I was out on the road last night at around 6:30pm. I go out later during the week to avoid all of the heavy trucks that are busily removing material from the rural countryside in our area. They are doing work to prepare the land for roughly half a million solar panels.
This massive green energy project does seem to ravage a lot of green space.
For the most part, I don’t have too much trouble with the heavy traffic.
Last night, however, I had a close call with a large dump truck.
I was heading southbound on Westbrook road. Westbrook is a usually a very quiet country road. The surface is tar and chip. There is a fairly sharp bend across from where a new solar farm is being developed. And, I guess the crew decided to work late as construction was still underway.
I average about 30 kph for most of my rides. And on this stretch, the wind was to my favour and I was closer to about 40 kph.
The bend can be taken at speed as it is banked.
Most experienced riders will tell you that they are always listening for traffic coming from behind. I do. And I always look back when I hear something and I always look back before I take a turn.
This particular truck was really not moving much faster than me. However, as I approached the bend, driver elected to pass. At the entry to the bend no less. Only to brake at the exit of the bend to turn left into the solar farm site.
One of the most dangerous places to be on a bike is to the right of a large truck on a bend or on a turn. You can easily be run over.
This truck was so close — less than a foot from my handlebars.
I only had a few choices: panic stop, sprint or maintain my pace and hope for the best.
Unfortunately I was already committed to the turn. And, at 40 kph, it would be hard to try and sprint out of the bend in front of the truck. The problem with stopping was that the truck was so close that the turning radius would probably have resulted in an impact. I maintained my pace and my relative distance to the truck and I hoped for the best.
Then the darn guy, once in front of me, hit his brakes!
I could not go left because I did not know what he would do if I tried to pass him. He had stopped abruptly specifically to go left. I could not go right as his truck was at the edge of the road.
I hit the brakes and came to a stop within a meter or so of the back of his truck.
Although most rides go without any incidents, I am always very, very vigilant.
Over the years I have had people dump their ashtrays at me as they pass. I have had people throw cans and bottles. I have had people try to clip me with their mirrors. And cut me off after they pass. Fortunately only a few specific instances. But no record of the event.
This case in Kansas certainly got me thinking about how disadvantaged cyclists can be when they are out on the road.
I am very much a conservative and law-abiding cyclist. I stop as required. I signal my turns. And I stay very courteous on the road. I do that because I want to come back and ride another day.
Oh, when your heart’s on fire
You must realize
Sweat gets in your eyes
With apologies to the Platters.
On Saturday, I went out for a long ride. I left the house at roughly 6:30 in the morning. It was very cool. Only 14 Celsius. I wore my Spring/Fall base layer to provide a bit of warmth. Great ride. Beautiful morning.
On Sunday, I had to delay my long ride until about 3:00 in the afternoon. It was hot, hazy and humid. The temperature was over 27 Celsius. The humidex made it feel closer to 35 Celsius. Tough ride. Started to boink towards the end.
After only 2 or 3 kilometers, I had to wipe the sweat from my eyes. And I had to keep wiping the sweat every few kilometers. The sweat was literally pouring into my eyes. Sweat in the eyes is very, very annoying.
It is a very delicate maneuver this sweat removal activity.
I have to remove my eyewear with one hand and use that same hand to maintain control of the bike and hold on to the eyewear without dropping it. At higher rates of speed, it is not necessarily a good idea to be hands off the bike for the length of time it takes to wipe sweat.
So, with the right hand, I keep control of the bike. With the left hand, I remove the eyewear. I grasp the handle of the eyewear with my thumb and forefinger and then place my left hand over the hood of the bike’s handlebar. Somehow, I can find a way to hold the hood and the eyewear handle. I can then use my cycling glove on my right hand to wipe the sweat off my forehead and out from my eyes.
Once complete, the left hand replaces the eyewear making sure that Rule #37 is observed:
Rule #37 // The arms of the eyewear shall always be placed over the helmet straps.
No exceptions. This is for various reasons that may or may not matter; it’s just the way it is.
All of this while moving along somewhere north of 30 kilometers per hour.
I use a style of cycling glove which includes fleece over the top of the glove for nose wiping. It can help to deal with exercise induced rhinitis (EIR) — a common affliction for cyclists. Of course, you can always execute the snot rocket protocol when riding in hot, humid weather to free the fleece for sweat wiping.
The fleece on the cycling glove must never be called into dual service. Sweat removal and snot removal should never,ever be combined. In my opinion.
I use the right hand glove for sweat and, unfortunately, I also use the right hand glove for EIR. That might have something to do with me being right-handed. It can be surprisingly easy to forget that the right hand glove has been called into service to deal with EIR when attempting to also deal with sweat in the eyes.
After several seasons of battling sweat in my eyes, I finally broke down and ordered the Halo Headband. Many cyclists recommend the Halo as a way to deal with the sweat. The band includes a ridge which guides the sweat away from the eyes and back towards the ears.
For whatever reason, sweat pouring down by my ears is not nearly as annoying as sweat pouring into my eyes.
The joys of cycling.
The Colnago Master X:
First produced in the mid-1980s, the Master is a perennial favourite. It is the fruit of Colnago’s extensive experience in steel tubing, welding, and lugged frame construction techniques. It’s entirely designed, made and chromium plated in Italy with DT15V steel. The Master offers supreme comfort thanks to the ride quality offered by the custom drawn steel tubing. The star-shaped tubes and chromed lugs combined with a 1-inch chrome plated steel Precisa fork make it a classic and truly elegant bicycle that offers a ride unlike anything else.
My local bike shop, sadly, is closing its doors soon. And the owner wants to clear as much of the inventory as possible. As a result, I was able to get an incredible deal on a 30th Anniversary Master X-light Frameset. This one:
It will take me a bit of time to select the components and then build the machine out. My plan is to have it ready to go for Spring of 2016.
