Thanksgiving Trip

Posted by Dutchman Sunday, November 29, 2009 1 comments

Early Thursday morning, Zach, Tyler, and I loaded up the Envoy and headed for Illinois. More specifically, we were headed to Shabbona for Thanksgiving at my sister’s home. We left around 6:30 a.m. There was very little traffic. There was a light rain off and on the whole way. South of Lansing, we saw several flocks of Sandhill Cranes. There were probably around 50 to 60 altogether. They were probably gathering for the flight south.

We were headed west. As we approached Shabbona, which is about 50 miles west of the Chicago suburbs, we saw dozens of wind turbines. My sister says that these have been built all around Shabbona and DeKalb in the last few months. There is some controversy amongst the farmers and small towns in the area over these gigantic wind mills. Some are worried about the noise they may create, once brought online. Others are happy, as they will rake in lots of dollars from the land they lease for each one installed. My sister tells me that Illinois has set a goal to have 10% of their energy provided by renewable sources by 2015 and 25% by 2025. This sounds like to little to late to me. I wonder if Illinois will have the fossil fuel to produce the other 75% in 2025.

Later in the day, we went up to Loves Park where my parents live. On Saturday, we returned to Michigan after first passing the sky scrapers of downtown Chicago and the Skyway bridge where we could see the blue water of Lake Michigan out past the boarded and decaying suburbs.

As we traveled, we listened to the audio book “Charles Kuralt’s America”. This was written after his retirement as he visited 12 different favorite locations over 12 months. It makes me think of places that I would like to take the boys before they grow up.


I Used to Hunt

Posted by Dutchman Friday, November 20, 2009 0 comments

It’s hunting season. All across the Midwest, sportsmen are out enjoying the crisp autumn air while pitting their knowledge and skill against deer, waterfowl, pheasants and various small game. I see the bird hunters walking the uplands in their blaze orange vests and feel a little nostalgia. I used to be among them. In the decades of the 70s and 80s, I used to canoe the small northern Illinois river near where I lived, jump shooting squirrels, ducks, and doves. I went on a couple goose hunts, but mostly I enjoyed walking miles of swales, fence lines, and harvested corn fields with my English Setter, Clyde, looking for Ring-necked Pheasants.

Clyde came to me in a round about way. We owned Appaloosa horses at that time. Prior to purchasing our own “hobby” farm in the country, we boarded them at a large horse farm, whose owners, the Pasinantis, raised and showed Arabians. Stan always had some kind of hobby going, and at that time, it was Arabian show horses. It seemed after a while, that he lost a little interest in his current hobby, and would switch to something new. In this case, he switched to hunting. He purchased an expensive English Setter field trial dog while in Kentucky. Then he purchased Bobwhite Quail to stock his farm, so that he could hunt.

One day, while tending our horses, he asked if I would take him pheasant hunting. He’d furnish the dog, Clyde. I was excited, as most of our “dogless” hunting consisted of stamping through the fields while trying to figure out how to cut off any running birds by sending a fellow hunter on a wide swing ahead. We knew there were a lot more birds we never saw, than the ones we actually kicked up.

We headed to a farm where I had hunting privileges near Leaf River, Illinois. Problems started right away. You see, English Setters, which are pointing dogs, and field trialers in particular, are runners that tend to range far afield. They cover a lot of territory, ranging well out from the hunter, working because the quail or partridge they are after, tend to hold tight while the dog points until the hunter arrives for a shot. Pheasants however, don’t play this game. Likely as not they will run, or don’t hold tight when pointed, often jumping into flight long before the hunter gets in range. And, Clyde loved to run and cover huge amounts of land. He jumped pheasants, but too far away to shoot. Stan could not make Clyde stay close. Clyde basically hunted for himself.

There was also another problem. Illinois hunting primarily occurs on private land. You have to get permission to hunt from the landowner. While one owner may know and trust you, the farmer next door may not feel the same. So the hunter is restricted to the property on which he has permission to hunt. Clyde observed no such restrictions. If he got on the trail of a pheasant, he went were it led him. So it was, that Clyde went under the fence and into the standing cornfield of the adjacent farm. Stan called and whistled, but could not get Clyde to return. We could hear the whistle and cackle of pheasants, but could not see them or Clyde. Stan was embarrassed and angry. His $500 (a lot for a dog in 1979) bird dog was running wild.

