Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Holy Leaping Technology !!

The five speed cluster, the standard for many a year, is now up to eleven speeds. Why? Because it can be done. Steel, aluminum, titanium, now carbon, or a mix, for frames. I suppose I should mention bamboo. Gilligan should have patented some of his bamboo technology. He'd be rich, if only he could get off the island.

Why bring this up? Well, it's really hit me lately, how things get better in such a short period of time. Product developers seem to have it in over drive to improve everything we use. Take home electronics for example. You barely get the new flat screen TV out of the box, and it's replacement on the shelf at the store is better. 480, 720, 1080 in all it's different formats, all snuffed out the previous incarnation.

I just got a new, latest and greatest (for it's price) laptop, and I'm sure in a couple of months one will be able to get more bang for the buck for it's replacement. 320 gig hard drive, 3 gigs of ram will be 500/6 for the same money. One draw back was I had to buy a new printer. I had a barely 3 year old HP all in one photo series printer. We paid nearly $300.00 for it. It was the best consumer model at the time. But, just my luck, it wouldn't work with Windows Vista. Today, I picked up another HP with similar specs for $64.00 including tax. It runs better software, is more ink efficient, and the print quality is the same at the same speed. Three years, a fifth of the price. Wow.

So why can't our major drug companies come up with improved diabetes drugs at an advanced rate? Insulin has improved very slowly since it's introduction as a diabetes treatment for dogs. Sure, delivery systems and dosage unit understandings are much better. Pens and pumps make it much easier and more accurate to dose, but how about a breakthrough that would make all of that obsolete? I know that researchers feel the big new thing is just around the corner, but at this stage of the game, it seems like time is moving backward. If this was the bicycle, we would still be getting off the change move the chain to another sprocket by hand !!

Oh, and while I'm on the subject of improvement, will AT&T please turn on the 3G network for these parts. This dial up speed wireless I'm paying a premium price for is killin' me, for crying out loud. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Exploring My Back Yard

I set out this morning for a short, hour or so ride to do a little exploring on some of the trails into the local woodsy areas. What I found was a great trail that runs right behind the place I'm staying. The Canosia Wildlife Management area has a trail running though it from the end of the Lismore Road, off the Lavaque, to the north end of the Ugstad road. It make a nice thirteen mile loop. Moose, deer, fox, beaver, and plenty of small game and birds populate the area. It was wet to the point of having to carry the bike in spots, but the mixed surface ride was worth it. Beaver dam, moose tracks, steep climbs, mud, water - you name it. When it dries a little more, it will be a gas to ride.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Too Much Monkey Business

That black cloud hovered over this frustrated blogger the last few days. Case in point - I've been using the Wi-Fi at various coffee establishments lately, much to the detriment of my wallet. Lattes aren't cheap and neither is gas. Worse, the other day I was rummaging in my lap top case for something and forgot to zip it back up. So, when I pulled the case out of my car, the computer slid out onto the ground. Not a hard hit, no marks or anything. I fired it up and it worked fine. Until last week. It wouldn't do anything, no power light, no sound. A fruitless trip to a couple of computer shops all netted the same answer. The power supply is fried. The new one came in this morning. Pulled her in, no juice. I took a test light to the old one and it was fine. I took to case off the computer, only to find a crack and short in the mother board. She's toast.

I spent part of today looking at various new ones and settled on a HP G60-235DX running a Pentium Duo-Core at 4200. Window Vista Premium OS. Sure, a Mac would have been nice, but three times the money. I stopped at the soon to be defunct Coffee Cabin and used their Wi-Fi to download AVG anti-virus and Firefox, both of which I've had excellent luck using. The Norton anti-virus got un-installed at the same time. Some computer techs I've talked to had told me that they were having nothing but problems with the Norton 2009 version. Well, I'm now back in business with a very fast and capable machine.

I sure wish I was as fast and capable on the bike. But, I am making progress at a pretty good clip. Three inches off the waist, fourteen pounds lost, and an almost two mile per hour increase in the 28.9 mile loop I've been riding lately. The last three days, though, the wind has been brutal, so much so riding into the wind has been almost dangerous. My eyes water so bad and I can't hear traffic at all. This has been no fun and I've cut the rides short, instead working on core and leg strength. It's been a nice break for a change. Tomorrow is a planned 40 miler on the Munger Trail.

