Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Water, cool water.

Date: February 28
Mileage: 20
Ride type: Commute
February mileage: 182
Year to date mileage: 429

The other day I posted two pictures of a green pump to display how wonderfully bright it's been getting in these parts. I'm sure most of you were impressed and thinking things like, "Dang, that VelociPete really has it going on. Planning a month ahead and taking pictures of the pump to show us how light it's getting. I should really buy him something nice." But sadly, this isn't the case. I took the original picture of the pump in January intending to post it along with a quick ode to the pump. I got as far as uploading the picture. Fast forward to February. I stopped and took another picture of the pump, again with the same plan. Finally, in a desperate attempt to use the pictures I came up with the daylight demonstration scheme. It all worked out in the end, and I got a nice post out of the deal. Feel free to still buy me something nice.

I do really like that pump. That pump nearly saved my life once (claim exaggerated for effect). It was one of those really hot days last summer, and I hadn't drank nearly enough water at work before heading out. If I remember correctly, there was lots of pop and coffee involved that day. I headed out and started sweating immediately. I found that I had also forgotten to fill my water bottle before leaving. So I rode a few miles and then came to the hill on the River Road Trail where the road passes under Franklin Ave. I don't like that hill much. It's not too long, but just long enough. And it's not too steep, but just steep enough. And the kicker is, once you get to the top where it looks like it's flat, there's really a gentle incline still there so it takes forever to get back to speed. Climbing the hill isn't such a problem, but it's the mental toll at the top when you can't help beating yourself up because you can't get going on this flat surface.

The pump is another 1/4 mile or so up the trail. This day, by the time I reached the pump I was parched. I stopped, pumped the handle and filled my bottle. The water tasted great. And the great thing is, the water from this thing always tastes great. It's not purified by reverse osmosis. It's not from a fancy spring in France. It's good old, naturally cooled, full of rust and minerals, and the best tasting stuff. Now I make it a point to keep my bottle on the low side so I can stop and fill it up with the pump.

To enjoy this treat yourself, there's a process to follow. Pump the handle a few times and watching the water start to trickle out of the drinking fountain. Keep pumping and you get a respectable stream equal to any indoor water fountain. This is where the amateurs normally stop. Don't. You want the stream to be so high that it looks like it's in danger of overshooting the bowl. That's when you stop pumping, stick your bottle under the faucet dispenser and pull the lever. If you did it right, you can fill your bottle and still have enough pressure to get a nice long drink from the fountain. They could bottle and sell this stuff, but it wouldn't be the same if you didn't pump it yourself.

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Blogebrity has released it's A-list, B-list and C-list rating of blogs. I checked, you're not there. Neither am I. But, what kind of world are we living in when Chewbacca only rates a B-list ranking??

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Why is there a weiner on your website?

Perhaps it's because I'm the son of a librarian. My mother is a law librarian, not the true "Shhhhh!" type you would find in the public library. And if there's any group that stands up against the man for First Amendment rights, it's librarians. Just google "librarian & censorship" and you'll get "about 645,000 for librarian & censorship." These folks are activists who whisper. Trust me.

I've always been opposed to censorship. If we can't see something, discuss it and attempt to understand it, we create an environment of fear, hostility and repression. I feel this most strongly about books and other printed materiels. A case could be made about the internet being different. The sheer quantity of porn available is amazing. And yet, so is the amount of good, helpful and free information. It gets kind of grey as to where those lines cross. And honestly, I'm not sure there is a line. It's just a matter of what is appropriate for whom. And that, in a nutshell, is why I don't like companies like Secure Computing. The folks at boingboing have done a much more eloquent job of explaining why filtering software doesn't work so I won't go into depth here. Suffice it to say, it don't work. We have this stuff at work, and yet if I wanted to I could dial up pictures of naked chicks all day long. I don't, because I prefer to remain gainfully employed. And I'm sure any 13 year old kid could do the same.

So, back to the weiner. Boingboing reader Kurt von Finck "created the attached button (standard 120x90 size) that BB readers can put on their sites. It features the pubic region of Michelangelo's David sculpture, uses fairly neutral colors, and is taken from public domain stock photography. I release this work into the public domain, relinquish any claims over its use, and encourage BB readers to put it on their sites.

Maybe if enough of us do so, SmartFilter will just collapse under the weight of its own odious censoring."