I told Stan that I could get Clyde back. He just laughed. He owned, fed and cared for Clyde. No relative stranger to the dog, would have any more success than he. So, I pressed the safety button on my Weatherby Centurion 12 Gauge, and fired a shot into the air. About 5 seconds later, Clyde was at my side.

Clyde knew that a gun going off, usually meant a downed bird. So, he was right there, wondering where that bird was. The rest of the day, he stayed close to me, hoping he’d hear the gun again. He quite hunting for himself, and hunted for me.

The remainder of the season, Stan always asked me to come along on his hunts, as I controlled the dog. In the spring, Stan’s interest turned again from hunting dogs to Bass fishing. He sold a couple of horses and purchased a Ranger bass boat.  He also presented me with a deal. He’d give Clyde to me, if I’d promise to take him with us on hunts the next fall.

Deal! Stan never did hunt with us again, as he quickly tired of bass fishing, hunting, and horses, and got into sled dog racing. He has since sold the horse farm and moved to Ely, Minnesota, where he is a canoe outfitter in the summer and races in the winter. He has even raced in the Alaskan Iditarod. Clyde and I hunted every fall.

Once, my father went with us to a wildlife area in north central Illinois. Clyde pointed birds, and we obtained our limit. We had a long walk back to the car, and on the way, we topped a hill to observe 4 hunters with 2 dogs hunting in a swale below us. We watched them get to the end of the swale without finding any birds. The black Labs they had were criss-crossing the cover, but found nothing. Clyde took off in a sprint. He ran through the swale, pointed two birds, which the hunters shot, and then returned to my side. The hunters waved and yelled thanks, and we continued on. While we had finished our hunt, apparently Clyde had not.

As time went on, it became more difficult to find land on which to hunt. Clyde and I resorted to hunting along abandoned railroad tracks. Farming practices in Illinois were no longer really conducive to good Pheasant habitat. They became few and far between. Clyde did not care. He just wanted to run and hunt. A number of times, when I was at the point of exhaustion from hiking through the brush and briars along the tracks, and headed back to the car, Clyde would go on point. As I approached to kick up the bird, I’d notice Clyde was not staring straight ahead, but was looking back out of the corner of his eye to see what I was doing. There was never a bird. I think he went on point to get my mood back to the hunt, hoping we’d keep going.

Clyde was the true “one man” dog. All he desired was to hunt and be at my side. To him, I think no other human or dog existed. When he died on a cold fall day in 1986, I buried him in the horse paddock behind the barn. I never hunted again.




Yellowstone Super Volcano Explodes

Posted by Dutchman Monday, November 16, 2009 0 comments

My son Zach and I went to see the movie "2012" last Friday evening. It had a lot of good special effects, mostly of California falling apart and sliding into the ocean. The scenes of Yellowstone exploding were unimpressive though. This may mostly be due to the fact that I knew immediately that it wasn't filmed anywhere near Yellowstone. The actors drove into the park on a road I know doesn’t exist there. Also, they were hiking through an evergreen forest that had a lot of moss hanging from the limbs. It looked more like one of the coastal forests of California.

As in all disaster films, most of the characters in the film miraculously survive in the end. Mostly, the movie was good mindless entertainment.

In a couple of weeks, another "disaster" movie will be out. It is called "The Road", and is based on a book written by Cormack McCarthy. Back in 2008, we were headed to a baseball tournament in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. As we were driving, I decided to download a couple of audio books from iTunes. I have found that the miles pass by much faster when listening to a book. Zach and Tyler mostly watched DVDs in the back seat, or listened to their iPods. I am glad, as this was about the darkest story I have come across. It is about a father and son traveling cross country in a post apocalyptic world. If the movie stays faithful to the book, I think most people will come out of the theater with a little different mood than that of "2012". Thoughts of the latter, might be along the lines of "what neat special effects", or "there's no way that would ever happen". "The Road" will be different. You might leave the theater not wanting to think about it at all. Most likely, you will think about it in the middle of the night when you wake up in a cold sweat.



Language Arts

Posted by Dutchman Wednesday, November 11, 2009 1 comments

My son Tyler received an assignment in his 8th grade Language Arts class. He was required to write about his hero. The subject had to be in Michigan. He told me that he wished to write about a baseball player he thought of as a hero. The player was D.J. LeMahieu, a local high school athlete who had made it to the “pros”. Tyler’s baseball hitting instructor and a coach of his team, Chris Newell, had also instructed D.J. He had done well in high school and had gone on to play for LSU, appearing in this and last years College World Series, and had recently been drafted into the Chicago Cubs organization.

