Mittwoch, 29. Februar 2012

Riding, chatting tech talk, cuppa tea and bushcraft practice-perfect;-)

 On Sunday, I felt that urge again and simply had to get out to the hills. It was a bit foggy, and that was no harm really, for I actually like that weather. It makes for a somewhat soothing atmosphere, and I like the whirling mists rising from the green hills of home... I figure I really love my home turf. Not the actual city, for that´s nothing to be proud of, what with a lot of grievances, but the countryside, My bike enables me to actually get out there, another reason I simply love to ride. So I packed my gear, a flask of strong black tea, my bushcraft tools and a fleece blanket and some extra clothing, and ventured into the not-so-wild;-).

 It was on a hill over the Volme valley, atop a technical singletrail, that I paused to do some stump sitting and some featherstick practicing... and had some cups of tea. The  blanket kept me nice and warm, and I even did some special gymnastics I developed. Then I lowered my seat and hammered down that technical singletrail. Stacked up a bit, for there was an angled root slimy with wet that kicked me off my line, and I was going a bit too fast, but I controlled the fall, so that it was more of a handplant and I was not hurt in any way... weird...;-)
 On I rode through the rolling hills, a lot of technical trails. It simply felt good to do so again, with the trail being its own reward... The light cleared up a bit and it was all sort of golden coloured all of a sudden...
This is a view of Dahl, a village that belongs to the city of Hagen, embedded in the hills. I really love that view..

On the way home, I dropped by Elmar´s place. Elmar works as a general sales manager for SRAM cycling company, Rockshox and Truvative and whatnot;-). Turns out he was there for a change, and came back from a ride, too. He had a beer with his fellas, Boris and another nice guy whose name I unfortunately forgot. We had  a laugh, a chat and made fun of twentyniners and 650B bikes and other such trekking bike hype;-), with bad geometry and unsolved problems, that is. I saw a Nicolai 29er prototype that had seen some testriding  by Elmar himself and has to see some serious mods until production.

Now I am not against twentyniners at all. But they are simply not new. They are basically 700C wheeled cross bikes with fatter tires and no drop bars. They have to be longer, and cannot be as playful as a 26" allmountain bike. Bigger suspension travel, over 160 mm is a big problem with them. The geometry can to date not be as quick and playful as a 26 " allmountain. But apart from that, I have no problem with them. On fireroads and for riders not so keen on technical challenges and that "BMX" feel, they are fine, fast and comfortable.

I do HAVE a problem, however, with the industry selling an old hat as a new consumerist religion. I feel horsed around with. And I do not like that. If those technical problems were solved, I daresay, I would give ´em a try for allround toodling about. 650B is another standard they want to sell us as "the" next thing. At 27,5" it is another standard, another set of components and another product line to make money with. While that is fine for people like Elmar who make a living from it (even though he is critical of that fad, too), it is a desaster for people like me who can just so afford to maintain the components on one bike that has to do everything. We discussed solutions and ideas and it simply felt great.

Get the picture that we had a nice chat?;-)

When the Elmar chicken;-) was getting cold, we said goodbye, and I rode home. It was a nice day with a lot of things to process. Have to do some more riding, I guess, and get the fun back into it...

Freitag, 24. Februar 2012

Rune knife / Sgian Dubh / Athamen

 So, this is my take on "Adamas", catweazles knife;-)... looks a bit like a sgian dubh, which is great in my book. It was forged in a lightning storm, when Mr. Rothenberg´s knife was given birth, too... I then carved the runes into the blade. They read "GALD(r) Te (ju)" on the left, and "UBARWARI" on the right, presumeably meaning in Proto-Norse: "I work sorcery/I bring magic" and "I ward off Evil". The blade is some really funny file steel, that throws some rather weird sparks. It seems to have an extremely high carbon content and some cobalt in it, from the way it behaved when forged. First I fitted the handle. It is stag antler from an old lamp I got cheap on a flea market.
 Then I made a copper ferrule from a blind cap from the plumber´s  shop, and fitted it on to the handle.
 I glued the handle in place, and mind you, I even remembered to remove the excess glue in time, this time, that is;-)!
To cover the tang I used a decorative rune amulet disc I got from an arts  shop. Normally I am not a big fan of amulets that I did not make myself, but this one´s okay. It shows the entire old (proto-)Norse futhark . This inscription, albeit not in circular, but in spiral or Bustrophedon form was found on the INSIDE of tomb stones, visible only to the would-be burial, thusly maybe indicating a "magic" use of the futhark in this application. Since every rune has several "Kenningar", this leads to a very ambiguous reading and several connotations that can indeed have a sort of a meditational effect on the mind. By the way, this is the case with many archaic letter systems, the earliest maybe being Linear A, but also hieratic Egyptian, and the hebrew letter system, which also had a numeric connotation.

