Friday, May 27, 2011

Merlins

Back in the day, I rode with a good group of guys from Albuquerque. We were all in our late 20s to early 30s and we were passionate about mountain biking. We pushed our bikes to the limit and we broke them. Finally one of us got a Merlin and that changed everything. Soon, all of us were riding them.


Merlins in their prime were hard to beat. Beautiful, light, strong, and fun to ride.

As far as I know, all of us still have each of ours; Jim's is now SS with its original steel fork and sits mostly in his shed in Corrales. He has since moved on to an Ibis Mojo SL.

John's is also reborn as an SS and a Russian Ti fork is presently running around the streets and hills of Salida, CO.

Mike's is still configured with its original stuff; rigid Ritchey steel fork and 3 x 8 gearing but it sits in his garage in Albuquerque because he is now riding a custom 29er SS. .

Mine is with me here in Venezuela as my prime bike and currently configured as a 1 x 9 with a carbon fiber fork. It will probably go back to SS mode when it moves back to NM later in the year since I will have the Litespeed and Rocky Mountain as geared bikes.

Technology and innovation plows ahead, but original Merlins will always be considered the ultimate to me. Classic!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Erythrodiplax berenice

Yesterday I did one the most enjoyable bikes rides in a while. I rode with a friend who is the science teacher at another international school in Barcelona, VE. We were both working in the Gallup, NM area at the same time, but never crossed paths that I can recall. 

Anyway, as science teachers, we had a lot to talk about and share when riding. I showed him some trails he wasn't familiar with. We stopped at several places along the ride including at a point overlooking the sea and watched wave phenomenon from above (100 meters up) and related it to our classroom lessons.

The highlight of the ride was near the end when encountered thousands of dragonflies. I've been riding the El Morro area for about 10 years and had never witnessed an emergence of dragonflies. I was curious about them. I kept thinking about a water source where the nymphs would live. There were no freshwater sources in the area, so my only conclusion was the sea. These must be marine dragonflies, so that's what I Googled ("marine dragonfly") and I came up with Erythrodiplax berenice. Good match! The specimens flying around yesterday looked very much like the gold and black variety shown in the the photo and link. Very cool!
Mountain biking gives me the opportunity to get to places to observe nature when I probably wouldn't have gone otherwise. I enjoy the challenge of singletrack climbs and descents, and the social aspect of it is a bonus.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Surreal Ride

Had a very surreal moment on the bike today...short section of single track, a tiny lizard runs for its life getting out of the way of my front wheel, seconds later a small bird zooms in low from behind and passes diagonally in front of my wheel about pedal high, then insects were buzzing leaving visible curvy streaks in their wake. Went back a few minutes later in the opposite direction and their was a iridescent green lizard in the middle of the trail. 
This is why I like mountain biking...you never know what you're going to see or experience.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gamera: the flying turtle

I like things that fly; birds, planes, helicopters, and rockets. I also like bicycles and human powered vehicles. The students at the University of Maryland made a human powered helicopter that actually got off the ground. Congratulations to them! I think this is a really cool project. Even though flight is theoretically impossible with a human powered helicopter, the Gamera did get off the ground for a few seconds.

When watching the students work on this, via their live stream video, I kept thinking of two things; bumble bees, and JFK's famous "We do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard" speech at Rice University.

They'll be attempting to win the Sikorsky Prize in the fall. 

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Cycling Solidarity

A fellow cyclist needs help.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

NO!

This morning I officially said NO to a ridiculous contract offer to teach at El Tigre next year.
Time to move forward! Yeehaw!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Sewer Canal

Had a three-day weekend which was nice. I got out on my bicycle on Sunday and Monday. Both days I really enjoyed the ride. Monday's ride was particularly fun. We have a limited number of trails to ride in our area, so when I saw some guy on a bike the other day riding a single track along a sewage canal, I had to go check it out. Yes, it was smelly, and unpleasant, but it was a new single track trail...that headed straight into the sketchy-est barrio in Lecheria. I probably would have been okay riding through the barrio, but I decided to cut it short and took a safe route back into the primary residential area I was in. I rode back to the panaderia to buy some breakfast.

 Took this photo when riding at El Morro that morning.