Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Blogger Formerly Known as a Single Speeder

Dear Geared Bicycles,
I know we've had our differences over the past few years. I've taken you for granted, and even neglected you. Especially during the winter months when you really need me most. I can hardly blame you for becoming disfunctional and nearly inoperable with no love for two winters. I can't help that I became frustrated with you and cast you off this winter with nary a thought. I haven't shifted since November.

But yesterday we rode together again, and I remembered all the good times we used to have. The easy spinning going uphill. The ability to not spin out going downhill. All available with the simple flick of a lever. Geared bicycles, let's never fight again!

Date: January 28
Mileage: 16
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph (with new 3 speed rear hub)
January mileage: 309
Year to date mileage: 309

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Velocipete, Wheelsmith

Apparently it's true, there's no such thing as a stupid question. Last week I asked the internets why Jana Ireton wasn't sending me notes signed "kisses" and then she goes and leaves a comment on my blog. Signed "many thanks"! Ah, well, it would never last anyway.

I managed to get my Triumph converted over from a single speed to a three speed this afternoon. I had built the wheel last weekend and spent some time here and there doing final truing over the last week. I'm one of those people who will continue to fiddle with something until it gets broken so this afternoon I finally took the wheel out of the stand and mounted it on the bike. To take advantage of the extra gearing I had to replace the grips, run a new shift cable and housing and mount an old bar end shifter I had lying around. I took it for a quick spin in the neighborhood and everything tested out fine. However I'm packing a 15mm wrench for tomorrow's commute, just in case any post-installation issues should arise. I'm hoping it's fine, but I'm always nervous after making a major configuration change like this until I've got a ride or two under my belt. But my knees haven't been enjoying the hills here in Eagan on the singlespeed, so this was a good way to find a better method.

This is the first time I'd built a wheel from scratch. The wheel itself is built around a Sturmey-Archer three speed hub from 1976. It's a 36 hole hub which I'm told means it most likely was manufactured for Schwinn. Kevin was clearing out some parts and made me a deal on it. I got a Salsa Delgado rim and the spokes from Hiawatha. The wheelbuilding portion was actually quite straightforward. As long as you pay attention and don't miss a hole it's not too hard. It got a little more interesting when I started thinking about dish and roundness and lateral trueness and spoke tension and all those finer points, but I think I built a decent wheel. Time is the revelator, as they say. Either way, I'm glad to have built it. Yet another mechanical item that, while I'm not a master of, I feel much more comfortable with.

Date: January 23
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
January mileage: 264
Year to date mileage: 264

Date: January 24
Mileage: 10
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
January mileage: 274
Year to date mileage: 274

Date: January 26
Mileage: 19
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Triumph
January mileage: 293
Year to date mileage: 293

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Can it really be true?

From the South Metro Crime Report section of the Strib:
DEC. 1

Suspicious person.

"While on routine patrol, police stopped to check on the welfare of a woman parked on the side of a road. The woman, a California resident, told police that she had been sitting in her car on the side of the road for 15 minutes because it was snowing and her windows were iced over. Police assisted the woman by turning on the defrost to clear her windows."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Innovate or Die

Every once in a great while I get a random comment on a really old blog post. It's always a bit puzzling, and even disconcerting. Since I rarely go back and re-read my blog entries I often forget that they're out there and other people might be reading them. I got a comment today on a post that I originally made nearly a year ago, February 20, 2007 to be precise. And in this case, it's bad news. From alert poster Bob, who seems to have some sort of special connection to the Angel:

Hello Bob,

Happy 2008! I hope all is well with you. Another great year of cycling is among us and TOC is less than a month away.

I was hoping to share the good news of my return as the Specialized Angel for the 3rd year, but Specialized did not ask for my return. I was heart-broken when they gave me the news that they decided to have another girl from Spain be the Angel at TOC this year. They thanked me for all I've done to make the Angel iconic and to not take it personal, but it was the majority opinion of having this someone be the Angel who spoke multiple languages and keeping it fresh for the press.

