Thursday, November 11, 2010

Better is in the eye of the beholder

A week or so ago, my mainly internet but sometimes in real life friend, Snak Shak, said there's a better way to get downtown than Park/Portland. Starting the next day, I stopped using Park/Portland, because I knew he was right. I gave Chicago the old college try, but I'm not convinced. It took me a few days to get the feel of the traffic flow, but for me Chicago still has one main strike against it. Specifically, there's no good way to get onto the Greenway that doesn't involve stairs. The closest rideable entrance I found was at 11th, and to get there you need to cross Chicago against the flow of traffic, then battle the traffic coming out of the Allina. Plus, the buses on Chicago were not fun. Truthfully, I didn't find it pleasant.

I tried some other alternates over the last week as well. My current favorite seems to be under construction. With the extension of the bike lanes further north on Minnehaha, it makes that route a lot more attractive going north of the Greenway. It also lets me avoid the construction currently happening on the LRT trail. So I take Minnehaha to the detour point at 24th St, cross the curly bridge over Hiawatha, and then take 11th Ave north into downtown by way of Elliot Park. It does seem to shave about 10 minutes off the Park/Portland route, and eliminates a lot of the Park/Portland speed traffic. But still, it seems there should be a better way.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Cat Cave?

Snak Shak, I think I found it's lair...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Open letter to the City of Minneapolis

Earlier this week, a cyclist was killed in the recently redesigned bike lane on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

Police said the bicyclist and a Quicksilver Express Courier delivery truck were southbound on 1st Avenue about 2:30 p.m. when the truck turned right, striking the cyclist in the intersection.

The cyclist was in a designated bike lane on the right side of the road as he approached the intersection, police said.

The definition of this type of accident, in cycling terms, is a Right Hook. The fact that it has a name shows that it's something that happens far too often. And in Minneapolis, not only is there the opportunity for a right hook, but a less common left hook as well thanks to several high use bike lanes located on the left side of one way streets. On my commute I ride past the ghost bike for Dennis Dumm, who was also killed by a truck while riding in a designated bike lane.

The City of Portland had a similar issue in 2007, when 3 cyclists were right hooked in designated bike lanes. Two died, and one was seriously injured. This caused Portland to install "bike boxes" at several intersections. A bike box is nothing more than green paint which allows cyclists to pull ahead at a light and have a spot that is visible and out of the blind spot of cars. Do they work?

Increasingly, the answer appears to be a resounding “Yes!” On the heels of that tragic autumn of 2007, there were no cyclist fatalities in Portland in 2008. Since then, there have been some cyclist fatalities in Portland—but there hasn’t been a single right-hook fatality at any bike box. Moreover, a study recently conducted by the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation at Portland State University has confirmed that bike boxes work. Researchers found that both motorists and cyclists exhibit high rates of compliance and understanding about bike boxes, with motorists exhibiting an increase in the rate of yielding, and both motorists and cyclists indicating that they perceive the intersections to be safer with the bike boxes installed.

Minneapolis was voted the #1 cycling city in the United States this year. But, if something isn't done to make cycling safer, something as simple and cheap and effective as a bike box, that designation will seem somewhat hollow.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New link for ya

If you're not already reading The Old 3 Speed Gallery, you should be. And if you have a 3 speed that hasn't been featured there yet, let me know. Somehow I'm now in charge.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I found a quick link to an article about taxes and biking. Most every cyclist has heard the old "bikes shouldn't ride on the road, they don't pay taxes" argument. This short, easily readable argument shows why road costs are actually improved by cyclists.

I think there are probably flaws in this argument. The author states that 6-7% of road taxes are paid by motorists, and increasing cyclists wouldn't amount to a significant decrease in this. And the remaining 93-94% is paid by property taxes and the general fund. But later she says that we would need 12 cyclists for every driver to balance the street budgets. Something's got to give. But it's still interesting.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Bloggy blog blog

It's been kind of a bloggy week this week, almost like the old heyday of the blog. I biked to work all 4 days I went into the office, first time that's happened in I can't remember when. And the day I worked from home I went for a run with the Mrs., so I didn't even slack off that day!

