Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dismal Day

We took it easy today. It is cloudy and windy, which made it feel colder than it really was. We drove to work to pick up some items for my trip this week.
There is a practice oil rig behind the office where I work.

We drove to where the race begins tomorrow, then took a detour to a beach. This one has some serious dunes.
A rare photo of me.
From the beach you can see the moutains in the distance.

The beach seems to extend forever. In Norway, it is almost impossible to build a home on the water. The sea belongs to the people. It is a cool concept, if you ask me.

May Day is Race Day

OK, tomorrow I am "participating" in the 65K Mairittet. It is practically flat, even by my standards. I hesitate to use the word "competing." I was initially scheduled to be in India, so I have made no preparations for this race, other than general riding around, and three rides this year on my Look. So this should be interesting. My legs generally ache, but my cold or allergies or whatever seem to be clearing up. I don't think there really is a worst case scenario when I am so new to the scene here.

The race begins and ends near here- which is nice. Many road races end in different cities or completely different parts of the country. From the looks of things, this race more closely resembles many of the WISPORT events. I welcome that style of event at the moment. Lise will also be riding in it. We should both have a good time. It should be better than listening to the Labor Party leaders shouting from a soap box in the town square.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


I have always regarded peel and eat shrimp to be rather barbaric. I love the taste of shrimp, and there is nothing better than very fresh shrimp purchased from a stand down by the water. BEFORE: We started with a kilo of these:AFTER: We ended up with a bucket full of eyeballs staring widely back at us and shrimp antlers (with a few lemon rinds tossed in for good measure).

New Camera

We awoke early, and I assembled Lise's road bike. We rode out to Dale for a test ride. Everything seemed fine. We then went to Sandnes to buy some shrimp and to check out a possible mountain bike for Lise. I then discovered the Celeste bike I lusted over a few days ago was actually a lower model than the one I ended up with. Things have a way of working out. We discovered a festival downtown Sandnes, and wandered around before shopping for a new camera.

We decided to buy a replacement camera here. It just wasn't worth it to struggle with the replacement program. Besides, it would be nice to take one to India, and at this point, a digital camera is more of a necessity than a nicety. We ended up with another Canon. I was a little disappointed that it didn't have a viewfinder, but then I discovered almost none of the low to mid-range cameras do. We ended up with a tiny five mega pixels model- smaller than my cell phone.
I went out for another ride on the new bike. I think I need a longer seat post.

I met up with a friend up the hill. This guy must be quite tame, since he ran over to visit me. My guess is that kids (no pun) probably feed them.

The freeway goes through a tunnel. I rode a series of service roads and horse trails above the tunnel.

I should probably avoid rocks like these. I really don't have much technical skill, and a low speed crash is why we needed a new camera. Today I took these routes conservatively.

There is still snow in the mountains across the fjord. I have no idea where those mountains are or what they are called.

These are taken from the end of the tunnel that faces downtown (sentrum- which probably is a better word considering downtown isn't always down).

I think that might be Hommersok across the fjord. I am too lazy to code in the vowel- I am on the US computer at the moment, so pardon my spelling.

I headed home. I was wearing shorts today. It was in the mid 40s- maybe close to 50. I wasn't the only one in shorts. People had convertible tops down because it was so "warm." You can see the trees haven't started to leaf out yet. The grass is always this green- even in the dead of winter.

I took the Sormarkruta home to avoid stadium traffic. I encountered a man in his mid 60s if not 70s on the side of the road with a mechanical. He had a beautiful carbon bike (I think the brand was Stephens), with DA 9. His Ritchey freehub was jammed, so it functioned like a fixed gear (it would not coast at all). I tried to help and offered him a ride home, but he declined. He thought he could make it home. I strongly warned him that he could rip the deraileur off if he applied any back pressure. I almost insisted that I go home, pick up our car, and give him a ride, but he said it was a nice evening out and he would be fine. I hope he didn't blow up his deraileur.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Digital Camera Woes

We cannot wait until we can move. Our guest bedroom is a storage locker. Lise's bike is joining the fray tomorrow. It is so bad we are keeping our winter wheels indoors.
Note the glowing reflective piping on the Banjo Brother's seat bag. They thought of everything.

