Saturday, June 30, 2007

Various and Sundry

I've gotten a bit more done on the Suburban over the last week or two. I'm somewhat amazed at the level of detail Schwinn had. Today when you buy a bike you get all brand name components. Ritchey, Shimano, Campy, Phil, the list goes on. But it's pretty rare to have a bike that has it's own branded components. But that's what's all over the Schwinn. The seat says "Schwinn approved" on the back plate. The same thing is imprinted on the handlebar grips. I took the front fork out to relube the bearings, and even the headset and bearing races are stamped with Schwinn. Odds are that most consumers would never see the race for their bearings, but it was important to put the Schwinn name on it nonetheless. I found it interesting.

Even though I post my mileage, I don't spend a great deal of thinking about it. But today's the last day of June, the midway point of 2007, a good time to do a mid-year check. I'm sitting just a little shy of where I wanted to be for mileage at the halfway point. I'm a little ahead of last year, but I had hoped to be over 1900 by now.

Date: June 29
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
June mileage: 238
Year to date mileage: 1860

Date: June 30
Mileage: 27
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Jamis
June mileage: 265
Year to date mileage: 1887

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker

I have had several discussions over the last few years about when "middle age" truly begins. My initial argument was that a person living in the U.S. these days could reasonbly expect to live to 90, if they take care of themselves. If you divide 90 by three, you get 30. So the first third of your life is zero to 30. The second, or "middle" third is 31-60, and the final third is 61-90. Most everybody I've run this theory by has said 30 is too young to be considered "middle aged". And I now believe they're right.

Middle aged is now defined as when you receive your invitation to your high school's 20th year class reunion. Mine came yesterday. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Date: June 27
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
June mileage: 212
Year to date mileage: 1834

Monday, June 25, 2007

Not that I'm advocating anything

But where in the Twin Cities would a guerrilla bike lane be most valuable?

Story found via

Date: June 25
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn Premis
June mileage: 186
Year to date mileage: 1808

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What some people won't do to lose weight

I was watching Colbert last night, and they were talking about the new over the counter weight loss product, alli. It's a drug that makes your body stop absorbing fat. How do you know it's working? The following are verbatim from their website:

You may get:
gas with oily spotting
loose stools
more frequent stools that may be hard to control

The excess fat that passes out of your body is not harmful. In fact, you may recognize it as something that looks like the oil on top of a pizza.

Until you have a sense of any treatment effects, it's probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work.

Yeah. I think I'll just keep riding my bike and burning calories the old fashioned way, if it's all the same to you.

Date: June 19
Mileage: 30
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
June mileage: 134
Year to date mileage: 1756

Date: June 20
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
June mileage: 160
Year to date mileage: 1782

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Light Rail meeting

One week and one day from today (that's Wednesday, June 27th) there will be a meeting held by the Metro Council. The topic of the meeting is to discuss development of the next section of Light Rail, the Central Corridor. This is the much needed "downtown to downtown" portion of the LRT that will run down the University Avenue corridor.

I'm hoping to attend the meeting to see what they have to say about incorporating bicycle travel into the corridor. You should too.

Central Corridor Resource Center
1080 Lexington Ave
St. Paul, MN
Wednesday June 27
6:30-8:30 pm

Date: June 18
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Jamis
June mileage: 104
Year to date mileage: 1726

Friday, June 15, 2007

Project Suburban: Update

It's been a hectic June in the VelociPete household, as can be seen by the low mileage numbers for the month. I have managed to make a little garage time for making some progress on the Schwinn. I decided to start at the front of the bike and work my way back. I forgot to take any close up shots of the wheel before I started. It was coated with a layer of surface rust and various gunk. Here's a couple shots of the rear wheel, which is in similar condition, just for comparison.

I cleaned up the rim and hub with soapy water, steel wool and elbow grease. I also repacked the bearings in the hub so it spins smoothly and trued up the wheel. I lost a fair amount of time trying to figure out Schwinn's mysterious tire sizing codes. The rim is stamped with "S6 Tubular" so I purchased the only true S6 tire out on the market, a Kenda. However, the Kenda had a 26" diameter and when I tried to put it on the rim it was readily apparent that the rim was quite a bit larger.

