And so it ends, 2012...and so it begins, 2013...

For the most part, I can actually say "What a great year this has been!!!"

Our holiday season includes the obvious wedding anniversary amidst a barrage of events (Thanksgiving, end of the semester, Hanukkah, Christmas, Birthdays, New Year's), but it was nice to find time for a quiet, romantic evening last night for husband and wife.   To gear up for the food, we hit the exercise bikes and weights in the basement for a pre-dinner workout.  I've got one more session to do on Wednesday of the adaptation phase, but yesterday included more weight - so I'm feeling it today.

Tara and I went to Fleming's Steakhouse last night and splurged on some nice prime cuts of meat.  The bill was $243 before tip, so as I said - it was a splurge we don't do at that price very often for obvious reasons (not to mention we can cook just as well if not better for a lot less $$$).  But it was a night out which we always enjoy.  Tara had the Prime Rib and I had the bone in Rib-Eye steak.  Trimmings included salad, asparagus, cheesy hash browns, bread, carrot cake (unbelievable cake!), coffee, cocktails, and wine.  I had requested a romantic table and we had the perfect spot and waiter to make our evening quite enjoyable.

We got home to a house full of friends visiting our kids who were all home from college and they were all enjoying themselves until the wee hours of the morning.  Luckily, they were enjoying themselves loudly in the basement so we could retire inconspicuously for our anniversary....

We'll celebrate the New Year here at home tonight and we already watched some of the celebration on television from the portion of the globe that is already in 2013.  I was thinking about smoking a turkey on the Green Egg tomorrow, but we might go skiing up at Boone instead.

It's here in a few hours...

As we turn the calendar year forward another year, we reflect and remember all of the wonderful life that we experienced throughout the calendar year now known as the past - 2012.  And things launch right in full speed ahead for 2013.  The 2nd Semester, Tara's 55th birthday, base training for 12 weeks, a trip to Vegas, a trip to Germany in March, a trip to Austria in the summer, the bike racing season, a trip to South Dakota for the Dakota Five-O, camping trips, a new garden, staining the deck, singing and of course the fiscal cliff!!!

All the best to you and yours for a wonderful 2013!!!!


23rd Wedding Anniversary!!!

I've already embarrassed my wife on Facebook posting for all to see that she is the love of my life and that we were married 23 years ago in Lafayette, California.  I even caught her in a smile recently and added to her embarrassment by posting this as well...


We do have romantic dinner plans scheduled for this evening (I'm not going to even hint to her and tell her where by posting it here or talking about it all day).  We had a nice walk together this morning in the snow after cooking up a protein filled breakfast.  We thought about a nice long walk around Lake Ahquabi in the snow with the dogs, but this crunchy and deep snow is not exactly easy to walk in wearing regular hiking boots and the dogs lumber through it - especially the drifts.  So we will skip that without having the proper gear and the dogs being the age they are.

We kicked off the anniversary celebration last night with her making roasted potatoes, and I made sautéed zucchini and baked Italian chicken breasts while we watched Raging Bull.

Now, to the basement with Tara for recovery rides and weights!!!   Here's to 23 more years... 


Back from the Black Hills....

We enjoyed a nice family Christmas out in Rapid City!!!  It snowed light, fluffy flakes just about the entire time we were there (not enough for helping the skiing while we were there, but at least another lift and a couple more runs are now open).

Zack and I sang at the 8 pm Christmas Eve service at Canyon Lake United Methodist Church.  By the time we got out of the church, it was our bed time so we went back to the motel to get some sleep.  Christmas Day we had a nice waffle breakfast, then hit the motel gym before showering and heading over to Dad's for Christmas.

Zack and Alexa with Grandpa visiting before we ate our dinner.


After the traditional ham Christmas Dinner, we all went to see the opening of Les Miserables.  After the movie, we headed back to Dad's and baked some pizzas for the evening meal and more visiting.

The day after Christmas, we picked up Dad and drove up into the Black Hills for lunch (ate at a deli in Keystone) and then stopped at Mount Rushmore.

Two sets of 4 faces....


We drove back through Hill City and dropped Dad off while we all hit the mall to take advantage of some clothing sales.  Then we all went to the Firehouse Brewery in downtown Rapid City where we hooked up with my nephew Cody and Sean.  We thought we had made a reservation (we called and told them a group of 7 at 7 on the lower floor since the stairs would be too difficult for Dad to climb), but there was no table for us when we arrived and ended up waiting about 45-55 minutes until we finally were able to sit down.  It ended up being a late dinner due to that, but we had a nice visit.

