Tuesday, April 29, 2014


For the first time this calendar year, I have a picture of a passenger in the sidecar. There were a couple of other times in the last couple of days but there were no pictures so I'm not sure it really happened. Bridget's car was in the shop for routine maintenance and to get the summer tires put back on. This is over two weeks earlier than last year when the government had to change the last day for studded tires due to icy highways. This would've been a better year weather wise for Dom to visit.

Notice that I've put the sidecar windshield back on for the occasion. I could really feel the rig pulling to the right when accelerating. Much more so than "normal". This morning, the temperature was a chilly 32°F but, fortunately, it wasn't that long of a ride in to her school. Of course, instead of the side door, it was necessary to drop her off at the front door of the school.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Morning

Another beautiful day in paradise. Or at least that's what I need to keep telling myself. Another clear, sunny morning with temperatures right around 32°F with visibility seemingly unlimited. I don't think I'll ever get tired of this view. Sunrise was at 5:25am and we are already up to almost 17 hours of sunlight. No leaves out yet but the sidecar saw its first passenger of the year.

The mood on campus is rather somber this morning as there was a suicide in the woods behind student housing on Saturday evening. The only news is that he was a current student in Biology & Wildlife but this is the last week of instruction this quarter with finals starting in a week. Just speculating but is success in school that important?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Easy Tire Installation

Does it seem like I'm always working on the rig to keep it on the road? Sometimes it does. Today marks the official end of Winter as I removed the studded Heidenau K60 tires on both the pusher and the front. Changing tires especially putting on tires has been a real challenge for me. While I was visiting Dom in Denver, he mentioned an introductory sale price on the Baja Tools No Pinch tire tool so I jumped on line and ordered one immediately. I had seen a video of a similar product made somewhere in Europe and this one was half the price and no international shipping!

I did end up going back to the site and ordering the 17mm axle shaft since that was the size I needed for my bike instead of the included 20mm shaft. After getting the tire bead started, you simply place the end of the geared shaft against the bead and pull on the geared handle to push the bead onto the wheel. The tool is anchored with a shaft the same size as the axle going into the wheel. Getting the bead seated, even with the stiff sidewall of the K60 was a snap. As in about a minute with very little physical effort. It took me longer to do just about every other task than installing the tire. What a difference! An incredible tool for anyone who changes their own tires. Absolutely no risk of pinching the tube with the tire irons.

Since I had both wheels off, I thought that it may be a good idea to grease the wheel bearings. George Rahn, the BMW guru of Fairbanks, said that the non-sealed tapered roller bearings on my bike will probably last forever as long as they are regularly greased. He had this nifty tool that you simply insert into the wheel and pump grease into the zerk fitting on the end. Grease comes out of a hole in the middle of the shaft and is forced into the bearings at each end. He said to just keep pumping in grease until it starts to come out at either end. It works pretty slick and I may need to pick one up. He suggested greasing the bearings every time the tires are changed.

I reused my old Heidenau K60 that I took off last Fall on the front as there is still plenty of tread left even though it has something like 12K miles. For the rear, I'm trying out a sidecar specific tire. The Heidenau K28 has a square profile for more rubber on the road and a stiff sidewall to handle the lateral loads and is available in the correct inch size for my bike, 4.00x18. It went on very easily with the new tool and it took much longer to loosen the bead on the old tire than putting the new one on. Both wheels took less than an oz of weight to balance.

Of course, I had to try out the new tires and was amazed how much quieter the ride was. The studs do make quite a bit of noise. One more task done and the studded tires still have plenty of life left and will be re-installed next October. My winter commuting only totaled a couple of thousand miles.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Boring Commute

My first GoPro video with the camera mounted on the front of the sidecar rig. I think the front of the sidecar bounces up and down too much and there was a fair amount of wind noise on the highway. This may take a while until I find a mounting point and perspective that works. But here is my first video of my morning commute. As you can see, there is still some snow hanging around and the dirt road on campus is getting a little rough.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mid-Week Update

This is just about all the snow left in our yard. Not much to speak of. The mornings are still ~28°F but it has been warming up well into the 50s (°F) by the end of the afternoon. So it'll go pretty fast. Pretty nice riding weather. But still see very few other bikes on the road in the morning. This morning, I'm on lower campus for a meeting and there is an older Honda Shadow in the motorcycle parking area. There has also been a V-Star in the parking lot next to my building but they're choosing to park far from the building instead of prematurely "claiming" the motorcycle parking spaces. Not sure why.

