Slowing Down.

IMG_4042I’ve never ridden a bike with a bike computer. I don’t use STRAVA, or keep any other metrics about power output, distance traveled, average speed, or elevation gain.

The only metric I keep track of at all it’s how long I’ve been out on the bike. Mostly, that’s because I have obligations as a dad to my family, and I need to make sure that I’m where I’m supposed to be at any given time. Because I don’t chase numbers, it leaves me free to slow down sometimes. I’m not chasing an average speed; I’m not chasing mileage. I’m not chasing anything.

Because I can slow down, I found that I often stumble across things that I’ve ridden past dozens of times and never seen before. A new trail, a new road, a new path to venture down. If I was more numbers obsessed, I’d go screaming pass these trying to push my average speed up or cover more miles. But the benefits of slowing down can’t be overestimated.

So, here’s to slowing down- to finding a bench to sit on, a path to get lost on, and a view to admire.

SitRep

Here’s where things stand:

  • I’m in a small holding pattern on the custom rack cabinet build for the studio- it’s really just a matter of finding the time/weather combo to make it happen. It’s likely a one or two day build, but those two circles in the Venn diagram just haven’t aligned, yet. Some of the power management I was waiting for is there, though, so that’s one less holdup on the buildout (when the cabinet is done).
  • I found an excellent solution to storing large format art that’s not framed. I’d nearly resigned myself to needing to hunt down a map file (and find a place to put that), but I’d been stalling (as they’re expensive and bulky). Through sheer dumb luck I’ve stumbled across a method that involves hanging the work off stringers- and it’s totally something I can build.
  • I’ve been working on a streaming setup- I don’t really know why, but it seemed like a good idea? Anyway, I’ve found that my Mac Mini I’ve hot rodded still doesn’t quite have the horsepower to deal with three HD cameras at the same time, so… it’s also patched into the xserve (which I mostly leave off, these days, as it’s loud and power hungry… but when you need horsepower, it’s got it (still!)).
  • I haven’t been filming a lot recently- there have been too many other projects on the front burner, and something(s) had to give. I’m trying to get back to that, now- as well as putting some time on on my still photography. I’ve been away from it for a little while, and video and still have always been good at pushing some creativity back into my routine, which has obvious benefits elsewhere. The gallery of one of my bikes in the previous post would be the very start of this project.

 

Bridgestone MB-3

 

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I got this bike in high school, around 1994 or so. Actually, it wasn’t this bike- it was a teal MB-4. It was a gift, and a way to get me to stop borrowing and breaking my mother’s MB-5. I broke a chainstay on the original bike a year or three later, and this was my warranty replacement frame and fork. That was a bit of luck, too, because by that time Bridgestone had pulled out of the US, and I had to track down the former rep and see if he had a frame around that he could give me. He did, and I’ve ridden this bike ever since.

Originally, of course, it was built up as a regular mountain bike. The sub-genres of bikes we have now weren’t yet a thing, so that meant it was setup for twisty technical New England singletrack. Think: narrow flat bars, toe clips, 2″ tires inflated to 35 psi, and a rigid fork. Classic. The build evolved over time (and as I broke things), but it was pretty much always setup for trail riding.

Then, I went away to college and needed to bring a bike. I took this, and before I went I put 1.5″ slick tires on it, got rid of the granny chainring, and added toeclips. It became my first commuter bike. Around 1999, I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper Pro, and that became my “good” mountain bike. The Bridgestone morphed into a single speed (32 x 16… remember when that was the thing?), and stayed that way for years. I raced cyclocross on it a few times like that with the addition of Conti Cross Country tires in 1.5″. As I got older and had my own children, the bike turned into a seven speed burrito slayer- single chainring, front rack & basket, flat pedals. Built for pedaling on bike paths with kids.

I’d been toying with the idea of putting 700c wheels on it- apparently they’ll fit (sorta?) and you can run adaptors to get the brakes to work… but I didn’t have any spare 700c wheels lying around, so I thought I’d test it out for gravel with the existing wheels. I swapped the bars and stem, got some vintage Dura Ace STI levers, re-geared it (and added a front derailleur for the first time since 1998!), and refinished a saddle to match.

It’s my “gravel” bike, now- and it’s totally in it’s element. The handling and frame still feel excellent, and the drivetrain works beautifully for the terrain I ride here. Eventually, it might be fun to see how 650b wheels look in there (the brakes don’t require an adaptor for those- I’m unsure of the tire clearance, though), but it’s pretty sweet as-is. I suppose a slightly narrower/lighter tire would be cool too, but that’s really just splitting hairs.