As far as the diabetes goes, my blood sugar has been great, thanks to losing some gut and lot's of miles in the saddle. Eating the best I have in years hasn't hurt either. Being in total control of what I stuff in the old pie hole is a major improvement. No fast food, no processed garbage, very little alcohol to boot. A guy could get healthy living this way. Hmmm.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Effective Exercise

As I reported in my last post, I installed the Allsport GPS training program in my Black Berry. One thing it has is a calories used log as part of the program. Many people think they can get into shape by walking. Me, it just doesn't seem to do anything. Maybe I'm just not a fast walker. That could be because I'm not really interested in walking much. Hey, I have bikes. Much more efficient than walking to me.

My point? Last week, I walked 2.111 miles in 44:00 and burned 310 calories. Yesterday, I took a semi-hilly ride around the Fish Lake area at a moderate pace on my MTB,what I call the North Loop ride. It was 12.721 mile in 1:08:47 for a 11 mph average. Calories spent? 1147. quite a difference, I'd say. And I enjoyed much more country side than a walk of similar time. Don't get me wrong, walking is great for a lot of people, just not me. Plus, the blood sugar lowering effect seems to last so much longer after riding than walking.

As you can see, the ice is still covering some of the inland lakes. I'm surprised that there was nobody ice fishing. Just kidding. But, I have seen it in the past.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Long Rider

Yesterday afternoon as I was heading up the Rice Lake road, I spotted this gentleman churning up a grade pulling a trailer. I figured he was a out of towner traveling though, but that was the case. Paul Halvorson of Duluth's Hunter's park neighborhood, was actually out on a training ride. He was packing what he would be pulling on a long trip from Washington state to Vermont.

Paul is doing the ride to benefit the Disabled American Veteran's, a privately funded foundation. He's taking a train to the west coast and pedaling east around May 10th. That's a big chunk of country to take on and we wish him well.

Paul will be riding a Gary Fisher Tiburon bike that he has fitted for his purpose. He added a front disc brake for better stopping in the mountains, SPD pedals, a trip computer, Ergon grips/bar ends, and fenders. He seems very happy with the set up and is riding alot to get ready for his epic ride.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Wanderer

In the last six months, I've lost my job, my wife and family, my home, and probably some self esteem, too. The result of all this is that I'm now kind of a wanderer. No set purpose to the day, nothing urgent to get to, no real direction. So, I pack up the lap top and head for the various free internet connections, have some coffee, see what's going on in the world. Total freedom can make a guy complacent, if you're not careful. I've done a few bike rides I had planned, but never did.

I also signed up for the Allsport GPS ride tracking system. I tracks where you went, speed, elevation, calories expended, and charts it all. For six bucks a month, I think it's a good investment. If you have a data plan and compatible phone, it's a fun tool or toy, depending on your point of view. I'll see if I can post the ride data in the near future. It will also track walks, MTB rides, trail runs, road runs, and skiing. Pretty much anything you do actively, it can handle. Yes, I'm a tech geek. I just wish I had a bigger budget.

On the diabetes front, I'm holding my own. The stress induced weight gain has stopped and is reversing itself. My daily glucose readings are up a bit, but not alarmingly so. Since I have my own stove and fridge in the basement I currently reside in, I have pretty good control of what I stuff in my pie hole. Lean and green are much easier to stick to when you don't have several people with bad eating habits around. But I do miss my cats.

Monday, April 6, 2009


It's that time of year, no quite winter, not really spring. I plan on getting out for a ride this afternoon, but the way things are going lately, one can never be sure. I've move out of my former home and away from that life. It feels like I've gone to my own little Alba for committing no crime. Confusing, befuddling, bewildering, and so on and so forth.

At my old digs, I had to ride up hill both ways when going out to ride. I've always liked to have a nice twenty minute warm up spin before any hard effort. But, being a Clydesdale, climbing is always an effort. Where I live now, I can ride several miles before I hit any sort of grade. Just like the old days. That's very motivating to me. It's also out in the country, where most of us prefer to ride. And the roads are in pretty good shape.

I ordered a plug in wireless adapter for my lap top, which will be here in a couple of days. That will make it possible to write a little more often. I've been following things on my Black Berry, but it's tough to do a whole lot on a pda.

Stijn Devolder won Flanders this weekend, his second win in that race in a row. Seems the field marked Tom Boonen again, allowing his team mates to control the race with various breaks, which worked in Quick Step's favor again this year. My fave, Fabian Cancellera, broke his chain while applying massive power to the pedals. He hasn't had a lot of good luck this early season.

The eagles are out in force this spring, feasting on deer carcass' along the roads. The snow melt has exposed plenty of bodies along the Lavaque Road up toward Fish Lake. They have been hard to get pictures of, but I think I can get close on my bike. As in the photo I posted, they get away pretty quickly if you stop your auto, but a bike can be stealthy. Eagle are just so cool to watch.