Yesterday was my birthday and Bridget gave me one of the new GoPro Hero3+ "Black Edition" video cameras. She has seen me watching video from various road trips blog posts (Bob, Dom, Chris, Gary, etc.) and said that I needed to yield to peer pressure and post videos. Lots of video modes including 4K as well as wireless control from either the included wireless controller or the free iPhone app. It requires a microSD card with a class 10 speed rating, something I didn't have lying around so no video at the moment. I did pair my iPhone with the camera and it even gives you a live view from the camera in addition to being able to change settings. I think that would really help when mouting it on the rig and trying to aim the camera. And you can start and stop recording from the wireless remote control with the remote LCD mirroring the one on the front of the camera or from the phone app. I hear that the down side of the Wi-Fi is the hit on battery life.

Now I just need to go somewhere interesting…


Monday, April 21, 2014

Slow Weekend

Very little riding this weekend though not due to poor weather. It took most of Saturday to recuperate from the flight home. Including a 35 minute connection in Seattle with gates at opposite ends of the airport and a 2:00am arrival in Fairbanks. I made the connection though my luggage didn't. It did arrive on Saturday by noon. Most of the snow and ice are gone except for where it was piled up by the plows or in heavily shaded areas.

The aftermarket starter went in easy enough though I did have to remove a lot of stuff to get to the starter, in fact, just as much as the alternator installation. (gas tank, battery, battery tray, air cleaner housing, top engine cover, one coil, lower front fairing, front engine cover, etc.) But it went quickly and the actual motor part of the starter is about ⅔ the volume of the original part. In fact, it went so quickly that it didn't even occur to me to take pictures. But, the new starter cranks the engine much faster than the old Bosch unit. And does it with the motorcycle battery. So the group 24 automotive battery came out of the sidecar though I am leaving the cables installed for next winter. So I now have a passenger seat again.

There were quite a few bikes out and about yesterday afternoon but none this morning on my morning commute and I still seem to have the motorcycle parking spaces to myself. Though, technically, they aren't motorcycle spaces until May 1st.

Yesterday evening, I finally got around to removing the screw-style tire studs and, as I had feared, I almost waited too long. The screw heads on about ¼ of the studs were so worn down that they needed to be removed with vice grip pliers on what remained of the head. I'll swap out the studded tires maybe in a week or so.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Heading Home

The shuttle to the airport from Bloomington to Indianapolis was so full that they were turning people away. And no, that isn't a photo of the shuttle. I think that I was the only non-student in the entire mini-bus. (And, I believe, the only one who tipped the driver for the 1½ hour trip) It took me a while to make the connection that some students were going home to celebrate Easter with their families. The PTC ended yesterday afternoon and I went to a Thai place with some other attendees from the conference.

It was great to hear about all of the power and communication advances that were being made to support science in Antarctica but almost disturbing to hear about how much was being spent on infrastructure and logistics compared to science. The photo was taken by the NSF liason officer, Lt. Doll, and it shows just one example of why Antarctic and Greenland research is so expensive. A lot of effort is being made with improved communication and power systems but having facilities to allow people is just expensive. A British engineer was talking about some new facilities and commented that the existing facility was ~25 m under the snow. This is just from accumulation. The psychological toll on individuals staying there was, as he put it, "very significant". The new lab is designed to jack itself up back to the top of the snow so that the inhabitants could see out of the windows even if all they could see is snow.

BTW, the Thai food was also very average and somewhat bland even though I asked for hot "4" on a scale of one to five. Maybe no one likes "spicy" in Bloomington.

One last photo of the IU campus. This is an HDR photo and all the way on the right, you can just see a tree starting to "green". On the way to the airport, you could just see a hint of leaves on some of the trees.
Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bloomington, IN, Cont.

Here are a few more photos taken this evening as I was walking towards a get together associated with the PTC. This is the exit from campus towards Kirkwood Ave. one of the restaurant lined streets near the campus. The get together was at the Irish Lion, a recreation of an Irish pub. On the way back, I stopped at the Bombay Cafe, a very informal Indian place a couple of blocks from campus.

