Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bad Bicycle Designs Website

My old friend Gary Coffrin sent a link to a site by Charles Kelly of some of the worst bicycle designs in recent memory. You really need to check these out!
The interesting thing to me was the Alenax, which used levers rather than cranks to propel the bicycle. I remeber seeing these at the trade shows for years, but I don't know of any dealers who acually sold any.
Not exactly a new idea, as I have a poster from c.1909 with the very same concept.

Look familiar?

Again, this shows that there is very little that is truly new in the bicycle industry. Sometimes it takes a while for technology to catch up with concept (full suspension bikes were made in the late 1800's) and others are just plain wrong no matter the era...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Playing Catch Up

I just realized that it's been a while since I've added anything to the blog (some would argue that I have yet to add anything...), but today is my first day off at the roastery since my last entry. Even then, I was in the office for three hours today getting caught up on long-neglected maintenance there.

A highlight of the past few weeks was having my brother stop over on his way from Portland to the Bay Area. We hadn't seen each other for awhile and it was great to see him and his wife, Shelley again. Of course, the week he chose to drive down corresponded with our first major winter storm. So the usual 7 hour drive turned into more than 10 as he had to drive through rain, hail and snow to get here. We even had snow here, but it didn't stick.

We went to dinner at one of our favorite hang-outs, the Plaza Grill, where we shared a bottle of Seven Deadly Zins and a fabulous dinner.

Mike, Shelley, Charlie and me. Note the check is still sitting there...

Too early the next morning, we bid adieu to them as they had to drive another 7 hours to their son's house in Livermore. Charlie and I really have to get up Portland way to see their new house in person...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It was the worst of times; It was the best of times...

Things have been more than a bit crazy the last couple of weeks. Thanksgiving weekend was very full - a full-on dinner Thanksgiving Wednesday evening for our daughter, a bike ride on Thanksgiving am...

Overlooking Moonstone Beach

...followed by dinner with our friends, the LeBels. The rest of the weekend was spent tucked away at a neighbor's "cabin" in Willow Creek, a 45 minute drive from Arcata, and almost literally a world away. No internet, no cable tv, just a chance for Charlie and me to relax and chill (this would be the "best of times" part of the program) ...

The view from the kitchen

We took our AeroPress and some freshly roasted Kinetic Koffee Holiday Roast Sumatra with us and life was GOOD!

After a very busy week (including roasting both Saturday and Sunday), it was time to drive to Lakeport (3.5 hours south) to get ready for a 10am appointment Monday at the Neurology Center there. I spent over 2 hours being electrocuted while the doctor tried to figure out what was going on with my back and the numbness in my legs. Final diagnosis: "undetermined." (This would be the "worst of times" part). I have some neuropothy in both legs (meaning that the nerves are being damaged by the compression in my back) and I have lost sensation in both feet. Not enough to worry about yet, but rather troubling..

On the plus side, local dungeness crab is back in season and Charlie and I just had our first fresh crab of the season tonight, with a very nice Napa Viognier. Mongo like crab!

Sunset du jour

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another nice weekend

Since it rained on Saturday, it was a good day for doing chores around the house. After spending some time on the trainers, Charlie got busy making some homemade Apple Butter with the friut from our tree out back...

... while I went to the Roastery, to clean and service the roaster.

Believe me, it's a dirty job, but it sure beats having a fire in the roaster from the build up of oils. Note the black build up on the inside of the doors; that is evidence of a small fire from a few weeks ago. It's a bitch to clean, I'll tell you!

As the storm cleared late in the day, it made for a spectacular sunset that evening!

On my ride around Humboldt Bay this morning, there were quite a few egrets, but I could only get one to stand still for me.

I made a quick stop towards the end of the ride at Cafe Brio, on the Arcata Plaza, for a nice sticky bun and some excellent espresso from Blue Bottle Roasters of Oakland. Competitive Analysis is a tough job, but when it comes to coffee, I am glad to do it.

