[Bike] – Taking the GT Avalanche to the trails

“It was only -10C that day”


This is a warm day in Edmonton


Everything is covered in snow


I am not looking forward to the clean-up work. However, I had a lot of fun making this mess!


No pictures of me wiping out on the bike, but here’s what happened when I told my friend about the event. Me in blue, friend in gray.

My approach to nice mountain bikes:

Out in the wild, do whatever it takes to keep the wheels spinning. Get wild, wipeout (optional), whatever! Have fun πŸ˜›

Back at home, baby it like it is your one and only. Take good care of it and it will serve you well in the next ride πŸ˜€

New exercise every day!

While crawling around the internet, I ran into a massive list of exercises.

Curiosity strikes again!

I have decided that I will try all of them πŸ˜› If running has taught me anything, starting small and taking it slow is the way to go. Of course, throwing in some break days would be great too πŸ™‚

What I will do

Every day, I will try a new exercise and we start easy.

The next day we will do the same exercise we did the day before + the new exercise for that day.

Every three days is break day.

Increase length for previous exercises

Example

Day 1: Exercise A – 1 min
Day 2: Exercise A – 1 min, Exercise B – 1min
Day 3: Exercise A – 1 min, Exercise B – 1min, Exercise C – 1min
Day 4: Break Day!
Day 5: Exercise A – 2 min, Exercise B – 2min, Exercise C – 2min, Exercise D – 1min

The list

I’ve filtered out everything that requires some kind of apparatus or equipment investment, so basically all one would need for these is a floor πŸ˜‰

Most of these I’ve never heard of, but then again, I only run and bike, so all this stuff is new. I don’t even know what they do.

Insert here <i_have_no_idea_what_i_am_doing.jpg>

Jan 3 – Drop squat
Jan 4 – Split jump
Jan 6 – High knee run
Jan 7 – Butt kick
Jan 8 – Skater jump
Jan 10 – Power skip
Jan 11 – Carioca
Jan 12 – In and out squat
Jan 14 – Rotational chop
Jan 15 – Running Mountain climber
Jan 16 – Spider Mountain climber
Jan 18 – Super skater jump (Replacing skater jump and power skip)
Jan 19 – Side to side Mountain climber
Jan 20 – Diagonal Mountain climber
Jan 22 – Semi-circle Mountain climber
Jan 23 – Jumping Mountain climber (*stop* high knee run jump)
Jan 24 – Long Jump Mountain climber (*stop* Butt kick)
Jan 26 – Seal jack (*stop* Drop squat)
Jan 27 – Jumping jack (*stop* Split jump)
Jan 28 – Plank jack (*stop* Carioca)
Jan 30 – Cross body jumping jack (*stop* in and out squat)
Jan 31 – Predator jack (*stop* rotational chop)
Feb 1 – Burpee (*stop* running mountain climber)

Somewhere down the road we “stop” doing some older exercises. This is because:
A) I am trying to keep this under one hour every day
B) On top of these my primary transportation is by bike, so I spend an hour on that every day too
C) I have other things to do (like writing this blog!)

Hopefully I can manage… (Today is break day! Well, it was… like 5 minutes ago)

[Bike] – Exploring the gears on a bike

Bikes nowadays feature a lot of gears regardless of price range.

Representing a decently priced mountain bike with a market value of 800CAD, my GT Avalanche has the following:


Sunrace CS-M98 – 9 speed cassette


SR Suntour XCM-T414 – 3 speed crank

With 3 in the front and 9 in the back, this in total gives the GT Avalanche 27 gear combinations to play around with. Woah

Representing a cheaply priced mountain bike with a market value of 100CAD, my NEXT Challenger has the following:


Unknown manufacturer – 6 Speed freewheel


Unknown manufacturer – 3 Speed crank

With 3 in the front and 6 in the back, this in total gives the NEXT Challenger 18 gear combinations to play around with. Talk about value!

Woah, what should we do with all those gears?

I bike on the road with cars pretty often, so getting up to reasonable speed quickly is often my #2 concern. (#1 being how to stop effectively in snow) So understanding what these gears mean would help. Since we have numbers, it looks like we can check this out using math πŸ™‚

First step – Rotations per minute (RPM)

It is safe to assume that I can comfortably pedal at ~70 RPM, with a max burst at ~90 RPM. Pro’s can do 120, but hey, I’m not a pro.