The drive home featured snow for 8 1/2 hours and bad roads where you couldn't use cruise control due to the slick conditions, speed had to be kept in check and visibility was akin to blowing sand in the desert.  Luckily, I grew up driving in snow, so the task was left to me to drive the entire 10 1/2 hours.  We saw a lot of people spin out and go into the ditch in front of us, behind us, next to us and along the way.  One guy in a big Ford extended cab pickup passed us in the snow covered lane coming into Mitchell going full speed.  A few hundred yards ahead of us he lost control and went down in the median.  That's what you get for thinking 4 wheel drive, big truck tires and testosterone means you don't have to slow down in such conditions.  The worst was around Sioux City where we passed right around rush hour and all the people entering the Interstate had no idea it had been snowing all day and the roads were in terrible shape.  I saw a total of 13 cars in front of me end up in the ditch or in the median.   Two came from the opposite side of the freeway spinning through the median and one almost jumped up on our side of the road.  It was nerve wracking to drive in that stuff and I got a stiff neck and shoulder gripping the wheel, but thanks to some Advil I took at our lunch stop in Mitchell was able to relax.  Things cleared up south of Sioux City and the final 2 hours home were normal.

It was a nice trip out and back in spite of the car wheel troubles, and difficult driving conditions.

We picked up the dogs from the boarding kennel, and got Zack's car from the repair shop.  His Element looks all nice and new in the front end with all the deer damage repair (was about $5800 total).  It's been snowing lightly since we got home and I have shoveled 3 times since.  Some neighbors have not even shoveled the blizzard 12" from before we left which makes going for dog walks all the more challenging.  Nevertheless, I've been out on the Karate Monkey plowing through the snow with the dogs and have managed to stay upright.

I'm just about finished with my adaptation phase of weight lifting for December, although I pulled the plug last night after 60 minutes on the bike and 1 complete set of 10 reps for all weights when my legs started to cramp up a bit.  I just didn't want to force a second set of 10 reps with the legs not behaving.  Probably all the driving, lack of water and the time I spent on a recumbent exercise bike at the motel in Rapid City (slightly different muscles for sure).  Not to mention, I've reached the point in the weight lifting where the plates are starting to be added and I'll have to switch to weight lifting days being only a warm up and cool down on the bike - not a 60 minute session with 1 minute intervals on every 5 minute time (:05, :10, :15, :20, :25, :30, etc...).  Especially true as I move into next week's weight lifting phase where the plates load up quickly.  I skipped this last year and focused on long base rides due to the tepid winter instead of weights.  Looks like this year is a more typical winter and the weight training is welcomed - especially for my age where I need to keep up with the weights.  Even if the trail was cleared by the county, there is so much ice underneath that I doubt it can be ridden for base training yet.  I'll have to get out and take a look.  Otherwise, it looks like a winter of indoor base training and some gravel road slug rides.


Merry Christmas!!!

We are currently in Rapid City, South Dakota for the holidays.  It's snowing at 10 pm (has been since about 1 pm) and talk about a 'White Christmas'....!  Nice fluffy white stuff that seems rather innocent compared to the blizzard dump we got in Iowa last week.

We drove out to South Dakota yesterday, but were thwarted by issues with my lug nuts and wheel studs on the Honda Element.  I forgot to get the wheels re-torqued after a tire rotation back around Labor Day.  Started hearing funny noises between Mitchell and Chamberlain while my son Zack was driving.  He claimed it was the road, but I said something was wrong with a tire or a wheel.  Whether or not it was the original torque of the lug nuts or my failure to get a re-torque after a tire rotation, or the heavy load of all 4 of us plus gear, or the cold weather - it happened.  First time in my life to experience this.

