Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Saddlebag Like no other

Here's some snaps of the gigantical saddlebag I made for the big trip. I already have a handlebar bag and a pair of Ortlieb panniers for the front where I'll carry my heavy stuff - I'll carry my clothes on the back under my bum in the bag.

It's held in place under the seat with a wooden dowel I sharpened with a pencil sharpener - it fits exactly in
to a groove I made in the top of the bag. Then it's bungeed to my back rack so it won't bounce around too much. I have a re-purposed leather belt that I'm planning to shorten and poke extra holes in to put where the bandana is now.

Materials: an old yellow raincoat, an old curtain, a zipper, 2 bungee cords, 1 bandana, a strip of reflective tape off my fireman coat, and of course, 6 feet of pink bias tape and some white squiggly stuff.

The bag is pretty huge - it's got all my clothes for the trip in it - two pairs of spandex, 2 jerseys, socks, undies, a wool hat, a jacket, a towel, the works! And spots for 4 water bottles on the sides.

I took my loaded-up rig for a test spin around the park this evening, and it felt really great - all the heavy stuff is up front, which works well with my
old french bike's geometry. Also, the big, tall Mercier bike feels totally plush even loaded up. It's like butter, if butter would take you down the backroads at 11 miles an hour... The real test comes in 10 days - cross your fingers for me!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hey Blogosphere, can I sleep on your couch?

Hey, Blogosphere!

I'm getting ready for my big bike trip - from the 4th to the 16th of July, I'll be riding my bike from Syracuse, NY through the Adirondacks, Vermont, and New Hampshire to Portland, Maine!

Any chance you or anyone you know lives along the way and would like to put up (floor/couch/back yard) an exhausted, happy, and personable cyclist, who might have some adventures or misadventures to share, namely me? I can repay your kindness with postcards, beer, or fabulous knitwear... Get in touch if you do!

Specifically, I'm headed through the southern Adirondacks (Raquette & Blue Mountain Lakes) to Ticonderoga, then (depending on how things are going) either heading north up the west side of Lake Champlain, across by boat and through the Green Mountains in Vermont and New Hampshire, or more directly through VT/NH via Bread Loaf & Conway, then heading east thru Maine, coming to the coast around Damariscotta, then down the coast to Portland.

Any recommendations on must-sees along the way, or awesome ocean-y beaches on the Maine coast? Let me know! daniel dot yuhas at g mail dot com

Whew! I'm getting butterflies just thinking about it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Birthday (observed)

Hey look! It's happy Daniel! THANK YOU, Caro, for throwing me such an awesome party! I'll spare y'all the goofy everybody- at-the-table snaps, but thanks to everybody who made it so special!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Third Century - accidental Metric

It's my 33rd birthday, and I did the Ride for Autism in Jersey today. It got off to a rocky start. I was up at 5 after 4 hours of sleep, with no voice left after screaming my head off for the Bronx Gridlock at rollerderby last night. By 5:30 I was in the car and on my way to New Jersey. I somehow got myself ridiculously lost, taking the wrong bridge from Staten Island.

I have this thing about getting lost in New Jersey. Like one time, E and I tried to pick up our cats from Newark airport using the U-Haul truck we'd just moved to New York in. She got out of the truck to pick them up and I had to circle around the airport grounds and check back every now and then. I nearly slammed the truck into a bridge with low clearance, then somehow got kicked out of the airport altogether and had to turn around and make it back again. Bad news in so many ways.

Or this other time, on my 29th birthday, I blew off work and did a long ride bushwhacking my way south through the 'burbs from the George Washington bridge without a map, figuring I'd wind up in Staten Island eventually, or take the boat from Monmouth if I was making good enough time. I wound up by the Meadowlands stadium and couldn't figure a way homeward that didn't involve walking my bike along the shoulder of the freeway. Eventually I wound up hopping a tipped-over fence, bike in tow, and whacking through some marshy underbrush to get back onto the surface roads. I seem to be doomed to repeat the time in high school when my family got lost on our european vacation, trying to walk into downtown Paris from our hotel - all five of us wound up walking on the shoulder of Autoroute A4. But I digress - back to this morning:

After much fretting and 2 gas stations' worth of directions, I made it down to the community college in Monmouth where the ride started. I pulled my bike out of the car and pumped up my front tire, which promptly exploded with a valve tear. Somebody passed by and said "hey, your day's gotta go uphill from here!" Thanks!

