Monday, October 29, 2012

From Very Northern Florida, With Love

To all tree huggers:

First Snow Videos

Here they are. The first one shows the skateboarding ramps are empty. Those tiny wheels do not work well in two inches of snow! <evil grin:->

The other is shows a real life braking test on a snowy bikeway. Not really icy yet because the snow hasn't been trampled on enough, but there was some ice on it anyway. The big trucks do not have studded tyres so they're  pushing the limit a bit by stopping at a steep hill. I'd say they couldn't have fit trough the underpass, so they would been stuck if they couldn't get up. They could have turned left or right but came up straight, and afterwards I was wondering if they turned back or drove through the no entry signs to the pedestrian crossing to get to the street at the very beginning of the video.

Note the mail van, it's a special, expensive vehicle designed for mail delivery ie. right hand drive so the mailman can reach the boxes :-)

The last of the videos I uploaded is sort of a video response to  bicycledutch's cycling past red lights blog post. The Dutch with their bikeways segregated from the road  often get to ignore the traffic lights. In T-junctions and when doing right turns there often is no conflict with other road users so why should a cyclist be penalized by a red light. This (cycling past red lights) is common in Very Northern Florida too.

Some commenter talked about the aversion to two-phase left turns: having to first cross one street and then wait at another red light certainly is a pain. Even if you don't have dutch intersections, if you have paths on both sides of the street you can cross the street when ever it's best for you and then make the left turn at will.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My world is bright today

When I looked outside in the morning I saw it had snowed last night. Maybe two inches, so the snow plows had been at work. My neighbours were scraping the windshields of their cars, while I was still having my breakfast. Riding a bike in the winter sometimes saves time! At least when it's only a few degrees below freezing so one doesn't have to put too many clothes on.

On the other hand any time I had saved was lost when the rear tyre started to leak. It was empty after the night so I inflated it and I thought nothing about it, but then I could feel the rim making contact while riding. Well the leak is slow so I could get a kilometer for each re-inflation.

I also rigged up the camera again, and even edited the video and put them to an usb stick but then forgot the stick at the computer table before I left for weekend. So you won't see the white scenery until Monday, and by that time the snow might be gone again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Riding on the needles

I was asked in the youtube comments if all the leaves had fallen yet. Not quite all, but most of them. And a lot of needles by these weird spruces.

Here's a clip I put together from my rides yesterday and today. As you can see, it is very much like autumn: ice on the ground and falling leaves and so on. It gets below freezing during the night but usually thaws during the day, so there isn't any snow or ice. Except I did find some for the video yesterday because the day was so cold it hadn't all melted away.

And today was windy, and the Oulu River had waves on it. Usually the river is almost as smooth as glass but today I certainly wouldn't want to go out there in a row boat!

Oh, I haven't heard by old bike so I got a single speed bike for cheap. Seems that Oulu isn't quite that flat as I thought when I had gears in my bike. Maybe I should get hub gears for it.

It's a sit-up bike, with a rack which I like. On the other hand it had flat tyres, the rear axle needed tightening (the ball bearings were about to fall off, typical of some discount stores which don't know how to assemble the bikes properly) and it has no lights which are needed this time of the year. And mandatory, too. So it's taken me a few days of fixing and tuning to get it up.

For the lights I've had to hold a lamp in my hand but I got the 'see me' led light system ready, now I've just got to install it. I took an old bike light, sawed it a bit and put a bunch of leds inside. With a bulb it took 250 mA, with leds I can run it less than 20mA and it's still visible. As it has a reflector in the middle of the lens and light goes everywhere it's not really good light for seeing in the dark.

The other light project, modifying a head lamp with a 3w led to work as a 'see far' bike light is still in the works. At least now I got the solder and other gear on the table so I might actually work on it a bit.

I was going to take some photos of the rear axle while I was cleaning it and stuff, but after I took the first photo and did some work on the bike my hands got dirty and I couldn't take more photos. You'd' have to  see the bike as it was to see what I mean. Even the chain was so gunky it was doubled in size. And I didn't have any bensin or diesel to soak the chain so I had to scrub it by hand. Any soaps I had didn't work on the gunk and I didn't have the mechanics hand scrub soap like some other blogger used recently (who was it?). So in the end I used veggie oil and it seemed to work almost fine. And it's environmentally friendly. :-P

Now I just have to get these black grease stains out of tables, door handles, floors...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Picture of the day

This is what it looked like in the morning. First snow of the winter. It was still snowing so it looked very promising when I took the photo. A little snow on the ground would make the world a lighter place.

Isn't it pretty? Green grass, white snow and orange trees?

And then, fifteen minutes later the rain changed to sleet and then into water and the snow was gone.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Darned Thieves!

Today there was news about a thief snagging a handbag from a lady. This time it wasn't  the perp on the bike or a scooter. No, it was the lady. The lady thought the thief was going to push her off the bike but she dodged. It wasn't until later she noticed the bag wasn't on the rear basket. Oh, she was 87 years old and riding a bike.

I'm not quite that old and at the moment I'm not riding a bike either. Some darned thief stole my bike! It's an old clunker (a red MTB) but it was my main mode of transport for local trips. Now I have to walk or drive. Blah.

Walking is so slow and driving and parking is a hassle. By the way, I was in rush hour traffic congestion the other day. It really exists, it's just that I don't see it while riding a bike. Now I had to drive and I saw it. Amazing.

The chances of getting the bike back soon are slim. Many stolen bikes get thrown in to the river and will not be found for years. Some will be taken in use or sold. Some will fill the bike parking in front of the apartments, but as everyone knows only their own bike they can't know some of the bikes do not belong there. And every few years they donate the abandoned bikes to charities. If the bike is abandoned in a public place in a way that it looks like it is abandoned, it will go to lost and found - unless someone decides to re-steal it again.

Now I'm left with a 26" studded tyre (will my next bike have 26" wheels?), a  speedometer which is useless without the sensors and the lights which I can't mount on the next bike without the mounting brackets. Blah.

Well, at least I can use the lights while walking. It's getting dark in the evenings.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Summer photos: swamp

Here's some photos I took during the summer. They were all taken even further north, a few hundred kilometers northeast from Oulu. I spent some time there, and these were taken when I was out on a cloudberry hunting trip. The cloudberries grow on swamp, as you'll see.

You might notice the spruces in the background have branches pointing down and the whole tree is narrower than what you might see here in Oulu. It's because there's more snowfall during the winter and wide branches would collect too much snow on them and break. A few hundred kilometers can make a noticeable difference in the shape of the trees.

Here's what one swamp looked like. Not bike-friendly, I tell you!

I also saw reindeers in their natural habitat, not tied to a tree in a park in the middle of Oulu. This one was maybe 15 meters away. They aren't very afraid of vehicles so one can get photos of them.

There's about three times as many reindeer crashes as there are elk crashes, even though the elk population is mostly in southern Finland where there is lots more people and more traffic.

Reindeers live in northern Finland where there's less people. But as they're not afraid of cars they spend more time on the roads. They like to eat grass on the shoulders of the roads (maybe they lick salt, too) and they use roads as places to walk and even sleep. Being gray they're actually pretty hard to see until you're close to them, and then they might get scared by the car and run wildly in front of the car.