It's over there, in the sidebar. It will remain there. It's my way of figuratively misquoting Dr. Johnny Fever. "Oh, I almost forgot, fellow babies... WEINER!!" Sorry if you're offended. We now return you to your regularly scheduled bike blog.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Weekend Update

It's been a hell of a nice weekend here in Pete Land. Friday night we went to Family Fun Night at the girls' school. You haven't lived until you've been in an elementary school gym on a Friday watching young'uns boogie their hearts out to songs you used to boogie your heart out to in college. And it's a lot like a college dance. It started out pretty orderly and everybody followed the conventions they were expected to follow. But as the night dragged on, soon dancers were falling down and running into each other and laughing hysterically. The only difference is that here the kids weren't sneaking out for beers. And once you've heard the extended dance mix of The Hampster Dance, you'll know you can die. Maybe not happy, but you can die. Quickly, if possible.

Saturday was good too. I had to work, but only for a couple of hours and I managed to get in some rare daylight riding time. The girls, still riding the Family Fun Night high, were completely adorable and played together nicely all day. That right there is enough to make my weekend. I made an italian pot roast for dinner, but used a homebrewed Scottish Wee Heavy instead of the red wine the recipe called for. It turned out really well.

Today I hit the Bike Swap over in St Paul. I wasn't planning on buying much, but it was great fun to walk around and just look at stuff. I did end up with a new wheelset. Campagnolo wheelsetI was looking for a wheelset for the orange bike, and these are a little nicer than what I was hoping for. But they're Campy with brand new Panaracer tires and new tubes. The guy selling them had to make a quick phone call to his girlfriend to OK the haggle price, so I think I did alright. I also stopped and picked up a water bottle from Jim at Hiawatha Cyclery with my last $5. Hiawatha cyclery waterbottleIt was nice to meet Jim though he looked a little shell-shocked, probably from the sheer volume of people he'd talked to. I didn't show up until about 11am, and it sounds like business was steady the whole morning from conversations I had and overheard. On my way out the door I passed somebody who looked like Annie, but I wasn't sure and needed to get to the grocery store. If it was you Annie, Hi! I spent the afternoon swimming at the Y with the kids. We stopped of on the way home and got some new fish for the aquarium, since we needed to get more fish food anyway. And now I'm relaxing and reading blogs while watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics wind down. I just heard this morning that my cousin has a very real chance of going to the Olympics in 2010 as part of the women's curling team, so I'm extremely excited for her.

Even though things can get stressful and overwhelming at times and my newest bike is well over 10 years old, life is good.

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Damn vandals

I was still thinking about how amazing the difference was last week with the increased daylight. But I couldn't figure out a way to quantitatively demonstrate it. But then I remembered that I could! Last month, I stopped and took a picture of the pump that is by the River Road trail. Here it is from January 23:
january pump

As you can see, it's dark. The pump is lit up by my Planet Bike Alias 10w headlight and the flash from the camera. But it's a localized pool of light which quickly fades to black outside the immediate circle.

Now, here's the second shot. It's the same pump at roughly the same time of day, around 5:30 or so. Whenever I get from downtown Minneapolis to this spot.
February pump

This picture was just taken on Thursday. Notice how light it is! You can see the line of the sun hitting the river bluff on the other side of the Mississippi. Beautiful. No flash, no headlight. Spring is coming. Sometimes we just need to prove it to ourselves. Keep your chin up, it will be bike shorts weather before you know it.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

She's real fine, my 409

Date: February 25
Mileage: 22 (per gmaps pedometer)
Ride type: Commute
February mileage: 162
Year to date mileage: 409

That's right, it's the rare and elusive Saturday commute. I don't work a lot of Saturdays, and when I do I usually drive in. But not today. Thursday's ride reminded me how much better riding is than driving or taking the train, and the thought of a full AM and PM commute in daylight was too tantalizing to turn down. However, the wind out of the northwest was a bugger on the way in. I kept on pedaling and chanting my mantra: "The ride home will be worth it."

Work was fine. I was just doing some post-install checkout, which is a task I kind of enjoy. Nobody's around, the lights are off and it's peaceful. I turned on MPR's Sounds Eclectic and got to work. It took me longer to get done than I thought, so I scrapped my original thought of doing some off-route exploring and headed straight home. The ride home was worth it. Beautiful sunshine, a near perfect tailwind, and the satisfaction of a job well done.

