Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Everybody, meet Chuck

This is, oxymoronically, my newest bike and my oldest bike.

I stopped by the neighbors' house this weekend because they were having a moving sale. They didn't have much out yet, but this bike was leaning against the side of their garage. I asked if they were planning on selling it and the neighbor said yes.

It's a Montgomery Wards Hawthorne. I don't know the exact age, but I'm guessing 50's or 60's vintage. It's a single speed with a coaster brake. Note the conspicuous lack of any cables, brake or shifter.

Dig those built in reflectors. This pic is kind of a weird angle, but there's a reflector on the head tube and one on either side of the fork.

Not only Chromage, but Superchromix as well! It sounds something out of DC Comics where two brothers that were exposed to gamma rays and one turned into a SuperHero and the other into a SuperVillan (The Adventures of SuperChromix and his archrival, Chromage!)

Sweet logo.

The neighbor asked for $5. I checked my wallet and only had $2. It was, in his words, "Good enough." Which was good enough for me. I've been referring to the bike as Chuck, named after Charles Shaw Wine's affectionate nickname, Two Buck Chuck.

The tires hold air (though they really should be replaced), everything that's supposed to move moves, and everything that's not supposed to move doesn't move (with the exception of the cracked support in the seat). And it's fun as all get out to ride.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hydrate me big daddy, 8 to the bar

Our kids were sicker than sick dogs a few weeks ago. Really high fevers, in the 104 degree range. While this makes them really easy to care for since they just lay there in a heap, it's also pretty scary. We talked to the doctor about fluids and he recommended plain old Gatorade. "Not pedialyte?" we asked. Nope. Turns out pedialyte has done a fine marketing job, but Gatorade works just as well for a lot less money. So we bought some Gatorade and forced the kids to drink about half of the bottle.

One day after my commute I decided to finish off the rest. I don't usually drink energy drinks or anything other than water because after a long ride that stuff makes my stomach upset. But man if this didn't hit the spot. So then I had the dilemma: Should I buy more? While it's cheaper than pedialyte, it runs about a buck a quart minimum for the powdered stuff, even more for the liquid. That's more than a gallon of gas!

So, I did what any tight, web savvy biker would do. I checked out my friend, the interweb. There's plenty of recipes for homebrew Gatorade out there, but nothing that sounded really really easy. Sunday I made a trip to the store. Here's the concoction I ended up going with:
Country Time Pre-Sweetened Lemonade Mix
Morton Lite Salt
Net investment, about $6.

I mixed up two quarts of Country Time and added 3/4 a teaspoon of the lite salt. I got the lite because it's basically already pre-mixed with salt and potassium, both of which were in the recipes I found online. It tastes pretty much like gatorade and it couldn't be easier to whip up. The lemonade already has a built in measurer for it's mix, and then just one quick dash of the lite salt. Nice.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

To Joe's defense

My letter sparked a reaction!

Joe did not break the law

[Velocipete]'s Aug. 21 letter ("Which bikers have to obey laws, Joe?"), chastises Joe Souchery for saying he drove through a red traffic light while on his motorcycle may have been misdirected and uninformed. Saunders seems to be taken aback at Joe's comment and points out what he views as some hypocrisy. I did not see Joe's mention of his riding through red traffic signals, so some of this is pure assumption on my part.

Minnesota Statute 169.06 subd. 9 allows for an affirmative defense to a citation for failing to obey a traffic control device by the rider of a motorcycle in situations where the person has: brought the motorcycle to a complete stop, the signal shows red for an unreasonable period of time, the signal has appeared to have failed in detecting the motorcycle's presence (and therefore not cycled the signal) and the motorcycle proceeds so as not constitute a hazard to other traffic.

Unfortunately, there are too many people that have erroneous views of what is and is not legal on Minnesota's roads.

So, folks, be well informed before you are well heard.


St. Paul

The writer is a drug recognition expert for the Minnesota State Patrol.

And the response generated a response of my own!

I would like to thank Sgt. Don Marose for clarifying the law that allows Joe Soucheray and other bikers to bypass a red light. Due to the weight of cycles and the technical limitation of metered traffic signals, this seems fair and reasonable. I assume all bicyclists should be able to utilize this affirmative defense, since by law "Every person operating a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle" (Minnesota Statute Section 169.222, Subdivision 1).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Craptacular week

Don't let the title deceive you, I've actually had a pretty good week. I got to go sailing Monday and Wednesday, the last two nights of this year's sailing class. Wednesday afternoon I took off work and headed out to the lake early. Jim, another instructor, had the same idea and arrived at the boathouse about 10 minutes after I did, so we took out a couple of Sunfish and rode the 15 mph winds like crazy. It was a complete blast.

