Squirreling Away the Winter (and it is not even winter yet)

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I have been pretty done since coming back from the cyclocross stage race in Iowa.  Haven’t really been sleeping much and my hamstrings are toast.  I was going to try to keep up the running, but haven’t even thought about attempting that yet.

I’m not stressed about it really.  I don’t have to be going good for a month and think I have a pretty good base for it now, just need to tweak it a little and I should be fine.  One thing I have going for me athletically is that I don’t really lose form over the winter much, if I keep riding. And many times I just go better and better.  I think it is because there aren’t any allergens around to mess me up.  But there is always the potential for getting sick.  I just watched an interview with Sven Nys and he said he is heading down to Spain to train for a week, before the Christmas time races and he said that getting sick is his biggest worry.

I’ve been trying to catch up on stuff.  Today I am riding over to Lawrence and getting my AWD van.  I left it over there to have a friend, Marcos, look at it and diagnose a couple issues.  I’m pretty okay with automobile repair, just suck at figuring out what need to be fixed.  I really don’t suck at it, but I’m not nearly as good as actually doing the repair.

The AC quit working a month ago, which really isn’t a big deal, other than the defrost works a lot worse.  He said that it was the clutch, which is a replaceable part.  It is a little tricky changing it, but it doesn’t look that hard.  Plus after changing the sway bars links, I think I now need sway bar bushings.  I should have just put those it when I had it apart last week.

Plus I need to mess around with the injector wiring harness, which is buried and might be a longer job.  This model van tend to have issues with these and I’m just going to try to fix it and not replace it.

Anyway, riding over there is just a hour and a half.  On gravel.  Pretty much my go to ride nowadays.  It is supposed to be nearly 60 later in the afternoon, but I have to drive to Kansas City to get the clutch, so need to leave pretty soon, when it is still cool.

I don’t really like riding with things covering my knees, so will do just about anything to avoid it. I ride down to the 40’s with bare legs most of the time, which I realize is unusual compared to the norm.

I was thinking about how in the winter I am always just trying to catch up with what I’ve put off during the season.  But when the season is the winter too, then that gets a little tough.

I was watching all the squirrels in my front yard collecting acorns and was thinking about how industrious they are.  I bet we’d all be way more industrious, too, if we had to collect all the food we ate the next 4 months and stored it.  Not collect by going to the grocery store, but by growing it, picking it, canning it and storing it.  Like the old days.

I just read that one of the reasons we, as we Americans, are so fat is that we eat an average of 200 calories more each time we eat out.  Mutiple that by the number of times an average American eats out during a week/month/year, and you’ll get a big number, which translates into a big waist.

Our cats are all putting on their winter weight.  I’m not sure why they do that?  Must be just a built in mechanism.  They get as much food as the want and don’t have to go outside if they don’t want to, so it seems like they don’t need the extra weight.  But they are all bulking up and they aren’t eating out.   Just biological I guess.

Okay, I’m just blabbing here.  Putting off getting dressed and getting a little cold.  Better get to it.

I changed the sway bar links last week.

I changed the sway bar links last week.

They were toast. Should of just done it all then.

They were toast. Should of just done it all then.

This is what I'm buying and, hopefully, installing today. It is a clutch that runs the air conditioner. Changing it is still a little expensive, but you don't have to recharge the system like you would have to if I put in a new compressor. Plus, I hate wasting perfectly good things. FIxing is always more rewarding than replacing.

This is what I’m buying and, hopefully, installing today. It is a clutch that runs the air conditioner. Changing it is still a little expensive, but you don’t have to recharge the system like you would have to if I put in a new compressor. Plus, I hate wasting perfectly good things. FIxing is always more rewarding than replacing.

There are tons of squirrels around this year. Sometimes we have 5-10 at a time in our yard. Could only get two in the picture this morning.

There are tons of squirrels around this year. Sometimes we have 5-10 at a time in our yard. Could only get two in the picture this morning.

16 thoughts on “Squirreling Away the Winter (and it is not even winter yet)

  1. Tanner

    Heading to Dallas or Waco the next two weeks for CX racing? Resolution Cross Cup in Garland is a good one!

    1. Steve Tilford Post author

      Tanner – Trying to figure that out right now. I most likely will do at least one of those racing. Right now I have a ticket to San Francisco on Friday. There is a race on the Master’s Worlds course on Saturday.

  2. Andy

    Hey Steve, I replaced the Ac clutch on my VW a few years ago. The AC experts at local garages were telling me I needed a new compressor and I was looking at $1800. I ended up just replacing the clutch mechanism for $130 and it’s brand new, works great. A bit of a headache to get the circlips off, mainly because of where the compressor is. As you said you leave it connected and don’t have to drain the refrigerant. Of course this means you have to work on it in the engine compartment which is a bit of a headache. I used these guys for the parts. http://www.acclutches.com/ac-clutches-and-parts/
    Good luck.

