Friday, December 28, 2007

In which I natter on aimlessly

I'm a Type B person, always have been. I'm not really driven to succeed or very goal oriented in most of my life. However, I'm finding this is in direct conflict with how I normally ride my bike. The most obvious sign of this is that I publicly track my mileage on my blog. I've met my mileage goal for the year, by the way. But I'm also discovering that in addition to tracking miles, I'm also very goal oriented in how and when I ride. The vast majority of my miles come from commuting. Commuting is very goal oriented. You start at home and end up at work. At the end of the day, repeat in the reverse. My second most common ride is going out with the crew from Hiawatha. Again, there's a definite goal. The stated goal of these rides is flaky pastry. But there's also the camaraderie factor, which is more motivating that a doughnut and probably the more realistic goal.

It's rare that I just get on the bike with no specific destination in mind. I did just that yesterday. I started riding, and didn't know where to go and where I would end up. I wound up heading over to Highway 55 to see if the Mendota Bridge had been plowed. It had, so I crossed over and puttered around Ft Snelling for a while. I took a few photos. And I enjoyed myself. And wondered, why don't I do this more often?

Date: December 27
Mileage: 9
Ride type/Bike: Exploring/Raleigh Triumph
December mileage: 143
Year to date mileage: 3938

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Solstice

Today's the shortest day of the year. This is a big day for me, as a bike commuter. This means that, even though it won't be noticeable for another few months the days are getting longer rather than shorter. Every day is one day closer to not riding to work in the dark and riding home in the dark. It kind of wears on me after a while, so I'm happy.

This is the Greenway on Thursday, my last commute of the year. I'm off until January 3. The city hasn't done the best job of clearing it, nothing like the last couple of years. This is approximately 5:30 on my way home, and it's dark as all get out.

My bike on the Greenway, festooned with Christmas Cheer

And these last two were taken this morning on the way to the Hiawatha ride. This was about 7:30, and it's just starting to get light out. Normally, I would be at work by this point.

The theme of the day in these photos is dark, grey and dreary. Bring on the sunshine, baby.

Date: December 18
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Raleigh Triumph
December mileage: 88
Year to date mileage: 3881

Date: December 19
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Raleigh Triumph
December mileage: 106
Year to date mileage: 3899

Date: December 20
Mileage: 14
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Raleigh Triumph
December mileage: 120
Year to date mileage: 3915

Date: December 22
Mileage: 14
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Raleigh Triumph
December mileage: 134
Year to date mileage: 3929

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Raleigh Triumph

I rode the Triumph on Saturday for the HC ride, and referred to it in an offhand way in yesterday's post. But after the ride I also took a few photos of the bike in it's current state. I spent some time playing around with various photo hosting software this afternoon, and ended up downloading a copy of JAlbum. I haven't figured out all the whistles and bells yet, but I did manage to publish an album of pictures of the bike, which can be found here:

Raleigh Triumph album

My method of linking to pics of my bikes to date has been to create a blog post using blogger and then link to that specific post over in the sidebar. But I've never been entirely happy with this approach, as it seemed a little inelegant and kludgy. Even though there are a few things I would like to tweak, I'm happy with the first effort in this new way of showcasing bikes. I would be interested in your feedback as well. , both about the bike and the gallery.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I eated a butter

Photo courtesy of Rob at the 3-speed blog. Yours truly on the right, looking sleepy and slightly disoriented. Two early signs of hypothermia...

It was a balmy 2 degrees Fahrenheit this morning when I headed out to the Saturday morning ride. But there was no wind and I was dressed right and it really didn't feel too bad. We went on a longer than usual ride for this temp and ended up at Cahoots Coffee over by Snelling & Selby. I don't know if it was the cold or if they just have really good coffee, but it tasted amazing.

I was riding my new winter steed, an old Raleigh Triumph that I found on the side of the road with a "free" sign on it. It's probably in the late 80s early 90s vintage, and nothing special. When I got it somebody had liberally coated the entire drivetrain with something resembling low weight gear lube. What a mess. I cleaned it up and replaced the 27" wheels with the 700c wheelset from my Raleigh Eclipse, along with a new pair of studded Nokians. I also threw on an old BMX freewheel I had laying around and made it a cheapo singlespeed conversion. I'd like to get a different set of handlebars, because the drops don't make much sense in the winter. I also will probably end up getting a slightly higher tooth count freewheel because right now it's geared a little too high for winter riding. But hey, it's a winter beater. Doesn't need to be fancy, just needs to go down the road. And so far, it does. However, it needs a little help in the stopping department. But I picked up a set of Koolstop salmon pads while I was at Hiawatha today, so that should take care of that.

This is my first foray into the world of singlespeed bikes. Can a fixie be far behind? Maybe when the snow tires come off this spring this bike will be transformed again. Since I've gotten home, I have surfed the internet, showered, and I am now making a valiant attempt to eat everything in the house. This may be the sum of my productivity for the rest of the day.

