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Friday, December 31, 2010

End of the year - End of an era

You may not have noticed but Kodak stopped producing Kodachrome last year. Yeah, me neither since I was shooting Illford for b&w and Fuji for color back then. Today, the final roll of Kodachrome will be processed at Dwayne's Photo in Kansas. The last of the specialized chemicals were poured into the processor and at the end of today it will be all over.

I switched to digital a year ago. The final nail was the Canon D7 which matched my wish list and tore me away from my EOS-1v hs. It is certainly nice to be able to pack a whole day at the track onto a pair of 16gig chips rather than have to change rolls every 36 shots (which the motor drive could blow through in 4.5 seconds).

If you are really despondent you can always order the t-shirt from Dwayne's Photo.

Here is an excellent article on the history of Kodachrome by the NY Times.


Thursday, December 30, 2010


Help Us Stop the Secretary that Would Steal Christmas!

Dear BRC Members and Supporters,
Just one day before Christmas Eve 2010, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced that he had signed an Order that seeks to embed a Wilderness review in every component of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) planning, creating a unique status for Wilderness different from other multiple uses in BLM management.  Secretarial Order No. 3310 and Draft Wilderness Inventory Manual
The order appears to be one of the best Christmas gifts any Wilderness activist could hope for.  The timing was no accident.  Secretary Salazar's new order came just after the Lame Duck Congress adjourned, having failed to pass the massive Public Lands Omnibus Bill--a package that would have created millions of acres of new Wilderness, openly supported by the Secretary.  It was no accident the Order was announced after legislators had gone home for the holiday.  It was no accident that none but Wilderness insiders and their media outlets knew about it until the last minute.  And, it was certainly no accident that at the ceremony, the Secretary was standing right next to peolple like Peter Metcalf, CEO of Black Diamond Equipment, and that the ceremony itself took place at the REI Building in Denver - a virtual altar scene for Wilderness worshippers.
You have every reason to fear under-handed tactics even more suspicious than those attempted by some of their lame duck legislative allies.  Wilderness activists will likely try to use Secretary Salazar's Order to further paralyze meaningful BLM travel management and to create millions of acres of new Wilderness.
For decades, Wilderness activist groups have applied constrictor-like pressure on the BLM regarding Wilderness issues.  Some of BRC Legal's finest moments have come in rejecting those efforts, most notably the dismissal of the infamous SUWA case in Utah District Court on BRC-USA All's motion, eventually upheld by a 9-0 thumping in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Sadly, this looks like another inside job in the offing, through which anti-access interests seek to seize a window of political opportunity to again squeeze BLM into a never-ending, ongoing Wilderness inventory and management scheme.
The Order is as complex and convoluted as any validly promulgated law or regulation.  Its meaning is not readily apparent and will likely be determined by the courts.  Our staff has conducted an initial review, which is summarized at
We are not naïve enough to proclaim what Secretary Salazar's Order will ultimately mean.  However, we can fairly predict what Wilderness activists outside and within BLM will say it means.  They will try to use it as a landmark tool to close long-traveled routes on BLM land, not unlike they did with the Clinton-Gore Roadless Rule.  History also teaches that, while all other users of BLM lands and the economies supported by them will be affected, the trail users and advocacy groups like BRC are likely to be at the point of attack (if not standing alone) in meaningful opposition.
This opposition will require a lot of time, effort, coordination and skill.  It will require BRC, partners and stakeholders to be at their best.  And it will cost money.  I would love to wax eloquent about skinny David slaying wealthy Goliath, but I hope over the years you've learned better.  You know Secretary Salazar's friends did.
We hope you will consider an end of year donation to help us fund this important fight.  If you've completed your giving for tax year 2010, please put this issue on your list of campaigns to consider supporting in 2011 - and beyond.

Greg Mumm
Executive Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 101
PS: Currying political favor through public lands policy is not what Congress intended when it established the agencies that manage our public lands.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Getting Your Bearings - Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about why you need to check your wheel bearings and how to do it.

Today I'm going to pass along two references on how to do it. Dan has an excellent chapter on wheel bearing replacement. He correctly cautions that if you bang on them to get the old ones out, throw them away. They are precision items that can be destroyed by impact. This is true of the new ones you are going to install.

Check out the YouTube video above if you want to see how it's done first hand.

Take your time and it's easier than you think.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting Your Bearings

This is what happens if you don't replace your wheel bearings in a timely manner. Notice the side-of-the-road environment. Actually I was lucky because as the bearings began to fail I was barreling down the freeway in the midst of a lot of traffic. Fortunately I had plenty of warning as the back wheel began a slow but persistent wobble that gave me time to bail out.

The main reason that most people don't think about wheel bearings is that they rarely fail and that they are perceived to be hard to replace. Compared to changing spark plugs this is generally true. Compared to being stranded on the side of the road with a bike you can't even push this is not so true.

