The Friday Cyclotouriste

a geo-photoblog chronicling my "excursions velo"

Archive for August, 2011

Gear Gallery……A DIY handlebar mount for my camera

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I’ve had a nagging desire to shoot video (using my Panasonic LX-3 camera) while out riding. However, I wasn’t sure how to securely attach the camera to my bike.

Then I remembered this thing called the internet (!), which turned up quite a few designs along the lines of what you see below.

It’s a hodgepodge of nuts, bolts, and washers with a reflector mounting bracket as the base. The 1/4 main bolt screws into my camera’s tripod mount. The little acorn nut on top is just to keep everything together when the camera is not attached.

Below is all the hardware.

Essential hardware -- DIY bicycle handlebar camera bracket


Here’s the camera mounted to the bracket.

Lumix LX-3 on homemade handlebar mount

What’s missing from this photo is the Opteka 0.35 fisheye lens that I plan to attach to the LX-3 for shooting video.

I hope to post some examples soon!


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August 29th, 2011 at 9:21 pm


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On the Road……Sabino’s secret (or not-so-secret) swimming holes

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I love a good swimming hole, but until recently had no idea they could exist in Tucson in the middle of the summer!

Incredibly, just two weeks ago this creek was nearly dry. But our last big monsoon sent water cascading down the canyon slopes, which filled up various pools along Sabino Creek, and made many of them suitable for swimming.

[Note: I’m not Geo-tagging this image in order to keep the location a bit of a mystery. However, if you’re curious and want to read a post from the archives — I did reveal the location of another superb swimming hole near my old home just north of San Francisco.]



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August 25th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Espresso Review……Cafe Aqui, a microroaster on Tucson’s south side

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Cafe Aqui is a charming micro-roaster located in the heart of south Tucson.

I knew nothing about this place, but stopped in on a whim as I was passing by. The problem was I didn’t have any cash on me (credit cards are not accepted), but Sarah, the barista, still offered me a sweet empanada and single espresso.

Thanks Sarah!

A perfect shot from Cafe Aqui

The espresso was perfect!

The shot was only about 1 oz. to 1.5 oz., which is just the way I like it. (See how the coffee is at or below the half-way mark of this small cup.)

The reddish brown crema was excellent.

Although the espresso seemed to have been roasted on the lighter side it had none of the sourness that I sometimes detect in lighter, single origin espresso roasts.


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The cafe is super mellow. It’s actually more of an artist’s loft than a cafe. The atmosphere is convivial and devoid of any corporate artiface. I sat on an old couch surrounded by vinyl records and books and chatted with all the other patrons who were hanging out.

Cafe Aqui’s coffee roaster is out in the open as are stacks of burlap bags filled with coffee beans from Central America, Africa, and other coffee growing parts of the globe.

A small warning: this may not be the place to try to hunker down for hours on end and do work on your laptop as the seating is kind of limited (although in fairness the place is so laid back it probably would be no problem if you did).



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August 21st, 2011 at 3:45 pm


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On the Road……Miramonte Park along the 3rd St. bike path

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In the early evening, right before a rain, this small garden-park had a palpable feeling of serenity and harmony. Lingering here, I felt calm and more connected to nature — the plants, the stones, and the slight breeze.

Later, I associated this feeling with the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi and other aspects of Japanese garden design.

I’m sure Tucson is full of little parks like this; I just happened to stumble upon this one (which was completely empty for some reason).

Love the outdoor chess board!

A zen rock garden — Tucson’s own Ryoan-ji?

Many professionals would object to the word “zen” in describing a traditional Japanese dry rock garden.  The publisher of this delightful, bi-monthly journal is especially disdainful of the term.

Either way, the journal (I am a subscriber) is probably the best source of practical information on Japanese gardens and architecture around. Plus, it’s very easy to read!

Let the wind speak. That is Paradise. — Ezra Pound, Canto CXX




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August 17th, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Random Images……Desert vistas with the iPhone 4’s camera

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Many of the pictures posted over the last few months were created with the iPhone’s built-in camera.

The image quality is inferior to my Lumix LX-3, but the LX-3 was itself a compromise. I used it mainly because it was smaller and more convenient to carry on my bicycle than the alternatives.

Now, size and convenience are winning out again — hence the increased use of the iPhone.

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Since these images are primarily intended for the web (and never larger than 650 pixels wide) I have some margin for error in terms of image quality. That’s why I can still produce acceptable results even when facing tricky lighting situations like those seen in these desert vistas. (However, for the first shot I had to combine two exposures in order to retain marginal detail in the foreground shadow areas.)

The biggest drawback is that printing larger images for a gallery show or portfolio may not be achievable. For this, I could really use a larger sensor, but still compact, Olympus EP-3 or Fuji X-100 — which are the cameras I’m drooling over currently.

However, at this point, I should remind myself of the unlimited nature of material desire and the profound teachings of the Buddha — especially his “Second Noble Truth.”