I am still using the phone camera. Our digital camera has never been the same since I crashed with it in my jersey pocket back in November, ripping off the slider on the back- the one moving part in the entire camera. Canon has an replacement policy where for $150 we can obtain a refurbished SD400. The trouble is that it is only valid to US addresses, so we would need to send our clunker to my parents. Canon will send the "new" camera, then my parents will send the clunker back to Canon in their postage paid box, and send us the "new" one. I haven't even brought this up to my parents. My guess is that international postage will push the total price close to $200 for a camera that is not new, and that we cannot chose. I don't think our memory cards would be compatible either. For an extra $100-150 we could probably buy a comparable camera locally. Regardless, we need a camera, and an upgrade is welcome. Our S200 has more than paid for itself. I think we have taken around 7000 photos with it. No matter what, I won't have a proper camera for the India trip. I guess that means that I will have to make another trip.

Mountain Bike Wows

OK, I went to the other Spin and encountered my neighbor picking up his daughter at day care. It was nice to "bump into" someone I know here. It makes me feel more like I am settling in, and actually live and belong here. Spin had a 19" frame in stock- a red Bianchi Doss 6600 (last year's model) with hydraulic disc brakes and a remote fork lockout. Everything I wanted and 3000nok off the regular price or 4000 off this year's price. There was no decision to be made- I purchased it. I left my commuter locked to their bike rack and headed for Uhalland, or whatever it is called. The discs are very nice- they don't seem to fade like rim brakes. My only concern is that the seatpost might not be tall enough. The 21" really was too large. This has the perfect reach, but I think I need the seat just a little higher, and I am already past the minimum insertion mark. Or maybe the bike isn't designed to fit like a road bike.

Sure, I now have four bikes, but I had four prior to moving. Lise and I each sold one. That leaves me with the Look, the junky commuter, my fixed gear (still in a box), and this. Two of my bikes are really recycling projects. That doesn't mean I have any less attachment to them, however. The only issue will be having enough room, since Lise is on her way to pick up her bike out of storage. She missed the ferry- well, there wasn't enough room for our car, so she is on foot. I have no idea how she plans to get the bike case from her grandmother's house to the ferry landing. We still have all the car wheels in the back of the car (she was going to store them when she picked up her bike). It should be interesting.

I phoned the Indian Embassy. They still have not approved my visa. They are open Monday- a holiday for us "Norwegians." This means I have a three-day weekend (with the possibility of a May Day bike race), then I am flying to Oslo specifically to pick up my passport. Then Wednesday I leave for India. I have no office time before I leave. Suddenly I am a little stressed out. I am planning a trip to the US over Labor Day. Lise will come along, but I will extend my trip into a work trip. I still need to work out the logistics, but a plan is coming together.

That is about all for now. Happy Labor Day everyone- which is this weekend here. I will see how I feel Monday. I really am not ready for racing, but I really don't care either. I have nothing to lose.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mountain Bike Woes

I will buy a mountain bike. I need a mountain bike. Today I went to a shop that had the perfect bike at the perfect price- 2000nok off regular price because it was last year's model. It was a celeste Bianchi with LX and Deore components for 5999. The only problem was that it was only available in 21." I was thinking it was a little too large, and the store manager agreed. I guess it was too good to be true. The nice thing about Bianchi is that they offer more bang for the buck, since they are a European company. It even had a nice Fizik saddle, rather than some no-name piece of garbage. Trek, on the other hand, is hugely over-priced here. If I were in the US I would probably buy a Specialized and be done with it. I don't need anything terribly fancy, and durability becomes a little more of a factor than weight.

I then visited G-Sport- a sporting "superstore" that sells Scott and their own house brand. Neither impressed me much. They used high end parts where it mattered most, but rather crude hubs, brakes, and other components. I still can't decide if disc brakes are worth it. All I know is I want at least Deore, 9-speed, and in the 5000-7000nok price range. I wouldn't mind buying a "pre-ridden" bike.