Second step – The gear ratios

With different combinations of front and back gears, it will give us different ratios. For example, if the one in front has 22 teeths (the spikey things), and the one at the back has 11 teeths, this gives us a 1:2 ratio. That means, every time we do one full pedal (1 RPM), the wheel at the back will spin two times.

For this exploration, I am going to use the GT Avalanche as the number of teeth in each cog is clearly documented.


Data for the front


Data for the back


All the possible combinations. Ratio = Front / Rear

But hey, the ratios are all over the place, let’s sort them by ascending order


Here we can see that, going with a bigger gear in the front doesn’t always means faster! We can go with a 44 in the front and 36 at the back, giving us a ratio of 1.22. Meanwhile we can go with a 22 in the front and 15 at the back, giving us a higher ratio of 1.47!

*With 22 in the front and 15 at the back, this qualifies as “cross shifting” on my bike. This should never be done if you love your bike. But for the sake of math, we will assume that these are valid combinations.

Third step – Calculating the speed

Speed (km/hr) = RPH x Ratio x Circumference of wheel in km

RPH = Rotation per hour = Rotation per minute x 60 = (90) x 60 = 5400

Ratio is calculated in step 2

Circumference of wheel = 207cm on my GT Avalanche or 0.00207km


Basically, if I pedal at 90 RPM, these are the speeds that I will get with the different gear combinations.

Armed with this information, it is up to your personal preference / ability to determine how you would like to ride.

Personally on the road

I consider 15km/hr the casual bike speed and it looks like 32:24 will get me there

Next I would aim for 20km/hr the reasonable bike speed on bike lanes and it looks like 44:24 will get me there

Next I would aim for 25km/hr the reasonable bike speed on road and it looks like 44:18

At this point I would consider the bike speed to be “road friendly” so going faster from here is optional and dependent on road conditions.

Those gear choices seem fairly arbitrary what was the thought process?

One might ask for 25km/hr why 44:18? Why not 32:15? Both are pretty close. Let’s explore the 20km/hr >>> 25km/hr scenario a bit.

Given the tables:


At 20km/hr, our gear combination would be 44:24. That is gear 3 on front, gear 4 on back.

Going to 25km/hr using 44:18. That means our target combination is gear 3 on front, gear 6 on back. That means two upshifts on the back will get us there. Number of actions = 2.

Going to 25km/hr using 32:15. That means our target combination is gear 2 on front, gear 7 on the back. That means, one upshift on the front and three down shifts on the back. Number of actions = 4.

Every single time you shift are times that you can’t pedal as hard because the gears are “shifting”. I want to accelerate as fast as possible so cars don’t hate me (which they probably already do). To do this we would want to minimize the amount of time shifting so we can spend more time pedaling.

Therefore, I’ve chosen 44:18 as my next gear combination instead of 32:15.

The same logic applies to what was previously proposed…

0 >> 15 – I use 32:24 which are gear combinations 2 and 4.

15 >> 20 – I use 44:24 which are gear combinations 3 and 4. So one upshift on the front will get us there

20 >> 25 – I use 44:18 which are gear combinations 3 and 6. So two upshifts on the back will get us there as discussed above.

If additional speed is required: one upshift on the back (so 3 and 7) will get me to 32km/hr

If I still need more speed: one upshift on the back (so 3 and 8) will get me to 38km/hr

More speed? One upshift on the back (so 3 and 9) will get me to 45km/hr

I might as well be a car @ 45km/hr (Not that I sustain this lol)

TL;DR the shifting makes sense, we minimized shifting time so we can spend more time pedaling.

* On top of that, none of these are “cross shifts” so we are still being nice to the bike πŸ™‚ (3 and 4, might be pushing the definition a little though :P)

Why are there so many gears if all you are going to use is like… 3?

Short answer: different target speeds for different scenarios.

On the road we had very clear goals. 0 >>> 15 >>> 20 >>> 25.

But what if you were off road? Your goals might be 0 >>> 5 >>> 10.

This is a mountain bike and they are supposed to handle a variety of terrains, so all these gears are there for those specific use cases.

Is it necessary to shift though?

