flwyd: (Akershus Castle cobblestones)
For what is likely the last time, I rode down Wagonwheel Gap to work this morning.
Eight months of tricky Driveway access have led to some pretty extreme washboarding, so I play it safe and don't get the big gravity head start I used to.
A few grasses are settling into the bare dirt wall at the property edge that September's erosive flood carved.
The dirt sections along Wagonwheel, constructed in November, were recently touched up so the ride was pretty smooth.
The curve on Lee Hill is one lane as they build up a creek wall with cement Legos. It looks like a pretty fun gig.
The Fourmile Canyon Creek bike path finally connects to Violet from Broadway again, sporting a new bridge from the developing apartment complex to the New Urbanism of "NoBo" mixed use lofts.
There's no more mud on the street near 26th and Topaz, though there's still plenty of yard and ditch work waiting.
The Iris underpass for Elmer's Two Mile has been open for months and the rushes by the creek are starting to stand up again.
A rainbow-clad Happy Thursday cruiser ride diverted just once for high water in Boulder Creek, not atypical for late June.

As I rode along creeks and ditches to our new place in Cherryvale I reflected on how well Boulder rode out the flood. Thanks to farsighted geography and diligent planing work from folks like Gilbert White, Boulder's network of trails and paths fulfilled their buffer mission. And with the help of heavy machinery and construction crews the bike paths are springing back to life like the canyon vegetation, nourished by the damp earth.

The Anne U. White trail, appropriately named for Gilbert's wife, will take longer to regrow, with work starting next year at the earliest. The absence of that trail in the weekend experience is one reason we're moving on: walking the footpaths and quiet streets of Cherryvale is a lot more refreshing than a stroll along a dusty road that still tastes of chaos. As stressful as moving is, I'm feeling pretty good about not having owned property over the past year.
flwyd: (intense aztec drummer DNC 2008)
Two weeks ago Wednesday, on Boulder's winter bike to work day, I was feeling pretty good on my commute. The weather was warm, there was no snow or ice to be seen, and I had a good head of steam on a downhill and a green light ahead of me on the 28th St. frontage road at Colorado Avenue.

But as I approached the intersection, a white pickup truck suddenly appeared in front of me, making an illegal right turn from northbound 28th. I clamped down on my brakes as hard as I could, but my frankencruiser's brake pads are pretty smooth. With the time dilation of an adrenaline rush it felt like I was gripping the brakes for a couple seconds, but in reality it was probably more like 15 to 20 feet before I hit the truck bed straight on.

If you don't care to read a long narrative about how I crashed my bike, sprained my wrist, went to the ER, and then went to work for the afternoon, you can stop reading now. )

Only In Boulder

Friday, February 19th, 2010 11:42 pm
flwyd: (Akershus Castle cobblestones)
I just rode my bike across town in the snow at 11 PM with a laptop and two grocery bags of tea.

Apparently I'm one of THOSE people.

Ups and Downs

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 11:15 pm
flwyd: (Trevor over shoulder double face)
Recent ups:
• I've ridden my bike to work more often than I've driven so far this quarter
• I wrote a MapReduce to compute statistics on how people use our product. It feels good to say "Hey, 400 computers, run my program tonight!"
• Today I finished putting the graphing front end to those statistics together. Now when we have questions like "How many users have uploaded more than a thousand files?" or "What's the average size of an image?" we'll be able to make decisions informed by data rather than speculation.
• I've adjusted to the work environment and have been able to focus and be productive. Playing albums straight through, rather than putting iTunes on shuffle, helps.
• I'm applying my technical know-how to volunteer projects.
• My games day on Saturday will mark three straight weekends of playing games and seeing friends.
Ignite Boulder 8 last week was a lot of fun.
• The final drum circle at Witches Brew had a great turnout and lots of good rhythms.
• I watched The Bicycle Thief, La Dolce Vida, and Mars Attacks at IFS. I've had the first two on VHS for a while, but never got around to the former and watched half of the latter without understanding the point. Both were quite rewarding on the big screen. And the third? I think Mars Attacks is the second funniest movie I've seen from the '90s (behind Clerks). So many big-name actors are metafunny in it.
• Benzi is hosting a monthly cuddle party on second Saturdays at the Solstice Institute. More information at cuddling.meetup.com.

