Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflecting on reflection

So last night we took two pictures. One of me on the bike with no flash and one with the flash to see what I look like when highlights hit the reflectors.  Since I never see the bike save from one perspective I wonder whether I have been wasting my time with an exacto knife.

I feel better now.

It was a bit chilly

Apparently the air temp got a bit low last night on my way home.  I froze to my Balaclava.  Well, my beard did.  No frostbite that I am aware of yet (nothing is purple).  I didn't get home till a few minutes after 8 so my commute took an hour and a half again.  But the trails through Eagan were complete shite.  After 4 miles of zigzagging through muck I took to the streets and the going improved.  

I wasn't surprised to see snow on the Mendota bridge... I was surprised by the ice on the Bloomington side.  Twice.

I would like to say the teenage drivers on Highland Parkway are much more polite than the old fogies in their minivans.  Do they feel threatened by a cyclist? Do they think following closer will make me move over into the mushy snow?  I know my rights. [/rant]

I need to get Shannon grips for her bike.  I don't know how we forgot to get them before...  I don't know what I'm going to do, usually when I get to Hiawatha it is just moments before close...  I'll have time to...browse...dun Dun DUUN

Joe Soucheray can eat my socks

Up yours ass hole.

(I will provide no context for this outburst.  I don't want anyone to send him letters.  I don't want anyone to look up his article in the tuesday paper.  I don't want him to profit from increased exposure from excited readers, regardless of their opinion.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Guy Woodhouse

Some folks are curious what Guy Woodhouse looks like.  I'd say: the ugliest bike in our stable, Shannon says the greater metro.

I think it's worth five dollars.

The handsome Cannondale in the background is Shannon's winter bike.

What I like about Guy is the simplicity of his parts.  There is very little that can go wrong mechanically.  With the cube prism reflective tape on the fork and rack it glows like a christmas tree.  And with the patches of dirt and rust and overall crappy appearance an otherwise sound bike will never ever be stolen.  I hope.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

and then I found five dollars

Back in college this was the classic end too a lame story that took too long to tell and the audience became bored from.

Last week, I was going to bike home and Shannon called me to say it was too cold.  So we agreed to meet at a nearby Starbucks.  But I got there first, so I rode up and down the street and through a bunch of fresh snow.  

So I'm riding around in circles having a ball.  Light snow is flying all over, the bike felt like it was floating. And then the wind went right through me.  So I decided to stand next to the building out of the wind.  Crossing the powdery snow, aiming for the parking lot, imagining exploding out onto the pavement. 


I got stuck in the compressed snow from the plow.  As I haul the bike out of the snow an SUV stopped and the people inside insisted I take five dollars.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

With a high degree of awesome.

Biking in the winter has always been fun. But having better traction has vastly improved the comfort over distances.

But then last night I found myself stuck on the Mendota bridge. Eagan seems to have forgotten to plow their sidewalks. And then Mendota stopped too.

So I called for backup and did power slides in the church parking lot till Shannon picked me up.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

To all those who thought the price of beer in Canada meant nothing.

Because with enough funding, research can be found for damned near anything.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Guy Woodhouse

So after this morning's ride I think I've dubbed the Miyata.

Guy Woodhouse.  

because that traction was something

Finally some god damned snow

Since I put the studded tires on the Miyata a few weeks ago, the weather has been mind bogglingly nice.  So this morning, since it has finally snowed an inch,  I tested out the studly tires on ice for the first time.

It was like I'd made a pact with the devil.  When the bike should have flipped out from under me it was sure footed (can a bike that has no feet have footing?).

Anyway, it was awesome.  I rode down the river road and back without loosing control, even when the back wheel tried to escape in a frozen rut.

What I will need to do is add a layer of sock; my toes were freeezing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rubbing compound

When I put the knobbies on Frenchie I didn't tighten the quick release sufficiently.  And biking to work got louder and louder.

Eventually I had to stop because the dragging felt like a leaden weight.

But I hauled ass on the ten speed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Studded tires

So last weekend I put the sexy new studded tires on the Miyata.  Thinking that the weather folks weren't lying and snow and ice was coming.  I was helped to this conclusion by icy walking in Minneapolis when we went to Harold and Maude.  But ice has not appeared and there is no snow.
And there is now visible wear on my brand spanking new tires from riding on bare pavement.

But I still have the 1 1/4 in. knobby tires for the Peugeot.  So today the slick 8 year old Continentals come off, and the Kendas go back on.

After a few months on a single speed Frenchie is going to be an exciting ride.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Politicians that fend for me

I'll start off by saying, I know who Lynn Warlow is (I had him as a math teacher twice) he was a wrestling coach and math teacher, reserve Marine, and all around a pretty good man.  But his constituents are lazy and didn't take his campaign signs down fast enough for them to not see recycling.

I don't know Chuck Baldwin from Adam, but the same goes.

The cross wind on the mendota bridge made the new fenders whistle like some '80s horror movie sound track.

Monday, November 3, 2008


So the Jetta went in for new bearings today.  Dammit.

We decided to take an emergency bike ride.  And that really helped.  We went up Minnehaha to Cedar and picked up a few things from Midwest Mountaineering.  Which was pretty cool, we ran into Kevin.  

Shannon found a nice hat and I found some gloves that will be nice when it gets colder out.  Since the car just needed further repairs, I passed on the gloves for now.