Date: December 10
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Raleigh Triumph
December mileage: 36
Year to date mileage: 3829

Date: December 11
Mileage: 12
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Raleigh Triumph
December mileage: 48
Year to date mileage: 3841

Date: December 15
Mileage: 22
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Raleigh Triumph
December mileage: 70
Year to date mileage: 3863

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Photo dump

I found two older biking photos on my digital camera this weekend. Both were taken November 19th. The first one shows that the city was perhaps forecasting early snow this year, as they had just put out the markers for the plows. My bike is leaning against this one.
schwinn premis
And later on that same day I found a tiny owl on the side of the road. It was about the size of a large potato and didn't move when I came toward it. This picture is about actual distance, no zoom. I think the little guy got hit by a car and wasn't sure if he was going to live or die.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Hard Core

My riding has tapered just a bit since the snow came. First it was because I didn't have the proper equipment. Once that situation was rectified, there's just been too much snow. I rode on Wednesday and had possibly the worst commute I've had in the last three years. The shoulders on Highway 13 weren't plowed well, the shoulders on Sibley Memorial weren't plowed well. The Mendota bridge was all but impassable. I ended up riding out on the shoulder since MN/Dot couldn't be bothered to clear the bike/ped path until almost a full week after it snowed. For the first time, I really felt unsafe on all the legs of my journey. I took the LRT most of the way to work and most of the way home. And I left the bike in the garage the rest of the week. Here's a shout out to those who are hard core and still bike commute no matter how bad things get. There are others who I know are quietly commuting, but these are the folks currently blogging about it:

Rob, and anybody else who went on the HC ride this morning
Ray, daily rider and complete nutter
Reflector Collector, 90+ consecutive bike commuting days
The Large Fella, and especially Chloe who is harder than most everybody out there
Doug, rockin' the Pug in over a foot of Duluth snow
Everybody at, and anybody else I missed who's hitting the streets of the Twin Cities in some of the worst commuting conditions I've seen. All y'all are hard.

Date: December 5
Mileage: 10
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Raleigh Triumph
December mileage: 10
Year to date mileage: 3793

Monday, December 03, 2007

I'm a grasshopper

Back on September 20 I started publicly discussing my winter bike needs/wants. The needs were:

New studded tires
Lots of elbow grease

The wants were:

New dynohub
New headlight
Internal gear rear hub

So Saturday, during the first measurable snowfall of the year, I found myself at HC buying a new set of Nokians. So for the record, no action was taken on any of the need or want items until there was actually snow on the ground.

Date: November 26
Mileage: 20
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
month mileage: 176
Year to date mileage: 3783

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blog, dammit!

This morning my kids' school had a big breakfast event, Breakfast With a Grandparent.  My wife and I went along with my parents.  Nancy's parents live three hours out of town, but were considering making the drive.  6 hours in the car for a pre-packaged danish, a bowl of Lucky Charms and a half a banana is not a deal I would make.  But they're grandparents, and by definition slightly dotty when it comes to the subject of their grandkids.  And that's a good thing.
While eating the new school principal came and sat at our table to chat.  After a bit, the topic of biking came up (it often does when I'm around).  Turns out he's a pretty big cyclist.  He's originally from Minnesota but has lived out in California for the last few years.  When he moved back he left a bike at his sister's place so he would have something to ride when he visited.  We talked about commuting (I do, he wants to start again) and fixies (neither of us have them, but we're both curious), and other various bikey stuff.  I invited him to come to a Hiawatha ride, though he sort of glazed over when I tried to describe the location of the shop.  One of those "St Paulites who gets nervous when they cross the river" reactions.  He also admitted to owning 3 bikes.  I let him know the old adage of "The number of bikes you need is equal to the number of bikes you own, plus one."  He told me my girls are getting extra credit in school for that one.  You're welcome, girls.
Date: November 13
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
November mileage: 80
Year to date mileage: 3687
Date: November 14
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
November mileage: 106
Year to date mileage: 3713

Date: November 16
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
November mileage: 130
Year to date mileage: 3737
Date: November 19
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
November mileage: 156
Year to date mileage: 3763

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A tisket, a tasket

By popular demand, photos of the Suburban with the front basket. Look closely and you may be able to see the snowflakes we had yesterday morning.
schwinn suburban
schwinn suburban
schwinn suburban
schwinn suburban
schwinn suburban
schwinn suburban

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Voter fraud is my middle name

I went for the Hiawatha ride this past Saturday.  Because it was "parade bike" day I took out the Suburban for a final ride of the season.  I'd actually hung it up on the hook earlier in the week (and tore my pants in the process) thinking it would slumber in the rafters until next spring.  But after I popped a spoke on the Jamis I took it as a sign that the Suburban wanted one last ride.  I installed a huge Wald basket on the front and had ridden it around the neighborhood.  During the short test ride I thought the handling was negatively impacted by the basket.  But with my messenger bag in there on the Hiawatha ride it tracked really well.  I think I'm going to like being a basket guy.  Or a basket case, if you will.
And now for some shameless self promotion:  The bicyclefixation website is holding The Great Bike Rack Hunt photo contest.  Rick from is looking for photos of the best and worst bike racks out there.  The contest is now closed and the popular vote is started.  My submission is #30, the bike rack with antlers.
Vote early, vote often.  No pressure.

