Friday, December 30, 2005

The best laid plans...

Yeah, remember how amped I said I was about the snow? This morning it was mostly beautiful. I rode in and didn't have any problems at all. Dakota County could do a better job of plowing the shoulder on Sibley Memorial, but it wasn't a big deal. The snow was sticky and the bike cut through it like a hot knife. It was a thing of beauty. Downtown was a little treacherous though. Lots of slippery hardpack. I had a hard time getting going at a couple of intersections, but I made it in unscathed.

Then this afternoon I decided to leave work early, because there was just nothing to do. I got down to the parking garage and started getting the bike ready to go when I noticed that the rear tire was flat. D'oh! So I pulled out my pump and tried to air it up. My pump wouldn't work! After about 20 minutes of messing with it, I gave up. I wanted to call my wife, but my cell phone battery was dead!! So I went back upstairs and called her on her cell and at work, but got not answer in either place. So I left her a message saying that I was taking the train home and would she be kind enough to meet me at the station?

I pushed my bike to the train station and just missed one. Then the next car was so packed there was no way I could get on. The train after that was out of service. So I finally got on the next train and wondered the whole 25 minutes whether she would be at the station when I got there. She was (thanks honey)! She was getting worried about me, and had decided that she would wait for three more trains before she went looking for me. Good thing I managed to get on the one I did. But my long leisurly ride home was not to be. I shoveled snow instead. Sigh.

Weird Science

Right now there are two bikes on eBay that are intriguing me. One is an older Trek, I'm guessing something like early 80s-late 70's vintage. The interesting thing about this bike is it has been upgraded to Shimano Ultegra Flight deck brake levers/shifters. Which would be kind of cool. It's currently at $51, which is probably cheaper than I could get Ultegra levers for by themselves, even figuring in the shipping.

The other bike is a 2003 Trek 2100 aluminum bike and carbon fork with no other components. It's currently selling for $125. I'm half tempted to bid on them both and move the components and wheelset onto the 2100 and have a decent road bike for about $200.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

On and on

Man oh man, are all y'all missing out. Yesterday afternoon while I was at work I had a great post all composed in my head. It had humor, wit and was super shiny, unlike most of my posts. But I thought to myself, save it for when you get home. I thought this was a good idea because after a good ride I always feel much more clear-headed and I figured the time would make a good post even better. But the other thing that happens during a ride is that I stop thinking about anything other than riding. I'm fully involved in the moment, dodging potholes and road debris, keeping an eye on wayward drivers like the woman in the Mustang who totally cut me off yesterday. I knew she was going to do it, but I was upset anyhow. As she passed me I saw that her right turn signal was on. We were so close to the intersection that I knew there was no way she could not cut me off. So I slowed up and shook my fist at her when she did exactly what I knew she would. She drove on, oblivious.

Anyway, thinking about the ride is almost a type of meditation. Unlike the rest of the day when I'm usually thinking about whatever I'm doing with 80% of my brain and the other 20% is thinking about various other things I feel like I'm 100% focused while on the bike. And sometimes the side effect is that I forget about unimportant stuff. Like the post I was going to make. So you, gentle reader, get stuck with this.

There's snow in the forecast for tonight. I'm pretty amped up about it, since the roads have been completely dry ever since I mounted the studded snow tires. They're loud! Riding these on dry pavement sounds like I've got an amplified bowl of rice krispies on my rear rack. Plus, it's got to put some wear and tear on the studs. So I'm looking forward to the 5-6 inches we're supposed to get over the next 24 hours. So you can probably expect my next news to be that I've fallen down somewhere.

Product Reviews:
So far, I've mixed feelings on the Innovas. But I haven't used them in snow so it's not a fair assessment. Yesterday when I rode them I was working like a dog. I realized when I got home that I only had 50psi in them. So I bumped up to 75psi and this morning's ride was a little easier. Still not as good as the Ritcheys with 100psi, but I'll live with it.

I'm totally digging the booties. I'm doing the Lake Sandals/wool socks/booties combo, and my feet have been warm (but it's in the 30s, so this isn't surprising) and most of all extremely comfortable. Unless it doesn't hold up when the temps drop I'm thinking it's a winner.

I used the Alias light on the way home last night. I'm still not sure of the helmet mount. I may adjust the light down a little bit so it shines somewhat closer to me in my normal riding position. But it definitely lights up the road.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas time is here

Greetings from post-christmas-land! Me and mine had a nice holiday spent with family relaxing and enjoying each others' company. I also had a nice 11 day stretch of no work. And no work means no commute. I did manage to get my studded snow tires mounted, just in time for a winter warm up and snow-free roads. Yes! I was told not to ride my bike today because we are meeting some folks for dinner tonight after work and I need to be ready. So I took the train/drove. Which is hard to do when you've got brand new tires just waiting to be ridden. And even harder when you've got a brand new pair of Trek Neoprene Booties to try out! I found my wool sock stockpile while I was on vacation, so I was going to give the bootie/sandal/big sock combo a try. Tomorrow is another day.

In other news, a photographer in China got some amazing pictures of a cyclist doing a mean faceplant after hitting a pothole on his bike. This first picture is my favorite. The cyclist is in mid-fall. He's got the nice commuter bike set up with the oversized chain guard and rear rack. And he's apparently cycling with an umbrella.

The next picture hurts. Face down, in a puddle. No helmet. At least, I believe that he's wearing a white baseball cap rather than a helmet.

And finally, insult is added to injury. Just as the poor guy jerks his head away with a grimace of pain, the blaze orange briefcase on his rear rack comes down to smack him in the head. Plus, his foot is about to become horribly tangled in the front spokes. The umbrella looks like it will fight to see another day, but this poor guy may need some recovery time. Ouch.

The photographer has come under criticism for lying in wait to take his pictures rather than warning the cyclist of the danger. While I agree that he was a complete bastard for allowing this to happen, I'm not sure he was 100% obligated to warn people either. Karma is going to get him in the end, one way or another. If the pictures prompt the government to fix the pothole, perhaps he'll be rewarded with total consciousness on his deathbed. Which is nice.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk at our Christmas party
We were drinking champagne punch and homemade eggnog
Little sister brought her new boyfriend
He was a Mexican
We didn't know what to think of him until he sang
Felis Navidad, Felis Navidad

Brother Ken brought his kids with him
The three from his first wife Lynn
And the two identical twins from his second wife Mary Nell
Of course he brought his new wife Kay
Who talks all about AA
Chain smoking while the stereo plays Noel, Noel
The First Noel

Carve the Turkey
Turn the ball game on
Mix margaritas when the eggnog's gone
Send somebody to the Quickpak Store
We need some ice and an extension chord
A can of bean dip and some Diet Rites
A box of tampons, Marlboro Lights
Haleluja everybody say Cheese
Merry Christmas from the family

Fred and Rita drove from Harlingen
I can't remember how I'm kin to them
But when they tried to plug their motor home in
They blew our Christmas lights
Cousin David knew just what went wrong
So we all waited out on our front lawn
He threw a breaker and the lights came on
And we sang Silent Night, Oh Silent Night, Oh Holy Night

Carve the turkey turn the ball game on
Make Bloody Mary's
Cause We All Want One!
Send somebody to the Stop 'N Go
We need some celery and a can of fake snow
A bag of lemons and some Diet Sprites
A box of tampons, some Salem Lights
Haleluja, everybody say cheese
Merry Christmas from the Family

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


I've been hearing from old friends and aquaintences after the biking story went out. But this has to be my favorite response to date:

Next time the paper wants to do a story about winter biking, call me. I can re-tell one my favorite winter biking Pete stories to the reporter.

It was the time in college I was sleeping on the couch in our house and I woke up to a burglar coming through the front door wearing a ski mask. I rolled over, pretending to still be asleep in the hopes the burglar would leave. When I heard the burglar sit down on the other couch, I was a bit surprised. I peeked over my shoulder, and it wasn't a burglar at all, but Pete. He looked at me and questioned, "Hey Montie, got some beer?" Pete had been out doing some winter biking at 1:00 am in Moorhead Minnesota.

So those of you who live between Eagan and Minneapolis, don't assume its a burglar if a man in a ski mask pops him after work. It might be Pete. Have a beer ready.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In my mind and [not] in my car

So I thought the Cities 97 thing went well. I didn't feel like I embarrassed myself and the feedback from others was positive. Though I'm sure y'all are just being nice. In case you missed it, the mp3 of the interview is available on the cities 97 website. Just in case you're starved for entertainment. And just by reading this blog, you're admitting as much.

I do feel a little bit dirty about this. When the phone rang this morning, the caller ID said Clear Channel. I had forgotten that Cities 97 is owned by The Evil Empire. Oh well. I'm sure they're not trying to breed a super race of DJs by crossbreeding monkeys and humans. At least, I don't think they are.

I was also e-mailed by a friend yesterday who said I got mentioned on Paul Harvey yesterday. I know there's several people out there, including most of the other people interviewed, who are much more hard core than I am. Rock on with your bad selves. Keep riding. I will. I don't have much of a choice now, do I? ;)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Curiouser and Curiouser

My phone rings tonight.
Me: Hello?
Caller: Hello, is this the gentleman who rides his bike in the winter?
Me: No, I wouldn't be that foolish.
Caller: Oh, sorry to bother you. Goodbye.

A few minutes later, the phone rings again.

Me: Hello?
Caller: Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hit redial.
Me: It's OK. I think I am the person you want to talk to. I said no before because I thought you were my brother-in-law screwing with me.
Caller: No problem. Would you like to be on Cities 97 tomorrow morning?
Me: Um, sure?
Caller: OK, we'll call you at about 8:15 tomorrow. Thanks!


