Monthly Archives: May 2012

Packing List – Italy 2012

This is the [very long] packing list of all the items that we are going to be bringing with us to Italy for our trip (other than our two bicycles, of course). All the items on the list are the totals for both of us combined, unless otherwise noted as per person (p.p.). Extra heavy or bulky equipment like the chain to lock up our bikes, will be bought in Italy once we arrive.
  • Clothing (p.p.)
    • 1 pair light cotton trousers
    • 1 pair cotton shorts
    • 2 pairs cycling shorts
    • 3 pairs underwear
    • 2 cycling jerseys
    • 2 T-shirts
    • 3 pairs socks
    • 1 botton-up/nice long sleeved shirt
    • 1 waterproof riding jacket
    • 1 cycling cap
    • 1 helmet
    • 1 pair cycling gloves – only for Dad
    • 1 pair light pajamas
    • 1 pair running shoes
    • 1 pair walking shoes – Dad buying his overseas
  • Personals/Toiletries
    • Toothbrushes
    • 1 tube toothpaste
    • Contact lenses
    • Lens cases and solution
    • 2 pairs sunglasses – and regular glasses
    • 1 bottle sunscreen
    • 1 small bottle shampoo
    • Razors and shaving cream
    • 1 Comb
    • Deodorant
    • Facecloth and towel – will be bought overseas
  • Electronics
    • 1 unlocked Galaxy Nexus smartphone
    • 1 rooted Nook tablet
    • 1 power adaptor & plug divider
    • 1 compact Canon camera
  • Miscellaneous Goodies
    • 1 small first aid kit
    • Keys on keychains
    • 1 Snow Peak butane stove
    • 1 butane refill adaptor
    • 2 Guyot squishy cup/bowl sets
    • 2 GSI utensil sets
    • 1 small Sigg Inoxal cookset – w/ two pot lids as plates
    • 1 salt + pepper shaker
    • 1 small cooking knife
    • 5 650mL Filzer Stainless water bottles
    • 2 1L Filzer Stainless water bottles
    • 1 swiss army knife
    • 1 camera monopod
  • Tools & Bike Parts
    • 2 cable bike locks – will be buying lock-up chain in Italy
    • 2 pad locks
    • 2 bicycle multi-tools
    • 2 sets flat repair kit
    • 2 sets tire levers
    • 1 spare chain
    • 2 spare inner tubes + 1 extra to cover lock-up chain
    • 2 bicycle-mounted pumps
    • 1 small adjustable spanner
    • 1 set pliers
    • 1 small bottle oil/lube – will be bought overseas
    • Zip ties – to repair anything
    • Duct tape – also for repairs
  • Packing and Bags
    • 2 large MEC duffel bags
    • 2 sets 56L MEC “World Tour” panniers
    • 1 set 20L MEC panniers
    • 1 set 40L MEC “World Tour” panniers
    • 2 MEC Bull Deluxe handlebar bags
    • 2 Micro Wedgie seat bags
    • 1 Eddie Bauer sling bay (daypack/carry on)
    • 1 Hip pouch (camera/phone/wallet daypack)

A Phone – For Europe

Dad’s been adamant about bringing a smartphone to Europe – and he’s probably very right to think we should. Compared to lugging around a $300 GPS unit, a $30 disposable prepaid phone and also packing a laptop – spending a wee bit more on a decent smartphone will give us GPS capability as well as the basic texting/phone for quite a bit less hassle/complexity and weight. Plus, bringing a smartphone also “tethering” a data stream to a small tablet computer in lieu of a notebook PC.

Although ‘Pops’ has an iPhone for work use, buying an unlocked  phone will mean any prepaid SIM card can be activated in Europe and we can go without paying exorbitant roaming fees. And wide GSM/HSDPA signal compatibility was a must, too.


So one Amazon transaction later, this arrives in the mail:



It’s an unlocked Samsung Galaxy Nexus – GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 and HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 compatible, so even the weird 1700/2100 wavebands used by WIND and Mobilicity here are compatible. Buying another (albeit unlocked) iPhone was never a real possibility – they cost far too much for our budget. I’ve felt they are ridiculously overpriced for what you get (starting $650 unlocked) anyway, and also being locked in in terms of software/OS upgrades has never really has much appeal. 