But after perusing the sporting goods store, we went to the Town Hall brewery for lunch.  I had two and a half pints of the house stout, and Shannon had the triple and a stout.  To eat, I had the 7 corners burger since we had just been to 7 corners hardware this morning.  We went there looking for locktite which we found, but I also showed Shannon which drills I liked there.  There are two Mikita and one Milwaukee drills I think would be nice.  One of the Mikita drills is pretty small, and only 2 amps, but it also weighs damn near nothing.  And the other two were much much larger, with the second handle and everything.  The burger though, was awesome.  Shannon had the pumpkin soup and brat special which rivaled the burger.

The stout was smooth without being sweet or heavy.  We'll have to go back.

On our way home, we needed to rest a bit.  Mostly, I was having trouble going in a straight line.  But as we were sitting next to someone's bronzed work boots a couple came pushing their bikes by asking for directions to the Hub.  But what they clearly needed was a patch and a pump.  

I had a pump but sadly couldn't find my patch kit anywhere.  So another rider gave us a glueless patch and we put everything back together.  And I told them where they should be going for their bicycle needs.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Nite Rider

So the whole bike commuting thing is easy during the summer.  The days are long, the trails are clear of most debris, for the most part the biggest worry is rain.

But then fall and winter arrive and a new obstacle shows up.  It's dark.  What I used to use as a light is the Cat Eye light you see on the right.  It runs on three AAA batteries, and is a fine being seen light.  As far as being able to see though, even the freshest batteries give a dim patch 5 feet away to work with.

A little more than a week ago we picked up the Nite Rider light you see on the left.  It has a USB cable for the rechargable battery pack and it ran a whole week's commuting without significant dimming.  On Saturday I went on the Night Ride with the folks from Hiawatha Cyclery, and with just an hour's charging it went the whole trip.  The Nite Rider light casts a beam about 12 or 15 feet wide and about 20-30 feet down the trail depending on how it is aimed.

I still carry both because the Nite Rider light does not have a blinking function, but for seeing I recommend the Nite Rider.  Also, I think having a backup is always a good idea.

I hope there are more night rides or rides on Sundays because it is a fun group to ride with, and Saturday mornings line up tragically with my work schedule.

yeah, I know, what the hell.  The ISO was set to 200 and I didn't feel like fussing.  this is from the spiral thingy by the Gutherie.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let the Right One In

So when it comes to tragedy, the Scandinavians corner the market.  Now I don't mean like the 9 o'clock news "Raging drunk driver obliterates family of four, and their dog" tragic, but the Greek tragic.  By this I mean people do the best they can with sub-optimal results opposite of the intent.

Let the Right One In is a vampire movie that explores evil.  Eli, Conny, his friends, and Conny's older brother offer a few options.  

Without giving spoilers, what I liked about the movie was 1. The use of shallow depth of field 2. off screen violence (not because I'm squeamish, but because it was more in keeping with the Greek) 3. the use of shame.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Changing the water pump on '91 Prelude

Who designs these things?

The advantage of the Honda over a Ford is the commitment to metric.  With 4 sockets it would be pretty straight forward to get through all of the engine.  On the Taurus especially every other bolt was metric or standard.  

Now I have changed a few water pumps on Gimpy the Wonder Taurus, but this Honda made the Taurus look easy.  The head cover had to come off, and the accessory belts.  And the timing belt. And the crankshaft pulley.  And the left engine mount.

Otherwise it was pretty easy to wiggle the pump up in between stuff and onto the block.

BUT we did it.  In one night. With no injuries past cut knuckles.  And actually, doing work with friends in good spirits is always a pleasure.

The trick is in lowering the engine by about an inch.  The pullies, dust covers and pump all fit past the fender much easier.  also a 1 1/2 inch extension might be nice. I picked one up at 7 corners after the fact because it was so dearly missed.  Tools you want to have also: 10mm socket, 10mm box end wrench, 12mm socket, 17mm deep socket, 19mm socket, razor blade, hydraulic jack, blocks, 12in extension, 1 1/2in extension, universal joint, a stout breaker bar, a torque wrench, oven, and a better or at least less cryptic shop manual than the Chilton's because damn.  The oven is to bake pizza, you'll get hungry.  I would strongly suggest buying belts to replace all the belts and radiator hoses, since almost everything needs to come apart anyway.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Triple Rock and Midwest Mountaineering.

So yesterday we biked to the Triple Rock Social Club with our friend April.  I had Bertha's Big Ass Breakfast Burrito with sausage, April had a huge pancake and a plate of cheesy potatoes, and Shannon had the Rock Star Eggs and Toast.  I would like to go there after a night of hard drinking, the breakfast menu and the drinks it offers looks like a great way to fight a hangover.  I hear they make a wicked Bloody Mary, but a dog has to bite me first.

We were looking for fall and winter weather gear.  I was looking for a balaclava and Shannon is in the market for a new winter coat.  April had never been to Midwest Mountaineering.  We looked at everything.  We combed through Thrifty Outfitters, tried on half the coats, and didn't get followed around like a bunch of shoplifters.  

Shannon found a long sleeve shirt and I found a silk balaclava, and I had a crazy awesome idea for how to deter people from stealing bike seats. If anyone is looking to spend pile more than necessary on a Big Dummy, the Hub had one for just over two grand with a separate price tag for the basic basic kick stand holding it up.  Shannon's theory is: "Maybe it was put together with wuv, and that's what made it so expensive."

Saturday, October 18, 2008


In preparation for the winter we picked up a pair of the Schwalbe Winter Marathon studded tires.  I've never had studded tires, so I am excited to try them on ice.  A few years back I wiped out pretty hard on Frenchie riding over ice.  I was sort of asking for it though.  I had ridden across the ice at Harriet Island once and then doubled back because I liked the cracking sound the frozen puddle made.  Take two... not so smooth.