Tyler told me he might have a hard time coming up with 500 words to say about D.J. In the end he picked a different hero. He wrote the following and handed it in this week. Sometimes, “thanks” comes when you least expect it, and in ways that surprise you. Raising kids is hard work, but sometimes, 500 words can make it more than worthwhile.


My Michigan Hero


My dad is my hero. He does everything for me and he loves me. He takes his time to help me when I am sick or need assurance and when I cannot do things for myself. He is one of the few individuals that have influenced me to go for what I want, no matter how difficult or challenging it is.

My dad is not just my hero in life, he is my hero in baseball. Every day I work to get just a little bit better, and he is right next to my side. He spends his money to get me lessons and pays thousands of dollars just so I can play. He doesn’t care if I don’t go anywhere in baseball, he spends his money just because he knows I love the game.

When my dad was younger he loved the outdoors. He lived in Park City, Utah and canoed and skied whenever he got the chance. He stopped doing these things because my brother and I were born. So, last year, he got me into fishing, canoeing, and skiing. I didn’t think I would like these things, but I absolutely love them. Now every weekend we do something outdoors and when the winter comes we are going to start skiing. I am so glad my dad does these things with me because a lot of parents won’t.

When I was five, my parents were divorced. It was the worst time of my life. I lived with my dad and he lost his job and had to do everything around the house. I felt bad I couldn’t help him. Once we got back on our feet, life was better, but he still had to do everything. I respect him for this because he knew there was nothing we could do and he loved my brother and me.

My dad is my hero for the everyday things he does, from paying for me to go to the movies to providing food for me. He clothes me, shelters me, feeds me, and loves me. That’s all I could ask from a parent. My life would probably ok if he didn’t do these things for me, but the fact that he does, shows he really cares and loves me.

Without my dad my life would be a disaster. He keeps me in line and makes sure I am always ok and ready for everything. He keeps me involved with things just because I enjoy them. He does things with me that his dad did with him and provides daily things I need to live. He does everything for me and he loves me. My dad is my hero.


Planned 2010 Door County Tour

Posted by Dutchman Sunday, November 8, 2009 1 comments

For my first major bicycle tour in 2010, I plan to take the ferry across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin. The SS Badger leaves from Ludington, Michigan and arrives in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, after 4 hours of steaming. I'll drive from Oxford to Ludington, park, and cross the lake with just the bike.

Once in Manitowoc, I'll head north along the shore of Lake Michigan, passing through Two Rivers and Kewaunee, staying the first night somewhere in or around Algoma. Over the next three days, I'll make a loop around Door County, before heading back down to Manitowoc on the fifth day.

I first became acquainted with Door County back in the early 70s, when I started going up to Sturgeon Bay to "snag" salmon with my father. Chinook (King) Salmon had been stocked in Lake Michigan as a predator to help reduce the alewife population that had been introduced by freighters entering the Great Lakes from the ocean. The native Lake Trout had been decimated by Sea Lampreys also brought into the lakes with freighter ballast, so they alone wouldn't keep the alewife population in check.

Something to Do (Part 17)

Posted by Dutchman Saturday, November 7, 2009 1 comments

Completion and Test Ride

After the addition of a Topeak Tourguide handlebar bag, the Sanner touring bicycle is complete. We’re experiencing a warm snap, with a temperature today of 68, so I took the bike out for a spin and final adjustment. The ride is great and of course is way more comfortable with those wide 700x32 tires than the 23s I'm used too. The friction shifters combined with Xt derailleurs worked flawlessly. I can shift several gears at a time with out the extra clicks needed when using brifters. The shifting is a little more touchy than what I remember from my Fuji Touring IV, but that would be because of 9 rear cogs instead of 6.

All in all, I think this bike will work great for touring next summer. I'll probably do a break-in tour early in the spring. My goal is to take the ferry across lake Michigan and tour Door County, Wisconsin sometime in the summer. Also The Dirt Road Bicycle Commuter is planning a tour that includes the ferry to Canada at Marine City, cutting across Ontario and catching the ferry connection through Pelee Island to Ohio.


