Thursday, December 28, 2006
Here's a glance at the beauty. Ta-da!
The Turkey we purchased turned bad on the 24th and RV said that 'normal people' usually eat on Christmas day so luckily we enjoy improvisation.
We finished off the stuffing properly though the day after for Boxing Day after a match of chess with chicken filets as the Turkey stench never left us and we were too scared to try again and be disappointed. We weren't. Yummy. It was the first time in my life I made a Christmas dinner.
We finished the evening with a viewing of 'Shortbus'. Surprisingly this is a great film to see as a couple, or maybe more appropriately, for the kind of couple we are. John Cameron Mitchell made a film so warm and human that the fact of real sexual acts being performed is relevant without it being 'porn' or awkward or whatever it was/is negative responses have deemed. Don't follow the sheep, see it for yourself. If you haven't seen JCM's Hedwig yet, watch that too and make it a double feature.
I'm kind of surprised the end of year is already near. RV picked up our key for the workshop yesterday, on bike, and now we have to load up on champagne, supplies and get the place running. I can't wait. We have been slowly leading up to bigger and greater things and like it always feels, some things are worth the wait.
Hope your Christmas was wonderful, no matter what shape or form.
-RV's Girl Listening to Trente Moller Essential Mix
Friday, December 22, 2006
Anyway, my special lady friend found this wonderful website somewhere on the net the other day and I've been itching to post about it since she dropped it in my inbox. Millegomme is a site which specializes in the creation of a range of objects which utilize old bike and car tyres in their construction. There is very little information on the site that describes Millegomme but I think their primary mission is to put on workshops that teach children and adults about recycling by focusing on the reuse of tyres which are a cheap and abundant material.
Today Make magazine has a link to a site which supplies kits that can turn your modest bike into a crazy pedal powered snow mobile. I don't know what sort of ride this would be but it looks like a barrel of fun. Just add snow.
So its bye bye from me, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the rest of In the Actors Studio with Eddie Murphy. Have a great holiday everyone.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Anyway, my girl spotted this the other day on Treehugger. Sussex enterprises are a company that builds shaft driven bikes, yes bikes with no chain. I like this idea it add to the complexity of the bike but the overall performance and efficiency is apparently increased. It seem like the type of assembly that would require very little maintenance and it looks solid enough to me. Some people a sticklers for doing things the old way and are not open to new concepts like this so I hope it takes off. I feel their folding city bike is the perfect thing for those commuters who would bring a bike on a train or bus for a portion of their journey and the shaft system should drastically reduce the possibility of getting oil on you work clothes while you carry it.
Well winter is here and you may have noticed that it gets dark a lot earlier now so you'll be needing a decent light on that bike or your so you don't cripple yourself by hitting a pothole or curb. I would always forget to take the little LED lights off me bike when I parked it in the city and so they were always being stolen. These little lights never really worked for me as I could be seen by other road users but on a dark road I couldn't really see what was in front of me. The construction was crap to, the little plastic mounts were weak and attaching them with cable ties made the vandals were more determined. One solution is to make your own bike lamp. The Make magazine blog has this little piece (Is well as other links) on how to build your own heavy duty, 18V (Looks like a drill battery), super duper bike light. The full instruction set is available here through instructables.
Reuters has an article today about extreme recycling in Antarctica. Everything that is produced by the myriad of scientific expeditions there is boxed up and sent back to America to be recycled. There are fines and other punishments for anybody on the continent who breaks the strict rules which are in place to protect the delicate environment there which is under threat as it is from global warming. This is something that should be a lessen to us all in my opinion.
Another environmental piece that has been doing the rounds the last few days is this list of the top ten alternative energy solutions for the future. An interesting read, no one of these technologies will be the saving grace of humanity but if we combine them all an apply them in environments where they will be best suited then we can replace virtually all our current fossil fuel dependent transport and power stations.
Ok I'm off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday. Bye bye...
Friday, December 15, 2006
Things here are pretty relaxed now that my parents have gone home. They did bring over my micro-synth so RV and Girl can make crazy sounds together and I received the Arduino micro-controller I ordered last week so lots of little projects to look forward to over the Christmas period.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
"When 73-year-old Sylvester Roper showed up at a local bicycle track in Boston aboard this machine—a steam-powered motorcycle he invented—the young bicycle racers just laughed.