Date: November 1
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
November mileage: 26
Year to date mileage: 3633
Date: November 3
Mileage: 28
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Suburban
November mileage: 54
Year to date mileage: 3661

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Hallow's Eve

I had a couple of exciting moments that last two days riding in.  Tuesday's moment wasn't as exciting for me as it was for the dude waiting to cross Hiawatha going eastbound on the Greenway.  We both pulled up to Hiawatha, he going east and me going west, right as the light was changing.  The light changed and we both started into the intersection with the green light.  Unfortunately a driver heading north on Hiawatha didn't realize their light was red and approached the intersection at high speed.  At the last moment the driver slammed on the brakes and screeched to a halt midway through the intersection.  Realizing they were half way through they decided to continue on.  The eastbound biker dude was still one lane over from the car and therefore was not squashed like a bug as he would have been had he been in the car's path.  Had it been me it might have made me crap myself.  As we passed each other in the crosswalk he shrugged and said, "Dialing their cell phone." with one of those "Eh, what are you going to do?" looks.  A cooler customer than I would have been, for sure.
Monday's excitement was more exciting.  Monday marked my first crossing of Hiawatha on the new Sabo Bridge.  I know it's not officially open yet, but the signs were pushed to the side and I just couldn't resist.  On first impressions, it's nice.  Not too far out of the way, as some detractors have said, and a nice alternative to dodging cell phone dialing morning commute zombies.  Plus, it's kinda pretty.  There's a grand opening ceremony next Thursday from 4-6 at the western entrance if you enjoy attending such shindigs.  I'm going to try to resist using it until the grand opening.  There are workers out there still, doing last minute stuff and I probably wouldn't bee to pleased if random people kept crusing through my workspace after I'd put up signs asking them not to.  And it's only another week.
Date: October 29
Mileage: 16
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
October mileage: 334
Year to date mileage: 3555
Date: October 30
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Trike
October mileage: 360
Year to date mileage: 3581
Date: October 31
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
October mileage: 386
Year to date mileage: 3607

Friday, October 26, 2007

I did survive

I had a lovely couple of days off from work, with no kids and no wife around to keep me on the straight and narrow.  Things I did:
  • Applied dryloc to one of the basement walls
  • Removed non-functional basement toilet and replaced with snappy functional model
  • Ate pizza for every meal between Friday evening and Sunday morning, with the exception of a Saturday morning trip to McDonalds
  • Cut down a good sized tree
  • Brewed two batches of beer (sorghum-based gluten free and a raspberry wheat)
  • Watched the Gopher hockey team skate their way to back to back losses
  • Drank a few too many beers with the boys while watching Gopher implosion #2
Conspicuously absent from the list?  Anything bike related.  No riding, no maintanence, no project work, no nothin'.
I wish I was going on the Friday morning Minneapolis breakfast tour with the boys today, but some of us have 9-5 responsibilites that can't be shirked at a moment's notice.  I'm contemplating the full moon ride tonight (meet at HC at 7:30), but since my 9-5 today began at 6am I might not find the motivation or the energy...
Date: October 23
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
October mileage: 292
Year to date mileage: 3513
Date: October 24
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
October mileage: 318
Year to date mileage: 3539


Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's all about ME(A)!

Yesterday began the 5 day Weekend of Pete. I brought my computer home because I needed to finish a couple things up, worked from home for a few hours in the morning and then officially began my MEA vacation. For those of you not in Minnesota, MEA is the Minnesota Education Association, which is for teacher education. For those of us with kids, it translates into a 4 day weekend and sometimes opportunity for a fall getaway. A couple of years ago Nancy and I went to San Francisco over MEA and biked the Golden Gate Bridge.

This year, our plans are not nearly as grand. Or at least, mine aren't. About an hour ago I dropped Nancy off at the airport. She's headed to Vancouver for an extended weekend writing conference. And yesterday afternoon I drove over the river and through the woods to get the kids to their grandparent's place for an extended weekend visit. So as of 1:00 today, I'm alone in the house. I've got no work until Monday and no major plans and I'm just going to wing it for the weekend. I'm planning on brewing a batch of beer somewhere in there, and Saturday night the boys are coming over to watch a little Gopher hockey. But other than that, it's me time.

Date: October 8
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
October mileage: 126
Year to date mileage: 3347

Date: October 9
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
October mileage: 150
Year to date mileage: 3371

Date: October 10
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
October mileage: 176
Year to date mileage: 3397

Date: October 11
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
October mileage: 200
Year to date mileage: 3421

Date: October 12
Mileage: 20
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
October mileage: 220
Year to date mileage: 3441

Date: October 15
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
October mileage: 244
Year to date mileage: 3465

Date: October 16
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
October mileage: 268
Year to date mileage: 3489

Friday, October 05, 2007

Twin Six sale

Twin Six, a local bike apparel/stuff manufacturer is having a four day, semi-bi-annual sale.  Their t-shirts are on special for $15 (regularly $22) and their jerseys are down from $70 to $45.  So if you're one of those Type A people who likes to have all their Christmas shopping done before Halloween, now would be the perfect time to buy me this shirt.  Cuz it's cool.
Date: October 3
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
October mileage: 50
Year to date mileage: 3271

Date: October 4
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
October mileage: 74
Year to date mileage: 3295
Date: October 5
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
October mileage: 100
Year to date mileage: 3321