What is funny is that suddenly I have amassed 3 sets of spare tires, for 26 inch tires. 

I'm sipping on Rogue Mocha Porter.  A dark beer with a slightly bitter chocolate aftertaste.  I wonder about aftertaste. Our beer had a definite appley flavor.  

Friday, October 17, 2008

In for an oil change

So we dropped the car off for an oil change.  With a turbo charger those are supposed to have that changed fairly regularly... more like clock work.  And it was due.

The Tow truck set it down in the parking lot, and we waited to hear what they had to say.

While they forgot to change the oil, in three days they were able to diagnose and repair the singular whump sound the car had made.

I don't like feeling vulnerable.  I do what I can to prevent the feeling and since we just bought the car, and since we had problems within a month of the van having the head gasket go, I'm feeling a bit vulnerable.  What is frustrating is that I like driving.  It's the rest of the costs and headache I hate.  I like riding my bike, and I like fixing it too.  Which makes me even more frustrated when I lack the wherewithal to fix the car.  


The impossible has happened

Tuesday night I received a distress signal from Shannon.

What happened never happens.

by some evil miracle either:
A.) All six torx bolts holding the cv shaft to the differential loosened and fell out simultaneously
B.) Scotty put all power to the transporters and beamed them to hell.

which then allowed the shaft, which was still spinning with the wheel, to grind two holes in the side of our aluminum transmission.

Monday, October 13, 2008

100 posts!

Well, here it is: The middle of October and I'm still biking to work.

There isn't any snow on the ground yet but I'll be trying out the Miyata to see if I can make it home without falling over dead.  If anyone is wondering: 27 pounds without panniers.

Riding around St Paul so far it has been okay, so I don't expect any surprises.

Getting Flicked Off

So the story behind the bumper picture:

we were driving to Lake of the Clouds.  One of the more popular and accessible trails in the Porcupine Mountains State Park.  When out of the brush at the side of the road a bird flushes out.  WHUMP.

I look in the rear view mirror...

no bird

and it was a big one.

The Common Flicker stands 12 inches with a 20 inch wingspan.  Somehow it managed to get into the bumper.  And survive.

It screamed, we heard inside the car.  It waved talons at me when I got out to see what happened to the borrowed car (remember this was just after our van  crapped out).

Luckily the bird lived and crawled out on its own, and nothing but some feathers stuck to the car.  Also world hunger ended and I found five dollars.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

gearing up for winter

Well, actually... it ... only has one.

The Miyata is a wicked ride.  Simple and rugged.
I notice I haven't posted those pictures from our northern vacation I promised.

Notice something strange about the bumper on the 98 Taurus?

Maybe a Flicker?

My favorite hiking trail in the Porkies.
And Shannon at the Ontonogon County Park.
It was a good vacation

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

spend Spend SPEND!

The days are getting shorter.

And I think something needs to be done for light.  

I've got a cat eye head light for Frenchie, but it never seems to be very bright.  I can kinda see about 15 feet in front of me, but the light is more for being seen than for seeing.

This new bailout package intrigues me.  The idea of getting money from the government for biking to work is exciting.  I'm kinda thinking about getting a cross-check built up and if I can get some of the money reimbursed...  

So far what I am thinking I want from the bike is a dynamo hub in front so i can have reliable light.  And a crank geared something like 48/38/__.  right now Frenchie is 54/48 and a bitch on hills.  I want wider tires, and studded tires.  And a pony.

I don't think I can walk away with this under a grand.  and the idea of a travelers check is intoxicating.

which puts everything closer to 1700.  

and next summer since we bought a car.

It would be really easy to put something like this on the credit card and pay it off over the course of months.  But with the interest rate on the card at 12% that makes an expensive bike way more than it would need to be.  

What we as a country seem to have gotten used to is having things right now and buying on borrowed money.  Look at the commercial paper debacle.  Companies being lent money on the very short term, rather than having the cash flow.  What pisses em off is that executives are being paid in bags of money, when the company is having trouble making payroll.  Now that is fiscal irresponsibility of the worst sort.  

I have said since I graduated that I would never know the retirement my Grandparents enjoy.  But if these companies don't quit dicking around, no one else will either, even the folks who have been frugal and saved all their lives.

I would like to buy a new bike, but I would also like to stay out of hock.  I keep a nutella jar with money in it. just a matter of time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Safety Dance!

So I don't like the politicking lately has been "we need a democrat/republican in office." it reminds me of the Futurama episode with That 80s Guy.

Here's a funny comic from  John Campbell and his comic Pictures for Sad Children:


So word has it we bought a new car.

And it is a newer car than the van, but not exactly "new."  Not that I wouldn't think of it as being new.  Since it is new to us.

Many things about it are new to us about the car.

like the size. compact.

Wicked cool how much space is left in the parking space with a compact car.

And then there is the driving experience...

The Gimpy the Wonder Taurus always had a smooth ride.  The van also.  But neither gripped the road like this car does.  On curves the van tried to pass itself, and Gimpy couldn't get up to a dangerous speed.

What I would like to tell the car salesmen we didn't buy cars from is this: consistency.  We dragged everything over a couple days and every one of them changed their stories in some horrible inconsistent way.  Like the guy in the Honda dealership.  His wife went from staying home with year and a half old baby and their single car, to 15 months ago he bought an Avalanche for a second vehicle because he just "needed a truck."  Now he might have shared the stories in a way that was confusing.  Perhaps when the baby was born they only had one car and now they have two, but he didn't say that.