I haven't worked since last Thursday, and I won't go back to work until next Tuesday. So naturally I won't be commuting much over these couple of weeks. I'm home with the kids sledding and trying to stay out of trouble (with mixed results). I'm also doing some upgrades.

A week ago I stopped off at Boehm's Cycle in Mendota to see what they carried for studded tires. Nothing in stock, but they could order Nokians for $65 each. OK thanks, I'll think about it. But then I saw a Planet Bike Alias light on sale for $69. I looked and left the store empty handed. I got home, did some googling and found that this is a heck of a deal on a pretty good little light. So Saturday afternoon on my way home from running errands I stopped by and bought it. It's a nice little unit. It came with a helmet mount, which I'm a little unsure of. My biggest fear is that I'll crash and break the light in the process. A handlebar mount seems more protected. I'll see how the helmet mount treats me, and if I don't like it I can order a handlebar mount for $10 from Planet Bike. What's also cool is that Planet Bike donates 25% of their profits to bike advocacy. When I'm ready for a new set of fenders for the project bike I'll probably get a set of their Freddies for that very reason. I hooked up the light to my helmet, charged up the battery and went for a quick spin around the neighborhood last night. This thing is bright! I couldn't even tell that I had my other LED light on because of the light the Alias threw out. So I'll probably run the LED in blink mode just to attract attention. The real test will come on the first commute. My neighborhood streets are better lit than some portions of my commute.

So I thought about the Nokians more now that crashing could mean wrecking a light. But I decided that $140 after tax is just a bit rich for my frugal nature. So today I ran down to Erik's and picked up a set of Innova 700x35 studded tires. They were on sale for $29 each, so two tires and two new tubes ran me $74. I'll have these mounted and be ready to roll when I head back to work. I've read a lot of reviews by people who say they've worn out the Innovas in only a year or two, but I'm going to take my chances. I guess I'll see how they hold up. And, the studs are replaceable if it comes to that. I know that I could still wipe out, and probably will. But these will definitely help.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Too cool to fool

Don't look now, but there were some familiar sounding folks in the paper today.

Associated Press writer Patrick Condon rides his bicycle along 6th Street in downtown Minneapolis. To fully understand the phenomenon of winter biking, Condon decided to try it for himself. Ann Heisenfelt Associated Press


Here's what I did this afternoon.

View this clip on Vimeo

Repeat roughly 120 times.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Ring of Fire

If you're not already reading the Fat Cyclist blog, you should be. Where else can you get links to somebody experimenting with propane, bike tubes and fire all set to Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire?

In other news, I watched two snowy documentaries last night. The first was Blizzard: 16 hours the story of the 1984 blizzard that hit Fargo/Moorhead and killed 22 people. Having lived in the F/M region for nearly 7 years (what can I say, college took a while) this movie was great. Lots of sights and sounds from way back when. Plus, lots of talk of towns I haven't been to in years.

The second movie was Touching the Void, the story of two english mountain climbers and their trip to Peru. They decided to climb a mountain via a route that others had tried and abandoned. Why? Because, in Joe Simpson's words, "We thought we were better than them." Long story short, they made it. But on the way down (where 80% of mountaineering accidents happen, btw) Joe broke his leg. Bad. His partner Simon attempted to do a one man rescue down the mountain by lowering Joe 300 feet at a time with their rope, then climbing down to him and repeating the process. But, at one point Joe slid over a ledge and was dangling out into nothing. Unable to pull his partner in, and losing his grip, Simon cut the rope. This much of the story is fairly common knowledge. But the next 4 days where they both made their way off the mountain, are amazing. Makes winter cycling look like a weenie sport.

Both were on PBS. And, being PBS, both will probably be run again. Take a look. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I think the universe is trying to tell me that I should have ridden my bike today. This morning, it took me 35 minutes to drive the 4 miles from my house to the park and ride. I know I could have made it faster on the bike. Then, just after I left work for the evening I realized that I forgot to put my boots on and was still wearing my "leave under the desk shoes." I turned to go back, and while waiting for the light to change some jagoff in a big Yukon drove right by me and splashed crap all over my pants in his hurry to get through the yellow light.

There was the nice bonus of finding this snowy little friend at the Government Plaza light rail station though. It was made of found items, though it's hard to tell in the lousy cell phone camera picture. The eyes are pennies, there's a cigarette butt hanging out of it's mouth, and there's a long leaf or some thin bark wrapped around the neck like a scarf.

When I got to the park and ride, I got my jumbo extendable ice scraper out and did my windows. Then I did the windows of the lady in the van who was parked next to me. She was quite pleased, as she rolled down her window afterward to thank me she told me she couldn't find her ice scraper. Let's see, a snow advisory was broadcast all day yesterday. No reason to make sure you know where your scraper is, right? Ah well, I guess maybe I was meant to be there instead of on the bike after all. After she pulled away, I drove out of my parking spot and spun a great big cookie in the parking lot. No matter how old I get, spinning cookies is still fun as all get out. Though I only do it about once per winter now, instead of nearly every time I got the car in high school. There's just something about that sensation of being in a controlled spin, but yet at the same time you're somewhat out of control, coupled with the centrifugal force that makes it unique.

Yesterday was my first commute with the new fenders. The best part? No more salty road spray on the top of my water bottle. I had clean tasting water for the first time in nearly a month.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Pugsley Sighting

I saw my first live in person Pugsley this morning on the train. There was a guy who wheeled it on at about the 38th St station. The pictures of this thing don't do it justice. It's huge. Even the non-bike normal commuters were staring. I think this was the first time this guy had brought his Pug on the train, because he tried to put it in the bike rack. The Endomorph tires on the Large Marge rims were too big to fit into the rack thingie. Clearly a design flaw. With the train rack, that is. I was busy doing some last minute cramming for tonight's final, so I didn't chat with the rider. He got off one stop before me, otherwise I would have asked if I could give it a try.

If I thought Santa could lift the big bugger, I'd put the Pug on my Christmas list. But I don't want the old guy to strain his back.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Weekend update

I spent my three day weekend not biking. I had every intention of layering up and riding to Kaplan Brothers to see what their selection of warm clothing was like on Friday, but I got a call from the school that my daugher had thrown up. So I scrapped my ride plan and went to pick her up. Boy, when you puke in an elementary school you're a celebrity. As we walked down the hall from the nurse's office every kid we saw wanted to know what was going on. And Morgan was more than willing to tell them. A typical conversation:
Random Kid: Morgan, where did you go?
Morgan: I threw up!
RK: Where?
M: In the bathroom. I'm going home now.

This conversation was repeated over and over, at least 15 times and always over 100 decibels. I could tell that the news was spreading like wildfire. The excitement was palpable. Fortunately it was a short-lived illness. She was feeling better later that afternoon.

Saturday we visited Santa, and afterward I spent some time in the garage looking at the bag of loot I bought a couple of weeks ago. I decided to install the fenders on my Raleigh, since my project bike is proceeding at my predicted snail's pace. As a side note, here's a picture of the project bike from this afternoon.

I reassembled the fork and added the new stem and wicked cool cruiser bars that I picked up at The Hub last Friday. $11 for the two items. I don't know that I'll keep the cruiser bars on there for the winter, but for $6 I couldn't pass them up.

Anyway. Most of my Saturday in the garage was spent looking for an appropriate bolt to secure the fenders. The Raleigh has cantilever brakes, so there's no center bolt for the front fender. The rear fender is a clip-on Mt Zefal, but the rear rack was causing problems with that one. You can see the cross member under the rack in this picture. It goes right where the thumbscrew on the Zefal fender is, so there wasn't much hope of drilling a hole for it.

I finally gave up and set the whole project aside until this afternoon. I went to Home Depot and spent $10 on some zip ties and a few nuts and bolts, and the fenders went on in about 15 minutes. The rear fender is clipped to the frame in front and then held to the rack with two zip ties (wonderful little inventions!). In this shot you can see one of the zip ties before I trimmed the ends. I also had to mount the reflector on top of the rack instead of underneath.

If you look at the very top of the picture toward the left, you can see the velcro band that's supposed to keep my pannier in place. I was riding to work a few weeks ago and the pannier just fell off, leaving the velcro strap on the rack. So one pannier got run over by my wife and now this one is trying to commit suicide. I think I need some new bags.

The finished front fender. Nothing remarkable here. I did use wing nuts to attach the stays to the fork, so if I ever need to take the fender off it's nearly a quick release. I couldn't find a wing nut that fit the center bolt, so I would need one tool. This fender's a whole lot shinier than the rear one. I don't think it's ever been used. After being off the bike for over a week, I'm feeling kind of itchy to get out and dirty it up.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What a short, strange trip it's been

As many of you know, I was laid off the Friday before Thanksgiving. It came as a complete surprise to me. Our entire department was reorganized in August, and my particular group was moved into a new area. It seems kind of foolish to go through all the headache of transferring us just to let us go. There were 8 people in all who were laid off. We were told that our jobs didn't "fit" in the new organization, but that there would be 3 new jobs posted. Let's see, 8 goes into 3 how many times? So like the good corporate drone that I am, I posted for one of the jobs. Wife, kids, mortgage, you do the math.

I found out on Tuesday that I will be getting one of the jobs. My boss sent me an e-mail asking if we could get together to "touch base." Touching base is apparantly code for "offer you a job." Don't I need to interview? I asked. Nope.

