Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for August, 2009

Hand signals

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

I’ve been thinking about hand signals lately. I nearly always signal — it’s habitual. And I normally don’t give it much thought. However, I have noticed that a lot of drivers seem to be perplexed by some hand signals.

Back in the 80s, when I was learning to ride, I was taught to do all signals with my left hand. A right turn is signaled by holding the left arm out, bent upwards at the elbow. I have noticed that some cyclists will signal a right turn by holding out their right arm instead. I have resisted this, even though I believe it’s legally valid.

But lately, it has become clear to me that some drivers don’t understand what I’m doing when I signal a right turn with my left arm. Some think I’m waving at them — I’ve even had some wave back. Some think I’m making an obscene gesture and appear to be offended. Only a few seem to understand what I’m actually trying to communicate. So, I’ve decided it would be better to start signalling right turns with my right arm instead.

This has proven difficult. Old habits die hard. I really have to think about it to make myself signal right turns with my right arm. Sometimes, I forget. But hopefully, I can change my habits.

Do you use hand signals? Do you signal a right turn with your left arm or your right?

Acorn handlebar bag: first impressions and test ride

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

My wife is the best. I’ve been wanting an Acorn Handlebar Bag for quite a while now. These bags are hard to get, but she saw an opportunity to get one last week and ordered it for me. Acorn makes two handlebar bags, a large, boxy one that sits on a front rack; and a smaller bag that attaches to the handlebars. I have the smaller one.

Out of the box, the bag looked very impressive. It’s made of thick, stiff canvas and leather. It has a small front pocket closed with an elastic cord, a main compartment accessed by two zippers, and two rear-facing pockets with metal clasps (my camera fits perfectly). And, the bag looks even better on my bike.

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I had some issues mounting the bag. I still don’t think I’ve found the optimal configuration, but a little more experimentation and it will be perfect. As you can see above, I put the buckles on the outside of the bag, thinking that it would be easier to get the bag on and off this way. However, Acorn recommends putting the buckles inside the bag, and I think I will try that.

The biggest problem I had with the bag during my test ride was that when I went over a large bump, such as a curb or speedbump, the bag flipped up in front. There are small stabilizing cords, and I tried hooking these to the both drops and the hoods. The cords just didn’t seem to be doing the trick. I have been experimenting with using leather straps instead of the cords, and I think that that is going to work very well. Time will tell.

For a test ride, I decided to ride on the paved Levee Trail, and to ride some of the dirt trails that connect to it. This would give me a good idea how the bag fares in rough conditions, and it would give me a fun ride.

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The trails were quite muddy, and overgrown in places. Aside from the aforementioned problems with the cords, the bag held up well. In fact, it bounced around less than my old Banjo Brothers handlebar bag. I did notice that I can’t really ride with my hands on the flat part of the bar with the bag mounted there. I may try to use some kind of spacers to make more room between the bars and the bag. Overall, a minor annoyance, and one that I think I can work around.

(That ends my comments about the bag. Maybe I’ll do a full review once I have had a chance to run it through its paces.)

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I emerged from the woods and rode along the base of the Levee Trail for a bit. I saw another trail heading back into the woods and decided to explore it.

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These trails were even muddier, and I found some pretty interesting wetland areas, where I saw a couple of egrets and some other creatures. I also found a way to pass under highway 309, rather than attempting to navigate the road right by the exit ramp.

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I ended up riding on a different part of the levee. This part had a mown grass surface. I wonder if they’ll ever officially connect the two parts of the Levee Trail that the levee reaches.

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I found a neat dirt jump area on my way back. I decided not to try dirt jumping on the Long Haul Trucker. Soon, I rode back out onto the familiar, paved Levee Trail and rode back home.

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Larksville Mountain Videos

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

As the end of our time in Pennsylvania draws near, I’m attempting to figure out the things I want to do with our limited time here. One thing that I came up with was to make videos of some of the best long descents I’ve found here. I’ve done a few experiments with this, using my digital camera, and while I don’t think the videos adequately convey the experience, they are still fun and interesting. I also used some of my own music for these.

So, the other day, I put together a fun mixed-terrain route, and took some photos and videos along the way. Here’s a map of my route. The orange is the whole route; green is the descent down the north side of Larksville Mountain. Blue is the south side of Larksville Mountain, and the gravel roads in the last video are in purple.


View Corby Salonsky etc 08/14/2009 in a larger map

Here’s the descent down the north side of Larksville Mountain. This is the shorter side, and it drops about 400 feet in 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile. The camera angle is a bit weird. I used a piece of music that I started but never finished. However it’s more upbeat than most of my music and fits pretty well, I think.

Here’s the descent down the south side of Larksville Mountain. This is the long descent back to the valley where we live. The road drops about 950 feet over the course of two miles. The video doesn’t really give any indication of how steep it is. At times, you can see the camera mounted on my helmet. As my wife pointed out, it looks like I have a flag on my head. The music here is a heavier piece that I did. While I was trying to figure out what music to use for these videos, I realized how slow and dark most of my music is. It’s mostly not very suitable for biking videos, but this one works.

And here is a slideshow with some videos on gravel roads, and photos from the rest of the ride. The music is from the album I wrote for February Album Writing Month in 2006. The entire album can be found here (free download).

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