We pulled off at Chamberlain and took a look.  We were down to two lug nuts!!!  And the one snapped as I tried to tighten it.  Holy crap!!!  Why oh why the wheel didn't fall off I can only speculate, but praise the almighty that nothing serious happened to us.  Since it was Sunday, we had no choice but to spend the night in a motel next to Al's Oasis (had a very nice Prime Rib dinner in our sorrow) and I hit the Chevy dealer at 8 am today for the repair as soon as they opened.  They put in 5 new wheel studs and gave me 3 new lug nuts so we could continue ($202 dollars later - $131 of the charge being labor) to Rapid City for Christmas.  A big thank you to Harry K Chevy in Oacoma, South Dakota for taking such good care of us.  And thanks to the ladies at Al's Oasis who were delightful to visit with and lifted our spirits about being stuck there.  We were on the road again by 10:30 a.m. Christmas Eve and even stopped at Wall Drug for 5 cent coffee and maple doughnuts.  Tara and the kids - in all of the past 10 years of driving to and from Iowa to Rapid had never seen Wall Drug, so I figured it was time.  

We finally pulled into Rapid City about 1 pm and checked in (a day late) to our motel.  Hit up Applebee's before they closed at 2 pm and then went to the grocery store to stock up on goodies.

Zack and I sang tonight at the 8 pm service.  Zack sang 'O holy night' and I sang 'Panis Angelicus' at a nice service that put us all in a good mood.  

Peace and Goodwill to all for a blessed holiday.


Blizzard Knocked Us Out for 16-17 Hours...

Power is back on.  Phone, internet, television are all back on after getting knocked out early this morning.  Fire place kept us warm all day along with shoveling our way out of the snow and ice dump.  We even got some time in working out in the gym to keep warm.  Did a lot of reading and the kids played Monopoly and did a jigsaw puzzle.  I finally walked the dogs at 5:30 pm after the wind died down from 50 mph to more like 25-30 mph.

10:25 pm things all came back on like nothing had every happened.  I knew I should have purchased that high priced generator system back in 2010 after the tornado and I was contemplating having a backup system available in case we lost power like that again from a storm!!!!

The house is nice and warm again - just in time as it is 16 outside and dropping to 2 degrees tonight. 


Last rides before snow storm #1 hit...

Talk about getting soft.  The news has been telegraphing a "major snow storm" for days now and reminding all of us to stock up on groceries, remember how to slow down and drive in the stuff, and on and on ad nauseum about snow plows, grading, blah, blah, blah, blah. 

Hey, haven't we all been through a few hundred snow storms before in our lives?  The way they make it sound this is some rare event.

Funny thing is - we did all of the things they suggested like good little lemmings.  I got the snowblower ready, put all the summer things away for the winter, went to the grocery store, got gas, got goodies for tomorrow's breakfast, and prepared for the big storm.  Well....it's here.  Started snowing about 2 hours ago while I was up in Des Moines rehearsing for a funeral I am singing at (provided the snow gets cleared).  Funeral on Friday as well that Tara and I are both singing for in the afternoon.

I front end loaded my riding week this week to get some hours in before the snow hit.  I did 90 minutes on the road on Monday, 90 minutes at Lake Ahquabi yesterday on the new Karate Monkey, and 60 minutes today at Banner Pits on the KM.

Here's the new Karate Monkey before hitting 2 laps at Ahquabi yesterday...


Grass is still green on December 18th, 2012 and the riding has been fun all fall.


Banner Pits was sloppy today and I really shouldn't have been riding it, but my tires were not sinking in as the freeze/thaw mud was slickery, but not a total bust.  There were 3 of us turning laps out there this morning, but I packed it in early to rest my legs and head up to Des Moines.   And sure enough, while driving home things got slick and I just about missed a corner (with all wheel drive, no less).

Time will tell how much snow actually dumps, but predictions are for 5-12", 30-45 mph winds, visibility of 1/4 mile or less.  Should make for some nice drifts and blizzard conditions with that wind.

Looks like the dog walk will be in the snow starting tomorrow and I know they are ready for it.  Winds won't die down until about noon tomorrow, so I might be reluctant to head out in the morning with gusts of 45 mph on a bike!!!!  I hope things are dug out early enough that I can get the van into the shop so the cruise control can be fixed.   The part came in today, but Zack had run off with the van to Des Moines to go ice skating not knowing it had a 1 p.m. appointment with the auto mechanic.   Hopefully I can get it fixed tomorrow - or Friday.

Hatches are battened down.  Fireplace is roaring.  Pizza is in the oven.  Let it snow...


First Monday of vacation...

Ah....today marks day of 3 weeks of recharging the batteries, attending to honey-do lists, taking up projects that were put on hold, changing light bulbs, travel, bike riding, learning music, and whatever else comes up during the holiday break before the 2nd Semester begins on January 7th.