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The donut threat level is currently Sprinkles

My mom always said "Red sky at morning, sailors take warning." And the sky was certainly red this morning heading in to work. I took this shot from Park Ave, just after I'd ridden up the exit ramp from the Greenway. I thought it was a pretty cool shot.
midtown greenway
The sailor's warning came true as a(nother) storm washed over the twin cities this morning and into the evening. It was a lovely rain, not too windy and all in all an enjoyable if wet commute home. Until I noticed something strange. Down near my knees. There were white patches developing on my knees. Lather, almost.
soapy knees
I didn't think much of it at first. But when it started running down my legs and onto my socks, I had to stop for a photo. This way I'll have something to show my doctor. Perhaps he can write me a prescription for one of those fancy drugs I see advertised on the TV. But this just ain't right.
soapy knees

Date: September 18
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 212
Year to date mileage: 3039

Date: September 19
Mileage: 12
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 224
Year to date mileage: 3051

Date: September 20
Mileage: 14
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 238
Year to date mileage: 3065

Date: September 21
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 264
Year to date mileage: 3091

Date: September 22
Mileage: 28
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Premis
September mileage: 292
Year to date mileage: 3119

Date: September 24
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
September mileage: 316
Year to date mileage: 3143

Date: September 25
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 342
Year to date mileage: 3169

Date: September 26
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 368
Year to date mileage: 3195

Date: September 27
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 394
Year to date mileage: 3221

Date: October 2
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 24
Year to date mileage: 3245

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ant or Grasshopper?

In the traditional story of The Grasshopper and the Ant, the ant works hard all summer to gather food for the upcoming winter.  The grasshopper, in contrast, spends the summer singing and enjoying life.  When winter comes, the grasshopper comes to the ant for food and the ant refuses, instead telling the grasshopper an ant version of "Tough luck, buster" and leaves the grasshopper to die.  I've been feeling a bit like a grasshopper lately when it comes to bike maintainence.  Now that it's mid-September and the last official week of summer, thoughts of winter cycling have been peeking out of my subconscience and making their presence known.  Late summer and fall are really the sweet spot of cycling in Minnesota, at least in my opinion.  The weather is comfortable both morning and afternoon, the rains of summer are mostly done (no April showers), and the turning leaves make taking the bike to work that much more rewarding. 
The turning leaves also act as a reminder of the fact that winter is coming.  And in my case, a reminder that my winter bike was rode hard and put away salty last spring.  The ant in me says that I should pull that bike off the rack, pronto, and start gathering components for the upcoming winter.  The grasshopper in me says that it would be much more fun to start looking for components for the new frame I scored off of eBay a few weeks ago.  Getting the Raleigh ready for winter is very ant-like because there's nothing new or interesting needed on that bike.  All it really needs is a new set of snow studs and some elbow grease (and actual grease).  But to make it a more bulletproof winter bike, here are some wants that could give the project a more grasshopper-like appeal:
  • New front hub:  I would really like to give dynamo hub powered lighting a try.  I've got a decent battery-based headlight system, but it's over two years old and I start to worry about rechargable battery lifespan after 2 years.  I've got my eye on the complete 700c wheel with a Shimano hub build that Hiawatha is selling currently.
  • New headlight:  Getting a dynamo-hub would obviously mean a new headlight.  The DLumotec seems to be the way to go.
  • Internal-gear rear hub:  I picked up a NOS Suntour 3-speed hub from eBay last fall for $20 with the intention of taking a wheelbuilding class and building it into a 700c rim for the Raleigh.  I had a conflict with the Hiawatha wheelbuilding class last fall and since I don't know anything more about wheelbuilding than I did when I bought the hub, it's still sitting on my workbench waiting.

Other than that, the bike has been a solid, if unremarkable, winter beater.  But two winters worth of abuse have taken their toll on the drivetrain, specifically the shifting of the bike.  If replacing the cables doesn't take care of the issue and I can't find an acceptable (read: affordable) way to get the Suntour 3-speed up and running, I might have to do a quick and dirty single-speed conversion on this thing.  Fortunately, I've got a few more weeks to ponder this.  At least that's what my inner grasshopper tells me.

Monday, September 17, 2007


The folks at were nice enough to send me an email last week.  I'm not sure how or why, but they said they needed my help to promote their new website and launch the ArriveMN brand.  Promoting websites?  Launching brands?  They've obviously got the wrong guy, I thought.  But then I saw the magic words:  Free T-shirt. 
Fast forward to today.  After receiving further instructions I picked up my shirt at the downtown transportation office and received a flyer about a Transportation Fair tomorrow morning.  "Join us in Minneapolis at North Plaza of the Government Center Tuesday, September 18 from 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. to discover a new way to Arrive!"  I have no idea what it's all about or if there will be freebies and/or snacks, but I'll be there.  I'll be the one in the green shirt.  Be sure to save me some coffee if there is any...

Date: September 11
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 130
Year to date mileage: 2957
Date: September 12
Mileage: 10
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 140
Year to date mileage: 2967
Date: September 13
Mileage: 20
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 160
Year to date mileage: 2987
Date: September 17
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
September mileage: 186
Year to date mileage: 3013

Monday, September 10, 2007

How much for the little girl?

