Thursday, August 30, 2007
You can see my low budget truing stand- the bike itself, inverted, with a few nails held in place with rubberbands. Using the reflection as the wheel spins, I can see where I need to make truing adjustments. Somehow the wheel dish turned out fine, although I struggled with wheel hop more than I ever have. I ended up sorting it all out.
Yesterday morning it was raining. As this is my rain bike, I took it out for a test of its new rear wheel. I tossed a 17t cog on. It made for a high cadence, easy ride. This is a much smoother hub than either of my other budget fixed models.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Legends abound regarding the great deals one can receive if they buy computers through work, so I consulted with our purchasing maven. He told me the deals are no more. That there are no advantages over buying direct. We use Dell exclusively at work, by the way. Unless you need some specific motherboard chipset for a crazy audio application, Dell offers the best bang for the buck, in my opinion. Mr. Purchasing Guy also suggested that there are all sorts of back to school deals at the local electronic stores. In Norway, electronics are relatively cheap (compared to vehicles, beer, etc.). We have Elkjop, Euronics, Lefdal, Siba, Elpris, and a few others that I am forgetting at the moment- all in walking distance. I checked a few websites, and by the time we added the MS Office package, Dell was looking like the best deal.
I began ordering online, but there was no way to order the OS and Office in English. I can handle Norwegian computer terms, mostly, but all of our work PCs and my own laptop have the Norwegian keyboard and the English software. I am very accustomed to the terminology, and half the computer words are in no known dictionary or translation book. Since we were ordering a laptop with Vista, I thought it might be helpful to have it in English, since I am confident that we will encounter a few glitches. I asked Mr. Procurement Guy how he orders it in English. He told me there was a place to add comments.
I waited until I was at home after work to consult with Lise, and continued with ordering. I entered everything, and was faced with a submit button. There was no comment field anywhere in the workflow. I went back and clicked on Live Chat- they were closed. I was faced with a last day to order a free double memory upgrade, the free upgrade to a larger hard drive, and free shipping. For all I know, Dell says every day is the last day for such deals. I was shopping under duress. I called the US Dell customer support. I was informed that it was IMPOSSIBLE to purchase a Norwegian Dell with the OS in English. I told him that I had one right in front of me, that we use that configuration exclusively at work. He acted like I was an idiot who had no idea what I was talking about. He then went on to say that there was nothing I could do, that the memory deal would expire, even if I kept the configuration in the shopping cart. I was frustrated. I went back to the website and clicked on submit. I figured I could sort everything else out the next day.
The next day I called some Dell dude who was in Denmark. He masterfully fixed the order for me. His customer service was excellent. It went a long way toward erasing the frustration from the previous night. Now we just wait for it to arrive. I am a little envious at the spec we picked for this machine. It is far superior to my own laptop. In thinking about it, I cannot even remember the last time we purchased a PC.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Do I really need four unused saddles? Three handle bars- including two identical El Toros? Or course I do-- these are all out of production. It never hurts to have some high flange Record hubs lying around, or some spare quill stems, or that crazy SRAM corncob cassette. Hey, at least it has a 16t cog in there--- but can I really ride around in Norway with a 11-21? I could hardly manage Minnesota hills with those ratios.
I unpacked some boxed that were packed back in the US-- and have sat in storage ever since. I obsessively collect tires. I really don't know what else to say. Granted, we have 5 bikes that require road tires, and maybe have a two dozen wheels lying around. But still, it is pure excess that results in me having two pairs of unused Vittoria Open Corsas lying around-- as well as Veloflex, Pro Slicks, some random Continental, and some Hutchinson that I purchased for some inexplicable reason. I ended up dressing up the Ksyriums with red Open Corsas. The Veloflex are too fragile for anything other than racing. They shall wait until my hiatus concludes. I found three beautiful latex tubes, but the valve stems were too short for the Mavic rims. I could only find one valve extender. Some hop head probably swiped the other.
I am thinking I will ride with the Ksyrium SLs on the Look for awhile. They have been in semi-retirement after I used them exclusively for racing. Now that I no longer race, they have sat idle for a little over a year. I don't know how I feel about the 11-23 cassette with these hills, however.
It has been raining non-stop that past few days. The nice thing about commuting is that it forces me to ride. I wouldn't normally be caught dead riding in this abysmal weather. When it is really wet I take the mountain bike. One of these days I will fully document the carnage on the trails--- of the gigantic slugs that are run over and cannibalized by their peers. It is beyond disgusting.
Last night I had a tire patching party. It was just me and my imaginary mechanic posse. I had built up quite a flat collection. Apparently my mother-in-law inquired about it. My wife pointed out that the total quantity of tubes that most people own are actually already in use- in their tires. I guess I never considered that.
I was entertained for well over an hour as this spider eviscerated a fly. The spider had quite an elaborate web that did not fare too well in the photo. He/she spent the better part of the afternoon on dinner. I don't mind these spiders so much when they are out in the garden where they belong.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
So I carefully measured everything and tossed it into some web-based spoke calculator. I jotted down the resultant spoke length required for the job. I went to Spinn and ordered 32 double-butted spokes. I questioned the shop guy's find after a lengthy wait as he hunted them down in the back room. He reassured me that they were double-butted. The resulting cost of 10NOK each was certainly expensive enough for top-end spokes--- that is over $50 for one wheel's spokes. Still, I was skeptical.