Can you sense my bias already?

Android it is, then! We managed to snag our Nexus for a tidy $450 shipped, which makes it also about $60 cheaper than the new Galaxy S2 model. Like the new iPhone, the Nexus sports the latest OS – “Icecream Sandwich”- and a 1.2GHz processor for a little get-up-and-go; visuals truly are speedy and smooth. From prior droid experiences, I can say this OS feels much more polished, both visually, and with its increased functionality. The phone’s Google Play account integration is pretty snazzy, too. 


It also doesn’t help Apple that their screen doesn’t make good use of the frontal area, having a size of only 3.5in – the Nexus has a whopping 4.65in screen (yes – the phone overall is larger, too). Already owning a Zune HD, I knew what to expect about Samsung’s wonderful AMOLED-based displays – and wasn’t dissapointed when this arrived. With the large screen size, this will likely be a great choice as a multi-use device for travel – if need be, internet browsing and composing emails isn’t the hassle it is on smaller screens (I have yet to screw up my eyes to see writing). 



The last advantage I see over an iPhone? Its probably a little less likely to get stolen when travelling – the iPhone *has* historically been an attention (crook) magnet. 
I pulled the SIM out of another phone and swapped it to this one – I am just learning about the rest of its functions. The GMS-data-to-wifi re-transmission (aka, “tethering”) ability is the next thing we plan to try out and get used to. Connected to a rooted Nook tablet, we hope to post updates, and access e-mail and the internet for the duration of our trip.

I’ll keep you posted!

MTBing the Glen

My buddy O’Malley and I got up early Saturday morning, strapped our bikes onto the back of my family’s van and drove up to East Duffins Headwaters for a few solid hours of biking. This fairily well-kept secret of the GTA is a hiking and mountain biking park located in Glen Major forest. The park is owned by the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority (TRCA) and, although not fitted out with large berms, beams or MTB-specific structures, it is spectacular for its single track and quite a few good hills. Not to mention the *huge* length of its trails – there are enough winds, forks, and parallel paths that you wouldn’t have seen them all in one full day of riding. Its on Sideline 4, a few kilometers north of Concession Road 9.

Here a map of the place:

Lots of multi-use, and MTB-oriented, trails.
I fooled about with my phone and set it up so that GPS was on, and tracked the expedition:

View MTBing the Glen in a larger map –> There are some more routes on the page 2 of the map

What a great park – but shhhh! Don’t let the word spread about this well-hidden treasure just outside of Toronto.  

Presta? No Problem / R.I.P. Old Wheelset

My new Shimano-hubbed Sunrim Cr-18 wheelset arrived the other day, and to my chagrin – it’s not drilled for Schrader valves, but presta valves (those tall, thin metal ones with threads). Nothing is wrong with presta valves – in fact they actually retain air better at high pressures – but the availability of tubes for wider tires is somewhat limited.

So what does one do to remedy this problem, short of replacing the rims? Well, you drill the valve holes out, of course. Presta valves are 6mm wide, with a 6.4mm (1/4in) valve hole. In contrast, Schrader valves are 8mm wide, and have an 8.3mm (21/64in) valve hole. Luckily for me, the Cr-18 rims are wide enough to accommodate this wider hole; don’t try drilling out thin rims, or those rims with a strongly arched profile, or you may end up weakening the rim significantly.

Flat profile rims; its easily drillable. 

 Select a few dill bit sizes for stepped drilling – this will prevent the bits from binding and ruining the rim. I chose 3 bits: a 7/64in bit, a 9/32in bit, and of course the 21/64in bit.

If there is already rim tape, peel it back with a tire lever and commence drilling. Once done, it should be noticeably larger:

 File off the burrs in the metal to prevent punctures, and the job is done.

Then try fitting in a Schrader valve tip, just to check to see if it all fits in neatly. If you have trouble getting in the valve, try making sure the hole was drilled straight, or possibly go for the slightly larger 11/32in bit.

