Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Idaho stop

For the record, I like Phyllis Kahn.  Not due to any legislative acumen or anything like that, but purely based on entertainment value.  She drives most of the local columnists and other folks who are in the know, politically, utterly batty.  Mainly because she seems to be utterly batty.  But watching people who care about such things get so worked into a tizzy over Phyllis' every goofy action is high entertainment indeed.
Imagine my surprise when I found that Phyllis has done something I agree with, and wholeheartedly support!  Phyllis, working with Jim Carlson, wants to make it legal for bikes to treat stop signs like yield signs, and stop lights like stop signs.  A similar law is currently in place in Idaho and from all accounts works just fine.  When I visited Boise last summer I saw tons of bikes.  I wasn't in Boise long enough to form a truly informed opinion, but there didn't seem to be a lot of traffic conflicts between bikes and cars.  Had I ridden there I might have felt different. 
I've long felt that the rules of the road are currently written exclusively with cars in mind, and then as an afterthought somebody tacked on a clause that says "Oh yeah, this applies to bikes too."  The reality is that bikes and cars are different types of vehicles and while most of the driving statutes work for both, not all do.  And through pure and simple oversight, the playing field is tilted in the favor of cars.  So this simple change would be a big win for the Minnesota cycling community.  Throw in a nice Vulnerable Road Users ruling and this might be a dang nice place to ride.  Not that it's not pretty good already.
Oh, the Strib has an online poll asking whether you think this is a good idea or not:
I'll give you a hint:  It's a good idea.  At the time of this writing, people not in favor of the change were leading 61% to 38%.  Vote early, vote often.

  _ -\ <, _
( * ) / ( * )

Thursday, May 22, 2008

No respect for cyclists

Even David Byrne, of Talking Heads fame, doesn't get any respect when he does something stupid on his bike:
"You drank too much and fell off your bike" could be the title of a drawing by David Shrigley. But in this case, it actually happened to me after meeting Shrigley for dinner and drinks. While riding home, C and I were briefly separated. Upon reuniting, my tire slipped on the cobblestones of West 14th St., and I remember lying in the street, looking at oncoming headlights and rolling towards the curb so they wouldn't run me over. Two cops approached and looked down at me. "Have you been drinking?" they asked. Probably a typical question in that neighborhood at that time of night. "Yes, I've had a few drinks," I replied. "But I'm hurt." I managed to get up by myself and retrieve my bike (no help from the NYPD, though one of them asked if I was David Byrne) and it wasn't until later, when I was in bed, that the pain made itself truly known. I wondered how I would ever even get out of bed. The next day I went to the hospital and x-rays revealed two broken ribs — numbers 3 and 5, way up high. They're healing now, little by little, and I was told that in 3 weeks I should be OK.
Ouch.  In other news, VelociNancy and I completed the 3 Speed Tour in grand style and had grand fun doing it.  I'm hoping to write up a proper post this weekend, with glossy pictures and 3 part harmonies and all that.  For now, you can check out some of the pictures I took over the weekend along with pics from other flickr users in the 3 speed pool I started.  Apparently 85 miles of riding a 3 speed at low speed was just the thing for my pulled groin muscle.  It was noticeably sore during the frequent mount and dismount procedure of the 3 speed tour, but this week I've commuted 3 days in a row and it's felt better than it has in a long time.
Date:  May 17-18
Distance:  85
Ride Type/Bike:  3 Speed Tour/Robin Hood Sports
Month to Date mileage:  153
Year to Date mileage:  1477
Date:  May 20
Distance:  26
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date mileage:  179
Year to Date mileage:  1503
Date:  May 21
Distance:  20
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date mileage:  199
Year to Date mileage:  1523

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bike to Work Day bikes

Here are some random pictures of cool bikes I saw on Bike to Work day.
First, an Electra that One on One had on display:
And a nice looking Swobo, also from One on One:

I saw several Big Dummies out and about. This one was pulling double duty as a display table:
Big Dummy
A bitchin' old Schwinn, tilted at an unflattering angle on the rack:

This lime green Mercer was an eye catcher:

Another snappy vintage Schwinn:

A nice old Raleigh:

I was so taken aback by the simplicity of this rack, I didn't even notice what kind of bike it is:

My coworker Charlie's bike. The blue one with the beat up Brooks saddle. Not the one that looks like it has a studded dildo for a downtube:

A nice old Wyoming:

The oldest bike I saw all day, a vintage Raleigh. All ready for the 3 speed tour:

Bike to Work Day Recap

Bike to work day for 2008 is in the books. And from my perspective, it was great. I got to see a lot of people I know and also meet some people I didn't know. I also saw a lot more people biking to work that I knew were newbies. I'm cynical enough to know that once either gas prices go down, we get used to the higher prices, or the weather turns cold most of them will go back to driving. But some will keep at it, future junkies like the rest of us.

I was particularly excited by the turnout from my coworkers. My company has been a top level sponsor for the event for the last few years, and folks from work have lead most of the Commuter Pods or whatever they call them year after year. But it's always been the same old folks, the ones we don't need to reach out to. But this year, a guy I've worked with for over 10 years and has never ridden a bicycle to work rode on Monday. He made the complete rookie mistake of getting his pants caught in his chain. Those khakis may never come clean. But here he is on Wednesday, showing how a simple rubber band can make all the difference:
Colin Silver
And today he applied for underground bike parking and was talking about discontinuing his bus pass for the summer. Another coworker who has talked about biking to work for years but never has called me yesterday. He said, "This year, I'm going to do it. Once I cross the Mendota Bridge how do I get to Minnehaha Park?" He managed to follow my directions and was part of the Commuter Convoy this morning.

Another sign that things were going well at work is the bike rack. In all my years of commuting, I have never seen the underground rack area so packed with bikes. Including previous bike to work days. I had to lean my bike against the wall because there was literally not a single place at the racks to squeeze it in.

And on the way in we saw Mayor Rybak on the Greenway, pulling in to the soon to open Freewheel Bike Center. And here he is later downtown. I think it really helps to have a mayor who rides. He gets it. Here he is, fresh off the bike going to the registration table:
RT Rybak Bike To Work Day
And what does RT ride? A Trek. With a rack, lights and fenders. No trailer queen.
RT Rybak's bike

We had possibly the youngest rider in our convoy this morning. She needed a fruit bar and a juice box to fuel up. Riding on the back of dad's bike is hard work.

So in short, I thought this was one of the more well run and enjoyable Bike to Work days I've participated in. Maybe I'm just feeling optimistic. But I thought it was a well done event.

Date: May 14
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Kuwahara
May mileage: 68
Year to date mileage: 1392

Monday, May 12, 2008

Show of Hands

It was an exciting day here at Velocipete World Headquarters. It was my first commute since I decided to take time off to heal from a rabid spider bite on my penis. And all in all, the commute went well. However, due to lots of other activity throughout the day I'm going to play it safe and skip tomorrow's commute. I mean, skip biking. If I could figure out a way to skip commuting entirely that would be another story. It's unfortunate, because today was the kick off for Bike to Work Week. Normally here at VPWHQ every week is bike to work week, but this is a time for the rest of you slackers out there to give it a whirl. I'm sure there's no connection to the nearly $4 per gallon gas prices, but the bike rack in our building was more full than I've ever seen it today. Yay Bike to Work Week.

Speaking of, this morning I hoofed it over to the downtown Mpls. library to see the conclusion of the Great Commuter Challenge. The illustrious Mayor Rybak managed to win the race on his bicycle. He's probably been getting lots of practice biking after losing his drivers license. County Commissioner Toni Carter came in second through a combination of walking and transit. Roadguy placed third. I swear this thing has to be rigged. Though Rybak was breathing pretty heavily when he came around to shake my hand. You can read more about the "race" from Roadguy.