Diagnosis: First, with the wheel off the ground, rotate the wheel a few turns and see if you can feel any resistance. If there is even the slightest "grinding" or "crunchy" feel to it you need go no further. Time for new bearings. You may need to take off the drive chain on the rear wheel to properly feel the bearings.

Next, grab the wheel at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock and see if you can move it back and forth. That is, can you push at 3 and pull at 9 and get any movement? Try again at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock. Get a friend to hold the handle bars when you test the front wheel.

Still OK? Now check the odometer. More than 30,000 miles or more than 2 years on a dirt bike and it's time. Sure, your buddy had a 1964 Wackistan Zoomer that he's never changed a thing on but so what. Bearings, like tires, should be considered a consumable items.

Now comes the hard part; Changing the bearings. Or is it? Just because you've never done something and it seems pretty mysterious doesn't mean that it's impossible or even that difficult if you're patient.

First, find the size of your bearings. It will be something like 10x35x11 and will be etched into the side of the bearing. This means ID:10mm x OD: 35mm x W: 11mm. Bearings are all standard and you can buy them online or at a local bearing specialty supplier. Every town of any size has at least one. Tell them that you want sealed bearings for motorcycle wheels and they can match you up at ~¼ of the dealer price. The same place may also carry the seals you need, otherwise get them from the dealer.

Don't be bashful about going to a bearing supplier. I paid dealer prices for years because I thought those places only wanted to deal with big time customers. Actually, I think they enjoy hearing about my attempts at restoring bikes. Many of them ride bikes too and I've always found them ready to help.

Tomorrow: How to actually change the bearings.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What You Listen To - Rich's Suggestions

Rich sent in these suggestions:

KEXP Seattle is great. You can listen via Web here:
They also play it for a few hours in the morning on 91.5 in the NYC area.

88.3 WBGO is a Newark jazz station Also great.

There is also Fordham Radio 90.7 Alternate Side at night plays chill, weird stuff.

Anyone else want to add a favorite?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Rest Of The Days Of Christmas

While I was off the grid David M sent in these suggestions to help me out. He is hereby nominated to be one of Santa's elves.

Motion Pro Gear Jammer

Tusk 3-Way Mini T-Handle Wrench Tool Kit - 1/4" Drive

Tusk 6 Way Spoke Wrench

Tusk Clutch Holding Tool

Tusk Y-Box Wrench

Tusk Y-Allen Wrench 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm

The compact tools work well for a travel pack of tools

While Dennis Kirk, Chaparral, and Bike Bandit get a lot of press, Rocky Mountain seems to be under the radar for a lot of people. I've used their parts and tools for years with very good results. Their prices are usually below the others for the same or similar items. The quality is first rate with one exception.

I once bought the A.R.C. house brand off-road jacket and pants and was disappointed. The price was 1/3 of an equivalent MSR or Thor outfit and all I can say is that I got everything I paid for. I ended up giving them to a friend who had nothing and he wore them for quite a while but I went back to the old standards.

Tusk tools, parts, accessories = good. A.R.C clothing = buyer beware.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

From our house to yours.

I've been off the grid for a while for a lot of reasons I won't bore you with. Things are back to normal here so don't give up on me yet.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas - Part 5

What's more traditional for Christmas than socks? And if you're anything like me there's nothing my feet appreciate more than decent socks that cushion and keep them dry and cool.

Coconut socks may sound nutty but I assure you that they do the job perfectly. After a day of having my feet locked away in boots my toes are still happy guys and my ankles are not all sweaty and wrinkled. These are mid-weight so they are not for intense dirt biking. I like something more heavily cushioned for that. But inside my riding boots on the Transalp or R100RS they make for perfect comfort.

They also come in low and mid heights. Check them out at Roadgear.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas - Part 4

 'Tis the season to be jolly. And what could be more jolly than a string of little lighted motorcycles to hang around the tree? Or around the deck next summer when all your friends come to BBQ and party after a ride?

These lights use LED's instead of those pesky incandescent bulbs that burn out and take out the whole string. That alone should make them worth the price since finding the burned out bulb usually involves a few choice words that puts you on Santa's Lump-Of-Coal list.

Best of all, the LED's allow the string to be powered by a small battery pack so that you can take it with you and string them up at night when you go camping! Imagine the look on everyone's face when you switch them on in the middle of nowhere!

Get them at Aerostich. $21.60 for one or $20.00 if you buy two. They come in both battery and 110v versions.

Need a web programmer?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas - Part 3

Yesterday I mentioned Mondo Enduro. This classic adventure is available as both a video and book

Mondo EnduroMondo Enduro: Around the World Adventure on Two Wheels 41 Countries in 405 Days

The concept was to take the longest way around the world in the shortest time. Several English lads who had little adventure bike experience decided to attempt it with brave hearts and little else. Underfunded and ill prepared they forged ahead against all odds. Does the 8mm movie camera give you a hint of what they were working with?

