Sunday, June 29, 2008

Doctor Who : Ooooooooh!!!

Yes, I can see that Doctor Who is an acquired taste. It helps to be British, of course, and have watched it for 40 years ...

And here we are at the finale of the final episode of series 4 with several characters from the past, Doctor's assistants and the universe on the brink of obliteration at the hands of Davros and what does the Doctor - only River knows his real name - do?


That's what.

Or does he?

We'll have to wait and see ...

Is Mickey coming back? Martha and Mickey for Torchwood? Donna maybe more than she knows?

Trek : 1200

I like aluminium bikes. Yes ... aluminium!!!

The Trek 1200 is my current road going bicycle.

Very little has been changed on it other than the tyres, Continental GP4000 plus Sludge tyre sealant, and the bar tape, now Fi'zi:k.

The frame is far smaller than your lbs would probably advise, but as I've said before, this is what suits me, even if the bars are low and the seat-pin is a mile long.

I would like a better bike in the future, job/finances permitting of course, and at the moment I am focusing on Cannondales and Giants. The Cannondales are good bikes, but I just don't like the look, whereas the Giant geometry seems to match what I like.

But at the moment, the Trek 1200 is going well. I like it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Punctures : update

Well, so far, so good. Last year, I was virtually running a puncture on every ride.

This year I seriously upgraded my tyres to Continental GP4000s and used a tyre sealant called Sludge from Sludge International. Apparently, Sludge is the biggest selling tyre sealant in Africa!!!

Is it working? Well, if you don't have a puncture, how can you tell? On the other hand, the Contis seem very good and have given me a lot of confidence.

I seem to drop by other riders on descents; they seem to absorb road shock better than my previous tyres even though they run at 20psi more; and they are very steady over 40mph and round even rough corners. And lastly, they're rather red ...

You can read more about Sludge and me here ...

So this seems to be a good combo and I'll stick with it.


I'm moving my bicycle related stuff to a new blog, velostage.

Previous stuff will stay on phonostage.

Time will tell if I can keep two blogs going.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Bikes : Trek 6700 MTB

This is my second Trek mountain bike. It's a few years old now, but spent a lot of that time in a cellar so it still looks pretty good.

I tend to ride a smaller frame than would be advised by a bike shop, but that's what I like. It does mean the seat-pin is on the limits of adjustability and I might need to investigate getting a longer one.

There are no major mods, other than in the cockpit. A slightly longer stem and straighter, narrower handlebars get me into a good position.

I use either SPDs or Kona platform pedals depending on what's happening.

It has a facility for upgrading to disc brakes, but the present brakes are more than adequate for my use.

Tyres are currently Continental Mountain Kings which seem rather good. Both wheels have been treated with Sludge tyre sealant.

I really like this bike. It will do me for a while yet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Giro di Jersey 2008 : Results & Images

These are the latest results:

Day One, 20.06.2008 : Ringoes ITT
Day Two, 21.06.2008 : Rocky Hill Cycling Classic
Day Three, 22.06.2008 : The Corner House GP
These files may be subject to copyright restrictions by their owners so please use responsibly.

You can also link to images from the TdJ.

These images are my property and my copyright. However, I have no objection for people to use them for their own use or to illustrate their own blog or club magazine, say. But please acknowledge and let me know ... because I'm quite interested to know where they end up.

Potential media / commercial users please contact me via comments below. Please include your email address.

Tyre Damage : Doh!

Okay ... so I am stupid. Yes, I do cherish my bikes ... yes I know them intimately ... Of course I do!!!!

This afternoon I showed the very helpful Jason up at Halter's Cycles and it turns out these are wear indicators; ie: they show how much the tread is worn. Clever, huh?

So thanks Jason. I will buy something worthwhile from your really rather good bike shop some time soon.

* see my Bike Index here

Coming soon ...

... Alan's cycling blog.

Just jiggling my template ...

... stuff like that ...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tyre Damage : Continental GP4000

Can anyone identify this tyre damage or possible flaw?

This Continental GP4000 tyre has done about 200 road miles at 120psi on the rear of my bike. I weigh about 190lb.

I noticed this after climbing a local hill which has been recently relaid. At the time I noted to myself that the blacktop seemed to incorporate a lot of what appeared to be glass granules, about the same sort of size / appearance as glass from a broken windscreen. The glass definitely appears to be a part of the surface, not just pressed in by traffic.