I started lacing them up that night. It wasn't until I started on the trailing spokes that I realized that I had made a grave miscalculation. I still had the web page up on the screen, and checked the dimensions. At this point I realized the java application had not refreshed itself with the current data. When I hit "enter" I was struck with a different spoke length. I unlaced the wheel as carefully as possible, but there is no way to unlace the trailing spokes without bending them. Actually, they were all slightly bent when I was done. There was no way the shop could resell these.
I didn't think too much of it until I swung by Lectrons's to purchase a wheelset that he kindly loaned me. I am quite sure it was a masterful marketing scheme to hook me on the wheels- but his offer was too good to pass up-- a set of tubulars, which I shall elaborate on at a later time. In addition to the agreed upon monetary remuneration, as a goodwill gesture I offered Lectron the pile of spokes, at which he commented, "I can't use those! Those are cheap, straight gauge. I will never use those." He had been sold double-butted spokes for less money-- top shelf. At the very least, I was ripped off. I vowed to attempt to return them.
The next day I stopped by Spinn after work with my sorry bag of bent spokes, a bunch of nipples in a greasy recycled bag, and a badly soiled receipt that was nearing 30 days in age. A hapless employee tried to help me as I explained my woeful tale. I showed him the receipt, the price paid per spoke, and told him that I had asked for double-butted spokes, but was sold straight gauge. He disappeared into the back of the shop, emerging with another straight gauge spoke, identical to mine. I re-explained my situation. He informed me that only bike frames were double-butted. I told him the same applies to bike spokes. He said they don't sell any spokes like that, and asked what brands are butted. I merely mentioned Wheelsmith, Sapim, and DT. He disappeared into the store, reappearing with a fist full of double-butted, black spokes. I showed him how they were thinner in the middle. He explained that straight gauge were better, because they were thicker. I made no attempt to educate him that butted spokes are actually stronger than straight gauge, despite being thinner, but rather asked for an in-store credit. After struggling with a poorly designed point-of-sale IT solution, he offered me the voucher for 320NOK- as I handed him the remainder of the bag, and explained that some of the spokes were bent. He said it was no problem. I think he was merely relieved that this transaction had reached its denouement. And I was out of there before he could change his mind. I could have had a cat in the bag for all he knew! Now I can afford that new pair of socks that I have had my eye on.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
We had our annual family lunch at Flor og Fjære-- an island maybe a half hour by boat that is inexplicably set up like a tropical island-- right here in Norway. Apparently manipulating the wind has much to do with controlling the temperature. And to be fair, this place is only open half the year, and they use artificial means to keep some of the plants from being too cold in the winter. It truly is an amazing place-- if for no other reason than then challenges posed by having banana trees in Norway.
Friday, August 10, 2007
It looks like I am going to buy a set of tubulars from Sjur. I am somewhat apprehensive, since they are more of a hassle to cope with when they flat, but I rarely flat as it is, and there are options for fixing on the road. For the uninitiated, tubulars are tires that are literally glued to the rims, rather than having a bead that hooks on the rim. The "advantages" are rather arcane, especially for commuting. Then again, I am commuting on a fixed gear, so you might consider that I am not looking for the easiest or quickest way to accomplish my mission. But then again, I reach it in relative style.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Today I heard a heap of racket outside. At first it sounded like model airplanes in the backyard. Upon opening the back door, it sounded like a full-blown dogfight, with real planes-- but it seemed to originate in front of the house. I opened the front patio door-- and it was super loud. The repetitive doppler effect led me to believe it was from the horse track down the street. I looked up the schedule at the Forus Travbane, and it was some sort of Nordic motorcycle championship. I took Julian down to the overpass (where we would have a free sneak peek), and witnessed the craziest sport on two wheels. I had to do a double-take--- brakeless motorcycles on a dirt track: track racing. These were the rattiest looking motorcycles, and the dirtiest racers. The bikes literally spit rooster-tails of cinders from the track-- or whatever the loose track is made of (it really is not dirt). The exhaust was an unrecognizable odor-- until I read they burn ethanol. Races lasted only three or four laps. Julian was as intrigued as I was, and we stayed an hour and a half. We had a fun afternoon, despite the bad weather. I tried taking photos, but the motorcycles were nothing but a blur.
The local paper posted a video here.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Last night we stayed in an old hotel in Denmark. Unlike women, some hotels take pride in advertising their age. This one probably should not- although it did. Its bathroom was larger than our entire hotel room at the last place we stayed- probably to make room for the bidet. I have no idea how they work. On second thought, I probably am better off not knowing.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
For some reason, I feel much more comfortable driving on the autobahn than on US freeways. Drivers generally are safer, and there are no worries about speeding tickets. The roads are generally extremely well maintained, and the rest stops are second to none.