Wednesday, April 25, 2007

First rate work, officer.

I was running a bit late tonight so I decided to take the train part way home, to save time. When I take the train home, I ride all the way to the Warehouse District station so I can get on first and don't have to squeeze my bike past the hoards of commuters that get on at Nicollet Station. I was riding down 9th Ave downtown in the bike lane, passing car after car after car. Traffic was ugly, but I was flying.

I came up to a parking ramp that spills out onto 9th. As usual, there was a Minneapolis cop there making sure everybody gets out in a civil fashion. I slowed down in the bike lane and waited for the cop to see me. Once he did, he waved me forward and said, "Go ahead." Then he followed it up with "Be careful. You're fuckin' crazy." I was riding in such a non-crazy manner, I can only assume he meant for biking downtown at all. I thanked him for his concern and pedaled on.

I hung a right onto Hennepin, home of the two-way bike lane. One of very few two lane bike lanes in Minneapolis, at least as far as I'm aware. Just wide enough to park a cruiser in.
cop parked in bike lane
Now, I realize there could have been an emergency inside and this was the best option for everybody's safety. But...

Date: April 25
Mileage: 11
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
April mileage: 265
Year to date mileage: 1174

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Throw out your gold teeth, and see how they roll

I don't have any gold teeth, but I do have a few fillings from when I was a youngster and ate way more sugar than I do now. But I haven't had a cavity for longer than I can honestly remember. But that's not through any particularly diligent dental routine on my part, mainly just good luck. About a year ago, I decided to straighten up and fly right and start getting in to the dentist for the regularly scheduled cleaning that my insurance pays for. No sense paying for the benefit if I'm not using it as often as possible, right?

Last spring my new dentist told me that I should have my wisdom teeth taken out. Sure thing, no problem, sez I. I'll have it done before I come back in November. But, no sense losing out on good cycling days during the summer being knocked on my butt for a few days by oral surgery. I can put that off until the weather starts to turn. October, no later. I swear.

At my 6 month cleaning in November both my hygenist and dentist scolded me, gently, for still having the same number of teeth as I'd had on my last visit. Sure thing, no problem, sez I. I'll have it done before I come back in May. You see where this is headed, don't you? Things are so hectic around the holidays. Plus, I'd rather have Lasik than oral surgery. I can put that off until January, when being outside is a bitch. February, no later. I swear.

Last night I thought I had something caught in my teeth as I was watching The Riches. I'd been eating some chips and salsa and assumed it was just a chunk of chip. So I hit it hard with the fancy toothbrush thinking it would dislodge the offending snack item. It turns out I dislodged a chunk of filling. And unfortunately it's on a tooth that borders one of the aforementioned wisdom teeth. Long story short, the dentist says "Sorry, can't help you. Get thee to an oral surgeon." So I've an appointment for May 1, and I'm hoping like hell my mouth holds together through the weekend. And in a bit of irony, or at least amusing juxtaposition, my Ironman rider packet showed up in the mail today.

Edit: In another bout of amusing juxtaposition just after I posted this, iTunes' random protocol served up the classic Metallica nugget: "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth" It's a mainly crappy bass solo, with some drums and guitar thrown in at the end. In the harsh light of honest appraisal, the worst track on Kill 'Em All. But the all out onslaught of the next track, Whiplash, makes up for it. But tonight the title alone made me laugh and not fast forward to the next track.

Date: April 24
Mileage: 10
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
April mileage: 254
Year to date mileage: 1163

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lake Pepin ride report

There actually wasn't a lot of suffering on the Lake Pepin loop this Sunday. At least on my part. Byron, the guy who had ridden a total of 15 miles this year before the ride did a little suffering, but somebody's got to. Thanks for taking one for the team, Byron. We rolled out in crack military road trip formation for the caravan down to Red Wing. Big props to Rob for giving me a ride down and back. Not only saving gas but maybe lives. I might have dozed off if I'd been driving solo on the way home.

