Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Thirty One Days On the Bicycle

Today marked 31 days in a row, every day in the month of May, on which I rode my bicycle. I never did a long ride, but I did ride 349 miles, total (according to the National Bicycle Challenge calculator, where I logged my rides).

I commuted to work and rode back and forth to the coffee shop, etc. Call it "utility cycling", or "transportation cycling", if you like. I'll call it a challenge successfully undertaken.

I'll probably miss riding, the next couple of days, as I am heading to PA for my nephew's high school graduation. The dog sitters/house sitters are lined up, and I fly out of Denver, tomorrow. When I get back, though, I will likely continue riding to work on a regular basis.

Who knows, maybe I'll go on an actual recreation ride, or two...


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wildlife and Bike Rides and Busy Days

Well, I have been on the bike, at least for a few miles, every day in May. Twenty one days of bicycling, in a row, has been great ... especially after the lazy months leading up to it.

There has been some rain, some cold temps (relatively, anyway, for this time of year) of 35 degrees on the way to work, and 40 on the way home. But, there have been some really nice days, as well.

Springtime in the Rockies...

Monday, as I rode through Garland Park on the way home from work, I saw probably 25 goslings hanging out with their parents. This family happened to be the closest to  the spot where I like to stop and take photos. Mom, Dad and 7 kids. 

I call them the Laudemans, because Steve and Martha have 7...

Yesterday, on the way home from the coffee shop, I cut through the DU campus. There, I spotted this Kestrel hanging out beside the water. I couldn't get real close, so the picture is a bit blurry.

And, just a few minutes ago, I was sitting on my front patio, and happened to glance over to the kindling pile. This guy was emerging from the pile. He eventually crawled off into the shrubbery to help rid the world of mice (I hope).

The everyday riding is a bit more of a challenge than it was the first time around, and not just because I'm 7 years older. Band practice and a different schedule at work have conspired to make for some long days. Thursday, for instance, I got up at 3:45, left the house at 4:25 AM, ran a class all day, rode home, had band practice, then went out for a beer, afterward. Twenty one hours after I got up, I went back to bed.

Got a good night's sleep last night, though, in preparation for playing a show at Herman's Hideaway, tonight.

Busy, busy, busy...

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Bicycle Challenge Time

A few years ago, I was feeling a bit down about how little I was riding my bicycle. So, I challenged myself to ride to work, every day, in May (since that's my birthday month). I ended up riding to work, every day that I went to the lab, for a little over 4 years.

Fast-forward to now. I am, once again, feeling down about my lack of bicycling, and my fitness level.

 You might say I'm feeling a bit flat...

My 55th birthday is around the corner, and I am feeling every one of those years. So, I am going to do the "every day in May" challenge again, this year.

I don't think I'll end up doing 4 years of daily bicycle commutes, this time, but I hope to at least get comfortable with both myself and the bike.

Now, if it will just stop snowing!


Another Guitar? Yep!

Last week, I went down to the local Guitar Center, to check out their used-guitar racks. There, I spotted this:

It's a Gibson SG Faded, a guitar I have been looking for for about a year. I could find them, here and there, on the internet, but I do not like to buy a guitar that I haven't test-driven. Plus, they tended to be a bit pricy for me.

This one was priced reasonably, even more so since I knew I could trade in a couple of my extra amps. And, that's what I did. I ended up with about $60.00 out of pocket, and now my list of Gibsons that I want has another checkmark on it.

Now, to find a buyable (for me ) Explorer and an RD Artist...


Monday, April 25, 2016

A Month Since I Last Posted?

Life has been pretty busy, but I was really surprised to realize that I had not posted in four weeks.

The weather has been, well ... Springtime in Colorado.

 We had two full days of wet, heavy snow falling.

 A day of rain/snow mix in the morning, with a little buildup of snow on my jacket as I rode the Scrambler to work.

  We also had sun, and highs in the 70s,

which the woodpile snakes seemed to enjoy.

Today is a 72 degree day. Rain, snow and cold air is supposed to move in, starting tomorrow, and the wind is gusting to 45 or 50 mph, at my house.

Tomorrow, I go to pick up something I bought, last week. Had to wait a couple of days to bring it home. I'll try to blog it, tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be a bit more interesting than this post.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

After The Blizzard

Well, the storm moved on by, as they do, and today dawned sunny but cold. The power was still out, at work, and we had another unplanned day off. So, after shoveling a path out to the road, I jumped on the fat-front bike and headed down to Kaladi Brothers for some coffee and a croissant.

Once there, I didn't want to block the shoveled part of the walk, so I used "nature's bike rack" to park my bike.

Just another view, because I wanted to.

On the way home, I stopped to take a couple of pictures. This is a non-plowed street, which gets a good bit of traffic. As you can see, the sun has cleared most of the snow off of the road, already (this was at about 11:30 AM). Less-traveled roads will stay snow-packed longer, but none of them will be impassable to cars, as they were yesterday. That is one of the benefits of the intense sunshine we get here, in Denver. One of the drawbacks for a Scots-Irish lad such as myself, is the constant sunburn you suffer if you don't use sunscreen all of the time...