I guess I will keep checking around.

A Little Extra Work

Did you know the reason cough syrup tastes so bad is to discourage abuse? It is made that way by design. It isn't a bug, it is a feature. I guess the real question is why the leading cough suppressants are either hallucinigens (when taken in large enough quantities) or opiates. What do psychoactive substances have to do with coughing anyway? I haven't stooped to that level, but I have been fighting a cold or allergies or something and haven't felt that great lately.

This morning did not help. It was a struggle making it to work. Something did not feel right on the bike. I thought it was a neglected rear bearing, as I felt a subtle vibration. I was sweating profusely by the time I arrived, despite my efforts to "take it easy." When I parked my bike, I gave it a once over. My rear wheel had been rubbing against the rim all the way to work. No wonder I couldn't even coast downhill. That is what I get for riding an antique frame with horizontal dropouts.

At least I feel better already.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Funny Business

We have an extra set of summer tires. Funny how in Norway, rather than referring to winter tires, they call normal tires "summer." We picked them up from storage, and have been driving around with them in the back of the car for a few days. They are mounted on nice BMW rims- as are the snow tires. In Mpls I was too cheap to buy new rims for the Blizzaks- but here, you will even see luxury cars driving around on black steel rimmed wheels with studded tires. Our winter tires are not studded- I fail to see the need for them, and I hate what they do to the road. Anyway, the point of this rambling entry is that it is time to switch wheels.

I called last week and was told to call back this week. I found out that all studded tires needed to be off the road by Tuesday, or something like that, so there was a rush on switching wheels at all the tire shops. Today Lise took the car in after work, and the first place suggested she come back in two weeks. The guy said she could drive around on them all summer if she wanted to. That is easy for him to say- he sells tires, and it is a waste of rubber to use soft, swiss cheesy winter tires in the summer. Eventually she found a shop that swapped wheels, but the shop monkey told her to check the lug nuts after 30 or 40km. I have never heard such rubbish, but hopefully it is an indication that they didn't overtighten the wheels and warp the rotors.

Strangest of all is my observation how obsessive Norwegians are about their tires... then I turn around and post this. I think I am fitting in just fine.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Siv og Knut-- en kjærlighetshistorie

If you ever want to "just say no to drugs," but need a little more motivation, just watch Siv og Knut- en kjærlighetshistorie (a love story) on NRK. It is a reality show about a couple of completely messed-up drug addicts (heroin and morphine) who are basically homeless and married. She has eleven year old twins who are in foster care. It is the most depressing thing on television- but it is like watching a car accident. Try as I might, I can't turn away. Even if you do not understand a word of Norwegian, you will understand enough human emotion to get the big picture.

I hesitate to call it entertainment. I guarantee there is nothing glamorous about their drug use. This is complete warped yet compelling television. These are not cartoonish characters like the many buffoons in Cops episodes. They should seriously show more programming like this in the US. A reality series in an inner city crack house or following a bunch of homeless teen meth addicts around would better serve the public good than yet another cooking reality show. Want to send a real message about drugs? Don't send it from the government. Let the addicts tell their own story. Quite brilliant, actually.


I am thoroughly annoyed with the Indian embassy in Oslo. It took them a week to find my passport, so I am playing it safe and delaying this trip for a week. Everyone I have spoken to has given me a conflicting answer about cost of the visa and the timeline. By postponing it a week, I won't lose the holiday. Apparently May Day means something around here.