Today's ride brought my year to date total to 409 (unless I misadded). Most folks think of the cleaning spray, but I think of the Beach Boys when I hear that number. When I was a kid my grandmother had a rack of 45s left by her kids and I believe 409 was the B-side to a more popular tune. But it was always one of my favorites and was in heavy rotation whenever we would visit. Not as heavy as The Fendermen's Mule Skinner Blues, but it was up there. Speaking of 45s, according to Musician's Friend, the 45 was originally introduced this week in 1949. By 1955 they were outselling 78s for the first time. For you youngsters. I'm talking about vinyl. Your parents and grandparent's version of an iPod.
45 record
I've got that old Mule Skinner Blues 45 and a bunch of others from grandma sitting behind my basement bar. I've also got a green steel box of square dance 45s that they used to take to the local dance hall. I should find a platter (those things the DJs use to scratch) and give 'em a listen.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Return to Form

Date: February 23
Mileage: 20
Ride type: Commute
February mileage: 140
Year to date mileage: 387

As promised, I rode yesterday. It had been 8 days, and as I wrote yesterday I had been feeling a bit of burnout. But after riding home yesterday I realized that taking some time off was the best thing I could have done. That trail home was completely new. I'm not sure if anybody else has noticed, but it's starting to get lighter in the evening. Even though it was barely a week, that translates into 12 extra minutes of daylight according to the folks at timeanddate.com. What does 12 minutes mean to me? 12 minutes means that I don't have to turn my big headlight on until I'm through Minnehaha Park and crossing into Fort Snelling. And Fort Snelling means I'm practically home. I can tell it's not summer though. In summertime the sun sets and you get a long, langorous descent into darkness. You can finish mowing the lawn after sunset and still see what you're doing. You don't need to turn the patio light on for a while. In the winter, the sun goes down and 5 minutes later it's dark. So even though it was dark quick, I don't mind. It was still 12 more minutes.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah

So I haven't ridden my bike in nearly a week. My schedule this last week has been sort of erratic, so mostly it was for good reasons. I either had something going on after work or it just wasn't very convenient. But if the truth is to be told, I didn't really want to ride much. If a reason came along it was very easy for me to not ride. I tend to regard biking as an activity that has an ebb and a flow. I've noticed that during the summer my mileage in July tends to drop. It used to be because we had a large annual camping event toward the end of the month and I would stop commuting because of the constant errands I needed to run (Honey, I'm going to the liquor store. Yes, Again.) Couple that with about 9 days of vacation and the commuting mileage for July is next to nil. But we haven't been able to make the annual event the last two years and my mileage has still dipped in July. I'm guessing that my body is just telling me that it needs a little time out of the saddle. As I get older, I'm getting smarter about listening to what my body is telling me. Perhaps as I get old I'll start listening to what the universe is trying to tell me too. Perhaps.

Barry Manilow said, "Oh how I miss you." John Waite said "I ain't missing you at all." The Rolling Stones said "Aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah, Aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah aaah, Aaah aaah aaah aaah; Lord, I miss you child." Bob Dylan croaked "You're the other half of what I am, you're the missing piece." Spike Jones sang, "You always hurt the one you love." OK, that last one probably more accurately describes my attitude toward regularly scheduled maintenence, but you get the idea. Poets and songwriters have always written about missing somebody or something. It's a human theme that gets repeated over and over. Tonight when I was walking to the train station I watched a biker pull out into traffic and ride past me. I caught up to him at the light and while we waited for it to change I stared at him. Openly. The light turned green and he sprinted off down the street while I plodded across the crosswalk. As I walked I realized that I had been staring at him with a kind of longing. I wanted to be on my bike, not walking down the sidewalk. So tomorrow, barring unforseen circumstances, again I ride.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Tour of California

Tour of California

The Amgen Tour of California officially began yesterday with a short individual time trial in San Francisco. I'm excited about this for a couple of reasons. First, this represents a turning point in the American public's relationship with pro cycling. For the last 7 years everything has been dominated by a certain Mr. Armstrong as far as most Americans are concerned. And while it's true that he won the TdF 7 times in a row, there's more to racing than just the TdF. This race is interesting because it's based here in the U.S. which, on paper, will make it more easily digestable to the average person. It will be interesting to see if cycling catches on as a sport or if interest will completely fade now that a certain cancer survivor has left the sport.