    1. Steve Tilford Post author

      Yeah Andy – I watched a youtube video on my exact situation. There are two circlips to remove and it is tight. Not nearly as easy as just pulling out the compressor. I have the refrigerate and access to a vacuum, but like I said, fixing is better than replacing in my mind. I’m not saving much money doing it this way and it is a harder repair, but that is just life.

      1. Krakatoa (East of Java)

        Youtube: The single best product to arise from the mayhem of the technology revolution. It serves so many different roles in my life now. Hmm, I’m in the mood to hear the music from The Little Rascals. Ciao!

  3. RGTR

    Squirrels. I used to think they were cute and fuzzy. Then one of the little bastards made a nest in my airbox on my ’01 F250 diesel (similar to your Van!). She chewed up the filter into a nice little cozy and just left it there waiting for me to turn on the engine and suck it into the turbo. I don’t know what made me check the filter that day, it had been sitting for a while and I just decided it would be good to check it.

    Now they’re trying to find a way into the roof of my house. My dogs suck at catching them. I will soon rain down terror on them in the form of a .22 caliber pellet. Dogs will make sure their suffering is at a minimum. I tried to appease them, they kept infiltrating. It must be done.

    Bonus: I will get to eat my own pecans for a change.

    1. JB

      I don’t think the neighbors would like me firing a gun in the ‘hood, and I don’t want poisoned squirrels dying in my inaccessible attic, so I live trap them and then drop the trap and all into a rain barrel for a couple of minutes. Head shots would be more fun. They’ll come back if you try to relocate them. Damn squirrels. I used to like them. I really do like animals in general, just not wild ones relieving themselves on the ceiling above my daughter’s bedroom.

      1. Krakatoa (East of Java)

        You need to relocate them to the other side of a water source (such as a river, or stream). I’ve never understood why people drown them.

      2. JB

        People have done that (after painting a dot on their tale) and they’ve gotten back. I know I’ve seen a squirrel running across small bridges.

  4. Robert E

    They built a nest in my attic. They would always return there in the middle of the night when the temps got below 18 degrees. The liked to talk and chatter at about 2 am. We called it “party attic”. It would drive us crazy! They would also return there to die in the summer, and the fist clue was the smell. Tough to find them with 12 inches of insulation; and they would usually croak out by the eaves which made them really tough to get too, and no fun when it was 140 degrees up there. I could get ahold of their little corpses with a golf ball retriever. Pulled a ton of sticks and leaves out of the attic, just an unbelievable amount really. We finally had it all sealed up. They chewed a few wires up there too before we closed it down for them. So be careful Steve!

    1. old and slow

      Wow I’ve never had to take them more than four miles. Just open up the live trap so they can see a tree and that’s always the end of it! No returns accepted in the last fifteen years. I only take them into the next drainage because I’m headed in that direction for something else.

      So either my squirrels just aren’t as salmon-like as all you guys’ or else the predators are getting them first? And there are lotsa foxes around here. Every few years I willl get rid of the entire bloodline that knows about how to get up into my attic and then I will get about five months of peace before another one shows up.

      They have no resistance to honey laced peanut butter and the only issue on the entrapment side is having a skunk get in there first. Because skunks will play dead for days at a time until you deploy a two inch firecracker just to clear out the trap.

  5. Bill K

    Squirrels destroyed my roof 10 years ago. Not only do they have their babies up there, they also use it for a bathroom. What was even worse was the hole allowed a raccoon to get in there.

    I need to start wearing thin knee warmers in the mid 50’s. Thermal ones in the mid 40’s.

  6. Mike Rodose

    Did you mean 2000 calories average for “eating out”? I don’t doubt that.

    Tubbification of America.

      1. JB

        What is a more humane way? I am open to suggestions.

        Keep in mind, squirrels have been shown to travel 20 miles (across rivers/interstates) back to their home turf and chew right back through the side of the now-patched house to get back in. Killing them is the only way to ensure they don’t get back in your house.

        Poison: they die in your attic (and they suffer for longer)
        Gun: not safe in residential area

  7. Jt

    Florida is looking good – we head there tomorrow ….
    No legs or arms or undershirts required by the looks of it pre Xmas
    Come down – Just bring a fixed wheel roadie with a 66 inch gear because like the lack of clothes required there is a lack or hills and corners 😉
    It’s still better than fixing Patty Cakes bathroom up 😉


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