I want to do some carving on the handle or some other decoration, albeit preserving the antler´s natural appearance, and will make a sheath for it to fit into the ditty / crane bag project.

Coming up with a tool carrying system / a versatile dangler system;-)

 My ditty / crane bag project really has my mind racing, and so I am currently thinking in many different directions. This is one of them. I want to fit knives and tools inside the bag and outside and on a belt. One solution I came by is this repair chain link. It has a thread and a nut, and two sheaths or pouches can ride comfortably on it. So I will stitch some loops inside the bag to thread that link through. Also I will make a belt loop and ground plate with a loop for two sheaths / pouches for the link to transfer it into a dangler system. That way you can carry anything you like either inside, outside or on your belt. Have to think of a slightly lighter solution, though, it´s heavy duty. But then it can double as a rope link in an
emergency (it is certified  to carry up to 150 kg).

Also, I have to test if it throws any sparks, that would be a real clincher...

I am planning on;-)...

Towards the frosty hills...

Had to get in some training, for it´s that time of year again, and I have to get in the miles. To keep up with my buddies, and to get to a CERTAIN city by bike;-), which is no small task for me... Also I agreed to ride a race this year ( I must have been drunk as sh*t*ggg*)... I did some road riding. On the lane it was quite warm, and I was soon all sweaty... Near Iserlohn I passed by this cave. It´s in a rock formation that is called "Pater und Nonne" (preacher and nun). There is a tale hanging by it. As it seems, once upon a time, when a squirrel could hop from treetop to treetop from the North to the South of Germany still, there was a priest in Iserlohn who developed a sort of unhealthy relationship to a nun in a nearby cloister. They fell in love, and you should not do that, so God himself cursed them both and enchanted them into those two rocks, unable to move, but standing side by side forever. Guess which one of the two I took a photo of...;-)

On I rode along the road. It was arduous, for it was tha first endurance ride over two hours of the season, and with a good deal of climbing involved. Doing endurance riding is always kind of boring, as far as riding is involved, for you have to take care not doing it too intensively. As there was a big hill involved, it was the granny gear a lot of the time... but the vista made up for it. This is home to me. Hills in the distance, ever rolling and rolling until one of them is the last that cuts into the sky...

These are the hills of the Sauerland. Smooth hills, deeply carved and weathered valleys. This is on the top of a hill near Wiblingwerde. It was getting very coooooold, so I made for a café I always stop by when I am around. It is a very small village, so small in fact that you can leave your bike unlocked. Did not do that, though;-). Had a cuppa coffee and some delicious tarts (No, not the ones with the togas, Joel, IN CASE YOU ASK;-)) It was right welcome, for I had some kind of a hunger flash. Then I figured I was done with road riding and made for the trails. That was a great diversion, I can tell you. It was getting late already, but in this birch grove I simply had to stop and sip a tea from my flask and do some stump sitting. It was being snowy, and it was sort of a weird feeling, getting there from sea level and riding through the winter wonder woods;-), when on the lane it was so warm I had to take my windbreaker off... I simply love that, for it makes me feel I can get out there. It is like you pass  a threshold, a border that is not at all physically set, but in your mind and in the atmosphere. When I get out to the woods, regardless if I am on foot or on my bike, there always seems to be something like a point of no return, a night line that is drawn between the forest and "the woods". I guess many of you out there may feel the same. It´s not a big thing that is happening, and the road may be just behind the next line of trees. But as it happens in your mind, it is a great thing no less. It always succeeds to give me so much strength back, and I crave for it.