It was very difficult for me to imagine someone else in my wings. After all, I was the first Specialized Angel who the cycling industry was so taken with and I was so taken with them. Being that there has been one Devil (Didi Senft) in Europe for many years, I was dreaming whole-heartily of being the one Angel for the U.S. I do respect Specialized's decision for whomever they choose to be their Angel - I'm just disheartened that it will not be me.

I have to say as I told Specialized that I am truly grateful to have been the Specialized Angel all this time and will remember this amazing experience for the rest of my life. I've been able to embrace the cycling phenomenon like never before. I absolutely loved being at the KOMs, starts, & finishes blowing my signature kisses to all the riders, team cars, motorcades, police squad cars, caravan, and of course the fantastic fans. So a special thanks to you and Pez Cycling for featuring me these past 2 years and although you will not see me in my glorious wings, I will be along the sidelines cheering on the riders at various stages of TOC and enjoying every moment as I have always done. And yes, "I am Specialized"!

Jana Ireton

Anyway, it seems clear that Specialized is planning to kick Jana to the curb in favor of some fresh faced girl who can speak more than one language. We'll have to just remember her as she was.
jana ireton

P.S. Why isn't Jana Ireton sending me notes signed "Kisses"?

Date: January 22
Mileage: 20
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
January mileage: 246
Year to date mileage: 246

Friday, January 18, 2008

I need a long winter's nap

First update: The principal survived. From all accounts he enjoyed his evening outdoors. However none of the kids have seen him without his shoes on, so we cannot verify that he still has the same number of toes he had when he began the night. Frostbite can be sneaky.

Last night I was a bad husband. My wife left me a voicemail at work letting me know she was taking the kids to the Y and that they might not be home when I got home. I took this as a good opportunity to run an errand. I swung over into St. Paul to pick up some brewing supplies at Northern Brewer, but severely underestimated how long the detour and the shopping would take me. So they were all home when I got home, and had been worried that something happened to me, since I was about 45 minutes behind my normal arrival time. And of course, I had forgotten my cell phone yesterday. Note to self: Even if you think the errand will be quick, let the family know about it so they don't worry.

While at the brew store I picked up ingredients to make Mead. I've never made it before, but the instructions don't seem to hard and it's similar to making beer. My brother in law is a big Renaissance Fair guy and wants to try mead-making. So he and a buddy are coming over Saturday afternoon around 1:00 to do a batch. If you're interested, you're more than welcome to join us. Note to self #2: 12 pounds of honey is a really heavy thing to carry in a messenger bag for 9 miles.

After biking 25 miles yesterday in single digits and another 18 today with (negative) double digit windchill, I don't have a strong desire to leave the house until June or so. Plus, the forecast for tomorrow told me not to leave the house:



I think I'm going to skip the Hiawatha ride, stay warm and get things ready for the mead fest. I did bring my computer home, so theoretically I could work from home until June but I know it's not going to work out that way. So perhaps I'll just stay inside until Tuesday. I've got a wheel to build and mead to make, so that should keep me plenty busy.

Date: January 16
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
January mileage: 183
Year to date mileage: 183

Date: January 17
Mileage: 20
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
January mileage: 203
Year to date mileage: 203

Date: January 17
Mileage: 5
Ride type/Bike: Errand/Triumph
January mileage: 208
Year to date mileage: 208

Date: January 18
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Errand/Triumph
January mileage: 226
Year to date mileage: 226

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


It's been plenty cold here in the Twin Cities, and the forecast calls for more of the same. Yesterday on my way home I was able to create a mighty chin-sicle. My kids thought it was one of the funniest things they'd ever seen. So did my wife.
But then the boys over at Surly went and topped that feat, quite handily.
There's also a fellow out there in the metro who goes by nanobiker. He's sporting the beard-sicle:

This morning it was below zero, but I couldn't get the chin-sicle cooking, or on the way home. Even the dog is cold. Cold enough that she wore her sweater. I think the pathetic look on her face is because she knows I'm going to embarrass her on the internet in front of all the other dogs.