Back at home, I finally completed a project that has been going on since March - the Rossin is now ridable!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New toys

Fed Ex left me two new toys today - an NOS Cinelli 1-A Stem in 140mm and a set of Campagnolo down tube braze on shifters. The joys of eBay...

Cool! This weekend, the Rossin will be fully operational!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


At the end of the day at the roastery, I received the following:

My friends,

Bonnie passed away on Monday, November 17th.
Memorial plans are still pending; I will let everyone know what is planned, after I meet with her family this coming weekend. I have lost my best friend, my muse, my soul something kind for somebody, in Bonnie's memory.

Larry & Jennyanydots

Larry and I have been friends for over 30 years and he has been as close as a brother to me . He's been through some bad times, but the last time I saw him with Bonnie, he seemed at peace for the first time in years. My heart goes out to him and everyone whose life has been touched by Bonnie.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weird Weekend

It was a strange weekend for me. I woke up on Saturday really bummed out for some reason. I think it was because I slept so poorly because my back hurt so much. I had seen a new PT/Massage Therapist on Thursday who really tweaked me hard and I was unable to sleep since. All I know is, I was a real shitty person to be around all day. Poor Charlie...
And it was a beautiful day outside! Here was the sunrise looking out the front door. I love the fog down in the bottoms.

So I spent the day doing chores around the house, feeling like shit and feeling sorry for myself. Strange, I had NO interest in going out for a ride. For me, that's beyond bizarre.

On Sunday, I felt better, so I went for a 30 mile ride to sort my head out and get some much needed exercise. I came home in a much better mood, and Charlie and I had a nice dinner and watched another spectacular sunset. I am so lucky to have her in my life...

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's Coffee Time!

Abrand spankin' new shipment of beans arrived today. WooHoo! Time to ROAST!

And I got home early enough to witness another lover-ly sunset at the house.

And tonight is Date Night.

Yes, life is good...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rainy days are good...

For wrenching on bikes in the Bike Haus...

And, yes, I learned how to use the auto-timer on the new camera today!

It's raining in Humboldt (again)

The fall/winter storm track has certainly started with storms seemingly lined up over the Pacific, waiting patiently in line to hammer us with rain and wind.

So, it's back on the trainer...

Watching the 2007 Tour of Flanders

I love stormy weather (except for the not riding part). It's been a nice week for sunrises at the roastery...

Taken two days ago

And sunsets from the front porch of the house.

Last night.

We went to see Martin Short last night at HSU. A VERY funny show that seemed to be over much too quickly.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sunset over Humboldt Bay

Election Night from the front porch.

Back To Work

Yesterday was both frustrating and encouraging. Frustrating because the doctor wants more tests. Encouraging because more tests means a better chance of pinpointing the root cause of my pain, rather than simply opening up the spine to "check under the hood" to see what's what. So, it's back to the hospital for more x-rays and an EMG. What fun...

Now it's off the the polls to vote. Have you voted yet? If not, GET IT DONE!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Waiting for the Doctor

We're in San Francisco to visit with the spinal specialist this morning to discuss surgical options. Very slow internet connection, so just a brief update. Wish me luck...

Pics from the Haunted Lab when I return.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Long Days

This is as bad as a trans-Pacific flight! Up at 5:30, to the Roastery by 7 to roast, close up at 4:30, head to the Kinetic Lab, set up the Kinetic Koffee tent, work the Haunted Lab of Horrors until midnight, then go home, go to bed and do it all again the next day. Rinse and repeat for 3 days and nights...
Here's a shot of the tent at the closing of the first night. I shot this with my new camera (Olympus FE-340) and no flash.

Only 3 more nights to go! I'l try to get some shots of the crowds and inside later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sunrise at the Roastery

Pretty spectacular view from the back door yesterday morning...

Tonight's the first night of the Haunted Kinetic Lab of Horrors. I'll try to get some pics. Everyine has really worked their collective asses off to bring this together - and all volunteers!