Forget those latté swilling hacks who took valets and film crews with them. These guys are the real deal and had the adventure of a lifetime. Half of them completed the journey and all lived to tell about it. Great fun for a winter's evening. I've watched mine dozens of times with friends and never gotten tired of it.

Need a web programmer?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas - Part 2

Chris Scott is the guru of all things involving adventure travel on two wheels. In the video Mondo Enduro the lads went to visit him for advice before setting off on their round the world trip. As they said, "We foolishly ignored his advice and paid the price."
Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, 5th: Worldwide Motorcycling Route & Planning Guide (Trailblazer)

So who better to write the best adventure book than Chris? The Adventure Motorcycling Handbook is the bible of off road riding. It covers everything from selection of bikes, to preparation, and then riding techniques.Now in its 5th edition Chris has updated it to include all the current information. If there is anyone on your list who is about to take a trip (or dreams of taking one) this is the first book to get them. 

When I went looking for my copy to see what edition I had I found it to be missing on my bookshelf. It would be a nice Christmas present if the person who borrowed it were to return it.

 Sahara Overland, 2nd: A Route and Planning Guide (Trailblazer)Morocco Overland: 45 routes from the Atlas to the Sahara by 4wd, motorcycle or mountainbike (Trailblazer Guides)

You should check out his other books  Sahara Overland and Morocco Overland. It's been many years since I've traveled through North Africa. I should make it a point to return soon. With Chris's aid and advice of course.

Need a web programmer?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas - Part 1

There's an old saying, "You can never be too rich or too thin." Motorcycling modifies that to being too light. Nothing kills a motorcycle's performance and handling like dead weight.

On the other hand you have the traveler's creed, "What you have and don't need is better than what you need and don't have." 

The next axiom is to lay out everything for your trip and eliminate half. Then wait 24 hours and eliminate half of what's left.

However, unless you enjoy eating with your fingers the proper utensils are in order. Morning oatmeal is hot, sticky, and messy, a proper spoon really makes a difference.

The Sea to Summit Alpha Utensil Set is about as good as it gets for compact lightness. It's aircraft grade aluminum that weighs about as much as a sheet of paper and it comes with a carabiner to keep them together. An unexpected bonus is the 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm wrenches built into the handles. I wouldn't try to overhaul my engine with them but they might come in handy in an emergency. Cleaning the nozzle on my camp stove comes to mind.

$14.95 makes this an excellent and practical gift for a friend who goes camping. 

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Travel Pctures

Giving pictures as well as taking pictures just might be the greatest part of your next trip. I used to take my Polaroid with me on trips and give away photos along the way. Because of it I was invited to be part of the landscape rather than just an observer.

Polaroid has gone out of business but Fuji is making the Instax Mini and Instax 210 instant cameras. Despite the pictures below the Mini is half the size of the 210. It prints out photos the size of a playing card. The 210 prints pictures that are a little bigger than the old Polaroid pictures.

Fujifilm Instax MINI 7s White Instant Film CameraFujifilm INSTAX 210 Instant Photo Camera 

There are also battery operated digital printers such as the Canon CP800 (review here)  that print directly from the camera. Print in the middle of nowhere with the NB-CP2L battery. Pictures are 4x6" and have a postcard format printed on the back so you can use them as instant postcards to send home. Make all your friends envious of your trip to Ulaanbaatar!!

Canon SELPHY CP800 Black Compact Photo Printer (4350B001) Battery Pack NB-CP2L for Selphy CP-600/CP-330/CP-300 Photo

A spin-off of the old Polaroid company sells the PoGo printer that connects with any BlueTooth device like your cel phone camera and prints directly with no computer needed. It's about the size of a pack of playing cards. What's cool is that the "ink" in embedded in the paper so you never run out. Business card sized prints that are pretty sharp and clear.

Polaroid CZA-10011B PoGo Instant Mobile Printer (Black)

Time to get back to sharing!

Friday, December 3, 2010

What I Listen To

Back home with the help of a lot of friends who relayed me from one point to another. Thanks to all!

I'm sorting through the 2,000+ images I brought home with me. Everyone shared with me so that I could create a Best Of collection for the trip. I'll get these posted in a couple of days.

In the mean time I thought I'd share some of the internet radio stations I listen to as I work.


WKCR - from Columbia University in NYC. 

KKJZ - From - Cal State Univ at Long Beach

KJAZ - The original San Francisco station is off the air but now functions as an internet station on a somewhat erratic schedule.


KGSR - Austin Texas at it's best

KPIG - San Francisco eclectic

News - It's amazing what you can learn when you get away from mainstream U.S. media!

BBC - For an outside view of world news

Deutsche Welle - German station (in English) for a European view point.

WBUR - Slanted to the left but the best all around NPR news station - Note: I still protest the firing of Juan Williams!

Got internet favorites of your own? Leave them below in the comments.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010


This may not be your father's railroad but it's still the same old late as usual schedule.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The joy of travel

Like lemmings rushing over a cliff we pack ourselves into flying metal tubes. Hostages probably have better conditions. And I paid for the privilege!!!