Something to Do (Part 16)

Posted by Dutchman Friday, November 6, 2009 0 comments

Rear Rack and Tape

My rear rack is a Topeak Super Tourist Disk. I arrived at this choice because the Super Tourist has bars on which to mount panniers that are lower than the rack top. This will put the weight a little lower, but more importantly, will reduce interference with whatever bag or trunk bag I put on top of the rack. It appears that you can't yet find the "diskless" version in the United States. However, the added inch of offset because of the clearance for disk brakes means that the panniers will be just a little farther from the spinning wheels at the cost of a lighter, wider load (2 inches) with associated wind resistance. They also left me a little more clearance for fender supports.

The steal bars that are used to attach the top of the rack to the seat stays were silver. Also, because of the angle they needed to achieve to attach to the seat stay braze-ons, they would have crossed each other where they attach at the rack. I used a hack saw to cut them off to avoid this and then painted them black with a "rattle can".

My last step before project completion, was to wrap the handlebars. I use standard Fizik tape in black.

Seat/Seat Post, Pedals and Water Bottles/Cages

I departed from tradition and chose a Selle Royal Respiro saddle instead of a Brooks B-17. I recently purchased one of these and used it on the DALMAC Tour. At the end of two days of riding, it occurred to me that I had absolutely no discomfort. Why change a good thing. I purchased another for the Sanner.

It was matched with a Ritchey Pro seat post, mounted and adjusted to be at the same relative height and position as the Cannondale SR500 I am used to riding.

I also purchased Shimano PD A530 pedals. With these, I can go SPD clipless, or if need be, flip them over and use the platforms.

I opted for Kleen Kanteen stainless steal water bottles along with their cages. I ordered three 27 ounce bottles in moss green, but upon mounting the cages, discovered that a 27 ounce bottle will not fit under the down tube. I substituted an 18 ounce instead. It just clears the front fender by a couple of centimeters.

Something to Do (Part 14)

Posted by Dutchman Wednesday, November 4, 2009 0 comments


I had to do some cutting and painting of brackets for the rear rack, so while I waited for paint to dry, I started on the brake and shifter cabling. I used Jagwire cabling and inline barrel adjusters.

The front brake cable hanger had to be offset to the right because of the dual stem set up. The front cable is pulling a little from one side because of this. To compensate, I adjusted the tension on each caliper so that they still came in contact with the rim of the wheel evenly. The Cane Creek cross levers have a barrel adjuster so no additional inline adjuster was needed. The rear brake cable housing touches the top tube, so to avoid wearing through the paint, I added a small Lizard Skin patch.

The Kelly Take Offs come with cable noodles that can be used to direct the cable away from between and in front of the handlebars, so that a bag can be attached there. The shifter cables were threaded through the friction shifters, noodles, and Jagwire inline adjusters before going to the down tube. From there they went under the bottom bracket and to each derailleur. Because I'm using friction shifters, it was rather easy to set the cable tension and adjust the derailleurs. The only thing needed, was setting of the limit screws to keep the chain from going out of range of the cogs and chainrings. In the included photo, you can see my homemade chain hook that is used to hold the chain together while you adjust the length and insert the connecting pin. My son Tyler sacrificed a coat hanger, which was cut and bent for this purpose. He never hangs up his clothes anyway.


Front Rack

Positioning of the front rack was painful. I wanted a low-rider type of rack so that I could get a lower center of balance on the front of the bicycle. There seems to be a pretty limited number of these type of racks available. On my previous touring bike, I used a Blackburn low-rider, but these don't appear to be make anymore. Other options were Tubus (high quality and expense) and Axiom. The problem with most of these rack designs is that they give you a very limited amount of adjustability. By this, I mean you have a hard time keeping the pannier holding bars horizontal, while still matching up with the dropout eyelet and mid-fork braze-on. It would appear that frame builders and rack designers haven't come to agreement on what the distance should be between these two attachment points. I ended up ordering Nashbar low-riders which are a clone of the old Blackburn rack, that come with "U" bolts for forks without mid fork braze-ons. As can be seen in the photo, I had to use the "U" bolts, as the plate of the rack was about 3/8 of an inch too high for the braze-on.
Installation difficulty is increased due to the fact that only one of the two dropout eyelets will work with the rack and the fender supports. The skewer/axle is in the way when using the front eyelet. Because the eyelet is shared, a longer 5mm bolt must be used, which weakens the connection to the eyelet. Under the stress of a heavy load, I worry that either the bolt, or more likely the eyelet will fail.

