Thursday, March 26

William O. Douglas

"Inanimate objects are sometimes parties in litigation. A ship has a legal personality, a fiction found useful for maritime purposes. The corporation sole - a creature of ecclesiastical law - is an acceptable adversary and large fortunes ride on its cases.... So it should be as respects valleys, alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of trees, swampland, or even air that feels the destructive pressures of modern technology and modern life. The river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it sustains or nourishes - fish, aquatic insects, water ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including man, who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it."

William O. Douglas, Wikipedia from Sierra Club v. Morton (1972)

Wednesday, March 4

Stoudt's Abominable Ale

I found the perfect ale for winter touring to go with the perfect pannier rack I blogged about yesterday.

Practically speaking, this is brewed in Pennsylvania. Not sure how hard or easy it is to get a hold of (shipping? distributors?) but I definitely am going to try.

Discovered via Flickr.

Update: Hot damn, I just checked out Stoudt's distribution. They have one distributor in Kalamazoo Michigan (Imperial Beverage), one (Winds Café) just north of Xenia Ohio (the central hub of the Ohio bike touring metaverse), one just west of Columbus Ohio (Premium Beverage Supply), and best of all one of my favorite taverns of all the Winking Lizard located in Peninsula Ohio in the heart of the Cuyahoga National Forest just along the superb Cuyahoga path.

This is a winter bear though, so I think I'm going to have to get a move on and do some winter touring before it gets to nice outside. Truth be told I was already planing something, this is just a most excellent excuse. :)

Bacon Vodka

In other important news, Bacon Vodka.

Bakon Vodka is a superior quality potato vodka with a savory bacon flavor. It’s clean, crisp, and delicious. This is the only vodka you’ll ever want to use to make a Bloody Mary, and it's a complementary element of both sweet and savory drinks.

Bakon Vodka is also a great Bar-B-Q companion. Use it in a marinade or sip it chilled with a steak...

The Meat and Potatoes… Premium quality, no joke.

We start with superior quality Idaho potatoes instead of the random mixed grains that make up most vodkas. Our vodka is column-distilled using a single heating process that doesn’t “bruise” the alcohol like the multiple heating cycles needed to make a typical pot-still vodka.

No tinge or burn on the tongue, no obnoxious smoky or chemical flavors, just a clean refreshing potato vodka with delicious savory bacon flavor.

Bakon Vodka!

Why TV Lost

Rarely do you see things put so susinctly. Sometimes I could just kiss Paul Graham, but that would be kind of weird and creepy. :)

He captures the inevitability of the TV vs. Internet war, the sheer obviousness and the magic and slaps it all down in a few hundred words like it was meant to be.

From: Why TV Lost
About twenty years ago people noticed computers and TV were on a collision course and started to speculate about what they'd produce when they converged. We now know the answer: computers. It's clear now that even by using the word "convergence" we were giving TV too much credit. This won't be convergence so much as replacement. People may still watch things they call "TV shows," but they'll watch them mostly on computers.

What decided the contest for computers? Four forces, three of which one could have predicted, and one that would have been harder to.

One predictable cause of victory is that the Internet is an open platform. Anyone can build whatever they want on it, and the market picks the winners. So innovation happens at hacker speeds instead of big company speeds.

The second is Moore's Law, which has worked its usual magic on Internet bandwidth. [1]

The third reason computers won is piracy. Users prefer it not just because it's free, but because it's more convenient. Bittorrent and YouTube have already trained a new generation of viewers that the place to watch shows is on a computer screen. [2]

The somewhat more surprising force was one specific type of innovation: social applications. The average teenage kid has a pretty much infinite capacity for talking to their friends. But they can't physically be with them all the time. When I was in high school the solution was the telephone. Now it's social networks, multiplayer games, and various messaging applications. The way you reach them all is through a computer. [3] Which means every teenage kid (a) wants a computer with an Internet connection, (b) has an incentive to figure out how to use it, and (c) spends countless hours in front of it.

This was the most powerful force of all. This was what made everyone want computers. Nerds got computers because they liked them. Then gamers got them to play games on. But it was connecting to other people that got everyone else: that's what made even grandmas and 14 year old girls want computers.

After decades of running an IV drip right into their audience, people in the entertainment business had understandably come to think of them as rather passive. They thought they'd be able to dictate the way shows reached audiences. But they underestimated the force of their desire to connect with one another.

Facebook killed TV. That is wildly oversimplified, of course, but probably as close to the truth as you can get in three words.

Snowzilla squad suffers setback at City Hall

Did you know snowmen were picketing at Anchorage city hall in December in an apparent attempt to win political favor for Snowzilla, one mans giant homage to the snow god?

Select quotes:
"A small, misshapen snowman protester appeared in front of City Hall earlier this week. Reinforcements arrived Thursday."

"A group of snowman protesters — apparently rallying in support of the towering Anchorage outlaw — appeared on Christmas Day in front of City Hall. They carried signs that read 'Snowzilla needs a bailout' and 'Snowmen have rights too.'"

"Today the remains of the protesters lay in frozen pieces. Their signs sat in a nearby Dumpster."

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. Not to trivialize the very serious plight of Snowzilla but it's just hilarious.