Monday the temp was 42 degrees when I walked out the door. It was a cool morning and I was glad I walked back into the house and grabbed my vest. Mainly because it had my full finger gloves in the pocket, which I stopped and put on about a mile into the ride. And I kept them on the whole way into work. Quite a contrast to Friday, when we had a high temp of 85.

One of the more exciting things about this week was a couple of unplanned encounters. Wednesday I ran into a person on the way home. She was riding along and had just seen a small version of a penny farthing being ridden by a gentleman with a black sweatsuit and jericurl. Oddities abound in the bike lanes of MPLS.

The other exciting bit of news was that I received an unexpected piece of information about my bike via email.

I saw an old bike blog, from 2005, I think. Anyway, you had a Kuwahara bike on there that you couldn't read the model name on. Just wanted to tell you that it's a Pulsar. I just bought one the other day for $25 and have been trying to research what I have when I came across your blog. you may have found that out in the last 5 years, but if not, then now you know.

The post she references is this one, I assume. On reading this post from 2008, I had to laugh a bit because the bike hasn't changed significantly since I posted this. I'd said that I was going to get a better wheelset, but I'm still running the same mismatched wheels I originally mounted. I haven't gotten new brake pads, either. And the Suntour derailleur still doesn't have enough reach to get into the biggest or smallest cogs. But that's the way I've been riding it. Just to show I'm not a complete slug, I have mounted a rack with a homebuilt wooden box for carrying my messenger bag. So all is not lost.

I did some googling and found a few more references to a Kuwahara Pulsar than I'd found from just googling "Kuwahara Bike". But it's still a pretty limited topic on the 'net. I exchanged a couple of emails with Amy and she has promised to send pictures of her find when she's cleaned it up a bit. If/when she does, I'll be sure to post them. And if anybody else has info on the Kuwahara Pulsar, feel free to pass it along. Thanks, Amy!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Ziggy

I saw this video on a couple of bike blogs, but didn't watch it until this weekend. For some reason, I had Mick Ronson in my head when I saw the name. So I was surprised to see this is a different Ronson. Still enjoyable, a fun song and video, even if it's not made by an official Spider From Mars.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Did I really only ride my bike 3 times in August?

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Stolen bike alert

Attention Twin Cities cyclists! Last night, Brother Yam was overserved and chose the honorable option of taking a cab home instead of trying to pilot his Big Dummy in a haze. To reward him, some bad karma loving scoundrels stole the Dummy. It was locked up around 34th and the Parkway. A picture of the bike is below, but I don't think he had the cooler mounted. Keep your eyes peeled!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Open letter to a dumbass

Dear Dumbass,
The sidepath on the Mendota Bridge is indeed a scenic and picturesque location.  It is also, however, a section of path that is only about 8 feet wide and bordered on both sides by concrete barriers.  This does not leave a lot of margin for error.  So, while capturing a photo of your pal riding in front of you is a nifty souviner of your evening, taking both hands off the handlebars to take the photo might not be the most advisable course of action.
Now, assuming you choose to ignore this piece of advice, I would say that if you choose to ride no handed on the narrow, concrete lined path, you probably shouldn't do it while there is oncoming bike traffic.  Just one more variable you can't control, if you catch my drift.
But, should you choose to ride with no hands on a narrow path with oncoming traffic I would advise you to make sure your skilz are such that you can actually ride your bike in a straight line.  If that's beyond your capabilities, then you may want to pay extra attention to your surroundings to see whether or not you are drifting directly into the path of an oncoming cyclist (i.e. me).  Any cyclist who sees another object heading straight for him or her with no apparant concerns about spatial relationships or potential for impact could find the situation somewhat alarming.  And this could cause the alarmed cyclist to, once you have realized your error and corrected at the last possible moment, call you a dumbass.  Loudly.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Le Tour

I haven't been following the Tour very closely this year, due to Versus somehow not being a part of our basic satellite package any longer.  That, along with Gopher Hockey, was one of the main arguments for keeping satellite.  So the Mrs. finally made the call and our satellite service will end on July 28.  I'm going to miss hockey, and Mad Men, but that's about it.
In the mean time, I wanted to call your attention to a great set of TDF photos from The Big Picture.  Worth a look.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Short notice, long weekend

Ahoy, Holiday Weekend off the port bow!

