Monday, December 27, 2010

Ceci ne Sont pas des Collines

It’s not the hills you capture; it’s the light.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010, California

The star I was following in the later part of the day. More of an asterisk, really.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Wine & Roses 2010

I was up early enough to see Orion come home from the hunt and Helios get his chariot out of the garage, which meant I got to see the golden hour just after dawn through the mist rising off my coffee in a Styrofoam cup.

Last time I did this ride, it was also beautiful. We started just after dawn then too, under a fresh rainbow. I knew the scenery would be just as good today, but October weather’s always a wild card until it happens.

We ended up with a gorgeous late harvest day, starting off crisp enough to call for a windbreaker, climbing to summer 80s (30° C) by the afternoon.

The Wine & Roses ride winds through vineyards and equestrian farms, olive orchards and open pastures.

The roads are never too challenging, but they roll up and down a little to keep things interesting, making this a great late-season ride, a carefree cap to a good year, a victory lap of sorts.

Bicycles are inherently discriminatory against anyone with more than two legs. If you have four legs, there are tandem frames, but I haven’t seen a good solution for those who articulate eight.

Still, this little friend was making pretty good time up the pavement. He ducked off into a vineyard later, staying out of thick brush and bramble. Autumn is mating season for tarantulas. I saw one last year too, on a different stretch of road. They’re amazing creatures, large as mice but less alarming, since they don’t scuttle and dart. Tarantulas promenade gracefully. All they need is a parasol to complete the image.

The wine country around Paso Robles has had a great late warm fall, after a cool, mild summer, nearly perfect growing conditions for the grapes. The grapes got plenty of sun but weren’t likely to starve for water or burn as they grew, and the winemakers have had the luxury of letting them plump out on the vine, adding flavor for a final few weeks before harvest, with no threat of rain or mildew from an early temperature drop. Most of the crop is off the vine by now, but a few vineyards were still wrapping up a relaxed harvest.

Far down in the valley below . . .

. . . is where you can see this road, which I’m about to swoop down onto.

The cows had it figured out.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Images from the Los Angeles River

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Getting Your Bearings Right

Morning project: Replace the bearings underneath this bad boy, so it stops binding when it rolls back and forth.

Step 1: Detach the gantry from the trolley plate underneath it. The bearing trucks are bolted to the bottom face of the trolley plate.

Step 2: Hoist the gantry up a fraction, just enough to clear the trolley plate . . .

. . . just enough so you can see daylight between the gantry framework (on top) and the trolley plate (which it normally rests on).

Step 3: Start advancing the trolley plate out from under the raised (and braced) gantry, in order to open up access to the bolts that attach the bearing trucks to the bottom of the trolley. Keep advancing . . .

. . . and advancing, until the trolley plate is clear out from under the braced gantry.

Now you have access to all the bolts that go through the trolley plate to hold the bearing trucks onto the bottom of it.

Step 4: With the top face of the trolley plate exposed, undo the bolts that attach the bearing trucks to the bottom of the trolley. (The bearing truck is the C-shaped hunk of metal directly underneath the plate from where he’s loosening a bolt.)

Step 5: Slide old bearing trucks down guide rail to remove.

Step 6: Amuse self by gasping at how trashed the old bearings got.

This is a bearing truck turned belly-up. Normally this side of the bearing is what slides back and forth on the guide rail.

See the row of balls, a little bit hidden, toward the top of the picture? There’s supposed to be another entire row right underneath that, and you can see the channel for them—the bearing race—but they’re all missing.

See the deep groove that cuts halfway across the bearing from the right? That’s not supposed to be there at all. That’s the spot where a single ball got stuck under the bearing and was dragged back and forth long enough to erode that groove into the steel of the bearing truck. Nice. What’s amazing is that the gantry was still going back and forth at all.

Step 7: Slide new bearing trucks down guide rail to install under trolley plate.

Step 8: Reposition trolley plate under gantry again. Align and re-attach. Check for extra parts. Cross fingers. Repeat above steps under opposite side of gantry. Put away tools. Go home.