However, I can't tell anybody yet. So people keep seeing me in the hall or the elevator and they go "Hey, how are you?" And then they get the sad look on their face and go through the routine. It sucks what happened to you. I was so surprised! Are you looking? What are you going to do? Good luck! I just smile and agree and tell them I'm working on a few things.

So, I was potentially unemployed for 2 1/2 weeks. And now, my future is secure. For the moment. G.I. Joe with the Kung-Fu grip for everybody!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I didn't ride today. Yesterday, I had a Perfectly Good Excuse for not riding. I totally overslept and as a result the girls missed the school bus. So I had to drive them to school. And, once the car is warmed up and out of the garage there's really no point in putting it back, is there? Plus, I had school.

But today? I sort of have an excuse. I wasn't feeling well last night. I could be coming down with something. But, a part of me still wanted to ride. If I could have found my other wool sock (missing sock? a potential excuse!) I might have. But it's not really a good reason. The real reason I didn't ride is that it's butt cold out. I heard on the radio that the wind chill was -20. So, while I went through the motions of looking for the socks my heart wasn't really in it. So I drove. So sue me.

But the good news is, somebody rode this week. Yesterday my wife sent our kids outside to play. About half an hour later one poked her head back in the house and asked, "Is it OK if we ride our bikes?" So here they are, on the coldest day of the winter, riding. How awesome is that??
My wife has titled this picture "Lunacy, inherited".


A great big thanks goes out to everybody who helped me with my web site yesterday. I was able to use all of your comments and reactions in my final report. Does the web site suck? Yes, it does. I could have made it a lot better if I'd started working on it when we got the assignment 3 weeks ago instead of waiting until three days before it was due. But all in all I was fairly happy with the outcome.

Don't forget, A Charlie Brown Christmas is on tonight on ABC. Check your local listings for time and channel. It's 7:00 on channel 5 locally. Grab a blanket and snuggle in with the one(s) you love. Wah-wah-wah.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Web Design

Hi all!
I made a website for school this weekend. It's due this evening, and I need a little user feedback. So if you have 5 minutes or so to help me out, I'd appreciate it. Below is the link to the site. If you're interested, please explore and e-mail me the answers to the following questions:
1. Say you wanted to buy a hat. Time yourself to see how long it takes you to complete the transaction. Send me your time along with any positive or negative feedback about the transaction process.
2. While buying, did you need to back up using the back button?
3. How long do you estimate that it takes to get from the home page to any
desired page, on average? 5 seconds? 10 seconds?
4. Any feedback in general about the site. Specifically the navigation, usability, or overall impression.

Nothing fancy, just a sentence or two will do. Send any feedback to frosti AT gmail DOT com. If you're looking at the site after Monday, you can still send me feedback but I won't be able to use it in the report. Thanks! Here's the link:

Third Wave

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Week That Was

This is the week that was in matters musical...

1956, Elvis drops in at Sun Studios to visit with buddies Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, who are working on a Perkins recording session ... Johnny's wife calls him away to go shopping before the "record" button gets pushed, but the others lay down some historically significant tracks that will be released under Presley's name as The Million Dollar Quartet ... Cash appears on the album cover even though he didn't record (some argue the point, but Cash is certainly not audible on the album)

1957, Ed Sullivan hosts the TV debuts of Sam Cooke singing "You Send Me" and Buddy Holly and the Crickets performing "That'll Be the Day"...

1965, the infamous blue flame strikes Keith Richards down on a stage in Sacramento when he grabs an ungrounded mic ... the indestructible Stone is on his feet and performing again inside of seven minutes...

1967, pop singer Jimmie F. Rodgers cracks up his car and is found with a fractured skull ... he will survive but his career is over...

1968, Graham Nash quits the Hollies ... three days later he announces the formation of Crosby, Stills and Nash...

1969, this week sees the infamous Altamont Speedway concert with the Rolling Stones; Jefferson Airplane; Santana; and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young on the playbill ... violence erupts and four people are killed, at least two in deliberate bloody assaults...

1970, a gold record goes to Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Steve Stills for Supersession, an album they put together out of an extended studio jam session...

1970, the documentary film Gimme Shelter, documenting the 1969 Stones tour and the Altamont debacle, is released on the occasion of the fateful concert's anniversary...

1971, The Montreux Casino in Geneva, Switzerland, catches fire during a show by the Mothers of Invention, inspiring Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" ... Deep Purple was across Lake Geneva from Montreaux watching the fire from their hotel ... the smoke drifted across the lake, hence the song's title ...

1972, Carly Simon releases "You're So Vain," a song which sets the whole country to wondering exactly who is so insufferably vain ... candidates for the post include Carly's relatively recent famous conquests Mick Jagger (who sang on the record), Cat Stevens, Kris Kristofferson, and Warren Beatty ... when asked if she's "gone with" Beatty, she says, "Hasn't everybody?" ... "I felt I was one among thousands at that point--it hadn't reached, you know, the populations of small countries" ... in 2003 Carly Simon volunteers to tell the highest bidder at the Possible Dreams charity auction who the song is actually about, but only if the winner will abide by a confidentiality agreement ... NBC exec Dick Ebersol wins the bidding at $50,000, but he's not talking...

1973, the Who and friends trash a Montreal hotel suite to the tune of $6,000 in damages and spend a night in the pokey for their troubles ... John Entwistle later writes a song about the occasion, "Cell Block Number Seven"...

1976, during a Battersea Power Station photo shoot for the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals, a 40-foot helium-filled pig breaks loose from its moorings and floats up to an estimated 18,000 feet before finally touching down in Kent...

1976, Bob Marley and the Wailers are rehearsing at Marley's house in Kingston, Jamaica, when seven gunmen appear and shower the house with a hail of gunfire ... Marley, wife Rita, and manager Don Taylor are all hit but miraculously nobody is seriously injured ... the band plays a gig two nights later...

1976, the Sex Pistols' Glenn Matlock uses the "F" word during an English TV interview and the resulting uproar proves that the Brits can be every bit as priggish and sanctimonious as the Yanks ... most of the Pistols' upcoming gigs are cancelled and by the next month they can't book a date anywhere in the U.K....

1978, Ian Druy--the hot new British new waver--releases "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick," which will sell two million copies worldwide and hit number one in the U.K. without ever charting in the U.S....

1986, Annie Lennox, lead singer for the Eurythmics, gets so carried away at a concert in Birmingham, England, that she rips off her bra, which is the only thing covering her breasts ... this does not cause a national scandal...

1988, early pop/rock crooner Roy Orbison dies of a heart attack while visiting his mother in Henderson, Tennessee ... after huge success as a songwriter and performer in the early '60s, Orbison lost two of his three sons in a house fire and lost his wife in a motorcycle accident in 1966 ... he emigrated to Europe and remained famous in the U.K., returning in the late '70s ... his gig with the Traveling Wilburys, a movie deal, and several of his songs charting for other artists had Orbison almost back to the top of his game by the time he died ...

1993, revered rock weirdo, musical wizard, and spokesman for lyrical freedom Frank Zappa meets his demise from prostate cancer at the young age of 53...

1996, Tiny Tim, born Herbert Khaury--who made a career of singing old '20s and '30s tunes in a decidedly unmasculine warbling falsetto accompanied by a ukulele--dies of a heart condition at a Minneapolis hospital after collapsing while performing "Tip Toe Thru' The Tulips With Me" at a nearby women's club meeting ...

2004, Marianne Faithfull cancels the remaining 12 dates of a European tour following her onstage collapse in Milan ... her health has deteriorated due to exhaustion after working herself to the bone for the previous year ... America's oldest teenager, 75-year-old Dick Clark, suffers a mild stroke ... doctors say he'll be on his feet soon, but he will not make the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration, which he has hosted for 32 consecutive years...

And that was the week that was.


November 30: bluesman Brownie McGhee (1915), Dick Clark (1929), Johnny Horton (1929), Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary (1937), Leo Lyons of Ten Years After (1943), Deep Purple's Roger Glover (1945), The Little River Band's George McArdale (1954), Billy Idol (1955), June Pointer of The Pointer Sisters (1956), Japan's Richard Barbieri (1957), John Ashton of the Psychedelic Furs (1957), Stacey Q (1958), Jalil of Whodini (1963), Paul Wheeler of Icehouse (1965), Des'ree (1968), Mindy McCready (1975)

December 1: Billy Paul (1934), Lou Rawls (1935), Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult (1944), John Densmore of The Doors (1944), Bette Midler (1945), Jaco Pastorius (1951), Japan's Steve Jansen (1959), Brad Delson of Linkin Park (1977)

December 2: Pop Staples (1915), Tom McGuinness of Manfred Mann (1941), Michael McDonald (1952), Joe Henry (1960), Def Leppard's Rick Savage (1960), Nate Mendel of Foo Fighters (1968), Jay-Z (1970), Nelly Furtado (1978), Britney Spears (1981)

December 3: D.J. William "Hoss" Allen (1922), pop crooner Andy Williams (1930), Ralph McTell (1944), Ozzy Osbourne (1948), "Buffalo" Bruce Barlow of Commander Cody (1948), Mickey Thomas of Starship (1949), Molly Hatchet's Duane Roland (1952), Steve Forbert (1955), Montell Jordan (1971)

December 4: film singer Deanna Durbin (1922), Freddy Cannon aka Anthony Picariello (1940), Chris Hillman of The Byrds (1942), Bob Mosely of Moby Grape (1942), Beach Boy Dennis Wilson (1944), Southside Johnny (1948), Tommy Bolin (1950), Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd (1951), Bob Griffin of The BoDeans (1959), Vinnie Dombroskie of Sponge (1962)