I am also rather annoyed with a coworker who insisted on driving in Germany. I rented the vehicle. Today I received a camera speeding ticket (yes- in Germany) and it clearly shows him driving and it was dated the date he drove. The funny part is that it is only 25 euro- which is one tenth the cost of a Norwegian speeding ticket. I remember warning him to slow down, and even remember what I thought was a flash (it was at night). Of course my name is on the ticket, and it is entirely written in German. I haven't a clue what it says or whether there will or could be any points off my driving record. I am thinking not. The only justice of it all is that the accounts payable person made copies of the photos, and posted them prominently throughout our office. Apparently, due to data privacy, my face was completely obscured by a large white square, since I was not driving.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Real Mountains

It was rainy this morning, so we decided to go for a drive to Sirdal- about a two hour drive from here. We saw some amazing scenery, when the clouds were not in the way. I am still stuck with my phone camera, as our main digital camera is out of commission. There was much snow in the area- up to 2 meters piled along the side of the road. It is hard to believe we live so close to a completely different world.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


I stumbled across my own blog when reviewing my webstats- from my final month in the US. Of course it reads backwards. It is freaky thinking about being in that state of mind again... giving everything up and leaving everything behind for the unknown. I certainly was prepared for the worst- which fortunately never came. It is interesting to think about where I've been and what I have gone through. A photo album really wouldn't capture the mood or provide enough narrative.It is ironic that I couldn't maintain a "journal" for more than two days (as was evidenced in my Norwegian class last fall).

I wonder what will become of all the millions of blogs at some point in the distant future. There will be a landfill of information for sociologists to comb through. Of course most will be the noisy garbage of teenagers' My Space pages, but they have their own merits. Will college students be forced to read a few choice blogs as literature, or as a snapshot into life in the distant past? Will they seem as distant as reading Beowulf today?

Ride Report: Bersagel Loop

While the temperature was nice, it was windy. Lise was leaning toward biking down along the ocean, but I thought the wind would be worse in that area. We headed south toward Sandnes. Not far from home, Lise realized she had launched her water bottle, so we stopped at Spin Sykkel to buy a new one. As we rolled in, there were bikers everywhere stopped for rolls and water. This was the club ride we were missing. Judging by the huge diversity, I don't think we were missing much- and judging by the time, they hadn't made it very far if they actually left at the scheduled time of 10am. While I want to hook up with a club, this looked more like a mob- probably not the best way to make some biking connections. Many of these bikers looked at us like we just stepped out of a spaceship, with me on my mustached commuter, and Lise on her single speed.

We resumed riding. I was a little concerned that I forgot my multitool, as I just switched to the Banjon Brothers panniers. I had tried to buy one at Spin, but they only had very expensive ones. I just wanted the basic Park- of which I already have two (just not with me). We headed up toward Hana, and I stupidly promised this would be the biggest hill of the day. I should point out that Lise was on her single speed. I believe it has a 39X16- which was perfect for Minnesota. We made it up that hill and headed south. We then headed along 13 on our way to Bersagel. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We started out with some nice hills, with some long slow climbs. The further from civilization, the narrower and narrower the roads became. There were all sorts of tight blind corners on switchbacks, but it wasn't anything too crazy. Besides, there was virtually not traffic. Bersagel is like a dead-end. There is no ferry crossing. It is a small place down by the fjord in the middle of nowhere.

We next headed toward Hommersåk, which was "only" 10K. For starters, it was almost straight up from Bersagel- and again, Lise was a monster on her single speed. I was on my commuter to sort of even things out, but I had a few useable gears. She had nothing but her guts to get her up the hills. Eventually we made it and stopped for a food break by the water- like almost everything in Norway, it is located on a fjord.

We left Hommersåk and rode against the wind all the way to Sandnes. By the time we reached Sentrum, we had only two remaining hills. By the time we had it home we had ridden about 65km- and it felt like it was all either up hill or against the wind. I still can't believe Lise rode this on one gear. We really need to get her road bike back from Kvitsøy. I think if we would have known how hilly it would be, we would have never set out on this route. But as it was, it was a beautiful day, a beautiful ride- and besides, what is a little wind?

The narrower roads have the white lines on the sides, not in the center. As we rode further, we ended up with a narrow one lane road- hoping we didn't encounter a bus coming around a blind curve.

I swear there are bus stops for the wildlife. They are all over- in the middle of nowhere.

There is still snow in the mountains, but I doubt it will last long. No matter how far I ride, the mountains seem to stay the same distance away.

