Monday, February 25, 2008


When I wrote last week that it was a good week, it was a bt of an understatement. I'd forgotten about two upcoming events in the week that I was looking forward to with great anticipation. The first I've already written about, that being the Hiawatha soiree. The second, and more important event, is that my brother and his wife had their first baby on Saturday night.

Sunday evening we made our pilgrimage to the hospital to see our new niece (to me and Mrs.) and the first First Cousin for E&M. So for the first time in my life, somebody can call me Uncle Pete! It will be added to the other family titles of honor that I wear (dad, son, Lord and Master, brother, etc.). And I couldn't be more thrilled.

Date: February 25
Mileage: 12
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
February mileage: 191
Year to date mileage: 500

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

I stopped off at Hiawatha Cyclery World HQ last night for their big Second Anniversary celebration. The boys at HC pulled out all the stops and made a great event. I got to ride Karl's new Big Dummy and saw maybe the only Big Dummy being built up with a Rohloff hub. I ended up staying for nearly 3 hours because every time I would think about leaving somebody else I knew walked through the door. Folks I hadn't seen for months, and folks I see nearly every time I go to HC. I'm not a very outgoing person by nature, and I don't normally put myself into situations where I don't know anybody. I usually feel uncomfortable making conversation with strangers. I had second thoughts about going on my first Hiawatha Ride two years ago for those very reasons. But two years and several friends later, I'm glad I did.

I threw a couple of pictures up on my flickr page, but this video was my favorite from the evening.

Here's to the continued success of Hiawatha. Thanks for everything, gentlemen.

Date: February 22
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
February mileage: 179
Year to date mileage: 488

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Good week

Even though work has been crazy, it's been a good week on the home front for me. First off, MN/Dot finally got off their butts and plowed the Mendota Bridge. It doesn't take much to make me happy, and this works. What a huge difference in my commute that one mile can make.

On the way home from work on Tuesday, I saw a big group (flock?) of turkeys on the side of the road. I always like these little nature encounters, and these guys were nice enough to stand still so I could get a picture (best viewed large). I was pushing the limits of the new little Canon, as I know these point and shoots don't do so well in low light and the daylight was fading fast. The pictures turned out better than I expected, lighting wise. I still suck ass when it comes to composition. But I'd rather just whip out the camera and half-ass it and get OK shots than spend a whole lot of time and effort studying photography only to still suck. It's good to know ones limitations.

And in other news, the Mrs. and I celebrated our 14 year wedding anniversary on Tuesday. To commemorate such an occasion we put an ungodly portion of my bonus into orthodontic treatment for the girls, had a home cooked dinner and crashed early. Romance, thy name is us. 14 years. That's over 5,000 days of wedded bliss. As I said to the Mrs. early in our relationship, "I know we've only known each other four weeks and three days, but to me it seems like nine weeks and five days. The first day seemed like a week and the second day seemed like five days. And the third day seemed like a week again and the fourth day seemed like eight days. And the fifth day you went to see your mother and that seemed just like a day, and then you came back and later on the sixth day, in the evening, when we saw each other, that started seeming like two days, so in the evening it seemed like two days spilling over into the next day and that started seeming like four days, so at the end of the sixth day on into the seventh day, it seemed like a total of five days. And the sixth day seemed like a week and a half. I have it written down, but I can show it to you tomorrow if you want to see it." Here's to another 5,000 with me, darlin'.

Date: February 19
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
February mileage: 149
Year to date mileage: 458

Date: February 21
Mileage: 12
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
February mileage: 161
Year to date mileage: 470

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Trudge, trudge, trudge

MN/Dot may have done it. Finally broken my spirit, that is. I sent the following tongue in cheek email yesterday afternoon, thinking it might bring a smile to somebody's face and maybe some results.