Early this year I was plagued by a series of flat tires.  I was given this sage advice by a friend who cheerfully identifies herself as a Pagan:
Take the tire and spread it out into a circle on the garage floor. Draw the wheel in the middle with chalk. Blow up a balloon and tape it to the middle of the drawing and leave it overnight. The next morning let all remaining air out of the balloon, erase the drawing and bury the balloon and tire. (Yes I know the ground is frozen. You'll have to figure that out on your own.) You'll have given the tire and some extra air to the tire gods and thus they will be appeased.
I believe I will be doing just that on Saturday.  Maybe one night this week if I can find the time.  Or perhaps I need something stronger, because my transportation problems have become multi-modal.  Here is a not so brief recap:
Thursday:  I'd been ill and therefore driving to work (a luxury of being not car free), but was feeling mostly better by Thursday.  Wife and kids wanted to have a picnic for dinner.  So they biked to Ft Snelling to swim at the beach.  I was to drive home, change, grab the cooler with dinner in it and meet them at the park.  What happened was I got in my car, drove about a mile and ran out of gas.  So I walked about 3 miles to the beach where the family was, jumped on wife's bike (which was comically small on me) and rode home to get a different car and a gas can.  I tried to start my station wagon, but the battery was dead.  I knew that I couldn't fit the kids' bikes in the Jetta, so I took our van.  I rescued the vehicle from the side of the road, and we managed to have our picnic.  Thursday night I decided I was done driving to work.  I had two bikes with flat tires in the garage.  So I fixed the flat on the Premis, planning to ride it to work.
Friday:  Tire on the Premis was flat in the morning.  Grrr.  So I took the Jamis.  On the way home I was headed down the hill on Highway 13 when I heard a loud pop and a whoosh.  I'd run something over and flatted the tire almost immediately.  I was less than a mile from home and just walked it out.  Friday night after watching a movie with a friend I went into the garage and changed the tire on the Suburban, planning to take that for the Hiawatha ride.
Saturday:  I came out to the garage to find the Suburban had a flat.  So I considered my options.  Jamis, flat.  Premis, fixed Thursday but flat.  Suburban, fixed Friday but flat.  I thought long and hard about just going back to bed, but ended up taking the Robin Hood off the wall and riding it on the ride.  I threw down the gauntlet to the tire gods and left home without a tube, patch, any tools or a cell phone.  If I had a problem, I was on my own.  After post-ride hobknobbing at the shop, I headed for home.  As I was just reaching Ft Snelling the tire started to rub, and then exploded with a deafening report.  Flat #4.  I was ready to fling the bike over the bluffs and watch it sink in the Mississippi.  But that wouldn't do me any good, so I ditched the bike in the weeds and walked the four miles home.  I came back in the Jetta and picked up the bike.
Sunday:  I spent most of the afternoon in the garage watching the Vikings and fixing flats.  First, I fixed the Premis.  I patched the tube and switched out the tire.  I took the old tire and mounted it on a different rim and mounted that complete wheel on a frame I have in the workstand.  Then I started on the Jamis.  I patched the tube and booted the tire, since I didn't have a spare in that size.  After that was a quick patch on the Suburban.  I took a break to play catch with my daughters in the yard and when I came back to the garage the Suburban was flat again.  I started taking the tire off of that bike and heard the sound or air escaping.  The wheel I'd mounted on the workstand frame was going flat.  Aaargh!  I finished re-patching the Suburban's tire (same spot, the original patch just didn't hold) and decided to ignore the wheel from the workstand.  I can't seem to see a pattern in all of this.  I went through the tires on each bike with a fine toothed comb looking for anything that might be causing the flats and came up with nothing.  I used three different patches, two different brands of glueless and one with glue, and had failures with all of them.
Monday:  I got up to go to work, and the tire on the Jamis was flat again.  I rode the trike.

I think I'm going to start slowly replacing tires with either Pasela Tourguards or Conti Ultra GatorSkins.  Any recommendations of one over the other?  Or a different tire that you would recommend?  And also, let me know if you are aware of any open minded virgins who have nothing to live for and wouldn't mind taking part in a short sacrificial ritual...

Date: September 8
Mileage: 27
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Robin Hood
September mileage: 79
Year to date mileage: 2827
Date: September 10
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Trike
September mileage: 104
Year to date mileage: 2931

Friday, September 07, 2007

Your mission, should you choose to accept it

Tuesday, September 11th, I'll be standing on the corner of the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, just north of 1st Street and the Post Office driveway from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. I'll be counting bikes, pedestrians, small mammals, panhandlers, and pretty much anything else that comes across my path. I'll even be recording some of it. So say hello if you happen to be wandering through the area. If you're walking or biking, I'll be sure to count you. Bring me a snack too, if you think about it. Because I'll be late for dinner that night.

Date: September 4
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
September mileage: 26
Year to date mileage: 2774

Date: September 7
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
September mileage: 52
Year to date mileage: 2800

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Volunteers needed and other bike info

On Tuesday, September 11th, the Department of Public Works will be conducting bicycle and pedestrian counts, and we need your help! Volunteers will be asked to count the number cyclists and pedestrians at several mid-block locations in the downtown area, in 2-hour shifts from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm. The purpose of the counts is to assess the historical trend of non-motorized travel in the downtown core. This year, for the first time, the Department of Public Works will exclusively count bicyclists and pedestrians.

