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