This is the courthouse and is a good example of the masonry found on just about every public building in town. This building looks pretty nice compared to the well weathered buildings on the IU campus. N.B. no leaves on the trees yet but there are flowers planted in some of the planters both here and at the campus.

Another public building, the local Carnegie library extending out of the back of the more modern public library. Again, note the use of limestone to cover the building.

Today, there was more discussion on power systems in use by projects including an excellent presentation on LiFePO4 with an emphasis on discharge performance at extremely low temperatures. The batteries are extremely light for their capacity and that attracts some motorcyclists to them. But they can be easily destroyed by improper charging. In fact, Enduralast, the maker of my new alternator, does not recommend them due to the difficulty charging them. I guess each cell needs to be independently monitored by the charge controller to prevent overcharging. They are being used successfully but with sophisticated charge controllers for their solar and wind power systems.

I also talked to several folks with experience using the same radios that I am planning to deploy in Barrow this summer. They have been using them very successfully in Antarctica where the climate is much harsher than Alaska.

On a completely unrelated note, I brought a couple of the Arduino boards with me to play with while in the hotel. This is the Uno R3 with built in PoE Ethernet and SD card slot for data storage. The little daughter board on top in the picture is the USB interface that is only used when downloading programing onto the board. I now have a web server running on this tiny computer and will be using that to post environmental data on a regular basis to another server. I'm thinking that I may want a RTC (real time clock) so I can timestamp my data.

Thursday morning - This pipe organ is in the back of our meeting room and, as I was told, it has only been here a couple of years. What that didn't tell me is whether it is new or restored. But it looks like it's been here for a long time.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bloomington, IN

This week I am at Indiana University (IU) Bloomington for the 10th Annual Polar Technology Conferece (PTC). It is being led by SRI (Stanford Research Institute) and the intent is to share technology successes and failures among the research community funded by NSF (National Science Foundation). The Barrow project is being funded by NSF through CPS (CH2MHill Polar Services). So now that we have covered all of the TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms), I can continue on with this post. The sessions started early this morning so no additional photos. It was raining yesterday evening and it turned to snow later in the evening.

I had been to Indianapolis before but never to Bloomington. All I've ever heard about Bloomington before was in the 1979 movie, Breaking Away. Back then I was really into cycling and that is what the movie was about. The first photo was taken from my hotel room this morning. It was still below freezing and there was still a bit of snow sitting around from yesterdays storm. The Bloomington campus of IU is the "flagship campus" of the system and the largest enrollment at 40,000+ students. The buildings match the founding date of 1820 as everything is some shade of brown.

The next couple of pictures were taken during a tour of their cyberinfrastructure operation. The first is a video wall showing a movie of Indiana University's activities in Antarctica. To the left is one of their new supercomputers. This was in the half of the data center that supported organized research. Most of the buildings are covered with limestone with elaborate carvings but the data center was granted an exception due to the cost.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Skyline Drive

This video was taken from the sidecar on Skyline Drive, just west of Cañon City, CO. Ever since I first heard about it on Dom's blog redlegsrides.blogspot.com, I had wanted to see the actual road. We went there last Saturday on his Ural sidecar rig, Scarlett. He had generously offered his immaculate '87 R80 airhead for me to use but since I hadn't really ridden on two wheels since October 2012, I passed on his offer. After all, this may not be the best place to learn how to ride on two wheels again.

I wasn't able to capture the entire road as I quickly ran out of memory on my phone. The original was captured at 1080p/60fps and I have never looked for a way to change the default resolution. The transitions were added as we stopped several times along the way for pictures.

I really want to thank Dom and enabling spouse, Martha (the smiling one), for their wonderful hospitality. They opened their home, banished one of their children to the couch, and gave me the run of the kitchen. Plus, all of the transportation around Denver and beyond. Plus, a loaf of wonderful chocolate chip-banana bread to tide me over at the conference.

This is the highway on the way to Denver International Airport at ~6:30 Monday morning. A nice sunrise developing on the horizon and a surprising (to me) amount of snow. The highway itself was clear but most of the surface streets were still full of clumpy, slippery snow.

By the time my flight left, it was blue skies and they persisted most of the day until I caught up with the storm at my destination. It has been raining here most of the day, I'm told, but it should be clearing up by tomorrow. It rained during the hour+ shuttle ride to the hotel and on my walk to grab a bite to eat. I found a middle eastern place only a half mile or so from the hotel and the food was very tasty.