So there you go- a 24 year old bike that’s still finding new ways to be useful and wonderful. Long live the Bridgestone.

SitRep

What’s happening.

  • The studio desks and shelves are basically done. I have one or two small half-depth shelves to get done/up for material storage, but the major surfaces are all there (including a wiring trough I’m super happy I built). A further update on that on the project page.
  • I’m ready to build the rack for all my gear. The only real hangups are getting the actual material (it’s another two sheets of 3/4″ Birch Plywood and a bunch of Maple 1″ x 2″), and the internal wiring for it all. I’ve decided to sub-divide the internal power management so I can enable various sub-groups of gear (and cut down on vampiric power losses). I’ll need a couple of rack mount power strips for that. And I need a big set of casters, too.
  • In the many years I’ve had a YouTube channel, here’s what’s happened with it: I made, about 5 years ago, a short series of videos meant to front-load some of the background information I needed students to know about William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. In the time since, I’ve posted many videos- some about making, some about bikes and bike riding, some about my kids. None of those has even come close to the viewership those old videos still see. Right now, five years later, those videos still represent the bulk of the viewing minutes/month my channel sees (which is, I hasten to add, not a large number). Maybe I should (finally) take the hint about the sort of content I should make (if, indeed I want to continue making content- which is another consideration entirely).
  • It’s increasingly looking like I might be headed back to school- first, for a graduate certificate, and then (if I’m still into it…) tacking on a master’s program to that. I haven’t done graduate work in a long time, but I’m feeling like it’s something I need/want to get back to. A way to relight some of the fire about education and it’s place in the world.

SitRep

Updates Holy Smokes the studio has updates.

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  • That’s both desks in, and I have some small half-depth shelves nearly ready to go in, too. Obviously, the large rack isn’t built yet, and clearly my cable management is still pretty rough. But progress none the less. Lots of full depth shelves to build, a rack to construct, lighting to deal with… so far, so good, though.
  • I got my road bike out for the first time in 6 years (or so). It’s amazing on a couple of levels- that it still works (it’s nearly 20 years old, now), that it still feels so good to ride, and that all the controls and whatnot still felt like… home… after all this time. I’ll be riding this more, I think. In a concession to my age (what with being 20 years older than when I built the thing and my lower back not being as flexible as it once was), I might be swapping the stem to something slightly shorter and taller (it’s a flat 135 right now).
  • The small parts storage expansion happened in a haze of sweat and humidity the other day. It wasn’t on my list the same way the studio had been, but I realized I actually had all the parts I needed. So out came the saws and drivers, and pretty soon I had a 100% increase in my small parts storage.

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SitRep

Hi All.

  • I built out this site a little more- I’ve added a “Projects” menu item on the left hand side that breaks down some of my projects in more detail that I’d really want to drop in a normal post. If you’re into the minutiae, that’ll be interesting (a comprehensive look at my history and efforts with building shoulder bags?). Otherwise, maybe not so much.
  • The studio overhaul is currently stalled. I haven’t been able to free up the time to get the lumber that’s really needed for the next step, so it’s on hold. More oddball hardware continues to arrive (a second two monitor mount, for example), but for the next step I need lumber. No way around it.
  • A post shared by Tim Calvin (@nothingfuture) on

    I’ve been making prototypes of bike seat bags- these are super minimal (as I like them). Just enough to hold some tubes, a small multitool, and a tire lever (one!). I’m getting closer, but I have some refinements of my pattern I want to put into play before I consider making a run of them. Also, I tend not to prototype stuff like this in the eventual materials I’d use on a final product- so sourcing some better fabric goes on the to-do list.

  • In the last week, I’ve fixed two appliances at the house- the microwave and the washing machine. The combination of youtube and a multimeter can get you pretty far, as it turns out.
  • I upgraded my 2009-era Mac Mini (Core2Duo, yo!) with 4gb more RAM (now 5gb, up from 2), and an SSD drive (250gb, up from a 5400rpm 120gb mechanical drive). Holy hell what a difference! It clicks right along now, and it’s totally useable. Amazing.

SitRep

I’m going for consistency, here.