Another reason I'm excited about this stage of the race is that I've actually ridden my bike on the same roads! Last fall we took a trip to San Fran and the Mrs. and I rented bikes for a day. We rode across the Golden Gate bridge and then took the ferry back from Sausalito. The ferry dropped us at Pier 39 so we rode our bikes up the Embarcadero and then sort of floundered around until we got up to Coit Tower. If I remember correctly we sort of made our way along Alta Street after turning off at Lombard and backtracking a bit. The big boys have the advantage of the street being closed and are cruising right up Telegraph Hill Blvd. Had we tried that I think we would have been flattened by one of the many busses that haul tourists up and down the hill all day.

The prologue was 1.9 miles, and these guys finished it in about 5 minutes. Impressive, considering the size of Telegraph Hill. I think it took us about 5 minutes to walk our bikes up one block on some of the steeper portions. If you look at the top 5 finishers, it was a good day for US cycling:

1. 31 USA 19731024 LEIPHEIMER Levi GST .04'53"
2. 2 USA 19711118 JULICH Bobby CSC .04'58" 5"
3. 57 USA 19730629 HINCAPIE George DSC .04'59" 6"
4. 11 USA 19751014 LANDIS Floyd PHO .04'59" ...
5. 9 USA 19790112 ZABRISKIE David CSC .05'02" 9"

ESPN2 (or as the kids are calling it, The Deuce) is covering the race at 10:00 nightly, PST. Google is offering video somewhere, but I couldn't find it. And no official outlet appears to be publishing still photos. But I did manage to find some great shots of the race on flickr. Ken Conley got some great shots. Here's a montage he made of Tom Danielson passing a rider as they approach the finish line:
Tom Danielson

Frank Chan seems to have some sort of behind the scenes access. He's got plenty of shots of the riders warming up on their trainers. He's also got this beauty with that signature "pointy building" in the background:
Tour of California Prologue

And for my male (or lesbian) readers, Frank's photo of the Specialized Angel:
Specialized Angel

And finally, a guy who just refers to himself as Zoobazz. Odd name, good pictures.
Tour of California

Visit these guys on flickr and see hundreds more. Great work by all three. And set those VCRs (no Tivo? how quaint!) for midnight on the deuce and catch all the highlights.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Weekend Update

OK, I'm officially worried. My wife is usually the one who worries in our relationship, so this is kinda new to me. Over the course of the last few days, a few folks and I have been making light of how we'll "support" Jill as she rides the Susitna 100. And we've been tracking her progress via their website. The race began at 9am AK time yesterday (noon here in MN). Jill checked in at the 25 mile checkpoint at 12:43 local, out at 12:50. She hit the 46 mile stop at 4:33 pm and was out again at 4:47. A quick leg found her at the 55 mile point at 6:45pm and out again at 6:47. All quick stops, enough time to scarf a little food and whatnot.

But the next checkpoint is at 75 miles. We don't see Jill check in there until 11:55pm, 5 hours later. I have a feeling she really started struggling at this point. She rested there for over an hour and headed out again at 1:05am. She made it to the Little Su checkpoint at 5:43am, nearly 5 hours to cover those 12 miles. She only stopped for 2 minutes, just long enough to get checked in and out. And back to the trail at 5:45am. 13 miles from the finish.

The last web update was at 12:40pm AK time, and she's still not checked in. That's 7 hours for those last 13 miles. Which is why I worry. I'm sending good vibes out into the stratosphere and refreshing the race update page. And wondering. Get in there, girl.

Edit: She's alive and well and posting!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

This is what I've been training for

To prepare for the epic event I started calorie loading yesterday. I had scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast. Though it was a bitter -13 degrees outside, it was warm in the conference room I found myself in at noon. There was chicken with penne pasta in a white cream sauce and salad and italian bread. I had a slice of strawberry shortcake for dessert. Then when I got back to my desk I was just in time to attend a retirement party for one of our directors. I had another slice of cake. I needed to be ready. When I got back to my desk there was a note from my director that snacks had been delivered. I had an on the go refuel of chicago style popcorn and M&Ms. This kept my energy level high enough to be able to commute home on the train and in my car. No ride, I'm tapering. Then, I drove and had spicy Thai food. I topped it off by watching the Olympics in bed with a glass of wine. I felt prepared.

