The fork arrived today but, because I’m home sick and really am convalescing, I didn’t get the crown race installed. It’s an IRD steel fork, and it seems fine, it did come in a newspaper with chinese all over it, so there’s not a lot of obfuscation of country of origin … ;-) It did have some minor blemishes in the finish, but nothing I can’t overlook in a $130 fork. The big (and I do mean BIG) surprise came when I tried to mount the front wheel. Remember that absurdly large 203mm disc rotor on the front? Well, it actually rubbed slightly on the fork leg – it extended far enough up the leg that it passed the little molded-in relief for the disc. SO, that settles it – the front disc is going back to be replaced with a 185 or a 160. I think I’m going to try the 185. As I mentioned, no crown race today, so I didn’t install the fork on the frame. But I did start to dink around with the Woodchipper bar and the Cane Creek brake levers. The distance between the first bend and the second bend on these bars is SHORT, ergo, there’s not a lot of play room with where the levers go, and there’s not a lot of runway from the first bend to the lever hoods. I’m going to try it out, but I may end-up with a mid-season switch back to regular drops. So, not a lot of progress today, in fact, some REgress. In any case, here’s a couple of pics of the fork and the bar setup. And, yes, as seen in the bottom pic, the steerer tube on the fork is hung like a donkey.

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Some more parts arrived today. Wheels, brakes, and some sundrys.

I installed the cassette on the rear wheel, and installed the rear brake rotor and caliper. Cables have to wait for a fork … It’s starting to look bicycle-ish.

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Oooohhhh! Shiny.

I also installed the front rotor. I got the “big” rotor for the front. 80% of the braking power in the front and all that. Well, after installing the 203mm rotor, it looks a tad bit silly. And it looks like it will have massive front stopping power – which could translate to massive endos for YT. I might swap that out for the 180 down the road. In the meantime, it adds very little weight, and it does kind of go with the “do anything” bike that I have in mind. Hopefully it will look more to scale after the 37mm tires go on it.

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I should mention that the frame is beautiful, and that I spent 20 minutes Monday night just looking at welds. But I’ll do that in another post. The fork should be here tomorrow, and then we can look at all sorts of things coming together then.

The frame arrived today. I gleefully unpacked it and took some pictures. Not much to do until the other parts arrive later this week, but you can see that I installed the BB, cranks, and derailer. And, yes, a brushed titanium finish is simply stunning.

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Well, here it is, a new year. Here’s hoping it rocks for you all!

As a winter project, I tend to completely strip down my bike and clean/tune it for the upcoming season. This year, I’m taking the realization that the frame is too small, and I’m building up a new bike around a Habanero Cross/Tour frame. My frame is arriving next week, and has some custom modifications – I’m going all disc brakes (no canti studs), and have spec’d it with a 135mm rear triangle, so I can use “mtn bike” hubs (which are way easier to source for disc options). I was inspired by the Salsa Vaya – a great approach to a do-all bike. But, of course, I want to do things just my way. So, a Habanero frame, 1×9 drivetrain with 12-32 cassette, discs front and rear (probably Avid BB7s), and a step up in the sizing (57cm). I’m hoping this bike really is my do-all – touring, commuting, whatever. It should be a great compliment to the Madsen when I’m the only one going.

I’ll update more as parts arrive and things come together.

As I’ve commented before, I tried experimenting with a Linux/Windows laptop, and it wasn’t terribly successful. I realized that I don’t need a lot of power and was really looking at the netbook segment. I was also trying to see if I could make an iPad really work for my main device (assuming that I’m not replacing the iMac desktop). There are legions of comparisons of iPads to various other devices so I won’t rehash that. Suffice to say, that I felt like I needed a keyboard and a slightly richer editing environment. So, I still needed a laptop, but I really like the portability of the iPad. You see where this is going, right? Enter the 11″ MacBook Air. I was totally put off of the previous generation due to the cost, but the 11″ is reasonably priced, incredibly portable, a full-on computer, and, did I mention, it’s fast. I’m not encoding video. I’m writing. I’m doing occasional development work (with TextMate – not eclipse). And I’m surfing. The 1.6ghz/4gb RAM machine is perfect for all that. I assume the SSD has a lot to do with it’s apparent performance, but I don’t care about the specs anymore. I care about the experience, and the MBA provides an awesome experience. I know there are some long-term issues with SSDs failing, and clogging with old files, but I’m diligent with back-ups and I’m pretty comfortable with the “what might happen” risks that its just not a bother to me. So, here it is – my new toy. Yes, that’s a regular pen on top of it for scale.

