months ago, I am the proud owner of a new Cervélo R3 road bike. It's far more road bike than I could ever exploit - even if I had 10x my current talent and strength. Back in March I was just the owner of a frameset and a box of parts. Parts which I ended up selling off on eBay in order to finance some nicer bits to hang from the svelte carbon tubes.

Those nicer bits *finally* arrived last week after a 5 week wait. But I'm not complaining - after healing from the crash that took out Plastic Bike Mark I and a ten day stint in Taiwan, my cyclocross bike has been a fair substitute in the interm.
Here she is all built up. Quite a dream bike.
It's only had one brief shake-down run, commuting home from work on Tuesday night. Three minutes into the ride I received my first compliment from a fellow rider.

I had fully planned on taking the long way in to work on Wednesday, but nature decided to literally rain on my parade. And though I am not opposed to getting wet during a ride, the bike is just too darn perfect right now to subject every moving part to a bath of rainwater and road spray.
And plain morning spaciness kept me from taking it out for a lunch ride as I ended up leaving my helmet at home.
A big thank you to my friends Jason and Don with help on some of the parts. Thanks to Josh for finishing up the build and getting it perfectly dialed in.
And a special thanks to Allie for putting up with my indulgences from time to time. You're the best.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

And Now A Word From Our Sponsors

This week's posts are brought to you by the 1980 Chevy Citation

I don't quite get the rear wheel removal at the :15 and :50 marks.
Did consumers not believe that the front wheels of car could also be the drive wheels? Had every American forgotten about the groundbreaking (and beautiful) 1934-57 Citroën Traction Avant? Well, probably, but among others, the VW Golf/Rabbit, all SAABs and the bottom-feeder Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon twins had all been in the market for at least a couple of years prior to GM's "X-body" 1980 introduction.

I still can't believe that a tandem-axle boat trailer could have negative tongue weight. Or that GM would recycle the name from one of the all-time marketing failures, a name that has a double meaning. Who wants to get a citation while driving anyway?

Rancho La Costa - The Short, Poorly-Edited & Plotless Video

I'm very happy that my friend Derek turned me on to Carlsbad's Rancho La Costa trail network when I moved out here. There are only about twenty miles or so of trails on this south-facing slope, but what's lacking in distance is made up for in location (15 minutes from home), topography and trail "flow".

I've ridden it dozens of times, written about it a couple of times (here and here) and I shot some video using a point-and-shoot camera (posted here), but yesterday I decided to take a GoPro HD camera out to document some of my favorite parts of the trail. After three loops I had about 25 minutes (400MB) worth of footage that I edited down to this:

As you can tell, I'm definitely still wrapping my head around both the camera and editing in iMovie. Celeste is far better than me at the latter. Plus I'm a little bummed how "compressed" it became when loaded on to YouTube. Time was also spent fiddling with GarageBand order to lop off 2:40 from the song (which had been looping endlessly in my head when riding yesterday). A couple of hours netted the result above. Hopefully experience will make me much more efficient. Kind of like mountain biking.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Down on the Used Car Lot

We so need this.
I've ridden past it, sitting pretty along Coast Highway in Leucadia, but today I had the time to stop and take some pix. It's a 1955 Airstream "18 Footer" model. that's been updated and buffed to a mirror finish.
Going inside reveals some fun styling by the restorer.

Bright and cheery yellow (although I would have greatly preferred the original, natural varnished wood), it's been done up in a mid-century modern theme with many period pieces placed throughout.
It'll sleep four, has a small bathroom with porta-potti and a rooftop A/C for those nights when it's unbearably hot.
Four-burner stove, solar panels on the roof, etc.
And best of all, the curb weight is only 2000 lbs, making it easily towed behind our VW Van (towing capacity 4400 lbs). Now if I could only come up with a spare $17,000.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Webkinzzz Video

Celeste is a Webkinzzz addict, she owns about 5,765,432,283 of the little plus toys, complete with online ability to, uh, interact with them on her Webkinzzz Deluxe Membership.

Why does this matter? Because she entered a Webkinzzz contest on YouTube and the person whose video logs the most views wins a prize package.

Without further adieu, here's what she created, 100% on her own, with no help from either of us. Hit play if you have a couple of minutes to spare.

Good luck Celeste!