December 5: Little Richard (1935), J.J. Cale born Jean Jacques Cale (1938), Jim Messina (1947), Great White's Jack Russell (1960), Johnny Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls (1965)

December 6: Broadway lyricist Ira Gershwin (1896), Dave Brubeck (1920), Mike Smith of The Dave Clark Five (1943), Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown (1947), Joe X. Dube of Looking Glass (1950), Jam's Rick Buckler (1955), Peter Buck of R.E.M. (1956), Randy Rhoads (1956), Dave Lovering of The Pixies (1961), Ben Watt of Everything but the Girl (1962), Ace of Base's Ulf Ekberg (1970)

November 30: jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd (1999), Tiny Tim (1996), Doors producer Paul Rothschild (1995), crossover country singer David Houston (1993)

December 1: jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli (1997), the "Unforgettable" songwriter Irving Gordon (1996), metal singer Ray Gillen (1993), balladeer Harry Ray (1992), Lee Dorsey (1986), Westside Chicago bluesman Magic Sam aka Sam Maghett (1969), bluegrass guitarist Carter Stanley (1966)

December 2: singer-songwriter Kevin Coyne (2004), guitarist/composer Michael Hedges (1997), Aaron Copland (1990), folk singer David Blue (1982)

December 3: jazz pianist Mal Waldron (2002)

December 4: MC5 fret man Fred "Sonic" Smith (1994), Frank Zappa (1993), Deep Purple's Tommy Bolin (1976)

December 5: tenor saxist Bob Berg (2002), New Orleans session sax man David Lastie (1987), multi-instrumentalist jazz behemoth Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1977)

December 6: Memphis bass man Busta Jones (1995), Roy Orbison (1988), Leadbelly (1949)


Blatently stolen from Matt. A quicktime Miller High Life commercial that is cool beyond cool. You need sound.

Alternative Fuel

I think I'm going to go shovel the driveway and then have a beer.

Let it Snow

I've certainly got no place to go, and it certainly doesn't show signs of stopping. It's been snowing since before I got up. It looks to be more of that light fluffy stuff. Easy to shovel, easy to ride through, slippery as all get out. If you're out riding today, take warning. My elbow's still a little sore from when I wiped out on Tuesday. Tuesday was a pretty good ride, my first true snow commute this year. I made it almost all the way home without incident. But when I got to Sibley Memorial Highway I decided to take the trail instead of riding on the shoulder like I usually do. There's a little hill to descend that gets you onto the trail. The little hill faces south and was, I discovered later, covered with a clear layer of ice. I was down before I even realized I was going to go down. My old headlight exploded in spectacular fashion. Not a first for this thing, but it will be the last. I couldn't find the lens or the bulb, so it's done. Other than that, no permanent harm done. I took the shoulder on Wednesday with no issues.

If I didn't have a huge project due on Monday I'd be tempted to take the fat-tired Miyata out for a spin. It looks like a fun day to ride.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Just It All

I scored some parts tonight off of craigslist. A mixed bag, to be sure, but how can you go wrong for $5. There were two fenders in there that were worth the price of admission. I've got the day off tomorrow so I may try to get them installed on the Raleigh during the day when I need a break from my school project. I got:
TWO FENDERS: One really nice one, one clip on mountain bike style
WATER BOTTLE HOLDER (NEW): Nice enough, I guess
RAT TRAP: Rear rack that I'll most likely never use.
4 REFELECTORS: Who needs more reflectors??
2 BRAKES: Pads, that is.
RACING SHOE CLIPS: Ancient. Leather straps, for ghod's sake.
AND AN ANKLE BRACELET: Metal. Kinda cool.

If anybody needs reflectors, cheap brake pads or clips let me know. They're yours. You're welcome to the rat trap too.

Oh, and if you've got nothing better to do check out the Queen's Greatest Hits/50 Cent mash-up, Q-Unit: Greatest Hits. Guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Fiddy with the Freddy moustache will make you grin, if nothing else. But the songs are kinda catchy too.

The wonder of Altoids

I'm starting to go through my stuff at work, getting ready for the impending move. I'm scheduled to be moved from my lovely window seat on the 5th floor to a cube with a lovely view of the men's room on the 8th floor. This will occur on December 9th, so I need to start winnowing. Yesterday I threw away a whole bunch of useless crap. Or so I thought. I threw away a bunch of empty Altoids tins, not realizing how useful they could be. Examples:

Survival Kit
USB charger
iPod Nano case
computer mouse

I'm feeling pretty guilty now that I've thrown away such useful items. I'm also looking at the nearly empty Altoid tin currently on my desk and wondering what I could make with that. I'm thinking a bicycle survival kit would be tres cool.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fat Bottomed Girls

Like I needed any more motivation to keep biking...

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Fatter rear ends are causing many drug injections to miss their mark, requiring longer needles to reach buttock muscle, researchers said on Monday.

Standard-sized needles failed to reach the buttock muscle in 23 out of 25 women whose rears were examined after what was supposed to be an intramuscular injection of a drug.

"There is no question that obesity is the underlying cause. We have identified a new problem related, in part, to the increasing amount of fat in patients' buttocks," Chan said.

"The amount of fat tissue overlying the muscles exceeds the length of the needles commonly used for these injections," she said.


Cold November Rain

I didn't ride yesterday because it was raining cats and dogs in November. Nearly December. I don't mind a little rain, more or less, but it was really coming down. The last time I drove my truck I had gotten fed up with trying to tune in 89.3 on my crappy radio, so I still was on 93X (I was coming home from the bar). When I got into the truck last night on my way to class they were playing G&R's November Rain. How apropos. They were playing a differend G&R song when I got back into the truck after class (Paradise City, I think). This lack of imagination is why I don't listen to a lot of commercial radio any more.

When I got home from class, my tireflys had arrived in the mail! I found them on eBay brand new for $5 and free shipping so I decided to give them a whirl (ha). I have read that these things are kind of temperemental and they seem to be living up to that billing. They were both blinking when I opened the box, so I know they both work. But when I installed them on the Raleigh I could only get the rear one to come on intermittently. Yet this morning on the ride in it appears that the front one was working and the rear wasn't. It was pretty bright out so it's hard to tell for sure. I'll see tonight on the way home. If they light up fairly well I may spring for a set of the tirefly pros, or maybe even give the Reflects a shot. They're great for side visibility. It's probably dorky to admit, but I think they look kind of cool. You may now mock me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Building a Mystery

So I've been busy the last week or two, starting work on a new commuter. I was able to find a bike to begin with for free after scouring and for months. It started life as an ugly green Gitane. No markings to indicate which make it was. Once I got it home I tore it down to the frame and started to figure out why it was free. It had a broken rear axle. This also explains why it rode kind of weird. Another thing I noticed is that it's got two different size wheels. The front is a 26" wheel, but the rear is a 27". This explains why the brakes were nowhere near the rim on the front. It also had all the original components from when it was built, probably in the 70's. I'm thinking even the brake pads are original. Not that that's a good thing.

After everything was stripped off of the bike, I started working on the frame. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures until I got to this point so I'll never have a before and after series. By the time I thought of the camera I'd stripped most of the paint, except in those hard to reach places. I'm not doing a professional job by any means. It will have a new coat of paint, but it's still going to be a winter beater.

I'm slowly working on a plan to get this thing road-worthy. Right now, I've got the frame stripped and primed. Paint will have to wait until I get back from the in-laws' place or maybe even until next weekend. I've been slowly getting the parts I need from everybody's best friend, eBay. I got a new Titec saddle for $12.85 and a single speed 16 tooth sprocket for $8.85. Quality on a budget. I'm still trying to decide what to do for a crankset and bottom bracket. The front small sprocket is only a 38 tooth, which is a little small for a single. The big sprocket is a 53, which is bigger than my puny legs can push. I'm thinking I'll try for another eBay deal for a crankset and a sprocket.

This summer I got a free Cannondale from my neighbor. He saw me biking in from work one day and we got to BS-ing. He said the bike had been in his garage since he moved in and he'd never used it. It's way too small for me, but the frame seems to fit the wife nicely. It's a weird bike. It's an aluminum road frame with super skinny 700x23 tires on it. But at the same time it's got a straight bar with mountain bike bar ends on it. Split personality? I dunno. I may take the straight bar off that bike and put it on this thing and then replace the bars on the Cannon with some drops this spring if the Mrs. wants to ride it. As I'm riding my Raleigh in the little bit of snow we have I'm finding that I like sitting upright. Then, I gotta find a steal on some rims and tires and I'll be ready to ride. I'll take the rear rack off of the Schwinn to get me through. There's some cute gold shorty fenders on eBay right now that I think would look pretty boss on this bike, but I think I need to lay off the eBay for a bit to avoid incurring the wrath of the spouse. Oh well. So, we'll see how long it takes me to get this thing on the road. It may not be ready to be a winter commuter until next winter at this pace. More to come.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Week That Was

This is the week that was in matters musical...

1960, Patsy Cline waxes the classic country weeper "I Fall to Pieces" ... "Stay" by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs holds down the #1 slot on the Billboard Pop Chart ... the song is notable for being the shortest single in the rock era running a mere one minute and 37 seconds ... a number of covers later reach the chart including Jackson Browne's 1978 rendition...

1968, the queens of Detroit, The Supremes, perform at the Royal Variety Show in London while Queen Elizabeth looks on...