Before all of that begins, I do have to go into the office today to take care of final grading, expense report and tiding things up.  And I will be giving some lessons on Wednesday afternoon to my private, non-college students.


I think I have found the magic number in terms of how many weekly minutes I need on the bike to maintain my physical shape - in other words, not to gain weight.  The magic number I have found is right around 5 hours (300 minutes) on the bike.  That includes both aerobic and anaerobic exercise mixed.  If I was just doing Zone 1/2 rides, I would have to bump the volume up to equal the current "magic number" that I found of mixed efforts.  December is also my beginning month every year of weight training, so that helps fire up the metabolism (and appetite).  I have alternated one of my weekly sessions this year in exchange for a grunt singlespeed 100 minute ride at Lake Ahquabi.  I also use the singlespeed for recovery rides on pavement and gravel since I have no way of being tempted to shift gears and up the effort with my route choices (yesterday was a 100 minute recovery ride and I didn't break a sweat due to my route choice and riding the SS Karate Monkey).

I was way under the 300 minute threshold for 2 weeks in November, and it cost me in the waist area as I didn't adjust my food intake.  I stair-stepped back in with the last week of November being 4:15 on the bike, the first week of December being 5:05 on the bike, and the week just completed being 5:30 on the bike.  I will be able to surpass those numbers - weather providing - 2 out of the next 3 weeks thanks to it being vacation.  I should do a minimum of 6 this week - maybe more if I can suit up in bright orange and hit the road bike for some longer duration base building rides.


A little tweaking on the new Karate Monkey.  As I found on the former Campstove Green frame since switching to discs, the newer skewers - known as exposed cam skewers - are weaksauce in the rear of a Karate Monkey with the horizontal dropouts and a Tuggnut.


The older version - known as an enclosed cam -cinches things up enough in the rear to prevent braking force and out of saddle efforts from skewer slippage.  Luckily, I had two pair in the garage to choose between on other bikes.  I chose the black ones on my wife's Bachetta recumbent and gave her the American Classic exposed cam skewers.  Not to worry, her recumbent does not have a horizontal dropout, so she'll be fine.  Here's the black Shimano ticket for my KM:


The other tweak may involve the weaksauce seatpost binder that Surly sends out with the new Karate Monkey frame:


It uses a smaller hex bolt and to get it tight enough to not cause seat post slippage feels like I am on the edge of either stripping the hex key, the bolt itself - or outright snapping the bolt in two.

The older seatpost collar version that came on my original KM is solid, uses a larger hex bolt and has never caused a problem for me:


I may have to swap out the collars before I sell the old one.  Of course, there are plenty of other brands to choose between - but between the two Surly versions, the older one is golden.   The newer one ranks in the weaksauce category by my standards.

I also noticed some squeaking yesterday during turns on the Karate Monkey.  So I need to double check the headset and make sure everything is kosher up front.  I didn't hear any of this on my Friday and Saturday rides, so perhaps something has loosened up - or settled in that needs checking.  I'm not ruling out that it could be the bolt on the weaksauce seatpost collar as I really cinched it down yesterday.  I also note the old REBA Race fork is in need of a rebuild.  I just have to decide if I am going to do it myself or take it in to the shop.

Off to the office to tackle final grading and expense reports....


The New Karate Monkey has landed....

I've been enjoying singlespeeding enough this fall to warrant an upgrade to the latest Surly Karate Monkey frame - in size gargantuan, of course.  So I had Sterling at Rasmussen's order a new frame for me last week.

The main benefits of the new frame (besides my beloved black color choice for the frame) are the longer head tube, the wider clearance in the rear between the chainstays for running a true 2.4" tire, and the relocated rear disc brake mounts which allows one to install and remove the rear wheel without having to loosen the caliper mounting bolts like the original frame required.  Those three things combined were enough to push me over the top and update my 10 year old original Karate Monkey frame.

I swapped everything over from the Campstove Green Karate Monkey to the Stretchpants Black frame yesterday and went for a ride out at Lake Ahquabi to get it all dirty.  ;-]  While doing the build, I swapped out the rear 2.25 Racing Ralph for a 2.4 Racing Ralph and I put a different pair of pedals on that I had in the parts bin. The third "different" item was the bottom bracket.  I noticed the Race Face ISIS BB pulled apart when I took it out of the shell.  I couldn't get it pressed back together, but I had a Crank Brothers 113mm spindle length BB in the parts bin that came to the rescue (and is lighter).  So there's an upgrade down under as well as the pedals.