Biking around town? No. However, your chain might live longer if you do. The shifter on my NEXT Challenger was left broken for a month or two. I single speeded it all the way. I picked a “middle of the road” gear combination. This resulted in:

A terrible 0-15 acceleration. I’ve stretched the chain a little doing this and my legs are way beefier now (woohoo adaptation :P)

A top terrible top speed. 25km/h? Not possible given my current max RPM.

But did I get around town ok? Sure I did.

Do I miss my gears? Sure I did.

[Bike] – NEXT bike gets an upgrade (well more like replace :P)

Just because I have a new one doesn’t mean the old one doesn’t get some love too πŸ˜›

Today the shifters I ordered a while ago finally came in the mail.


Shimano Tourney SL-TX30

Low end of the Shimano’s, but hey, anything beats a SunRun. The old shifters were grip shifts which means they are part of the old grip too. Removing the grip shift to a thumb shift meant I needed new grips too. Thankfully, the grips that I separately ordered came in on the same day. Yes, they are purple so it matches the frame color. Here’s the new shift and grip installed:


The left thumb shift is responsible for the front derailleur. It is not indexed so it is a friction shift, this is quite common in cheap or low-end shifters.

Verdict

Holy crap, these are terrible as they are super stiff. They are only slightly better than grip shifts in the sense that they are not grip shifts. If you are looking for a shifting nirvana, look elsewhere.


The right thumb shift is responsible for the rear derailleur and it is indexed. Blue button upshifts one, and being a thumb shift means you can downshift from 6 to 1 in one thumb push.

Verdict

These are actually quite the joy to use. The up shift button gives a very similar feel to the much more expensive Alivio (SL-M430). When it comes to down shifting, I reckon that this is even better. The Alivio that I have on the other bike features Shimano’s “Rapidfire” technology. In simple terms, you can down shift three gears at max with a single push. The Tourney here doesn’t feature that, but because it is a thumb shift, you can down shift from 6 to 1 in a single push. Take that “Rapidfire”.

For those who are hardcore about the shifting “feel”, again, these feel similar but are not Alivio’s. Their cheapness does come through as you can feel the lightness.

Overall

+ It is nice to have a standard grip now (vs grip shifts which introduce a bulge on the side of the shift)

+ It is not a grip shift (Grip shifts are meh, oh and they also wear your gloves out more)

– As you can see, the button you push is in the middle which is okay and reachable by the thumb. Problem occurs with the lever on the top and your thumb is usually near the bottom.

They shift, they work, they are not grip shifts and they are priced cheaply (13 USD).

Sidenotes

* The purple grips fit! They also feel nice!

** Krazy glued the broken mount for the speedometer and it worked!

[Bike] – Cateye Velo 9

Take a step back in time… I bought this:


EBay: 1.99CAD + free shipping (~30 days)

How did it hold up? Surprisingly, rain didn’t kill it, snow didn’t kill it, low temperatures didn’t kill it and drops didn’t kill it. What did break was the mount, which is responsible for connecting the speedometer itself to the sensor. Hmmm.

My NEXT bike (read: Walmart) has definitely taught the lesson where at least in the bike world you get what you pay for. Which eventually led me to buy a nicer bike, the GT Avalanche 2014. So I wondered if this rang true for things like bike accessories.


In comes the Cateye Velo 9. One of the more popular entry-level bike computers next to the Sigma BC 5.12.

Price? 29.99CAD + 5% Alberta Tax + 1 hour of biking in -10C to find a bike shop that has the thing in stock.

Let’s get the shallow stuff out of the way:


Although plain and simple, it looks good when mounted on the stem.

VS


Uhhh yeah… it looks like I mounted a small CRT TV on to my handle bar.

Functionality

Identical. Okay, the Cateye has one more feature, it tells you how much carbon you have offset for riding a bike instead of a car. But yo, I don’t need a 30 dollar speedometer to tell me that it is more environmentally friendly to ride a bike than a car. I know Cateye, I know.

So what are you expecting out of this at 15x the price?

Quality. I expect this to outlast + give me less downtime than the EBay speedometer.

The question to answer

As you can see the EBay speedometer is back up and running because I Krazy glued the mount back together. Every time I have to do that is a dollar gone to the Krazy glue gods.

