Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mule deer skull saddle

Done but not dyed yet.  

Dyed black

I don't spend the big bucks (pun intended) on perfect leather so there tends to be slight imperfections either in color or texture. There are a couple of small blems on this one, you can see a wrinkle just above the head. I bought this half cow hide for $40.00 while a very fine piece, smaller than a half cow, could run upwards of $400.00. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Owl fly rod case

Pattern traced onto the leather and starting to cut and tool.  

Done tooling. Maybe 6 hours in at this point.  

Border is done. Stitch holes are awled and dye is applied. 

Not sure how many stitches there are, maybe 800 total. Each stitch is a struggle and I broke 5 needles on this run. You push the needle through the top and then have to torque it under the backside (blind) and push up from the bottom. 

Needle groove in my thumb and skin gone.  

The end caps are the most difficult by far. The fit is tight enough on the closure to leave it as is but I want to add a more secure closure. My idea is a length of black floating fly line that loops around the silver trout.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fishing/ messenger bag

In terms of simplicity this was... simple. Just straight seams. All square. But with over 800 stitches using upholstery leather it ended up being tedious. I had to use small needles and small nylon thread which tangled easily. I use double needles so the thread "floats" in the eyes and it kept slipping out and I'd have to re-thread the eye. But I'm happy with my first attempt at a bag. This is small which is what I wanted. My Kindle or a paperback fits just right. 4 pockets inside and two of them I made with my fly wallet and tippet spools in mind.

Monday, March 14, 2016


     GZ drove up this morning and blessed me with his company. I'm literally hoarse from an hour and a half of non-stop animated conversation. Even yelling at times. Not at George but into the ether at various people and people in general usually involving politics. Anyway, ten miles total which is the longest I've run in awhile. Legs felt fine which is a testament to my time spent in my shed. Cycling helps a bit too.
     I started a new leather project, one that I've wanted to try for a few years now. A leather messenger bag. After the flood of '13 people had dumped a ton of water damaged stuff on the side of our canyon road which was to be picked up and disposed of. There were three or four leather sofas and chairs and I stopped and skinned them. I got a gazillion yards of really good upholstery leather from oxblood to black to brown. So I started a messenger bag and I have to say hand sewing upholstery leather sucks. I'm also using upholstery thread which sucks even more. I'm used to thick waxed thread which is simple to use but for the bag I wanted small stitching which means small needles and the thick wax thread won't fit the eyes. There's also going to be many hundreds of stitches, probably thousands, and wax thread is expensive. I'm about a third of the way done with an oxblood bag which is more a practice attempt.
 That is all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fizik Arione Sugar Skull saddle

So you had to know this was coming. I wanted a seat to match my bars and seat bag so I made a seat cover. I ride the Fizik Arione so I peeled the cover off one of my older seats and traced the cover shape onto the leather.
      I found a design of a sugar skull I liked, made some changes to it, and drew it out on vellum paper. Then traced it onto the leather.
Traced onto the leather and ready to start cutting. I start by cutting every line of the pattern into the leather with a swivel knife. 

About half way through tooling the leather down. The stars under his eyes I used a wrench from an Avid disc brake set. Some of those cuts are tiny! This is 2mm thick leather and you have to cut about half way through the leather to get adequate relief. Go too deep and you basically ruin the entire thing by creating a tear or hole. 

Done. I went back and touched up a ton of spots. As the leather dries (you wet the leather to tool it) it changes quite a bit. I totally botched the stars under his nose.   

Mounted on the Fizik. 

The last thing was to dye it. I think this is the most stressful part. When you first smear the dye on it looks awful, black with swirls and smears. You control the darkness by how quickly you remove the dye. Leave it on a long time and it's dark and the smear lines will stay. I tend to wipe it off immediately and then reapply a light coat if I want it darker. This was three coats. I tried to make the nose dark and have it fade back. Looks OK. 

And the finished set. I don't like the seat bag so I'm going to make another one that matches.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sewn leather bar wrap.

This turned out to be about ten times more tedious than I expected. I've sewn around round things before for fly rod cases but this was smaller diameter, I had to contort to do the stitching, and I'm also using leather that is about a third as thick. Heavy is easy because it's durable and doesn't tear. Yesterday I got a screaming deal on an entire half cow in 2-3 weight veg tan leather and decided to try my hand at sewn handlebar wrap. I've seen many examples and always liked how it looks.
     Originally I wanted to tool and stamp the entire piece but suspected that I might fail so I left it blank just in case I had to cut it off and start over. I'm debating on the color, I like the old school brown but black is appealing. I'm leaning more towards leaving it untreated and letting the weather and my use color it. Like a pair of old gloves or boots.
     I soaked the leather for five minutes and stitched it on and as it's dried has tightened more than I thought it would. It's quite stable and seems to be holding tight. I suspect that over time it will loosen  as the leather stretches.  

I went with brown. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Leather bicycle seat bag.

My seat bag was falling apart, plus I never really liked it because it was a tad too small. So I lined out a rough design and built my own.
 I love my Merlin. So I carved their logo on one side. 
I applied an acrylic base and then brown antique stain. The white sinew stitches are growing on me. 
A trout on my seat bag. I wanted to add something substantial to me and fly fishing is that.
Almost done. 

I went with one my favorite (looking) closures, button/ cord and sometimes you'll see it as button/ loop. I sliced a piece of deer antler and drilled holes to make a large button. The cord is sewn to the face so I sliced an antler skull bead in half to cover it.  
Those inner flaps are to secure the kit a bit better and ensure small parts don't fall out.  