Here's the new Karate Monkey....


And flipped...


The bikes is pure fun to ride and the singlespeed is sort of fun for me - mainly as a change of pace during the fall/winter riding.  Gear inches for my SS is currently 52.94 which allows me to make and grunt up all climbs, but I spin out on flats.  I could drop to a 15T rear sprocket to get 56.47 gear inches, but for now - it is what it is.  Works at Ahquabi, Banner, and my neighborhood dog walks.  I do have a Rotor Q Ring 34T SS ring that I would love to try with an 18T in the rear (55.17 gear inches), but that would involve moving a crankset from another bike (or purchasing a used set).  Someday...because I would love to have the Rotor ring on the climbs because I really like the Q Rings on my JET 9 for climbing.

I've put the Campstove Green frame up for sale at MTBR.com with a $150 price in hopes it will sell.



Grading Day!!!

How does a college professor write a test and what do they expect?

•Most college professors write tests to be challenging for all class participants. They don’t expect anyone to score 100%.

•A typical “expected” and desired outcome is that the median score will be 70%. This means a few will get A’s, a few will get F’s, but the median will bunch around the middle.

•Grade inflation does not and should not exist at the college/university level.

The above is what I show my class around Mid-Term for the examination at Mid-Term.  And true to form, my final test was written in "the old college way" so that the results were as follows...

Curve with the built in 1 from 101 to 100

The chart above actually includes an adjustment of 1 for a curve as I threw out one of the 101 questions due to everyone missing it on the exam.  I'm toying with a bit of an additional curve, but I prefer to use a curve for the entire semester grading rather than an individual test or assignment.

Ah...back to grading...so I can get things turned in by the due date of grades on Tuesday. 


Thus endeth the semester...

Ah, today is one of the 14 palendri-cal phenomenon dates in our lifetime.  The same number date has been fun to watch, but after today is over, we'll have to wait a long time to see the next triple.

So here is the final one to enjoy:


This week is finals week at Simpson as we wrap up the fall semester of 2012.  My non-music class - The Holocaust:  Hate, Guilt, Reconciliation - that I taught this fall had their final examination yesterday between 1-3 p.m. in our normal classroom.   I provided Godiva truffles as a semester end treat.

We managed to pose for a picture as we wrapped up the class...


It was a rewarding experience as I now, as an educator, have joined the ranks of those passing on the history of the terrible atrocities committed by the Nazi Regime (and others) during the Holocaust.  Although the students felt our class was very comprehensive and in depth, their learning has only just begun.  I was very encouraged by their research papers as they each chose a different subject related to the Holocaust to dive into and study.

It's been a hectic pace of grading papers and now tests the past 4 days.  The next 2 days will continue that craze and most of my voice students have their final exams today and tomorrow.  That means voice juries and recital auditions.  I will record those with the digital recorder to upload to Dropbox so all the students can view them.

I took the last two days off from any exercise as Monday is my normal day off, but yesterday was too busy with final exams, voice juries, recital auditions, grading papers, etc... to work in some time on the bike.  Plus, my body felt like it needed an extra day of recovery from the weight lifting on Sunday.  In other words, I picked a bad day to eat three Godiva truffles (pretty much a total of 630 or so calories for those alone) and a cookie my daughter made in the evening.

The call came yesterday from the repair shop concerning the damage to Zack's Element.  The estimate is for over $4000 to repair it and will take 7 business days.  We're out the $500 deductible, but State Farm will cover the rest.

Hmmmmm.....$500 is not exactly chump change, so time to dive into the emergency savings fund.


Deer season and our 1st accident with a critter...

First night of Hanukkah...


Last night - right in the middle of celebrating the 1st night of Hanukkah - we got a phone call from Zack who was up in Des Moines and had just finished singing at a special alumni event with the Madrigal Singers.

