46 miles on a trike and bike sale!

Along with numerous shorter rides, went on a 46 on the trike. No problems, no hassle. Rode a really crappy gravel road–meaning crappy as in poorly maintained, not crappy as in not fun. If you’re in the area, look up Sax Road near Wallkill. Ignore the dead end sign. The only issue was the 300-yard long section of knee-deep leaves. As you can imagine, interesting on a trike.

PS–yes, I’ve been riding my trike without a helmet, which is something I’d never do on a regular bike. After today’s 45-mph descent I think I’ll reconsider that strategy.

For my next act, I’m going to get a 2-wheeled recumbent of some sort. As some of you may recall, I rode a low racer in NYC for a couple years the last time my neck broke. I sold them after I could get back on a regular bike. This time, though, I’m resigning myself to permanent recumbency.

It’s very sad to say this, but I will soon have multiple upright bikes for sale. Looking at them is depressing. I have spent thousands of hours on these bikes and I clearly will never be able to ride them again. Keep in mind when I say “best bike I’ve ever ridden” it is from a thoroughly informed viewpoint. I’ve ridden a lot of really, really nice bikes.

You can contact me for details, or wait until I get around to posting them. They’re all around 57-59 cm. All have been ridden hard but are perfectly maintained. Well, except for the GT Grade–that one is virtually new.

First, the very best bike I’ve ever ridden: English 700C. I almost want to keep this one just for sentimental value. All Campagnolo, except for the fancy Clavicula crank. Round rings currently. I think it is around 13 lbs, possibly a little lighter without the Swallow boat anchor, possibly a little heavier with the Enve wheels  I guess what I’m saying is that it’s light but not sure of the precise weight–definitely under 15. Amazing bike for distance rides. You can look here for geo. You can do approximately 1 cm plus or minus on the saddle, if you wanted to go lower you could cut the seat tube a little.

Keep in mind my neck was already a problem when this bike was built, so it’s a little more upright than would be ideal for many.

And the second-best bike I’ve ever ridden. English 650B. Good for crushing it on gravel. You can have the shaved tires too! Again, built for distance. Mechanical dicks, unfortunately, although the HyRd are pretty good. Same geo as the 700C version.

Just as an aside–if you like bikes, I mean if you really like bikes, you owe it to yourself to ask Rob to build you a bike instead of buying another off-the-shelf carbon fiber machine from a major manufacturer. I can’t imagine how a bike could ride better, or be better suited for their intended purpose, than the ones you see above. Plus no weight penalty for steel!

This one really hurts. My Rene Herse. So many cool things on this bike. If I were to build it again, though, I’d do it with a more modern drivetrain. Currently has a double, not a triple (what was I thinking?). Step-top light switch, SON hub, brake cable routed through the seatpost (it’s easier to deal with than you’d imagine). No, I did not take this picture–I do know small-small is a no-no. Berthoud bag with side pockets trimmed off included.

And finally, a GT Grade (Ultegra). Basically a new bike.

I also have, sitting around, a sweet Moser if anyone wants it.

Two more: A partially built Teledyne Titan (original titanium fork uncracked) and a Moulton, the cheap one.

Now some recumbent pictures. Yawn.

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Pictures of My Foot

Yeah, that’s what you’re getting from now on. At least for as long as I have to ride a recumbent.

30450477812_4368c424cc_b

Rode 20 miles today. Key learnings:

  1. Recumbents, even nice ones like mine, are jury-rigged POSes. One clear reason why they are not more popular is that they require a full-time mechanic to fix all the bits. Today on a single ride my shifting went to shit, an accessory mount almost ended up in my spokes, and my taillight rattled off its mount.
  2. Recumbents can climb hills pretty easily. I didn’t end up climbing any slower except on the steepest of hills.
  3. Wow do cars ever avoid you! Any fears of being squashed as a result of being so low to the ground were alleviated. Oh, and nobody dares the “three-fold pass” — you know, when there’s an oncoming car and the asshole behind you decides he doesn’t want to wait 3 seconds to pass you, so you have three vehicles occupying two lanes. Or someone ends up in a ditch.

Definitely need to work on the recumbolegs.

John

The Bourne Recumbency

Hey, did you see that Jason Bourne movie where there’s a recumbent bike chase?

Yeah me neither.

