Monday, December 29, 2008

Sun Dogs

I took the dogs for a walk today over in the National Wildlife Refuge. It's somewhat of an unofficial off leash dog park for folks in the know who go in on the eastern side, far away from the Refuge proper. I've never met anybody over there other than fishermen or other people who have their dogs off leash.

The walk there, from front door to the lake and back, is probably about 2 1/2 miles. But we were gone for nearly two hours. Such is a walk where the dogs are in charge of the pace. We stop and sniff everything. And wander in the rushes. And perhaps eat some rushes. But we're not rushed.

Dogs are good for reminding you to stop and smell the roses. And the dead squirrels. It's all a tapestry.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

I just wanted to say Happy Holidays to everybody out there in the bicycling community. The VelociPete family is scheduled to begin a Festive Family Overload in T-minus 7 hours and 41 minutes. This will involve both hosting and traveling to visit others, and we won't have a rest until Sunday. I look forward to this time of year, and all the family togetherness. Even so, I imagine I'll be ready to crawl into my solitary cave by Sunday. I hope all your travels are safe and your celebrations, no matter what you're celebrating, are merry.

I'll leave you with a link to a collection of cocktail napkins from Shakespeare himself. Though probably not exactly what the Bard had in mind when he wrote these lines...

Thanks for reading, cheers!

I just received a link to an MPR video about a local bike commuter who rides in the winter. Take a look:
MPR News: Winter Bike Commuting
Thanks Alana!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I haven't ridding for almost two weeks now, due to a combination of various post-work commitments and some brutal weather. Plus, I gave myself permission earlier in the fall to not ride when the bridge is covered in ice and snow and unrideable. Add that to the fact that I've already exceeded my mileage goal for the year, and I'm going to slack off. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. Though I did mess up and forgot to renew the tabs on the wagon. They expired at the end of November, and I got a not so friendly reminder left under my windshield yesterday when I parked at the Ft. Snelling park-n-ride. That plus temperatures without a negative sign, and the fact that I saw MN/Dot plowing the Mendota Bridge sidepath as I was driving home tonight might be enough to get me back on two wheels tomorrow.

In bloggy-type news, I changed the layout of ye olde blog from what I had before. It's much cleaner and simpler. You might want to pop outside your feedreader and take a look. I also added a new blogger gadget that shows who "followers" of the blog are. Interesting concept, but I'm not sure what purpose it serves. But, nothing ventured nothing gained. Feel free to follow me. Shouldn't be hard at this pace. ;-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bike plans

The last couple of posts I've made were quickly dashed off, but there's actually a more coherent theme I've wanted to put together. The first post was about my wanting to ride the Mississippi River Trail. And the other referred to the plowing of the Mendota Bridge. I think they may end up being connected, but I'm not sure how just yet. Most of it is speculation on my part.

A few weeks ago I saw a story on about plans for the National Park Service to take over a little used section of land that is part of my current commute. The land in question is near Fort Snelling and was formerly home to Camp Coldwater. It's also home to half a dozen abandoned Bureau of Mines buildings. Many local cyclists are familiar with this area as it contains a trail that connects the southern end of Minnehaha Park to Fort Snelling. The mpr article was pretty light on the details, but said that "the land will be cleared of abandoned buildings and restored to its natural conditions." What of the bike trail, I wondered. Removing that could be a major thorn in my side and anybody else who wants to get from Minneapolis to points south without a motor vehicle. The article listed Paul Labovitz as the project supervisor, so I did a little sleuthing and found his email address. I sent him the following email:

Dear Mr. Labovitz,
I read of the National Park Service's plans to restore land near Ft. Snelling to its natural conditions. I was particularly interested in this project because I travel through this area nearly every day. I'm glad that the National Park Service is going to be doing something about the abandoned Bureau of Mines buildings, as I consider them to be an eyesore.

My main concern with the upcoming project surrounds the bike/walking path that runs adjacent to the Bureau of Mines buildings. This path is a critical link between Minneapolis and one of the few viable river crossings, the Mendota Bridge, that is available for non-motorized traffic in the area. The path is used by hundreds of cyclists on a daily basis and would leave many with no other options if it were closed for any length of time. Are there any details available about the upcoming project and its plans to continue to allow non-motorized traffic to pass through the area?

Thank you for your time.


Not expecting much, I went back to whatever I'd been doing before. But Mr. Labovitz surprised me with his quick response that same day:

Thanks for your note......

One of the primary reasons the National Park Service is stepping in to play
a more active role is to maintain the continuous open space along the river
between Minneapolis and St. Paul. An equally as significant reason for our
intervention is to maintain the existing recreational trail connections you
mentioned. One of this parks highest priorities is to see a class one bike
trail along both sides of the river and we play a role in promoting a
larger trail project called the Mississippi River Trail that will someday
connect the headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks for your interest and
I hope when the public involvement process gears up you participate and
voice your opinion. I'll add your contact info to our growing interest


Well, I'll be dipped. Not only will the trail continue to exist, it sounds as though it will become some sort of uber-trail. I hadn't heard about the Mississippi River Trail, but I did some googling and liked what I saw. I've had thoughts about following the Mississippi before, by bike and by canoe. With such a trail running literally within a mile of my house, it seems too good to pass by.

Here's how it ties in to the Mendota Bridge, at least in my mind. One would guess that if the park service plans to add "a class one bike trail along both sides of the river" this would have to be good news for plowing. Don't get me wrong, MN/Dot does a decent job of clearing the bridge. They are fairly predictable and will normally clear the side path 3 days after any snowfall greater than 3 inches. I would think that the National Park Service would have standards at least this high, if not higher. If nothing else having the Park Service involved could make it more difficult for MN/Dot to decide to stop plowing the path, in light of recent budget issues.

I'm looking forward to watching this project from a unique perspective of somebody who is going to be riding through the project site on a (nearly) daily basis. I may head over there and snap some before pictures of the area before anything begins.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Winter is here

I saw some poor schlub pushing his bike along the unplowed Mendota Bridge bikepath today. It's apparently unrideable, yet again. I was sure glad I decided to drive today. Apologies to you if you're the poor schlub in question.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The perfect cycling gift

I emailed my lovely wife yesterday with what I thought was the perfect christmas gift:  The WinePod.  In these troubling economic times, who wouldn't want to spend $8,999.00 on a stainless steel machine that will make your own wine?  It just makes good financial sense.
But then I found something from the good folks at Hammacher Schlemmer that is perfect for the cyclist on your list:  The Only Complete Swiss Army Knife.  
It has seven blades, three types of pliers, three golf tools (club face cleaner, shoe spike wrench, and divot repair tool), 25 flat- and Phillips-head screwdrivers and bits, saws, wrenches, and more. It also has a bicycle chain rivet setter, signal whistle, 12/20-gauge shotgun choke tube tool, combination fish scaler, hook disgorger, and line guide tool, cigar-cutting scissors, laser pointer, tire-tread gauge, toothpick, tweezers, and key ring.
That's 87 different functions for only $1400.  When you break it down, it's just over $16 per function.  They're practically giving this stuff away!  I'll probably need a custom built saddle bag to haul this thing. 

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Long term goal

I would like to cycle the Mississippi River Trail.  Target:  10 years from now, give or take.