Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pro Cycling Tour : Philadelphia International Cycling Championship & Bicycle Show

This year's Philadelphia International is joined by a new feature, the Philadelphia Bicycle Show.

    The Phila International is the US's top ranked one day event, rated as "UCI Hors Category". Top riders from 20 nations around the world will contest the event in front of up to 350,000 spectators.

    The Bicycle Show is a new event and at the moment details are being finalised. It would be nice if it developed into an east coast version of InterBike ... dream on ... more details as I find them.

    Philadelphia International Cycling Championship : June 6th, 2010
    The Philadelphia Bicycle Show : June 4th-6th, 2010

    2010 : Giant upgrades

    My best bike - the Giant OCR2 - has been superseded by a couple of more up-to-date models, but for me it remains a very competent and comfortable bike. So it will remain my No:1 mount for a while yet.

    However, that doesn't mean I can't take the opportunity to fine-tune various components. This season the big change is/are (?) the handlebars which have been replaced with Easton EC90 Aero Road Bars. I haven't chosen these to enable me to go faster or even shave a few grammes off, but because they have a very comfortable flattened wing section which, I hope, will enhance hand comfort still further.

    In addition I taped them up myself using Fizik Bar Tape and the Fizik Gel Kit.

    I'm pretty pleased with the outcome although I haven't ridden with the set up yet, but just grabbing the bars feels more comfortable and secure.

    Winding the tape went pretty well, although you need to ensure the tape is really stretched as you apply it and take particular care around the brake/gear levers.

    The dark silver, pewter (?), fits well with the colour-scheme so I'm very happy.

    Another more minor addition, has been a pair of Blackburn Carbon Bottle Cages which suit the look of the bike better than the old stainless cages.

    The curves of the cages and the cut-outs really match the design of the frame and paint scheme.

    Does it really matter? I don't know, but it's certainly looking like a smart bike.

    Roll on spring ...

    Friday, February 26, 2010

    Cold Hands?

    Cold hands? Me too ... or rather, not too cold.

    Lands' End (sic.) silk glove liners work for me ... try them. They do work.

    Available here.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    Roller Racing : Triumph Brewery, New Hope, PA - Part II

    So, we crossed the state line into New Hope, PA and spent an evening of roller racing at the Triumph Brewery.

    It wasn't quite Rollapaluza, but roller racing here is starting to get a buzz. And it also helped support The Young Survival Coalition, a breast cancer charity for women under 40.

    Special thanks to the women competitors who, as you can see, entered into the spirit of the event.

    It also has to be said, plenty of spirit found its way into most of the riders ...

    By the time this series arrives in NYC it's going to have the potential to be something big - details here as soon as I can find them ...

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    HiFi : Source III : Home Music Server

    The third source element in my music system is the digital music server.

    In a nutshell, all my music files are held elsewhere on my home network. Music is accessed via a laptop computer and the digital stream is fed out through a DAC to the amplifier.

    The set up consists of three elements:

    Laptop : Currently, this is a Dell with one or two issues, like turning itself off or freezing after an hour or so ...
    Software : I'm getting good results with Media Monkey
    DAC : Cambridge DacMagic

    The laptop connects to the home network via WiFi. This means the music files can be held elsewhere so HDD noise is kept to a minimum. Most files are in .flac format. This is a lossless compression format. .mp3s are lossy and it's possible to spot the degradation in a .mp3 file on playback through a reasonable system.

    .flacs have different levels of compression, but this only makes a difference to the amount of processor power the computer needs to decode the file. Since this laptop does little else, it's not really an issue.

    Media Monkey both catalogues the music files and processes the digital file for export as a digital stream from the laptop via a USB port. When the DacMagic was first plugged into the computer it was identified as a USB sound card. Media Monkey can use a variety of output modules. At the moment I'm using the standard wave output.

    The DacMagic can switch between three different digital sources and has three switchable digital filter profiles. The device converts the digital input to a regular analogue output which plays back through my Marantz amplifier.

    The music source files are either ripped from the original CDs or, more and more often, downloaded direct from websites run by the artist's label or retailers who are set up for digital delivery. It is possible to find music which is recorded at a far higher fidelity than can be delivered via CD ... more about digital music files another day.

    HiFi : Source II : Digital Disc

    This article sets the digital disc playback into the scheme of things.

    So far I haven't explored the world of BluRay and other exotic disc systems, and at this stage I'm unlikely to given the success I'm starting to have with digital playback from computer music files ... more about this later.