I have a few stories that I share with customers, and what I try to do is keep the important details always the same.  Maybe I am more accustomed to seeing a customer more than once?

Learning to drive a stick has been getting easier as I deconstructed the way I was used to driving and inserted my control of the shifting.  I'm still rough; I dumped the clutch with my Grandmother riding shotgun.  But really like driving the car.  Did I mention Frenchie still fits in the trunk of the compact car?


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yooper Weekend

So Friday we drove up north.

Not to Brainerd or Fargo or Ely, but to Upper Michigan.  My Grandma's cabin is over on Lake Gogebic and we enjoyed a nice quiet weekend of Saunas, hiking, and biking.  

On our way to Duluth we drove through the campgrounds in Banning State park to scope out choice camp sites there.  If we aren't going to hike into the woods, I like to have sites on the inside of curves so that as people drive around we don't have to look at their headlights.  Then we stopped at Fitgers and refilled our growler.  The Blueberry Wheat lacks the gentle subtlety of the Apricot and the rich mouth feel of the stout.  Though we haven't tried everything, I think the Apricot Wheat is the best followed by the stout.

Orchard's in Iron River sold us lunch of burgers and pie.  The wild blueberry pie is very good, and the cherry pie is also very good.

We stopped quite a bit driving up.  More than usual and it took nearly 6 hours becasue of that.  But it was nice easy driving, compared to trips that have been in snow or rain especially.  

The Porcupine Mountain State Park is one of my favorite state parks.  One of the more easily accessible trails, the Escarpment Trail, seems to have seen more traffic since I frequented the park and for a ways has lots of fencing to keep people onto the trail.  But my favorite trail, The Little Carp River Trail, is just as I remembered it.

One awesome thing about the LCRT is its annoying distance from civilization.  From Wakefield or Ontonogon it is roughly a million miles driving on a two lane road.  And then a ways down an old dirt road.  But unlike the Escarpment Trail's rocky path, the LCRT is all soft pine needles.  Excellent for hiking and tenting. Here's a nice map.  

I'm saving some significant stories for the next post about the wildlife.

there is something terribly broken about that last sentence.  lets take a moment.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rar is Toyota and the Honda didn't leave us feeling civil

So the salesman at the toyota dealer was nicer than the guy at the Nissan dealer.  And the guy at the Honda dealership had conflicting stories (which is it: did you buy an Avalanche as a second car or do you only have one car?!?!?).  Interesting how when a sale is drawn out over a few days how a story can change.

The Toyota was very nice.  But it didn't have the tachometer, and only had the 4 speed transmission.  And we really were looking for 5 speeds.

We test drove an '06 Civic which was awesome.  accept for a few things
1. why was the car in every 6k miles according to Carfax.  but didn't mention the sale to a dealership?
2. why was the battery replaced at 50k miles?  Why was the entire right tail lamp replaced when it was traded in?  
3. why was there a tic-tac-toe game scratched into the hood?!?

But this is not what killed the sale.

First off, the sticker price on this Civic was a little high.  Not by too much, but enough to give pause.  Second, why didn't the salesman change the pitch when we mentioned that the price was a bit high.

So why not a jetta.

We know the current owner.  We know the quality of maintenance it has received.  And the price is well below what the car is actually worth to a dealership.

All I have to do is  be a quick study for a standard transmission.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How Yar is Toyota

To quote Kathrine Hepburn “Oh she certainly was yar.”

We sat in a sedan of the Yaris, and it was spacious. But not exactly what we were looking for. But then we sat in the three door hatchback.

I don’t want to rave about features...



the back seat moved forward, back, and folded up flat. perfect for a French bike to ride on.

Something else that the Yaris had that I have never seen in a car is bolts holding the cover for the spare in place. Maybe to keep the road noise down? Something certainly did.

The car was pretty nimble, more so than the Versa. It accelerated a lot better, and gets better gas milage.

The salesman was also much nicer.


To be clear, we really liked the Versa.  But something that really seems to have pissed off the guy at the dealership is this:

We don't rush decisions.

The car did most of what we want in a car, however, we haven't test driven any other cars yet.  How could we tell if we like chocolate more than vanilla if we never tried the vanilla.  What about Neapolitan? 

So it was the end of the day.  So we drove two cars and seemed to like on more than the other.

But what really killed the sale was when he said "So you like the car and the price, why am I not filling out the paperwork."

wa wah.

Clearly we wanted to think about the decision.  The car is going to cost almost as much as a year of college and he wanted us to buy without thinking.  

Even if the car was a steal there needs to be some time to think.  The sandwich heavy portfolio doesn't always win.

First Impressions

This past weekend we made our first steps onto the dealerships.

It was pretty much what was expected.  For one, it was pouring down rain intermittently. I can only imagine that people at dealerships in the rain are serious about buying a car.  

The Toyotas we saw didn't excite us.

We haven't made it to a Honda one yet.

At Brother Yam's suggestion we test drove a Versa.  It was pretty nice.  The S model was missing an arm rest.  Which threw me off.  I like to rest my elbow on an armrest while driving.  The 1.8V4 was quiet and sitting idling eerily quiet.  Entering 35 though I had to stomp on the gas to get up to 75mph, but the tach never past 5000.  rpm at speed was between 2500-3000 which is what we were used to in the van, keep in mind the van had a 3.4v6.  The 5 speed automatic seemed to run pretty much in the 2000s even on side roads.  

Something that impressed me was the turning radius: 8 parking spaces.  roughly a circle twenty some feet on the outside.  I think it was Volvo that introduced the idea in a concept car during the late 90s but they put triangular windows in the A column.  Which the Versa had at the base of the A column.  not a lot of added visibility but something a little different.

