Sunday, May 30, 2010

R.I.P. Dennis

Somewhere in New Mexico
I don't know much about Dennis Hopper other than I've enjoyed the characters he created on-screen. His creative masterpiece is probably Easy Rider (just learned there is a new version coming out which I think should be against the law) where he directed, acted, and edited the film. I also know that Mr. Hopper was fond of New Mexico. That's cool too. 
One of more disturbing and memorable characters, Frank in Blue Velvet. (Dean Stockwell is good in this scene as well.)
R.I.P. Dennis! 

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Water Tank

Venezuela does not have reliable fresh water supplies. The infrastructure is in a such a state of disrepair, that there is probably a 40% loss through leakage. Condominiums will have large underground water tanks and pumps to serve the building's residents, but even that is sketchy at times. Therefore, years ago, Tania and I bought a large 120 L plastic trash barrel to store water in. This is the way we always had an emergency stash on hand. 
We carried our plastic water container from our rental to our purchased home in 2007. Late 2009 and early 2010 has been a year of drought, and there has been daily water rationing for about 6 months. This means the water in our building is turned on only from 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM, 12:00 noon to 2:00 PM, and 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. As a result, we've had to plan all our water-based activities and chores during these times, i.e., take showers, get loads of laundry washed, wash the dishes, etc. Sometimes a shower means using a bucket of water and a sponge. I've never liked bucket showers. I started using a bicycle waterbottle to brush my teeth...same way I do when I go bicycle camping. 

About three months ago, Tania and I looked into the possibility of an auxiliary water tank for our condo. I had seen these systems in a friend's apartment in Caracas, so I knew they existed. We started researching and found a complete system; 520 L tank, base, float valve, and a 1/2 HP pump at our local mega-hardware store. Eureka! 

We debated for a week or two, wondering if we could afford it, and if we actually needed it. Finally, frustrated from taking a bucket shower after a bicycle ride one Saturday I decided I was going to spend the money and buy one. There were only three left, so we bought the system and it was delivered where it sat un-installed for another month. 

We finally got the system installed about two weeks ago and boy howdy is it great! We now have water and water pressure, including hot water, on demand during the hours when the building's water is turned off. We open and close the appropriate valves, flip the power switch, and listo! Water as normal!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

I Hardly Knew Ya Rocky!

I sold my 2008 Rocky Mountain Vertex Team to a friend a couple of months back. Problem was, the bike was in New Mexico, and we are in Venezuela. Well I went up to New Mexico last weekend for personal reasons, and brought back the bike.

I acquired the frame and fork,on a whim last year, for a good price from the RM sales rep in Vancouver, and actually only rode the it 3 or 4 times last summer, before it went into storage, so I was never really attached to it. To build it, I bought a set of wheels for it (nice American Classics), a Race Face crank, Cane Creek Aheadset, and some Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes. The rest of the parts came from my Litespeed after its extensive overhaul last summer, so it was built fairly cheaply.

Yesterday and today, I got to ride it on trails that I can do in my sleep and focus on the bike instead of the trail. Conclusion...super sweet bike! Climbs like a goat, descends straight and true, corners wonderfully, and is one of the most perfectly balanced mountain bikes I've ridden. The scandium frame smooths out the bumps and vibrations. Definitely a sweet bike!
Riding with a friend this morning who also has a Team issue.

This bike will eventually end up in Kiev, Ukraine where my friend has taken a teaching job at one of our sister schools. I hope it gets a lot of use there. It is a huge improvement on the POS bike he was riding. Everyone deserves to ride a good bicycle.

Now I want to retrofit disc brakes on the Litespeed and Merlin! 

Update: I have a line on a 2009 carbonfiber Vertex Team! Yes! 

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Home for a Few Days: Tour of the Gila, Stage 4

I missed stage 3 due to a doctor's appointment, but stage 4 is the Downtown Criterium! The big spectator day! Always loads of fun. 
Started the day by taking my mom and Ed (my mother's husband) to breakfast. We all ordered the same thing...New Mexico style red chile huevos rancheros. Tasty! 