 Now that I’ve drilled out these new rims, I’m all set to replace the old wheelset. The old Shimano/Araya combo has conducted me very “wheel” over the past 5000km and 5 years, and supported another 5000km or so for the 13years before that. 10 000kms and 18 years later, though, it is time to move, lest something *does* in fact break during our Italian trip.

R.I.P.

Araya Wheelset: 1994-2012 
$10 Craigslist sale, anybody?

Here are the new beauties: I’ve finally made the switch over to 8 speeds and double walls.

Gear Time: Adjusting a Mechanical Watch

Mechanical watches aren’t yet relegated to the sidelines completely; there are still numerous companies manufacturing thrifty automatic watches in the $80-150 range. Possibly the best example of such a watch is my current timepiece, one from venerable the Seiko ‘5’ line of watches. Unlike their quartz cousins, though mechanicals won’t need batteries (and often don’t need maintenance for over a decade), they do need adjustment to keep accurate time. My Seiko, which came from the factory about 5 s/day fast, has settled into a consistent 30s/day slow. Not wanting to pay a watchmaker $30 to do something I am capable of, I set about to adjust the mechanism.

 Seiko 5 Auto-winding watch –
pretty bulletproof, and looks decent to boot
Here’s what you’ll need:
  • A mechanical watch
  • A computer with Audacity or equivalent sound-recording program
  • A microphone
  • A quiet room
  • A set of micro screw drivers/bits
  • A magnifying glass (optional)
  • A watch case opener – I got mine for a song at Active Surplus in Toronto
How to do it:
  • Set it Up: Boot up your computer in a quiet room. Open up Audacity (or similar) and hook up a microphone. For me, I used my laptop’s built-in microphone. 
  • Record: Place the watch face-first up to the microphone, with as much contact as possible so the quiet ‘tick-tick’ can be recorded clearly. Leave it recording for ~15 seconds. 

  • Edit and Noise Reduce: depending on your microphone, you may (like me) need to use noise-removal plugins to clean up the signal, and visually show clear bumps for each ‘tick’. I also amplified the signal to make each point more noticeable.
  • Select the midpoint of the first hump (see below), and delete all before that position, bringing it flush with the 0.00s position.
  • Move forward to the 5-second position. Zooming in, check the time position for the last hump. It should be as close to being 5.00 seconds as possible. [Note: It *should* be a little under 5.00s, to compensate for knocks which will lose time]. If over 5.00s, your watch is running slow (losing time), and if under 5.00s, your watch is running fast (gaining time). 
Before adjustment: bump @ 5.0091s, After adjustment: bump @ 4.985s.
Slightly fast compensates for bumps & knocks through the day.
  •  Crunch the Numbers: For my watch, it has a listed BPH of 21 600, meaning at 100% accuracy, it is supposed to ‘tick’ 21600/hour. Dividing that by (60s x 60mins) = 6 beats per second, or 30 beats per 5 seconds. However, I had a time of 5.0091s for 5 beats – a calculated loss of about 144 seconds per day (which is far more than actual). 
  • Determine the Goal: Usually, the goal is to set the actual BPH ahead by 10 seconds per hour, to compensate for odd watch angles and knocks which actually slow it down slightly through the course of a day.  10 seconds = 60 beats, so my goal BPH was 21 660BPH. Dividing by (60s x 60mins) = 6.0167 bps, or 30.0833 beats per 5 seconds. Therefore my goal for 30 ‘ticks’ was: (30s / 30.0833) x 5s = 4.986s. 
Set a goal based on your watch’s BPH value
  • Adjust the Mechanism: If the watch band is metal, use a small screw tip bit, and release the watch band. 

  • Open the back of the watch with the watch opening tool.

  •  With a thing pointed screw driver and magnifying glass, tweak the adjuster of the hairspring on the balance wheel in the direction (+ or -) your timing needs to go. Be careful: this is the most delicate part of a watch, and also, a small adjustment goes a long way!

Adjustment: be sure to only move the adjustable mount
for the hairspring (circled in red), and not the fixed mount.
  • Close up the watch backing, record another sound clip, and crunch the numbers to see if you’ve come close to your goal. 

For me, I achieved 4.985s on my second try – very close to my 4.986s goal. The watch now runs about -2 seconds per day, meaning this entry-level watch surpasses COSC standards!