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I made an apple pie. I peeled apples, sugared them, and made a rustic crust. I used Alice Waters’ recipe, which is brilliantly simple – flour, butter, water. But here’s the key – it has to be cold butter, cut up and cut into the flour. Cold butter yields a supa-dope flaky crust that you can’t buy in a store. Anyway, here’s my crust, of which I was legitimately proud.

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Take THAT Marie Calendar!

We had a really nice fall, and I was able to ride all the way to November 19th. When we came back from the Thanksgiving holiday, it was in the teens, and snowy. Two weeks ago, it just dumped snow – 20″ in a day and a half. It started on a Friday evening, and went all thru Saturday. I spent Sunday digging and snow-blowing out. Here’s our photographic record. It snowed again 5″ two days ago. We’re closing in on the record for the most snow in December. I’m starting to consider moving back to Denver …

The snow.

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Yes, that’s the snow piled up on the front door.

I donned snowshoes to go to the store.

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The kids made a short foray, but were quickly driven back inside.

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I bike to work much of the year. This year, my season ran from March 15th to November 19th. When I moved to Mpls, I sold my car and we went to a single car house. That was pretty cool. But, there’s still a number of trips that we do with a car that are foolishly close. For example, the store is less than a mile away. The kids’ school is only 4 blocks away. These are common transportation events in our house. So, I’ve been pondering a cargo bike for a long time. I’ve looked at xtra-cycles, bakfiets, and Madsens, and the latter caught my eye. Unlike an Xtracycle or Big Dummy, there’s a rigid containment for kids. Unlike a Bakfiets, it’s not equal to 2 or 3 months mortgage …

So, pondering, pondering, pondering. And then, suddenly, there’s a “Black Friday” sale! Generally speaking, I disdain Black Friday, and try really hard not to spend a red cent in the consumerist frenzy. But this was too much to pass up. A $1500 2011 model Madsen for $1000. An excellent deal on an incredibly useful bike! So, I got my order in, impulsively, at 11pm on Friday. It arrived last week. It was packed in a giant carton and the shipping weight was ~90 lbs. I was a little anxious that I bought a monster heavy bike. I had to cut some hand holes in it to haul it across the snow to the back yard and the garage. As I was trying to get it into the garage, I realized that the shipping carton won’t fit thru the side door of the garage. This is a big carton – 8′ long, 5′ tall, and 2′-3′ wide. I opened an end and had to pull the bike out to get it inside. It was really nicely packed and with a little snip-snip of wire cutters, it was free of its cable tie moorings and sitting free. Here’s a couple of pics of the unpacked bike.

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I will post some more in the Spring. You know, where there’s not 3 feet of snow on the ground.

A while back, I was experimenting with Ubuntu (10.04) in a VM (Parallels on the Mac), and thought it was pretty darn good. So, I decided to try an experiment and see if I could use Linux exclusively (instead of my Mac). So, I bought a Lenovo ThinkPad x201 – a well documented and linux-friendly machine. I tried the dual-boot Win7/Ubuntu setup. I worked on it nearly every day from Labor Day to last week, so I feel like I really did give a fair shake.

The Win7 side was OK, but felt like warmed-over XP. Nothing really floated my boat there. I used AVG for anti-virus, and it was constantly out of alignment with whatever the SecureConnect requirements were (Mac version worked flawlessly every time). Also, there were security patches that took reboots at least weekly, sometimes more frequently. It worked, but settings were hard to find, and it ran slow even with 4gb of ram.

The Ubuntu side was promising (and fast), and I nearly removed the Windows partition. Boy I’m glad I didn’t. Three times over the trial, I accepted the normal Ubuntu system updates only to have the update break my wireless. I had to go back to Windows to find a fix. With a mobility-oriented laptop, breaking wireless was just stupid. Besides, I was sure to spec the machine with the Intel wifi chip, not the Broadcom, so drivers should have been there all along. Also, the webcam never worked, despite much googling and attempts at fixing.

Ultimately, I didn’t want to use Windows, but needed to often enough because Ubuntu had broken itself, that I sold the machine. So, I’ve learned a valuable lesson – once you’ve driven a Mercedes, you can’t go back to a Yugo – you will always be disappointed. I really, really wanted to use Linux all the way, but it still requires a depth of geek-itude and fiddley-ness that I’d rather focus in other areas.

Looking at a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air. Something that works AND is nice to look at.