Two new knives by Kai....

 I was at Kai´s place some days ago, and he had some new goodies ready. This one is a camp knife he made from 1.2842 steel, if I am not entirely mistaken, forged and ground, with a handle from beech with a fungus infestation that makes for an interesting grain. Unfortunately, he did a bit too much of a good thing and ground through the wood to the tang. But, hey, boy do I know how that is! All art is a recovery from the first step, and I really look forward how he will solve the problem, guess we´re in for a surprise;-). Other than that, a very clean blade shape, with a good tempering.
This one I really like a lot, another one, this time a stock removal from 1.2842, with a beautiful wood handle, which I guess is plum or something like that. Really cleanly accomplished, not too thick in the spine and it handles like a cinch. Tempering seems to be spot on, too!

Kai is really making a huge progress, and his knives certainly tell me something. Great, and my respect to you!

Freitag, 17. Februar 2012

Jan demonstrating what static electricity can do - is that an Orgone experiment???

I met Jan the other day and he was enthused to show me this experiment he dreamt up. We both have a genuine interest in finding out what it is all about with things maybe slightly off-path, and this shows that there are things physically possible we could possibly examine more closely;-). I am currently doing some research on that Orgonite / Orgone thing, and this might as well fit in...

New Birka kitchen knife by Kai

Kai mailed me to show me his new Birka kitchen knife he made from a railroad spring clip. Blade length 19 cm, overall 32 cm. The spine is 3,8 mm thick, 2 mm at the tip, and 30 mm wide. He made a  presentation stand from oak. That knife stood up to most severe tests. He let it drop on concrete from 3 m height, whacked it with a sledge hammer, carved mild steel rods with it and did a load of things to it to void any warranty. It came out begging for more! I especially like the wood stand. Great work!!!

I really have to strain myself to keep up, but I am proud to have laid some groundwork for him taking up bladesmithing. His works are improving so fast you can almost watch him get better from day to day!

My deep respect to you, Kai!

Bushcrafty Hike with Zee Aylienz

 It has been some time that I had much in common with the members of the team that I founded. We had our quarrells, and I was being a bit over-enthusiastic and often harsh when stating my observations and uttering warnings on social processes going on. And I realized I was being too weird even for my own creation;-), (since I was one of three founders of that club, hooray I´m famous, not);-). So I was slightly amazed when I learned recently that many grievances I had have gotten rid of themselves, and I am slowly resocializing again. Turns out my take on the outdoors might be even welcome. So I met on Sunday with some of the mountainbikers from Zee Aylienz mountainbike club, to... go for a hike with them. We met in Haspe city and made straight for the hills, as straight as possible, infact, and there was a small degree of whining as to the trail I was guiding, but they kept it good-natured and with a laugh.

On top o´the hill we came across these St. Jake´s sheep (does that make sense? They are called Jakobsschaf over here...).

 There, by incident, we met krazee Karo, our team´s event manager, who was going on a solitary outing all by herself. we had a nice chat with her and went on our respective ways.