    However, like vinyl, I think CD will be around for a while yet.

    The CD playback trail here consists of two parts:

    CD transport/player : Marantz CD5001
    DA converter : Cambridge DacMagic

    The Marantz has been superseded by the CD5003, but I doubt if it sounds any better. Besides, I am using the player only as a disc transport by taking the digital output direct and playing it through the DacMagic which converts the digital signal to analogue for playing through the amplifier.

    The DacMagic also has the ability to filter and profile the output although any changes are barely perceptible. It also handles the digital output from the computer when using it as a music server and switches between up to three digital sources.

    So, basically, all digital sources are directed via the DacMagic and its DAC to the amplifier.

    HiFi : Source I : Turntable

    I've covered the setting up of my turntable previously. This article is to put the turntable in context in my set up.

    The analogue trail consists of three elements:

    Cartridge: Ortofon 2M Red
    Turntable/arm combination: Pro-Ject Classic Cherry
    Pre-amplifier: Pro-Ject USB II Box

    As I said, I've already covered aspects of the turntable/cartridge set up and some tweaks remain to be done.

    I noted before some problems playing certain passages on vinyl, but I've checked the sound against the same track on CD and the roughness is there too, so I'm wondering if the problem is elsewhere, possible in the amplification or speakers. Even so, it's the same through the head-amp and headphones, so maybe it's the recording itself. Since it seems confined to one recording in particular maybe that's it.

    Until recently, I've been playing the turntable through the phono input on the Marantz PM5003 amp. But following developments in my experiments using a digital music server, I'm now using the phonostage in the Pro-Ject USB II Box. This also acts as an AD converter and outputs a digital stream from the turntable into a laptop ... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

    I can't say if the Pro-Ject phonostage is superior to the Marantz. I can detect no difference on a slightly more than casual comparison. Certainly it sounds more than acceptable.

    The analogue trail to the amplifier is carried using QED Silver Spiral leads. These are a heritage item and are no longer in production. I've had them for years and have yet to hear a reason to upgrade them. I'm a pragmatist when it comes to cables ... I belive in solid, good quality cables, but don't buy the rather exotic claims of the type of cable which probably cost more than your electronic components.

    Next: the CD trail ...

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Roller Racing : Triumph Brewery, New Hope, PA

    What better way for a cyclist to spend a cold winter evening than sprinting on top of a set of rollers to win a very small prize?

    Where: Triumph Brewery, New Hope, PA

    When: 24 February, 2010 from early evening.

    There is a small cover charge in support of a local charity.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Been Around World : Phonostage Visitors

    I kept this list in the sidebar, but it's become unwieldy so here it is for the last time.


    Egypt :
    RSA : Johannesburg, Parow, Pretoria

    Hongkong :
    India : Bengaluru, Delhi, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi , Patna
    Indonesia : Bandung, Bekasi, Jakarta
    Israel : Kfar Saba, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv
    Japan : Nagoya, Nishinomiya, Yokahama
    Jordan : Amman
    Korea : Seocho, Seoul
    Malaysia : Bukit Mertajam, Kuala Lumpur, Masjid Tanah, Penang, Shah Alam, Taiping
    Pakistan : Karachi
    Philippines : Bacoor, Benguet, Cagayan de Oro, Makati, New Alabang Height Village, Pasig
    Saudi Arabia : Jeddah, Riyadh
    Singapore :
    Taiwan : T'ai-pei
    Thailand : Bangkok
    UAE : Dubai

    N America:
    Canada : Ayr, Brampton, Burlington, Burnaby, Calgary, Chatham, Edmonton, Kelowna, London, Milton, Mississauga, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Oakville, Ottawa, Surrey, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria
    Greenland : Nuuk
    Mexico : Mexico City, Tlalnepantla, Tonal
    USA : Arizona, California, N Carolina, S Carolina, Colorado, Connecticut, N Dakota, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Washington DC, Wisconsin

    C America:
    Colombia : Bogota, Medellin
    Turks & Caicos Islands :

    S America:

    Argentina : Buenos Aires, Entre Rios, Francisco Beltro, Haedo,San Luis
    Brasil : Aracaju, Brasilia, Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo
    Chile : Punta Arenas, Santiago
    Ecuador : Ambato
    Venezuela : Caracas, Maracaibo, Guacara