These counts will help to measure the effects of the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTP), a $21.5 million federal program which was created to increase biking and walking in Minneapolis. The City of Minneapolis is partnering with Transit for Livable Communities, who will be organizing similar counts on the same day. If you are interested in volunteering please choose from a 2-hour time slot below. We need volunteers to arrive approximately 10-15 minutes before their shift. Please contact Shaun Murphy at or 612.673.2335, and leave your e-mail address, phone number, and a preferred time slot.

6:30 am to 8:30 am
8:30 am to 10:30 am
10:30 am to 12:30 pm
12:30 pm to 2:30 pm
2:30 pm to 4:30 pm
4:30 pm to 6:30 pm

There are two additional announcements; the first being the launch of a new Twin Cities website for bicyclists and pedestrians. An initiative of Transit for Livable Communities, is intended to serve as a resource for new and existing bicyclists in Minneapolis and the surrounding communities.

The second announcement pertains to two upcoming bike tours in the Twin Cities. The 13th Annual St. Paul Classic Bike Tour will take place on Sunday, September 9th. The inaugural Minneapolis Bike Tour will take place the following Sunday, September 16th. Each tour largely follows the scenic and historic parkway systems of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Date: August 24
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
August mileage: 321
Year to date mileage: 2680

Date: August 25
Mileage: 30
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Suburban
August mileage: 351
Year to date mileage: 2710

Date: August 29
Mileage: 12
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
August mileage: 363
Year to date mileage: 2722

Date: August 31
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
August mileage: 389
Year to date mileage: 2748

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Elvis needs boats

"And she remembers the day that Elvis died" --"She's Happy" by The Gear Daddies

Last week, August 16th to be exact, marked the 30th anniversary of Elvis A(a)ron Presley's death. I'm not one of those people who has one room of their house devoted to being an Elvis shrine. I happened to read about the date in the news, otherwise the day would have come and gone without any notice. I happen to like most of Elvis' music, and think that the way his life ended was a little sad. But I feel a little sorry for the people who still get weepy about it.

I grew up with Elvis. Not literally, mind you. Though I'm sure I would have been happy growing up in Tupelo in the 1940s. But instead I grew up in a world where Elvis had already overcome his beginnings as a shy, stuttering "mama's boy" and left his mark on the world. His career had gone through most of it's productive arc. I was 8 years old when Elvis died. I didn't grow up with Elvis the Pelvis, or Elvis the Corrupter of Youth. I grew up with Elvis the Product. By the time I started to become conscious of popular music Elvis was pretty much working full time in Vegas paying the bills and, from what I've read, spending most of his time hopped up on one drug or another.

On Thursday,Turner Classic Movies Filled their entire program day with Elvis movies. Did you know that Elvis played a race car driver in three different movies (Speedway, Viva Las Vegas, Spinout)? And between 1956 and 1968 Elvis starred in a staggering 31 movies. More than two per year, even including the period from 1958-1960 where he was wasn't making films due to being drafted (take that, Michael Caine)! After we finished watching High School Musical, I flipped over to TCM and started watching Viva Las Vegas. Elvis plays a race car driver named Lucky who courts a young Ann-Margaret. Lucky, indeed. I then followed this up with Clambake, where a decidedly more jowly Elvis plays a rich oil tycoon's son who switches places with a waterskiing instructor and courts a young Shelly Fabares. By that time it was getting late and I couldn't find it in me to stay up and watch Wild in the Country (Elvis at his untamed bad boy best!). I thought that I had done enough to honor Elvis' memory at this point.

I sort of forgot about Elvis for a few days after that. I had a three day weekend and didn't spend a lot of it in front of the TV. However, I did find myself watching something forgettable one evening. So forgettable that I've forgotten what it was. But that's really not the point. As I was watching whatever it happened to be (and I do wonder what it was) a commercial came on. It was 5 or 6 guys sitting around in what looked like a bar that had closed for the evening. They all had guitars or other musical instruments. They were doing the TV commercial version of jamming. And the tune was strikingly familiar. The guys were all middle aged. And happy. Extremely happy. Erectile-disfunction commercial happy. It was a cover of Viva Las Vegas, but the chorus was now "Viva Viagra". You can watch it on youtube if you really feel it's required. I was a bit stunned, but not completely surprised. Elvis has been a product for as long as I can remember. Viagra is a product that apparently has an unlimited advertising budget. A match made in heaven. Hell, if Elvis were still alive he'd probably be the company's spokesman.

Tuesday night I decided to eschew broadcast TV and settled in with an old friend, The Big Lebowski. I was off following the story that was being unfolded, when it hit again. As Bunny Lebowski and her green painted toenails drive up the highway in a flashy red convertible, what song is she blasting through the stereo and singing along with? Viva Las Vegas, naturally. Perhaps Mojo Nixon said it best: Elvis is a perfect being. We are all moving in perfect peace and harmony towards Elvis-ness. Soon all will become Elvis. Everything everywhere will be Elvis.