I don't normally ruminate about the composition of road surfaces, but in the last couple of days I had been listening to an article on NPR which stated that low grade glass is recycled for road surfaces ...
So anyway, at a coffee stop, not a mile from the hill, I happened to notice these rather odd pock-marks, rather as if a miniature ice-cream scoop had gouged out the tyre compound. The cut seems very clean.

Now I can't say for certain that this had only just happened, but I had just checked / adjusted my spoke tension / wheel trueness just a couple of days before and hadn't noticed any damage.

Does anyone have a clue what's happened?

Otherwise, I love these Contis. And yes, I can spell tyre ;-)

Giro di Jersey 2008 : Results & Images

These are the latest results:

Day One, 20.06.2008 : Ringoes ITT
Day Two, 21.06.2008 : Rocky Hill Cycling Classic
Day Three, 22.06.2008 : The Corner House GP
These files may be subject to copyright restrictions by their owners so please use responsibly.

You can also link to images from the TdJ.

These images are my property and my copyright. However, I have no objection for people to use them for their own use or to illustrate their own blog or club magazine, say. But please acknowledge and let me know ... because I'm quite interested to know where they end up.

Potential media / commercial users please contact me via comments below. Please include your email address.

Day One, 20.06.2008 : Ringoes ITT
Day Two, 21.06.2008 : The Rocky Hill Cycling Classic
Day Three, 22.06.2008 : The Corner House GP

* see my Bike Index here

Giro di Jersey 2008 : stage 3 The Corner House GP

The third and final day of the 2008 Giro di Jersey took place on a 4km circuit on Bunn Drive and Mt Lucas Road towards the northeast of Princeton, NJ.

It was a bright and early start although about 5 minutes before the race started I was beginning to think nothing was happening.

But it did ...

Not such a good day as yesterday and it threatened to rain once or twice, but it held off. This was good because I hate to think what the few, but sharp corners might have been like damp and under the trees.

I didn't really go prepared to compile race reports this year, but I might think about it next ... this race series needs a better online presence.
Get more images here.

Get the Stage 1 Ringoes ITT results here.

Get the stage 2 Rocky Hill Classic results here.

* see my Bike Index here

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Giro di Jersey 2008 : stage 2 Rocky Hill

So, on to day two of the Giro di Jersey; The Rocky Hill Cycling Classic.

Not quite a classic yet, but on its way. The weather was fine, but not too hot. In fact, just right.

This is a big deal for Rocky Hill. In fact, it's one of the biggest prizes in its category in the United State in only its second year. So well done to Rocky Hill.

There were a whole series of races today, from Juniors to Men's Pro. The course ran through the village of Rocky Hill northeast along River Road and onto Griggstown, turning south along Canal Road to the foot of the Old Georgetown Road hill, which counts as a big one around here. Then down the 518 (?) into Rocky Hill for the slight incline to the finish line.

It's fair to say that the Old Georgetown Road isn't the Col du Tormalet, but the climb is beguiling enough to let you think it's quite nice really before hitting you with its best shot in the last kilometre or so. Otherwise the pro riders thought the course wasn't as challenging as all that, which could be true. It needs a diversion in the Belle Mead direction to get in another leg sapping climb out of the river valley.

To most people's surprise, the hill appears to have been re-surfaced and seems quite smooth and even, but it looks as if they've used a ton of recycled glass as a filler and, no doubt co-incidentally, these odd cuts appeared in my tyres after going up and down the road a couple of times. Any ideas?

Anyway, lots more pictures here including my best ever finish picture;
And my worst ...
I dunno, the old Olympus seems to be lagging more and more ... or is it just me?

The race also nailed its international credentials. The pro race was won by a guy from Argentina.

And just in case anyone ever comes across this blog from Bristol Mountain Bike Club, here's my old jersey still being worn in New Jersey, geddit?

Tomorrow, the final stage; The Corner House Grand Prix of Princeton. And they're already talking of making it a 4-day event next year.

* Thanks to anonymous on the previous blog it seems we can find results for Ringoes here

* see my Bike Index here

Friday, June 20, 2008

Giro di Jersey 2008 : stage 1 Ringoes ITT

Yes, the Giro di Jersey, not quite the Tour de France, but very entertaining ... and typical of the world's cycling fraternity ... and sorority for that matter.

The first stage of the GdJ took off today; an Individual Time Trial on the roads around Ringoes, NJ, USA.

The ITT is a very European event, but it was obvious to see that just the same guys turn up as turn up on those cold, windy days on the A38 in the UK ...

And women too for that matter. In fact, quite a few more than you're likely to see on the lay-by out of Almondsbury.