I realize that it's short notice and a long weekend that lots of people will be out of town for. But I thought I would put the "Beer on!" call out and see if anybody can make it. Sometimes it's surprising how many people don't go away for the 4th. Anyhow, if anybody is interested in grabbing a beer after work Friday the 2nd at Sea Salt, leave a comment or shoot an email. The fabulous Mrs. Velocipete may even show off her sassy new hairstyle! 4:30-5ish or thereabouts?

If folks are busy/gone/don't care, that's fine too. No worries.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

David Byrne likes Minneapolis

David Byrne was in town last week. He wrote up a nice little blog entry on his time both here and in Chicago, which can be found here. He doesn't say much that a St. Paul/Minneapolis resident wouldn't already know, but it does make the cities sound pretty good.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


In an effort to spark some good old fashioned blog-style one upmanship (remember blogs? Quaint!), I have to post some pictures of what I dragged home on Tuesday. Snak Shak hauled a pizza home the other night "using only a woman's scarf, an inner tube and a carabiner from my key chain."

Tuesday night, I was riding home along Minnehaha Ave and saw an old hose reel. I'd been on the lookout for one, inspired by my father-in-law. He uses a hose reel to store his extension cords. So I stopped off and, hearing music from the backyard, walked around to the back and asked the owners if they were looking to get rid of this (it was by the garbage). After getting permission, I lashed it to my bike box using the one bungee cord I happened to have. I made it the remaining 6 miles or so without incident.

And yes, I do have two large vehicles with wood siding. Envy me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rubber duckie, you're the one

"It's amazing what a duck can teach you."
-Curt Ebbesmeyer, oceanographer

I was gonna write about Bike to Work day, which was today, but got sidetracked. Maybe later. So what sidetracked me? I saw a neat little article about rubber duckies. I'm going to summarize, but there's more details here. Back in January 1992 a container ship crossing the Pacific Ocean somehow dumped a huge container full of rubber duckies (and froggies, and turtles, and beavers). Somewhere in the neighborhood of 29,000 of the little buggers. They floated around the northern Pacific for 10 months, caught in a big vortex, and finally started washing ashore in Alaska in late 1992.

Fast forward three years, and the ducks are showing up all over the Pacific. They have been spotted in Japan, Hawaii and the west coast of North America. Over the next five years, between 1995 and 2000 the ducks cross the Arctic and start reaching the North Atlantic. By 2007, the first British Invasion by a duck is reported. The details of this one are well documented, as in 2003 the company that manufactured the ducks began offering a reward of a $100 savings bond for each duck found and reported. Eric Carle (any parent will recognize this name) even wrote a book about it, called 10 Little Rubber Ducks.

It was a neat story, how oceanographers and NOAA and other folks used the duck spill to learn about the earth's oceans and show how all the oceans are truly interconnected in a real and tangible way. But then I read that the estimates of the Deepwater Horizon spill may be only half of what they originally thought. The flow rate may be as high 40,000 barrels (1.68 million gallons/6.36 million liters) per day. Significantly more than 29,000 ducks.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Bike to Work week - mostly blown

So far Bike to Work week for me has been a complete Fail. Monday, I worked from home unexpectedly as the daughters had candy launcher projects that needed to be taken to school. They were too big to fit in the huge wagon, and The Wife didn't want to drive them to school with a catapult strapped to the roof of the wagon. I didn't mind so much. Tuesday, it was raining. Today was my Dad's retirement party, and I knew I wouldn't have time to get cleaned up and changed so I opted to drive.

But there's still tomorrow. I'm leading a convoy yet again from Minnehaha to the Government Plaza festival. Though when I check the Bike/Walk to Work site, I don't see my route listed for some reason. Which means it will be another low turnout year. But I don't mind.

I was excited to see that there is a new bike sharing kiosk that was installed this weekend near my building. Actually, on the sidewalk that abuts my building. They couldn't make things more convenient for me if they tried. Hopefully the bike program will take off.