    Austria : Guntramsdorf, Marchtrenk, Vienna, Wels
    Belgium : Antwerpen, Brussels, Diksmuide, Hasselt, Mechelen, Rumst, Temse
    Bulgaria : Sofia, Varna, Vidin
    Croatia : Pozega, Pula, Rijeka, Sesvete, Sibenik, Varazdin, Zagreb
    Cyprus : Nicosia
    Czech Republic : Prague
    Denmark : Bryrup, Copenhagen, Fling, Horsens, Odense, Sold
    Eire : Cork, Dublin
    Finland : Helsinki, Kouvola, Salo, Vantaa
    France : Annoeullin, Billancourt, Biscarrosse, Bourg-en-Bresse, Britigny-sur-Orge, Charenton-le-Pont, Chateau Thierry, Colmar, Corsica, Craponne, Goussaineville, Guret, Hennebont, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Issoire, La Nouvelle, La Rochelle, Limoges, Marignac, Montauban, Montpellier, Nice, Paris, Plaisir, Rennes, Roanne, Saint-Ouen, Thiais, Toulouse, Tournefeuille, Tulle, Villeurbanne
    Germany : Arnsberg, Berlin, Bonn, Bovenden, Braunfels, Bremen, Dusseldorf, Eislingen, Frankfurt, Freiburg, Grenzach-Wyhlen, Hagen, Hamburg, Heidenau, Herford, Herne, Jochen, Kempten, Linnich, Mannheim, Meppen, Munich, Neckargemnd, Neu, Niederkassel, Sankt Ingbert, Sohland, Speyer, Stuttgart, Westerstede
    Greece : Athens
    Hungary : Bekes, Budapest, Kaposvr, Nyregyhza, Pecs, Pest
    Italy : Cerro, Lainate, Marostica, Milan, Quattro Castella, Ragusa, Rome, Teggiano, Turin, Veneto
    Latvia : Kuldiga, Riga
    Lituania : Vilnius
    Netherlands : Almere, Amersfoort, Amsterdam, Barendrecht, Barneveld, Bergen Op Zoom, Drachten, Dronten, Emmen, Gennep, Groningen, Helmond, Hilversum, Hoek von Holland, Kesteren, Nieuwegein, Purmerend, Rixtel, Rumst, Soest, Utrecht, Valkenswaard,Veenendaal, Vlaardingen, Vught, Waalwijk, Zoutelande
    Norway : Kylstad, Rakkestad, Sortland, Stranda
    Poland : Pruzkw, Rzeszw, Sochaczew, Warsaw, Wegorzewo, Znin
    Portugal : Oporto, Pardilh
    Romania : Arad, Baia Mare, Bucharest
    Spain : Algemes, Almera, Amurrio, Avils, Barcelona, Jerez, Madrid, Silla, Valencia, Valladolid, Zaragoza
    Switzerland : Bern, Einsiedeln, Geneve, Lausanne, Manno, Meiringen, Neuchtel, Schwyz, Winterthur, Zurich
    Sweden : Bromma, Stockholm, Vllingby
    United Kingdom : Aberdeen, Andover, Belfast, Biggar, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighouse, Brighton, City of Bristol, Bromley, Buxton, Cambridge, City of Cardiff, Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Cheshunt, Chesterfield, Chipping Sodbury, Christchurch, Derby, Doncaster, Eastleigh, City of Edinburgh, Fareham, Gatwick, Glossop, Hatfield, Hereford, High Wycombe, Honeybourne, Ipswich, Kingston-u-Hull, Lancaster, Lincoln, Liverpool, Leamington, Leeds, Leicester, City of London, Loughborough, Maidenhead, Manchester, Mansfield, Milton Keynes, Newbury, Newtownabbey, Oxford, Plymouth, Pontypridd, Preston, Reading, Rugeley, St Albans, St Andrews, Salisbury, Sheffield, South Shields, Staines, Stroud, Telford, Thornaby, Winchester, Woking, York
    Kazakhstan : Boralday
    Russian Federation : Moscow
    Turkey : Adana, Amasya, Belen, Gaziantep, Genel, Istanbul
    Ukraine : Krivoy Rog

    Australia : Adelaide, Applecross, Briar Hill, Canberra, Dandenong, Devonport, Footscray, Hornsby, Jordanville, Kangarilla, Karraganbah, Melbourne, Perth, Ringwood, Sydney
    New Zealand : Aukland, Wellington, Winton