Down on the Street - Neighborhood Edition

One of the interesting cars in the neighborhood is sitting less than fifty feet from me as I write this post. So why hasn't it been featured yet? Because my next-door neighbor has it tucked safely in his garage 99% of the time. But last week I was fortunate to catch it as it was driven out for a little "keep it running" kind of a cruise.
Restored and lightly customized, she's a '54 Chevrolet coupe; a fitting ride for "The Rockabilly Preacher".
Once she was warmed up, we hit the road for a quick cruise.
1955 would be the first year you could get your new Chevy optioned with a small block V8, this hunk of Detroit iron is powered by the Blue Flame six mated to a two-speed Powerglide transmission....
...which is all you really need for around-town rides. He bought it from a couple in Arizona who did the restoration. The body is very straight while the interior is covered in sweet, dark blue velour.
The straight-pipe exhaust produces an interesting note:

Not menacing, but sporty in a 50s sort of way. I'm also a fan of the hubcaps...
...but they had to be popped off in order to top up the PSI. Nice touch on the red wheels.
While a 1950s Detroit car isn't on my list of cars I'll own some day (even though I sort of have a soft spot for 1959 Buick wagons), I so appreciate seeing cars like this putt around the streets of San Diego County.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Most Epic Photo Ever

I stumbled upon this shot on a couple of different websites over the past week.
I have no idea who took it or when, but it certainly reminds me of the thousands of miles (or at least what seemed like thousands of miles to a nine year-old boy) my brother and I spent on our Big Wheels as kids.

Of course we jumped ours, but never to this level. The jump shown above looks better suited to a BMX bike. That is, until the log rolls out, causing a crash.

My mom hated seeing us ride our Big Wheels in the street as we were both low and loud. Not that she minded the sound, she just hated the fact that we couldn't hear cars driving down our street as the fat, plastic, hollow wheels drown out everything in a two-block radius. Still, the right rear-wheel handbrake made for some epic spin-outs.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


As a lifelong music geek who spent thousands of hours both working at (link fixed), selling to and scouring Chicago-area record stores, I look forward to checking out this documentary:

"Re-Vinylized" trailer from John Boston on Vimeo.

And even though I've been turntable and vinyl-free for ten years, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the 12" slabs and the iconic stores where they're sold. It's a shame that so many have closed over the years as consumers chose to buy (or is more-often the case, steal) their music in a digital form. I guess I'm one of the few remaining music fans who believes in both supporting the artists and stores, along with wanting to have the music in a physical form in order to read the lyrics and liner notes and enjoy the art.

Neighborhood Curiosity

Before our suburban home was built in Beige Acres, the land beneath it was a commercial strawberry field. Carlsbad still has some strawberry fields in town, producing amazingly sweet and huge berries. But "progress" took over this plot of land back in the mid-80s and the land was graded to become a nice little enclave of very similar-looking homes.

Surprisingly we sometimes come across evidence of the land's previous use. Last fall an overgrown shrub was removed from alongside our driveway. The landscape crew came in and planted some lilies and birds of paradise.
Over the past month I've witnessed a rogue strawberry emerge from beneath one of the lilies. More interesting than corn growing from a Midwestern backyard if you ask me. Should be interesting to see if it fruits one of these years.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Field Trip - Mud Caves!

We had been wanting to head out to the desert for several weekends now, but with other things getting in the way, we had to delay the outing until this past weekend.

While we didn't get ambitious enough to actually set the alarm, we were still on the road well before 9 AM, eastbound on I-8 and into the desert.

Exiting at Ocotillo we topped up the tank ($3.60/gal!) and hit the Imperial Highway,
which eventually turned into the Great Southern Overland Stage Route. From there we turned onto Vallecito Creek Road;
a very sandy wash that's categorized as a 4WD road by the California State Parks. After about five miles of a mixed surface of loose sand and a lot of washboard on Vallecito and Arroyo Tapiado, we arrived at the first canyon to look for mud caves. But first, most importantly, lunch;
which, as any visitor to this blog should know, was consumed in our mobile dining room.
not a bad view in the house

After witnessing a Hummer H2 drive by (the first one ever to tackle terrain more-rugged than a mall parking lot), we ventured out into the 94 degree heat.
It didn't take us long to find the first cave.
This one was only about about 30' deep and 8' wide max, but still a nice place to get out of the sun and escape the heat.
We poked around this cave for a few minutes and then ventured farther up the canyon in search of a larger cave.