This is a question of lower initial cost + high maintenance cost down the road (EBay) or higher initial cost + lower maintenance cost down the road (Brand name stuff)

The test

The EBay speedometer is mounted on to the NEXT bike, my “grocery run” bike (<5km runs)

The Cateye speedometer is mounted on to the GT Avalanche bike, my “commuter” bike (>5km runs)

Let the test of time begin…

[Online adventures] #9 – Pentax Q

“Possibly the cutest mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera”


I use a Sony NEX-5R as my primary camera, an APS-C mirrorless camera. However, even though it is a mirrorless camera, because it uses a larger APS-C sensor, the lenses are correspondingly big. Therefore, I wanted a camera that is small enough to take with me everywhere. However, I wanted to do this without sacrificing DSLR-caliber manual controls.

Essentially, I wanted a camera that satisfies these three goals:

– Small and fun to use casually

– Has manual controls so it can get serious when required

– Cheap as I already have a more expensive setup that I’ve already heavily invested in.

Well, if you want something cheap, EBay has it covered!

EBay: 122.3USD + 10.68USD shipping

For about 150CAD in total (back when CAD was similar to the USD) I got a second hand Pentax Q! Meeting one of our requirements, cheap πŸ˜›


On the left, Pentax Q and on the right, my trusted Sony NEX-5R.


Close-up with its flash deployed! Its almost transformer-like.

What is so special? Isn’t this just a normal compact camera? Wrong.


As hinted above, this is an interchangeable-lens camera. Here’s the geeky bits of the sensor:

Sensor size = 1 / 2.3, 4:3 aspect ratio, BSI CMOS, 12MP with sensor shift image stabilization.


It also has a standard hotshoe for external flash


Full control with P/Av/Tv/M modes (in the Sony world they would be called P/A/S/M)


All that packed into a pacakge that is slightly shorter than an IKEA cup

Don’t let the small size or toy-like appearance fool you, this camera has DSLR-level controls. This camera now meets 2/3 of my requirements.

Small but fully loaded


21 scene modes


11 digital filters that can each be adjusted


11 color filters that can each be adjusted


High dynamic range, multiple exposure shots, interval shooting (timelapse) all here.

DSLR-like manual controls + 21 scene modes + 11 adjustable digital filters + 11 adjustable color filters + HDR + ME + time lapse. Fully loaded indeed.

More filters


See that mysterious dial? That is a dial for filters so you can get to them quickly!


Yup, this camera has nine more filters that you can assign exclusively to the front dial.

Theoretically perfect

– Cheap, check.

– Has manual controls, check.

– Small and fun to use casually, check.

But is it practically perfect? Let’s find out in the test shots.

Test shots


1/80 @ f2.8 ISO 125 – Social setting, just put the camera in auto and enjoy the moment.

Deserts at Duchess bake shop with friends. Camera in full auto mode.


1/1250 @ f2.8 ISO 125 – Physical shutter test

At anything slower than 1/2000, it uses a physical shutter.


1/5000 @ f2.8 ISO 400 – Electronic shutter test

At anything faster than 1/2000, it uses an electronic shutter, up to 1/8000.


1/3200 @ f4.5 ISO 500 – Here we want a fast shutter speed to freeze the bee. I chose 1/3200 fairly arbitrarily but it did what it supposed to do. The bee was frozen.


1/4000 @ f2.8 ISO 250 – Here’s the fun part! Filters! This one is called tone expansion.


1/8000 @ f2.8 ISO 250 – Unicolor bold, you can really get creative with these filters.


1/1600 @ f2.8 ISO 125 – Cross process


1/50 @ f4.5 ISO 6400 – Here we can see the limitations of the small sensor; however, combined with a filter (tone expansion here) the shot is actually not bad.

Conclusion

I got what I wanted! This camera is capable of being a compact camera that is fun to use day to day. As in the auto-mode is fine, filters are fun and even better when you have quick access to four of them with the quick dial in front.

When we really need it, the full manual controls are there.

The smaller sensor does become a problem in lower light situations with noticeable image noise after ISO 800.

Overall a great camera that is small and easy to bring with you, yet delivering image quality that is above what you will find in a phone camera.

Bubble Waffle (ι·„θ›‹δ»”) Attempt #idonotknowanymore

I’ve been rapidly prototyping so many bubble waffles lately I’ve lost count what number is this. As of now, the fridge contains materials to make ~30 more.

Under the advice from a person from Macau, I’ve further refined the formula and it’s getting really close taste wise. As a nice bonus, it is also getting pretty close looks wise!