Here was this old man riding a strange contraption who wanted to race the local hotshots around the one-third-mile Charles River Park track. It wasn’t until the race was on that they realized the old man had come up with something truly amazing."
Robert "Buck" Boudeman
"The machine was cutting out a lively pace on the back stretch when the men seated near the training quarters noticed the bicycle was unsteady,” the paper said. “The forward wheel wobbled, and then suddenly, the cycle was deflected from its course and plunged off the track into the sand, throwing the rider and overturning."
For more, read the rest of the story here.
-RV's Girl Listening to KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic
Sunday, December 10, 2006
We hung out with Mom and Dad last night which was a treat. They seemed to genuinely appreciate the intimacy of the diverse crowds walking through Lyon in the search for the numerous interactive light sculptures decorating the city until Monday.
The festival itself has grown and many locals are a little dismayed by the popular-isation of the event but I don't care. It was a very happy moment to see these two kind people see their son making his own in a foreign city. Their kindness and warmth, towards yours truly, touched and reassured me as I walked nervously to meet them at the local. They are discovering a new French city, they are discovering their son's new world and also having, what I hope to be, a small relaxing vacation in "our" home. I am a very happy girl...
We are a bit strapped for cash at the moment but hope to reconcile this with creative projects and some future gigs in Paris after the New Year, so it isn't so bad.
Christmas can be hard on lonely people and those who have no relatives nearby but it doesn't have to be so. I have a feeling things will work out just fine.
-RV's Girl Listening to John Coltrane
Thursday, December 07, 2006
The only news I have that is bike related is this colourful group. My girl spotted it while surfing, it seems to be some sort of bike modification cult/gang in Japan. I love the Japanese for this kind of thing I don't understand what a culture has to experience for this sort of activity to flourish but its wonderful to see people express themselves all the same.
As I said before I planned to do more posts with an environmental slant in the future. Today I would like to impart the news that Boeing-Spectrolab have developed a solar panel that is 40.7% efficient which is a huge increase from the 12-18% efficiency rating found in modern panels currently available to the public. Hopefully companies will move away from silicon panels in favor of polymer based models in the future to reduce the environmental impact of the construction process.
The other day I came across this design company which produce a range of different item a few of which are bikes. I don't know if they are available for purchase but I like them anyway.
Until next time, bye bye.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Well it I suppose since my journey to visit my girl is over I've been here four months now and something big happened. My special lady cleared some space in the closet for me so am I no longer living out of my backpack. This made me a little bit wet eye to be honest. We just returned from a design Biennale in St. Etienne and are now both loaded with energy and inspiration. We plan to morph this blog and broaden its scope to include issues we are both passionate about including sustainability in architecture and design and other environmental issues. The future is brighter, cleaner and has more possibilities than either of us know. But for anyone reading this just for the bikes do not worry they tie in nicely with our new direction so check out these wicked ultra old school chinese bikes I found somewhere on the net the other day. We spotted the bike in the picture above at the design show it is by Luc Simon but I can not find him anywhere on the net so no link I'm afraid.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
This is how it started. I got some laughs at Salon.com's article today about the Sexiest Men Alive because aside from Stephen Colbert winning top placement, the letter's section were adding amazing male candidates including Keith Olbermann and Wayne Coyne. RV said, "______________________________________". So, I went over to sandwich-making RV and started harassing him and messed with his sandwich...what did I do?
Well, I picked up his butter knife and stabbed it a few times while flipping all of his cheese and lettuce all over the table and floor then consoling him by putting it all back in. He is so mad!
Hehe, that's what you get RV, you know what you said.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
Just a wonderful sculpture from the talented Robert Rauschenberg. RV and I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit we saw at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and were inspired by Rauschenberg's creativity, humour and use of everyday materials and references.
Here is a little about the Artist (taken from Wikipedia) :
'Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925) is a painter, sculptor, and graphic artist known for helping to redefine American art in the 1950s and '60s, providing an alternative to the then-dominant aesthetic of Abstract Expressionism. Rauschenberg realized his talent with drawing when he turned 22 in the Navy.'
