Friday, September 7, 2007

Ready for launch!

OK. It's been quite a process, but I'm ready to go. Leaving at 8:00 am tomorrow. Yes, I said 5 am before, but I have good reason for leaving later. But first ....

That is it. What my past 5 1/2 years at MIT have come down to. The above form indicates that I have turned in my thesis to the physics office, completing all the requirements for my PhD in astrophysics. (Note that "PhD" has been circled, rather than "SM," for a science masters.) Never mind that the above piece of paper could be easily mistaken for a dry cleaning ticket. That is it. And with it, I am done. Summarily cut off of the payroll and sent out the door. Not a moment too soon.

So, with that in hand, I could go about more interesting things. Like this trip. The past couple weeks have involved a lot of bike preparation.

Adding an electrical connection, so that my cell phone and laptop can recharge while I ride:

I also hacked together a power cord and protective case for my Macbook, but it's packed away right now.

Put a 5 gallon auxiliary tank on my bike, right over where the passenger seat would go. I'll take a pic tomorrow before I leave.

Added a headlight guard to protect the glass headlight assembly from rocks on the gravel roads of Alaska. These things cost like $50 -- or you can whip out the trusty Dremel and drill and DIY. Granted, mine looks a wee bit ragged around the edges, but ... meh. It's functional.

Did a little motorcycle-worthy hair styling. BEFORE:


Again, obviously DIY. Like hell I'm gonna pay someone $15 to buzz my hair.

And finally, I hacked up this old digital camera so that it will (hopefully) take a picture every six seconds while I'm riding. Unfortunately, learning astrophysics seems to have pushed most of the electrical knowledge out of my head -- and I never had much to begin with -- so we'll see how well this thing works. I give it 8 days before it falls apart. That's probably optimistic, but I at least want it to last until Alaska.

So the idea is that the camera will sit behind my windshield, looking forward and taking pictures of the scenery ahead. Taking one picture every six seconds, a time-lapsed movie will compress 2 hours of riding into a minute of video. If this all works, I'll put the time-lapsed movies on youtube. We'll see.

So that's it for prep. The plan:

I'm going to get up to Fairbanks, AK as quickly as possible. Blitz across the Trans-Canada Highway with minimal stops for scenery. At this point, it's late enough in the season that snow starts to be a concern. So I plan to be at Fairbanks in a week. I just got a new (to me) Sargent saddle. I hope it's better than the stocker.

That's all for now. I need to hit it. I'll post a picture of my packed bike tomorrow morning.

(Click on the >>>NEXT links to continue through the story!)

>>>NEXT: And we are GO!!!!


Mom said...

Jake, I love your sense of humor. Congratulations on the dry cleaning ticket! I'm sure Andra will love the haircut bit. Actually it looks good in the picture (can't see the back). Sounds like you are as ready as you can be. Have a wonderful adventure! Love you, Mom

Rick Hartman said...

Okay, I left a message before having a Google account, so I don't know if it will eventually post under some generic name, but if not,here it goest again. It it does, redundancy is not always a bad thing.

As previously stated,
It is poignant that 5.5 years of toil and accomplishment are condensed down to a piece of paper that does indeed resemble a dry cleaning slip.

Our love and best wishes travel with you on your adventure. Looking forward to your posts as you progress, and to seeing you in October, if not sooner, if you decide and have time to swing down into Denver.

Love, Dad

Anonymous said...

Hahaha! Be sure you keep that receipt. There's a really great coupon on the back for a free small fountain drink with purchase of any hamburger.

Have a great trip, Jake. You've earned it!