For those who want to know, the details of tomorrow's ride are:

Gathering at Sea Salt, Minnehaha Park Pavilion at 6:30am

Departing at 6:45am
Arriving at Government Center 7:30am

Route: Minnehaha Ave to Greenway. Greenway to Park Ave. Park to Gov Center

I'll be wearing my bright orange shirt. Give a wave or a hello if you see me tomorrow. Cheers!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Meet the new car, same as the old car

Those of you who know me from real life have probably seen or heard about my "bitchin' wagon." Over the weekend, I decided to get a bit nutty and upgrade.

It's the Collector's Edition. It's OK to be jealous.

Those of you who are paying close attention will see the opportunity here. While the wife encouraged me to get this wagon, she doesn't want two of these monstrosities hanging around the place. And I somehow doubt I could get them both in the garage at the same time. So the other one is available. Inquire within. ;-)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Bike to Work week

Once again, I'll be leading a bike convoy from Minnehaha Park to downtown Minneapolis for Bike to Work week. I realize that National Bike to Work week is long over, but the City of Minneapolis decided to be different this year. Hoping for a warmer morning to encourage more participation, I believe. Here's the basic details of what will be coming, starting next Saturday the 5th of June:

Saturday, June 5 (Kick Off)
Twin Cities Heart Walk - Hosted by Target Field! more...
National Trails Day
Greenway Challengemore...

Sunday, June 6
Grand Old Day - See Bike Walk Week in the parade or stop by the booth! Free bike parking on the Ayd Mill bridge and a free transit pass to help you get there. more...
Tuesday, June 8
Film Screening: Beyond the Motor City - 7pm, Oak Street Cinema. Q&A to follow with director Aaron Woolf and local bicycle business leaders and activists. more...

Wednesday, June 9
Women's Wednesday - Wear red to support women's health and join the fun with morning and evening rides and a photo contest. more...

Thursday, June 10
Bike Walk to Work Day - Featuring Celebrations Locations all over town. more...
Nice Ride bike sharing program launch - Noon ride along Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis, from the Central Library to Peavey Plaza

Sunday, June 13
Bike to the Twins Game - Presented by OptumHealth (wut?). Gift bags to the first 1000 fans who bike to the 1:10 pm game. A bike corral will be setup just off the Cedar Lake Trail on Glenwood in Ramp A in addition to the 400 ramps around the ballpark.
Volunteer for one of the events, to lead a ride into town or to help spread the word in your neighborhood or office. Bike/Walk is looking for sponsors and more celebration locations for these events. Contact the organizers for more information.

Check out the Bike to Work website for more info, and don't forget to register. Hopefully, I'll see you Thursday morning if you're a South Mpls to Downtown commuter!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blog up

This past Friday, a few local bike types responded to a call put out by Mr. SnakShak to have a beer or three at the end of a long work week. The timing turned out perfect as the two weeks prior were cold and rainy, but Friday was partly sunny and the temps cracked into the 70s. Beers were drank, tales were told, laughs were laughed. I'm glad I went, and if the call goes out and schedules allow, I'll do it again. And next time I'll try to post something here in advance to get the word out to more like minded folk.

Laughs were indeed laughed.

Brother Yam and Jim K. ponder the imponderable.

Kay and Joe enjoy the first sun we've seen in weeks.

A beer/bike tableau.

I think his hair really is getting fuller and thicker.

Despite Joe and Molly's valiant attempt, Brother Yam and I won the "Cutest Couple" award. But it was a close contest.

Yam influencing the judges.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Angel, my Angel

Long time readers of this blog may remember that I have a special relationship with The Angel Formerly Known as Specialized. She first came to my attention during the 2006 Tour of California, and became something of a celebrity in the cycling world in 2007. Sadly, Specialized decided not to renew her as a spokes-angel for the 2008 cycling season. I lamented this fact in January of 2008 on the blog, and surprise surprise got a comment from the angel herself, Jana Ireton:

Hello Pete,

I see my heavenly news travels fast. I wanted to personally send you kisses saying thank you for posting me on your blog these past couple of years. I'm very happy that you've haven't forgotten about me and hopefully you never will.

