Getting Ready for Cooler Weather

trainer

Cycling seems to have taken over most of my hobbies this past summer. While I have done other hobby things, I have put more passion, time and energy into cycling. My strength and stamina are definitely way up. Sadly, my weight has not improved. This is because I have not been able to break up with pizza. Diet is crucial….but that is a blog for another day (and a different site–see here)

Autumn is here and winter is coming. Traditionally, owing to wonderfully frigid temperatures, around here people tend to hibernate more.   For a hobbyist this means getting into indoor pursuits. I can look forward to more time with the models, more time with the trains, more time watching hockey…..

While all of this sounds wonderful, it sounds as if all the gains I made in stamina and energy might go to waste. It is with that in mind that I contemplate spending a big chunk (perhaps the whole chunk) of my hobby budget on a cycling trainer. I am not talking about your average stationary bike. I am talking about using my road bike as my exercise bike for the winter.

The advantages

  • I will use the muscles that I have to use when riding on road courses–unlike a stationary bike, which is great for fitness but isn’t really my bike and won’t work exactly the same muscles.
  • I will better simulate my cycling because I will be wearing my cycling shoes and practice full pedal strokes.
  • The trainer itself will take up much less room that a stationary bike does during the summer when I am not using it. (or using it less)
  • On rainy days, if I elect not go out for a ride, I can still use the trainer.
  • There seem to be quite a few apps that work in conjunction with this–not that I have a smart phone, but ……someday. Either that, or I will set up a tablet.
  • Riding the same saddle all winter should make it less of an adjustment when I get out riding again.

The disadvantages

  • While there are cheaper options the one I have pretty much decided on is a significant amount of money.
  • If I am lazy, it will not have been money well spent. I love going out for the group rides, but I am unsure if I can push myself to workout alone. If I don’t use the machine, it will definitely make me feel guilty as I watch TV and gorge on pizza.
  • I will have to invest in a “training tire” as these machines will definitely put substantial wear on my rear tire.

While nothing has been decided, this is definitely where my head is at right now.  I guess another option is to bike all winter.  This sounds rather hard to me, but one of my favourite bloggers does just that.  If that sounds interesting (or mildly insane), take a look at her blog.

Rethinking the Man Cave

Having watched a lot of shows on the theme of Man Cavesand talked to a lot of guys, I guess there are a lot men who want this kind of room.  I think, at some   I have had visions of pool table, hockey tables, pinball machines and a full standing Galaga machines.  Of course, I also need room for the train set. 

level, I too fall into this category.

No doubt, TV has played a lot into this stereotype.  TV shows have glorified the Man Caveand raised it to an art form.  No longer is the big screen TV and a couple of La-Z- Boys enough.  I remember when the pinnacle of a Man Cavewas a bar fridge.  Oh how times have changed.  Now, you practically have to hire a designer to get things done.  You need a theme, hidden sound systems, and fully integrated remote controls.  Start budgeting now.

What got me thinking of the Man Cavewas my latest obsession.  As anyone who ready my last post knows, I have become hooked on darts.  Darts require a dartboard and some kind of set up, or at least an inconspicuous wall to hang the dartboard on.  It kind of goes with the whole pool table set up.  At least, I think so.  Of course, I may have been conditioned to think so.

Above I mentioned all the things I would like to have in my Man Cave, but the truth is, it is unlikely to ever happen.  I just don’t have the space or the extra money to fulfill this dream.  Yes, if I stopped having hobbies and blowing my money on them, I might have the financial wherewithal to fund the Man Cave–but without the interest in hobbies, there really wouldn’t be a need for a Man Cave.  There would still be a need for a library full of books, though.

Discontinuations

Goodbye Polly Scale
 
I made up a word….I’m an English teacher, I do that all the time.  Besides, it really fits the topic of this blog.  As a hobbyist, you have lots to cope with.  Of course those things include time, money, frustrations, small parts, and delays in delivery.  The one that seems to bother me the most are discontinuations.

