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Mon, 25 Sep 2006

Silva L1 and fixing a problem with it - 13:56

My Silva L1 Head Torch (full size)

One of the battery holders, the cut down knobs are visible (full size)

During Geoquest this year, Ian and Michelle were both using a Silva L1 head torch for all night time stuff (bike, foot, etc). This is a 3 W Luxeon Star based LED head torch that is powered by 4 AA cells. It may not be quite bright enough for tight single track as found in endurance mountain biking events, however for adventure racing it appears to be a damn fine light.

I was using a 1w Luxeon LED based head torch on foot and a 5w bar mounted light for bike sections during the race. My head torch was not powerful enough to really navigate with or spot controls and the batteries required for the 5w Nightstick were a pain to lug around. Ian and Michelle on the other hand had strong, focused, adequate light for everything we were doing. Thus I decided to buy myself one of these lights. Alina from AROC gave me a good deal on the (which they stock in the AROCShop) light and hey presto I have one to play with.

I put the Alkaline cells that came with it in and powered it up, rather bright indeed, so I went and purchased a bunch more rechargeable NiMH AA cells to use with it and thought all would be well. During the night rogaine last week I went to change batteries and to my dismay found they did not work (yes I know I should have tested before the event). I was worried that the light required 6v to work and the 4.8v from rechargeables was simply not going to be enough. I could find no details online or with the manuals that came with the light as to voltage requirements. Ian and Sarah who both own one of these lights however claimed they can use rechargeables with the light.

Sitting in my office talking to a colleague about it last week, he looked inside and tried putting the rechargeable batteries in. He noticed they did not appear to touch the contacts in one of the battery holders, looking at the battery, the OEM AA cells had longer nipples than the rechargeable cells. Looking inside the battery case there is a useless plastic knob sitting next to the contacts that juts out and holds the battery nipple away from the contact. So I got out a knife and sliced as much of the knobs away as I could (for some reason only one side of the other battery holder had this problem) and hey presto the rechargeable batteries work perfectly in the light after all.

It would be nice if Silva did not put the little plastic knobs there, however if anyone has a similar problem attempting to use rechargeable NiMH batteries in a Silva L1 have a look and be sure the nipples are touching the contacts.

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Thu, 21 Sep 2006

The shoe saga update, or my Imelda of the mtb shoe world impression - 22:05

new shoes front, Top older to the right (full size)
The shoe cycling shoe saga continues, I bought myself a new pair of cycling shoes today. In the photo above I have all the cycling shoes I have owned since 1997. On the top right are the Lake brand shoes I bought in January 1997, top middle are the Shimano shoes I bought in September of 2002 when I finally realised the Lake shoes were beyond worn out. Top left are the Shimano M181B, which is effectively the 2006 model of the M180 shoe that I have had replaced under warranty a few times. I bought the M180 shoes in January of 2004 and have had them fail approximately every 4 to 8 months until I got the M181B shoes in November last year.

As I have had the M181B shoes for almost a year now I thought I should probably not claim warranty on them now, though they are failing in two places they probably should not so early in their life. Rather than claim warranty for a 4th time I have finally bought a new pair of shoes, hopefully these will last for a bit longer than the Shimano shoes do. The new pair of shoes pictured in front are the Specialized Comp MTB which have been getting a lot of positive reviews and word of mouth opinions in the last year.

As for the other shoes, I now have a pair of shoes (the M181B) that do not feel awful to wear so I can use them in wet weather or similar and finally do not mind the idea of throwing out my older cycling shoes at long last. The first pair of Shimano shoes (pictured middle) lasted for 15 or 16 months until they really needed replacing, the subsequent Shimano shoes have lasted mostly 4 to 6 months each, until finally this pair (top left) is starting to break down after around 9 or 10 months. I really hope the shoes last for a while, I hear from friends (two in particular who do in fact ride as often as I do) who have mountain bike shoes they purchased in 1996 or so still going strong and am somewhat jealous.

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Wed, 20 Sep 2006

ACT Schools MTB Championships went well - 22:17
I took the rest of the day off work today after tutoring in the morning in order to help out at the ACT Secondary Schools Mountain Bike Championships race which was run by CORC.

I thought it was pretty incredible last year when we managed to get around 180 students along to the race. This year there were 249 school kids there racing their mountain bikes in school teams. How fantastic is that, definitely good to see them all out there having fun on their mountain bikes. At one point while manning a marshal point I got my camera out and took some photos, until my memory card was full. I am currently uploading them to the CORC Image Gallery where they will be in an album under events sometime shortly. (update, photos are up)

If you wish to see the results Russ has uploaded them to the CORC website in the Junior Events section.