This is a lake. If it were in the US there would be cabins everywhere. Here, no one seems too interested in lakes.

The single speed monster herself. She later said she received strange looks when she stopped in a store. I suggested the Swedish colors were putting people off.

You can coast for miles.

There was still much sand on the side of the roads.

Dreaded ferists ahead: steel bars placed in the road to mess with cattle.

We just climbed up this hill.

Her single speed steed.

Only a foreigner would ride mustache bars in Norway.

Taking a break in Hommersåk. After a few miles uphill, we will fight the wind all the way home.

Double Digit Temps!

Celsius, of course: 10C = 50F. I am trying to incorporate more of the metric system. Funny how in my previous lifetime, with all the phamacy and medication issues, it is ALL metric. The US also sells liter and 2 liter bottles of soda. Beyond that, it is whatever arcance cups, teaspoons, miles, feet, inches, etc.

My wife and I are heading out on a ride- hopefully a long, relaxing, touring type ride. It is sunny and warm.

Here is a photo album of Kvitsoy images- not taken by me (which should be quickly obvious judging by the artistic quality.

After work 80km

Yesterday afternoon I met up with Lectron, who almost lives across the street to embark on a flat ride south of the beaches. Initially I was contemplating a Saturday club ride, but he suggested that it would be 100 riders, and who knew what the weather would be like. We headed out in the remnants of Friday rush hour traffic, and worked our way to the beach, then south through the huge farms in this part of Norway. I swear every farmer was out spraying manure- funky tanker trucks spraying a huge brown cloud behind them. I don't understand why nobody has contemplated using these trucks for riot control- I can't imagine a better crowd dispersal technique. As I contemplated the evolutionary purpose behind why the human nose can detect the odor of manure better than almost anything else in the world we wound through Klepp and beyond.

As we passed through a wooded area, I spied the unmistakable profile of a wheel car heading toward us- the type used to support races. While it was empty of wheels, it was motorpacing three guys- out in the middle of nowhere. I don't ever recall seeing that back in MN. It also serves a rather ominuous sign as to what the racing scene holds.

As usual, I hadn't a clue where we really were. This lead to the perception that we were much further from home than we really were. Eventually we were back in familiar territory. My legs were toast. My toes were cold, but other than that I was fine. I was long overdue for food. I vowed next time to pay better attention to where I was.

Today already looks like excellent weather. I need to be outside- sooner than later. At this rate, we could see 50 degrees today.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Not a Cloud in the Sky

Which means the wind is probably from the north- which explains why it is literally freezing this morning. Zero degrees celsius. Spring, where are you?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ode to My Look

Today was my first day out on my proper road bike. We had a heat wave of 45F with dry roads. I rode home on my commuter, jumped out of my mountain bike shoes, searched frantically for my road shoes, and was on my way. Initial reaction was that the handlebars were at the wrong angle (vertically), so I stopped to adjust them. I am always a little nervous adjusting carbon bars without a torque wrench, but I haven't crushed them yet. Once I readjusted to the fact that I was on a light, smooth shifting road bike- with road bars (not my fixed bullhorns or commuter mustaches) I was gliding down the road. Everything works with crisp precision on the Look- unlike on the frankenbike with parts spanning three decades.

I headed toward Sandnes and around to Dale. The sun was shining. It was warm enough. In the fjord was a beastly contraption that looked like a huge ship with four towers with another huge (although slightly smaller) ship inside. The inner ship had what looked like Russian writing on it, while the outer ship had signs in English. I snapped a few photos that I will post when I have my laptop. It was a very strange sight.

This is the only bike with an odometer. I soon realized that Dale was much closer than I realized- only about 17 miles round trip with only 1000 ft of elevation gain. I also noticed I had 9000 miles on this bike- my fair weather bike. I never commuted on this back in the US or here. I really couldn't imagine how I had ridden it that far. Anyway, it has an amazing ride- and it is like cutting loose in a sports car after riding that steel monstrosity of a commuter ever since I moved here.