Many Thanks, Jana

With kisses! Clearly, this was a high water mark for this blog. But just as time heals all wounds, it also makes memories fade. And I'm sorry to say that I kind of forgot about The Angel. But apparently, she didn't forget about me. I was surprised to get another comment from Jana on last week's Duathlon post.

Hi Pete, awesome job on all your multi-sports, especially the 7K event with your wife. My dad and I just participated in the Avia Wildflower Triathlon 2wks ago.

I wanted to send you the wonderful news that I will be wearing the wings again this year for Tour of California 2010. It has been 2 years since my last appearance and I am happy to announce I have a new sponsor this year with Team Echelon as "The Angel of Echelon".

Please see press release here:

My mission this year as protector and healer extends beyond the road race of energizing the peloton at TOC working with the Echelon beneficiary partners and spreading good will and encouragement to those who need it the most. Team Echelon is gearing up for our Gran Fondo on May 23rd this year in Napa, CA. Our fundraising partnership benefits LIVESTRONG® and local cancer institutions, Queen of Valley Hospital and the Martin O’Neil Cancer Center. Later this year in the fall on Sept. 26th, another Echelon Gran Fondo will follow in Portland, OR with the gracious assistance of professional cyclist Chris Horner serving as our ambassador. For anyone who would like to support our cause in the fight against cancer may do so at The Angel of Echelon's Team Page:

Please look for my wings on the horizon at TOC 2010 Stages 2, 3, and 4.

Your Angel of Echelon,
Jana Ireton
(please credit all photos taken by Michael Sexton)

This can only mean one thing: Ms. Ireton is positively smitten with me. And she's gotten a snappy new outfit to impress me.
The Angel of Echelon

The Angel of Echelon

The Angel of Echelon

The Angel of Echelon

More high res photos (by Michael Sexton) of the lovely new outfit can be found here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hello, Sierra Nevada reps!

Pearls Before Swine

Substitute the word "blogger" for "cartoonist" and "blog" for "comic strip" and you have my plan for free beer in a nutshell. 

Sierra Nevada Beer!
Sierra Nevada Beer!
Sierra Nevada Beer!
Sierra Nevada Beer!

FYI, my mailbox is not exceedingly large, so you may want to consider UPS or FedEx.  Whichever offers refridgerated delivery service.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I have multisported. Or, Just Du It.

Regular readers may remember that in March I ran a 7k event with my lovely wife. What I did not mention in the post about the race was one of the conversations wife and I had while running/walking:

Wife: Oh, by the way, I signed us up for a Duathlon.
Me: A what?
Wife: A duathlon. 2 miles of running, 14 miles of biking, followed by 3 more miles of running.
Me: US??

Fast forward to last weekend, when the duathlon was upon us. Our friends Eric & Val drove down from St. Cloud Friday night so we could all hit the road bright and early Saturday morning.

On our arrival, we unloaded the bikes and walked our stuff down to the transition area. Though for me, it was more of a "stuff storage" area. I swapped out the clipless pedals the night before for an old set of platforms so I wouldn't have to change shoes. And if you don't change shoes, it's not really a true transition, is it? Here's a photo of the lovely wife in the stuff storage area modeling the shirt she got:

The race itself went much better than I expected. When it comes to running, I either have days when it's a torturous thing that I wouldn't inflict on my worst enemy, or it's something to be tolerated. I believe actual runners call those "good days." Anyway, Saturday was a "good day" for me. We more or less ran the first two miles as a group. Eric, who is always the fastest of the bunch, took off ahead around mile 1 and the rest of us made it to the stuff storage area close together.

Wife and I made great time on the first half of the out and back bike portion, thanks to a fantastic tailwind. But as all cyclists know, a fantastic tailwind on the first half of an out and back course is a terrible thing to have. Because when we turned to the "back" portion, there was Mr. Headwind. Beastly. We slogged our way the remaining 7 miles and somehow managed to stay upright, despite the 30+ mph gusts.

When we hit the final 3 miles, I somehow lost the Wife. As we headed up a small rise I noticed she was about 100 yards behind me. I slowed my pace a bit and figured she would catch me, but didn't want to stop because I wanted to take advantage of how good I was feeling. Make hay while the sun shines and all that. Now if you follow her blog, you know she's been plagued with more injuries over the last 2 years than anybody should have to put up with. And she was taking it easy, so she never did actually catch me.