1972, Danny Whitten, guitarist in Crazy Horse, Neil Young's backup band, dies of a heroin overdose ... the talented axeman and songwriter provided a perfect foil for Young, trading licks with him on the extended guitar jams on Young's long-form rockers "Down by the River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand"... Whitten's OD will loom large in Young's dark album Tonight's The Night as well as in his song "Needle and the Damage Done"...

1974, John Lennon scores his only solo U.S. #1 single with "What Ever Gets You Through the Night"...

1976, Jerry Lee Lewis is busted for drunk driving after plunging his Rolls Royce into a ditch...

1979, Chuck Berry is released from the slammer following a stay on tax evasion charges...

1980, Don Henley of The Eagles is arrested after paramedics are called to treat a nude 16-year-old girl suffering from the effects of illicit drugs at his Los Angeles home ... he is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of an array of drugs...

1987, adopting the guise of a country-rock band called The Dalton Brothers, U2 opens for themselves at an LA show...

1988, Stan Love, brother of the Beach Boys' Mike Love and former manager of the band, is sentenced to five years probation after being convicted of embezzling more than $300,000 from the singing surfers...

1989, during Queen's performance of their hit "Fat Bottomed Girls" at a Madison Square Garden show, the band is accompanied by semi-nude women riding bicycles...

1990, in the wake of revelations that they had lip-synced their way to fame, the faux pop duo Milli Vanilli is ordered to return their Grammy award... "singer" Fabrice Morvan unrepentantly claims, "We can sing as good as any other pop star in the Top Ten."...

1993, Nirvana tapes an MTV Unplugged session in one take ... the show is aired with warts and all one month later...

1994, David Crosby gets a glistening, fresh liver...

1995, The Ghost of Tom Joad, Bruce Springsteen's 13th album, is released ... the title refers to a character in John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath, about the 1930s Dust Bowl emigration...

1997, rapper Coolio and his appropriately named backup band 40 Thevz are arrested in Boblingen, Germany, on charges of assaulting a boutique clerk and ripping off $2,000 worth of apparel...

1998, discount chain Kmart launches it website offering 100,000 songs for download ... despite its early entry into the electronic commerce arena, the site soon is eclipsed by competitors ... ska saxman Roland Alphonso of the pioneering Skatalites collapses in mid-performance during a show at the Key Club in West Hollywood and later dies ... Motley Crue fans have cause for celebration when the S'Crue, a store stuffed with Crue-related merch, opens on LA's trendy Melrose Boulevard...

1999, Doug Sahm--who led the The Sir Douglas Quintet in the 1960s and was fluent in many music forms including Texas blues, Tex-Mex, rock, Cajun, and Western Swing--dies in Taos, NM, at 58 ... late in his career the singer and guitarist was a member of the critically acclaimed Tex-Mex supergroup The Texas Tornados ... pop singer Jewel pulls the plug on her planned Anchorage, AK, New Year's Eve show citing concerns over possible Y2K problems ... word has it, however, that the cancellation is due to weak ticket sales ... only 1,000 of the 8,000 available seats have been sold ... country star Patty Loveless rides a train across Appalachia distributing 15 tons of Christmas gifts to poor families in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia...

2003, Phil Spector is charged with the murder of Hollywood starlet Lana Clarkson...

2004, The New York Post reports that former Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth is training to become an emergency medical technician ... the story recounts how Roth, while riding with an ambulance crew, saved the life of a Bronx heart-attack victim using a defibrillator ... according to his tutor Linda Reissman, "You would never know you were dealing with a rock 'n' roll guy. His commitment really is touching. He wants to help people." ... The United States Postal Service settles with the group Postal Service following more than a year of legal wrangling over the band's name ... in a creative compromise the duo, comprised of Death Cab for Cutie singer Ben Gibbard and electronic musician Jimmy Tamborello, agree to let the Postal Service use their music to promote the use of snail mail and refer to the USPS deal in Postal Service CDs ... the musicians also promise to perform at the Postmaster General's National Executive Conference in Washington ... Bill Wyman, the 68-year-old former Rolling Stones bassman, announces he will retire from touring with the Rhythm Kings, his current band...

And that was the week that was.


November 16: W.C. Handy (1873), Atlantic Records veteran Jesse Stone (1901), Toni Brown of Joy of Cooking (1928), folksinger Bob Gibson (1931), long-time Howlin' Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin (1931), Nashville producer Felton Jarvis (1934), Garnett Mimms (1937), John Ryanes of The Monotones (1940), George "Smitty" Smith of The Manhattans (1943), Winfred "Blue" Lovett of The Manhattans (1943), Will Ackerman (1949), Patti Santos of It's a Beautiful Day (1949), Mani of The Stone Roses (1962), Diana Krall (1964), Bryan Abrams of Color Me Badd (1969), Trevor Penick of O-Town (1979)

November 17: Gordon Lightfoot (1938), Bob Gaudio of The Four Seasons (1942), Gene Clark of The Byrds (1944), Martin Barre of Jethro Tull (1946), Jim Babjak of The Smithereens (1957), Harry Rushakoff of Concrete Blonde (1959), RuPaul (1960), Jeff Buckley (1966), Ben Wilson of Blues Traveler (1967), Ronnie DeVoe of Bell Biv DeVoe (1967), Isaac Hanson of Hanson (1980)

November 18: Sir William Gilbert of the Gilbert and Sullivan writing team (1836), Eugene Ormandy (1899), Imogene Coca (1908), Hank Ballard (1927), Bob Sanderson of The Royaltones (1935), Herman Rarebell of The Scorpions (1949), Graham Parker (1950), John McFee of The Doobie Brothers (1953), John Parr (1954), Michael Ramos of The BoDeans (1958), Kim Wilde (1960), Kirk Hammett (1962), Duncan Sheik (1969), Fabolous (1979)

November 19: Tommy Dorsey (1905), J.D. Sumner (1914), Ray Collins of The Mothers of Invention (1937), Pete Moore of The Miracles (1939), Graham Parker (1950), Matt Sorum of Guns N' Roses (1960), Travis McNabb of Better Than Ezra (1969), Tamika Scott of Xscape (1977)

November 20: Dick Smothers (1939), Tony Butala of The Lettermen (1940), Norman Greenbaum (1942), Duane Allman (1946), Joe Walsh (1947), George Grantham of Poco (1947), Jim Brown of UB40 (1957), Todd Nance of Widespread Panic (1962), Mike "D" Diamond of The Beastie Boys (1965), Sen Dog of Cypress Hill (1965), songwriter Kevin Gilbert (1966), Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest (1970)

November 21: Coleman Hawkins (1904), R&B producer-manager Buck Ram (1907), blues and jazz pianist Lloyd Glenn (1909), vocalist-saxophonist "Big" John Greer (1923), Malcolm John Rebennack AKA Dr. John (1941), Lonnie Jordan of War (1948), Steve Ferguson of NRBQ (1949), Livingston Taylor (1950), Peter Koppes of The Church (1955), Stacy Guess of Squirrel Nut Zippers (1964), Bjork (1965), Blur's Alex James (1968), Pretty Lou of Lost Boyz (1974), Kelsi Osborn of SHeDAISY (1984)

November 22: Hoagy Carmichael (1899), Benjamin Britten (1913), Foghat's Rod Price (1940), Terry Stafford (1941), Steve Wahrer of The Trashmen (1941), Jamie Troy of The Classics (1942), Steve Caldwell of The Orlons (1942), Floyd Sneed of Three Dog Night (1943), Aston "Family Man" Barrett (1946), E Street Band's Little Steven Van Zandt (1950), Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads (1950), Craig Hundley (1953), Jason Ringenberg of Jason & the Scorchers (1958), Rasa Don of Arrested Development (1968)

November 16: British pop pianist Russ Conway (2000), Kid Rock sideman Joe C. AKA Joseph Calleja (2000), Gospel Music Hall of Fame member J.D. Sumner (1998), Dino Valenti of Quicksilver Messenger Service (1994), Francis Donia of Tavares (1984), raw-voiced soulman O.V. Wright (1980), music journalist Mike Leadbitter (1974)

November 17: Terry Stafford (1996), blues scholar, producer, and label owner Pete Welding (1995), co-founder of RPM Records Jules Bihari (1984), John Glascock of Jethro Tull (1979)

November 18: Doug Sahm (1999), Alan Hull of Lindisfarne (1995), Cab Calloway (1994), prolific session drummer Freddie Waites (1989), Tom Evans of Badfinger (1983), Doug Roberts, drummer for Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs (1981), jazz singer Teddi King (1977), Danny Whitten of Crazy Horse (1972), Memphis bluesman "Little" Junior Parker (1971)

November 19: producer Terry Melcher (2004), songwriter Bobby Russell (1992), songwriter Carolyn Leigh (1983), Claude Feaster of The Chords (1975)

November 20: album cover artist Gene Greif (2004), Roland Alphonso of the Skatalites (1998), rock critic and blues producer Robert Palmer (1997), Chess and Vee-Jay Records session drummer Earl Phillips (1990)

November 21: Alvin Cash (1999), Matthew Ashman of Adam & the Ants and Bow Wow Wow (1995), Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant (1995)

November 22: jazz impresario Norman Ganz (2001), Michael Hutchence of INXS (1997), Epick Soundtracks of The Swell Maps (1997), June Abbit of The 5 Royals (1995), Janet Ertel Bleyer of The Chordettes (1988)

Courtesy of

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Safety Dance

My lovely wife told me tonight that she's concerned for my safety out there on the roads. It's dark and it's icy she says. I'm afraid other people won't see you. She's probably right. Riding a bike is probably much more dangerous than riding the train or driving a car. But at the same time, is it?