We also test drove a used Versa.  Still had the 1.8 liter engine, but a different transmission.  The CVT was weird because it just kept going.  No hesitation as the gears changed because there wasn't a gear to change.  Pickup was much better in the used SL than the brand spanking new S.  I liked the feel of the leather steering wheel, the armrest in the front and back seat.  The leg room in the back seat was comparable to AirMalta.  The ride in the back seat was pretty nice overall.  The salesman didn't know if the glass was UV or not, but since it wasn't mentioned on the DOT label in the corner: I don't think it was.  What I didn't like, and this is a big issue for me was the lack of key for the SL.  Instead it is a prox card.  So by approaching the car and touching the handle the doors unlock.  

If you watch Top Gear perhaps you remember when Jeremy bought the Ford GT.  It had a similar system of keyless operation.  And was plagued with bugs.

Now imagine a car for less than 10% the cost of his car with a key fob that will not let you lock the doors and walk away if a key fob is still in the car.  Say we are going some place and want to leave Shannon's purse in the car.  ah Ah AHH.  Car unlocks itself.  And since a key fob it in the car, all a thief has to do is turn a knob on the dash.

The SL is not for us.  Maybe they have an S with an armrest somewhere.

Today we storm the Fords on Robert.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Will a Honda Fit?

We don't want a new minivan.  Too big, too bad of fuel economy.  

This past week gas has dropped like crazy but I don't see it sticking.  Remember from Econ 101, short run competitive equilibrium.  Since our "free" economy is quickly becoming a sham as yet another industry gets bailed out, I don't see any significant companies leaving the marketplace.   For the moment prices are low, but next week as consumer confidence is restored when Freddie and Franny come out of bankruptcy prices will rise.

But the Honda Fit might fit bikes the way we are used to cramming them in.  Which would be awesome.  If we could have all the characteristics of the van that we liked, without driving 18 feet of boat, or dragging around 3800 pounds; that would be the best.  

In the mean time, we have my parents '98 Taurus.  The car burns gas like there is no tomorrow but it runs.  So we are happy for the opportunity to shop around without renting.

We have managed to be a single car family and plan to keep it this way.  But we did explore the logistics of being a zero car family.  We would save a few thousand dollars a year in gas and maintenance, unless we get sick or something comes up.  It would also make it more awkward to get to some of the campgrounds we want to.

I do plan to bike to work for as long as I can this year.  I just need snow tires.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Where are the rest of your pants?

It's Frenchie and Sir Walter relaxing by the Wisconsin boarder!

Shannon put the fire wood on her bike and we rode around the park laden thus.

God dammit.

It has been a while since I updated.

The last time I posted the van was running perfectly. Since then we went to St Croix State Park. Which was awesome! We went fishing. We went biking. We went hiking. We played Frisbee.

here are some pictures

The tent worked perfectly. The old Boy Scout favorite proved easier to break down than I even remembered. Which made the nieghbors jealous—with their raspberry shaped dome tent and a dozen different sizes of poles.

What we aren’t prepared to go without is esspresso. If I haven’t mentioned how awesome the 9 cup Bialetti mocca pot is, here I am saying an aluminum espresso pot that works on a camp stove or the kitchen burner has infinte utility. Every camping trip we’ve been on has had espresso. Which boggles other’s.

Frenchie didn’t like the washboard of the gravel roads in the park. My teeth didn’t fall out but my steel waterbottle did cartwheels. In fact, the water bottle worked pretty badly.

maybe...just maybe...old french road bikes are not mountain bikes. I know, it’s hard to believe but perhaps there is a difference.

So, as the weekend wrapped up it also got toasty out. We tried some of the Munger trail on our way out of Hinkley but Shannon’s tire started to seriously bulge. The three year old tires started to come apart in the middle of the tread. By the time we got back to the van the rubber was rubbing on the fender.

We were able to dodge a lot of traffic by taking 35w to the Cleveland exit and sneaking into St Paul through the U of M campus. We did stop at Fleet Farm in Blaine and finally picked up an axe. So we'll be able to chop our own tinder, which is awesome.

On our way back, the van was running a little hot, but, I figured that 90 degree heat would explain that away. It had been running a bit rough but I just figured that I was needing a bottle of seafoam.

Shannon had me pick up a kettle for canning. It sorta fit on the rack...

This past Saturday the engin temperature skyrocketed. So Shannon took it into the shop only to get bad news. antifreeze in the oil from the headgaskets. Crap.

what did the van get us at Upull?

300 bucks.

Monday I test rode a Crosscheck. On smooth surface it felt sorta like Frenchie, but without low speed squirrliness. On bumps it was a dream. Tonight I test rode a Big Dummy on my way home from work, which was also smooth on bumps, but the Crosscheck had more electricity.

Did I mention we are looking at buying a car?

The question they asked at work was :

"John, where are the rest of your pants???"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Math is delicious!

The next meeting needs to be better attended by cyclists. The word comes straight from the councilman’s aide.

Highland gets the lowest traffic, is the most direct from the Ford Bridge, and actually services the Highland Village; but without some support from the cycling community the community is not going to get the boulevard.

I don’t know why this is getting me so worked up. I just realized that the only people who will notice a difference will be the people getting sidewalks without being assessed for them. The laws related to biking are the same. The Parkway will still be on the Twin City bike map.

The folks from Public Works said there are 3 ways to improve traffic conditions
1. Enforcement
2. Education
3. Engineering

It is clear that enforcement is expensive, as it is not a sunk cost.