It's going to be a long, long rest of the week - working at the roastery from 7-4, then going to the lab and working until after midnight. At least we'll have some Kinetic Koffee to keep us going.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kinetic Lab of Horrors

We spent most of the weekend at the Kinetic Lab, helping to convert it from an artists' studio to the Haunted Lab of Horrors. This is the fourth year for it, and this year looks to be the best yet. Here's Charlie looking rather stunned in "The Vortex." Imagine trying to walk around in a room like this. Then try it in the dark - with a strobe light. And that's just the beginning of the tour...

See you there?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I LOVE my job!

I just received some sample coffees to roast - An El Salvador and a first for me, an Indian coffee. I will be roasting and cupping them tomorrow. Maybe one will become next month's Special Roast. Yum!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yesterday is your Birthday!*

Yesterday, I turned a year older - yet again. But you know, it sure beats the alternative...

It was a great day, a beautiful day for a ride, so I went for a ride from home out to the coast and north to Trinidad. I stopped at the old railroad bridge on the Hammond Trail over the Mad River and took this shot:

It was an incredible day; the view of Clam Beach from 101 near the airport towards Trinidad Head was spectacular. Here is my homage to MasiGuy's blog. It was reading his blog that convinced me to give it a try. So blame him (sorry, Tim)...

I rode past Camel Rock, a local landmark, and stopped for a shot of my Merlin, since I didn't get the Masi Gran Criterium I wanted for my birthday...

After the ride, Charlie and I went to a friend's house for appetizers before heading back up the coast to Moonstone Grill, where we had a wonderful dinner, including an excellent 2000 Lambert Bridge Crane Creek Cuvee, watching the surfers and beach walkers while the sun set into the ocean.

A day just doesn't get any better than that...

*a bad, bad play on the Beatles' "Happy Birthday." Sory...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Greg LeMond needs to go away

I am sorry to say that, as I have been a fan of LeMond since his days as a junior rider in Northern California. He was undoubtably one of the best riders of his generation. But this drumbeat of accusations aboot Lance Armstrong is getting, well, boring.

Now, with Armstrong making a comeback to professional cycling after an absence of 4 years, LeMond says that the anti-doping doctor that was hired to assure the public that Armstrong is riding clean isn't good enough for him (LeMond, that is). LeMond now seems to consider himself an anti-doping expert who knows exactly who is doping and who is not - without even needing to see data to back it up. Yes, cycling has been going through a bad doping era, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel, with the new tests for CERA (see Ricco, Schumacher, Piepoli, etc.), the biological passport and other measures. But to LeMond, that light is an oncoming train...

Greg, you disrupted Armstrong's press conference at Interbike, and now you claim that all the sports physiologists are engaging in an "omerta" to save their own skins. So, in your mind, the entire sport is corrupt - except you.

That's just sad, and you need to just shut up and go ride your bike. I suppose that Greg will sue me for defamation now...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another meeting with the Doctor

Yesterday, I had a follow up visit with the Pain Center doctor. The cortisone shots did not help things, so we needed to talk about next steps. He suggested some electrical implants to "short curcuit the pain. Interesting stuff, this. I would get wires attached to my spinal column and connected to a battery under the skin next to the spine. As I understand it, there'll be some sort of control that woudl allow me to turn the stimulator on or off and change the intensity. There's a lot of research for me to do before I even consider this option; it just seems kind of sci-fi to me.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dopers Suck!

I am just disgusted... just announced that Stefan Schumacher and Leonardo Piepoli just tested positive for EPO at the Tour de France. That makes, what, four or five stages out of 23 won by dopers???

I think I'll go for a ride tonight after I finish at the roastery. I really need to clear my head...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bachelor's Weekend

Charlie's gone this weekend, visiting her son, so what do I do? Spend most of the weekend at the roastery, tearing down and cleaning the roaster. Man, I sure know how to party... I did get on my trainer both mornings. If you haven't tried the Kurt Kinetic Rock N Roll trainer, you are missing one of the most realistic riding trainers I have ever experienced.