Today as Jill was preparing to head into the wilderness I prepared as well. To conserve energy I moved the laptop from the table to the easy chair. I considered starting a fire, but this would involve going into the cold garage to get wood. And even more frightening, the possibility that I would need to venture outdoors to split additional wood. No fire. Not worth the risk. From the safety of my chair I monitored the progress of TOB as she bravely refused to leave her house. No word yet from Tim.

About 4pm I bundled up and ventured outside. It was risky, and perhaps foolhardy. But I managed to meet my wife for dinner at the local bistro. Beers were consumed. Food ingested. I stopped at the package store and laid in supplies. A 12 pack sampler from Summit Brewing, because I didn't know what the conditions would be like. And a 6er of Breckenridge Vanilla Porter. Which I'm finding is delicious.

Shortly I plan to transition from the easy chair to the bed, where I'll continue to enjoy my porter and snuggle under the down comforter to watch the Olympics. This is a vigil, and I will be strong. Still no word from Tim. I hope he's OK.

With apologies to Mr. Buffett

Bike drinks
Boys and girls with their blogs ordered bike drinks
Swedish women won on the Olympic rink
Everything seems to be wrong

Lately, newspaper mentioned cheap air fare
I gotta to fly to saint somewhere
I’m close to bodily harm

Twenty below and the hockey game’s on
Nobody cares they are way too far gone
Screamin’ bike drinks, something to keep ’em all warm

This mornin’, I shot six holes in my freezer
I think I got cabin fever
Somebody sound the alarm

I’d like to go where the pace of life’s slow
Could you beam me somewhere Mr. Scott?
Any ol’ place here on earth or in space
You pick the century and I’ll pick the spot

Oh I know, (I know)
I should be leaving this climate
I got a verse but can’t rhyme it
I gotta go where it’s warm

Bike drinks
Waitress I need two more bike drinks
Then I’m headin’ south ’fore my dream shrinks

I gotta go where it’s warm (I gotta go where it’s warm)
I gotta go where it’s warm (I gotta go where it’s warm)
I gotta go where it’s warm!

I gotta go where there ain’t any snow
Where there ain’t any blow
’cause my fin sinks so low
I gotta go where it’s warm!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ambition is overrated

The problem is not a lack of ability,
but a lack of ambition.

Had a lovely dinner with Mrs. and our friends Sparky and alanaeveryday at a Thai place. Who doesn't need spicy Thai when it's -34 windchill and -13 actual air temp? The above was in my fortune cookie.

When I got home I poured a glass of wine and settled in to watch my new favorite winter Olympics sport, snowboard cross. After a quarterfinal and semifinal heat it was down to the finals. Four women competing for three medals. Lindsey Jacobellis was the American in the finals and so was receiving the most airtime. After an initial tight opening, Ricker went down hard and was later airlifted off the slope. So Jacobellis was guaranteed a medal at this point. But she pulled away and had a commanding lead. Insurmountable. Unbeatable. And she got somewhat ambitious. On one of the last jumps she went for a grab method. It's a little "check me out" manuver similar to a hockey player pumping their fist after a goal. Men's snowboarders Seth Wescott and Nate Holland do this manuver all the time. I'm sure Lindsey has done it 1000 times too. But this time, she fell. And it cost her gold. She managed to get back up quickly and take the silver. She did nothing wrong, nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing that her teammates wouldn't have done with that lead. And now she'll be second guessed as long as anyone remembers the Torino games. And my heart is breaking for her.

I may look dumb, but that's just a disguise

This morning's checklist:
Bike shorts
polypropelyne shirt
second warmer shirt
lobster gloves

Check the weather on the internet:




Screw this. Drive.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Isn't it romantic?

Date: February 15
Mileage: 16
Ride type: Commute
February mileage: 120
Year to date mileage: 367

No, I didn't ride 4 miles less to make the math easier. Tuesday for Valentine's day I met my wife and kids at Como Zoo. Since I was meeting them I decided it would be easier to drive. Then on the way home we forgot to pick up my truck from the park and ride, so I left it there overnight. Then on the way home Wednesday instead of riding the 4 miles from Ft. Snelling I swung by and put my bike on the rack and drove home. A weird commute. And a chilly one. Tomorrow's supposed to be right around zero. The snow that the weatherbabe was hyping last night and Tuesday night never really appeared though, so we'll see how it is. Not much riding this week between school, Valentine's day and needing to be in at 6am this morning. Oh well.