I found out I'm a lousy bicycle photojournalist. I took a grand total of 11 photos on a ride that lasted nearly 6 hours and had about that number of rest stops. Most of the rest stops involved food. That's a ride I can get behind.

I learned a couple of things on this ride. One, my rear tire needs truing. Two, industrial sized staples can go all the way through a 25mm tire and come out the other side. And you can ride that way for about a mile and a half before the tube blows. I also learned I can change a tire on the side of the road while logey from a big cro-bag sammy and being heckled. And I even learned a skill, booting a tire with a $1 bill. If I was a wealthy bike shop owner I would have used a $20. Rumor has it there's carbon fiber woven into the twenties these days.

Even though the forecast was sketchy we only got rained on the last 10 miles or so. I even managed to get a little sunburn on my nose and forearms. Just enough to remind me to pack sunscreen for the Ironman, no matter what the forecast.

Today, I was tired but not overly so. And I was kind of sore, but again not overly so. I think I could have gone the additional 30 miles yesterday to make a full century. But at the same time I'm glad we only did 70.

Thanks for a great ride, gentlemen.

Date: April 22
Mileage: 70
Ride type/Bike: Lake Pepin loop/Jamis
April mileage: 244
Year to date mileage: 1153

Friday, April 20, 2007

What is that, 90% Rayon?

Conversation with my wife upon my arrival home.

Her: Oh, is that your new biking shirt?

Me: No, I wore this to work today.

Her: (dismayed) Oh no. Really?

Me: Really.

Date: April 19
Mileage: 12
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
April mileage: 156
Year to date mileage: 1065

Date: April 20
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
April mileage: 174
Year to date mileage: 1083

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Ironman Cometh

I signed up for the Ironman last Friday. Today's the last day to register, I believe. But now that I'm signed up I'm starting to realize how woefully unprepared I am. I'm sitting at just over 1000 miles for the year, but I think my longest ride so far has been about 35 miles. I'd hoped to get out this past weekend for something longer, but since I'd procrastinated and not done my taxes yet it wasn't meant to be. This seems to be a somewhat common theme among cyclists. Perhaps not riding is my punishment for waiting until the last minute.

So now I'm 11 days away, and haven't ridden since last Friday. I'm hoping to get out on Sunday for the Hiawatha Lake Pepin trip, but even that could be a suffer-fest.

Date: April 13
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
April mileage: 144
Year to date mileage: 1053

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What's missing?

Those of you with sharp eyes will notice there's something missing from this photo. It's the little thumb screw part of the presta valve that screws down and keeps air from leaking out. It came off inside my frame pump when I was fixing yet another flat a week or two ago. Finally remembered to upload the pics from the camera.

I also replaced the brake pads. The old ones, shown at the bottom, were significantly thinner than the new ones. No wonder I wasn't getting any stopping power from the rear wheel.

On the plus side, I got a batch of beer bottled tonight. Irish Stout. But you probably already knew that from the shamrocks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Arrogant Worms

I've had the following song stuck in my head for the better part of a week. I am now trying to publicly exorcise the demon.

Oh the Wolfe Island ferry is a very nice ferry
It's a very nice ferry it's the Wolfe Island ferry
The Wolfe Island ferry is a very nice ferry
It's a very nice ferry it's the Wolfe Island ferry

General Wolfe beat General Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham
And because of this they liked him an awful lot in Kingston
But the town was named Kingston in the county Frontenac
So they spotted an island and they called it Wolfe Island


It's got a couple highways and a really nice restaurant
Called the General Wolfe and it's named after General Wolfe
Who won a couple battles and had an island named after him
It's a really nice place and a good port to smuggle booze in from the States


Oh the Wolfe Island Ferry doesn't carry many wolves
Or any sorts of animals except a couple of seagulls
Who are really lazy so they ride on the ferry
and that way they don't have to fly all the way to Wolfe Island