Saturday, February 27, 2016

My weight shed.

I bagged the Vo2 session, too fatigued to hit it correctly. I ended up riding easy.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Moon win, electronics fail

 Great ride this morning, was on the bike well before the sun showed itself. The main goal was to catch the moon settling over the Continental Divide. Behind my house there's a ridge with a big view that over looks about 80 miles of The Divide and the moonsets are amazing. The GoPro battery was dead, but I don't think it would have captured much at all. My Elph batteries (both of them) are dying and hold a charge for about a day. So no images. My Garmin Forerunner 15, easily the crappiest piece of electronics I've ever seen, gave a low battery alert as I pulled into home. It was fully charged yesterday and I've consistently seen it hold a charge for maybe 3 hours max on average with HR, without HR I think it leaps to a whopping 4 hours. Anyway. The moonset was awesome.

Monday, February 22, 2016


The GoPro lost a majority of the colors in the sunrise... it was spectacular. It was a full moon last night so I got out before the sun to try to catch the moon setting over The Divide. Got up high and saw that the clouds were coming in for our next round of snow so I missed it.
 Last week saw 9 rides with ~18k of climbing. I definitely feel the "new" crankset (it's an old Dura-ace set that I used back in 2000). I switched from a compact/ 172.5/ 34t set-up to a standard/ 175/ 39t. The larger small ring means I'm working ~12% harder and it's definitely noticeable, particularly on grades over 10%, there is no easy effort.
 This morning, chilly at 20 degrees, was 14 miles with 2600ft of climbing and I'll get out again later today and spin around in front of the storm that's building.
 I'm toying with the idea of trying to get 45,000ft of climbing the week of my 45th birthday so I'm sort of working towards that.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tabata/ Vo2/ hard.

 Ran ~5 miles first thing this morning, strict MAF so I walked some climbs. Then did a solid-ish leg lift in The Shed (video coming). Dead lifts, squats, calf raises. 40 total reps on each with descending reps. I usually do 12/10/8/6/4 reps with increasing weight and make the last 2 sets a struggle. Then I jumped on the bike. 10 miles with 1800ft of climbing (yep, Bacon Strip) with 10 X 30" best efforts on 30" as easy as I could. This was all uphill so the "easy" wasn't so much. This week I also switched from my 172.5mm compact cranks back to my 175mm standard crankset. So my small ring went from a 34 to a 39, or about a 12% increase. I feel it for sure but I'm finally strong enough to spin it on all but a few climbs. And those climbs I couldn't spin the 34 anyway.
 Mom said she's sorry for the wind... haven't heard back from Gopro.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

50+ mph descent

The video looks far gnarlier than reality. It's almost a straight shot for the first mile after the switchback. The only sketchy aspect is holding the gopro in my hand. Gotta get a mount of some sort.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Bacon Strip (my regular 10 mile run route) in 1:27. Roads are still pretty icy up at 8800+ ft but they're drying up. Should be able to bike up there maybe by Friday if we continue with this heat wave. It's 55 today!

 I'm on my 106th book of this year. James Rollins' The 6th Extinction. Consistent and solid writer.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Lift- Legs/ back. Solid over-all and I'm seeing progress on my squats.

Run- 4 miles. Pushed a few of the climbs to what felt like hard. No HR or time but I felt great.

 I find this fascinating. The descriptions make me want to try some of them. These almost sound like beer or wine tasting... in hell.
 I've been stung by a ton of Yellowjackets and I totally get the hot and smoky. The Harvester ant when I was a kid, don't remember it vividly but "bold" works.  

Schmidt Sting Pain Index
1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
2.x Honey bee and European hornet.
3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of Hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream).
4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Bike- 35 degrees and the dirt roads are a mix of mud and ice. The pave isn't much better with loose sand. So I did hill repeats on a 1 mile climb in my neighborhood. Quick warm-up in my shed with 6 X 10 back squats and 4 X 10 front squats. Then 4 X 1 mile hill reps trying to stand all of each. I had a flat when I went out to start so I just switched back wheels and my shifting was wonky, my chain was bouncing between the 25 and 27t which when you're standing and pushing fairly hard messes you up. So I ended up dropping to the 23 and doing standing ME work. The hill is moderate, 320ft in the mile, but I wasn't able to stand the entire climb in the 23. Weak.
 Stepped on the scale this morning for the first time in awhile. 147 pounds fully clothed. I'm at race weight.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Am) Lift 45:00. Solid effort over-all. Shoulder is not 100%.
 Sauna 45:00.

Pm) Run.

My latest i-pod addition. Love these guys.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


The post that holds our address number was blown over and when I stuck it back in the snow my shoulder screamed at me. It's just a very certain movement that tweaks it and it's close to a swim stroke. I probably could have swum but I'm not in a rush. So I lifted hard legs, core and what upper body my shoulder would allow. Pull-ups hurt the worst. If I slide a weight onto a bar with just my right arm it hurts. Incline dumbbell fly was impossible but incline bench was fine. So something with my acromioclavicular joint. And yes, I Googled that.
 Then dry sauna. On Saturday I lasted an hour but today I hadn't swum before so my core temp was much higher starting out and my Central Governor was hitting me hard after 30:00.

Monday, November 30, 2015


20:00 on the treadmill (thanks GZ) at 6%-8% grade. No HR, just runnin. The roads are super slick.
 Messed around with various lifts throughout the day while I worked. Split squats, deltoid fly and presses to fire my shoulder a bit. Lower abdominal/ psoas.

 And I started my 105th book of 2015. Averaging a book every 3.2 days.