Saturday, March 31, 2012

Triple Dip

There are a few thing that mean spring is here in a usable way. It starts by me shoveling the snow from my deck and wheeling the grill away from the house and burning up some burgers because I can't see in the dark to know if they are done.

Next is playing on the bad ice but I've already covered that in previous post.

Last is a trip to Crosby Ironton for a long day of deep clear water diving with my buddies. Two weeks ago this tradition happened. Joe, Terry and myself made the long drive a-la-truckpool to Crosby mines. We've been diving them for something like 8 years and it's always a good time but the visibility isn't that great this early. Spring run off and all so we have about 20 feet but we didn't really care.

It's a good time because it's such a great area but we just really want to go deep to break the monotony of 3 months of shallow ice dives and all the stress of diving under ice.

Last year we placed Terry's old dry suit in the mines. It's common for divers to place items in the mines so others have something surprising to find. We inflated "Ichabod Diver"  and brought him to 60 feet with the idea to have him standing on the bottom for others to enjoy.

 Above: me working while Terry holds a foot.

 Left: Terry and Ichabod. I made a skeleton from 2x4s and a fun noddle. Weighted by rocks.

Below: Me at 60 some feet trying not to tie myself to a corps in a massive silt storm. Yes, I'm under that thing.
 This spring the first task was to find Ichabod on the south side of Alsted. Terry and I had a hard time of the placement and nether of us knew where we left him.
Dive site 1. You can see it's a cold ugly day.
We find our target and move it to 30 feet so other may find it easier and move to dive site two.

There we find a 3 wheeler from the 80's. I 'ride' it for the camera but the silt is monstrous from three divers laughing and fining up the bottom. The rest of the dive is lousy so we bail but the 3 wheeler was a good find and a great laugh. Terry finds a frog while I clear my mask and otherwise look at rocks and sticks.

Terry with me in back
Yes, trees. This was an open pit mine for decades.
Site 3 was about as bad of a dive site as 2 but without the three wheeler but it did have a rope swing! Who can pass up a rope swing when it's 33 degrees and the water is 39 degrees,,, I know, I can't. We must have played on that thing for an hour.

The third and final hurtle to spring was in the books and we managed to make the best of three rather poor dives on a gloomy cold day so Joe and I jumped for joy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ice Out Dive

My ice diving was weak this winter. I only got to scuba under the ice about 10 times because I was distracted by Fat Biking and other things. Last year it was more like every weekend and something like 33 dives. They all looked like the photo on the left.

In this photo the ice is new but thin and the water is pooling because our weight is pushing it down. Ice is maybe 4 inches.

We would cut 6 holes in a day and be on the lake for 8 hours or so.

The tails of the season when the ice is very poor is the best to play on with a dry suit and friends. In fall the ice is hard and clear and cracks loud and make cool spiderwebs under your feet before it drops out. In spring it's all soft and it bends and water pools under your feet like walking on a hard mattress before breaking. This photo on the right is early ice about 2 inches and we broke though after walking next to each other. Breaking through from the top is easy but going under and trying to break out is very hard to imposable. In order to lift the ice you'd have to create a bubble and you can't.

My buddy Terry and I went out to Lake Garvais last Saturday thinking we could find some weak ice to play with but it was all open water. It was a little sad to not find any ice but we had a couple of fun dives with visibility about 6 feet and water temp of 38. We spent 45 minutes on the first dive and 35 on the second dive. We saw lots of things like old ice skates, boat parts, steel beer cans from Schmidt, Hamms and the lot. All mostly junk but it holds your attention long enough to find something new to look at and show your dive buddy. I mean, most of this stuff hasn't been touched in decades. It's like a museum covered in thin silt and they let you touch.

Summer at the beach!

I found a bottle from 1855-1865 (marked L&W glass) and a Hamm beer bottle that I assume is worthless and I don't have a price on the L&W. The bottle on the right is the old one. I spent about an hour researching it and it's a match for a Post-Bottom Mold (vented) with Applied Finish (lip) that and the maker mark allowed me to date it. So I go for a dive and pick up a bottle thats laid on the bottom for the better part of 157 years.

Anyone want to buy some old glass?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Slick 50 Ride

I get a call from a buddy telling me I shouldn't miss out on a ride called the Slick 50 and from what I can tell its put on by cars*r*coffins and from the ride, I think they are great people to boot.

We all muster up in back of oneonone bike like a bunch of hobos waiting for the soup kitchen to open. I didn't count riders but the top picture is real close to 10am and a small group of On Timers. The ride was suppose to start at 10:30 but muster was 10am.

Much closer to 10:30am and the crowd swells every few minutes with groups of riders rolling in. By this time it is too large for my narrow lens.

Those are the only photos I have because a few minutes later we roll out and get out on the streets. There are over a hundred to start with and it's awesome to own the lanes with such authority. We are moving too fast with too many hazards for me to mess with a camera and not crash and wreck 100 riders behind me. 

