Thursday, January 31, 2008

Earthquake in Madison!!!

Well, if not an earthquake, it was an icequake:
Seismograph image
Posted Thursday --- January 31, 2008
UW-Madison geologists record ice quake near Lake Mendota

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The shaking some University of Wisconsin-Madison staffers and others felt Thursday afternoon near Lake Mendota was most likely an ice quake.
UW-Madison geologists say they recorded a tremor at 12:50 p.m. that last a few seconds.
UW-Madison seismologist Cliff Thurber says ice quakes are caused by large shifts in ice and often triggered by drastic temperature changes -- similar to those seen in the past few days.
Thurber says a fresh break or pressure ridge may be visible on Lake Mendota after Thursday's event.
Ice quakes are usually accompanied by loud cracking noises, and the university says a number of people called UW police and facilities workers Thursday asking about the rumbling.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

You can find it on the web!

Looking for information about my "new bike" I found all sorts of enthusiast information about the Raleigh Super Course, including this brochure page:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Finally- A bike with snow tires!

When I first moved to Wisconsin I purchased some studded snow tires (700c Nokian Hakkapeliitta W106 35mm) from Nokian, a Finnish tire manufacturer.
I was very excited to put these tires on my red Cannondale. Ol' Red is a bike I purchased used for $350 in Seattle. I raced the bike a few times in Seattle, and when I moved out to Wisconsin I started using the bike as a commuter. I added lights and fenders, but otherwise kept the bike pretty much the same. It is a fairly quick commuter, but is essentially a race bike from the early 1990s. It is kind of like using a sports car for your commute. It is not too practical or roomy, and the ride can be harsh, but it is light and fun to ride. There are no eyelets for fenders or racks, so I've improvised with some cheap clip-on fenders, but I get muddy if it is wet and my cargo capacity is limited by the size of my bag.
When the studded tires arrived I was disappointed to find that they would not fit on the bike. The low-clearance nature of a racing bike did not allow clearance for such large tires on the bike. There was not enough room at the top of the fork or in the rear triangle.
So, since my $50 tires would not fit on the bike, I started looking for a new bike. I couldn't really afford to spend too much money on a new bike, so I delayed and delayed buying a new bike, and eventually spent two and a half winters riding, still on the same slick tires. If conditions were too treacherous I wouldn't ride (I mean, I have a nice car) but I would ride when there was snow. (Here is Ol'Red with the racing tires (trying to ride on the lake).)

This mostly worked out for me. I have become a pretty good rider by learning to stay on top of a bike and making it go the direction I want it to, even when conditions are pretty tricky. I had a pretty good record of not falling. I fell once on black ice in December of 2005, but then not again until November of 2007. Both of the falls in November were on ice, and there was no warning. Each time I fell I slid 15-20 feet on the path after falling. It was slick!!

I had kind of given up on winter cycling. Especially because Madison has had an extra-snowy winter thus far and the city and the university have done a poor job of clearing roads and paths. So just as I had resigned myself to a winter of driving, I received the gift of a new bike!! My friend Amy had an old Raleigh road bike frame from 1979 or 1980. It was a 10- or 12-speed with working shifters, but no wheels. She told me I could have it if i wanted it, so iI told her I'd take it if my snow tires would fit. I took the bike home after returning from Peru, Dallas and Cocoa Beach (It had been 80 in Cocoa Beach and 10 below when we got to Madison) and found out the tires would fit!

I bought some new wheels (single speed w/ flip-flop rear) and took off the shifters and dérailleurs. I bought some new brake levers and bar tape, and spent a couple of days cleaning the bike up and putting everything back together.

The new bike is heavier than Ol' Red, by a long shot, but it almost feels like driving a bulldozer in the snow. The traction is (obviously) far superior to that provided by the slicks. Also, the gearing is a little bit heavy for the tires and conditions. I will probably need to get a smaller chain ring for the front, as I am currently running 42X18. The fixed gear side is only a 14 tooth cog, so that will be tough even with slicks on!Here are some pictures from riding my bike on the lake on the way to work today (about 1000m on the lake). The snow was deep enough that my feet were in the snow on the bottom of each pedal stroke! The gearing was a bit heavy, and I really had to work to keep momentum up. Disconcertingly, I rode over a couple of places where the snow was slushy underneath. (The lake is frozen solid, but it warmed up to about 15 degrees today and this causes some of the salt compounds to melt and run off into the lake (or on to the lake in this case).) It was a lot tougher to ride where the snow was slushy. I was considering a ride across, but it has started snowing again, so the ride home will be enough of an adventure!