Tonight after dinner we loaded up the fam into the car and drove to the kids' elementary school. All the kids completed their January reading assignments, and their reward was that their principal promised to spend the night outside in his fish house in front of the school. Here's a photo of him earlier in the afternoon, getting his read on.

He's a big time biker, and I'm tempted to swing by on my way to work tomorrow to see if he survived or if he turned into a principal-sicle.

Date: January 10
Mileage: 10
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
January mileage: 111
Year to date mileage: 111

Date: January 11
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
January mileage: 129
Year to date mileage: 129

Date: January 14
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
January mileage: 147
Year to date mileage: 147

Date: January 15
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
January mileage: 165
Year to date mileage: 165

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Carry that Weight

The news is bad. Rachel Dow was found in the Mississippi river on Saturday. I didn't know her, but it hardly seems to matter. It's a sad day here in the Twin Cities. If you know any details about this, please come forward and share what you know. It may help.

Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullabye

R.I.P. Rachel

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Spread the word

Rachel Dow, 29, has not been seen or heard of since Thursday night - missing work in the process - not like her. She would have been on this blue Bianchi fixed gear bicycle in Uptown Minneapolis, possibly heading towards the river for a solo ride (edit - she was seen biking alone from Uptown Bar). It was relatively warm Thursday night, making for good weather to go outside.

If you have seen Rachel or her bicycle, call Mark (***.***.****), Erika (***.***.****), B Rose (***.***.****) or the Minneapolis Police at 612-348-2345 or 911.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

3 Speed Tour 2008

Image from Radio3

I had an idle moment yesterday at work and thought, "Perhaps the internet can entertain me!" I ended up at the 3 Speed Tour website through some aimless bike link surfing, and wondered when registration opened. The site didn't say specifically, but it sort of seemed as though they were accepting reservations. I emailed the Mrs. and asked if she would be interested in a long slow bike ride. To my surprise, she said yes. So I emailed the tour organizer and we got the last two available spots. So we shall be an English Gentleman and Gentlewoman for one weekend this upcoming May. I'm quite thrilled.

Date: January 8
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Raleigh Triumph
January mileage: 91
Year to date mileage: 91

Date: January 9
Mileage: 10
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Raleigh Triumph
January mileage: 101
Year to date mileage: 101

Sunday, January 06, 2008


I had a discrepancy between my mileage as stated on the blog and my mileage on the Excel spreadsheet that I use. It took until the last day of my nearly two week vacation, but I sorted it out. Excel was right, I missed a number on the addition somewhere along the line. My official total for 2007 was 3836 miles. But what I found more interesting was the breakdown of how often I rode each different bike and how many miles each bike had for the year.

Miles per bike, from greatest to least:
Schwinn Premis: 2010
Jamis Satellite: 960
Raleigh Eclipse: 317
Sun EZ-Tad Trike: 159
Schwinn Suburban: 151
Raleigh Triumph: 143
Raleigh Robin Hood: 66
Miyata Shredder: 30
Total: 3836

Number of rides per bike, from greatest to least:
Schwinn Premis: 85
Jamis Satellite: 35
Raleigh Eclipse: 16
Raleigh Triumph: 9
Schwinn Suburban: 7
Sun EZ-Tad Trike: 6
Raleigh Robin Hood: 4
Miyata Shredder: 1
Total: 163

Here the really interesting thing, to me at least. I either didn't own all of the bikes listed all of the year. The Suburban was acquired in May and wasn't road worthy until July. The first ride on my Triumph wasn't until December 5. Yet both of those bikes got more miles that a couple that I owned the entire year.