I didn't get going 'til almost 8:00. I'd been planning to be on the course by 7. Oh well. I figured I could cut it short and do the Metric instead if I wasn't feeling it. Which is what happened, but not on purpose - I missed some turns and spent some time following someone who wasn't on the route. About 35 miles in I realized I couldn't figure out where I was on the cue sheet any more, though there were other riders ahead and street was still marked for the route. Finally there was a rest stop and somebody pointed out for me where I was - "I'm not sure what you did, but you're 20 miles from the end now." So I took the last 20 miles of the ride easy, heading into the wind at a leisurely pace, glad that my getting lost worked out all right for me this time.

Highlights of the day: a family of geese crossing the road - mama goose, papa goose, baby goose. Hooray for geese! After the ride: a nap in the back yard. Even when the riding isn't so great, I love the post-ride high, and the few hours of feeling content with not doing anything at all. Also on the drive home: lunch and cheap sunglasses at the Cheesequake Travel Plaza. I don't know why exactly, but I love travel plazas. Bonus: the travel plaza had a penny smasher! Unfortunately, since parkway travel plazas aren't so much destinations in themselves, they were all pretty generic, so my new smashed penny doesn't say Cheesequake on it, but what can you do?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Ruffled Sunburst Sea-Anemone Baby Blanket

My sister Abbie had a daughter yesterday - Hannah Joy Burzynski, f/k/a sprout - hooray! Hooray for palindromically first-named nieces! Hooray for symmetry and frills!

Here's the baby blanket I made her. I was in the home stretch of finishing up the fringe when I got the call yesterday that I was an uncle again, so last night I plunked myself down in front of an endless supply of ABC reruns on the computer and finished it off. Hooray again!

It's a variation on the classic pinwheel blanket and also a couple steps removed from the blanket I made for her first, Ethan, which was pieced together using pinwheel/lace octagons and squares. I'll try to post snaps of that one soon - it's from my pre-digital era.

Abbie's husband Ben is really math-y, so I've been thinking of all the math stuff you could teach a kid (or a grown-up for that matter!) with this pattern. Triangles, spirals, arcs, squares, octagons, 16-a-gons, for starters. Also multiplication and exponents, since it goes 4/8/16. Although it's not a true sunflower pattern, Fermat's Spiral
and all manner of fun with Spirographs. Then later on, more higher math series stuff like Factorials and Triangular Numbers and Fibonacci numbers... The body of the blanket is also kind of like a circular family tree, now that I think of it. How a propos.

I also ruffled and frilled and fringed the bujeezus out of this one... I knew the ruffley-ness would happen because I added more and more stitches as the piece got wider - adding 4 stitches per round would make it flat - adding 8 per round made it ruffle, and adding 16 per round made the ruffles ruffle. I found the fringe pattern in the first Nicky Epstein
over-the-edge book, which I also explored when I made Lowly the scarf (snaps soon!) and it added so much bulk to the blanket, it took on a weight and a life of its own!

Teddy Bear Sunflower? Sea Anemone? Gramma Tilda's shag carpet? Solar Corona? I've been looking a lot at Helle Jorgensen and My Art Grows Around Me lately, and I flatter myself to think that it shows...

I made this using plain old Lion brand yellow cotton on size 4 needles, and the fringey bits are incorporated into the bind-off instead of being sewn on - baby stuff is meant to get barfed on, and this should last for years (generations?) and hold up just fine in the wash. It's one heck of a wubbie. Please love it, Hannah!

For something so complicated, it's surprisingly simple and intuitive to make. If you'd like to take a crack at it, you can find the pattern here.