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Tue, 19 Sep 2006

One way to spend a Saturday - 17:24

Crash, Jaymz and DeathMarch at the eagle rock lookout on Stromlo (full size)

Jeremy and Libby looking toward Canberra near a control on a hill (full size)

There are 8 million ways in which to spend a Saturday, this has been one of them (with apologies to "Naked City" (more info))

Saturday morning I hopped on the Single Speed mountain bike around 7:30am for a ride out to meet Crash, Jaymz and DeathMarch near Stromlo, the purpose of which was for a friendly mountain bike ride on the brand new rather enjoyable Trunk Trail that is part of the CORC Stromlo development. It was indeed a pleasant way to start the day, and the coffee and cake at the new cafe at the top of Stromlo was good too.

On my way back into town I realised the Bilbys were likely to have finished the road ride and be heading for a cafe, I managed to ascertain the name and location of the cafe the fast bunch went to and headed over to Sfoglia's in Dickson to meet up for some breakfast (though it was midday by this time) with them.

Libby and Jeremy had both been on the road ride and were at the cafe, I was able to confirm details with them for what we were doing that evening. Which leads on to the ACTRA 2006 Nightgaine.

This year they were nice to us all and rather than have a 6 hour night gaine starting at midnight it started at 6pm and finished at 11pm, as always with ACTRA events the food put on for competitors as we finished was great (thanks DEWR Hartley crew), though of course the main reason I entered the event was in order to practice my night time foot navigation.

Apart from the fact I need to run more to improve at foot events, I really do want to practice difficult navigation more and more often now days. I can start to see why this sort of event is so much more fun as you learn to navigate better, the times we walk straight onto a control due to our bearing and accurate path through the scrub really were good. On the whole we had fun at the event and I am looking forward to the next one (Spring 12 Hour in November with Lina)

So I had a fun Saturday, how was yours?

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Mon, 18 Sep 2006 is a damn good name - 17:20
There has been a discussion (and in another thread) on the linux-aus mailing list sparked off by Jeff Waugh suggesting both Linux Australia and should have a name change.

Personally I disagree wholeheartedly with the idea of changing the name of the conference, and though I do not have a strong opinion on changing the name of Linux Australia, I have not seen an argument with any real reasoning and well thought out points as to why it is entirely necessary. So I weighed into the discussion on Friday afternoon with a semi lengthy set of thoughts on the matter.

One thing I realise I forgot to mention is that Linux is the generic most recognised term worldwide for Open/Free Software already. Jon "Maddog" Hall reminded me of this in his response to the discussion (recommended reading). We have a well known brand with, as was pointed out by Andrew Cowie, a conference can change their name as "" has from the old Linux Bangalore name they had, however their name change was in part because they saw how incredibly cool the name was for a technical geeky conference.

Geeks get the idea of and appreciate the conference name. If you wish to attract sponsors or delegates that do not understand the conference enough to grok this I wonder if you really wish to run There has been some suggestions of running some other event for a number of years, a new alternately focused event could utilise the potential delegates Jeff may be after (those who do not find the all encompassing geekiness or existing feeling of to be their cup of tea) (and potential sponsors) and that way can stay as is.

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Wed, 13 Sep 2006

Wheels that are round and brakes that work on the single speed - 22:45
So I had some mountain bike rims sitting around the shed when I built my single speed, I knew there were some problems with them, however I was feeling too cheap at the time to spend money on new rims for a single speed I was trying to build cheaply.

When you hit gutters or other blunt objects with enough force to flatten a tyre (pinch flat) it will sometimes happen that a flat spot forms on the rim. Sometimes these can be hammered out, sometimes not. The problem can be made worse by weak sidewalls in rims, which are caused by wear from rim brakes (v-brakes and similar). Both the rims in the shed had large flat spots and weak sidewalls (splits appearing in places, and pronounced flat spots (one on each rim)).

The flat spots meant I had to have the brakes backed off a lot so they would not hit the rim as the flat spot passed the pads, thus the brakes were set up sort of loose, however once per revolution of the wheel they would be very tight and responsive for a short time. This was not a problem until such a time as you wish to utilise the brakes, at this time the flat really good braking set up on one point on the rim would cause a thunk sort of instant deacceleration which on the whole was rather disconcerting.

Fortunately for me a friend moving to the UK for a while and needing to dispose of some bike bits was happy to exchange a spare pair of wheels for a case of coopers. The hub on the rear wheel was fairly stuffed (pitted cones, bearing surfaces and worn bearings) so could probably use replacement, and the front wheel has radial spoke lacing, however when it fails I can put a sensible spoke pattern in. This pair of wheels have the distinct advantage of not being too worn out on the braking surface and having no flat spots.

I put the front wheel onto the single speed yesterday and hey what do you know, the brakes worked once adjusted, it was almost a revelation. Tonight I rebuilt the back wheel with a hub I had sitting in the shed that is in much better condition and a similar revelationary experience happened with respect to braking on the back when I put the wheel onto the bike.

Three cheers for an improved single speed experience, it will be rather enjoyable being able to stop somewhat predictably.