I had a wonderful coffee from a friend's roastery today - a Kenyan coffee by Drake's Fine Coffee Roasting. John, the owner, also owns a bicycle shop (see a pattern here?), and he was a customer of mine when I was at Specialized. A little smokier than I like, but a nice smooth cupping coffee. I need to see what organic Kenyan is out there for a Limited Edition Roast...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Back Story

It's been a hectic time lately, with the Interbike trade show and appointments with a pain specialist. So, here's the story on my back.

It appears that I have a congenitally weak back. I first had troubles in my teen years when I went through a tremendous growth spurt (6 inches in just over 3 months, finally stopping at 6'5" tall). My first big issue came when I herniated a disc (L5/S1) in 1989 and had a partial laminectomy. The recovery time was about 3 months before I could get back on a bike. The doctors noted that I had rather advanced arthritis in my back for a 35 year old and said that back issues were going to be a long term issue for me. Instead of moping around, I got back on my bike(s), continued to work out and have completed many of my cycling goals in life. I exercised caution when lifting things, and kept my back in pretty good shape for quite a while.

But in the past year or so, the back has gotten much worse. Besides the sharp pains in the lower back, my legs would go numb after only a few minutes of standing and walking became unbearable. There were many visits to my chiropractor, massages, homeopathic remedies, all with no results. Finally, a series of MRIs and X-Rays showed extensive bone spurs, 3 bulged discs, advanced arthitis, and stenosis in 3 vertibrae. I find it increasingly difficult to walk or even stand for any period of time, although I can sit and even ride a bike without pain. The specialist I saw at Cedars-Sinai Spinal Center in LA told me that my cycling has, most likely, kept me out of a wheelchair. We've benn working on a conservative pain relief approach, using cortisone injections to lessen the swelling and the pressure on the nerves, but after three injections and no relief, it's time to look at more aggressive measures, including the option of surgery. I'll be meeting with my local pain specialist this week to discuss what we can do.

So, I ride as much as I can, wear a back brace when I am going to have to stand or walk, keep the weight down (I saw 214 for the first time in years today!), and make preparations for some down time after the first of the year. Being pain free would be really nice; I have a lot of things I still want to do in this life, and most of them require walking or standing...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Today was a Good Day

I started the day with a nice big cup of Kinetic Koffee Breakfast Buzz that I roasted a couple of days ago. Mmmm, smooth... After making breakfast for my lovely wife, Charlie (a regular weekend ritual in our house), I got on the Merlin for a nice semi-easy 28 mile ride past Blue Lake, up the hill to the weigh station on Hwy 299, then down the mountain, back through Blue Lake on 299 and back to Arcata. Average speed was only 15.4mph with the final climb back to the house - not bad for just getting back on the bike again.

The best part of the ride was seeing a doe and her two fawns crossing the road near Blue Lake. As a SoCal born and raised kid, I am constantly amazed at the wildlife that surounds us here on the North Coast. We have had deer, foxes, racoons and opposums in our back yards, while the mountains around us are also home to black bears and mountain lions, both of which occasionally come into town to shake up the neighborhoods. As I finished my ride, I was pleaseantly surprised to come across Charlie and our friend Ellen just finishing a ride of their own through the Arcata Bottoms .

The afternoon was spent working in the "Bike Haus" building up an old Rossin that a friend had traded with me. Late 70's vintage frame, so Campagnolo Nuovo Record components were the only choice possible. It's almost complete - I only need to find some braze-on shifters and glue on some tires to make it ridable. I need to find a longer stem for it, though; the 12cm Nitto needs to be replaced with a 14cm. Cinelli 1A or 3ttt SuperLeggero to make it really "right." It's going to be a sweet ride...

And so to begin...

It's about time I joined the world wide blog, so here I go...

This blog will tend to be about two of my favorite things (bicycles and coffee) and one that I deal with on a daily basis (my bad back). I will probably write about other things as well, so let me know what you'd like to hear about. My inspiration to finally get started on this has been reading and enjoying two blogs, MasiGuy and canoelover, both of whom are far, far better writers than I.

I hope you'll enjoy my occasional rants on this page.

Ever onward...