Education will inform people, but is not an active solution. People know that speeding is illegal, but how many cars are going the speed limit anywhere in this state.

Which leaves engineering. Engineering works well in conjunction with education. Engineering like putting more bikes on a road.

aw crap

The folks on Highland Parkway want slower traffic. We want slower traffic to bike with.

Kevin Krizek of the University of Minnesota established a way to quantify value in bike lanes. His paper on the matter published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol 72, No 3, Summer 2006. His findings “indicate that bicycle commuters in Minneapolis and St Paul prefer bicycle lanes on existing streets over off street bicycle trails.”

Which means that while the bridle path down summit is very genteel, it will be much less effective. Especially since Summit already is marked with bike lanes.

Since apparently Highland Parkway is also plagued by speeding traffic, traffic calming would be a nice addition.

In the journal Injury Prevention back in 2003 had an interesting piece “Safety in Numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling” by Peter Jacobson. The piece is a historical study of accidents in 47 Danish cities, the UK and California (the author works for the Department of Public Health in California). The article’s references make for interesting reading as well. In the discussion of the findings, motorist behavior defines the number and severity of accidents. With more bikes and pedestrians, across the board at a constant rate of N^0.4 accidents occur. If there are twice as many cyclists there are only 32% more accidents not twice as many. By diverting bike and pedestrian traffic from multiple streets to one street traffic accidents overall will decrease.

If traffic calming is changing driver behavior to prevent accidents, bikes and pedestrians are an effective means to reducing accidents. Without expensive enforcement. And 50 years of research in three countries agrees. Bike routes on streets are most effective and 30 years worth of numbers agree for our metro area.

These are not anecdotes but quantitative science. By the numbers Highland Parkway would be the best place. The community wants calmed traffic, but the city lacks the resources for increased enforcement, education has thus far been ineffective, leaving engineering. This is the best engineering option as:
1. it does not assess the community directly for improvements
2. it improves the safety of the community

We want similar things right? Safe streets and no out of pocket expenses.

Well maybe not the same things as bridle path guy. He wants a pony.

Image copyright Jeff Jaques via

Friday, August 22, 2008

Highland Parkway Bike Blvd Meeting

We plan on attending the meeting at the community center this Monday at 6:30. Same bat place, new bat time!

Since the first meeting we went to, I've been using the parkway in stead of James. I have to say, the parkway is much nicer to ride down.

Also, I set a new record for biking home: 34 minutes. woot

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Elegy; with Ben Kingsley, Dennis Hopper, and Penelope Cruz

I would like to start off by saying: The Edina Landmark Theatre makes me feel young. Why does the cinema make me feel young? Because Shannon and I are usually half the age of the rest of the audience. And that’s weird.

The movie seemed aimed at the aging crowd. Without doing a study in gerontology the average population of the US is aging. And these people like to see movies. And apparently Penelope Cruz’ breasts. This summer has had a lot of movies about people getting old and struggling with the new identity (Actually the movie reads much like the Passenger for the Jack Nicholson fans) but I think Elegy is much better than say The Bucket List.

I liked the movie, not only because of breasts, but because of how Kingsley and Hopper get along in the movie. It reminds me of Wolfy and me.

What sent us driving into the particular part of town we hate driving to? Free tickets. Seriously, taking 62 past 35w we almost got sideswiped and we had our own lane. It’s like people are on crazy pills around there. Absolute white knuckle driving because no-one drives predictably. But this might have something to do with the way the road work there is being done. While excellent work is being done on the new road bed, the redirected traffic has terrible surface to drive on. The pavement is patch worked together, the banking is opposite for all the turns. So of course there are accidents because nothing is smooth or made with the physics of driving in mind.

SO, maybe when we get more time to travel the distance, we will bike there. 50th and France is not that far really.

Would I suggest people see the movie? yes. Would I recommend driving to Edina to see it? no.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A bit cagy

And finally there is water on Frenchie.

Saturday, after work, we went over to Hiawatha Cyclery and picked up water bottle cages and mounting hardware.  For Frenchie we got a bracket that attaches right onto the handlebars, for Si Walter one that attaches where ever you want it.  Shannon now has a cage on the down tube.

So yesterday when we biked the greenway, water was available without stopping.

Also yesterday we set up the tent.

A week ago we bought our first tent.  Till now we have borrowed my sister's dome tent, but it was kinda small.  And a trick to set up in the dark.  So we had been in Thrifty Outfitters and saw a Eureka a frame tent like we had in the boy scouts.

Now back then we all tried to get into the sunrise dome tents because they were bigger and easier to dry out in the morning.  But the Timberline was the fastest set up, and lighter.

I figure a tent that can withstand a troop of boy scouts can withstand us.  And it is huge.  When we set it up behind the apartment it took up a significant corner of the patch of green we have.  Labor day, we will be camping.

Monday, August 11, 2008

St Paul bike boulevard meeting

The people of Highland Parkway have completely broken my brain. The federal government has issued the city of Saint Paul a grant for $250,000 to complete the sidewalks along the parkway, and the only stipulation is that pedestrians and cyclists get right of way.

wait a moment.

lets review the Minnesota Statute on the matter.