Milwaukee's Premier Girl Bicycle Gang

The last two days have been very productive for me, blogwise. On the way home the creative juices have been flowing and pure Blog Gold has been running through my brain. But when you find something like this, even Blog Gold needs to be put on the back burner.

Date: August 21
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
August mileage: 251
Year to date mileage: 2610

Date: August 22
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
August mileage: 277
Year to date mileage: 2636

Date: August 23
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Suburban
August mileage: 295
Year to date mileage: 2654

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back atcha!

As I was riding in this morning, trying to make the light at the 28th/Hiawatha crossing, somebody on a bike headed the other direction said Hello to me.  I'm not sure, but they may have even said "Hello Pete."  I have no idea who it might have been.  But if it was you, and you read this blog (redundant, I realize), Hi!
Date: August 20
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
August mileage: 225
Year to date mileage: 2584


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Biker Down

I was riding in this morning, coming out of Ft Snelling and transitioning into Minnehaha I noticed that traffic was unusually bad on Hiawatha heading into Minneapolis.  "Glad that's not me!" I thought.  As I got closer to the intersection of 54th and Hiawatha I could see why traffic was backed up, there was an accident.  I could see a fire truck, an ambulance and at least one squad car all in the middle of the intersection.  As I got closer to 54th I noticed that I could only see one car in the intersection and started to get a bad feeling.  I turned and rode over to the intersection and confirmed my fears.  A cyclist had been hit by a car.
I couldn't see the cyclists much from my vantage point because he was blocked by the ambulance.  The way the car was oriented it looked like the driver was travelling eastbound on 54th and trying to take a left turn onto northbound Hiawatha when the accident happened.  If I was forced to make a guess based on what I saw, I would guess that the cyclist was proceeding through the intersection and the car turned in front of him.  There could be many extenuating factors, such as the light changing from green to yellow or yellow to red, or the cyclist doing something boneheaded. But I'm inclined to think that it was the driver's fault.
I watched as they loaded the biker into the ambulance.  He was wearing a Team Postal jersey, but I didn't recognize him.  His knees were up and he was holding his right arm across his body and he didn't appear to be seriously injured.  But it's hard to tell. Be safe out there.
And if this wasn't a scary enough way to start the day, I saw Ray on the Greenway.
Date: August 16
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
August mileage: 199
Year to date mileage: 2558


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Weekend update

I finally had a Saturday free and was planning on making an appearance on the Hiawatha ride this past weekend. But we had some monster storms roll through Saturday during the wee hours, and we were without power from about 3am to approximately 3pm. I don't naturally wake up at 6:30, it requires a loud alarm clock with a persistent snooze function. I must have been tired, because I ended up sleeping until almost 12:30 Saturday afternoon. My wife and I went out to lunch since the power was out and the kids were at their grandparents. We wandered around Grand Ave for a while, fought, and generally had an unpleasant Saturday. It was partially redeemed by the fact that I found and old Columbia 3-speed at a garage sale for $20. I'm going to clean it up for the Mrs. because she thinks it looks neat.

Sunday redeemed the weekend. The grandparents complained, so we allowed them to keep the kids overnight until Monday. So about 3pm the Mrs. and I got on our bikes and went out for a ramble. We rode to Ft Snelling and spent a couple hours just riding around in the state park, looking at all the amenities that are so close to our house. After looking at the underside of the Mendota Bridge (it looks solid) we made our way out of the park and into Minnehaha. It was getting toward 6pm and we were feeling a mite peckish. So we decided to try Sea Salt, the restaurant in the Minnehaha pavilion. It's quite the happening place. The line was long and the post it notes that indicated the approximate wait time for food (varying from "15 minutes" to "better get a pitcher") was set at 20 minutes. We decided to get a pitcher of Surly Furious. For dinner I had a po'boy sandwich with grilled, batter fried fish. Nancy had the fish tacos, and we split an order of clam fries. The total for the meal was just over $37. And the food was worth it. A little more than we had planned on spending at the park, but how often are the kids gone?

After finishing the meal and the Furious we checked out the newly falling Minnehaha Falls (they were dry last week due to lack of rain) and made our way back home again. On the way we stopped at a Native American pow-wow that was taking place on the east side of the Mendota Bridge. The colors of the costumes and teepees were very striking. Everything was winding down for the day, so we didn't stay long. Plus, it was starting to get dark and Nancy only had prescription sunglasses and neither of us had lights on our bikes. We rode about 17 miles in the course of just under 5 hours. Not a great average speed, but one of the most relaxing and enjoyable rides I've been on this year.

All photos taken by Yon Saucy Wench

Date: August 12
Mileage: 17
Ride type/Bike: Ramble/Suburban
August mileage: 95
Year to date mileage: 2454

Date: August 13
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
August mileage: 121
Year to date mileage: 2480

Date: August 14
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Trike
August mileage: 147
Year to date mileage: 2506

Date: August 15
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
August mileage: 173
Year to date mileage: 2532

Friday, August 10, 2007

Gosh it's hot

It's not the heat it's the humidity, right?