'Born on October 22, 1925 in Port Arthur, Texas, as "Robert" Milton Ernest Rauschenberg, he studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Académie Julian in Paris France , before enrolling in 1948 at the legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina. There his painting instructor was the renowned Bauhaus figure Josef Albers, whose rigid discipline and sense of method inspired Rauschenberg, as he once said, to do "exactly the reverse" of what Albers taught him.'
For more info : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Rauschenberg
Listening to Modest Mouse w/ Johnny Marr
Sunday, November 12, 2006
I love the premise of this blog but I can't see myself constantly referring to cycling related info when a big part of this space represents RV and me figuring out this twist on our long distance relationship. At the same time I hate going on too much about the personal and feel that when we do have visitors, they'll be bored. I don't know. I suppose the best is just to be honest. Nonetheless, RV's Girl is back!
On a lighter note, we just came back from a second trip to " jolie" Paris. The experience was like living in a 2 part series of RV's first time in the City of Lights. The lucky bastard got a first glimpse of the many funky sidestreets and hidden treasures of the beautiful city while bypassing all the usual tourist crowds/joints thanks to yours truly (hey I had to learn after many years of living here!). We walked our butts off, one day reaching 10 hours of wandering the left to right banks, back and forth, back and forth, until I almost went into hysteria at being stuck in the bourgeois quarters of Madeleine and the Concorde. We saw a couple of gigs and ate in many great restaurants with never a good bottle of wine too far or a whisky too close. Finding a tiny place inside this giant metropolis is so special especially when you have someone to share it with.
But, I have to mention that we saw a full rack of Paris public bikes near the Bastille that was completely full. I automatically thought it was strange considering that here, you always see a public bike rack almost empty. Seeing so many cyclists in the Capital though made me wonder if they all just owned their bikes and had no need for free bikes or perhaps that tourists are just too damned scared of cycling in the crazy Parisian traffic! Point is, all cities should be on free bike programs, amongst other related changes taking place in using biodeisel for public transport AND making public transport planning/construction more reliable (Read=Dublin).
The other bike news I have for today is that after we came back from Paris Friday, we had planned to have a big night out Saturday to see a wicked DJ that we both admire. I felt very homesick though (meaning wanting to do nothing but write, goof around on my comp and stay in my pajamas) but felt if I didn't go, it would stop RV from going. In the end with some grumpy perseverance and a need for some time alone, I convinced RV to get his butt out into the city, all by himself to French-y his way through the city. He then surprised me by complying AND by taking his bike!! Yay Bikey was liberated from the confines of my dusty balcony and dead leaves! I really thought that was awesome and the only casualty wasn't his liver but his stolen pump (what loser would steal a bike pump at a rave??)! So there you go, RV biked to a big rave and back, how cool.
Well, It's now almost 9am and I haven't slept since last night so I better go. Back Soon, promise.
Listening to Eels
Monday, October 23, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Found this cool little rolling house on treehugger this morning. It looks a bit small but I love the concept. Add a solar panel a microturbine and a rain catchment system and youve got yourself a pretty cute pod house thingy. Personally I think it should be half a meter higher and half a meter wider (It doesnt look like the woman in the photo would be able to lie flat in it) with an entrance on the side but the idea is there to adapt. I want one. I wonder if I could tow it behind my bike. Actually isnt a tent more practical for that sort of thing, ok scrap that idea. But it does provide better security than a tent and it can float so I suppose there are advantages. Baby we've been looking for a new place recently what do you think?
Monday, October 09, 2006
This appeared in Wired a few months back so some of you may have seen it before since I have seen it in action and seen how well it works I felt I should mention it again to try to raise awarenes as it is a scheme that is working incredably well here. Basically there are Velo Stations where you insert your credit card and a public bike next to the payment machine is unlocked for you. The first half hour is free and after that you pay a small fee for use of the bike. When you are finished with the bike you drop it off at a free stand at a Velo station near your destination. There are literally thousands of these bikes now, the streets and parks are filled with happy cyclists availing of this service. Apparently there is a run on the bikes when the clubs close which can only mean one thing this being France and all, masses of tipsy people flying all over the place on bikes at two in the morning. You can read more about this cool project at the Wired link above.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
During my trip back home to Ireland I picked up a whole host of cables and gadgets and odds and ends so finally I am able to drag a few pictures from my trip off my camera phone and post them here. Im a bit limited in what I can show in order to protect my anonymity and because quite a few of them were a bit bland or of poor quality. So here goes.