Minnesota Statute 169.222 available on the web at:

and it reads:

Subdivision 1. Traffic laws apply. Every person operating a bicycle shall have all of the
rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle by this chapter, except in respect to those provisions in this chapter relating expressly to bicycles and in respect to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature cannot reasonably be applied to bicycles.
Subd. 2. Manner and number riding. No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped, except (1) on a baby seat attached to the bicycle, provided that the baby seat is equipped with a harness to hold the child securely in the seat and that protection is provided against the child's feet hitting the spokes of the wheel or (2) in a seat attached to the bicycle operator.
Subd. 3. Clinging to vehicle. Persons riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates,
toboggan, sled, skateboard, or toy vehicle shall not attach the same or themselves to any street car or vehicle upon a roadway.
Subd. 4. Riding on roadway or shoulder. (a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a
roadway shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except
under any of the following situations:
(1) when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
(2) when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
(3) when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including fixed or moving objects,
vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or narrow width lanes, that make it unsafe to
continue along the right-hand curb or edge.
(b) If a bicycle is traveling on a shoulder of a roadway, the bicycle shall travel in the same
direction as adjacent vehicular traffic.
(c) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway or shoulder shall not ride more than two abreast
and shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway,
shall ride within a single lane.
(d) A person operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk, or across a roadway or shoulder on a
crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal when
necessary before overtaking and passing any pedestrian. No person shall ride a bicycle upon a
sidewalk within a business district unless permitted by local authorities. Local authorities may
prohibit the operation of bicycles on any sidewalk or crosswalk under their jurisdiction.
(e) An individual operating a bicycle or other vehicle on a bikeway shall leave a safe distance
when overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on the bikeway, and
shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.
(f) A person lawfully operating a bicycle on a sidewalk, or across a roadway or shoulder
on a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same
Subd. 5. Carrying articles. No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle,
or article which prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars or from properly operating the brakes of the bicycle.
Subd. 6. Bicycle equipment. (a) No person shall operate a bicycle at nighttime unless
the bicycle or its operator is equipped with a lamp which shall emit a white light visible from
a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector of a type approved by the
Department of Public Safety which is visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to
the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. No
person may operate a bicycle at any time when there is not sufficient light to render persons and vehicles on the highway clearly discernible at a distance of 500 feet ahead unless the bicycle or its operator is equipped with reflective surfaces that shall be visible during the hours of darkness from 600 feet when viewed in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. The reflective surfaces shall include reflective materials on each side of each pedal to indicate their presence from the front or the rear and with a minimum of 20 square inches of reflective material on each side of the bicycle or its operator. Any bicycle equipped with side reflectors as required by regulations for new bicycles prescribed by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission shall be considered to meet the requirements for side reflectorization contained in this subdivision. A bicycle may be equipped with a rear lamp that emits a red flashing signal.
(b) No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a brake which will enable the
operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
(c) No person shall operate upon a highway any bicycle equipped with handlebars so raised
that the operator must elevate the hands above the level of the shoulders in order to grasp the
normal steering grip area.
(d) No person shall operate upon a highway any bicycle which is of such a size as to prevent
the operator from stopping the bicycle, supporting it with at least one foot on the highway surface and restarting in a safe manner.
Subd. 7. Sale with reflectors and other equipment. No person shall sell or offer for
sale any new bicycle unless it is equipped with reflectors and other equipment as required by
subdivision 6, clauses (a) and (b) and by the regulations for new bicycles prescribed by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Subd. 8. Turning, lane change. An arm signal to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the bicycle before turning, unless the arm is needed to control the bicycle, and shall be given while the bicycle is stopped waiting to turn.
Subd. 9. Bicycle parking. (a) A person may park a bicycle on a sidewalk unless prohibited
or restricted by local authorities. A bicycle parked on a sidewalk shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of pedestrian or other traffic.
(b) A bicycle may be parked on a roadway at any location where parking is allowed if it is
parked in such a manner that it does not obstruct the movement of a legally parked motor vehicle.
Subd. 10. Bicycle events. (a) Bicycle events, parades, contests, or racing on a highway
shall not be unlawful when approved by state or local authorities having jurisdiction over that
highway. Approval shall be granted only under conditions which assure reasonable safety for all
participants, spectators and other highway users, and which prevent unreasonable interference
with traffic flow which would seriously inconvenience other highway users.
(b) By agreement with the approving authority, participants in an approved bicycle highway
event may be exempted from compliance with any traffic laws otherwise applicable thereto,
provided that traffic control is adequate to assure the safety of all highway users.
Subd. 11. Peace officer operating bicycle. The provisions of this section governing operation
of bicycles do not apply to bicycles operated by peace officers while performing their duties.
History: 1978 c 739 s 12; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 255 s 14; 1993 c 326 art 4 s 2; art 7 s
2; 1995 c 72 s 2"
So there are no legal changes. The bikes that had right of way...have right of exchange, the street gets free sidewalks. I think it is awfully clever way that the city found to offset the cost of the sidewalks.

I don’t know about how the rest of the community feels but I think this is a no brainer. And they are convinced that there will suddenly be drifters and assholes wandering around prying at their windows.

Does anyone out there know what sidewalks cost? anyone been recently assessed for new sidewalks? I think this is one hell of a deal.

Also, it would be wicked cool to have a street dedicated to making motorists aware of the rights of cyclists and the fact that their piloting a large piece of tin does not exempt them from observing those rights. I would change my route if there was a safer way.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I am a Caucasian male

More Scandinavian than from the Caucus mountains.  In fact, I lack as much Caucasian blood as someone 3/4 Finn could.  

But on Saturday we went to The Big Libowski, and it really made me want a White Russian.

So here is to the Dude. 

Monday, August 4, 2008


The rear fender doesn't rattle any more!

I made the braces from copper plated plumbing braces, which were not solid copper like the nice people at the hardware store told me they were.  Which made them harder than advertised to drill holes in.

tomorrow will be a quieter ride



I hate cordless drills.  I have never used one that I was happy with.  My Dad has a few of them from various manufacturers and the drill I use when he isn't looking is corded.  It just works better.  Something about getting the same torque from beginning to end.  