Good afternoon,
In the calm before the upcoming snowstorm I would like to remind the good folks at MN/Dot that the Mendota Bridge has a bicycle and pedestrian path on the north side of the bridge. I only bring it up because in the past several months there has been no effort made to clear the pathway after a snowfall. Being a daily user of this pathway, I can only assume this is due to a minor oversight. I'm sure it's not possible that the path was left unplowed intentionally.

According to my records, the sidepath has not been plowed since December 7, 2007. Earlier unplowed snowfalls have been compacted down by repeated use and the path is currently slippery and dangerous, but passable. However past experience tells me that a snowfall of the predicted 4-5 inches coupled with the snow thrown from the automobile roadway by the full size plows will make this pathway unusable. Many, like myself, will resort to driving in situations like this. This will increase the amount of congestion on the roads which nobody is in favor of. Others who don't own cars will leave the pathway and ride or walk on the shoulder of the highway. A dangerous situation for both the biker/walker and the passing auto traffic. Especially dangerous when the walker or biker is forced to travel from west to east and use the shoulder while travelling against traffic.

Thanks in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.

It did snow, but not as much as predicted. Even though the shoulders weren't plowed when I was going to work it was still easy going to cut through all the fresh soft powder. Until I got to the bridge, that is. I rode probably the first 1/4 mile over the bridge and kept going slower and slower. I finally had to stop and walk. I was pretty upbeat about it, and only was 20 minutes late to work.

The way home was the same, but I couldn't even get the momentum for 1/4 of the bridge. I walked the whole thing. I saw several other bike tracks that got to the bridge, slipped and slid and then crossed over the barrier onto the shoulder of the highway. For some reason I couldn't bring myself to throw my bike over this time. Maybe I was feeling especially cowardly. Maybe I needed to be a bit of a martyr. Maybe I needed to feel sorry for myself. But I walked. And tomorrow, I'll drive.

Date: February 14
Mileage: 12
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
February mileage: 131
Year to date mileage: 440

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Local Point of Interest

There are things I see every day on my commute that I take for granted. Things I like, but I've seen them so many times that I almost ignore them. I'm going to try to start noticing them again.

First example.

This house is on Minnehaha Ave in Minneapolis. I ride by it most every day. I really like the way the roof is set up. It's sort of a double gambrel arrangement that I find to be very pleasing. There are 4 or 5 houses along Minnehaha with the exact same structure, but this one is the nicest looking in my opinion. I like the combination of the red shingles on the upper portion, the yellow siding on the lower portion and the white pillars. If I remember correctly this is the only one with pillars. Somebody cares about this house, and takes care of it. Which it deserves. I'm very curious about the floor plan inside, but I'm not the type to just go knocking on a strangers door to ask questions. This house is around the 3800 block of Minnehaha on the east side of the road. Take a gander if you're in the area.

Date: February 11
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
February mileage: 83
Year to date mileage: 392

Date: February 12
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
February mileage: 101
Year to date mileage: 410

Date: February 13
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
February mileage: 119
Year to date mileage: 428

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Couldn't stand the weather

After a couple of uneventful commutes I went on the Hiawatha ride Saturday morning. Even though Jim and Kevin are in Portland for the NAHMB show four of us still showed up for the ride. Temps were in the mid 20s with the forecast calling for them to plummet. For comparison, this morning it was -16 with wind chill factors of -40+. No, I'm not talking celsius. We rode up to CRC and chatted with B Rose a bit before riding back to the shop. The shop was closed and there was really no reason to go back there, but it felt like the right thing to do. On the way home I pulled out my new camera. It's an upgraded version of the old Canon I've been lugging around for about 6 years. The new one is a Canon PowerShot SD870. It's a little better zoom, but the real difference is moving from 3.2 megapixel to 8.0.
Though it was actually a pretty nice morning I look cold, don't I?

I didn't feel cold, and actually rode about 1/2 a mile with only one glove so I could get this panda shot.

I really like this shot for some reason. It's now my new desktop background.