The first picture is of my equipment, yes its for real this is all I took. Later on ill let yall knowwhat was useful and what was not. And I had a bike of course to but I suppose you guessed that. Picture number two and three are of the tiny little cabin I spent the night in during my crossing to france by boat. It was so small I couldnt get far enough back to take a good photo. I slept surprisingly well probably because of the rocking motion and the hum of the engine not to mention being totally pissed by the time I hit the sack. The second boat pic is the toilet/shower. The cabin would of been great if it hadnt been for the myster bugs hovering around the drain, hundreds of tiny black fly like insects probably living of disgarded human skin cells or something like that?
During my first day on the road I had the luck or you could say the misforture to choose a route that took me over the highest point in Brittany. The radio mast up there is absolutly massive, actually its more of a radio station there is a large structure at the base but there didnt seem to be any cars outside or any activity at all on this remote mountain top so I presume its all automated or something like that. The climb was a nightmare but the view and the descent into Huelgoat were magnificent. I kept saying to myself that this was as hard as it was going to get it ran through my head like a sort of mantra. Little did I know that this would be the longest and highest hill I would have to endure but by no means was it the steepest or the last.
My intended destination on the first day was Carhaix Plonguer but on my way through the forrests of Huelgoat I spotted a sign advertising municipal camping. The gorgeous scenery and my need for fresh water and a chance to cook a hot meal made me follow the signs almost as a reflex, there was no decision made my body just took me where it needed to go.
Day two saw me bypass Carhaix (A bit of a let down as I mentioned in an earlier post) and proceed directly to Pontivy where I spent the night in a pretty cool little campsite beside the canal that the town straddles. Pontivy is quite a cool french town skirting the line between its ancient history and the realities of modern france. If you ever visit be sure to check out a place called Jo's Bar (I think thats what its called). Well its the one with the Murphys sign outside if you wander about the town centre you'll find it. On the outside its a normal enough place on the inside you will find you have just stepped into a Morrocan hashish smoking den.
leave the town with its mornig traffic france. One ride they suggest is this one follow the canal east fromI set off from Pontivy bound for Josselin navigating using the Lonely planet cycling guide to Pontivy, its a 50Km ride on gravel bike paths in various states of repair. But the bumpy ride is easily forgiven when you leave behind the morning traffic for beautiful quiet contry paths.
This was actually the first time I encountered other touring cyclists. Mainly because the north of Brittany (Well the parts I travelled through) has little that would attract this type of holiday maker, the countryside is quite hilly, windy there are very few campsites and the towns appeared to be geared towards the agricultural industry that surrounded them not tourism. Of course the towns I came across were purely those that my funky navigation led me to they were not picked for their advertised attractions and so maybe I missed something in favour of covering ground during the first two days. But day three was what I had come for nice relaxing quiet french contryside.
Josselin was perhaps the highlight of my trip a beautiful ancient town with a great campsite about 3Km down the road. I stopped here for the night had a wonderful meal and a few beers, it was a bit touristy but still held alot of charm. It was the promise of places like this that made my undertake this adventure to begin with. The following day I planned to head for the coast, if I suceeded I would have traversed Brittany in four days by bike. At this stage of the game my knees were in a bad way, i've heard this is a common complaint among touring cyclists primarily due to cycling at too high a gear ratio but as my bike is a stripped down hybrid it only had eight gears so I was stuck for choice my only hope of avoiding another day in excruciating agony would be if there were no hills between Josselin and Vannes. Of course I was wrong, I envisioned the countryside petering out to form a flat coastal plane but instead I found hill after hill. The Lonely planet guide book charted this trek and described it as a 60Km ride with moderate inclines, wel if thats there idea of moderate I'd hate to see terminal but maybe im not as hardcore a cyclist as I thought I was.