I had told myself I would run to the turn around point (1.5 miles) and could take a walk break if I was feeling crappy, or could switch to a walk run plan if needed. After turning around I started walking for probably 1/4 of a mile. At this point, a tiny little woman passed me. Reading the race results later I found she was 50 years old. She was running a casual pace and I thought "I can do that." So I tucked in behind her, and every time I wanted to stop I thought "She's not stopping" and kept running.

My final time was just over 2 hours, which I was extremely happy with. I finished faster than the Wife, and it may be the only time I can ever say that. Not that it bothers me that she's a better runner than I am. Far from it. I know that the only reason I finished ahead of her was her Achilles tendon and luck. And I'm OK with that.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friday and Friday

Last Friday I took the River Road home for the first time in probably a year.  In the time of my absence, the city of Minneapolis repaved the crappy biking/walking path and it's now like buttah.  Seriously, it was a great ride.  They not only repaved the blocktop, but redid almost all of the curb cuts so they are smooth transitions.  It makes a huge difference, and makes me want to take that alternate route a little more frequently.  Get out there and enjoy it now before the paths are overrun by people who can't walk in a straight line while pushing a stroller, talking on the cell phone, drinking from a plastic bottle of water and walking their dog on the 30 foot retract-o-leash completely take over.

The weather has been so nice this week, it might be time to declare "stop for a beer at Sea Salt" season open.  I'm tentatively thinking Friday the 23rd would be an excellent time to start what could, ideally, be a monthly event.  My commute puts me in the neighborhood roughly between 4:30 and 5.  If I get any interested parties, I can narrow it down further.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Little help from my friends?

So today at work, the fluorescent light in the bathroom is flickering like mad.  I thought to myself, more than once, this is like peeing in a disco.  And a couple repeats the word disco dredged up memories of "Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco", which I sadly discovered in my early 20s.  I had a friend in my college/no-college period who loved it to death and introduced me to it.  I'm pretty sure it was included on a super-Boss mix tape made for my infamous "Help me, I'm naked!" 23rd birthday party.
So, here's where I need the help.
1.  Who was this friend who introduced me to Sesame Street disco?
2.  What other songs were on the super-Boss mix tape?  In addition to the aformentioned disco song, I believe it also had Copacabana and Electric Avenue on it.  Super. Boss.
3.  Bonus question:  Who made the super-Boss mix tape?
Put your Thinking Toques on!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Got Lucky

Me on the Broadway bridge, Mississippi in the background.

Wife and I ran the Get Lucky 7k event yesterday. Or more accurately, we participated. She's had a rough 6 weeks or so with illness and whatnot. And me, I'm just slow. It was nice for me to have her hobbled, since that meant I could keep up with her. Though she did manage to beat me in the official timed results by one second. It was a nice event, well planned and an enjoyable route. We started at Mill Ruins park, ran on the River Road to the Broadway St. bridge and then came back on the other side of the river via St. Anthony Main to finish on the Stone Arch Bridge. I was extremely tempted to stop at the Astor Cafe for an egg and cheese sandwich, but pressed on.

After the race we made our way over to the new Kieran's location in Block E and braved the crowds for our free pint of Finnegan's. The Block E location was nice, and we actually enjoyed 3 Finnegan's between us, thanks to a non-beer drinking runner who gave us her free beer coupon. Then, thanks to the wife's ingenuity, we discovered there was an unadvertised buffet in the back room. After scarfing some more yummy carbs we hopped the train back home.