We've had some close calls with deer the past 10 years living here in Iowa, but never hit one.  Zack's phone call was that he had just hit a deer head on while driving south on highway 65/69 on his way home.  He did the correct thing and didn't try to swerve around it and nobody in his car was injured.  I told him, if the car could drive, take it to the southridge mall parking lot.  He was able to only make it a few hundred yards and pulled off in the Earl May Nursery entrance.  He called the police for an accident report.   Luckily, one of the other cars with Madrigal Singers had been behind him and pulled over to help.  Kim Roberts - the director - and 4 of the singers stayed with him until I got up there.

I called State Farm's 24 hour claim line and got hooked up with a representative in Arizona to begin the claim.  He kept asking about how one hits a deer and why he didn't just drive around it.  I finally had to tell him that it was a normal occurrence here in Iowa and my son had done the correct thing by not trying to swerve on a 4 lane highway.  I'm not sure if he was curious or clueless.   I would think that State Farm would train their staff on all matters such as an accident involving a deer, but by the end of the conversation I had informed him that this was not an abnormal accident.  He wanted names of who was in the car with him, who was in the car behind him and all witnesses.  Witnesses?  Dude - this was a deer he hit!!!  This all took about 20 minutes on the phone and I was then connected to the tow truck company to make arrangements.  Finally, I drove the 15 minutes to see the damage for myself.

I sent the carload that had been waiting with Zack and keeping him warm in their car home and talked to the police officer.  She got a kick out of my report on the State Farm agent.  She gave us the paperwork and then drove over to the other side of the road to move the deer carcass.

The car didn't look too bad, but an awful lot of liquids were leaking out of it.  The deer had hit low on the front end and then gone under the car (where most of the damage occurred).  The car's automatic transmission was not shifting right, and it would not go into reverse.  Here's what it looked like...


And another one...


The airbags did not deploy.  My guess is because the hit was low and immediately went under the car.  Had they deployed, the repair damages would be very high.  I'm worried about the transmission and what went on underneath the car.  Fingers crossed it can all be returned to a safe functioning vehicle.

The tow truck arrived and he put it on the flat bed, strapped it in and off he went to our choice of repair center.  I had him take it over to the one in Clive next to the Honda Dealer where we have had work done before.  Zack and I got back home about 11 p.m. and relived the story to Tara and Alexa.

The good news is Zack and his 2 passengers were okay.  And we haven't sold the minivan yet, so at least we have an extra jalopy around until his Element is fixed.


SS with Suspension!

Tinkering continues as I wanted to try the Singlespeed (SS) with a suspension fork.  Although the Surly Karate Monkey comes with a suspension corrected 80mm rigid fork, the HT angle is 72 which allows a bit of latitude to slacken it out and still retain good turning qualities.  The 100mm fork slackens it to a hair over 71 degrees and I actually prefer it.

The added benefit of front suspension is certainly welcomed by me.  The rigid fork is okay on the pavement and gravel, but once I get off road the work required to utilize the legs and arms to be the suspension of a rigid bike is not my favorite type of riding.  I did a lap at Lake Ahquabi with the rigid fork, followed by a lap with the suspension fork and think the suspension is the ticket to enjoy this bike and get the training benefits of SS.

I could get away with the fork and no spacers on the 2012 XL Karate Monkey frame thanks to the 20mm longer head tube.  Where as on this 2003 frame and the 105mm head tube, the 20mm spacer stack plus the extra 20mm of the 100mm fork (20mm over the rigid fork that is), gets the bars up to a much better height.  Maybe even 5mm or so too high.

P1010001 2
And flipped...

P1010002 3
No time for riding today, although my legs are itching for some effort.  Work prevents it though and a concert to attend tonight...


December 2nd Bacon Ride at Banner Pits...

60 degrees and fog was how December 2012 began.

Saturday:  I rode my singlespeed Karate Monkey at Lake Ahquabi on Saturday afternoon to begin the off season leg building process.  I made every climb using the technique of quite a variety of cadences.  On some of the super steeps, I was probably down around 40 rpms and on the flat areas, I'm pretty sure I hit 110+ a few times before I said to heck with it and would coast.  I'm already down to a 16T cog on the rear, so if I want to change the gearing it will have to be up front.  I do have a 33T Rotor Q SS ring I am anxious to try...

Tara and I went to the holiday chili party at John and Judy Pauley's on Saturday night.  Fun was had by all in the 3 hours of visiting, drinking and eating as all the college professors unwound a bit.