I did some digging on the interwebs, and am now almost as confused as before. I believe, based on what I've read, that the S6 designation doesn't have a thing to do with diameter but instead refers to the style of the actual rim. Both the S5 and S6 are 1 3/8" or 1 1/4" rim width (there were both, to make things more confusing). The difference is whether there is a knurl in the center of the rim or not. And S5 and S6 rims are available in multiple sizes, including both 26" and 27" diameter. There were also S2 and S4 models, but I didn't spend much time on those.

There's even confusion about what wheel size came on the Suburban. This site lists a 26" wheel for the '74 Suburban, which clearly isn't the case. The same site then contradicts itself because it contains a scan of the original Consumer Catalog from 1974 which lists the tires as 27 x 1 1/4" gumwalls.

The scanned Consumer Catalog was as close to the horse's mouth as I was going to get, so I picked up a 27 x 1 1/8" Continental Ultra Sport tire in that size from Hiawatha. Jim was a little concerned about the lack of hook on the rim, but thought the tire would work. I mounted it yesterday and inflated it to 80 psi with no signs of sidewall bulging. I'll probably leave it at this pressure as I work on the rest of the bike, and maybe increase to 100psi to see how it holds up.

Date: June 9
Mileage: 30
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha Offroad/Miyata Shredder
June mileage: 78
Year to date mileage: 1700

Friday, June 08, 2007

It's sailing time again, yarrr

Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late
The cannons don't thunder, there's nothin' to plunder
I'm an almost-forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late

The Saint Paul Sailing program kicked off on Tuesday night and caught me unawares. I'd signed up to work the June class way back in April and forgot all about it. I was on the bike and needed to get to the East Side of Saint Paul. Fortunately, I used to live over there. I took the 94 bus from downtown to downtown and then rode to the Vento Trail. I didn't realize that the Vento trail was closed for something called the Lower Phalen Creek Project. So I took a less convenient on-street route to Phalen.

After class I decided to try the fancy new Phalen Boulevard. This street was just being built when I lived on the East Side. It has both a bike lane and an off-street bike path. I chose the bike lane and found it to be a great street to ride. Until I got to 35E and both the bike lane and bike path end. Nice planning, St Paul. I rode Pennsylvania Ave west and took Rice south (both very bicycle unfriendly streets) until I could hook up with John Ireland and ultimately Summit Ave. I would have spent more time trying to figure out a better route, but I had forgotten my taillight at home and found the batteries in my front blinkie to be wanting. So I really wanted to cover most of my route before it got dark.

Rob has been pondering bike lanes for a while. As I commented on his blog, I like and use them when they're available. But my number 1 beef about bike lanes is that they end with no warning, and often leave a cyclist in a much worse spot for biking than they would have been had they not chosen that route. If Phalen Blvd didn't have a bike lane/path, I probably would have headed back downtown and found a cleaner route. Whoever is making the planning decisions on these things needs to take a wholistic look at the city map and the gaps. Take a look at this map of Minneapolis. The blue lines are marked bike lanes. Outside of downtown, lanes that actually connect are almost non-existant. It's sad, really. Traffic engineers, are you listening? If you're going to build it, build it right.

Date: June 6
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
June mileage: 48
Year to date mileage: 1670

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Upcoming Bike Events

Courtesy of the City of Minneapolis, here are some upcoming bike events and a chance to give your opinion on bike maps. Enjoy!

1) The City of Minneapolis Bicycle Program needs your input. The preliminary design process for a print version of the Minneapolis bicycle map is now underway. If you would like to provide feedback related to what this map will look like, please look at the current online Minneapolis bike map. You may also choose to look at bike maps from other cities (for ideas):

Chicago (click anywhere on the generic Chicago map to see their bike map)
New York City
Portland, OR
San Francisco

Then, send your feedback via e-mail to Shaun Murphy at Specifically, answer the following question: What elements would you like to see included in a Minneapolis bicycle map?