Como Zoo was a pretty cool place to spend Valentine's day. They opened the Conservatory and had it lit with candles. They also had a three piece baroque trio playing in the sunken garden. But the coolest thing was that they had a two toed sloth. I was standing about 2 feet from it and it was fascinating. My wife always says we're an old married couple. I guess the fact that the most exciting thing we saw on the most romantic day of the year was a sloth proves that out. ;) I stole this collage she made from her blog.

I'm taking a break from the winter olympics, which is where I've found myself for the last three nights. But now that I've updated yesterday's mileage I'm headed back to the TV. A good night of coverage tonight. Snowboard cross is downright cool, women's skeleton is another good one and something else is coming later. What I wouldn't give for a nice big bag of potato chips.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ice Races

Emma and I went to the bike ice races this morning. Not the Surly ice races, but the ones sponsored by the MnHPV folks. I've never been involved with this group, but after surfing their website for a bit, I can tell that these guys are serious builders.

My wife was kind enough to let me borrow her camera for the event. She let me leave the house with it for the first time ever. On my own. It's only the second time I've used it. She looked as nervous as a mother sending her only child off to school for the first time. So thanks to her, here's a shot of one of the homebrew ice specific bikes.

I was surprised by the number of non-traditional bikes there. During my evening commute yesterday I had half convinced myself that I should sign up and race in this thing. My confidence was boosted by the ease of bike handling after fixing the rear wheel. But, I talked myself out of it. Which is probably good. But, if I hadn't talked myself out of it I probably would have been pretty demoralized by the number of three wheelers out there. I figured for sure they had the advantage, since they could go hell bent for leather without worrying about tipping over. And then there were guys like these. One with the gigantor tires and the other so close to the ground that even if he did tip he might just bounce back up and keep riding.

But at the end of the drag races, it was two traditional triangle frame bikes racing for the title, as seen here.

And I even caught a glimpse of the elusive retro-direct bikes. I got a picture of this one because I never actually saw anybody ride it. There was another retro-direct recumbent too, but I never got a good shot of that one.

Based on pictures from previous years it sounds like the triangle frame upright bikes have the advantage on the straight course but the more stable three and four wheelers usually win the oval course mass start race. I didn't have time to stick around for that. But it was a beautiful day and a great way to spend a couple of hours outside with my daughter.

There are a few more photos on my flickr account if anybody wants to see them.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The man with the foolish grin

Date: February 10
Mileage: 24
Ride type: Commute
February mileage: 104
Year to date mileage: 351

How to make yourself feel like an idiot (part 1):
After riding for a week and thinking the back end of the bike felt a little loose, finally get around to trying to figure out why. The reason turned out to be that the rear cone had worked it's way loose and the wheel shimmied like a banshee.

How to make yourself feel like a genius (part 1):
Grab the wrenches and tighten it up in about 2 minutes. And have the wheel work beautifully.

How to make yourself feel like an idiot (part 2):
Realize how much easier it is to ride in the snow when you and your back wheel agree on which direction you're going. Also realize it's much easier to ride where there's no snow too.

How to make yourself feel like a genius (part 2):
Realize you're not nearly as out of shape as you had imagined, now that there's not so much excessive drag on the rear end.

How to make yourself feel like an idiot (part 3):
Take a slight detour on your way home, get lost in what's practically your backyard and end up tacking an extra 4 miles onto your trip home.

How to make yourself feel like an idiot (part 4):
Volunteer to take over the mashed potato duties since your lovely wife is on the phone. Add way too much milk and end up with something the consistency of Cream of Wheat.

For today, idiocy wins: 4-2.

Don't forget, bike Ice Races tomorrow at Rogers Lake in Mendota. First race begins at 10:00 am. You may even be lucky enough to see my smiling face there. If I don't get lost again, that is.

TDF update

The route for the Prologue and Stage 1 of the 2007 TDF have been released. bbc.com has a snappy map that I am linking to here. Here's the prologue:

And here's Stage 1:

A full description of the route is available on bbc.com.