The Spruce trees always look a little dejected, after a wet snow.

When I got home, I decided to shovel the drive, sidewalk, patio and truck. (Yes, I had to use a snow shovel to get the snow off of the Dodge.) I always shovel out to the tire tracks in the street, from my driveway, in case someone visits. That way, they don't have to push through a drift to get to the curb. I'm the only one in the neighborhood who does this, but I am also the only one in the neighborhood who doesn't park in the driveway (I leave it for visitors). Since I don't pull in and out, the snow doesn't get packed down at the driveway entrance, so I just shovel it out of the way.

 Here is the view from the door of the shop building, showing the clear drive and the unburdened truck. I am fairly tired, to tell you the truth. Beginning to feel my age, when I do chores like this (especially after the wicked commute, yesterday).

We skipped band practice, last night, because of the weather, so the guys are coming over tonight. I decided to clean off the kitchen counter, since company is coming. As I did, I got distracted and worked on a little project which I came up with at the coffee shop, last week. I am experimenting with leather covers for pint glasses, which would allow you to drink hot or cold beverages without burning or freezing your fingers.

Yeah, I know it's just basically a fancy Koozie Kover for glasses, but the leather makes it a little nicer, to me.

First, I made a short one, pretty much like the paper insulators coffee shops have for their paper cups:

 Front view

 Rear view (laced with waxed cotton thread)

 Then I made a longer version. This actually my second long version. I made one, the other night, as a "proof of concept" which wasn't sized exactly right, and the ends didn't meet at the back. It was functionally okay, but I just didn't like the looks of it.

Rear view, complete with extra lacing hole, where the cord pulled through the leather as I pulled the stitch tight.

I modified my long-version pattern, trying to get the ends to meet up more precisely, and to get the top and bottom edges more even. We'll see how the next examples come out.

I prefer the long version, myself. How about you...?


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

We Are Having a Blizzard, And It's Not The "Dairy Queen" Kind...

Yesterday, it was 72 degrees F, here in Denver. Yet, on the news, last night, the weather man predicted a blizzard, with significant snowfall for today. And ... he was right.

Welcome to Springtime in Denver.

I got up and rode my bicycle to work, this morning, as I do on snowy days. The wind was in my face, at about 35 mph, but there were less than 2 inches of snow on the road, and the ride wasn't too bad. The 8.5 mile ride took me about 43 minutes, on the fat-front bike.

About an hour and fifteen minutes after I got there, our building experienced a weird, partial power failure. Some rooms had lights, some didn't. All of our communication stuff was out, none of our lab equipment would run, and it was pretty much impossible to get anything done. Word came down at about 9:00 that we were to all go home. I had a bit of work to do, which didn't involve any electrical equipment, so I stuck around a couple of hours before riding home.

In the meantime, the snow began piling up. As I left, riding on the streets was impossible, unless I stayed in a car's tire tracks. For the most part, it was just a matter of going slow (8 mph seemed to be about as fast as I could go and maintain control) and staying inside the ruts.

At least the wind was to my back.

In the Crestmoor Park neighborhood, I saw a VW Tiguan get high-centered on the snow which was between the wheel tracks on his side of the road. I rode on. It didn't look like I could pull him off of the snow with my bike...

Just south of Alameda Ave., I hit a stretch of road where the tire tracks had filled in, after the last car had driven through. I had to push the bike on that section, and then along the bike path behind George Washington High School.

On the bike path...

I ended up pushing the bike about a half-mile, in snow that varied in depth from just below my knees to just over them. At one point, I had to pick the front of the bike up and drag the rear along, because the snow was so far over the axle height that the wheel wouldn't roll.
At the point where I normally leave the road and cut through Garland Park, I had to continue on the street, since the bike path through the park was unplowed. As I rode along on Cherry Creek Drive, a Denver cop drove right by me, without giving me a second glance (which would have required him to stop texting as he drove along). The next car by was a very nice young lady from Texas.

She rolled the window down and asked, "Are you all right?"

"Yes ma'am," I called back. "Thanks!

As she pulled over, it occurred to me that she had actually asked if I wanted a ride, not if I was all right.

I thanked her, and assured her that I was fine with riding the 2.5 miles to my house, from there. 

I had to change my route, a bit, after I crossed Cherry Creek, because the neighborhood roads were untravelled, and unrideable because of that. I stayed on car-tracked roads and made it to my house a little over 2 hours after I left the office. 
As I arrived, a lady was getting out of her car and into another car, leaving hers in the road, where it was stuck. The car she got into got stuck, and another driver put her bumper against theirs and got them rolling. 

 The abandoned car, near my driveway. It is in the traffic lane, not against the curb...

My truck looks pretty aerodynamic, at this point.

My commute was a bit of an adventure, and a really nice mountain bike ride, actually. I'm hoping we have a snow day, at work, tomorrow. Otherwise, I am burning some annual leave. I can't imagine that the roads are going to be any better, in the morning, than they are now. And, I don't really have the energy to make that ride twice in 24 hours.