The Year of the Book!

27 05 2011

Another pile of books and another exam...

I may have mentioned during posts from my winter kiteboarding trip to Baja that one mission I had while away from home was to study for a certification exam. I studied most days for 3 weeks while in Baja and then studied for another 3 weeks or so when I got back to Canada. I wrote my Project Management Professional [PMP] certification exam this month and scored well. So I am now a Professional Engineer and Project Management Professional. Not particularly exciting stuff for blogging material, but quite useful when I am working or looking for work.

Although I wasn’t super stoked about studying for my PMP exam when I decided to get certified last winter I must admit I enjoyed the process much more than I had expected. Having been away from school for a decade it’s fun to get the rust of those learning skills and get the positive feedback an exam provides. Work has been and looks to continue to be slow this year so I’ve decided I’m going to keep myself busy by writing another certification exam I’ve been interested in.

This time around the focus is quality management and the certification is called Certified Quality Engineer [CQE] which is administered by the American Society of Quality. Quality management was one element out of nine areas of knowledge for the PMP exam. So this exam will focus in far greater detail solely on quality management which is an area of particular interest to me. The CQE exam date I’m shooting for is early December 2011.

My plan is to read all the material shown in the photo over the next 3 months to get familiar with all the exam topics. I’ll figure out any areas I’m weak in and do some additional studying in those areas. Then starting in September I’ll begin an iterative cycle of writing practice exams and using the scores I get to focus additional studying. I’ll keep that cycle going until I’m confident I’ll pass the exam.

Since I have a lot of reading to do and I find simply sitting at a desk studying to be fairly boring I’m think I’ll be bringing study materials with me on my various trips this year. I’ve already got an idea for a cycle camping/study tour with both physical destinations and study topics on the agenda. The bike riding time is a great time to review material in my head to ensure I fully understand it. In the same way a trip to Lake Nitnaht to kiteboard has lots of quiet time in the mornings to study just like I did in Baja. Since I get up early and have many ritual cups of tea when I am camping a book to read is a natural compliment to that process.

Biking/kiteboarding & studying – I love it…=-)

Surly LHT Update

25 05 2011

Behold the Long Haul Trucker MK2...

My Surly Long Haul Trucker is one of my most ridden and definitely one of my least modified bikes. Given my tendency to tweak and try new things that says a lot. It was custom built from a frame back in the day when Surly didn’t offer a complete trucker. The LHT worked so well for me for so long I have to admit I felt a bit hesitant to tear the bike down in case it somehow didn’t ride so beautifully for me when it was reborn. My goal was to clean the trucker, upgrade a few parts and keep the same amazingly versatile fun personality.

Fender and mud flap bling...

I wanted to replace the beat up SKS plastic fenders on my bike with something nicer and bit more functional. Sharon had complained about getting spray off the short rear SKS fender so I wanted to ensure the revamped LHT had a nice long set of mud flaps on it. I used the custom flaps I got from Buddy Flaps which fit the Velo Orange fenders perfectly.

Nice fender lines...

As I posted a couple days ago the Velo Orange hammered metal fenders [45mm] went on easily and it was simple to get a decent fender line. I’ll ride the bike for a week and then cut the fender struts when I am 100% on the fender position. I cleaned up the rest of the rear end and reinstalled everything. I love the OMM racks and the Schwalbe Marathon XR tires.

Velo Orange fender up front...

The front fender also got a custom mud flap. You can make DIY mud flaps for free, but I have to say I am really liking having a bit of customization on my bikes and the cost is modest. I’ll probably order a few more sets of mud flaps from Buddy Flaps for some of my other bikes. After some cleaning I reinstalled the cranks/pedals and the rarely used front derailleur.

Dynohub & light...

Most folks will home in on my lovely new metal fenders, but the discerning observer will notice the new B&M Cyo IQ Plus tucked under the OMM Cold Springs rack and connected to a Shimano DH-3N80 dynohub. It’s hard to overstate how useful a high quality light [with vertical cut off] with a dynohub is for 24/7 lighting when you need it. I don’t ever miss using unfocused battery powered headlights and the folks I don’t blind when I’m riding around at night also don’t miss them! I used a light bracket from Rene Herse to mount the light at the front left side of the OMM rack.

A hard Brooks B17...