  • All the hardware for the studio revision is here. All that remains is buying the wood, cutting, gluing, nailing, sanding, and finishing the desks and shelves. Honestly, that’s like a weekend afternoon day to do. Maybe two. Building the rack case will take a little longer, but now that I’ve sorted out some of the construction details, even that shouldn’t be too bad. I’m starting to think about lighting and cord management again.
  • I got a lovely couple of bike rides in this week- one on the mountain bike in some heat (90!), and the other on my gravel bike (where I got myself in over my head terrain-wise). Cycling seems to do something to me- nothing else really settles me as much, and I’m a much better person when I ride a bit. I think I took this for granted when I was younger (and rode all the time regardless of anything else), but since… it’s been interesting to rediscover this about myself.
  • I’m starting to look at tandems. I had been thinking about a Salsa Powderkeg (a gravel-focused bike), but lately I’ve been second guessing that and looking at full suspension bikes. One of my kids is hounding me pretty hard to ride one, and I’d like to make it happen at some point. Just gotta find the right thing.

 

SitRep

Twice in a week!

  • I’ve run into/met up with two former students this week- it was pretty neat to see how they’re turning out as people (spoiler: pretty awesome). Also: stop calling me Mr. Calvin. Jeeze.
  • Studio v3 continues. I’ve finally got plans for the rack mount case completed, so I’m just about ready to buy the rest of the stuff and build things out. Pretty exciting.
  • I’ve made some bike repairs this week, too. Some out of necessity (I wrecked a rear tire on my mountain bike), and some out of pseudo maintenance (my road bike badly needed new bar tape). Both had oddball complications (a tire that wouldn’t seat and had a puncture; finishing twine that was a bit too furry for the use), and both had creative solutions (I built a high-volume air chamber to push a lot of air into the tire rapidly and I used some sealant and cotton to patch the puncture; I wrapped the twine carefully and then burnt off any wayward fibers).
  • I just sent out the 91st mailing of my newsletter. It feels weird to have been working on that project for so long (a bit over three years!), and to still be finding interesting stuff to share with folks.
  • I’ve been starting to thing about tandem bikes more (and bikes in general, always). My kids are getting to the point where they might fit on the back of some, and that’d mean I could do Dad-time and Bike-time all at the same time. That’s efficient! Also: sharing something I love with the people I love makes me melt inside. That said, I’ve also been learning a lot about TIG welding, so take from that what you will.

SitRep

updatesupdatesupdates

  • All the specialty hardware for the new version of the studio is in. And the weather is turning better. You know what’s next.
  • Waist bag v1 is done. I’ve weirdly been using it day-to-day at work because it holds my salad container and whatnot perfectly, but I’m sure I’ll have it out on the bike soon. It’s a draft, but it came out way better than I’d hoped for a beta. It still has a couple of changes I’ll make (buckles, internal seams, etc), but it’s nearly in its finished form. NF-P-63
  • I’m going to update the new/old Mac Mini I got. Max out the RAM, maybe add an SSD to make it snappy right quick fast.
  • I’ve begun designing a cable cam. That’s a camera platform that runs along a wire- it’s like a gondola for a camera. It’d be great for moving shots and other neat vantage points. There’s a lot of ways to skin that cat, and it’s a matter of walking the line between simple and complicated. Also: given the time this might take me, drones might progress enough with price/obstacle avoidance/subject following to make it moot. We’ll see.
  • My dad ended up with a Software Defined Radio Receiver from Adafruit and was showing it to me while I was there on vacation. Now I need one (and to integrate it into studio v3.

SitRep

Updates.

  • The studio overhaul is making more progress- all the specialty hardware for the build has been ordered and is en route. Final drawings are finished, so now it’s a matter of getting the rest of the parts list (that’s all locally available), and waiting a bit for the weather to turn just a little more- the finish work on the wood requires temperatures we’re not seeing consistently enough. Soon, though.
  • Back to riding and shooting video again. The temps are up enough (and the trails have dried enough) to make mountain biking a workable thing again. I’m really excited about this season. (New silly video here) I’ve even got 3 out of 4 bikes ready to ride so far.
  • The new network/server infrastructure is up and working. My NAS is pretty much where I want it to be, and the new server seems to handle the loads it’s seeing with some degree of grace. I’m really looking forward to getting everything organized and neat in the new rack system.
  • Shoulder bag version 5 came together in a single day. I decided that I’d been letting complexity get the better of me, and that for the best functionality I should pare things back as much as I possibly could. Taking some inspiration from musette bags (of the cycling type), the new bag is super simple. 500d Cordura outer, 400d nylon liner, a bit of velcro and some padding, and it’s done. Works really well, so far. (I think I’ll do a retrospective of my shoulder bag projects in a post at some point.)
  • nvALT is a lovely, lovely thing. My affection for txt files has only grown, and this tiny bit of software is a special thing.