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Tue, 12 Sep 2006

Drunken teddy bears considered dangerous - 11:51

What happens to teddy bears drinking (full size)

Some possibly misleading statements about teddy bears (full size)

You see what happens when you allow your teddy bear drinking problems to go unchecked, they become a danger to themselves and possibly others. This poor bear has obviously been putting away one too many bottles of wine and look at all those bandages it needs. To think you leave your teddy near a bottle of wine and come back to find it had to be air lifted to hospital and get bandaged up. Sure people may think this is less serious than babies drinking beer but obviously something is wrong with the world when drunken injured teddy bears become common place.

Do not let your teddy bears drink and mountain bike (both the bottle of wine and the teddy bear are from the N-ZO 12 hour mountain bike race I competed in up near Sydney this weekend). Sure if the stuff on the tea towel in the second photos is to be believed teddy bears are great companions and there should nary be a problem, however I notice at least there is a teddy, supposedly one not telling sordid tales of your life to people at parties, holding a wine glass, who knows what will happen if too many refills come its way.

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Thu, 07 Sep 2006

Bee in my bonnet - 22:05
So Mikal wonders if other people have inconvenient insect bites while riding (stating the case mildly here). The worst I have had was riding around the lake in a group once when I was 12 or so and I had a bee fly into my bike helmet, get stuck there and sting me. I crashed into a bridge and tacoed a front wheel and needed to be picked up.

Fortunately I discovered (the hard way) I was not allergic to bees, just that they can be rather irritating. I have over the years swallowed many a fly and other non bitey insect while riding. The hot summer climbs up mountains and such are prime examples of fly swallowing territory, and I have to admit I tend to be careful breathing in the snowy mountains in summer due to march flies and their biting capability.

I wonder if Mikal's kids were asking him if he was about to die in hopes of getting his laptop in inheritance, or maybe they simply liked the live action example of the Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly nursery rhyme. If he attempts to live up to the nursery rhyme it will at least be an excuse to eat a lot of beef, what with swallowing a cow.

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Wed, 06 Sep 2006

Printer or Ink sort of purchases. - 10:31
I use those little single LED flashing lights that attach to the front or back of the bike with a bit of elastic on some of my bikes. Today I had to replace the batteries (two small CR 2032s) in the rear flasher on my single speed. The rather cheap LED flashers cost me around AUD $6 (including batteries) from Phantom Cycles. The batteries I bought today at the ANU chemist (Duracell with medical stamped across them, I doubt they are really anything special) cost AUD $4.50 each. Thus it costs $6 for a new light or in this case $9 for two tiny batteries to power it.

Definitely reminiscent of the problems where computer printers (bubblejets) are often sold for less than the cost of the replacement ink cartridges these days. My other bikes all have large rear flashing lights so I do not need the little ones so much, it may be time to buy such a light for the single speed, at least then I can use rechargeable AAA batteries in the lights.

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Tue, 05 Sep 2006

-ENOCRIKEY - 10:28
It is of course sad to hear of Steve Irwin's death, what with the amount he did for wildlife rescue and the fact he was a recognisable cultural icon that had a positive image and message for people around the world. Sure he may have made many Australians cringe, especially when people overseas expected us all to behave similarly, but freak accidents such as this are sad mmm'kay.

On this note so far, this is by far the best comment I have seen on his death, keeping the humour up even when saddened.

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Mon, 04 Sep 2006

2:1 up the hills - 16:10
So I had been wondering for a little while what it would be like to climb some of the roadie climbs in Canberra on my single speed (2:1 gear ratio). I just went out and climbed Black Mountain in 13:54 on it, which when I consider my current lack of fitness and that I would not be much faster doing a standing climb on the road bike at the moment. It was not too hard, I was able to sit and grind away reasonably on the two flatter sections. I reckon I could definitely get the time down to around 12 without much effort on the single speed.

I still have a plan to attempt the 6 peaks climb on the single speed some day (Majura, Ainslie, Black, Pleasant, Red, Stromlo), to the pain.

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Sun, 03 Sep 2006

Getting some rides in - 18:26
So I noticed over the past month and a half that my form is down a fair bit lower than I would like (and is normal for me). Sure I had a cold in Cairns, but even then I was not riding as well as I should, and as noted a while back I may want to consider some real proper training at some point.

For now though I will simply try and get some KM back into my leg, starting up doing the Tuesday morning Cotter/Uriarra loops again this week on. Yesterday I went out on the standard Saturday morning Bilbys ride which was going past the base of the Corin Road climb but would be about 90KM with the suggested route. Fortunately for me Sue was keen for a little bit more climbing so together we split from the group and headed up the 13KM climb to Corin Forest. When we got back to Canberra eventually we headed to Dickson for coffee, thus I got a good fairly solid 130 KM on the road bike yesterday.

Today I had felt like heading into the Bush for a ride, though with other stuff to do today I wanted to keep it short, the plan was hatched for a ride up Mt Coree from Blundells Arboretum and a few bods were keen to join in the fun. In the end due to weather and some other concerns only Dave, DeathMarch, Jaymz and I rocked up to do the Mt Coree climb on our bikes (photos and a few words). But it was a good little climb and an enjoyable (though very muddy in places) ride.

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