Oh the Wolfe Island ferry doesn't carry any fairies
Cause fairies unlike seagulls don't really mind the flying
They fly over to Wolfe Island sprinkling fairy dust all over
But it's really more like battery acid so you burn your skin until you die

Oh they got lots of potatoes and Anne of Green Gables
Oh crap that's Prince Edward Island
Sometimes I get confused when I switch my medication
But I can see the bunny


Date: April 3
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Trike
April mileage: 52
Year to date mileage: 961

Date: April 4
Mileage: 20
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
April mileage: 72
Year to date mileage: 981

Date: April 5
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
April mileage: 96
Year to date mileage: 1005

Date: April 9
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
April mileage: 120
Year to date mileage: 1029

Monday, April 02, 2007


In 2003, DHL purchased Airborne Express for about $1 Billion dollars. Their intent was to use Airborne's existing domestic fleet to augment their international network and become a threat to UPS and other shipping giants. Since 2003, the once familiar grey Airborne vans were quietly repainted and/or replaced , and the grey fleet became bright DHL yellow. Highly visible trucks, vans, and planes. They want to grow, according to the new combined company's chairman Carl Donaway. Donaway said, "And if we're going to grow, we're going to need more capacity."

This morning I was heading toward work, traveling north in the bike lane on Minnehaha Ave. As I approached 45th Street a DHL van turned north onto Minnehaha about 50 feet ahead of me. Traffic was fairly light, but the DHL van decided not to utilize the nearly empty main lane. Instead, the driver drove north in the bike lane. Apparently he was looking for a house and couldn't quite read the house numbers from the actual car lane. After a few blocks(!) he found the house he was looking for. Because there were a few cars parked in front of the house he wanted, he just stopped in the bike lane. Looking for an address is arduous business, so he'd been driving slowly. I'd been pacing him at about 50 feet behind for those few blocks. But once he stopped, I had to pull up and stop. There was, of course, traffic blocking me from taking the auto lane to go around the DHL van.

I pulled up behind the van and stopped. After waiting a few seconds, I gave the back door two quick open-palmed smacks to get the driver's attention. He looked at me in the rear view mirror, and I gestured for him to pull forward and park somewhere other than a valid lane of traffic. Instead of doing the considerate thing and moving, he shut off the van and got out with his package. I said, "You can't park here, this is a bike lane." His response? "Yeah." And then he walked off toward the house to deliver the package.

So, with the "How's my driving?" bumper sticker staring me straight in the face I pulled out the cell and called 800-827-SAFE. I informed them that the DHL truck number ZE506 had both driven in the bike lane and was currently parked in the bike lane. I'm not sure what's done with those reports, but it made me feel better. Carl Donaway says his company needs more capacity to grow. I would disagree, Carl. If you're going to grow, you're going to need more courtesy.

Date: April 2
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
April mileage: 26
Year to date mileage: 935

Sunday, April 01, 2007

That's the cleanest chain I've ever seen!

After a rainy, cold commute on Friday with a(nother) flat tire on the Schwinn, I decided to spend the weekend doing some long overdue bike maintenence. I swapped out the tires on the Schwinn for my Panaracers, hoping that this will alleviate the constant flat tires on the Schwinn. The rear tire that was on there was so worn that I threw it away. I also swapped out the moustache bars for a set of cheapie road drops I picked up a week or two ago. The moustache bars just weren't working for me on that bike. They'll see service again somewhere, I'm sure.

I started looking at all the bikes hanging on the wall, and about maintenence in general. Figuring I should be a responsible bike owner, I took all the chains off and started cleaning them the Sheldon Brown way. I probably should have kept all the parts seperate instead of putting them into one giant bucket. But, it should only take me about 6 hours to reassemble everything. Time well spent, if you ask me.

Date: March 30
Mileage: 19
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
March mileage: 284
Year to date mileage: 885

Date: March 31
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
March mileage: 308
Year to date mileage: 909