After a few months off from riding because of my neck (yes, there was more than one attempt at riding a regular upright bike), I finally gave up and bought a recumbent. Oh, not just any recumbent. A recumbent tricycle. A 25-pound recumbent tricycle (not my picture, but almost precisely the same as my bike save the crank).

If you look at it objectively–without any of the prejudices of an upright-bicycle rider, it looks pretty cool, right?

Went for my first ride today. I wouldn’t say I’m a convert; I will always be first and foremost a “diamond frame” rider. Going up the massive hill just out my front door was a bitch. Of course I was in the middle ring and didn’t realize it. Once I got to the flats, it was pretty amazingly fun…I’m definitely as fast as I am on my upright bike–probably faster today as there was a terrible headwind. And downhill is like being on a rocket sled. I stopped at the bike shop and drew a serious crowd–not something that I am fond of but lots of positive feedback, and a couple people took test rides.

So, all in all, not a bad way to get back on a bike for a guy with a broken neck. Oh, by the way, no neck pain at all. Not that I’d expect any.

Already have plans for upgrades. First and foremost: A Compass Extra Leger on the back–probably can fit a 28 mm. Maybe I can talk Jan into some Compass 20″ tires? I’m guessing probably not. Second, I have some Enve SES 7.8 that I didn’t use extensively for my road bike, as I was getting blown around too much. Obviously I’ll just use the .8 wheel. Then maybe some 20″ disc covers. Oh, and a Clavicula crank to cut another pound off. I’m shooting for a sub-20 recumbent🙂

Tomorrow: 48-mile ride up and over the ridge! I’ll try to take some pictures.

John

 

Lessons Learned (Personal)

Hey all,

In the spirit of being completely open, I’m going to admit that I did something stupid.

I’ve been setting up a fancy audio system in my office–after all, I listen to music 12 hours a day (at a minimum) so it’s a very worthwhile investment. I’m driving a Peachtree Nova from the digital coax output of my computer; I have the Peachtree set up as a preamp (even though it has an amplifier function because I’m using a McIntosh MC275 tube amp. All of this is going to Lipinski 707 studio monitors on my desk. Yes, they are enormous. I have a Y connector from the preamp outs so I can simultaneously run a sub. As nice as the Lipinskys are, they are a sealed-box design, so they have little bass.

 

The other day I decided to try the Toslink output (I had tried the USB output previously, but I can’t get the driver to work on my shitty Windows 7 computer. I had an optical cable still in the package because I was going to use it to drive the audio from my television, but I later found out that the optical out doesn’t work if you are using HDMI in. Why, I don’t know, but that’s what it says in the instruction.

I plugged in the cable to my computer, noting that they fit poorly, and then into my preamp and listened to some music. It sounded subtly crappy. The balance was off a little to the right, the bass was flabby. So I went on a hunt for the problem, switching around tubes, plugging and unplugging things.

Well, I FORGOT TO REMOVE THE LITTLE CLEAR RUBBER CONDOMS FROM THE END OF THE TOSLINK CABLE.

That is all. There goes a couple hours of my life (and 2 minutes of yours for reading this)!

Good news though: I managed a 9.5-mile hike up Gertrude’s Nose in the Shawangunks. A+ hike, a little hard climbing all those rocks with one fully functional and one partially functional arm, though.

John

 

 

All Your Anechoic Chambers Belong to Me

]Went out for a very brief first ride today. Only 9 miles!

So…anyone know of an anechoic chamber in the tristate area that I would be allowed to use–even if I have to do an all-night session? I have several calls in, including one to my alma mater, but no dice so far.

The reason? I need to take some exceedingly accurate measurements in order to design my crossover. Now, I could do them by correcting for reflection from the floor and ceiling, but that wouldn’t be as much fun, would it?

measuring_a_diffuser_in_an_anechoic_chamber

Personal: Finding the Right Cap

As you can see from the below my hobby while not able to ride has become audiophilia. Rational audiophila, but audiophilia nonetheless.

I’ve decided to try my hand at developing an active triamped system using DEQX as a room correction system/electronic crossover (actually, the speaker is biamped and I’ll be running dual powered subs, so in essence it is a triamped system). I’ll write more about what this means, why I’m interested, and how I chose DEQX in a later post–in fact, I plan to document the entire process so that it can be replicated by someone equally naive. It should be interesting, as the hardware comes with a 178-page manual, and I also have to learn about DACs and a lot more details about amplifiers and speakers than my current “that sounds nice.”

