Sunday, October 21, 2018

Bike Refresh

My Univega hybrid bicycle is circa 1993 or 1994 and was due for a refresh. Since it is some 25 years old, I considered buying a new bike, but after riding a couple of new Treks and a Bianchi, I decided that I didn't love them as much as I'd hoped I would, and that perhaps I'd be happier updating my old bike.

All updates to the bike were to get it working properly again, keep it safe to ride, and improve my comfort when possible.

I find shiny metal parts to have a certain engineering and artistic appeal; this provided my motivation to capture some photos of my new and improved bike.

Note that I'd gone on three or four rides after installation of the new parts, so you'll see some road grit here and there in the photos. This adds a sense of realism :)  I didn't want to "photoshop away" these marks of distinction.


The main reason for keeping my old frame is the ride comfort. Chromoly (steel) frames are more flexible and absorb road bumps far better than aluminum or even carbon fiber. Most new bikes sold use aluminum or carbon which are extremely rigid materials; they're popular primarily because they are so very lightweight. I find these materials give a ride that is way too stiff; I can feel almost every nook and cranny on the road compared to my smooth chromoly ride. While chromoly may weigh a pound or two more than the other materials, the ride comfort is hard to beat.

Double Butted is a Good Thing

Rear Cassette

Rear Wheel Drive

Shiny Holey Teeth

My Selle SMP seat's design helps men and women to ride with more comfort on their sit bones, giving riders happy bottoms, compared to more traditional designs.

Made in Italy

Cable Housings

Check out the blue paint job. Most new (non-custom) bikes don't have anything like this.

25 Year Old Paint Job

In this next photo you can see the old rear derailleur along with the new rear cassette, new chain and new rear wheel.

Old and New

Planetary Momentum

Though the new crankset is labeled "Hyperdrive", it turns out this only becomes a reality if you pedal very, very quickly.

Crank and Friends

In Gear

Derailleur Picks Up the Slack

You can see here that Univega was very proud of this product when they built it 25 years ago, and rightly so!

Product Placement

Through the Wheel

All photos © 2018, all rights reserved.  Contact for licensing or to order prints.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Flower Piano

By happy coincidence we visited the San Francisco Botanical Gardens when they were having a special annual show entitled "Flower Piano".  We learned that this is the fourth year they've done this. It is a special summer event, lasting 12 days, where they have 12 pianos placed all around the Botanical Gardens. Anyone can sit down and play! When we first heard about this, we weren't too sure what to make of it, but now that we've seen and heard it, we think it's quite brilliant. Most of the presumably "amateur" pianists that sit down and play these pianos turn out to be highly talented! Everyone played quite beautifully. No duffers. The setting is gorgeous. As we walked away from one piano and its surroundings, the sound would die away and we'd begin to hear another piano in a different area of the Botanical Gardens. This ebb and flow of the music as we walked among the flowers was quite delightful.

Here's a Stellar's Jay we spotted while walking over to the Botanical Gardens from the Conservatory of Flowers. What a rich blue color this bird has! I happened to have my 12-40mm lens on my camera but wished I'd had my telephoto on instead. Birds move way too fast to allow a lens change. I still got a decent capture, albeit with some post shot cropping.

Stellar's Jay

This stacked piano object is one of the first things one sees when walking into the Botanical Gardens. Seeing this, we knew we were in for an unusual treat.

Stacked Pianos

 A closer view:

Altered Piano

Barefoot Concert

With a Feather in his Cap

Fronds in the Sky

Musical Duo with Audience

Playing Under Red Hair

I don't remember what kind of trees these are, but their flowing reddish "hair" was quite remarkable. Below is a wider angle shot of the same scene. After the fact, I wished that I would have used an even wider angle and included the talented musicians, seen above, in this second shot.

Rapunzel Tree

It wasn't *all* about the pianos. The Botanical Gardens had many enjoyable flowers to look at.

Delicate Life

Popping Out All Over


Some of the pianos had larger groups gathered around, many having brought their own instruments.

The Band's All Here

This guy was playing Beatles music in a classical arrangement! He was phenomenally good.

Creative Setting

I noticed that most all the piano players had no sheet music and often had lengthy pieces fully memorized. They were often completely "involved" in the music, fully "in the zone" as they played.

Beatles in the Garden

Piano in the Round

Fire Needles

At one point this dragonfly decided to rest on Deb's finger. He/she remained there for several minutes even while we walked further. This photo was taken at a close distance with my faithful 12-40mm lens, not my macro lens.

New Pet

Iris Flows

All photos © 2018, all rights reserved.  Contact for licensing or to order prints.