 Bastian was there, too. he only but recently broke his collarbone when mountainbike riding down a tricky technical trail and stacking up spectacularily. My best wishes go to him. Get well soon. If only for that we don´t have to carry your gear any more;-) (no bother, really!;-)).
 Sheepy was being curious...
 Scenic vistas on our way. Damn cold it was, but that was a good thing: No morons on the trail...
 ..except for those here:-). Jandark, Seppel (Bastian) and BärLee enjoying the scenery and talking a huge pile of rubbish you´d need a helmet to listen to...;-).
 Came across a camp in the woods some weirdos:-) made....
 That´s the cooking site. Note the details, there´s something to learn! The site was cleaned, firewood prepared and stacked, and even cooking utensils had their place.
 Jandark learning summat:-).
 Schnaaapps!!!! Flaaaaiiissscccchh!!!! BEEEER!!!!!
Seems those guys (gals?) know how to live...;-).
 On the next hill we met with Kai, that mad bastard;-), who rendezvoused us there. Had difficulties finding us at first (STOOOOPID could not find his arse with an armchair*ggg*), and Jan was on the brink of exposing his purple smoke grenade, ooh, bah!*ggg* to alert him. Fortunately, he made it in time*ggg*. I am kidding, of course, as to Kai´s difficulties finding us, he normally eats the lot o´them spread thinly on toast for breakfast when forestry is concerned.
 I love that...
 You know that vista well, for it´s one of my favourite places. The lake was frozen solid, yap, that´s ice down there.
 On towards the abandoned stone quarry I love so much. As a kid, we built whole fortresses there, complete with dry stone walls and murus gallicus timberwork, most of which is still there in ruins.
 There, we paused to practice some primitive fire building techniques. Here Jan tries to make a bowdrill with paracord cordage.
 We took some rotten timber that lay there just to try it out.
 The drill and a stick to try out the principle.
 Dry grass for tinder, for I have yet to make some amadou.
 Kai looked slightly sceptical all the while, and he was being right.
 Seppel and Bär Lee were enthused to learn summat;-) and helped out questing for tinder materials without telling them so..
 Jan demonstrated some knots, primarily the Prusszic knot. Jan is an avid freeclimber and does some extreme geocaching, too, and he knows a thing or two about knots.
 That´s a (true) Prusszic knot. This knot enables you to fix it to a branch. You can really trust your weight to it, for the internal friction of the knot prevents it from moving, but you can also loosen it easily, when the need occurs.
 More bowdrill practice.
 It did not work out, and we have to do it again with some more time. We learned a lot by simply trying out the principles. I did some quick practicing with the ferro rod (a Karesuando wildmarksstickan in case you ask;-)) and dry grass for tinder. it all went well. Of course, I put out the flames immediately and checked and doublechecked if it really was put out. Advice: A forest burns easily. Don´t do this in summer!
 Knot practice.
 This is a simpler version of the prusszic.
 Detail of the Prusszic knot.

 The underside...
 And a dirty trick version. Take two loops, wrap them around the branch or twig in this case, then pull the two lines through... voilà a "false" Prusszic, that serves nearly as well, but is made much more easily.
 The Prusszic can also serve as a loop to guide another line through.

 We paid the ol´quarry a visit, too, and climbed right through. Here come Bär Lee and Kai acrawling from the wall.
 Pretty icy on the trails, eh... I love the beautiful forms the ice can take.
 We passed by an ancient mine that now serves as a habitat for bats. In summer nights, there is a load of them fluttering around. That´s great, for it is a huge step towards a tiny bit of repair to the ecosystem we damaged. It´s not all bad, and it fills my heart with hope.
 Jan threatening again to show us his purple smoke grenade*ggg*. Kai was shocked, I can tell you. Not that Jan threatened to do so, but that he was being so civilized as to announce it...*ggg*.
 Ice crystals. I like to see through the surface and explore the fantasies of perception and hypnagogic reference .
Jan showing off again...*ggg* braggart!*ggg*.

I found this quartz crystal embedded in the ground...

 ...and those rabbit droppings testify that wood is inhabited.
 The trail went on and down into the Ennepetal, where we paid a visit to this root stock from a hundred year old beech tree.
 This is the reconstruction of an ancient ore mine. Mining iron ore and processing iron was a big issue in the Ennepetal. Everywhere in the woods you can find the "Sinnerhoopen", slag heaps and caches of slag, disposed of by smithies from the iron age up to the 19th century. Of course, Jan had to play at trench fighting again*ggg* kids will be kids, I guess*ggg*.
 ...summat ter learn again...;-)
 Kai refreshing and having a chunk of cheese.
 more ice, without words..
 What´s that? Jan playing the ice guitar? *ggg*
 Inspecting the icefall...

 Some photo experimenting...
It was getting dark, and so we made for the nearest village, where we had some delicious Greek food and a beer. Then we took the bus, for we were tiring a bit after some 22-25 km (Jan´s GPS went mad;-), so I can´t tell precisely).

When I got home, I was very fluffy, but it was a very great outing with everything in good balance, learning, bushcraft practice, a good laugh, great company, good food and a beer on top... what more could you ask for? Have to do it again sometime soon, folks!

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