The downtown criterium has always been part of the Tour of the Gila. One year the race directors caved to the pressure of the downtown business people and moved the crit onto the campus of WNMU, but it was a spectator flop and I guess the downtown merchants realized the amount of walk-in business during the race outweighed the normal car traffic business on a Saturday.

That said, the downtown course is quite simple. It is a rectangular course of left hand turns. It starts by going north on a slight uphill on Bullard St, Silver City's main street, then into Turn 1, a left hand onto College Avenue which is also a slight climb. It turns left again, south, onto Cooper Street at the public library, where it is a steeper climb still to 6th street where it crests, then bombs downhill to Market Street, only to climb again to the Grant County Courthouse and turns left again, east, onto a long downhill down Broadway. The racers finally hit turn four at 40+ mph, a 90-degree turn north back onto Bullard and up to the start/finish line to complete the 1 mile circuit.

Let the race spectating begin! I tried to get creative with my little Canon SD-1200IS point-n-shoot camera. I got off a few interesting pics. Most of these are unaltered except a couple have been cropped. I got some interest effects happening just by panning the camera as I took the picture. 

I got some interesting pics. Here are my favorites...
Tune-Town in the Cat 4-5 race. 
 Approaching the Start/Finish line.

Into Turn 1.
Little Shop of Horrors

Charlotte, of El Paso, TX, looking on.

A view of the Pros/Cat1 from David's porch.

A rad shot of the Pro/Cat1 from the roof of the Vacuum Cleaner Center.

The Pro/Cat1 zoom past.

1 more lap.
Crit racing is fun!

Ghost Bike for Dan Potts

Dan Potts was a friend of mine. He was a long time cyclist, older than me, but we'd ridden together off and on for about 20 years. He had just retired from his job at the power company and was out on his bicycle on a spring day in 1999 when he was struck from behind and killed by a minivan driven by a distracted mother. Tragic. 

The Duke City Wheelmen erected the ghost bike on Thursday afternoon, in honor and memory of Dan. Present at the dedication was his wife Lucy, and a hand full of friends and supporters.

Stage 3 of the Tour of the Gila is named his honor; the Dan Potts Tyrone Time Trial.  

Home for a Few Days: Tour of the Gila, Stage 2

Showed up at the start of Stage 2 of the Tour of the Gila and my luck would have it, I was walking past the Mellow Johnny's (Team Radio Shack) RV just as Levi, Lance, and Jason came out to check their bikes. 
Johan Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong's long time team manager. Actually I didn't know who this guy was until my sister, who is a huge Lance fan, told me.

 Details of Lance's bike. A long-time friend, a guy who I grew up with, had the responsibility of signing the UPS delivery tag for Lance's three bikes. Two were insured at over $10,000, and the third bike (the TT bike?) was insured at over $30,000.
Lance came out of the RV to tweek the seat of his bike and this is when I said, "Hey Lance...You and I rode together in one of your first races as a pro...down in Lajitas, TX" His reply, "...That is the place where they have a goat as the mayor." That was about all I could get out him, but I guess that's pretty good for a non-reporter. 

I rode with my friend Lonnie in Support 2 where we followed the lead break-away in the Cat 2 race giving them wheels if needed. Lonnie and I used to be THE big dog mountain bikers in town. We had a real friendly rivalry for several years. Now both middle-aged, we enjoyed watching the race from the inside of a Toyota as we talked about the good old days of mountain biking, and  the time we did the Tour of the Gila as Cat 4s twenty years ago, like a couple of geezers...
Most of my pics from Supp 2 are the rear ends of the cyclists...not very appealing. I did manage one decent shot that I was able to crop and get something I liked. This is the break-away group heading down the Mimbres River valley with a dust obscured Cooke's Peak in the background.

The race finished where it began 79 miles later. I saw many friends including Amber and little mellow Kyra waiting for Amber's husband and Kyra's dad, Nathan, racing in the Cat 3 race. I mentored  Nathan when he was 13 years old in mountain biking.

It was an extremely windy stage, but it was great to be back in Silver City and watch it happen.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Home for a Few Days: Post #1

Some pics from my quick trip to New Mexico. These are CCS to IAH. 

X-ray scanner at CCS

737-400 coach section

 Over Grand Cayman Island (note the how the clouds are the same outline as the island)