I encountered maybe a dozen other road bikers- so they do exist. Most seemed considerably more bundled up than me. On my way to Sandnes, a driver in a car driving toward me honked and waved at me like he knew me. I can't imagine who it was- I really don't know that many people here, and I didn't recognize the car. The wind was from the north today- which is probably why it was so sunny. If it is this warm from the north, I think it may mean that spring is near.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Note on Gasoline

I guess oil prices are rising. I did a little math, I realized we are already paying about $6.72US per gallon for gasoline in Norway (about 11,50nok/liter). Sorry that I don't have more sympathy if prices reach $3.50 or whatever in the US- but of course, it also means they will approach $8.00+ US here. Prices are big news here as well. I am thankful we do not (and will not) need to drive to work. The news reports that since earning power is better in Norway, Norwegian work less time per liter than any other western European countries. For some mysterious reason, in parts of eastern Europe, gas in very inexpensive- probably cheaper than in the US. Then again, it would be a long way to drive to fill up.

Actually, in re-reading this post, I am a little freaked out that I picked up this much watching the Norwegian news. I think I probably know more than I think I know, if you know what I mean. Actually, I am quite concerned about fuel prices as they relate to air travel. I guess we all protect our own self-interests.

Mysterious Benefactor

A pre-field test review of the Banjo Brothers bags sent to me by a "rich uncle" in America. Actually Eric of Banjo Brothers was very kind to send an excellent care package to water-logged Stavanger: waterproof panniers. I have been rather swamped with preparing to leave for India next week, and after taking almost a week off for Easter, but I was back commuting today. Yesterday I needed a car to send in my passport for my travel visa.

Anyway, these look to be truly waterproof. My old panniers were nylon with a "waterproof" nylon rain cover. The problem with this design is that water ends up collected in a puddle inside the waterproof cover, and the bag ends up sitting in this water.

The Banjo Brothers bag is actually two bags- a typical nylon style outer bag with a vinyl inner bag that looks like a dry bag for kayaking. First impressions are that these are very well made. The stitching is perfect, and these are built solidly with excellent fit and finish. Every detail seems to be well engineered, including reflective piping, a lower bulge to the panniers to keep the center of gravity low, and a shock-cord connection system to prevent the bag from flopping around (while still making it easy to remove).
The bag attaches to the outer bag with velcro. The bag is designed to close by rolling up the top, and cinching it with a clip.

These seem to have just the right capacity. I don't need any bulky touring bags- these offer the perfect capacity. I really like the heavy-duty vinyl liner. I have found that tools tend to move around as I ride, and they evenually wear holes in standard nylon panniers (if they are not carefully wrapped up and cinched down). These offer no-worry carrying capacity. No worries about bottle caps ripping into fabric, or a screwdriver eventually working its way through the bag.

As a bonus, he sent a seat bag- which is also the perfect size for a flat kit. Again, the attention to detail is excellent- including the fact that the velcro "hooks" face inward so they will not chew up my shorts (as some other bags can and do).

In the top photo, you can also see a pocket "messenger bag"- which seems like a great idea for carrying something home a short distance- certainly better than hanging grocery bags from the handlbars. Again, this is not a fancy messenger bag, but rather a bag that folds up into next to nothing and could easily fit into any pocket.

I was a little surprised the liners were white, but it actually another great idea. It offers much more contrast and visibility for digging through a crowded bag. Another issue that occurred to me was the lack of an external flap or pocket for stashing keys or a map. Then it hit me- these are waterproof. The map flap on my old bags are their achillies heel. The zipper has a lip where water easily enters. These are designed to be truly waterproof.

Again, I thank Eric, and will begin using them. It seems every day is still wet around here, including an afternoon commute through sleet. Funny thing is that I really don't seem to mind it as much when it is dry when I leave, as it was today- sunny with black clouds approaching. I had just enough time to purchase a chain pin before I was pelted with tiny rocks of ice. Still, it beats driving. Anyway, let the field test begin!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Home Wrecker

Or things to do when my wife is not home:
Dig that reflective Cinelli bar tape.
Actually, this bike is clean enough to eat off of, but it won't last long with the weather around here. I cannot wait for the next two months to speed by so I can have a bike workshop again. I think having a Y chromosome promotes this type of behavior.