I spent the remainder of the day horizontal on the the couch in front of Final 5 hockey. It was an enjoyable day, even though The Sioux goons took the Broadmoor.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Studs off

Over the weekend I pulled the Kuwahara off the bike hooks in the garage and knocked the dust off of it.  Pumped up the tires, replaced the saddle I'd robbed earlier this winter, and gave it a quick once over.  Thanks to a super craigslist deal I picked up another B17 this winter, so now I can have Brooks on the Kuwahara and the winter commuter.  Hopefully this will reduce the amount of saddle swapping I do. 
Out of curiousity I checked my records to see when I have stopped riding the studded tire bike in past years.  I've been using Google Documents to track my bike mileage since 2006.  In 2006 I transposed some of my mileage from the spiral bound notebook I'd been using, but I didn't have a bike associated with those miles.  So 2007 is the first year I can accurately say when I stopped riding the studded commuter. 
2007 - Last ride was on March 9
2008 - Last ride was on April 1
2009 - Last ride was on March 11
So it's not my imagination, it's getting to be about that time.  I rode the studded bike today just to get the lay of the land, but after the warm weekend and the fact that it never dropped below freezing last night, the Kuwahara could be getting the nod sooner rather than later.  Of course, we've got hockey tourney blizzards coming up, so I won't pack the studs too far away.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

March Madness

It's been above freezing here in MN nearly every day for the last two weeks. Maybe longer, I haven't kept official records. The snow and ice are melting and people are losing their heads. Lots of chatter about removing the studded tires. Brother Yam said it best, "There's the whole month of March ahead, capiche? A little sunlight, a little thawing and you lose your head? Keep your sh*t together! It ain't over yet, not by a damn sight."

Personally, I have a winter bike that has studs on it year round. Once the weather warms, I just stop riding it. But I admit, these warm days have me pondering taking another ride to work. There's three or four trouble spots on my commute that still (in my opinion) require studs, but most of my route is down to bare pavement. So I ponder, is it worth it to stop and walk those few spots, and ride stud-free the remaining portion? It's kind of like boots and a heavy winter jacket. Once you stop wearing them, it's hard to go back even if conditions warrant it again.

I only rode to work one day this past week, but I picked a good day for it. Tuesday on the way home from work I ran into The Clown Prince of Mpls Cycling and the Mrs. coming out of Freewheel on the Greenway. Stopped and chatted for a minute. They were out marking the one year anniversary of Ray's early release from the service of the City of Richfield by pumping some money into the local bike shop economy. It's good knowing he's out there, taking her easy for all us sinners.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pizza the Hutt

I started the weekend out by meeting a long time friend for a couple of beers, pizza and Gopher Hockey. We had a nice time catching up and watching the Gophers skate to a win. A rarity this season for them. Then Saturday morning the clan all headed north for a birthday party. Our very favorite niece/cousin Brooke was turning 2 and we wanted to celebrate all things Elmo with her. We had lunch with the party, and again I had pizza, along with various other goodies. Saturday afternoon spooled into Saturday night, and the good wife suggested getting a take and bake for dinner. I thought, Cool. Then for brunch today, I had a slice of leftover pizza. And I wonder why the Wii tells me I'm over my ideal weight.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'm gonna Get Lucky!

To prove that "stupid is as stupid does", I just signed up for another footrace.  Or since my wife talked me into it, perhaps a better saying is "man has will, but woman has her way."  There's probably truth in both, but I still think the first is more appropriate.  Of course, "After the Olympics, everything looks so damned easy."
In the last year I've signed up for three different 5k events.  The first, I never even started because of a knee issue during training.  Admittedly it was day late and a dollar short training, but still not an auspicious start.  The second I finished in about 37 minutes.  Slow but steady, and only a couple of walk breaks.  After the second event I stopped running.   Then, the 3rd event was sprung on me with only a day or two notice.  I ran an out and back for that one.  I ran about 90% of the out and probably 60% of the back.  So the glass half full person would say, "Well look, you're improving!"  And maybe so.  But the glass half empty sort would say that it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense signing up for a 7k (that's 29% more!) when it's been a struggle to finish a 5k. 
So why did I sign up?  Beats me.  But the fact that there's a free beer at Kieran's at the end didn't hurt.  Because when you come down to it, I'm not a glass half empty or glass half full kind of guy.  I'm a glass full of beer kind of guy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