Recent downs:
• I caught the cold going around work and was sick for about five days. I realized that when I'm sick and not being productive, the "I should go home and get some rest" part of my brain is in the spaced-out-sick area and doesn't activate properly.
• After replacing my rear bike wheel a few weeks ago, my tube's valve got a pinch-flat, which is essentially impossible to patch. After being sick last week, I was all set to ride on Thursday when I discovered the replacement tube was totally flat. My other bike also had a flat. Thwarted! I fixed the flat (piece of glass) this weekend. On Tuesday, I noticed my pressure was low while riding. About a third of the way to work, all of the remaining air suddenly left the tube thanks to another valve pinch-flat. I walked the remaining two miles to work. Fortunately, showing up at 10 AM is no big deal. I replaced the tube with a Presta valve tube, hoping the metal stem will do a better job of staying in place.
• I've been staying at work pretty late. From my experience at Tyler, I know that pattern doesn't lead to long term happiness, so I need to monitor my routine, especially once the weather gets nice.
• I haven't watched any of the Olympics, since I don't have a TV at home. I installed Silverlight, even though the license agreement says you will not "work around any technical limitations in the software." However, both NBC and CTV's videos all gave me errors. NBC has a tantalizing page with full video of curling games and speed skating runs, but to access it you have to have an existing premium cable, satellite, or Internet TV contract. If I had cable, I wouldn't be trying to watch the Olympics on your website, punks!
• I slacked on getting tickets to Les Claypool at the Fox and it sold out. Instead, my roommate took me to a small bluegrassy concert in Lyons which was fun. Sold out shows at the Fox aren't especially fun anyway.

Happy Thursday!

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 11:50 pm
flwyd: (Vigelandsparken heels over head)
I'd forgotten how fun it is to ride around in circles. (Apparently I also forgot how to get into the mood for blogging.)

I got back from Guanduras two months ago (wow!). Since then, I've had some fun out-of-town adventures, but the time I've spent at home has consisted mostly of recovering from being somewhere, preparing to be somewhere, and dicking around on the Internet. While I enjoy all of those things, I didn't feel like I was being as awesome as I could.

This past weekend, I went out garage saleing looking for a cheap cruiser with a basket I can take to Burning Man. Instead, I found a custom-built in-tune 7-speed town bike with three baskets, bright yellow mud guards, and an orange flap with Chinese characters for pain and pleasure. At $150, I realized I could get a lot more value out of it than I'd gotten out of my mountain bike lately. Not only would it be a good bike for Burning Man, it would encourage me to take it to the store instead of driving.

Since this purchase, I've spent several hours fixing bikes. First I used a vise to bend back the fork I bent getting the new bike home (oops). Then I installed a replacement front derailleur for my mountain bike. Then I tried to patch [livejournal.com profile] mollybzz's tire before discovering self-patching goo tubes won't hold a patch. Then I tried to true my mountain bike's back wheel in place without much luck. Then I joined Community Cycles so I could use their truing device and get reminded what I was doing. Then I spent a long time tweaking the brake position and shifter tension for my mountain bike's front gears and lubed my chain (I think it still shows signs of Burning Man '04). Then I installed a new tube on [livejournal.com profile] mollybzz's bike, lubed the shifters, and adjusted the gear tension. *whew*

While going through old Burning Man mailing list posts this week, I saw a couple references to the Happy Thursday cruiser ride. I'd heard they stopped riding a few years ago due to excessive chaos and police concerns about violating traffic laws. It's going again, but they're being cagey about the location. Poking around a bit, I found the Happy Thursday twitter page, which announced a goths vs. vampires theme and a location of "EGF." I racked my brain for a few minutes thinking though Boulder locations that would have those initials before Eben G. Fine Park popped into my mind. Of course!