In 1999 (a popular year for traffic statistics on the net) over 40,000 people were killed in automobile accidents in the U.S. In the same year, 750 bicyclists were killed. Bicycle accidents accounted for both 2 percent of all traffic accidents and 2 percent of traffic deaths. So I could be riding, or I could be driving. And part of me says that hey, I want to be in the group that only accounts for 2 percent, not the group that accounts for 98 percent. has some interesting statistics about why bikes get hit by cars:
Category 1: When the motorist and bicyclist were on initial parallel paths, either in the same direction or opposing directions, the three most frequent categories of crashes were:
Motorist turning or merging into the path of a bicyclist (12.1 percent of all crashes). Almost half (48.8 percent) of these crashes involved a motorist making a left turn in front of a bicyclist approaching from the opposite direction.
I'm always on the lookout for the left turn from the opposite direction. These people are pretty easy to spot once you're aware of the behavior.
Motorist overtaking a bicyclist (8.6 percent of all crashes). Of these crashes, 23 percent appeared to involve a motorist who misjudged the space required to safely pass the bicyclist.
I do try to stick to the roads where there is a bike lane, which most cars respect. If there's no bike lane, I either ride on the shoulder where possible or ride fully in the lane so the car can't pass. If they can't pass, they can't misjudge. But, if they don't see me they don't see me. It doesn't really matter what I do.
Bicyclist turning or merging into the path of a motorist (7.3 percent of all crashes). Within this category, 60 percent involved a bicyclist making a left turn in front of a motorist traveling in the same direction.
During the MS150 this year, I saw a fellow cyclist get hit by a truck when he did this. It was one of the scariest things I've ever seen. I stopped, ran over to him and the first thing he said was "That was stupid. I knew I didn't have enough room to make it, but I tried anyway." He was holding another guy's jersey to his face to stop the bleeding at the time. He was lucky, the truck swerved at the last minutes and managed to just barely clip the guy's back tire. It could have been a lot worse. But let's just say that, while I was cautious about this move before I'm now downright chicken about doing it. I have to cross highway 13, a fairly busy road, every day on my way home. I look both ways for cars, and if there's not close to 1/2 a mile distance between me and the car, I pull over to the side and wait. There's a little pull off spot just up the road from our place that's perfect for this.

Category 2: When the motorist and bicyclist were on initial crossing paths, the three most frequent categories of crashes were:
Motorist failed to yield right-of-way at a junction (21.7 percent of all crashes). Of these crashes, more than a third (37.3 percent) involved a motorist violating the sign or signal and drove into the crosswalk or intersection and struck the bicyclist.
So most of these, the motorist failed to stop for a red light or a stop sign. So if I were driving I would get hit too. I never assume they will stop until they do. And until I see some sign of an impending stop, I start to prepare to stop. This one isn't high on my worry list.
Bicyclist failed to yield right-of-way at an intersection (16.8 percent of all crashes). Within this category, 38 percent involved a bicyclist who had stopped for a sign or flashing signal and then drove into the intersection and was struck by the motor vehicle.
Again, I never assume they're going to stop until they actually do it, so not a big worry.
Bicyclist failed to yield right-of-way at a midblock location (11.7 percent of all crashes). Almost half of these crashes (43.4 percent) involved a bicyclist riding out into the roadway from a residential driveway.
This is why I try to stay off of the sidewalk as much as possible. Joining into the traffic flow makes me nervous, so I try to avoid it. Once I'm in, I stay in.

Another interesting thing in the 1999 statistic is this one. Ninety-eight percent of bicyclists killed in 1999 reportedly weren't wearing helmets. This is why I wear a helmet. Religiously. My helmet isn't cutting edge cool. In fact, it's border line dorky. But it's on my head every day. Now that it's cold it's making headgear a pain since I still haven't found a hat that fits under the helmet well. But I'm still wearing it.

There's also another side to this coin. The health benefit. Mayer Hillman of the British Medical Association has estimated that the total health benefit of cycling is twenty times the risk. In other words, for every life year lost through accidents, 20 are gained through improved health and fitness. He's a fascinating guy, and cycling is just one of his transportation interests. In the linked Guardian article he's got an interesting scheme on "carbon rationing" to decrease pollution.

So, is cycling safe? Depends on who you listen to. Clearly, there is a chance of injury or death. Our friend was hit by a car walking across the street earlier this year. She was in the crosswalk, the car just didn't see her. Cars and busses crash, trains derail, walkers and bikers get run over. Shit happens.

I'll probably end up catching the bird flu and making this all a moot point.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bus Stop

It's 2:30 and still no sign of snow. As a matter of fact, it doesn't even appear to be raining. The streets are wet, so I know it's rained but nothing currently. The TCF time/temp clock says it's 41 degrees out. It said 43 degrees at 9 this morning. Could it be that we have our first "meterologist overreaction to storm potential" of the year?? I'm starting to think so. According to the weather folks, traffic should be sliding through intersections about now.

Since nothing interesting is happening weather-wise, here's a little tidbit of "Today in Music History." On this day in 1959, Johnny & the Moondogs - made up of future Beatles John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison - takes part in the finals of a talent competition in which the winner appears on English TV's Star Search. Unfortunately, the last bus back to Liverpool leaves before the judging is due to occur, and the band is forced to pull out.

And yes, I know it was Herman's Hermits that sang Bus Stop, not the Beatles. So sue me.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Slip and slide up the icy walkway

I was going to post something about the impending 4-8 inches of snow that's coming this morning this afternoon tonight tomorrow, but I see that the good folks at Surly have beat me to it. And said it better than I would have. So without further adieu, a friendly reminder from the good folks at Surly:

Old man Winter - who I believe has been on a bender in the Bahamas for the past few weeks - is set to power slide into our fair Minnesota this week. Tomorrow the weather dice-rollers are calling for a "90% chance of snow with significant accumulation likely."

When they say significant accumulation 'round these parts, folks take heed. Personally, I'm stoked. You can't really live here if you can't deal with snow. And that first dumper of the season (I said 'dump') is always so fancy.

Remember this, though, dear Surly devotees, Winter makes folks into even crappier drivers. They'll forget (even here in the North) that snow makes things slippery and they'll slide soundlessly through intersections. SUV drivers will be excited because no "significant accumulation" is going to stop them. Unfortunately, their brakes will also not be stopping them.

I think SUV drivers have that same sort of dream that snowmobilers have - that one day, the snow will be SO bad that they, and only they, will be mobile. "I'll go out for the diapers and insulin!" "My hero!"

So, the theme really is: be on the lookout for the 2 ton slidey chunk of death shusssing past your local stop sign.

I'm thinking of petitioning the appropriate governing board who makes these decistions to change the name of the season from "Winter" to "Pugsley."

Have a snowy and safe Pugsley.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

She's a Lady

Today it's November 10th, and I'm still riding. And, weirdly enough, I don't really want to stop. Over the last few years of commuting I always seem to hit a wall where I'm just not emotionally invested enough in riding to keep going once it gets too cold. I would need to go back and look at my logs, but I think I usually crap out sometime in October. But this year I'm not feeling that. I'm thinking that hey, there's a chance of snow next week. How am I going to deal with that on the bike?

I was browsing today, and saw an ad for a Bridgestone 300 mixte for $30. I'm thinking that would be a good bike to build into a winter commuter. I was thinking about riding my Raleigh through the winter. But I don't know if I've got the heart to do it. It's already starting to rust in spots, and I think a winter spent commuting could easily be it's death knell.

The Bridgestone seems like an ideal candidate for a winter commuter. It's a 22" bike, so it would be a little small on me, but rideable. Keep my feet closer to the ground for those icy spots. It's a 10 speed with 4130 cro mo and all stock. I could flip the handlebars and ride it as is or single it out. But, would I get beat up by the big kids on the playground for riding a "ladies" bike? Or does it make me a daring iconoclast? Thoughts?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Vote with Pedro

Last night I dropped by the local elementary school to vote on my way home from work. I brought my pannier in because a)I figured I would need my wallet. It turns out I didn't, apparently they trust anybody who bikes to the poll. Poll fraudsters take note. And b) I didn't want to leave it outside to get stolen because my wallet was in there. Since this took up one free hand, I decided to leave my helmet on so I still had the other hand to open doors and whatnot. Plus, I was sure I had a less than attractive case of helmet-hair.

The place was deserted, so the folks working the poll were desperate for entertainment. Fortunately, I was there to provide it. I got the feeling that they didn't get a lot of bikers showing up to vote. The conversation went something like:
Older gentleman: Wow, I didn't realize it was summer!
Me: It's not!
First Woman: So you biked here?
Me: [thinking, Well duh!] Yes, I stopped on my way home from work.
Second Woman: How far did you come?
Me: About 13 miles.
First Woman: [horrified] Each way??
Me: Yes.

I then got my ballot and went to vote. Once this was complete, I had a nice conversation with another woman who was sitting near the voting machine about how mild the winters have been here for the last few years. I waved goodbye and went back out to my bike.

While I was unlocking and getting ready to go, a younger couple came out of the school. They said to me, "Did you only get to vote for school board members?" I told them that I had. They thought there should be more. They had even asked the Older Gentleman if perhaps they didn't get part of the ballot. "I thought this was supposed to be a big deal." the woman said to me. I asked if maybe they were thinking about the Minneapolis and St. Paul elections, where they were electing Mayors and city council people and other 'big deals.' Ah, the light of recognition shone in both their faces. "Yes, that's probably what we were thinking about." said the man. They wandered off, still slightly puzzled but pleased that the mystery was solved.