I reserve the right to go back and edit these posts, as I’m likely to convey a lot of misinformation as I go along. In fact, I definitely will be coming back to these and cleaning them up so that it becomes an effective guide.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Before I scare you off DEQX forever, you should be aware that a) basic setup, which provides truly astonishing sound, is simple even for the technically disinclined; b) a dealer can set it up for you; and c) you can get a free 3-hour setup session via Skype if you prefer to take a middle route. I am just going the absolute hardest route–setting it up myself and using all of the most advanced features–because I find it entertaining.

I also plan to give some plugs to the various techs and businesses that are helping me figure this out and suffering through my dumb questions.

For now, though, I need a capacitor. Why? Regular passive speakers have a crossover that divides the signal from the amplifier so that the high frequencies go to the tweeter and the low frequencies go to woofer. The crossover acts as a natural protection against the amp frying the tweeter (the woofers are, apparently, more tolerant). Because active amplification means that I’m connecting the tweeter and the woofer directly to the amp, the tweeter needs some form of protection. And that protection takes the form of a capacitor.

So, capacitors (which store electric charge) come in all different values, measured in microFarads. I needed to figure out what size to get. According to the DEQX manual, I needed one that falls 2 octaves below my crossover point (the point where the frequencies are divided into high and low for the tweeter and the woofer), which in this case is 2800 Hz. Octaves are not linear, instead there is a 2:1 relationship. So 2 octaves below 2800 Hz is 700 Hz (divide 2800 by 4). (One octave below would be 2800/2 = 1400 Hz, and three octaves below would be 2800/8, or 350 Hz).

Then I had to get my tweeter data sheet to identify the resistance in Ohms at 2800 Hz–which turns out to be very close to 8 Ohms.

Now, plugging that into this handy formula:

C=1/(2*pi*f*R)

C=1/(2*3.14*700*8)= 2.84 x 10^(-5) = 28 uF

So I need a 28 uF capacitor. That value isn’t common, so I chose a 33 uF capacitor, which I purchased from the nice Canadians at PartsConnexion. Voila!

(Obviously this is a 6.8 uF capacitor, not 33 uF).

Alternatively, you can use this website to calculate the required capacitance:

http://www.claredot.net/en/sec-Sound/high-pass-cross-over-6dB.php

Good times were had by all. Now I have to learn to solder.

Executive Summary:

  • In an active biamped or triamped situation, a protective capacitor between the tweeter and binding post is desirable
  • The correct capacitance is determined in X steps: 1) Get your tweeter data sheet and find the resistance in Ohms at the crossover point you choose; 2) find the frequency that is 2 octaves below your crossover point by dividing the crossover frequency by 4
  • Plug it into the website above
  • Buy two from PartsConnexion (because they are lovely Canadians)

To be continued.

John

Personal: Connecting Cello Stereo Components — The Elusive Fischer 104 Connector

Remember when I said don’t read my personal posts? There are going to be a lot over the next few months as I recover. Just general stuff I’m thinking about.

I have the pleasure and privilege of owning some Cello gear. Cello was a company started by Mark Levinson that sold very high-end audio equipment in the 90s. Many of the components were used in professional audio studios.

For example, here’s the Audio Suite and Palette, perhaps the finest equalizer ever made (I’m a strong believer in the value of tone controls, none of that audiophile short-path pure signal bullshit).

audio-palette

The major problem with Cello gear is that instead of using standard balanced XLR connectors, they used some crazy Fischer connectors because they “sound better” (audiophile bullshit). It’s virtually impossible to find the proper information on these cables, much less get them made.

After extensive research, and some help from my friends at Blue Jeans Cable, I found the correct part numbers. I’m putting them here as a public service announcement so that nobody needs to go through what I did to find these little assholes.

S104A040-80 male with E3104.3/8.7+B strain relief (fits cables up to 8.7mm D).

S104Z040-80 female with E3104.3/8.7+B strain relief (fits cables up to 8.7mm D).

fischer-s104-3-pin

In case you want to make your own cables, you can buy them from Michael Percy at Percy Audio. I recommend Blue Jeans cable though–well made, inexpensive, and no weird superstitious crap about cables and connectors sounding different etc.

Bored yet? I’m making a long list of rides and hikes to do as soon as I recover fully…hoping to get back on the bike by October!