Saturday, May 19, 2012

See Scout fetch. Fetch, Scout, fetch. Good dog.

Laser-like focus.
We've had Scout for nearly six months now. As a former stray who likely didn't associate a lot of positive outcomes with contact with people, she's really turning into a great domesticated dog. Scout has made a lot of advancements in social interaction, the area in which she was probably least experienced. She's now much more confident when meeting new people, usually taking only a few minutes to warm up to them. There's been a lot of learning between the two halves of this canine/human relationship, but one of the best cooperative projects has been playing fetch.

Early on, a ball held no particular meaning for her. She had no interest in chasing a ball thrown by a person, and would return only a bewildered look to an enthusiastic thrower. On her own, she would occasionally toss a ball into the air and chase it, but she would also do the same with a small stone, or a twig, or a squirrel carcass for that matter. A fuzzy yellow tennis ball may have been interpreted as some sort of prey, as I've found several tennis balls in the yard that have been skinned; bald tannish orbs with chunks of yellow pelt scattered nearby.

It's taken a while for Scout to realize that a ball can be a fun way to interact with people. Over the past couple of months and with the improving weather, a transition has taken place. She gets excited when one of us picks up a ball, and usually holds enough attention to fetch it several times in a row in our back yard.

Yesterday, for the first time outside our yard, I took her to a grassy field with the sole intent of playing fetch. She has a bit of a history of wandering, so I left her leash on to have something to grab in case she decided to have selective hearing when I wanted her to return to me. As it turns out, the leash precaution was unnecessary, and she did a terrific job of bringing me the ball. 
Scout is off after the ball with the speed of a P-51 on war emergency power.
In part speed, in part a low-tech phone camera contributed to a blurry image, but you get the idea.
Scout seemed to really enjoy the greater distance and speed afforded by playing fetch in the field as compared to our yard. I think I'm only just starting to find out how fast of a dog I've got. I know there are faster dogs out there, but I am truly amazed at the blazing speed she can muster.

We have a long way to go to achieve master fetching status of the Brandy variety, but it's a goal to shoot for. Next up, in addition to more ball fetching practice, will be the introduction of other objects, specifically flying discs, including the super cool glowing alien spacecraft type.
Displaying excellent technique all around, both throwing and fetching.
A big doggy smile after quite a few successful volleys.

Big bucket o'pics

Oriental poppy growing along the road spotted by a keen-eyed girl.
Updates have been a little sparse here as of late. It's been a busy week or two, so to tide my many readers over, enjoy the following random photos.

A circa 1992 AMP B-3. This was an unrequited dream bike of mine from decades past. I still admire the landing gear inspired articulating suspension fork. Spotted ignominiously tethered to a bench in front of a pizza place.
Saw this Kona Ute parked downtown. Nice looking bike.
Test rode a Surly Ogre. Big tires and a plethora of braze-ons, wrapped in luscious army green. Why is Surly so obviously trying to disturb my domestic tranquility?
She's a bit younger than her Dad's terrific 1990 Ritchey P-23, now used as a commuter.
On a ride with members and staff of Denver City Council and the Denver Police Department.
A chilly morning on a Denver B-cycle while riding to graduation.
Making the most of the post graduation reception.
Mommy in escort of one on the snapdeck and one in the trailer...
... while the furry one trots beside me.
Close-up of the Burly to Dummy connection for a commenter of a previous post. I hope this is sufficiently illustrative, Izzy.
Last day of school.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Big Dummy Nick

A smiling Nick getting the full suburban cargo bike experience.
Over the past weekend, I helped my friend Nick put together his new bike. Following a plan to purge some of his lesser ridden bikes, he got himself a swanky new Big Dummy. I'll admit, this strategy of trading out a few old bikes for one new bike is something I have been heavily contemplating as of late.
Excited about all the tools and stuff in the bike barn.
Nick bought the complete bike version, so instead of building it up from a bare frame, a good deal of the parts were installed already. However, being a guy with definite ideas about what a bike should be, he brought along a few parts to swap out from the stock build. Notably, Nick selected a Brooks B-17, a Surly Open Bar, Ergon grips, and Silver friction bar-end shifters on Paul's Thumbie adapters instead of the stock components. We took a leisurely approach to installing and adjusting parts, and the process took a little longer than expected. But, in the end, we had fun and enjoyed a little side trip to the LBS along the way.
Over the course of a few hours the gigantic Big Dummy box was reborn as the fuselage of an aircraft.
The intrepid pilot flew this imaginary airplane on many exciting trips, including to Africa and San Diego.
Once the build was finished, we had a side-by-side comparison of old versus new. I bought my bare frameset several years ago when a complete bike was not an option. I was impressed with the quality and selection of parts on the complete bike, especially the beefy wheels. I noted a few minor changes in the frame as compared to my first generation Dummy. The different top tube design is the most obvious, but the newer version has a couple of additional braze-ons on the rear end to better accommodate the Xtracycle parts. I quite like the design of the new Tekdeck, with its connection hooks that have a superior grasp on the v racks as compared to the old wooden Snapdeck. I may have to look into getting one.
My 22" 2008 Surly Big Dummy next to Nick's 20" 2012.
Bent as opposed to sloping top tubes are the most obvious design difference.
Tekdeck on the left; homebuilt wooden deck on the right.
Girls like new and shiny things. The old Dummy is a little forlorn at the shift in attention.
Clouds began to grow menacing in the late afternoon, so we had to get Nick on his way to the ride back downtown. We escorted him on our Big Dummy to the Platte River trail access point for his route home.
Good-natured Nick graciously endured rampant little girl admiration.
An urban dweller bravely negotiating the wilds of suburbia on the way to the trail.
Co-pilot enjoying a snack on the ride home.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

National Bike to School Day

On the way to school this morning.
Proud girl ready for the ride home.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hey Daddy, I want to ride every day

Shortly before making the statement that is the title of this post.
We've been putting in a lot of miles recently, riding all over the place. This activity is due in part to a streak of terrific spring/early summer weather, and in part as an adjustment to my repatriation as a citizen of humanity. Big Sis and Scout in particular have been my avid riding buddies. We'll do our best to ride every day.
Check out that rig. The circus must be in town.
The caboose operator is asleep on duty at the end of the road train.
I've become adept at juggling. I simultaneously manage a Big Dummy with an attached Burley trailer and diminutive occupant, keep a tethered dog in check, and issue air traffic control orders to an orbiting speedster with a skid-happy brake lever. Overall, the whole operation moves surprisingly smoothly. Regardless, people often stop and stare as we go by. I'm convinced it's because they wish they were doing what we're doing.
Scout takes a Denver B-cycle ride.
She didn't think twice about trotting along beside me on an unknown bike. The transition to biker dog is complete.
I suppose this marketing effort is targeting the generation who grew up in the '70s. Works for me.
When we're not riding, we're walking. The lake in the park is flush with newly hatched chicks. The girls were focused on the goslings, but reasons likely varied by species among the observers.
All eyes on the goslings.
Vigilant parents.