Date: August 7
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Suburban
August mileage: 26
Year to date mileage: 2385

Date: August 8
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Suburban
August mileage: 52
Year to date mileage: 2411

Date: August 8
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
August mileage: 78
Year to date mileage: 2437

Sunday, August 05, 2007

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

I'm back from my whirlwind tour of North America. The day we headed west was the day that the I-35 bridge collapsed. It was kind of surreal to be watching the coverage from far-flung locales like Billings, MT and Boise. We took in both Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks on day 2 of the drive, and didn't arrive in Boise until after 11. A grand total of 27 hours in the car. Then due to mechanical issues I ended up stuck in Denver overnight, and had to fly to Minneapolis by way of Cleveland. I arrived at the Boise airport around 3pm Friday and got home to Minneapolis around 8pm Saturday. I kind of feel like I've been hit by a truck at this point. I'm in the process of recharging my mental batteries and uploading my photos to flickr. I'm not sure which process will take longer. But when they're both complete I'll write something more coherent with full color glossy photos. Right now I'm just glad to be home and know that me and mine are together and safe.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I da ho!

I heard the news that Idaho had recently released their 2007 State Quarter. I said to my pal, Sparky, "Dude, we gotta get to Idaho. The new quarter's out."
"Game on," he replied.

We'll be hitting the open road at the crack of 6am tomorrow. One night at the Billings, MT Grand Holiday Inn, a slight detour through Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, and then straight out to Spudville. It should be a hoot.

Date: July 30
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
July mileage: 446
Year to date mileage: 2333

Date: July 31
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
July mileage: 472
Year to date mileage: 2359

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Project Suburban: Completed

The Suburban has been completed, almost 2 months to the day from when I started. There's been a lot of idle time in there. All told it was probably a weekend's worth of work. It's certainly not up to show condition. But it looks sharp and rides nice. Mission accomplished.
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban
Saddle before:
1974 schwinn suburban
Saddle after:
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban
1974 schwinn suburban

Original post
June progress

Sorting it all out

Housekeeping post. I got a little behind on tracking my mileage. Move along, nothing to see here.

Date: July 19
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
July mileage: 293
Year to date mileage: 2180

Date: July 20
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
July mileage: 319
Year to date mileage: 2206

Date: July 24
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
July mileage: 345
Year to date mileage: 2232

Date: July 25
Mileage: 31
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
July mileage: 376
Year to date mileage: 2263

Date: July 26
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
July mileage: 402
Year to date mileage: 2289

Date: July 27
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
July mileage: 428
Year to date mileage: 2315

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I've been following Le Tour this year even though the current leader,
Rasmussen, has missed a couple of doping controls this spring and been
thrown off the Danish National Team as a result. But I just saw that
the entire Astana team has withdrawn because Vino tested positive for
blood doping after his Time Trial victory. Holy cadungas!

<a href="">link</a>

Second attempt at posting via email. Trying something new to see if
hyperlink html will pass through. If not, check VeloNews...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Posting via email

The crackdown of the work regime has commenced.  Blogger, and all related web addresses have been blocked.  They fall into the category of "personal web page" which is verboten.  Flickr has also been banned.  No bloggie from work.  So, being the clever chimp with a blatent disregard for The Man's rules that I am, I'm testing my ability to post to blogger via email.  Fun stuff!  The funny thing is, I rarely post from work.  But now, who knows?

In other news, I happened across a fellow blogger this morning on my way in to work.  I started reading Reflector Collector around the time he was talking about the lunacy of an elementary school policy in Roseville that doesn't allow kids to actually ride their bikes to school  And I've sort of been following it ever since.  It's always fun to meet the person behind the words.  He was riding his self-proclaimed "ugly 1993 Trek 520" and I was riding the Schwinn of many colors because I popped a spoke on the Jamis the other day and haven't gotten around to fixing it yet.  Between the two of us, we made quite a pair.  Though I think I win the ugly bike competition, if I do say so.  Nice to meet you as well.

OK, 3-2-1 test send!

Links don't seem to work properly using the post-by-email feature. Otherwise, good to go!

Date: July 16
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
July mileage: 209
Year to date mileage: 2096

Date: July 17
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
July mileage: 235
Year to date mileage: 2122

Date: July 17
Mileage: 6
Ride type/Bike: Family ride to Waterpark/Schwinn Suburban
July mileage: 241
Year to date mileage: 2128

Date: July 18
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
July mileage: 267
Year to date mileage: 2154

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Take Me To The River

We did manage to drag our sorry butts out of bed by 11 for the Rally on Saturday. I've never been to the Bloomington side of the nature preserve, because it's such a pain in the neck to bike over there. Hey, somebody should build a bridge or something. Anyway the family and I decided to drive for the simple fact that I wasn't very familiar with the route. I knew the roads were fairly low traffic, but I didn't think my kids were up to riding in any type of traffic just yet. We just had our first "rules of the road" ride earlier this week and that didn't fill me with confidence. But we made it by car with no issues. There were lots of folks there, which made it hard to hear most of the political stumping, but what I heard sounded promising. The pictures tell the story better than I ever could.

You may have noticed that these photos are head and shoulders above my normal point and shoot attempts at photography. We here at Velocipete headquarters have gone upscale, and engaged a professional photographer to cover the event. We spared no expense.

Date: July 13
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
July mileage: 183
Year to date mileage: 2070