The Last Poem To Be Written

“When, when & whenever
death closes our eyes”

still shall I behold her
smiling such brightness

lady of brightness &
the illumined heart

soft walker in my blood
snow color sea sound

track of the ermine
delicate in the snow

line of the sea wave
delicate on the sand

lady of all brightness
donna del mio cuor.

“Quanddocumquigitur nostros mors claudet ocellos”:
Propertius in the “Nox mihi candida.”

James Laughlin (1914-1997)

Epic Fender Installation

Bought some VO 48mm fluted al-oo-min-ee-um fenders when they were on sale for like 40% off and I finally installed them yesterday. Mind you, this is all part of a larger effort to scale the Gitane into the best city bike it can be, namely a 6 speed with fenders. I think that’s about as far as I can take it. In its current fixed gear configuration it has lasted an astounding 6 years or so and has traveled with me to several large East Coast cities (is it Germanic in nature that we capitalize this?). And now I think it’s finally time to put gears back.

I believe the ~1972 white “Tour de France” Professional model came with 5 speeds, probably of the Maillard or Normandy freewheel variety (I know this wasn’t the higher end model with Campagnolo equipment or dropouts, Simplex all the way). I’ve already re-tapped the rear derailleur hanger for a modern threaded derailleur and used a rotary cutting tool (yes, VO fenders, it was for you) and notched it for the “B-Screw” that non-Simplex derailleurs of a modern sort now have. I even installed a rear rack that I’ll likely have to give back to a friend who is moving back East this summer (see, I capitalized East there because it’s in reference to ‘East Coast”, which may or may not be consistently capitalized).

So yeah, a single Suntour ‘retro-friction’ bar-end shifter will faithfully deploy the Shimano 600 rear derailleur across an equally old but unused 6 speed Shimano freewheel. Hopefully, I can stretch the rear dropouts enough (and dish the wheel) to get the whole system to work miteinander. I’m looking forward to shifting those Suntours.

As a non-sequitur: HMS refers to both a style of locking carabiner and the Münter hitch belay. HMS literally means Halbmastwurf-Sicherung or ‘half clove hitch belay‘, where ‘mastwurf’ is German for ‘clove hitch’ and you securely belay your partner using half a clove hitch & rope friction. The terms ‘Münter hitch’ and ‘Italian hitch’ can be used interchangeably. Or you may find yourself using a friction belay device of some modern variety.

Velo Orange 48mm Fluted Aluminum Fenders

Velo Orange 48mm Fluted Aluminum Fenders

DMM Sentinel HMS Carabiner

DMM Sentinel HMS Carabiner

Perfect pour, bicycle poetry, wide boots & other inanities

Ask and you shall receive, the “perfect pour”:

A bicycle wheel zoetrope animated film via Velocanoose entitled “The Cyclotrope” as created by Tim Wheatley of Falmouth Cornwall, UK:

The Cyclotrope from tim Wheatley on Vimeo.

On a side note, the track Tim uses is from a follow up to one of the few CD’s I felt immediately compelled to go out and purchase, that is Konono N°1’s “Congotronics” which is amazing. Anyhow, the track he used is from one of the follow up albums, “Tradi-Mods vs Rockers – Alternative Takes on Congotronics”.

Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers

Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers

And, on the brightest note of all, I found double plastic high altitude mountaineering boots that fit EE to EEEE wide feet. The Koflach Arctis Expe model (eg. the Arctic Expedition), they stopped making these for a couple of years while the company was restructuring but now Scarpa appears to be selling them. I tried on just about every boot I could get a hold of and these fit the best & I paid well below retail for a nearly unused pair:
Koflach "Arctis Expe" Double Mountaineering Boot

Houdini Guccini

Me & Houdini

Me & Houdini

I recently bought the Patagonia R1 Hoody and the Houdini windshirt. This past week I tested the Houdini in cold wet, icy and snowy conditions in upstate New York.

I was skeptical of this “piece”. Many reviewers claim ecstatically that it’s the single best windshirt out there. Bold indeed. The Marmot Ion née Trail Wind Hoody is certainly less expensive and the DriClime Windshirt a bit heavier. Oh, but the cut? Most Patagonia stuff I wear in size small, but sometimes I find small feels constricting or medium feels a bit loose. With the Houdini and R1 Hoody I ordered size small and the fit is athletic but not tight and you can wear a thick baselayer underneath, while the hood fits nicely over a hat or the R1 Hoody.

The first of many runs I took wearing the Houdini was in the rain and melting snow. So far so good, it kept me warm and dry, much unlike my feet. Next up were two hours of snowshoeing. Uphill I was hot, but simply flick off the hood, pull up sleeves, unzip, and go. How about running in a snow storm @ 18°F? Perfect again, the DWR works well and the cut of the shell is really well done for movement. The final test were two bouts of classic Nordic skiing. One afternoon it was almost 32°F out! I was on fire. Nonetheless with the wind I kept the Houdini on, though I did take off the gloves and hat! It was too hot on the snow.

The next morning proved a better test, 10°F on icy XC tracks. I kept the hood on over my hat and wore my goto Black Diamond MidWeight gloves. Once moving I was warm and stayed warm, never getting clammy as I have in other windshirts. My older thin Pearl Izumi cycling jacket I ran in frequently this winter would often become clammy within 30 minutes of running, whereas the Houdini breathes well and keeps the precipitation off.

I certainly haven’t tried every windshirt on the market, but I can tell time was spent getting the Houdini dialed in. At approximately 4oz, folded into its own pocket, it’s a no brainer to bring it traveling or zip it on for a cold early morning run. It’s on my “go list” for Alaska.

Not Making Any Small Plans

Went up North. The first two days involved cold wet feet on iced, melting snow and snowshoe tracks. The next day we awoke colder to a fresh 8 inches and still falling. We ran in the snow on the roads. The following morning we ran again, faster and longer, on the icy shoulder. I Nordic skied in the sunny afternoon. Next we awoke early again and skied, it was 10 degrees Fahrenheit. I took the train south. It was good seeing friends.

Hudson River North

Hudson River North

Insulate Yourself

Also, today Lifehacker via Low-tech Magazine reposted a short article about the merits of adding layers of insulation to your body instead of overly heating or adding insulation to your dwelling. I can confirm that putting on layers does in fact keep you warmer. I can also confirm that 55 degrees F indoors is not particularly enjoyable and I’d rather have a better insulated dwelling instead of wearing my belay jacket indoors at all hours of the day.

Also, while I appreciate the sentiment of “put on a sweater” or “put on more layers” as the differential between the outdoor and the indoor temperature increases, air leaks become even more noticeable. When it was 8 degrees F outside one night the draft inside our 100 year old home, whether running the gas heat or not, was incredible. Now that the weather has warmed up the indoor temperature is much more stable and the draft is significantly less noticeable.

There are lots of pages online about “sensible“, “latent” and “convective” heat and cooling loads. I found a nice page from Dr. Chan in Hong Kong, he has pages on both cooling and heating calculations.

Indoor Belay Jacket

Indoor Belay Jacket