Discontinuations refer to products you want to buy no longer being sold, and there being almost no way to get them.  It’s like going to a Japanese convenience store.  You continually buy a product, only to discover one day that it is gone, and it’s not coming back.  You thought by buying them that you’d send a message to the manufacturer that they should keep making it, but you were wrong.

This happens to TV shows that you love.  You think it’s great, but you might be the only one.  I loved Firefly, and though I know I am not the only one, they killed it.  I loved an 80’s TV show called Shell Game, but it didn’t live past five episodes.

For the hobbyist, what usually happens follows two patterns.  In pattern one, the hobbyist waits to buy something.  Maybe they don’t have the money (usually my case) or they are hoping to score a better deal somewhere down the line, or they just put some other item ahead of it in the queue.  Regardless, when they finally decide to make the purchase, it’s gone.  Lone gone.  They scour the internet and every hobby shop they can find, but to no avail.

The other pattern is that the hobbyist uses something religiously.  They come to depend on it, perhaps even take its availability for granted.  Then one day, it is gone.  The manufacturer has discontinued it.  There were probably warning signs.  There might have been announcement in the various magazines that cater to the hobby.  Perhaps someone had remarked on it in an internet bulletin board.  Had they taken the news to heart they would probably have known about it and stocked up.

Recently, the paint that I have been using for my model train buildings has been discontinued.  What does that mean?  It means that I will have to use something else.  I really shouldn’t worry because there are lots of paint manufacturers out there.  Any day now, that same company will probably announce a replacement.  Even if it doesn’t, the hobby store will have to find a new supplier, because paint is an integral part of the hobby store.

The uncertainty is frustrating.  When will it happen?  When will it be resolved.  I am not a great enough painter that I have such a detailed understanding of paint or the different characteristics of paint.  I buy what they tell me is good at the hobby shop or they talk about in the magazines.  It’s just a minor annoyance.  However, there are hobbyists who have mastered the characteristics of a particular paint brand and are probably going to be frustrated.  They are going to flood the hobby chat rooms and bulletin boards, announcing Armageddon.    I will quietly sympathize, and hope that my paint supply doesn’t run out soon.

Lamenting the Lost

I happened to pass this building today, and felt a little melancholy.  Another hobby business packed up and left.  I don’t know what happened really.  Maybe they moved somewhere else, or maybe the idea just didn’t fly.  A lot of hobby related businesses just don’t succeed and whenever they close, I feel a sling twinge (or pang) of sadness.

While out for a walk I came across this
 
I cannot really say I was part of the solution.  I avoided going into the store because I didn’t really want to start another hobby, and this one seemed really tempting.  Lego and robotics….. Had I gone in, my paycheque might have been a memory.  Despite having some advertising on this sight, I am a long way from having it generate any kind of hobby budget.

We live in a great time for hobbyists, but perhaps not such a great time for people running a large hobby business.  I would guess that running a home hobby business (I imagine somebody making flatcar loads at home, or building train layouts, or designing replica buildings) would be possible.  It would require a great website, a great idea, a spare room or two and probably easy access to a post office.  Running a business with a store location would require the same things, but would also mean renting out a store–and I imagine that it would cost a lot of money.  I am impressed by anyone who does it because it must be hard.  Taking that risk must be pretty scary.

I would hope that Lego had a stake in this enterprise, and therefore nobody lost their shirt trying to run this business.  However, a short portrait in the very local newspaper seems to indicate otherwise.  A brief bit of googling hasn’t brought me any answers.  If you know something about it, please post it here; for my curiosity and others.  I would also appreciate any thoughts on how your local hobby stores are doing.

On a side note, at the bookstore, there still seem to be quite a large number of magazines about hobbies still being published.  Flipping through some of them, I can see that they are making an effort to go digital, but still seem to be publishing.  Feel free to comment on this as well.