2) The Bell Museum is holding its 3rd Annual Bike-In at the Bell on Saturday, June 16th. Activities will include a bicycle scavenger hunt, a bike fashion show, a bike art parade, workshops, and bike tours, among other things. All ages (including children) are welcome. The City of Minneapolis Bicycle Program will staff a booth at the event.

3) Bicycling Magazine is giving away 50 bikes in 6 cities this summer, through its BikeTown program. Minneapolis is one of those 6 cities. If you or someone you know needs a bike, write a 50-word essay about how a new bike would change your (or another person’s) life. Bicycling Magazine is short on essays from Minneapolis, so be sure to spread the word.

Date: June 5
Mileage: 30
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Sailing/Premis
June mileage: 30
Year to date mileage: 1652

Friday, June 01, 2007

Pappa's got a brand new bag

Sometime this winter I started to get frustrated by the lack of pockets and general ability to organize any of my commuting crap in my current panniers. I've got a set of cheapie Nashbar panniers that are large and generally do a good job of getting my things from point A to point B. But since they're just one big cavity, all the small items tend to fall to the bottom. So when I need stuff like my work ID, metropass, cell phone and bike tools I often end up with everything I'm carrying strewn about on the sidewalk as I dig for it. Back in February I took a picture of all the crap that was living in my bag on a more or less permanent basis.

A bill, a Barnes & Noble gift card, a loose credit card, gum, various business cards, first aid kit, pump, two balaclavas, two sets of gloves, goggles, u-lock, tags from the newer balaclava, two belts (brown & black), various plastic silverware, three different tubes, and various small items. I needed to stop the madness.

I've been shopping about for a new bag, but couldn't find quite what I wanted. So on a whim Tuesday night I went shopping. First stop was the luggage section of TJ Maxx. After browsing several potential candidates I found a blue bag for $15.
diy bike panniers
Next was Home Cheapo. I spent $8 on some bungee cords and various small hardware bits. I brought all the goodies home and went to work.
diy bike panniers
First I got some 1/4" plywood that I had lying around the garage and traced the outline of the bag on it. I cut it to size with a jig saw and fitted it into the rear pocket of the bag, trimming until it fit just so.
diy bike panniers
To get the right location, I first rigged the bag so it would hang on my rear rack. Then I clipped a shoe in to the pedal and checked for heel strike. Once I had a location that was far enough back I marked two spots with a sharpie. I took a drill and drilled holes through the bag and the plywood. Then I inserted screws through the holes. On the outside I attached some corner brackets to the screws to act as hooks.
diy bike panniers
One they were attached I used a vice grip to bend the angle brackets into more of a hook shape. I fine tuned this until they went on and off the rack easily.
diy bike panniers
The final part was the retention system. The bungee cords I bought have hooks at both ends, and are adjustable. This made it super easy. I drilled two more holes in the bag and plywood, this time closer together at the bottom. I ran the bungee through these and attached an S-hook. Here's how it looks from the outside.
diy bike panniers
On the inside I used a coping saw to cut two notches at the top of the plywood panel for the hooks to fit into. This prevents them from sliding around.
diy bike panniers
I adjusted the tension on the bungee so it would work with my rack. Badda bing, thats' it. I used the new bag on my commute Wednesday and Thursday with no problems. I was even lucky enough to get caught in the rainstorm on Wednesday to test the bag's weather resistance. It rained pretty hard on the ride home, but only for about 15 minutes. Everything in the bag remained dry, but I have a feeling that things would start to get soggy if it was a sustained downpour. I would label this as "water resistant."

May bike to work challenge - update

I did fairly well, overall, on my personal Bike to Work month challenge. There were two days where I drove to work to get my laptop, and then worked from home due to a sick kid. And one day where I just out and out drove to the park and ride and took the train. May has ended up as my second highest mileage month this year, and would be #1 if we factor out the 100 mile Ironman in April. I can totally live with that.

Date: May 30
Mileage: 20
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
May mileage: 312
Year to date mileage: 1602

Date: May 31
Mileage: 20
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
May mileage: 332
Year to date mileage: 1622