Also found on bbc.com, a completely unrelated story. It seems a farmer in Wiltshire, England received a speeding ticket. He was clocked at 85mph. In a tractor. The farmer, Steve Crossman, said "It's a good tractor, but not that good. It can just about get up to 26mph, but that's downhill, with a following wind and with no trailer on the back. There's no way it could get close to 85mph."

It turns out this was a case of mistaken identity. A happy ending for all, as neither the farmer or the actual speeder will receive a ticket.

complete story

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Man was it snowy out today. I was in to work at 6am so I drove today. When I left the snow was really falling. I managed to fall down while walking to my car this afternoon. The snow fell on some ice on the sidewalk and made it slicker than snot. Once I got past that area a woman in a parked car rolled down her window and told me that it's really slippery there. No, really? She then told me that several other people had fallen down there, and "somebody needs to do something about it." Yeah. Thanks for the warning and all.

The roads home were pretty slippery, so if you're on your bike watch out. Cars weren't driving very friendly-like on Portland either. Some woman in a silver Golf wanted to tailgate me. Apparantly I wasn't going fast enough. She finally got fed up and passed me in the left lane. But, she didn't realize that Portland stops being a one-way about 1 1/2 blocks later. When she got to that stoplight she angled in, one car ahead of me. She remained one car ahead of me until around 54th Ave. I watched her tailgate the guy in front of her for a while. Then the car between us turned right and I was behind her. Good thing she spent all that time hurrying. Saved a lot of time, she did.

It looks like the skyway ride was a success. You can view WCCO's coverage of the event at their website. They also have a helmet cam on one of the riders, and you can view all 4 minutes of the course being ridden there too. It's funny, in the pre-race literature they said nobody would be allowed to ride down the stairs. Yet in the helmet cam video I didn't see a dismount. He dismounts going up, but not down. Fun stuff.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Some standing alone

Date: February 8
Mileage: 20
Ride type: Commute
February mileage: 80
Year to date mileage: 327

My bike and I got to go to Murray's for lunch today. I was lucky and got to go inside, while the bike waited (pictured above). My mom called me up and asked if I had lunch plans. I didn't, so she offered to take me out to lunch, her treat. I jokingly said that if she was treating we should go to Murray's. It sounded like a fine idea to her. Murray's is right across the street from her office. I met her over there and had some of the best beef stroganof I've ever had. I also tried her pot roast, which was equally good. But of course, everything at Murray's is. It's not cheap, but it's worth it. Thanks again for lunch, Mom!

After lunch I had the opportunity to go and visit Mom's office. I hadn't been there since her firm moved from my side of downtown to it's new location. The building was very nice, and she's got a spectacular view. Sure beats my scenic view of the men's room.

The Mrs. called about 2 and asked if I could take the kids to swimming lessons this afternoon. She hasn't been feeling well lately, and today she had sort of a relapse. No problem, sez I. So I left work about 2:15 and got to ride home on a beautiful sunny day. It was a little on the chilly side, temps were in the teens I think. But the wind was at my back and I wasn't cold at all. An enjoyable ride, to say the least. I missed out on the Shred the Skyway event because I took the girls to McDonald's after swimming, and then we had to work on some of their homework. But I got to spend 1/2 an hour sitting in the hot tub while they were in the pool. Man, did that feel good. And surprisingly, it didn't completely knock me out. I got a good chunk of reading done for my homework as well. It helps that I got plenty of sleep the night before, crashed on the couch by about 9:30.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Feel like sayin’ foxy

Date: February 7
Mileage: 20
Ride type: Commute
February mileage: 60
Year to date mileage: 307

So I'm turning onto the River Road path tonight as I started my commute and a limo starts heading down the road in the same direction. It's one of those big, white stretch limos. And it's going slow. Once we clear the construction area just past Mill Ruins Park I'm a little behind, but traffic is piling up behind this guy. Where the terrain was favorable, on flats and downhills, I'm keeping up with the traffic. On the downhills I'm gaining. And I notice that the first vehicle behind the limo is a little green Vespa. The Vespa passed the limo. But the rest of the cars followed behind in a very docile fashion.

Then it struck me.