The route was rather good. Out and back over 15km on a very nice sweeping, well-surfaced road, which started out with a forgiving, slightly downhill curving start, but ended up with a short, but vicious hill towards the end, made more miserable by a polite, but persistent headwind.

I passed a pleasant couple of hours watching the riders set off on their pursuit of themselves.

Just a couple of points; I couldn't get a start sheet anywhere, even on-line, and it seems to me the police turn up whenever a gutter needs cleaning here ... well, they could have done with one or two at the start zone and turning point ... let's just say not all car and truck drivers see the benefits of attracting a great sporting occasion to their bit of the backwoods ...

Tomorrow; The Rocky Hill Cycling Classic.

You can see some uncaptioned images here.

* I've looked everywhere for results. I'll post them if I find any.

* see my Bike Index here

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Netherland : Joseph O'Neill

Netherland : Joseph O'Neill

The ultimate post 9/11 cricketing novel ... or at least something like that.

Linda wasn't able to make her book club last night, so I bashed through this book in about three hours in the afternoon while barbequing lemony chicken for the bring-a-dish, end-of-term dinner.

It was no burden. I'd intended to read this book anyway. I'm no book reviewer, but it was eminently readable and absorbing, combining the unlikely topics of cricket, New York and alienation.

And for me - although I'm probably wrong - it really is about isolation/alienation, characterised through its contemplation on cricket, a game which only exists as a virtual myth here, yet ranks amongst another of the great sports of the world ignored in the US. The title reinforces my impression and it seems to me that that is where the largely immigrant characters exist in a kind of cultural diaspora centred on this strange and arcane game.

But there is a sort of paradox here ... before the development of baseball, cricket was big here. Every sizable town in the east had a cricket club. In fact, the world's first international fixture in any sport was between the USA and Canada over 150 years ago. Yes ... really.

I guess I've taken refuge in a similar way too. Badminton and cycling are sports with a huge culture outside the US of which the participants are acutely and sympathetically aware.

Anyway, there is plenty of food for thought in this very good book. The author, Joe O'Neill, is a very nice man and apart from me, was the only person in the room who had ever played cricket or heard of the Duckworth-Lewis Method , Pieterson's switch hitting controversy, and Rachael Heyhoe-Flint.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stuff : 18.06.2008

I'm still looking for a job. Anyone out there want a charming Englishman? I'm going to have to consider collecting supermarket trolleys soon ...

  • Went on a 25 mile ride yesterday evening. It was called the Griggstown Grinder. It was a grinder alright. Some long, slow hills had my legs complaining. A small, pleasant, eclectic group, including a guy who actually likes British beer, warm and flat ... yummie ... plus tips on finding English tea.
  • While getting my bike ready - including new bar-tape - I went to brush some dry, veggie matter from the frame which turned out to be a couple of wasps who promptly stung me. Now that hurt ... my hand is still swollen today. I found a small nest nearby in the hedge and took great pleasure in obliterating it with some deathly spray which is surely banned in Europe. It worked though. Revenge!!!
  • Weather is currently rather warm, thundery and the grass is starting to turn brown. I say grass. It's not grass in the finest English lawn sense. That would shrivel to nothing in the extremes of weather around here. Instead it resembles something you might find on a football pitch, rather tough and course, but effective.
  • After a bit of work I've managed to get the lawn tractor going. For sure it needs a new battery, but a couple of days ago after several fruitless previous tinkerings, I just took a chance and turned it over and it just decided to fire up ... ah, the capriciousness of machines.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Esbjörn Svensson : 1964 - 2008

I was very sorry to hear of the death of Esbjörn Svensson of EST, in a scuba accident near Stockholm, SWE.

I can't recall how I came across the music of the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, but something about them resonated with me and I just got to love their free-flowing jazz influenced music which somehow also embraced other genres without patronising yet with a wicked sense of humour..

I was lucky enough to see EST twice; once at Bristol's St George's Hall and the second time in New York's Joe's Pub. St George's Hall is remarkable for its acoustics, good enough to be a favoured venue for BBC Radio to record recitals from classical to jazz and world music.

The next time I saw EST was at Joe's Pub. Linda and I sat next to a couple of French women who had last seen EST at ... St George's Hall ... small world.

It's hard to believe that we'll never do that again ...

So thanks EST ... it was a good ride.

WWKiP Day : 14.06.2008

Yesterday was World Wide Knit in Public Day.

Linda and I trolled on down to Princeton North Shopping Center where the ladies, and some gentlemen, were occupying the bandstand and brazenly knitting away in full view of the public!!!!