I put the uber hard Brook B17 that I softened a bit using neatsfoot oil on my LHT. Since I ride this bike a lot I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to break it in the rest of the way so it’s as comfy as my older/softer Brooks saddles. Since all my taillights [Planet Bike and Radbot] use the same mount I just check my light before a ride. If I find a weak one I put it in a pile for recharging and grab another light. I have enough on the go I can always put my hand on a charged one in 5 seconds.

Front lighting detail...

I’m pleased with how the rebuild has progressed. As I noted above I embarked upon this project with some reluctance, but I felt the changes would be an improvement worth undertaking. Now that I can look at the finished bike I think I achieved a nice balance between the old faithful trucker and the new trucker. The dynolighting is a key upgrade as are the metal fenders with full mud flaps. I can still see my old bike in all the components I transfered over to the new build as well as in the scratches and scuffs in the paint. I think keeping the classic sage green paint for a few more years was a smart move. It really anchors the great memories I have had with this bike to the promise of new adventures that the upgrades bring.

An upgrade worthy of a trusty steed...

A few things left to do:

  • minor adjustments after a week or so of riding
  • touch up paint or clear nail polish on scratches
  • polishing frame with Pedros Bike Lust
  • cut fenders struts
  • ride for another 7yrs!

Hang Pro Wetsuit Hanger

25 05 2011

Hang Pro wetsuit hanger...

In the winter I’m surfing and in the summer I’m kiteboarding. Since I don’t live on Maui that means wetsuits all year round. Since I spend so much time in my wetsuits I buy quality items that fit me well and are made specifically for the water sports I enjoy. So naturally I’m interested in protecting my investment. One issue is drying and storing wetsuits on normal hangers puts a lot of stress on the suit as it is pulled down onto the sharp edges of the hanger by its own weight plus the extra weight of any water when wet.

How to gently hang and dry your wetsuit...

My friends Sean and Deanna gave me a couple of the Hang Pro wetsuit hangers shown above that they picked up on their globe trotting travels this year. These hangers let you easily hang your wetsuit by the waist and have a very wide curved edge the suit hangs from to ensure it’s not damaged.

Hang Pro in action...

The hanger is a robust product that’s made in the US. For the cost of a decent 6 pack of beer you can get one and it should last pretty much forever. Hanging your wetsuit this way is easy on the suit so you can store it like this for as long as you need to.

Hanging a wetsuit on a normal hanger...

You can see the same wetsuit on a normal hanger in the photos above and below. Keep in mind the suit is dry so it’s pulling down less than a suit that’s wet.

Eventually you'll stretch out the shoulders and damage the seams...

How hard is it to install metal fenders?

24 05 2011

Velo Orange hammered bling...

I just finished installing a set of Velo Orange fenders on my Surly LHT. This is my second set of VO fenders. Having previously installed a couple sets of Berthoud stainless fenders which required a lot of DIY I was ready for a decent amount of work to install these VO fenders. I was pleasantly surprised when they went on as easily as a typical set of plastic fenders, which is to stay pretty easily with no drilling or difficult setup that I could mess up. Taking my time I managed to install both fenders and mud flaps in about an hour on my LHT having a bit of practice on the first set.

Clearly VO put a lot of thought into how they could make a fender set easy to install on a variety of bikes. They provide a lot of hardware including leather washers which are a nice touch. Especially given the reasonable cost for a set.

You can read VO fender installation instructions here.

If you’ve been thinking about metal fenders and been concerned how much hassle they’d be to install I recommend giving them a shot. They’ll be on in a flash and they add a very functional bit of bling to your ride.

My LHT with new VO fender installed...

I can’t deny how sweet a nice set of Honjo fenders is, but given they cost 2-3 times what an equivalent set of VO fenders sell for I’m likely to use VO fenders on most of my bikes and save the Honjos for a few select rides like my Boulder Bicycle All Road. Happily the Fairfield Bicycle Shop is a local Velo Orange dealer that stocks quite a lot of their products so I can buy these fenders locally on short notice most of the time.

What is Kite Bar Pressure?

23 05 2011

Your interface with the kite...

If you are new to kiteboarding you’ll read kite reviews talking about bar pressure as well as hearing other kiters discussing the subject. So what is bar pressure? Well you are connected to your kite through the front and rear lines. The front lines go straight to your harness via your chicken loop [black loop closest to you in image above]. The back lines are attached to your control bar and you use them to steer the kite with. Additionally the control bar sliding towards you or away from you changes the angle of attack of the kite [how much air it catches] which increases or decreases power from the kite. The design of the kite and the bar will determine how much force you feel at the bar in at a given windspeed with a kite. Some kites really pull hard on the rear lines so you have to pull back hard to keep the bar where you want it and you have to pull harder on the bar to steer the kite. Some kites are in the middle and some kites offer very light bar pressure.