The Mendota Bridge was plenty snowy. The greyness of the day comes through in all these shots.

This shot of Ft. Snelling really captures how fat the snowflakes really were.

Here's a shot of the new 3 speed rear wheel. I know Rob has been having trouble with broken spokes on his, but so far so good for me. I'm going to take a wait and see attitude.

With the new wheel came new equipment up front. I added an old Suntour barcon to run the SA hub and a set of new grips from Hiawatha. Both are mounted on an old set of bars from a Schwinn Suburban. The Weinmann brakes are from the Suburban, as is the stem. I just pulled the entire assembly out and relocated it to the Triumph.

Not much of a snowtongue.

While the snow couldn't form a good tongue on the fender, it did a bang up job of obscuring both my light and my reflector.

Today was incredibly sunny. The kind of sunshine you only get in the northern states when it's butt cold. I drove up to Blaine and wandered around the Bike Swap, but didn't make any purchases. Nothing motivated me. I did see some beautiful bikes (not in my size or price range). And the National Sports Center got some of my $5 admission, so it's all good.

Date: February 6
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
February mileage: 18
Year to date mileage: 327

Date: February 7
Mileage: 12
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
February mileage: 30
Year to date mileage: 339

Date: February 8
Mileage: 12
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Triumph
February mileage: 42
Year to date mileage: 351

Date: February 8
Mileage: 23
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Triumph
February mileage: 65
Year to date mileage: 374

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's a big old goofy world

Sheldon Brown died. It's nearly impossible to read a bike themed blog today without finding this out. He was a goofy guy who worked in a bike shop on the east coast, and yet I would bet that anybody who has ever turned a wrench on their own bike has consulted his site at least once. I did frequently, most recently when I decided to build my first wheel. His instructions were clear and got me through the process with no fuss and no muss. I found myself quite saddened today to learn he was gone, even though I'd never met him or sent him an email. But all the same, he made my bicycling life richer.

Of course, that's not the only story of the day. Another blogger Michale proposed to his girlfriend Sarah and she said yes! More people I don't know, but at the same time I was cheered by their excitement and the thought of their future together. And over the weekend another cyclist prepared to welcome another child into the world. While I was riding the train home, I saw a woman riding her bike with her 7-8 year old son pedaling behind on a tag-along bike. He was wearing a nice winter shell and a balaclava and his helmet had some sort of monster head affixed to it. Call it personal style, or panache, or whatever you choose. Sheldon would have approved.

As I continued to ride the train I realized I'd pretty much seen the gamut of life through the wheel of a bike today. The celebration of the beginning of a new life. A young child making his way in the world, learning there is more to life than what lies in his backyard. A couple pledging to spend their lives together. And the death of a cycling legend. The wheel in the sky keeps on turning.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Sorels: Accept No Substitute

What I did last Saturday:

Friday, February 01, 2008


I decided that discretion was the better part of valor (and the better part of keeping ones toes) and deliberately skipped riding in the -40 windchill on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday I was ready to go, but came out to a flat tire on my beautiful new wheel. I considered taking a bike with non-studded tires, but the thought of moving all the lights and associated winter crap only to fall on my ass was too much to bear. So I drove again. I'm working from home today due to a sick kid, so that pretty much shoots the week. Hockey tonight with my brother, and then more work this weekend. Whee.

On a brighter note, I managed to figure out how to get the photos out of the new camera, so here are a bunch of pictures from the recent Knowledge Ride. Abandon hope, all ye dial-up users who enter here.

We visited Coffee Benè, a nice enough place with cute barristas and a nice atmosphere. We should go back.

They gave us the private room. Probably something about keeping the riff-raff from mingling with the regular customers.

A few familiar faces.

More cheerful muffin eaters.

A scenic view of the gas station. Unleaded was only $2.82!

Still need a little work figuring out the flash setting. Boris isn't quite this deathly pale in real life.

And the remainder of the jolly crew.