When completed, I will have satisfied Rule #12:
Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.
I was asked to provide a summary of my experience with a recent mix that I did for the World Music Project. And this was the result.
“I defy any other instrument, besides these odd-ball things, to get that crazy.” — Billy Gibbons
“I learned that you can’t name something “exact” if it isn’t down to one hundredth of a millimeter. Today I think that the figure is actually beyond one thousandth of a millimeter. But everyone starts out as a beginner.” — Ulrich Teuffel
The birdfish model is limited to 500 guitars. From what I have read, Teuffel’s annual output is about 25 guitars per year. If so, that represents 20 years of production. Although he does build other models.
Well, whether the math adds up or not, this is a very unique design for a guitar:
This astonishing guitar gets its name from the two central elements – the ‘bird’ and the ‘fish’ – both carved from a solid block of acoustically-optimal aluminium. The tone bars, pickups and neck are all attached to the ‘bird’ and the ‘fish’ while the control unit – with a five-way switch like that of a classic 1950s guitar – forms the head of the ‘bird’.
Here is a video of one in action.
Some emails between me and my BMW dealer:
From: Richard Cleaver
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 1:42 PM
Subject: Sirius XM Radio
After we picked up the car, my wife was concerned that we did not have satellite radio. I hadn’t really thought about it when we talked about the car as I thought that all BMWs came equipped with Satellite Radio.
Can you turn the Satellite Radio on in the car? What would that take?
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 2:12 PM
To: Richard Cleaver
Subject: Re: Sirius XM Radio
It can be installed such that it is integrated (behind the dash) and controlled with the other CD/Radio functions of the audio system. Cost is 762 plus tax for the module, unlock codes, installation & programming for the car’s CPU.
The car would need to be here physically and it’d be an overnighter for programming time.
That’d give a trial period I believe.
From: Richard Cleaver
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 2:32 PM
Subject: Re: Sirius XM Radio
$762 plus tax? That seems way too high. My understanding is that the satellite radio is already in the car and that all that needs to be done is a simple programming change.
That is over $860 plus an overnight stay! [ed: alas we have no BMW dealership in Kingston]
How can BMW justify that kind of charge?
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 2:52 PM
To: Richard Cleaver
Subject: Re: Sirius XM Radio
Unfortunately I can’t get that done for any less than the 762 plus tax – parts department and service department are outside of my control when it comes to prices.
And so I raised my plight with the good folk at Bimmerfest. And, sure enough, there was an easy and inexpensive way to resolve the problem:
All BMWs sold in the U.S. and Canada beginning with the 2010 models come Sirius-ready. That means if you don’t already have Sirius radio installed, it’s all ready for you to add later. You just need a BMW-certified activation code to upgrade the software. Dealers charge $500 or more for this service and require you to leave your car with them.
When you order from BimmerTech, we get you the same official BMW code for just $275. We then send you an interface cable (at no extra charge and shipped free) so you can connect your Windows laptop or Macbook running Windows, to your car. You then contact our technician via Skype instant messenger and he activates the service in less than 30 minutes.
If you are the original owner of your BMW, Sirius gives you a free one-year All-Access subscription, which you can start enjoying immediately. If you have a certified Pre-Owned BMW, you still qualify for a free three-month Sirius All-Access trial. That means more than 150 satellite radio channels with premium programming like Howard Stern, MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, comedy, and tons more. Plus, you can access all that content and more on your computer, smart phone, or tablet.
We made the change last week. And, after 20 minutes or so, the satellite radio magically turned on. We called Sirius with our activation code and received our one-year all-access subscription. All at a discounted price as BimmerTech had a sale. When I took the Sirius XM Radio renewal cost into account, the overall cost for us to retrofit the radio was roughly $75.
If you have a BMW and you are wanting to retrofit the satellite radio for a reasonable charge, BimmerTech does a great job.
I have studied under a number of guitar teachers over the years. And in a variety of styles.
I am currently working with a teacher on improvisation. He asked me about my sweeping and directional techniques.
Well, I don’t sweep and I don’t do directional picking.
Guess what I am doing now?
Sweeping and directional picking.
When I first started playing scales, I was taught to use alternate picking for each and every note: down, up, down, up, down, up, etc.
Directional picking uses a down first approach when ascending and an up first approach when descending.
Assuming an 18-note scale fingering, three notes per string, you would go down-up-down on each string as you ascend in tone, sweeping down the guitar neck, and up-down-up as you descend in tone, sweeping up the guitar neck.
You gain significant speed when playing scales and arpeggios.
Then my teacher asked me about how I approach playing scales and modes. I told him that I use the five pattern approach.
He asked me if I was familiar with the seven pattern approach.
I am now relearning all of my scales using seven fingering patterns.
Obviously the scales and fingering patterns that I have practiced for decades are burned in deep within the muscle memory. And the first few hours of using a new picking technique and new fingering patterns was humbling to say the least.
Then, it all became effortless. My fingers learned how to execute directional picking and my muscle memory learned how to place my fingers with the new patterns.
That said, I need to be more careful in terms of how I answer my teacher’s questions.
Noble Street Studios is a spectacular recording facility in Toronto, Ontario. I have done a few projects there and I really love the team and the studio. I’ve also done photography shoots for them. You can see a few examples on their website here and here.
I recently went back to reshoot Studio B as Noble Street had installed a new monitoring system from Quested. Quested make some amazing monitors and they can be found in a number of high profile facilities including Abbey Road Studios.
Here are some of my photos from the recent shoot at Noble Street. Mix Magazine will be doing a profile on Noble Street and I expect some of my photos will also be carried in the magazine.