So Linda dug out her current project, a knitted lace shawl, took her place amongst the knitters and spent a pleasant hour en tricoteuse (?) and chatting about fibre to her's and everybody else's heart's content.

And you just never know ... I bumped into a lady who was born in the same hospital in Devonport, Plymouth, Devon, UK, as me, and someone else whose husband made frequent trips to Cheltenham ;-) ... small world, huh?

Further conversation only went on to confirm my view of Plymouth as the world's biggest village.

See Linda's take on WWKiP Day here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Niagara Falls, Ontario, CAN

We have just spent a few days at Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side of the border. Niagara is a great place to go ... easily as impressive as its reputation suggests. You won't be disappointed.

However, it has to be said that you shouldn't go if you don't like getting wet.

Of course, Niagara is a tourist hub of world class proportions. That said, early June is a good time to go. The weather was excellent, and there weren't too many queues. Those that did exist moved through fairly quickly.

The best way to get around and gain access to the sights was the Niagara Adventure pass. This includes access to the main attractions - Maid of the Mist, Behind the Falls, etc - and discount tickets for lots of others. It also includes a pass for the PeopleMover bus network for the first day and a discount after that.

For me the highlight was the Maid of the Mist tour. A half hour trip by boat to the base of the falls. It was rather like being at the bottom of a vast pit of water with fire-hoses being aimed at you ... fantastic ...

At the other extreme the Butterfly Conservancy was beautiful. I've never seen so many huge butterflies. They were like a shower of autumn leaves they were so plentiful.

There were plenty of things to do other than in the immediate Niagara river area. Niagara-on-the-Lake seemed a place I'd like to visit again and the Welland Ship Canal has excellent facilities for observing huge ships negotiate the massive locks which lift them over 150 metres over the Niagara escarpment from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.

Niagara is certainly worth a detour.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

WiFi 04a : Sangean WFR-20 - Streaming

Okay. I sorted the local streaming thing.

Of course, it was really a case of RTFMS!!! Oh well ...

The problem was I couldn't link the Sangean to my wlan SHOUTcast broadcast. The Noxon radio has its own configurable webpage on the device to facilitate this.

The Sangean stores its stations and streams on the Reciva server. So you need to register the radio with - the radio's configuration menu tells you a unique registration number. You will then have your own login and a number of tools including "My Streams".

Give your stream a name if it doesn't already have one and its local address which will be something like

You then have to force a station update on the Sangean by unplugging it from the mains for a few seconds and switching back on. Your stream will then appear on the menu at Radio Stations >>> Genre >>> My Stuff.

After all that, it works very well.

The .ogg thing has yet to be sorted. However, all audio files are transcoded to +AAC format on the stream so at least I can hear them that way.

*See my hifi index here.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

WiFi 04 : Sangean WFR-20

I've had the Sangean WFR-20 a couple of days now and I'm beginning to find my way around the thing.

In many respects it compares well to the Noxon iRadio, particularly in terms of sound quality and volume, but in some areas it is either lacking or I just haven't figured how to do it.

The Sangean was quite easy to get up and going. On initial turn-on the unit first of all updated its station list, then searched for any firmware update. The menu, although tortuous, is still rather easier than the Noxon's and the display, while not state-of-the-art, looks a lot better than the Noxon's clunky blue screen. The remote though is not as competent.

The unit also found my wireless network music server - TwonkyMedia - quite easily and navigating through the tree is once again quite simple using the single knob on the front rather than figuring out which button does what on the remote. The radio happily plays the usual formats including .flac, but is not capable of playing .ogg which puts it at a disadvantage to the Noxon which can, and although it can't directly play .flac it does work with TwonkyMedia's .flac transcoder.

Where I have yet to get any success is getting the unit to play my wlan's music stream. I'm not sure if it's a deficiency on my part or the radio's but whichever, it's a big issue for me. *sorted here

The Noxon has the advantage of showing up on the local network as a network device. As such it also has a device webpage which enables the manual input of radio streams in addition to the ones already available at its web radio gateway - vTuner - the Sangean uses Reciva. This means it's possible to input the address of a local network stream, in my case operated via SHOUTcast server. As yet I haven't figured out how to do this for the Sangean, or if indeed, it's actually possible.

Generally, I'm very pleased. The unit does 90% of what I want very well indeed. However, the .ogg codec issue and the inability to play music streamed on my wlan are a significant downside.

Internet radio devices still have a way to go.

*See my hifi / media index here.