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August 16th, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Gear Gallery……The Cricket trailer

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I want one of these Cricket Trailers, which are designed and built by an architect who worked on NASA’s “habitation modules” — the small spaces where astronauts live!

The Cricket Trailer --


The Cricket's sleeping quarters --

Here’s a stylish video with more interior shots of the Cricket, including views of the galley and the loo.


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August 14th, 2011 at 11:14 pm


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On the Road……A rattlesnake encounter in Sabino Canyon

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This is the end of Sabino Canyon’s paved road. Mosquito’s are biting my forearms and shoulders. Twilight  is descending (note: for a twilight ride overlooking the Pacific Ocean see this post).

As I’m heading home, about halfway down the mountain, the light is 85 percent gone. Coasting slightly downhill at about 10-15 mph, I suddenly notice a shape in front of my wheel. Without thinking, I swerve. Actually, there wasn’t enough time to swerve; rather it was just a quick flick of the wrist and handlebars — first right, then left.

I immediately look back over my left shoulder and see a snake falling to the ground, as if recoiling from a near vertical strike.

The part of my brain that processes information informs me that the sensation I felt against my leg a fraction of a second ago was the rattlesnake defending itself against what it perceived as a large, warm-blooded creature (that is, me) bearing down on it.

I stopped my bicycle; went back up the road 20 feet; directed my headlight to illuminate the scene; and snapped this picture!

The encounter reminded me of one of my favorite pieces of writing — Snaketime — an essay originally published in the WildEarth Journal by Charles Bowden (re-printed in this book, which as of August 2011 had copies available for $.01).

Here’s an excerpt where Bowden suggests how a snake perceives the world:

For the snake a few things are obvious: I am large, and this is certain because of my footfall. She can hear the footfall of a mouse. I am rich in odor. She can pick up the faintest scents, identify them, and follow a single strand as clearly as if it were signage on an interstate highway system…And I am irrelevant unless I get too close. She will ignore me if I stay six feet away. She will ignore me if I become motionless for 180 seconds.

If I violate the rules of her culture, she will work through a sequence of four tactics. First, she will pretend to be invisible and hope I do not see her. If that fails, she will try to flee. If that fails, she will rattle in hope of frightening me away. And finally, if I am completely ignorant of simple courtesy and get within a foot or so of her, she will attack me…

She herself is cultured. In her lifetime, she will attack maybe twenty or thirty or forty times. She will never attack any member of her own species. She will never be cruel. She is incapable of evil.

–Charles Bowden, from the essay Snaketime



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August 13th, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Bicycling culture……Smart cars, Bromptons, and Charlie Chaplin

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A Smart Car and a Brompton together; I just can’t resist. And because of this video’s Chaplinesque qualities I have an excuse to post two of my favorite clips from the genius himself (see below).


These are the silent actor’s first words (beginning around the 1:00 mark) on screen — in the form of a song from Modern Times:


And finally, the ending speech from The Great Dictator, still relevant today some would argue.


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August 9th, 2011 at 11:52 pm


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On the Road……Two “beaters” near Whole Foods on Speedway Blvd

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Here are some real Tucson-style city bikes.

Lovingly called “beaters” — bikes like these (especially the yellow-orange one) get you where you need to be, can haul or carry stuff, and you don’t have to worry about knocks and dents along the way.

My Nishiki Mixte fills this crucial bicycle niche for me (as does a rather aged Peugeot mixte I acquired with the intention of restoring, but never did).

A story a couple years ago in the New York Times defined the beater this way:

The beater is to the bicycle world what a well-worn Crown Victoria is to the automotive world, a sturdy workhorse machine that can take a few knocks and keep going. The ideal beater can soak up a few potholes, might repel thieves with its rust spots and will not break the bank.

A very well-worn saddle

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August 8th, 2011 at 9:11 pm


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On the Road……Bicycling in the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania

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My dear friends (and one-time housemates) Forest and Ingrid sent me this photo from Romania.

Here’s what Forest wrote in his email to me:

Exploring the back roads near the Carpathian mountains in Transylvania.

Ingrid is riding her Giant Jubilee t-6 and mine is a Miyata Road Gentleman.

Both bikes purchased in Holland.

Besides being intrepid travelers, Forest and Ingrid are both talented musicians in the midst of setting up a European satellite for their Painted Sun record label.

  • Have a listen to Forest Sun’s song Be Kind to You:
  • Be Kind to You

  • You can also preview Ingrid’s latest single, Grandma’s House on iTunes.

Of course you can purchase all their music on both cdbaby or iTunes or even set-up a Pandora station.

Album Cover

Forest Sun

I made these two photos last summer (in the Marin County countryside). The image on the left is the album cover for Ingrid’s Grandma’s House project.

They’ll be touring the US this fall, including stops in Washington, California, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona!

See the tour calendar for details.




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August 3rd, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Route Map……Sabino Canyon Trail with elevation chart

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Note to self: starting at my house — rather than the Sabino trail head —  would make this an interesting 30 mile ride.

Elevation Profile

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August 1st, 2011 at 10:44 pm