Sunset Madness

Part of my weather anxiety is because the sun already sets at 9PM. It should be 80ish in Minnesota about the time there is that much daylight- not 40-something. It really feels strange- like being near the equator on a hot day and the sun sets at 6- with no twighlight. Here it is the exact opposite, and it plays mind games with me. It just doesn't feel right.

I almost put my Look together- finally. I am missing the smallest of parts- a new chain pin. I am using a Dura Ace chain on this bike- the only non-SRAM chain in the stable. I distinctly remember buying three pins before we moved. I distinctly have no clue where I taped them. There are probably with my wife's bike- a ferry ride away. I have a sore throat- so no ride tonight.

I finally booked a flight to India. I also mailed in my passport for my visa. My fingers are crossed that I will receive the passport before I am scheduled to leave. It makes life interesting. I spent some time today exploring the local race schedule. I think I will survive. It is just as well that there is a different style of races here, as I don't think this new job will afford me the free time I had in Minnesota. I think I will survive. Special thanks goes out to bike guru and cool neighbor, Sjur, who quietly has been my lifeline to cycling resources around here.

You Call That a Race?!

I call this suffering in the first degree: (click for map)

For you Americans, this is in meters of elevation- not feet! And kilometers rather than miles- giving it an average of about a 10% grade for the first 10K. This is a nearby local "race"- although it looks like insanity to my midwest sense of gravity. I might just have to try it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Second Day of Easter

Today is the day after Easter, another holiday in the holy state of Norway. The entire country is shut down except for transportation, like ferries, airlines, and gas stations. I made it out for an early ride- same route as yesterday. I figure that after I take it a few times, it will seem shorter. On my ride, I encountered three group rides- so maybe there is some hope.

On my way back, I noticed huge black clouds over Stavanger- the type that would mean a tornado warning back in MN. Not more than five minutes after I arrived home, it started sleeting- for all of five minutes. I can already see the sun poking through the clouds. For the life of me, I cannot read the weather here. Also, it can be so localized as to change from neighborhood to neighborhood. In Minneapolis, if it were a real rain, it rained on the just and unjust alike. Here, I am not so sure.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Random Amsterdam Images

I finally downloaded the images from our antique digital camera (you still have to turn a crank to fire up the USB port). They are slightly out of sequence with my life, but you get the idea. We only had one day, which isn't much. Coming from Norway, everything was very cheap, and it was nice to be in a large city again. Our agreement with traveling is that we really don't do the tourist thing very well- and we don't aspire to. We live so close that we travel with the idea that we will always return for one reason or another. It takes all the pressure away from trying to see everything in one day. In fact, we really didn't try to see anything, other than a random canal tour (which is about as touristy as it gets) and an aborted attempt to visit the Anne Frank museum. We both like wandering around town, stopping in cafes (not to be confused with coffeeshops), eating out, etc. Art museums can be alright, although we didn't put any effort into art this trip. After awhile, it is too easy to be completely desensitived to a museum.

I never took photos of the bike parking ramp by the train station. It is already so famous- and so huge that I couldn't do it justice. Of course, the thought of parking even my lease beloved bike in a public space like that makes my skin crawl... or maybe that is my foot acting up again.

Bikes and canals.

More bikes. And no, that isn't all parallax error- the buildings often seem to be leaning in every which way. Some have gigantic shims between them and their neighboring buildings, which heightens the appearance that they are hand-drawn (some of the roof lines are incredibly crooked).

Bikers and tracks.

Even more bikes and canals.

My wife took this of a very attractive guy on a bridge.

Under a bridge.

Why we didn't see the Anne Frank Museum.

A striking woman posing before a shoe boat.

A hillbilly hang-out down by the water.

I took other photos that more accurately reflect my complete lack of photographic skills, but this gives the general idea.