Thursday, September 22, 2011


I'm not sure it's a good idea to eavesdrop on the guys doing work on your house:

"Oh my goodness"

"I don't know if this is going to work."

"Don't worry, s**t happens."

"That's in the wrong place!"
response: "Too late now."

"Hey, I'm fixing up your f**kups, so you don't have to worry about it."

(but as far as I can tell, it all ended up fine)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Back on Wheels

It's a "hybridGiant Seek 0 - Shimano Alfine 8 speed internal hub, hydraulic disk brakes, 700 x 32 tires, from the Bike Doctor.

My previous bike was a Cannondale F600 mountain bike - quite a different beast. But the fact is, I'm not riding off pavement these days so I decided I might as well get a bike that's more suited to the riding I'm actually doing - which is getting around town. I even put fenders on it - so much for my image!

Without the front shock and with skinnier tires, it's definitely a "harder" ride. You notice the bumps in the road a lot more (and avoid them more!) But it also feels fast and responsive. The internal gears shift smoothly and easily. (Although I'm still getting used to the shifting being "backwards") The range of gears seems ok. I think I would have preferred the range a little lower - I haven't found myself using the top few gears so far. But the lowest gear is still pretty low so it's ok.

I'm not sure how it'll be in the winter - that can be a lot more like "mountain" biking. I can still put studded tires on, albeit skinnier ones. And most of the time in the winter I ended up riding with my shock locked out because it had gone flat. And when it got really cold, shifting often didn't work reliably. From what I've heard the internal hub should still work ok when it's cold - we'll see.

I've been interested in the internal hubs for a while. The straight chain path and internal gears should (in theory) be nice low maintenance, especially in the slush and grit of spring and fall. Shimano has a new 11 speed version which sounds even better, but the Bike Doctor didn't have any yet. In fact, the Seek 0 was the only bike they had in stock with internal gears. Fall might be a good time for deals but not so good for selection. (and of course, this bike wasn't one of the ones on sale!) MEC has a bike with the 11 speed hub which looks pretty good, but I'd rather buy locally. Especially when you want to get good service. (And MEC was out of stock anyway, eliminating any temptation.)

It's a fairly nondescript gray which suits me. (Even the branding is subdued.) I figure it's less likely to get stolen if it doesn't look too flashy. Although the disk brakes are a bit of a give-away if you know to look for them.

I think Shelley is just going to get another mountain bike. Not because she's riding off pavement any more than I am, but more because that's what she's always ridden and is used to. (And I have to admit, the mountain biker "image" is more appealing than "commuter"!)  Although I've been riding mountain bikes for quite a while, before that I rode "ten speeds" for many years, so this style of bike isn't as alien to me.

I reinforced the door of the shed so it won't be quite as easy to break into. But it's still just a flimsy metal shed so it's never going to be that hard to get into. I'm locking my bike up inside the shed as well - I would really be pissed to have the new one stolen. And I wouldn't put it past the thieves to come back in hopes of finding new bikes.

I'm happy to have a bike again. I hate to drive, so without a bike I'm reduced to walking, which is ok, but nowhere near as quick to zip around or go longer distances.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sprinklers & Freezing

Our first overnight freezing temperatures a few days ago, but the sprinklers had still come on in the park.

Taken with Canon G12

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Paddling into Autumn

With the weather still holding I couldn't resist heading north with my kayak. Had a great paddle around most of the Bagwa Loop although I didn't do the portages. (I'd rather paddle than slog through the mud.) Instead I stayed both nights at the Pease Point campsite and on Saturday I paddled through Bagwa and Lily Lake, walked across the portage to have a look at Clare Lake, and then paddled back. Quite a long day with meandering about, and of course with the wind inevitably against me going back.

I didn't see any moose this year, but saw a few bald eagles reasonably close. And there were ducks and the odd Canada goose, a pelican, and a few Snow geese. The loons were making their iconic cries. Not many people around.

As forecast, the weather started to turn Sunday morning. It was clear and calm all night but the clouds gathered and the wind picked up as I paddled back. I seem to get rougher water for the paddle back. The waves were getting to be about three feet high in the worst parts, leading to a bit of a roller coaster, and the occasional splash in the face. Even with the spray skirt on, water still tends to get inside resulting in a wet ride. Thankfully a few of the bays were sheltered enough to take a breather. When I got to the end I was lucky to have a cart waiting at my end of the rail portage. And the rain held off until I was just about back to the car :-)

I haven't been out paddling much this summer so my arms and shoulders was pretty stiff and sore by the end. But it was a good kind of tired. And it was great to get out and enjoy our wonderful northern lakes.

(click to view photos)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Grackles Come to Visit

Someone coming to the door said they thought they were in the Hitchcock movie "The Birds". A flock of Common Grackles that has been hanging around the neighborhood the last few days discovered our bird feeder. There were a lot of them - maybe a hundred. It was hard to get good photos, every time I came to the window they would all fly away. They're probably on their way migrating south. Often when you see them they just look black, but in the right light they are actually quite colorful. They seemed to be going after the bigger food that the sparrows don't eat like the corn and peanuts.

(Click on the photos for a larger version.)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Along the River

I've been kicking myself all weekend for not getting out on a kayak trip or something on this last bit of beautiful summer weather. So I took a hike to Waneskewin and back to at least spend some time outdoors.

It's not exactly wilderness, but it's always nice along the river. I came around a corner and four great blue herons took off from a sandbar, gangly but gracefu. An owl (long eared?) rose up out of the underbrush in front of me and perched on a branch eying me suspiciously. A hawk circled low around a coulee. Canada geese called from the river. Grasshoppers exploded up out of the grass all around me. Frogs jumped off the bank into the river. A muskrat dived in and swam away. Fish disappeared in a swirl of water. Clam shells and crayfish claws littered the shore. Ants feasted on a caterpillar. Bees and butterflies enjoyed the last flowers of the summer. I enjoyed the last of the summer!

click to view photos

Photos taken with the G12 this time.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Fall Feast

Beautiful black and yellow wasps feeding on a half eaten crab apple.

taken with iPhone 3GS