Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for January, 2007

Photos of my new bike

Monday, January 29th, 2007

It’s been a hell of a day, but I don’t feel like writing about it. Instead, here are some pictures of my new bike. I hope it warms up and I get a chance to ride this thing again soon, it has such a smooth, fun ride.
New bike
My new bike, a 2006 Giant OCR2 (in quarter-life crisis red).

Brake/shifter
Shimano Tiagra brake lever/shifter.

Welds
Some of the welds, like the one on the top tube, have been cleaned up and look pretty smooth. That’s pretty impressive for a bike in this price range.

Head tube
Head tube and front brake.

Snowy trail ride, and getting a road bike

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

I got a road bike yesterday, but I’ll talk about that in a minute. I want to cover today’s snowy ride first.

Dan, Collin, Dave and I had planned to ride at Brown County this morning. We knew today would be a good day to ride, because the forecast said it’d be in the lower 20s — we could ride without worrying about the trails thawing. However, when I woke up and checked the weather this morning, it was 12 degrees outside, with a windchill of -2. I called Dave to make sure we were still riding. I wanted to, but I wanted to make sure others were still going before I got all ready to go. He said he’d call the other guys and call me back. He called back a few minutes later to say that everyone was in! I started to get ready, putting on a zillion layers.

I got there a few minutes before everyone else, got my bike ready, and tried to keep warm. When the other guys got there, everyone got their stuff together pretty quickly, and we hit the trails.

This was the first time I’ve ridden in snow. There wasn’t a lot of it, a couple of inches at the most, but it was enough to change the ride considerably. The snow adds some resistance, although other people had ridden the trails before we did and packed it down somewhat, making things easier for us. The most difficult parts were some of the steep climbs, where our rear wheel had a tendency to lose traction and spin. Roots and rocks were particularly slick, as they seemed to have layers of ice on them. It was also more difficult to see the roots and rocks, since they were covered in snow.

All in all, the above factors meant that momentum became even more important than usual (just like it is when driving in snow). I tried a few times to give a sudden burst of power to get past something, but that resulted in a loss of traction. So, I had to keep moving as much as possible. Turns also became harder, as did braking, since any sudden change could make you start sliding. And, as most mountain bikers know, if your front wheel starts to slide, usually, you go down. So I tried to use my brakes less in general, and rely on my rear brake a little more than usual, and that seemed to work.

I really liked riding in the snow. It was cold, but I stayed surprisingly comfortable. And I enjoyed the crunch of the snow under our wheels, the scenery made even more beautiful by being blanketed in snow, and the snow that was falling and being blown by the wind. I could really see how whiteout conditions could be created, although neither the snow nor the wind was extreme enough for that to happen.

We only rode the North Tower Loop. I felt like I probably could have done more, although my left foot was absolutely freezing and the water in the tube on my Camelbak froze, so I wasn’t able to drink any water after that. Those were really the only two cold-related problems I had. Not bad for a ride in temperatures in the teens and sub-zero windchills.

Since my legs were cold last time, I got another layer to wear some “Pepperskins” — basically long underwear, only made of wicking material instead of cotton. These really helped keep my legs warm. So I had four layers on my lower half: biking shorts, Pepperskins, tights, jogging pants. On top, I had my long-sleeved biking jersey, fleece, and jogging jacket. I wore my balaclava on my head. I also wore some snowboarding gloves, which worked great, and a pair of Merino wool socks. I do need to find a way to keep my feet warmer.

After our ride, Dan took a photo of the group with his new Pentax K100D digital SLR camera. Hopefully, he’ll send that to me soon and I can post it. He’s just getting into photography; I should talk to him about that sometime, it’s a cool common interest that I didn’t know about until today.

Yesterday, Sarah and I went to the local bike shops, and I tried some road bikes. To make a long story short, I settled on a 2006 Giant OCR2 (that link is actually for the 2007 model, I couldn’t find a page on their site about the 2006 model). Since it was last year’s model, I got a great price on it, $620. That’s about $100 cheaper than some of the other bikes I looked at, and the OCR2 has better components all around than those had. It was a fantastic deal, but more importantly, the OCR2 just felt right. That, to me, is the most important factor when buying a bike. I did a short road ride yesterday once we got home, but I’m looking forward to doing some proper rides. I’ll take a photo of it soon.

I will have to take the bike into the shop in the near future. I asked them to change the stem, as the one on it wobbled a bit, but they had to order the part. I think I’ll have them install a bike computer at the same time.

Why I should be a Luddite

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

I tried to work on some music last night for my band, Spiral Galaxy Collision. For those not in the know, this is a joint project with Van (furiousBall) and Kingo (also of Halaka). We have been inactive for some time, but I think we’re ready to start making music again.

One of the Cubase projects opened fine, and everything seemed to be in order, but the other one — a song that we started a few years ago — was plagued with problems. I had to dig out copies of old programs (soft synths/samplers) to get it to open. I really wish that if you open a project with, say, an Absynth 2 patch, it would just open using Absynth 3 instead, with the same patch data. But alas, it looks for that specific version of the program. I haven’t used Absynth 2 in a long time now, so I had to really dig to find it.

Then, once I got the missing software installed, I realized I was missing some samples. I eventually found them, but realized I had to convert them to another format (a lengthy process, especially given that there are 4 CDs of samples) before I could use them. Now, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that once I have all the samples, it’ll automatically load the right ones. If not, I may never be able to get it to sound exactly like I had it before.

Making music on a computer can be incredibly frustrating when things like this happen. I love soft synths and samplers, and I get some great sounds out of them. However, it’s at times like this when I want to throw my computer out the window, pick up an instrument, and just play it, recording into some kind of simple device when necessary. Maybe I should just buy a 4-track tape recorder. I’m only half kidding.

Seriously, though, the thought of finishing some old songs and starting some new stuff is pretty exciting.

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