Friday, March 23, 2018

Winter Field Day Results

Even though the real reward was in the doing of the event, here are the Winter Field Day 2018 results.  I came in in the top quarter of the "Home" class radio stations, way better than I'd expected.  I'd really wanted to venture into the woods as an "Outdoor" station, but a cold driving rainstorm kept me bottled up.  Still, it's amazing what you can do with eight AA batteries and a pot of coffee.

It was a fun event and I look forward to doing it again next year.  The WFD people put on a great event; hats off to them.  And here's to better weather in 2019!

It Only Rains on Weekdays? Complete Reversal.

Hm, things are looking up in the extended forecast:

Well today's a pretty day, and the weather looks reasonable for Saturday and Sunday too.  I'd better get going here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

It's Getting There

A selection from the latest round of pictures from The Shop:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Silca Pumps Continued

Reading through the Silca site, I see that they've re-introduced the classic aluminum body Impero frame pump.  I used to have the cheaper plastic-bodied one (all I could afford in grad school), and even that was a monster at pumping tires.  Today's price of $165 is getting up there, but not crazily-so.  Still, I'll be sticking with CO2 inflators for the foreseeable future, mostly because they store better inside bags and out of the off-road spray of gunk.

By the way, the Impero pump has an interesting history behind it.  The first recorded use came in 52 BC when Julius Caesar aired up his tires using a prototype and won that year's Tour de Gaul in a crushing final sprint over Vercingetorix, to not only seize the Yellow Jersey but to also consolidate the Empire.  Hence the name.

Well, that's what I heard.  Anyway, these Silca Imperos are damned fine pumps and I used one for nearly ten years, finally selling it with the bike.  Would've kept it, but it wouldn't fit on my slightly smaller frame sized fat-tubed Cannonade.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Real Bike for the Real World

Following up yesterday's upbeat post about Silca Pumps getting onboard with everyday financial realities, here's some more good cycling news: Salsa has introduced a butt-kicker of an entry-level gravel bike, aptly dubbed Journeyman.  Available with drop or flat bars and wheel/tire options spanning everything from road-only to true mountain, this bike covers 80% of all bases for 80% of bikers.  No, you will never win the local crit nor a downhill race on this thing – but really, how many of us do crits or competitive downhilling?  It will amply cover a local charity metric road century, a friendly gravel grinder, or even keep up on a recreational group ride on most mountain bike trails.  Referring back to last month's post on The Case for One Bike, the Journeyman checks a lot of boxes.

Here are some more details: article at Dirt Rag, press release at Salsa, and the catalog page at Salsa.

Now about price points... $900 and $1100 (for the two different component build-ups offered) are not cheap by any means, especially for someone just dabbing a toe into the waters.  However when you consider that this one bike does what it would've taken at least two bikes to do competently twenty years ago, it looks a bit more reasonable.  Fold in yesterday's posting about the value of quality tools and it becomes even more reasonable.

It's not just Salsa that's doing this either.  Look around down at your local bike story, there are many other brands cranking out similar does-everything-OK jewels.  The bike industry is moving in a very good direction lately.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Silca Bike Pumps – the news is good!

In the past I've bagged on the now-made-in-America incarnation of Silca bike pumps and accessories for coming back but only with $450 and $235 offerings.  However today the news is much better: Silca has re-introduced their basic Pista floor pump for a reasonable $125.  

Now you may balk at $125 for a bicycle tire pump when you can find a similar-looking item down at the big-box store for a fifth the money, but a quality tool is a quality tool and there's no such thing as a free lunch.  As of this year I've had my Pista floor pump for thirty years.  Having overhauled and replaced the leathers in it fifteen years ago, it works like new and is still better than anything else on the market.  Perhaps that's the best part – the pump is serviceable, you can get replacement parts, and it is a tool that is worth overhauling periodically.  Say, every decade or two.  How often to you see that these days?  Isn't this exactly the kind of they-don't-make'em-like-that-anymore quality everyone is longing for?  And if you want to go all political-economic on the matter, these pumps are made in America and widely recognized as the world standard in the field.  Knowing this, who would even want to buy a disposable plastic overseas-subsistence-labor-made pump in the first place?

Take a visit over at the Silca site and look around.  In addition to this working man's pump, they have some interesting accessories.  Nothing there is cheap in the dollar sense, but then nothing there is cheap in the quality sense either.

More later on this topic.

Movie Review: Atomic Blonde's 80-20 Rule

80% style and action, 20% story.  This really is a beautifully made movie and it was a blast to watch – exactly once.  It captures the style and feel and sound of certain aspects of 1989 right down to the rivets in the leather boots and the black-and-white striped table lamps.  For that, it's worth a watch.  The acting is impeccable as well.  The studio paid for a first-rate cast (Theron, Goodman, etc.) and in return got first-rate performances.

Where the movie stumbles is on the story line.  "Completely disjointed plot" is not the same as "filled with surprise twists that keep you mentally engaged."  It is enough to move things along however, if you're not a stickler for some logical progression of events, and by the end of the movie things get wrapped up in ways that somewhat make sense.  This is by no means a failure, but it could have been so much more.

Let's wrap this one up with a bottom line appraisal of 2-1/2 stars out of 4.  But to take this review a step further, call it 3 out of 4 for a first watching, and maybe 2 out of 4 for subsequent views (which will for me be a long time in the future, if ever).  It was fun to re-visit some aspects of 1989 and remember the hope, possibilities, and hot blondes of that time period, but without a coherent story to carry things it ultimately amounts to very little.