Wednesday, June 30, 2010

more on gas

On a good note, the cast comes off in one week. Also, I've dropped about 8 pounds this month, which will hopefully do a little to offset my reduced training volume.

On a dark note, I've followed through on my biodiesel research and have wandered off into viewing documentaries like Gasland on HBO (it's available on HBO on demand) and reading about the tar sands. Here's the whole story of oil (or natural gas) in a sentence: a few assholes get rich, some acres of land or gallons of water get spoiled, some people get cancer, some animals die, a bunch of people can afford to heat their homes inefficiently and drive their piece of shit cars.

When I first started reading about biodiesel, I imagined producing it in sufficient volumes to replace gasoline, or a large fraction of gasoline was not feasible, but in fact it looks doable. The current world production of vegetable oil is in the 10's of billions of gallons per year, while world gasoline consumption is in the 260 billion US gallon range. Presumably, lots more vegetable oil could be produced without a whole lot of trouble. (However, it's important to keep in mind that if vegetable oil were produced on the scale of oil, it would probably cause its own problems.)

What's next? Well, I'm a hands-on type of person, so I'll see if I can get my hands on a biodiesel car sometime soon and see how well it works.

Monday, June 21, 2010

going green

If the BP gulf oil disaster doesn't get your attention, then maybe something closer to home will. A fuel tanker flipped over on Route 44 by Punderson on Saturday. 8,300 gallons of gas spilled and contaminated the soil and water in the area. Crews are cleaning it up right now.

Cheap energy makes our civilization possible--without it, the 6 billion human population of the planet would decline quickly and painfully. Without it, I doubt we'd have the opportunity to get out and ride (if we had bikes), we'd probably be out digging for grubs or chasing eachother around in a post-apocalyptic mad max world.

Unfortunately, cheap energy isn't really so cheap. As environmentalists have pointed out, the cost of the damage done by industry is often dumped on the public, or just never paid even as executives and shareholders collect artificially inflated bonuses and dividends. Ride up to the Diamond Shamrock superfund site for an example in our back yard. Or if you haven't become totally depressed by thinking about it, read up on the inefficiency and toxicity of oil production from the Canadian Tar Sands.

I can confidently write, despite the carnage caused by the BP disaster and the momentary uproar in the public, there will be no major policy or societal changes. Nearly every day to day activity of ours depends on cheap energy.

Of course, societal inertia is a lame excuse to do nothing personally. Since this is a bike blog, the natural thing to do would be to write about how bikes could reduce energy demands, but that's just a fantasy right now. As TOTV approaches, I think back to last year when Chris and I got bitched out by a red faced lady driving past in a Hummer while we were watching TT finishes--I'm pretty sure most Americans would rather die than trade a car for a bicycle, or would die if they were forced to ride a bike.

So what to do? Well, I think at this point, an interesting goal would be to see if I can come up with a plan to use almost zero gasoline by the end of the year. That will give me something to do while I'm stuck in a cast for the next couple of weeks.

Friday, June 18, 2010

just in case

I should have researched this earlier. Casts from Exos Medical are made for sporty people. Here's the write up.

I've been pretty cranky about the casts I've had to wear over the past few weeks. They suck. I would have loved something like that Exos Medical cast.

The first casts I had to wear were low technology stuff--elastic wrap, cotton, and plaster. The cast I have on now is the fiberglass tape variety. It's a big improvement, but it's definitely not on par with any of the bike gear I use on a daily basis--like my bike shoes.

My engineering brain has been chewing on the cast problem for several days. The problem with the fiberglass casts are that they are just basically a deformed tube with a thin pad that doesn't distribute pressure very well. I end up with pressure points at the ends of the fiberglass whenever I move my hand or fingers. In fact, there's no neutral position. The fucking thing is always squeezing or poking me!

The Exos cast is basically like a bike shoe for your arm, leg, or whatever. It's heat moldable and uses a boa closure. I think it would be a HUGE improvement over fiberglass, but I think it couldn't be ideal. With a bike shoe, the engineering problem is much simpler, because the shape of the foot doesn't change much around a pedal stroke. With an arm cast, though, your bones and muscles move around quite a bit whenever you move your arm, fingers, or hand. Any squishy material really isn't going to work well. The real solution would be an articulated exoskeleton with padding.

So, hopefully I won't need a cast again! But if I do, I think I'll get one of these Exos casts.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

yada yada yada

yada, yada, yada, I just got a new road bike.

My Cervelo R3 has a broken fork and a cracked frame, the bars were mashed, and both shifters were obliterated. The Reynolds Assault front wheel looked Ok, but one spoke had cracked the internal housing, plus it was full of bad juju, so I am having it rebuilt by the factory at a pretty good discount. The Reynolds wheels are strong enough to snap a fork and crack a frame. Wow, that's pretty amazing.

Cervelo has a crash replacement program, but I decided to go with a Felt FC instead. I decided a while ago not to buy any more DuraAce shifters, so I replaced my smashed left shifter with an Ultegra one. I actually had a right shifter on the shelf.

Hopefully I'll be out of my cast on July 8th, just in time for TOTV.

Friday, June 4, 2010

what it's all about

I think everyone who rides gets this:

Perfection. That's what it's about. It's those moments. When you can feel the perfection of creation. The beauty the physics you know the wonder of mathematics. the elations of action and reaction and that is the kind of perfection that I want to be connected to.