Sunday, September 29, 2013

Me, Hozan.

It's been a period of times-a-changin' around here lately. This has distracted me from the serious business of writing about it on the internet. However, I've been doing this for nearly ten years now, so I'm not about to give up. Ten years. Yikes.

This week was my birthday. Marking another year of life's passage doesn't seem as meaningful as it used to, but I'm looking forward to making it to forty. I suspect this will occur in approximately four years time. In the meantime I have to make do with non-meaningful birthdays. This one was not without its fun though. To mark the first splashes of winter, I got a new wetsuit from these people, via Lina. It seems much more comfy than the twenty years old one I've been using (time flies, apparently). I suspect there may be quite a lot of surfing in our lives this winter after Lina's big step up in the game at Battle of the Paddle this weekend (spoiler - she got 3rd in the distance race and made it to the final of the Elite surf-race). The paddling part comes very naturally to her, but tackling the waves needs some work. Luckily, I like waves but not paddling... so we should get on fine there.

Back to my birthday. Paul, Alex, Kala, Jacek, and I went for possibly the last dry ride on the Shore until it freezes. I was pretty sleepy after work (and a week of riding there and back), but it was real treat to ride the newly-rejuvenated Expresso, on my new bike (more of that later), in the dark, with friends. Good times indeed. 

Now about that bike. As my hypnotic GIF suggested, I got a new "big" bike. This big bike is a lot less monstrous than some of the things I've ridden around in the past few years, but it has new-fangled "toboggan-style" geometry which even in my advancing years (hmm), I though I would enjoy getting my head around. The front wheel is a long way in front of me, the pedals are very near the ground, and the whole contraption seems to want to go very fast all the time... but I'm getting the hang of it. I'm enjoying this bike a lot and looking forward to having it look after my mistakes in the dark and slippery winter. Some of the components on it are just what I had laying around, and now I've decided I like it, it's getting updated a bit. Thankfully it's sale-time for bike parts around here since it started raining. Also, one birthday present I made to myself was to book an appointment with Arthur at Suspension Therapy.  I'm looking forward to telling the people at work that I have to leave for an appointment with my suspension therapist. 

Shades of grey, with some green and orange.
Another recent addition to the home is a proper wheel-truing stand. I've had a couple of stands before which were ok, but I really enjoy building wheels... and wanted something which would do the experience justice. Then someone posted this beast, made in Japan by Hozan (probably quite a while ago) on Craigslist on my birthday:

Shades of green, and rust, with some red and gold.
I've built one wheel in it already, and am finding it very suitable for my needs. I wonder how long its been since someone last built a wheel in it?

And finally, another cast-iron monstrosity I bought recently was a tubing notcher. My progress towards building my second bike frame has been glacial in speed, but I keep edging forward. I went and found a dead old frame at OCB yesterday and spend a few happy moments cutting 60 degree angles in bits of it today. The plan is to re-create the first ting I ever welded, to see if I can make a good enough job of it to buy some tubes and have another go at a frame. Thankfully Kermit is still holding up to my 150km per week of commuting without falling apart. I feel a road-bike coming on, and a new commuter for Lina perhaps, and a kid's bike for some (un)fortunate child.

P.S. This weekend's rainy activities have been largely accompanied by instrumental rock music. This is a bit of a departure for me, but I highly recommend listening to some Explosions in the Sky or Godspeed You! Black Emperor while you go about your in-house business with the rain splashing outside.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Change may be good, but I need a rest

Sometimes it feels like you're always sprinting off the line
The past couple of weeks have been rather wild. I have had the pleasure of (in no particular order): starting a new job in the mundane world of Nobel prize-winning RNA interference technology, attending the first Canadian National SUP Championships, racing my first two SUP races in the aforementioned event, observing the start of a new school year, selling a paddle, buying a new waterproof jacket, selling a bike rear shock, eating Bratwurst for lunch (twice), working in an office for the first time in six years, riding Kermit 15km each way to work and back through parks and along the Fraser River (sometimes with Paul), unexpectedly going to a dinner party with a group of internationally awesome athletes (and their dogs), riding part of the Larch Hills Traverse with aforementioned athletes (on my "downhill" bike... with flat pedals), and finally getting a new camelback (which has a Mexican blanket colour-scheme).

The good news is that Lina is the first Canadian Women's 14' SUP National Champion. She may not look 14', but I can assure you it's all true. I was there. The Kalamalka Classic SUP race is something we've been going to ever since it started in 2010 excluding the year we were in China. I've always had a great time... but mostly because I've gone mountain biking in Kal Park rather than getting involved with all that silly SUP nonsense. After all, it's just a fad, right? My confession is that after dutifully driving Lina around to SUP races for the past four years (and then going mountain biking and returning in time to drink the free beer), I have caved in. There was a spare board, and we seem to have more paddles than anyone could possibly need, and I have been SUPing (not just the free beer) a bit lately, so I entered the 10km "Kalamalka Crossing". Apparently Kalamakla Lake is Hawaiian for "The Sun in the Mountains Lake", though personally I prefer the alternative Hawaiian meaning "Money in the Mountains Lake", or perhaps a Finnish-Hawaiian mash-up resulting in "Fish in the Mountains Lake".  The result of this misadventure was that I gained  hotly (or not)-contested 10th place in the 12'6" men's race board Canadian Championships title. So I'm shorter than Lina, apparently. For the record, I paddled a heavily-abused Starboard B.O.P. which I'm growing to really love as it seems to ride little waves, paddle across lakes, and do wheelies very well and looks almost like a surfboard and not a giant clog. Obviously Starboard decided to stop making it last year because it was too good.

My new job is a major feature of my life, and seems to have the potential to be a good thing. On the plus side, there are lots of nice people there, there is free coffee (and often food), I sit next to a window, I get to ride my bike there, Paul works down the road, there is a German sausage cafe nearby run by Filipinos (and a German chef), we work on stuff that sounds like it would make quite a good sci-fi movie, and they have a shower. On the negative side, it's an office... which means I have to wear clothes and can't perform bicycle maintenance during meetings. I think it's a reasonable compromise.

Having dispersed details of my life to the internet... I am now going to eat some lasagna. Goodnight one and all.