Sunday:  Awakened to thick fog, and wet ground conditions.  A few posts on the Banner Pits Facebook page wondering if conditions would be too wet, but my gardenometer in the backyard said it was just surface moisture and we'd be okay.  I stopped by Hy-Vee to pick up two packages of bacon, and 2 packages of blueberries for the pancakes we were going to cook post ride.  Once again, we had a nice group show up for some Sunday fun and bacon.  There were about 14 or 15 in total.  If word gets out about how good the food is - we might have to start a list of who is supposed to bring what each time we do this.

The trails were in great shape with just a few tacky spots.  The surface moisture was a non-factor outside of kicking up some gunk on our forks and frames. In fact, conditions were perfect with the coolness of the moisture in the air counteracting the heat we were producing by riding hard.

Post ride cooking and eating...

Bacon Ride 12:2:12

Photo Courtesy of Ron Cooney

Still foggy at 11 a.m.....


Photo courtesy of Ron Cooney

It was so foggy, I didn't bother wearing in protective eyewear as it would have just fogged over during the ride.  We did a pair of laps before settling down to cook our Sunday bacon brunch.  It's starting to get gourmet with our group - so who knows what we will be cooking with the bacon as the fall/winter progresses.  It's a fun group and seems to be a different collection each time we gather.  Nick Wooley made it down from Webster City for this ride, and Rebecca and Eric rolled in from Ankeny to join us.  Blueberry whole wheat pancakes, bacon, french toast, hot chocolate, cider, coffee (and a few had beer).

Bob Matthews, trail steward for CITA at Banner Pits, had us stop on the 2nd lap to survey some of the beaver damage.  It has gotten so bad with the beavers attacking the hardwood trees that Bob has talked to the DNR who will be sending trappers to trap the perpetrators of destruction.

Here's how the beavers are managing to clear things away at an alarming rate...


Photo Courtesy of Nick Wooley

And this huge tree where the beavers managed to gnaw away a double helix!!!

Beaver Double Helix

Photo Courtesy of Nick Wooley

The double helix is on a very tall tree that I imagine will be felled by the next time I get out to Banner.  The fear is that the damage from the critters attacking all the hardwood trees, the stuff you don't want growing will take over the forest.  I think that is what finally got the DNR involved to send their trapping expert out this week to check out the problem.

For those yet to experience the Sunday bacon ride - the forecast is looking good for this coming weekend as well...

Sunday evening we attended the Simpson College Madrigal Dinner concert in Great Hall.  This was Zack's first Madrigal Dinner and he had several solos including Lord Randall.  He did a great job and we had a good time.  What better way to kick of Advent than attend an English Christmas Madrigal Dinner?


December is here: Karate Monkey ready for fall/winter with my 10th Anniversary Build!!!

Do you ever wonder what the ultimate tinkerer's bike is?

Well, for me - it is the Surly Karate Monkey.  You can tinker with it in all sorts of configurations to your heart's content.  Want V-brakes?  Want Cantilever brakes?  Want disc brakes?  Want no brakes?  Want a mix/franken-brake set up?  You can have it all.  Want gears?   Want no gears?  Want a fixie?  Want flat bars?  Want drop bars?  Want riser bars?  Want a Brooks classic saddle and retro look?  Want a more sleek modern mountain bike look?  Want a rigid fork?  Want a suspension fork?  Want skinny tires?  Want fat tires?  Want it to be a 700c bike?  Want it to be a mountain bike?  Want it to be a commuter?  Want it to be a Cyclocross bike?  Want it to be a touring bike?  You can have it all with this Swiss Army knife frame/fork combo.  It's one of the reasons I have not sold it in the nearing 10 years of ownership.  It's my bike to tinker with and experiment with whatever mood I am in and whatever is in my parts bin.

All that being said and well known about the Karate Monkey bike, I decided it was time to tinker.  In fact, it was time for a 10th Anniversary Build of this bike.  Come summer time, it will be 10 years I've owned the Karate Monkey.  Worthy of an anniversary build - don't you think?

In addition, I figured it was time to update the Karate Monkey so I can continue my fall/winter singlespeed riding that I like to do and not have to worry about dirty rim braking surfaces and all the maintenance to keep V-brakes working at their best on the dusty gravel roads, and dusty trails - not to mention the upcoming snow season.