Nothing significantly larger was found, so we turned around and Celeste found a perfect fit in a small slot.
Back to the original cave for another break from the sun. It was 12:30 and our grrrl does not like extreme heat.
With how barren the soil appeared...
... I'm surprised to find small flowers in bloom. Adaptation at its finest.
The soil is very sandy but hardens to a concrete-like state in places. Good bricks. Here are some sedimentary rock patterns from the inside of a cracked boulder.
Back to the van, A/C cranked, in search of more caves. A Jeep Wrangler parked off to the side of the trail gave us hope that another was close by. Bingo!
We ventured in, albeit with only one flashlight as I was too lazy to walk back to the van to grab a second one. Plus there were others in the cave so I wasn't concerned if ours went dead.
The air temp was easily 15° cooler inside the cave. Easy to navigate as well, not too narrow and a buffed-smooth floor meant that we didn't have to worry about tripping. After traversing about 10 minutes or so we came across a skylight.
Warm air rushing in, we pressed on farther into the cave.
"I think we need to go this way."
Celeste and I came to a point with a connecting loop. She was getting tired and was ready to get back to the van, so we headed back. Here's Celeste showing us the way. Sorry about the lack of light at times.

Back on the wash, we put Klaus' suspension to the test yet again on the way back to the paved road.

And what a road it is, with plenty of curves, some nice elevation changes and great scenery. Tt'd be magnificent to do a road ride on.
We stopped a few more times to snag some photos of the flora.
And then in Santa Ysabel to grab an Apple Pie at Dudley's.
Back home, the van received a thorough cleaning and bellies were filled with pie. Another fun day in San Diego County. We have to return some day to see more of the caves. Supposedly there are 22 in total. Find out more information on the area here.


Saturday morning I had to put a few things up in the attic above our garage. Celeste always loves exploring the area, checking out the stuff we have stored along with enjoying what's a cool perch for her.

This morning she came across my fishing pole and immediately went about creating a new game: DaddyFishing® (she tells me it's one word, just as I typed).
And what does my grrrl use for bait when fishing for her daddy?
Scotch Tape covered with Bacon Salt
Lego bicycle
piece of paper with Apple logo
and a Volkswagen toy car

She wanted to use a can of beer, but felt that it was too heavy. Does my grrrl know me or what?

Field Trip Preiview

Here's where we're off to today. Should be another fun adventure.
More info to come upon our return.

image source: Google Maps

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Down on the Street

Another day, another Bay-Window "T2" VW Bus. There are an inordinate amount of these still roaming the streets of Northern San Diego County in many shades of paint and primer (like this one, this one and this one which all live in our small neighborhood).
This one's still in good shape, a "survivor" with no visible rust and likely still coated in the paint that it left VW's Hanover factory with 39 years ago.
This one's a 1971 "hardtop" Westfalia camper. '71s are the best of the Bay Windows as they were the last year with the upright dual-port engine yet the first year with the much-needed front disc brakes.

Look closely and you'll see the BMW 2002 that was featured last October sitting pretty across the street.
I roll past both the Bus and the Beemer virtually every day on my commute to work. I'm pretty sure both Teutonic touring machines share an owner as they're always generally parked within spitting distance of each other.

Allie and I owned a similar ivory Bay Window camper back when we lived in Boulder, ours was a 1968 pop top.
Purchased from an Antarctic researcher who was about to be deployed for a six month stint, it was the one of the rare Busses in our price range that was not plastered with horrible Grateful Dead (or even-worse Phish) decals.
We named our bus Sally after the previous owner. During our short stint of ownership, we made some minor improvements - upgrading the electrical system from a generator to an alternator, new ball joints up front and sweet Michelin Agilis light truck tires all around. Allie also sewed some new curtains, seen on the left side of the image above. A few Saturdays were spent hitting Denver-area junkyards looking for some of the missing trim pieces both inside and out, the largest being the rear wardrobe cabinet. Overall we were able to get it back into pretty good shape for very little cash. We could never find an original-style icebox though.

One of my favorite features of the van was the original owner's manual, still sitting in the glovebox, looking cool in a mid-century European kind of way and touting some impressive specifications - like peak power output of 57 HP from the diminutive 1600cc single-port engine that would theoretically propell the box to a very noisy 0-60 time of 29 seconds.
We ended up selling it as Allie was pregnant and didn't feel that it would be a very suitable baby-mobile. I ended up selling it to some dirtbag hippie kid who's mom mailed me a check from her home in New Hampshire and replaced it with a '91 SAAB 900s that I bought from my boss.