The shot to the left is of sunset at my hilltop campsite in Josselin after the sun went down I was invited to partake in the consumption of a bottle of pastis (51) by a pretty new age Dutch couple who were camped just behind my tent. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this drink let me explain it is quite strong typically 40-45% and tastes like a mild version of Absynth. Its called 51 because you are supposed to consume it as 5 parts water 1 part pastis. Its extremely popular in France and strangely refreshing in hot weather with a minty/dry taste. Drinking Pastis generally results in a feeling of greater than normal inebriation.
The picture to the left depicts a view of a valley somewhere between Josselin and Vannes. The road in this neck of the wood was painted with the names of people who I assume to be Tour de France riders, either that or the lack of walls pushes prospective graffiti artists to tag the tarmac as an alternative. These sort of views and scenery often gave me renewed strenght and forced me to push on. It is a shot of a valley and as anyone who is a frequent reader should knowI came to regard the valley as a nice way of saying two hills very close together. To road vermin a valley includes a climb a descent another climb and another descent, how cynical I have become.
Vannes was a wonderful rest stop for me I spent two days there fixing my knees and eating everything that came to hand. This picture was my first view of the ocean. It was at about this stage of the game that I started to feel quite lonely. I had been on the road for about a week I was tired my french sucked and I was sick of sitting on the ground cooking at campsites and waiting to use a shower that I had to turn on again every twenty seconds. The campsites were well equiped but often the trip into town was a bit much on top of a days cycling and a good night sleep was definatly hard to come by with the french teenagers returning from the discos at all hours of the morning.
Above is a shot of the old part of Vannes which is extremely well preserved. After two days in Vannes which included a whole evening lying on the grass drinking wine and watching the crowds come and go in the large but reasonably ruralish campsite I packed my gear and headed south. It was the first time I did not have a destination in mind but I was quite confident now, I knew there were plenty of campsite in or close to all the major towns and so water and a plot would be easy to come by.
On your right you can see a portion of one of my taste campsite feasts. Potatoes fried in olive oil garlic and mixed herbs. I would like to impart a small piece of advice to anyone going on an extended jaunt of camping and traveling. Bring garlic, its small it keeps well its tasty and you can put it on almost everything. Also take an old film canister and fill it with various herbs these two items make a huge difference when your on the road just add them to staples like pasta or potatoes or even on sandwiches, you will find its the small luxuries that make your day. Try to pick up some bread, ham, tuna, salmon and any fruit and veg you can when you pass a convenience store. These things can be bought on a day to day basis as they are heavy and do not keep well in the sun.
After Vannes the scenery changes considerably the further south you go. The terrain is flatter the earth is drier and the roads busier. My map showed an estuary blocking my path so I had to aim for what I hoped would be a bridge that would allow me to cycle across. I had two options one seemed to be at the convergence of several major roads the other closer to the sea between Arzal and Camoel on the D139 looked more my style. It turned out to be a sort of tidal barrier in a lovely bird sanctuary with a large well designed marina that fitted wonderfuly into the landscape. My map also told me that the density of roads and towns was increasing which meant my days of quiet countryside and canals might be at an end. However I struggled on in thirty degree heat against a strong headwing as far as La Baule.
I described La Baule as a sort of Atlantic french riviera, I felt my journey was at an end it was time to go meet my girl. After spending a night and a day in this city in the worst weather I had encountered on my whole trip my mind was made up it was getting the next train to Lyon. So I did, that evening I boarded the overnight train that would take me to my new home in the south of France. My journey had been fantastic my first ever bike trip. It was painful at times exhillarating at others but I learned alot about this sort of adventure enought to better prepare for future trips and hopefully I have helped open peoples eyes to the joy that is seeing the world by bike. Its not easy definatly not as easy as I thought it would be even with just eight days on the road, but I now have a new found respect for those who travel huge distances sometimes around the world on humble and clean wire donkeys. Goodnight my friends I leave you with a picture of the sleeper car in which I travelled the final weary miles to my love, until next time.