Welcome to voting in the 'burbs.

They call the wind Mariah

Received via e-mail this morning:

Here is a current Wind Advisory for (Minneapolis, MN) until 11:30am, Wed Nov 9 2005, from your local National Weather Service office.


Fortunately I wasn't driving, I was riding. Does that mean I fall into the category of "unsecured objects"? All I know is that it was a tough ride in.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Weekend update

I'm nearly midway through a four day weekend, go me! The kids don't have school on Friday or Monday, so I'm not working. But, yesterday afternoon we drove to Belle Plaine and turned over custody to the grandparents until Monday. So we've been doing our best impression of being irresponsible kid free people.

Last night we finally went to see Serenity. I found it very enjoyable, but the Mrs. really really liked it. I'm sure that we'll be the proud owners of both the Firefly DVD and the Serenity DVD once it comes out. We barely made the theatrical showing, both in date and time. The movie came out September 19 according to Nancy and already it's only showing in three theaters here in the metro. We hauled butt in the minivan over to Hopkins 6 and just barely made it. Joel and I missed the first couple minutes standing in line for popcorn. Because we were late, we sat in the second to last row. When you go to the movies, there are pretty much three rules to live by:
1. Don't talk
2. Turn off your cell phone
3. Don't take young kids to inappropriate movies

Fortunately for us, we had folks behind us who were not aware of any of these rules. They brought two small kids with them. Kids who probably shouldn't have seen the movie because it's got a fair amount of violence. And they were certainly old enough to figure out what was going on. One of the kids talked through a lot of the picture. And, both the mom and the dad had their cell phones ring during the movie at separate times. It was fabulous. After the movie we went to the Big 10 bar next door and had a few beers and appetizers.

Tonight we were supposed to go out with Nancy's brother, but they called around 1:00 and asked if we could do lunch instead (sure, we don't have kids this weekend, we can do whatever we want!). So we went to Don Pablo's and had a couple of really big margaritas. Tonight we've been mostly sitting around. I'm working on a website for my web development class. The margaritas were a big help in that effort.

Tomorrow, I've gotta finish the site. The project is due Monday. Plus, I should act somewhat responsible and rake some leaves before it snows.

Friday, November 04, 2005

la Machine

Birthplace: Taiwan
Height: 22" (center to center)
Weight: 35 lbs
Ambitions: To ride cyclocross
Turn ons: Bike lanes
Turn offs: Angry drivers, potholes
Biggest Weakness: Heavy, low top end gearing
My Best Asset: Ability to go anywhere and do nearly anything

This is the first real bike I ever got as an adult. I got it in college (thanks Dad!) and used it as my main mode of transportation for several years in the Fargo/Moorhead area. I was doing year round commuting on this bike way back when, and it gets cold up north there. This is also the last new bike I've purchases. Everything else I own has been a used special.

Over the years I've added on a few items, the rack, lights, bar ends, old school toe clips. This is the only bike I own with a kickstand. It's a cross bike that was made when mountain bikes were newer and popular, and it came with bigger tires. I've since replaced them with skinnier Ritchey 700x30 Speed Max tires. They've got better rolling resistance and go through light snow better than the big meats.

This is the bike I probably should be riding for day to day commuting all year round, but I've relegated it to just a foul weather/dark day bike since I like riding the Schwinn. But I feel much more secure on this bike, I know it's probably going to be able to handle just about anything I come across during the commute. Especially now that the time change has me riding home in the dark, I can't see the bumps in the street as well and this one handles them better than the Schwinn.

There's something comforting about riding this bike. With my other bikes, if I haven't ridden them in a while it takes me a few miles to readjust to the bike's individual handling and feel. But every time I get on this one it's like putting on that favorite pair of shoes that fit just right. I know it won't last forever. It's a steel framed bike, and there are subtle stress cracks near the head tube indicating that I've hit a few curbs or other low lying objects a little too hard. And if I continue to ride it during the winter the salt is going to eat it alive. And that will make me sad. But, it's better than just letting it rot in the garage.

Monday, October 31, 2005

You picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel

Happy freakin' Halloween! Two interesting things happened on the way home tonight. First, I definitely noticed that daylight saving's time has ended. I left work early to get home and take the kiddos trick or treating and noticed that it's dark now. That means I've gotta get a light situation figured out for Betty, or stop riding her. Because it's going to be real dark, real soon at my normal commute time.

If you made it through that only marginally interesting observation, here's the payoff. Such that it is. The other interesting thing that happened tonight had nothing to do with the time change. As I neared the intersection of Sibley Memorial Highway and Highway 13 I was about to take a right onto Hwy 13. A little red Chevy S-10 came up behind me, gunned it really hard to get past me (even though I was well on the shoulder) and then immediately hit the brakes so he could take the right hand turn first. So I had to brake so I didn't run into him. I love that. But, as he was going around the corner, his spare tire fell off! It was one of those little ones that mounts underneath the bed of the truck, and it just fell flat as a pancake right in the middle of the street and laid there. Right in my path.

A quick bit of reflexes and a speedy manuver just barely kept me from going straight into the tire and most likely head over heels to the pavement. I yelled and tried to wave the guy down, thinking he'll probably want that tire at some point, but he didn't notice me or the fact that the tire had come loose. Oh well. Nothing like a hastening twilight and some random car droppings to liven up the daily commute.

Busted flat

I got a flat tire on the Raleigh about two weeks ago, right before our San Fran trip. I can't remember the last time I've had a flat on any of my bikes, so I wasn't too upset about it. Plus, it was nice enough to go flat overnight so I realized it in the morning and could quick switch to another bike (you can't have too many bikes!) rather than being stuck out patching a tube on the side of the road.

So yesterday I pulled the wheel off and took out the old tube. I felt around on the inside of the tire and finally found a teeny tiny sharp something. If my wife is reading this, I will disavow all knowledge of the next sentence. I couldn't get it out with my pliers so I went inside and got a tweezer from the bathroom and pulled out a tiny sliver of metal. It was small and cylindrical, like maybe a piece from a cable? I'm not sure what it was. I was going to take a picture of it, but my daughter wanted to see it and I accidentally dropped it when I was going to show it to her. But wondering what it was is kind of secondary to wondering how it got there.

It was pretty flexible, so I just don't know how it managed to go all the way through the thickest part of my tire. I'm running Ritchey Cross 700x30 tires on this bike, so they're not huge meats or anything, but they've got little knobbies toward the side and this bugger went right through one.

Oh well, it's out, new tube is in and the tire is back on the bike. I even spent some time degunking the rear triangle and drivetrain. This is my foul weather bike, so it tends to collect more than it's fair share of crap on it. You would think the rain would wash some of that away, but no.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

New Shirt

It's here. It's ugly, but it's here. New MS150 jersey. Only 5 months afer the event, but what the heck, it's free.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Tour de France!

Thanks to Mr. Cleary for pointing out that the new TdF schedule is up. And thanks for the laugh from my friend Sparky who, when I e-mailed him this info replied, "Good lord man - that's over 6 months away - we might be at war with France by that time."

Saturday, July 1: Prologue in Strasbourg - 7 km
Sunday, July 2: 1st stage - Strasbourg - Strasbourg - 183 km
Monday, July 3: 2nd stage - Obernai - Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg) - 223 km
Tuesday, July 4: 3rd stage - Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg) - Valkenburg (Netherlands) - 216 km
Wednesday, July 5: 4th stage - Huy (Belgium) - Saint-Quentin - 215 km
Thursday, July 6: 5th stage - Beauvais - Caen - 219 km
Friday, July 7: 6th stage - Lisieux - Vitre - 184 km
Saturday, July 8: 7th stage - Saint-Gregoire - Rennes (individual time trial) - 52 km
Sunday, July 9: 8th stage - Saint-Meen-le-Grand - Lorient - 177 km
Monday, July 10: Rest day in Bordeaux
Tuesday, July 11: 9th stage - Bordeaux - Dax - 170 km
Wednesday, July 12: 10th stage - Cambo-les-Bains - Pau - 193 km
Thursday, July 13: 11th stage - Tarbes - Val d'Aran, Pla-de-Beret (Spain) 208 km
Friday, July 14: 12th stage - Luchon - Carcassonne - 211 km
Saturday, July 15: 13th stage - Beziers - Montelimar - 231 km
Sunday, July 16: 14th stage - Montelimar - Gap - 181 km
Monday, July 17: Rest day in Gap
Tuesday, July 18: 15th stage - Gap - L'Alpe d'Huez - 187 km
Wednesday, July 19: 16th stage - Le Bourg d'Oisans - La Toussuire - 182 km
Thursday, July 20: 17th stage - Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - Morzine - 199 km
Friday, July 21: 18th stage - Morzine - Macon - 193 km
Saturday, July 22: 19th stage - Le Creusot - Montceau-les-Mines (individual time trial) - 56 km
Sunday, July 23: 20th stage - Antony - Paris (Champs-Elysées) - 152 km

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sausalito Summer Night

We did it. We biked the Golden Gate Bridge on Friday. We had a great time, all in all, visiting San Francisco. But in my mind this was the best day there.

Friday morning we started with a lovely breakfast at The Blue Mermaid and then bid our travelling companions goodbye. They had decided to rent a GoCar for the day. We headed to Blazing Saddles and told them that we wanted to try a tandem. Because if you've never been on a tandem before a strange city is the perfect place to try it out, right?