The pace starts out slow with a narrow trail and pedestrian traffic but once out into the clear air we crack the throttles and blow out the winter phlegm. Speeds start bumping 20 mph. The organizer listed a 13-17 speed so that was lost to us hammer heads in the front and the attacks started in the hills and some fun breakaways between friends or like minded sprinters. I followed one to 31mph before it ended. I had the lead in a hill climb sprint only to lose to a stronger rider from Freewheel on the last 100 yards. I felt strong and was holding about 10th place on the major climbs without killing myself but it hurt never the less. Pace was in the 20's much of the time.

The entire ride was a blast and although the speeds were too high for some in the back I was having the time of my life. I don't have much experience with large pack rides and if they are all the same fun folks from today, I'll have to try a few more.

At 50 miles and 3 hours we stop at a pizza place for beer and I have my fill and then head out to finish the 30 miles to my house. I figure the 2 beers should fuel the ride but 2 beers will get you 10 miles so I eat a snack and power on for 12 more miles before the snack runs out. I'm only 8 miles away and just push into the headwind without more fuel. By the time I get home I'm at the edge of bonking. I refuel with beers and snacks with the wife on the deck before a big grill-out.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bike Stand

I've been busy riding with my wife for the last few weeks and that means more maintenance and possibly more bikes; if I can find a place to store the 6 we have.

This morning I spent an hour working on her old bike before a 40 mile ride to Stillwater and back. It was early and I just wanted to get on and go but I had to change some parts and I made do without a stand for the last time.

When we got back I went to the hardware store and got some 1 inch pipe. 90 degree, 2 short pipes, a flange, and one coupler for $18 (wow, I know. I could cut and tap the pipe myself but I bought to save time) . I go into my shop and start working out the plan to build a bike maintenance stand.  (my shop is a mess from winter)

I don't really have a plan for the clamp but I think I can start with this as a bench mount if I can figure out the clamp. So I pace around the shop looking for inspiration and trying to work out a simple clamp with few parts and no precision machining (I don't have a milling machine - yet)

I have an old 10 inch Vise-Grip that is mostly fried from years of welding and figure that will do. I cut some angle for jaws (I have a few 100 pounds of assorted steel on a rack under my workbench) and tack it with the welder and it looks promising.

I need to weld the Vise-Grip to the mount but the flange is a issue. I had hoped to use that for a rotation clamp/lock but I flip the mount and the clamp fits well on the coupler that was suppose to convert to floor stand.

I tack weld the clamp to the coupler and bridge weld the front in order to get vertical alignment as needed. I tighten the pipes with a wrench and I can adjust the rotation on friction. I'll tap and install a jib screw if needed but for now friction seams to work.

Weakly welded but it holds and it has all the design elements, simple and easy to adjust. The two small Vice-Grips holding it to the welding bench are just for design work.

Fully welded. At this point I consider the project a success.I have about 1 hour into the project.

A quick grinding to clean up my welds and a coat of paint to give it a finished look. I only had red and white paint on hand ....

I put a cup holder on it, because I could! It took almost as long to install as the entire build. I only had metric taps in the correct size, and my screws were all standard and I had to search my stock for a match between what works with bottle cages, what screws I had, what taps I had, and what fractional drill bits I had.

I'll add some padding to the jaws to protect the seat posts. I'm thinking urethane weatherstrip or some heavy rubber hose if I can figure out how to affix it.

Cost is $18 for pipe and I had everything else so even if I replace the Vice-Grip it's about $28.

Finished. Carpet worked. W00t Mayor.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Man: The Trip

The MAN in ManTrip is obvious, or is it?

First you'd think it's like the scrawling on a boys tree house, "no girls!" Or does it mean we`re going to do some scary stuff and you better Man up. Is it because Josh is The Man for putting such a great trip together or did he just need people to man the trip? I think they are all correct and I'd also like to express intensity, Man! What a trip! 

I was the new guy on the trip with little idea about whats going to happen but I know I'm not going to puss out of anything. I don't quit easily and if the Man in trip meant anything to me, it's Man Up and show that I earned a place on the trip.

The Caribbean is nice this time of year
I like to think of these as Norwegian Jellyfish
Ice Reef
Any time you have gear, you have repairs.
Camp 1 - First morning
A roomy 2-man tent and -20 bag.
Day 2
I saw this Gnome. That's good luck.
He wasn't to happy to be left behind.

Narrow trails gorged with snow are so peacefull
We are trying to follow a creek but it's a slog and it gets dark soon...

When I die, if I can look out from a photo, this is it. 
[Insert long hard snowshoe to a location off the map]

Ride / Snowshoe / remote camp is a lot of gear, uffta.

Tacos and a night out on the beach
-5 degrees. 
Last ride

When I leave this place, it's all done.

The van grew horns. Toro!
I may have gotten the pictures in the wrong order but they are close. The beach camp photos look the same but I assure you, it's a different day but it's the same spot.

If we started out wondering what the man in Man Trip meant you probably know where this is going. You can decide for yourself based on the pictures if it meant anything at all. I feel stronger for advancing my winter camping skills, extending my north woods knowledge and testing my fortitude. If I have to quantify it, I say, man evolves because of his strengths but people die for lack of challenges. The Man Trip is seeing how far you can mentally hitchhike before you have to develop stronger skills or be left behind.

Trip 2012:: Man: Extinct Hominid
Trip 2013:: Man: "no girls"