I also broke my riding down by the types of ride I did. Those were fairly predictable results, at least in the commuting department:
Commute: 3263
Hiawatha: 420
Ironman: 104
Family ride: 30
Errands: 10
Exploring: 9
Total: 3836

I also broke this down by number of rides:
Commute: 142
Hiawatha: 15
Family ride: 3
Ironman: 1
Errands: 1
Exploring: 1
Total: 163

I was a bit surprised at only having 3 rides labeled as "Family" but since the girls just learned how to ride without training wheels this year, that's not bad. I spent a whole lot of time with them on bikes, but I was usually running along side them rather than riding. I also didn't count the times when I would ride back and forth on the street behind our house with them, only when we went somewhere. I'm hoping this number will go up quite a bit in 2008.

The last trivial statistic I can bring myself to talk about is my month over month mileage. This one's pretty self explanatory:
January: 309
February: 282
March: 308
April: 379
May: 332
June: 265
July: 472
August: 389
September: 395
October: 386
November: 176
December: 143

No point or conclusions to draw from this, but I made a graph.

That's a lot of data. I think I've even bored myself.

Date: January 3
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Raleigh Triumph
January mileage: 34
Year to date mileage: 34

Date: January 4
Mileage: 14
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Raleigh Triumph
January mileage: 48
Year to date mileage: 48

Date: January 5
Mileage: 25
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Raleigh Triumph
January mileage: 73
Year to date mileage: 73

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Is that fahrenheit or celsius?

A commenter on a previous post (Hi Heidi!) asked how one dresses for winter cycling. This is a question I get a lot. And while I didn't really plan this out, my lovely wife was so amused by my get-up today that she asked if she could take a photo of me before I left. I obliged, and she took this photo as she snickered and made snide comments about my ability to rob a bank:

It was 1 degree (fahrenheit) above zero when I left the house today. I was wearing, from bottom to top:

Hi-Tec hiking boots
one pair thin plastic socks (made from recycled soda bottles or something like that)
one pair medium weight merino wool socks

This winter I've switched from clipless pedals (and my SPD sandle/wool sock/neoprene bootie combo) to regular platform pedals and regular boots. And I'm loving it. If it gets really cold, I could even wear my Sorels. How wonderful. My toes got a little cold standing around waiting for the ride to start, but they were fine while I was riding.

one pair midweight tights
one pair homemade knickers
one pair underwear

There's about a 3 inch gap between where my socks end and my knickers start and the tights are my only layer. This part of my legs was a little cold heading in to the wind, but not bad once I warmed up.

Craft long sleeved base layer
cheap cotton henley-style long sleeved shirt
Canari cycling jacket

My torso was fine, no problems at all. This is the combo I've been using the last few years, and I don't plan on making any changes here. It ain't broke, why fix it?

Head and hands
Pearl Izumi balaclava
Old school ski goggles
Ultra cheep army surplus "trigger finger" mittens

A couple of changes here this year. Last spring I lost one of my Craft lobster mittens I'd been wearing the last few years. I was bummed out, because they were great gloves. And if they didn't cost $50 I would replace them without hesitation. But I was at Fleet Farm this fall and saw the trigger finger mitts for $8 and decided to give them a whirl. So far, they have been just as good as the Craft gloves. Today was about as cold as I've ridden with them, and they did great.

Of course, after the ride I was getting caught up on my blog reading. When I got to the Copenhagen Cycling Chic blog I saw a picture of another ride from New Year's Eve. Coincidentally it was 1 degree in Copenhagen. After seeing this, I feel that I may have overdressed a bit.

Ray took a lovely photo of me, Rob and Boone's Farm on the ride today:

Good thing I showered before the ride today. I'd hate to be on the internets in all my unwashed glory.

Finally, I received this comic in my email today:

Rob will understand.

Date: January 1
Mileage: 16
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Raleigh Triumph
January mileage: 16
Year to date mileage: 16