Sunday, 30 August 2009

Aluminum Single Speed Chainrings - Not for this guy

This chainring appears reasonably straight, but that has more to do with 10 minutes of levering it with little sticks and pounding it with rocks than any design of the chainring.

Singlespeed chainrings experience a lot of torque. This one may have been up to the task, but it appears a bolt went missing too at some point. Not a good combo, it bent like a leaf.

I'm ironing out my SS drivetrain a little bit each ride. You'd think it'd be easy. I've now upgraded to a Surly stainless steel chainring and 4 steel bolts, tightly affixed too.

Let's hope no more rides are cut short.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Lactate Threshold at the Office, Singlespeed bliss

Post a retreat weekend that wore me down more than built me back up, this week was another complete blitz. One killer sized project, a second thrown in for good measure, plus two key pitches (discussion documents essentially) for the week that don't just come out of nowhere. One of the above happened to occur in Houston. The scenario of work till midnight, come in at 7:30, work till 3, hour call at airport, in bed in hotel by 1am, wake up at 6, meet for 3 hours, fly home, work from 6pm till midnight, take cell calls in driveway so the neighbours think I'm nuts, isn't something I need to do every single week. More like "when it needs to be done".

90+ hour weeks are tough, that doesn't leave much time for anything else. I survived, but not by much. I don't have 21 year old adrenaline to keep me going anymore either. It's like riding hard tempo continually till you pop, and when you do, you're totally fried. Friday night I slept 13 hours, then thought I'd wake up and ride a bike a little on Saturday. Turns out instead I slept on the deck till noon, sat in a lawn chair all afternoon, ate dinner, then sat around and went to bed. Instead of sleeping restlessly, I slept another 12 hours sound as can be. Wow.

Sunday I spent the entire day in the office, then as I was driving home trying to let Sting and an open sunroof take away some of my angst, a little miracle happened. Craig called. Wanted to ride bikes... now we're talkin!

He could only meet up later, so I blasted off for an hour into a Portuguese-esque headwind north across the prairies, with ominous clouds spitting bits of rain. I suppose a lot of riders would have said it was a bad evening for a ride, cool and blustery. It was my only evening for a ride, and therefore by perfect correlation, it was the perfect time for a ride. Fantastic to watch the clouds move across a blank prairie. Wind noise, not phones, cell phones, blackberries. I looped back to pick up Craig, we stopped by my house to switch over to the SS, and did a couple loops out through Nose Hill.

The single speeds performed beautifully, and this rider tried to keep his head up but was hurtin. Most importantly, the performance wasn't the key (funny youtube video aside). The key was this was two thirty something kids riding bikes with one gear, just like a rewind to grade 2. Didn't matter what the weather was, didn't matter where we were going. We pedaled, and when we needed to go faster, we pedaled harder. We picked the routes that looked fun. We had fun. That's the way I need to end a week more often... just gotta end them before the 90 hour mark too!

Vernon, BC "retreat"

Investment bankers like to do retreats, or "boondoggles" whenever they can be fit in. I've been doing a month of 90 hour weeks, so fitting them in isn't too easy. Our group had a weekend in Vernon at an MD's place booked well in advance, and damn if we weren't going to try to make it. We needed a little team building and guys weekend in times of change. And a short mental checkout, aided by the perfect mental checkout formula sold 24 cold cans at a time, actually was quite nice.

For most this meant a lot of blackberry time, shuffling some flights later, and coming home early. I drove, and decided to make haste of it since my gas costs were covered... ahhh... love the open highways. I left at 6:45pm on last Thursday evening and made it to Vernon by midnight. Awesome fun, except for a little wet road incident - I can't even blame being sleepy or driving fast, just one of those once every 5 year boo boos that luckily didn't have any consequences.

From midnight arrival, it was gambling and drinking till 4am, which is where "retreat" seems to leave the vernacular, and boondoggle enters. In my view, retreats are rejuvenating. Boondoggles are a flagrant display of excess and foolishness, which are valuable things to do every now and then too. After Troy (aka Tron) won $600 at poker the first night, he set the tone for the weekend by saying "Thanks guys for subsidising my irresponsible lifestyle. I hope you enjoy watching me piss this away foolishly this weekend." Indeed, Tron sets a high bar when it comes to partying: some people fit Bryan Adams' "18 till I die" lyrics to a "t" I'm not one of them, but I know at least one...

The remainder of the weekend consisted of beer, golf, wakeboarding, cliff jumping, swimming, hot tubbing, steak dinners, 3' of flames from an open bbq bacon fire at 3am, and more beer. Basically anything expensive and low skilled, or possible to do at a low skill level. Every time I was in the water, the peanut gallery kept yelling "take off your shirt". Even if I haven't been riding much, at least I look like I do. Wakeboarding had me sore for 3 days after... and I couldn't even make it over the wake. Last time I was out two years ago I could, but I think this was longer rope, worse fitness, and fancier boat that made the wake bigger (and wider). Fun though.

I think I came home more tired than when I left, but it was fun... if not the normal kind of Bakke weekend.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

House Renovation 4 - demolition

Ceiling with water issues. No good.

Front entryway part demolished. Eventually that tan wall will be gone too. It's cinderblocks behind the drywall - and the drywall is glued to the blocks. Makes for poor insulation, but a solid wall if you bump into it at the housewarming party (Warren?).