The guy got us all set up on the tandem, took our picture and told us to have fun. Since we needed to get Alcatraz tickets first and the ticket window was three blocks from Blazing Saddles, the wrong way down the one way, I asked him if there was another way to go. He just told us to ride against traffic and not worry about it. Because hey, it's California. We wobbled off against traffic and got onto the sidewalk. We were able to get to the ticket window without incident, but during the three block ride we decided that the tandem was not the way to go. After finding out that Alcatraz was sold out (don't fret, we got tickets the next day) we wobbled back to Blazing Saddles and traded the tandem for two Marin cross bikes. He had them all ready to go because, as he said, he "knew we would be back."

So we set off toward the bridge, following the Embarcadero along the waterfront. Soon Fisherman's Wharf gave way to The Presidio, a military fort since 1776. Once we travelled through The Presidio we reached the base of the bridge. We stopped at the little shop located there to buy a scarf as it was a chilly morning and N wanted something to keep her neck warm. We also bought waters and a couple of Clif Bars and headed onto the bridge.

About half way across we stopped for pictures. We met another couple that had rented bikes and took one another's pictures. We continued to meet them from time to time as we rode into Sausalito. And, oddly enough we ran into them the next morning on Haight and Ashbury. Small world.

The first half of our bridge ride was shrouded in fog, but as we got toward the other side the fog started to burn off nicely. Once we got off the bridge we stopped at the scenic overlook and took a few more pics, then headed into Sausalito. I'm not sure if we took a wrong turn or if the bike path doesn't exist there, but we rode from the bridge on two lane road with minimal to no shoulder. Once in Sausalito we had great bike lanes.

We stopped for lunch at the Cafe Trieste and decided not to push on toward Tiburon. We'd only ridden about 6 miles, but it had taken about 3 hours. We stopped and looked at everything even remotely interesting, plus we decided to just take it easy and even pushed our bikes up many of the hills. With that decision made, we were free to continue exploring. We wandered the marina in Sausalito, looking at the amazing boats there. Then we rode to the other end of town. On the way back we stopped in at the LBS and checked it out. We talked bikes with the german guy working there, and I bought a new pair of bike gloves which were long overdue.

We boarded the ferry back to San Fran and enjoyed the fact that the fog was mostly gone and got a great view of the bay. Once back on land we had quite an odyssey trying to find Coit Tower but we eventually located it. After going up for more great views we talked to our friends and agreed to meet up for dinner.

On the way back to the hotel Nancy nearly died due to my foolishness. We were descending down a moderate hill riding side by side in the Full Width Bike Lane (San Fran's bike lanes rock) when the streetcar line joined our lane. We both slowed up approaching the tracks and got into single file. I moved out in between the two rails to give Nancy more room to pull along side me. But she instead followed me onto the streetcar line. We rode single file to the next intersection. As I entered the intersection two things happened at the same time. The first was the light turned yellow. The second was the streetcar tracks took a sharp turn to the left. I noticed the tracks turning and angled my tire to avoid hitting the track on too much of a parallel. But Nancy was trying to make the light and didn't get quite the angle I did. When I looked back, she was in a mid-wipe out pose, and there was a small white car bearing down on her as she threatened to spill over into the next lane. The quick reaction of the driver plus her mad bike skilz worked together and she kept the bike upright and escaped with only a sore ankle. We returned the bikes, cleaned up, hit the hotel wine reception and then went to dinner.

I want to publicly thank Nancy for coming along with me on this little adventure. She enjoys cycling, but not nearly as much as I do. I could tell she was hesitant when I first mentioned the idea. But I wouldn't have had nearly as much fun on my own. I wouldn't have taken nearly as many pictures, I wouldn't have stopped nearly as often and I wouldn't have explored as much as we did. The fact that she was with me made it the best day in San Fran, and it made this 7 hour, 10 mile trip one of the best rides I've taken. I love you, honey. Thanks for a great day.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I want to get back

Things learned in San Francisco:

  1. Do bike the Golden Gate bridge, it's awesome

  2. Don't bike on the streetcar tracks

  3. It's almost impossible to get a bad meal

  4. Don't order the Chef's Special Chow Mein in Chinatown

  5. BART is very convenient

  6. BART is extremely noisy

  7. Delta will hold your flight to allow other passengers who are delayed to catch the plane

  8. Don't assume Delta will extend the same courtesy to you and call ahead so you don't miss your connecting flight. They didn't.

  9. Salt Lake City isn't the worst place to be stuck after missing a connecting flight due to airline incompetence

  10. San Fran is a great town

Thursday, October 13, 2005


As I was leaving work yesterday afternoon I had the following conversation with a co-worker:

Co-Worker: You're biking today, right?
Me: Yep.
CW: How long do you do this?
Me: (misinterpreting her question) Oh, about 13 miles.
CW: No, I mean how long into winter? How long before you get some sense?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wild, wild life

I'm really getting into the swing of this whole commute-by-bike-to-school thing. Of course I'm not really doing the whole thing by bike, so perhaps that makes me something of a poseur. Whatever.

Things are definitely different out there once the lights go out. Three weeks ago I wrote about my close encounter with three frightened racoons (Homeless attack!). Last week on my way through Harriet I had a close encounter with a skunk. He or she was minding his or her own business by the side of the trail when I came whizzing by. Alarmed, he or she lifted his or her tail and showed me the business end of her or his scent glands. Fortunately, by the time the tail went up I had gone by, so there was no tomato juice bath in my future.

This Monday I tried a slightly different route home. Instead of taking the bridge into Harriet and riding the trail near Water Street I went down to Shepard Road and took the bike path that runs parallel to it. This path is nice and wide, straight and well lit. The Water Street/Lilydale Road path is dark and narrow. It also twists and turns through the woods, blocking any potential moonlight.

As I rode along I saw something ahead in the path. It was a deer. The deer was standing perpendicular to the path so I couldn't have gone around it (switching to the gender neutral pronoun to avoid that silly his or her stuff) if I wanted to. The deer stared at me, and I slowed down and stared back. After a few seconds it turned and ran into the brush along with two other deer that had been lying down, hidden, next to the trail.

When I reached 35E the trail forked and I wasn't sure which direction to head. I'd never ridden this trail before, so I was going on faith. I was pretty sure that if I headed south I would meet up with the Lilydale trail. I started to head south, but saw a tunnel under 35E and decided to try that instead. Once through the tunnel I saw another deer, this time just slightly off the path. I rode along until I reached Crosby Farm park. I knew there wasn't anywhere to safely cross the river by bike in that direction so I turned around.

On my return trip to the tunnel I saw another group of three deer. They were in the same spot as the single I'd seen before, so it may have been the same deer and friends. I headed south and followed the trail up to the 35E bridge that crosses the river. On my way to the bridge I saw one more deer just for luck, bringing my total for the night to either 7 or 8 depending on how you score the potential duplicate.

The 35E bridge brought me right to my old trail, dark, twisty and wooded. And you know, a part of me prefers that. At least now that my new headlight has shown up.

Friday, October 07, 2005


This was a weird week for biking. Monday the temps were in the 80s with the dewpoints in the 70s, even well into the evening. I took the bus over to St Paul for night class and rode my bike from downtown to Metro State, just about a mile. That ride had me sweatier than just about any short distance I've done this summer. It was unbelieveably humid. I missed Tuesday because I needed to be in to work at 6:00 am and just couldn't drag myself out of bed early enough to ride. Probably a good thing because it started raining like mad that morning and didn't stop until we had 5-6 inches.

I rode Wednesday, Thursday and today as the temps kept falling. Wednesday morning it was about 40 degrees and there was a little rain but not bad. Yesterday it was closer to 35 and this morning it was about 33 degrees. But comfortable riding weather. I was colder last Wednesday when it was raining than I have been this week.

I've been wearing my bike vest, which is very thin but a great windshell. I wish I would have bought the identical jacket when I bought this one, because the vest will only carry me so far. I'm bidding on a Pearl Izumi bike jacket/vest on eBay right now that looks like it would do the trick. It's currently at $5.00. I also noticed that I'm going to need to get a new headband to replace the one I lost last spring. My ears felt just a bit chilly. Not bad, but another 10 degrees colder and I'll be feeling it.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Long Time Woman

From an article about the Harmon Hundred bike ride in eastern Wisconsin comes the story of one amazing lady:

Phyllis Harmon is not new to cycling. She wasn't new to cycling when she founded the Wheeling Wheelmen in 1970, either. And chances are, she wasn't new to cycling when most of us were born. Phyllis has been bicycling since 1928.

When Phyllis was 12 years old, she saved up $28 to buy her first bicycle, a red single-speed Ernie McKay Special bike with 28-inch wheels.

"I'd bike to my grandfather's house seven miles away," she said. "Then we moved to nine miles from his house and I'd bike there."

In 1933, Phyllis biked to a picnic lunch in Des Plaines, which was 18 miles from her house, making for a 36-mile trip. At that point, she realized that she could ride long distances. When she was 15, she rode alone and without any bicycle gear 80 miles from her house to Tichigan, a lake in Wisconsin.

Since then, her love of cycling has yet to cease. Savio said that Phyllis has been a member of the League of American Bicyclists (formerly the League of American Wheelmen) since 1937. She is also the past director, vice president of the league and editor of the national magazine. Currently, she's the Honorary Director of the league.

Phyllis started many area cycling clubs besides the Wheeling Wheelmen. "We kid her as being the mother of all bicycling clubs," Savio said.

At age 73, Phyllis cycled across America. She also has led seven tours of New Zealand. And today, at 85, she still tries to bike despite some minor setbacks.

"I've shrunk three and a half inches," she said. "As a result, it's harder to get on and off. Those are the frustrating things about getting older."