As the winter drags on MN has been getting more and more snow.  Though the wing is back to about 95% I've chosen to not ride across the dreaded Mendota Bridge until it's been plowed.  That makes today the second time in the last two weeks that I've ridden my bike to work.  There was a noticeable improvement in today's ride because I finally replaced the bolt on my Brooks B67 and transferred it to the winter bike.  The old pleather Raleigh saddle I had been using wasn't the most uncomfortable saddle in the world.  But I believe it knows the most uncomfortable saddle in the world.  I'm sure they have been out for drinks together and see eye to eye on many points.
Regardless of what Punxatawny Phil said, now that I have done this basic upgrade to the winter bike, spring should be right around the corner.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Racers Wanted

Tomorrow the good wife and I will be participating in the First Annual 'Why the *!%*!" do I live in MN-Saunders 5K'. I'll be participating on foot, against my wishes. So feel free to join us. There's a whole half a weekend still left. Run, walk, ride your bike, it's all good. And if you participate, let me know. I'll expect Race Reports. "I did it." will be good enough.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back in a saddle

I know, the phrase is "Back in the saddle" not "Back in a saddle" but it seems more appropriate this way.  I've ridden my bike three days this week.  Normally I move my Brooks B67 from my Kuwahara to my winter bike once it becomes studded snow tire season.  I love my Brooks, but they are pricey enough that I can't afford to outfit the entire fleet with them.  So I have a B17 and a B67 and I move them around, based on what bike I'm riding a lot at the time.  But I haven't moved the B67 to the winter bike because at some point in the last 3 months one of the bolts connecting the springs to the frame of the saddle fell off.  I stopped in at HCWHQ Tuesday and Jim gave me a bolt that may do the trick.  I'll probably give it a whirl this weekend.
I've been riding to the LRT stop at Ft Snelling, which is a route I probably haven't taken in a good 9 months.  It's amazing how many things come back almost unconsciously, like remembering certain potholes and which intersections are scary (like the off-ramp for 94 that basically dumps into a residential neighborhood).  But it's also surprising how much has changed.  Monday morning was the first day the platform extension at Ft Snelling was open, so the train stops at a different point.  Screws up my normal positioning for a clean shot at the bike rack.  Monday afternoon I left work and headed for the Warehouse District stop.  I normally go there rather than Government Plaza because it's the first/last stop on the line.  That means there are very few people on the train that I need to fight past to get to the bike rack.  I headed over to Hennepin and realized, hey, there's no bike lanes on Hennepin any more!  Marq2!  Had to backtrack to Nicollet.  Then once I got to the Warhouse District I realized it's no longer the last stop on the line.  Target Field!  Northstar Line!  But Tuesday I was already adapting to the changes and by next week, assuming I keep riding, it will probably seem like it's always been that way.

Monday, January 04, 2010


I managed to get a chilly 8 miles in on Sunday afternoon. Temps were a balmy 9 degrees F when I left the house. I rode up to Fort Snelling, mainly to see what condition the Mendota Bridge was in. Most years, I would give it a B-/C+ as it was hard packed and rideable but not smooth by any means. But this year with the dumping of snow we got, followed immediately by 33 degree temps and rain, I'll give MN/DOT an A for effort. The ice is still all over the roads in my neighborhood, and that's with cars driving it every day.

I enjoyed the ride quite a bit. But it left me wondering if I need to explore some new handlebar options. Over the last few years, I've put Albatross/North Road style bars on several of my bikes, including my primary summer and winter commuters. An hour of riding (that's right, 8 miles in an hour) had my left wrist reminding me that it's not fully recovered. I tried switching hand positions, but on the Albatross style bars anything other than the ends of the bar is really a kludge of a hand position. I've heard many good things about the Titec H-bars, though they seem a bit on the pricey side. I've also talked to a few people who seem to like the On One "M" bars (Mary, Midge and Mungo). However, the On One bars don't seem to be out there in internet world. Makes me wonder if they're discontinued? I also wonder if any will work with the bar end shifter I'm currently using to run the Sturmey hub in my rear winter wheel? In that regard, Origin-8 has a Gary bar that claims to work with bar ends and also is comparable to the Midge. Time to ponder.

I didn't ride in to work today, because it was too darn cold. And I think I need to ease back into riding. I also think there's a reason why most people don't start riding in January. They either go through the fall season, acclimating, or they take the entire winter season off.