This was taken at the airport and should give a hint to where I'm at for the rest of this week. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Colorado by Ural

Yesterday afternoon, Dom aka Charlie6 of redlegsrides picked me up after the Internet2 Global Summit conference ended. We took off early this morning on his 2014 Ural, Scarlett, and headed south towards Cañon City and Skyline Drive. I had always enjoyed the videos that he has posted of this road and was anxious to see it in person. I believe that the The mountain in the picture is Pike's Peak but not 100% positive.

This arch is at the entrance to Skyline Drive and as you will notice from the sign, it is a one way, very narrow road. The next several pictures are from the road including one of Dom and his new ride. I took video with my iPhone but haven't figured out how to upload the edited video from the iPad to YouTube. So I will post it later.

After Skyline Drive, we headed to Royal Gorge. There was a large fire about a year ago which burned 48 out of 52 structures. After repairs to the bridge they just started to allow visitors but only on buses due to all of the construction. The bus stopped in the middle of the bridge to allow folks to get out and take pictures.

While we were at the overlook on the far side of the gorge, another bus stopped mid-span on the bridge. Pretty impressive structure that was completed in only 7 months in 1929.

There was a steam locomotive parked which, I believe, used to be one of the displays.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Internet2 GlobalSummit Ends

This is a sculpture outside of the Sheraton Hotel along the 16th St pedestrian mall. There seems to be numerous sculptures everywhere I ventured in the downtown area. I kept trying to remember if I've ever been in downtown Denver before and I only remeber using the airport and moving on to Boulder, Aspen or Snowmass. Locations that I do remember visiting in the past to attend meetings or conferences.

Yesterday evening, a half dozen of us went to ChoLun, which advertises itself as "A Modern Asian Bistro". The menu offerings were so unusual that we just ordered all of the apetizers and small dishes on the menu. Such things and corned beef & sauerkraut spring rolls and soup dumplings. Wonderful place, great food and interesting company. All network engineers from South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Colorado some of whom I have known and worked with for years.

This is just a shot of one of the meetings. Again, primarily network engineering types with a few program managers and executives thrown in. The group was tasked with coming up with policies, measurement techniques and definitions that we could all live with. Herding cats came to mind. The Internet2 engineering community has been a fabulous group to work with over the last 15 years.

BTW, it seems that winter has returned to Fairbanks much to the chagrin of those back home. This was taken yesterday morning.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

More Downtown Denver

An HDR photo taken in the morning during my walk from my hotel to the conference hotel which is just across the street from the light colored building on the left. In the center is the Trinity Methodist church with the sun shining on the steeple. It seems odd for it to be completely surrounded by all of the large buildings right in the downtown area. What has been surprising is that it isn't the only church in the downtown area.

This is the urban "river" that I referred to in yesterdays post. It looked like there was some sort of construction project and to me it looked like the beginnings of some sort of park. This was about halfway between downtown Denver and EME. The river was a pleasant surprise and it had a nice cooling effect. Especially after walking along the frontage road for a highway. This was along the bus route and my plan was to simply hop on the bus whenever it came by but that never happened. The busses must be pretty widely spaced.

This afternoon, I met Dom for lunch and we took the free shuttle bus that ran along 16th St. for lunch at JJ's Bistro and Sushi which bills itself and the "Best Chinese Food" in Denver. It was decent enough though not quite like places in San Francisco. This was taken later in the afternoon after walking to REI just past the South Platte River (see below and above). I liked the way this pedestrian suspension bridge looked. If you look closely, you could see the moon near the top of the photo.

The photo is kind of dark but you can get an idea of how small the river is at this time. There was all sorts of activity going on in this area in addition to all of the bicyclists such as kayaks and paddle boards. Only 7 miles of walking today. Nothing like yesterday.

One last photo, this is a large television with a touch screen overlaid. The are using it to display the status of network links and how heavily they are being used. You can overlay weather and other things on top of the map as well as zoom. To "spin" the globe you just use your finger and swipe just as it it was a physical globe. They've had this display at multiple events and no matter how many times I see it, I still enjoy playing with it. This was developed at the GlobalNOC at Indiana University.