Full article: Snowzilla squad suffers setback at City Hall |

Stories like this make me want to move to Anchorage post-haste.

Monday, March 2

Vicious Cycles 80mm rims

I forgot to take a picture of them, probably because they were the first thing I saw when I walked in the door at NAHBS, but I talked to the Vicious Cycles rep at the show and saw them with my own eyes.

Vicious cycles will be producing an 80mm production rim as as an alternative to the Surly Large Marge 65mm. While technically you can use up to a 100mm with the Surly Pugsley / Endomorph tire combination, the 80 is perhaps the perfect size as it can slide easily in and out of the dropouts without removing the disc brake calipers.

The 80mm rim will be available with regular and offset spoke holes through Vicious and QBP though there have been some delays in the initial shipments. They also weigh 1100 or so grams which I assume is only about 50-100 grams more then the Surly Large Marge Rim, and this is undrilled. Many people are drilling out large portions of the fat bike rims to drop weight and the vicious rim should be perfect for this.

BTW, I'm not sure I remember correctly but I believe these rims will be called the "big betty" or "big bertha".

No information is yet to be found on the Vicious site that I can see so you'll have to call them for details. Be sure to suggest they update their site.

photo via pedals on Flickr

Signal Cycles wine rack

Another favorite product from NAHBS.

Signal Cycles wine rack.

Signal Cycles wine pannier

Not much need be said here. Brilliant, elegant and practical too. I'm sure it holds water bottles or even nalgene bottles as well as it holds wine bottles, though if I was to use it I'd certainly have a bottle of wine on it as well.

Touring with style. :)

My one comment as to the practicality of this is it could stand to have the ability to mount a pannier bag on the right and the top of the rack while big enough for a bag lacks any mount point or verticle support. But heh, why split hairs. It's absolutely beautiful.

A word about Signal Cycles. They're located in Portland Oregon, only build racks for their own bikes which are clean, modern, elegant and beautiful with amazing attention to detail. Also they love Simon and Garfunkel. And so do I. :)

Signal Cycles touring bike

Random bits from the NAHBS

I have LOTS I wanted to post about from the North American Handbuilt Bike Show, so what I'm going to do is post a bunch of random posts focusing on individual builders and products.

First mention goes to, Velo Orange's VO Retro Cage, for most best new old school accessory.

This was not only my favorite, but a favorite of my friends as well. We saw these throughout the show and I personally fell in love with them.

I'm a HUGE sucker for old school designs that still hold their own against the latest materials and designs and this design has been around since the 1940's! It's ability to SECURELY hold a water bottle or even an oversize thermos is obvious. It's lightweight, versatile, flexible and yet durable.

To quote from VO's website.
These cages are based on an old French design from the '40s or early '50. In our estimation they are the best looking bottle cage of all time.

The Retro is a regular one-handed cage; you put in the bottle just like on any other cage; but it holds the bottle very securely due to the spring-like shape. The little tabs allow you to spread the cage for an oversize bottle. You can also squeeze the cage inward for better fit with a metal water bottle.

You may find a better race cage, but $18.50 is a darn good price for the best touring cage ever. :)

This is such a superb design it occurs to me it would work well made out of titanium. Would love to see that. Then again, it is a touring cage and traditionally steel has been the prefered metal for touring.

A word about the company. Velo Orange is definitely on the cutting edge of touring gear employing quite a few innovative production and development practices, hopefully I'll get to blog about the company more but there's so much yet to post.

Iditarod Trail Invitational

MTBcast will be covering the Iditarod Trail Invitational (aka. Iditabike) this year.

The first episode is already out. You can subscribe to it at that url.

Alaska Ultrasport will be posting the latest news twice daily and the latest standings.

Pictures from the start (and ongoing pictures) are being post to Flickr

Some background information from Alaska Ultrasport latest news page:
...47 racers from 6 different countries, including the United States, Italy, Austria, Australia, Spain and England will leave the starting line at Knik. 28 bikers, 3 skiers and 17 runners.15 competitors are from Alaska. 38 racers hope to get to the finish line in McGrath at the 350 mile point and 9 racers will continue another 750 miles on to Nome. We have a great competitive field with many veterans returning and about half the field this year are rookies.

The McGrath (350 mile field):

For the bike record holder Peter Basinger this is his 9th race on the Iditarod Trail and he will for the first time be sking instead of biking this year. The year he set the record he followed the 30 mile longer route through Ptarmigan Pass instead of Rainy Pass.

We have a highly qualified and very competitive women's field this year. There are six women this year, 5 are on bikes and only one runner Anne Ver Hoef from Anchorage.

The Nome(1100 mile)field:

This is only the 4th time that the human powered race is following the southern route (2001,2005,2007,2009).

Tim Hewitt is back for another try to Nome. He became the first person last year to finish on foot to Nome three different years. This year is an odd numbered year, so the race follows the southern route, Tim did the southern route before with his friend and trail compantion Tom Jarding in 2001, and he is back this year as well.

I like many have been following the fabulous Jill Homer from Juneau as she trained for the Iditarod. She's a superb writer and photographer. Her blog is truely a joy. I've been trying to find the time to read my copy of her book Ghost Trails and wish her the best of luck in the Iditarod.