There was no honking of horns, no shouting out the window. No drivers gunning it so they could get around, coming perilously close to hitting an oncoming car because that road just isn't designed to pass on. But with the exception of the Vespa, nobody complains. Yet I've seen numerous occasions during the summer where a cyclist is riding on the road. And most of the roadies who ride out there are cruising along at a much faster clip than this stretch was. Many of them are at or close to the 25mph limit on the River Road. And yet the cars would have been honking, passing unsafely and hollering at the cyclist. Yet they behave with another car that's going 10mph slower.

Oh, and I saw a fox later on. It was red with black feet and about 5 feet away from me, staring me down as I passed. I thought about stopping for a picture, but I figured it would have ran away if I did. And there was no point in totally ruining it's day.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Arrowhead 135

There was a good profile in today's paper about Pierre Oster, the founder of the Arrowhead 135, a 135-mile, self-supported snow-trail ultramarathon for runners, bikers and cross country skiers. He lives in White Bear Lake (my home town!) and commutes by bike to his job at Park Tool in Mahtomedi. He used to design military grenade launchers, but now designs bike tools. Pretty cool stuff.

Here's the link to the story: twincities.com

Saturday, February 04, 2006

And the fever, getting higher

So I got my annual bonus on Friday. It was a bit bigger than I was expecting, and there's some leftover after we put aside enough to pay for a summer worth of daycare for the rugrats. Last night the Mrs. asked me "So do you want to buy a bike?" And I was all "the responsible adult" and like "No, there's other things that we could use more" etc etc etc. Which is true.

Then today, something sweet like this shows up on eBay. First Surly frame I've seen in my size on eBay. It looks like it would be a perfect commuter. 5 speed internal rear hub, Campy components, Nitto bars, and a Selle saddle. Plus a spare fixed wheel and another spare Nitto bar. Stupid sexy Surly.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Too early for flapjacks?

Date: February 2
Mileage: 20
Ride type: Commute
February mileage: 40
Year to date mileage: 287

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today. So that theoretically means six more weeks of winter. This is one time where the internet really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather. This year, I'm not sure the term "more" is applicable. This morning the slushy whatever had frozen to ice, but by afternoon with highs in the 40s the ice had melted and the trails were clear. Even in Eagan, the land of unplowed trails, most of the snow was clear. It's weird. Mrs. says that February is going to be a cold one. I'll believe it when I see it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Rebel, Rebel

Date: February 1
Mileage: 20
Ride type: Commute
February mileage: 20
Year to date mileage:267

I woke up this morning and went outside to find a light coating of something like snow. But it was the strangest snow ever. It was super sticky and make biking really really slow. But at the same time it was crunchy. But it was also kinda slushy and easy to cut through. I'm sure there's an eskimo word for this kind of snow, but I don't know what it would be. As I rode through Ft Snelling I saw several bike tracks. But I liked the one in this picture the best. The path only goes about 50 feet, and I saw his or her tire tracks exit the path at the end. It's easier to just ride in the road, going on this path is not the most direct route. So I can only assume that the rider felt the need to ride directly over the no bikes stencil and make a point. Ride on, patriot.

The temp dropped a few degrees during the day and that slushy, crunchy, sticky stuff froze. The plow had been through the River Road trail, but I think they waited until too late in the day. Lots of patchy ice. I kept thinking, "OK, this is probably where I'm going to fall." Just thinking that over and over is kind of zen-like. It's a mantra. And I didn't fall. But there were a couple spots in Ft Snelling where I could feel the back end sliding. If I hadn't had the studded tires I think I would have gone down. All in all, not a bad day.

January wrap-up

Date: January 31
Mileage: 20
Ride type: Commute
January mileage: 247
Year to date mileage: 247

Nearly 250 miles in January, not too shabby. Of course it helps that this has been the warmest January in 160 years, according to my wife. All commute miles too. Nice.

In other news, I was e-mailed today that on-line registration for The Minnesota Ironman bike ride opened today. I've ridden this ride twice and they do a nice job putting on the event. It starts out in Lakeville, which is kind of a haul, but it's fun. There's a choice of 30, 62 or 100 miles and you can make your decision the day of the ride. It's April 30 this year, so register early and mark your calendars. I've done the 62 mile route before, but this year I'm contemplating doing the 100. It would be cool to get my first century (one of my 2006 goals) out of the way early this year. And the best part? You get an Ironman pint glass from Park Tool. A couple years ago I got a sweet Park bottle opener. It's stainless steel and has a rubberized blue handle, just like all of Park's hand tools. Nice.