Something to Do (Part 12)

Posted by Dutchman Tuesday, November 3, 2009 0 comments


As I am running 700x32 tires, I opted to purchase some SKS P-45 fenders. The P-35 would be a tight fit, and I would be unable to go up to a larger size tire in the future. I first installed the front fender. This was actually done in coordination with the front low-rider rack installation, as they would both be using the same eyelet for mounting at the bottom of the fork (more on the rack installation later).
I used the already attached fork crown bracket, with a bolt through the brake hole in the crown. I'm probably fortunate in that the bracket was just sufficient in length to properly position the fender above my wheel. Next I checked the length of the fender supports that position the rear of the fender. These were a little too long, so I used a Kawasaki (Dremel) tool to cut off about 3/4 inches from each end. This positioned the fender with even space around the tire from front to rear. The fender supports plug into a small plastic block that allows them to release in case a stick or some other refuse were to be pulled up by the tire into the fender. Supposedly, these would help keep you from being thrown over the handlebars in a sudden stop when an obstruction hits the supports. I hope I don't find out if this design works well. An unfortunate side affect of using this safety feature is that when sharing a dropout eyelet with a rack, you end up with kind of a long bolt, which may be less than optimal for a heavy load in your front panniers.

The rear fender connects to the bridge between the rear chain stays. The fenders come with a bracket that clips on to the bridge, but in my case, the fender was a little too far from the tire, which means the rear end of the fender would be too close to the tire. I removed the clip and used a bolt going directly into the threaded hole in the bridge. To get the fender spaced correctly in relationship to the tire, I added a couple of small spacers (see photo). A sliding "X" bracket is included by SKS, that allows connection of the fender to the seatstay bridge. This bracket was a little too short, so I used the Kawasaki to grind out the slot an extra few millimeters. The rear supports were cut down, and attached to the fender and rear dropout eyelets. As can be seen in the photo, I used the lower eyelets for the fender and the upper eyelets will be the connection point for the rear rack.

Something to Do (Part 11)

Posted by Dutchman Monday, November 2, 2009 0 comments


Over the weekend, I mounted the front and rear derailleurs. I purchased Shimano Deore Xt's. The rears is an RD-M771-SGS and thus is a top normal design. In other words, when the shifter cable is slack, the pulleys would be positioned below the smallest cog. Road bikes are usually configured this way, as opposed to a mountain bike derailleur which would be positioned below the largest cog. With the M771, my friction levers will be forward at the stop, when in the high gear. You would pull them back towards you to shift down for climbing. The SGS is the long cage designation which gives you a total of 45 teeth capacity. The difference between rear cogs (34-11=23) and chainrings (44-22=22) gives me 45 teeth.

The front derailleur is the FD-M771 which is a down-swing model with double pull.  On the Sanner frame, the seat tube bottle bosses are high enough that I won't have an interference issue, going with the supposedly stronger down-swing action. The M771 is also double pull, meaning I can route the cable from the top, or in my case, the bottom. I had to use the included set of shims to adjust the front bracket to the size seat tube on the Sanner. A small sticker is placed on the derailleur by Shimano, that you use to line up the M771 with your large chainring. It can be seen in the below photo.

Something to Do (Part 10)

Posted by Dutchman Sunday, November 1, 2009 0 comments

Front Brakes and Kelly Take Offs

The Cane Creek cantilever front brakes were easily installed. I mounted the front wheel, so I could adjust the brake pads on the rims. Following this, I installed the Cane Creek SCR-5 brake levels. For shifters, I decided to try Kelly Take Offs with down-tube levers, after discovering the take offs on the internet. I purchased a set of Shimano Bar-con shifters in case I don't like the friction shifting of the Kelly set up. If the set up works out, I'll resell the bar-cons on eBay. When looking for down tube shifters, about all that were available, were Shimano indexed shifters at around $100. However, I found some old Dia-Compe style friction shifters from Rivendell. They were one of the best working and most popular shifters before the dawn of Index/SIS shifting.

About Me

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I'm a middle aged divorced father living with my two sons. We like to canoe, bicycle, fish, camp, play baseball, and spend money when we want and where we want, without permission from anybody. HA!


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