Here are some examples:

  • Ocean Rodeo Rise: you’ll feel very little pressure at the bar for a given windspeed with these kites. I generally fly mine with one hand just lightly on the middle of the bar and I can steer the kite with 1 finger.
  • Naish Code: you’ll feel a ton of bar pressure compared to the OR Rise. My arms get tired after a 2hr session on one of these kites.
  • Liquid Force Havoc: this kite is between the two kites above. It pulls hard enough you get lots of feedback from the kite, but it’s not obnoxiously hard to hang onto.

OR Rise = so light you forget it's there...

What’s the best?

There is no right answer when it comes to bar pressure. Some like it hard, some like it light and some want medium pressure. If you are a weaker rider or have tendonitis issues you’re likely to want a kite with light bar pressure. When you are learning having a moderate to high amount of bar pressure can be good because it lets you know where the kite is and you won’t steer it with light accidental input to the bar. Before you buy a kite make sure you try it and understand what it feels like to fly it – keeping in mind there are many designs and they feel quite different from one another.

LF Havoc = medium bar pressure...

What do I like?

I really like light bar pressure when I kiteboard. Partially because I have chronic tennis elbow issues and partially because a light bar lets me control my kite very easily for gracefully intuitive riding. When I demo a kite the first thing I notice when I’m out on the water is how hard to I have to pull on the bar. My test is after 30-45mins of riding with a new kite am I thinking about the bar or is my attention on the board and the water? If the bar is pulling too hard my focus is on the bar and I don’t like that. If the bar pressure is light I’m flying the kite with one hand and my arm is relaxed so my brain shifts to the important part of the experience the terrain I’m riding and my board. The kite starts to fly itself and I love that feeling.

My friend is stronger and stockier than I am. He doesn’t notice or mind a kite with high bar pressure. So you really have to try a few kites to see where you fit in.

More pressure = more power?

You can have two different kites that are both equally powerful, but one has very light bar pressure and the other pulls your arms out of their sockets. Remember that the energy that moves you around the water is transfered to your body via the front lines through the chicken loop attached to your harness. The back lines are for control. So don’t assume a kite with lots of bar pressure is necessarily an extremely powerful kite compared to one with light bar pressure. The reality could be exactly the opposite.

Nitnaht Lake First Session…

22 05 2011

I was seeing red at Nitnaht!...=-)

Kurt and I got out to Lake Nitnaht for a great early season kiteboarding session on Friday. We took a chance as conditions this time of year are not reliable, but our gamble paid off as we had epic conditions and only two other kiters on the whole lake. I got onto my board in the shallows and was riding for 30mins before my first wipeout. I was pretty shocked how cold it was…brrr! Being on top of the water wasn’t bad, but as soon as you went down it was chilly. I was wearing a 5/4/3mm Pro Motion kiteboard wetsuit which was fine, but I’ll be using my Ocean Rodeo Predator drysuit next session which has a hood. Kiteboarding is more passive than surfing so you don’t generate as much body heat since you aren’t paddling and if things go wrong you can be in the water for a long time getting things sorted out or just floating towards shore. I was super impressed when Kurt came in and wasn’t wearing surf booties or gloves – he’s a trooper!

I thought all my biking this spring would have made me ready for a day of kiteboarding, but when I got up the next day I was so sore. My legs barely worked and my abs were screaming! It seems like I am always a month behind the fitness power curve..;-)~

Kurt is flying green...

The pain was worth it. I can’t wait for another trip out to the lake. Talking to Mike C it looks like I can run a control for him on the 600K and still get out to Nitnaht for the weekend. Now I just have to pray to the weather gods for sunshine to power the thermal winds!

Velo Web Reader’s Rides…

22 05 2011

Boulder Bicycle All Road action...

Raymond Parker publisher of The Velo WebLog was kind enough to add my Boulder Bicycle All Road to the Reader’s Randonneur Rides section of his site.  Thanks! Since I haven’t published a full review of this bike yet the material posted on Raymond’s site is a nice concise summary of my experiences so far.

Yes I am Lazy!