The last time I rode with Happy Thursday, everybody was decked out in kitsch and glam and gay with some impressive custom cycle and decoration jobs. I haven't had time to put together a crazy lighting scheme for my bike yet (a safety feature at Burning Man), but I figured I'd take my new cruiseresque bike out for a spin. I wasn't sure when the ride started, so I showed up at 7 and sat by the creek for awhile (another Boulder activity I forgot I missed). Around 7:30, cruisers started arriving, including one with a sound system on the back. (Mobile tunes are key to a successful cruiser ride.) Some folks had some potluck food, pens for drawing moustaches, and name tags for declaring what sort of snob you are. I decided to be a code snob, beard snob, blog snob, and snob snob :-) With folks drinking PBR and Key Light while listening to an upbeat party mix and tight-rope walking on webbing straps it didn't seem much like a goths vs. vampires theme, but whatever.

We biked around down town, periodically stopping to ride around in circles in parking lots and socialize on top of parking garages. As we passed amused diners, we cheered out "Happy Thursday!" Boulderites responded in kind 'cause they know what's up; folks from out of town (dropping their kids off at college, perhaps) gave some bemused looks. After an hour and a half or so, the small group that remained reached the ride's terminus and played glow-in-the-dark frisbee in a daycare playground. Just as it was splitting up and the leaders heading to a bar, another Happy Thursday group rolled up the block and ascended the parking garage. With red corsets, black fairy wings, white makeup, and long capes, and Sisters of Mercy on the bike stereo we'd found the goths vs. vampires version of the ride. I heard there was a third group riding around somewhere, perhaps with a different costume theme. I suppose that's one way to keep it from getting too big -- tell different people different starting times.

That was the most pure fun I've had in quite a while. There's a thrill I get on an easy bike ride, even if it's just around in circles, and being in a crowd of people having a similar good time amplifies the effect. Riding back home, I was a little more pressed for breath than when I biked to school every day, but I still came home feeling super energized. Heck, I had enough energy to write my first blog post of the month!
flwyd: (what would escher do)
One of the attractions of my new apartment is that it is in biking distance of work. I'd been concerned about my health and the amount of exercise I was (not) getting, but hadn't done much about it because work/girls/wikipedia typically provided a more convincing reason for immediate attention. There's always an excuse and the excuse is usually better when you don't live near much that's worth biking to.

The first week I lived here I didn't bike because I was still moving stuff from my old apartment.

Then I went to California for two weeks. (Pictures here and here.)

The week I got back I was still recovering from a lack of sleep so didn't get out of bed much before nine.

The second week (that is, this week) I got back I was still recovering from a lack of sleep so didn't get out of bed much before nine. I was on level 3 support, so I had some grumpiness building up to mix with sleep absence to cause bickering with Tam.

Last night I went to bed a little after nine, I think. I woke up, like usual, at 7. Unlike usual, I was completely lucid for the beginning of Democracy Now! and got up at the second break. I cast about and found my helmet and water bottle. I didn't know where most of my bike accessories were, but I found the standing pump on the porch and inflated my tires to reasonable levels. A little after eight I was out the door.

This made me very happy. The only time I'd biked to Tyler was over three years ago, when I was living in Golden, when I came in to work on a weekend. The "back way" was mostly free of traffic and I hit most of the lights. I had to stop for breath for a minute or two on a fairly wimpy hill, but there are no major obstacles between points A and B. Well, no major obstacles not circumvented by an over- or under-pass.

The two-wheeled commute took thirty minutes. That's about twice as long as my four-wheeled commute (speed is directly proportional to wheel count, apparently), but it gets me far more than twice as much exercise. I was a little winded when I got to work, but after a few deep drinks of water and a support incident, I was in fine shape. A little after noon I sauntered down the road for a Chipotle burrito (my most regular form of exercise in the last year).

The afternoon was rather frustrating. It featured a coworker deleting key settings from a client's live database, a convoluted VPN process crashing my computer, and four or five "emergency" incidents filed after 4 PM on a Friday. As I was getting ready to leave, I discovered I'd agreed to run a utility for a client on the weekend. When asked a few minutes later if I'd be the on-call developer on Saturday for an install, I sighed and agreed.