Downstairs partway through cleanup.

This used to be a bathroom and laundry room, both old, small, and poorly done.

The bathroom was small and had no headroom over the toilet, an angled wall was there that I couldn't ever figure out since there should have been more space. Turns out this large air return duct was there. This HVAC layout wouldn't cut it in Europe where people actually care about wasting space. That thing is 14" deep, plus there's dead space of 3-4" between the duct and the wall.

Upstairs bedroom wall now removed.

Upstairs "bike room" wall now gone. This won't be a bike room going forward.

This was the computer room/office. Notice that funny little stub wall on the right is gone - there was nothing in there! I have no idea why that stupid little wall was there other than to make the room less useful.

Entryway drywall removed.

Main living area looks even more spacious now. Note too that the entry way cinderblock wall will be removed, so you'll be able to see straight through to that side of the house (garage currently) where the garage will be an exercise room and bathroom, plus an entryway that goes from the front right through to the back door.

House Renovation 3 - More pre-demolition

After many tries, we couldn't salvage the flooring for my dad's basement project. It's not the click together stuff like now, it's tongue in groove and they glued it whenever this was laid. Too bad.

The living room looks spacious without any furniture.

Those old kitchen cabinets and the little wall entering the kitchen will be gone.

Our early in the residency of the house work on the upstairs bathroom will be lost.

Most of it will end up in this big green bin.


House Renovation 2 - Movers

Jon, thanks for your help. This photo contains the efforts of a long Sunday afternoon of moving. A trailer full of furniture and such, as well as a 10' cactus braced for the ride, and of course Jon who's other business card says Mover #1. I'd argue that giant cacti, in a pot with no real handholds, that in total weighs a lot, would be on the tougher end of the "things that needed to be moved" spectrum.

No known photos exist of movers 2-6, but Bill, Olga, Craig, his brother, and Matt Joss helped out. Somehow my fridge made it to storage without me, thanks to a gang of guys who helped one night when I got "worked over" badly. My blood was boiling actually, and too much of that going on lately.

We sincerely appreciate the efforts of all. Moving house A to house B as most people do is much easier, as you just hire movers and label things by room. The nature of this exercise didn't really lend itself to that approach.

Not a Framebuilder...

... but at one point in life I repainted a car. Similar. It's kind of like drywall - skill helps you progress quicker, but if you really care about what you're doing, patience can get you there.

V-brake posts are ugly on bikes that use discs, so why not remove them?

Hacksaw on the kitchen table.

Filing it smooth.

Time for rustproofing and priming.

And a little painting.

End result is ok, you wouldn't know v-brake posts were there without a really close look.

Singlespeeds have been on my mind a bit lately, will follow up in time with a few pics of the real deal - singlespeeds with big kids who like riding bikes attached, hopefully with a little mud on the tires.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Busy gets busier

Timing is everything... like all of a sudden being in receipt of a resignation letter from a 4+ year associate in our group when there's lots going on, including a few projects we are on together.
Busy? Yes.
Getting busier? Yes.

Good t-shirt to wear on your last day? Yes.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Tori goes to Singapore

Tori and I hung out last night, dropped by to say goodbye to our house, and schemed about life in general. In some ways I know it'll fly by, the last decade has too so this year wouldn't be any different. But maybe life flying by fast isn't really the point either. Hmm...

Montana weekend

I love Montana. For only a few hours out of Calgary, it's more than a world different from the rat race. Montana has a different pace, a different aesthetic to life, that makes it all the more valuable as a change of surroundings for a vacaton.

Devin, Tori and I went down for a little biking and R&R. We slept 12 hour nights and biked leisurely; I sure needed that kind of pace. We ate oversized Yankee portions of simple western cooking, swam in lakes, and drank a cyclist/Montana comprimise quota of 2 beers each per night. I think we all felt a decade or so younger, even though we're now 3 adults travelling in a new (sweet!) minivan together. I shut off the blackberry, which has only spotty reception down there anyway (of course on Tuesday morning the world was ending because 3 solid days of long weekend work didn't happen).

I skimmed a cowboy wisdom book, which taught me the two following things, among many others:

Don't work for a man with electricity in his barn, you'll end up working late.

Refrain from working for an income that inhibits your personal liberties.

These two stuck with me, even though Always carry two ropes, cause you never know when you'll come across a two rope job and Don't squat with yer spurs on seem valuable too.

I'm not much of a rider these days, both Tori and Devin can attest to that. 3 hour rides leave me drained and sore. Tori beat me to the top from the St. Mary side, which made me proud. One of our first rides together when Tori was a budding cyclist was up Logan pass, what a difference a decade makes. They waited at a few corners for me and kept shoulder checking, asking "what's up". What's up is I have no energy, haven't been riding, and maybe subliminally am OK with not redlining for a little while. We didn't quite make it to the top of the West side due to a ranger strictly enforcing the time limits, but Devin was far enough ahead that he made it to the top. Devin blazed trail ahead of us both days, like he should, on the long climbs.

Two of the things that arguably mean the most to me in life are going through a low ebb, for lack of better wording. I'm not riding much or well. Tori is going to be more distant for a year too. They both rode away from me on the hill, and left me where I was... guess that's pretty clear symbolism.