For what I believe will be the fourth year I'll be leading a Commuter Convoy on Bike To Work Day, which is this Wednesday. Meet at the pavilion in Minnehaha Park if you want to ride to work with me. If you want to ride to work with someone who's not me, there are dozens of routes listed on the Bike to Work Commuter Convoy page. If you're reading the blog and plan to ride with me, leave a comment or shoot me an email to let me know.

This weekend The Mrs. and I will be heading south to participate in the 3 Speed Tour. The Mrs. asked me earlier this week who else I knew who was going, and I shrugged my shoulders. This bought me an eye roll and a "What have you gotten me into?" comment. So if you're reading this and also heading down, leave a comment or shoot me an email. My gmail address is "frosti". I'm sure you can figure out the formatting from there.

Date: May 8
Mileage: 2
Ride type/Bike: School Escort/Robin Hood
May mileage: 26
Year to date mileage: 1350

Date: May 12
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Kuwahara
May mileage: 44
Year to date mileage: 1368

Monday, May 05, 2008

Niblets and giblets (or, I've got Corn in my pants!)

I've had a few days off the bike and the spider-borne rabies seems to be healing. It's feeling better, for what it's worth. With Bike to Work day and the 3-speed tour both coming up in a couple of weeks I think I'm going to continue to take it easy. One observation I've had during my convalescence is that it's difficult to ice down the innermost portion of one's thigh without icing down at least one of one's yarbles. At least if one happens to be of the male persuasion. Brrrr.

On a seemingly unrelated note, we have a 7 year old half beagle half basset hound named Bailey. Bailey is a super nice dog and well behaved in all aspects where food is not involved. When food enters the picture, all bets are off. During the last month or so we've had several familial injuries that required ice packs. Somehow during this period a bag of Green Giant corn niblets has been pressed into service as an ice pack. We had decided long ago that this bag of niblets would never be consumed by us as it's spent too much time out of the freezer. This week I reinforced the notion that the corn was no longer fit for consumption by keeping the corn stuffed near my nethers on a regular basis. Here's where the dog and the injury come together, in comic fashion. After work today I applied the corn to the tender portion of my anatomy before taking the girls to karate. Apparently in our rush to get out the door I forgot to put the corn back into the freezer. Upon our return home I found an empty bag and a fat dog. She ate the entire thing, not one stray niblet was found. I think I'm going to have to switch to green beans.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Injury time out

I've been riding injured for the last month or two, and it's bugging the crap out of me. Sometime in late February or early March, right after I added the rear basket to my winter bike I managed to hurt myself. I know it was after the big basket, because that was the cause of the injury. While mounting the bike one morning I swung my leg over the saddle and top tube and hit the basket with my foot. To be sure I didn't hit the basket again, I really raised my leg up high on the next attempt. And something in my leg/groin area went "Ouch!" It was a minor twinge and I didn't think anything of it at the time. But here it is May 3, I haven't ridden the winter bike in over a month and it's still bugging me.

When I first started to notice it, I thought there was something wrong with my hip. The outside of the hip socket is where I started to notice some discomfort. In retrospect it is probably because the muscle on the inside of my thigh isn't working as hard as it should and that puts additional pressure on that part of the joint. It never bothers me while I'm on the bike, only while walking. But it was getting worse. The hypochondriac in me started to worry about hip replacement (I'm not even 40!). I hobbled around for the better part of 6 weeks, feeling it slowly get worse. Last week I would sometimes wake up when rolling over in bed because of the discomfort. I hesitate to call it pain, because there are so many people out there with so much worse pain to live with. But I'm a heavy sleeper so if something is waking me up it causes me to pause.

After talking with my wife, who is more of an athlete than I am, I'm pretty sure it's a groin pull. So I'm going to start in with the R.I.C.E. plan, including taking 3 days off the bike (yesterday, today and tomorrow). Maybe Monday too, we'll see. This must mean I'm an athlete. Either that or I'm getting old. Probably the latter.

Date: April 30
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Kuwahara
April mileage: 445
Year to date mileage: 1324

Date: May 1
Mileage: 24
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Kuwahara
April mileage: 24
Year to date mileage: 1348