Heading home, the traffic was heavier and my stop light karma was not as good. I made it over and under the freeways in fifteen minutes, then turned east for the hill that had winded me in the morning. Unfortunately, this time I wasn't the one blowing too much air. I heard a loud and sudden BANG! and I did not have a Mancato! I think I ran over a piece of glass, the net effect being an immediate end of my rear tire's usefulness. The glass didn't even have the decency to pop my tube with a Schraeder valve, though the now-popped Presta tube was the flatter of the two this morning.

I normally bike with a patch kit and a pump, but if I've unpacked those yet I don't know where I put them. Riding without anything on my back felt good and I figured I wouldn't have any problems on five miles of pavement. Maybe I should have stayed off the sidewalk.

I now know that it takes about an hour to walk between the local family Italian restaurant and my apartment. I also know that the park I was wondering about does not feature paths which go from one side to the other.

To add a sense of fatalism, after walking thirty blocks along bus routes, the 21 passed me one stop before the one two blocks from my place. Around that time, I realized I probably could have locked my bike somewhere and returned with a bike-rack enabled Subaru. Not a big deal -- exercise was the goal and even a flat tire will slowly roll.

I got home feeling tired and annoyed, but probably more of the latter. I took a gander at the fridge and decided I didn't want to expend additional effort cooking the marinating chicken, so I walked around the corner to Burrito Express and got a burrito de lengua. Pretty good for less than $4.

As I finished my second burrito of the day, Tam came home with two friends and made chicken burritos. Writing about it seems less exciting than it was in my head. Maybe it's a good thing I don't blog every day.

Final Score

Wheels: 1
Burritos: 3
flwyd: (inner maiden animated no words)
I depart for Dragonfest tomorrow early afternoon. I'll be back (but tired) on Sunday afternoon, and will be out of touch in the mean time. I'll probably check my email tomorrow morning and hopefully won't misclassify any important messages as spam when I get back.


On Thursday I ran into Boulder's Bicycle Freak Parade (AKA Happy Thursday) as they were circling the Buffalo outside Folsom Field. The crowd was full of guys in drag, bikes with crazy lights, and other absurdities. A guy had a pink flamingo in a pink boa attached to his helmet, another guy had a stereo system on a trailer behind his bike playing stuff like YMCA and Wild Thing. There were some pretty funky bikes, including a tricycle with two large chariot wheels under a bench where two people sat side-by-side and pedaled, turning the back bicycle wheel with a crank. Most folks had a horn or a bell. The best I could muster was turning my headlamp to red and pointing it at my face while ringing my bell. It was one of the few occasions I've been one of the most normal looking people in a crowd of people. Calling lots of attention to ourselves, we rode around campus, the Hill, and downtown before folks dispersed at Connor O'Niels. It was quite definitely the most gay thing I've done in a while.

Next time I meet up with them I should be on a unicycle. With several false starts, I'm able to mount and ride my unicycle for a couple blocks now. I'm taking it to DFest so I can do one-wheeled heraldry rounds.

After a bunch of Internet research I couldn't find much of a compelling reason to prefer one brand over another in a similar-featured camera. I went to Mike's Camera and talked to a sales clerk, who hooked me up with a Pentax Optio 33L. It's 3 megapixels, 3x optical zoom, and compact flash (which I think I prefer). It's one downside is it lacks an optical viewfinder, but the LCD panel has serious swivel action, and I can probably take steadier pictures without my nose next to the camera. I also got AA batteries and a recharger, 128MB of CF memory, and a carrying case, totalling $446 even with tax. I'm glad I went to Mike's because (a) I got to talk to someone who could explain the subtle differences between similar models, (b) I didn't have to deal with shipping and hence (c) I can take it to Dragonfest and, (d) if I don't like it, I can exchange it in a week for a similar camera (assuming I can keep it in mint while camping). Since (e) the price was competitive with online vendors, I didn't spend too much and (f) felt good about supporting local independent business, keeping money within the Boulder economy.

It seems I indirectly paid for pizza. If that's one of the ingredients of Cat and Girl, I'm down with it.
The end.
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