The craptacular part concerns biking. The Miyata is still half disassembled in the garage, and I'm having a hard time finding time to work on it (see sailing twice a week for explanation). I've only ridden once this week, and it was the second half of the commute I started last Tuesday. I was going to ride today, but last night I tripped on one of the concrete pilings in the water while we were loading boats. I lost my balance, fell backward and about 175 pounds of Sunfish landed on my knee. It got scraped pretty well and swelled like mad. It didn't hurt much last night, but it's feeling stiff today. I took two Aleve this morningand the pain has been decent, but no sense pushing it. The kids are gone for the weekend and I have tomorrow off, so I'm hoping to get a long ride in one of these next few days.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ride, interrupted

It's been a quiet week in, oh wait, nevermind.

But honestly, it has been a quiet week for me. I last rode to work on Tuesday, forgetting that I was going to my folk's house for dinner afterward. So I hitched a ride there with the wife and kids and left my bike in the underground parking garage. Wednesday was sailing class so no biking then. I brought my bike stuff on Thursday but for some reason I don't recall I didn't ride home. I had a vacation day on Friday, out of town wedding, visit to friends and drywalling over the weekend. So the end result is that it's Monday and my bike's still in the basement, unridden.

I did manage to get some tinkering in on the Miyata over the weekend. I got a new shifting mechanism on eBay and installed that last night. I managed to completely mangle the old foam handlebar grip, which needed to be replaced anyway. It was patched up with black electrical tape when I bought it, so every time I ride the bike it leaves a sticky residue on my hands. I didn't care for this, which is why I didn't spend a lot of time being careful with the grip. I ran out of time, so I didn't get the shifter adjusted properly, but it's hooked up. I also managed to mangle the brake cable, so I'm going to be buying another of those too. If it isn't one thing, it's another.

Oh, and the Pioneer Press printed my letter to the editor on Sunday!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mayor of Hypocrite-ville?

I realize I'm a little late to the party, but Joe Soucheray's column about Lance Armstrong really stuck in my craw. But I couldn't figure out what was bugging me about it (besides the obvious) until tonight.

Joe's a motorcycle head. And I remember him writing about the woes of riding a motorcycle that's not heavy enough to trigger the traffic light sensors. It may have been last summer, as he's been talking about nothing but scooters this summer. But my (increasingly faulty) memory said that he was having a problem with a left turn light on Highway 36 somewhere out in the Oakdale area. So, I wrote the following letter to the editor. Hopefully I was vague enough, yet specific enough to make somebody go look in the archives.

I read Joe Soucheray's July 27th column about Lance Armstrong where Joe refers to the "hordes of uniformed bicycle riders who ignore the traffic laws because they are in training to become the next Lance Armstrong and cannot be bothered with trivial matters such as red lights."

I distinctly recall reading in one of Joe's not so recent columns that he had taken it upon himself to go through the red lights while riding his motorcycle. The reason behind this is that his bike does not have enough weight to trigger the traffic sensor and cause the light to change. Perhaps in his next column Joe can outline exactly which situations it's OK to disregard traffic laws in, because this honest bicycle rider is honestly confused.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I'm sure it can't be *that* hard

I had a good ride on Friday, 42 km on the regular commute route, Minnehaha Blvd in the morning and then River Road in the evening. Not much to say other than it was nice to get back on the bike after the last two weeks. The kids have been sick so I've been taking time off to stay with them, and between that and sailing it's cut into my riding.

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. And one of my favorite parts is when Vizzini, believing he's tricked the Man in Black, says "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The first is never get involved in a land war in Asia. The second, only slightly less well known, is this: never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha ha -- (he stops abrubtly and falls over, dead)"

Why do I bring this up? Because it's obvious that Vizzini has never disassembled a Shimano STI shifter mechanism. Clearly this blunder belongs high on the list of classic blunders. How do I know, you ask? Well, currently there is a pile of STI parts on the floor of my garage. Right now, that land war in Asia is looking kind of promising, compared to the task that lies ahead.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Mo' money!

Bush signed the highway bill yesterday. And while this bill was so full of special interest pork, it's still a good thing because approximately $3 billion was allocated toward biking and walking trail development. Here in the Twin Cities we're supposed to get about $25 million of that. According to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a bicycle advocacy group, Minneapolis already has more people biking to work than any other city — 2.63 percent of commuters. I'm happy to be one of them. But 2.63%? That's puny.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Year to date mileage

We recently switched insurance companies, due to a vast quantity of incompetence shown by our local insurance agent. When filling out the paperwork for the new company, the Mrs. asked me how many miles I drive per year. I knew that when I bought my truck in March of 2004 it had 190,000 miles on it and that I was at about 198,000 so I guessed at 4,000 per year. After that, I remembered that many of those miles were from moving last summer, so I figured I had overestimated a bit, but didn't think much of it.

Sunday I went to help a friend haul some sheetrock and had to gas up on the way. I checked my mileage log (yes, I'm a dork) and found that I had put on approximately 2,200 miles since January. Then when I got home I checked my bike mileage log (yes, a big dork) and saw that I'd put on about 850 bike miles since March.

The ratio between the two makes me happy for some reason.


My name's Pete, I ride my bike a fair amount. That is all. :)