I had a spare set of Avid BB7's sitting on my old Sugar 293 frame in the garage.  I also have a spare disc wheelset sitting around.  It's not SS specific, but with the Gusset conversion kit and the Surly Tugnut - it's not a problem to go SS.  Hence, I decided to make the latest tinkering version a disc brake one (which it has been several times before).

I took the 2003 Karate Monkey with the odd looking 130mm 15 degree rise Thomson stem and super back sweep Salsa bars of last year's iteration....


To this...


Flipped to the other view...


I picked up a spare (used of course) Thomson 120mm 0 degree stem to mate with a cheap alloy Origin 8 bar I had sitting in the parts bin.  I love the Origin 8 bar on the Dos Niner, but they don't make the weight weenie version of it anymore.  So the one I bought is the same width and shape (back sweep), however it is not the preferred weight weenie version that they used to make.  This combination of bar and stem feels much better to me and is an immediate improvement over the Salsa 17 degree "odd" back sweep bars and severe rise Thomson Elite stem I had on it.  It looked odd and felt odd, so that has now been taken care of with the parts swap.

I also added a WTB Silverado saddle I picked up on sale.  I am sort of debating on cutting the steerer tube - but I want to retain the option of possibly running with drop bars at some point in the future, so I don't really want to lose the real estate of the tube for that to cut out that possible option.  I do have a spare REBA Race suspension fork in the garage, but that will require either the 5mm crown race base plate from Chris King for clearance on this old KM frame, or tracking down the discontinued Cane Creek S-3 Plus (5mm) headset that has a base plate which is 5mm taller to allow room for a suspension fork with adjustment knobs to fit on the 1st generation of KM frames and not hit the downtube.   So I could install the REBA Race with the new base plate or crown race and trim that steerer tube to my heart's delight for a nice sleek look up front.  We shall see....

But for now - it's rigid and set up nice and comfy.  I took it on the dog walk Thursday night, Friday morning, and Friday night.  In addition, I commuted to and from work on Friday to take advantage of the nice weather and get some grunt hill work done since my commute involves 6 major hills.  I'm geared great for the hills, but a bit to easy to spin out on the flats for commuter pavement riding.

The cockpit set up feels nice.  I just measured things between the Dos Niner, JET 9 and the Karate Monkey.  It turns out with the saddle slammed all the way back on the rails and the 120mm stem, the rear of both saddles is exactly at the distance from the front of the bar on the JET 9 and the Monkey (thanks to the stem being 105mm on the JET and 120mm on the Monkey).  The Dos is another inch, but that's okay. The size XL Karate Monkey frame is the "smallest" size XL I have and is a lot more compact than my Niners and Salsa frames.   It's just shy of an inch shorter than my similar set up on the Dos Niner.  Not sure I want to play the game of buying another stem, but I bet a 130mm Thomson 0 degree would be the ticket.  I also use a layback post on the Dos Niner, but I don't want to pony up the cash for yet another stem and post - so I'll just deal with it.  Or as Surly says - "cope".  The Dos is set up for aggressive XC racing, which I will not be doing on the SS Monkey.

I will say, that carrying my heavy Kensington computer bag (has backpack straps on it) on my bag to and from work was not kind to my neck.  I should investigate other types of bags that might be more back/neck friendly for a 20 minute commute.

Happy 60th Birthday to Chuck Tighe!!!


What a goofy picture?

His birthday was actually Thursday, so after work, Tara and I dropped over (planned) with a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.  I dug around on Gayla's Facebook page and found a picture with Chuck making a silly face.  I cropped out his head, and Tara printed out a smaller size and pasted it on a funny birthday card.  It was nice visiting and Chuck looked great!  He has been doing a workout the past couple of months called Insanity.  I haven't seen Chuck look this slim and trim in the 10 years I have known him.  Who says you can't look and feel great at 60!!!

Weekend Plans

Tara and I went out for a date last night.  Dinner and a movie while Zack was at rehearsal and Alexa was in Iowa City to meet her roomate for next year when she enters college.  Tara and I had Mexican food, and then caught the Bond movie - Skyfall.  We got home at midnight which is late for us, but we had fun.

Tonight we are attending a Holiday Party, tomorrow is a bacon ride in the morning at Banner and Madrigal Dinner in the evening.  I will try and squeeze a ride in today if I can avoid all the opening day shotgun deer hunters.  Lake Ahquabi would be perfect for that - or Banner Pits.