I'm suspicious of chuckless systems too, but that is a different matter.

I mention this because I am finally replacing the crappy old brake calipers on the Peugeot.  The new ones have better reach I should keep catching the tires and smooth release so I wont bike around with the brakes gripped.

The back fender has been held steady by a zip tie and I figure this would be a perfect opportunity to brace the fender so it doesn't wiggle and clatter so much.  But my drill is cordless, so I have to wait another four hours for the fucking battery to recharge.


Thursday, July 31, 2008


Indian Pale Ale.  I can't stand the stuff. It just tastes sour to me.

But we just slow-cooked some chicken in an IPA based marinade and it was awesome.  For the record IPA was not in the recipe, but the Horn Dog we have in the fridge wouldn't exactly have worked with the spices.  So we cracked the last bottle of IPA we keep in reserve for folks that like really hoppy beer, and tada!

On today's ride home from work there was one of the speed signs with the radar gun, and it clocked me at 19.  

I was pretty excited.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Solving the world's problems

Today’s ride home had its high points and its low points.

The first low was when I couldn’t keep up with two guys crossing the Mendota Bridge. I usually pride myself on being able to keep up with others, and I just couldn’t do it. My excuse is that when I started riding home I pedaled really hard and my thighs were not warmed up yet, and hurt the whole trip after. Weak excuse but that is how I perceived it. As one of my friends named Jim says: “the problem young people have is they don’t know how to pace themselves.”  

my bad.

The second low came just as I was coming up along the exit from 55 to Hiawatha. I was being passed by a polite guy on a red lugged Trek and a small sparrow flushed out of the shadows missed him and hit my front spokes with a “BONG!”

I think I killed it....

I don’t know....

So I entered Minnehaha Park not feeling so good. I felt slow, dehydrated, and like I had just run over a song bird.

But then a chance to redeem myself!

A person in distress! Pushing her rusting yellow Schwinn Collegiate with a flat rear tire.

“Do you need a pump, patch, or a tire?” I ask pulling up. She wasn’t sure. So I triied putting air in. No good. So I call Shannon’s phone tell it I’ll be 15-20 minutes late. The nice thing about dealing with older bikes regularly is that you come prepared for working on older bikes. The back wheel was held in place by a 17mm bolt. I happen to carry a 17mm socket. It took but a moment to pull the wheel and then the tire off, and another to find the tear. Less than 15 minutes to patch and reassemble the wheel. The tire was old and the rubber was starting to crack apart so I pumped the tire up to 60 psi not the 90 it prescribed.

We hopped onto our bikes and headed our separate ways. I had new energy, becasue I had been of some use.

If you are reading this, your bike needs new tires. they can be had cheaply, two for as little as 20 bucks or so, but you’ll be happier for it. Patch kits are nice and also cheap. And a crescent wrench can solve a lot of the world’s problems.

I finished off the evening with a nice Barley Wine style ale with some delicious chicken tacos Shannon made. I’m feeling pretty good about the day as a whole.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The taste of metal

Actually a pretty good short story if you are in the market for one.

This is not the material of a good short story, but me thinking about how long I've been doing the same thing.  A lot has changed in the last 4 years. But I am starting to notice a different something about things.  And it makes my ears prick...

I like my job most days, but... I don't know what.

mostly I lack a unified theory of beer.  I really just cannot stand IPAs.  They taste metallic to me. maybe I've just had  a bad run  of IPAs.  But I love a good dark ale or a stout.  Like a thick oatmeal stout served in a large snifter...

I used to believe in the opacity test, but that really lacks causation.  Mostly I really like stouts which are opaque, but there are some belgian beers that are quite translucent and 11.3%.  There was this Roquefort I tried that was very distinctive, and knocked me on my ass.  I'll have to keep an eye out for it again.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Run Away!

We didn't make it to Elysian. A thunderstorm chased us back to the car. But we did get twenty miles in on the Sakatah trail before fleeing.

Shannon has a really good post about our adventures.

Things that we figured out on this ride were:
1. cannot be trusted
2. Food is heavy
3. The thunderstorm is never going the other way

It was a beautiful day though thirty miles east. And we still had a nice day of riding though it was divided between trails.

Frenchie did just get out of the shop again. The new wheel works so much better than the old one it is like comparing apples to hermaphroditic sloths.

Also, our new camera can attach directly onto the handlebars, which is wicked cool. No having to dig out the Ammo box right now.

Here is us in Cannon Falls after our ride.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

As the wheel turns

So the old rim and spokes were pretty well shot.  What was suggested was that a new rim get laced onto the old hub and we start fresh.  Shannon picked Frenchie up from the shop today, and I think it looks pretty good.

So tomorrow we will bike from Faribault to however far we feel like.  If we make it to Mankato perhaps we'll terrorize the folks we know in Upper North.  We'll at least go as far as Elysian, cuz I mean really.  It begs for slap styx comedy.

pictures to follow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bloody hell

I'm glad it waited for a work day and didn't break a couple miles outside Haistings. God that would have been terrible if the spoke broke coming down that hill...

So yeah, another spoke broke. I am now inclined to start thinking about having the wheel rebuilt. And then I think... I wonder how smaller wheels might feel... would certainly be easier to get the back wheel out of the frame.


maybe what I'll do is put a rack on the three-speed and pump the tires up.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Longest day of the year

No, I did not mean the Summer Solstice.  That party has been and gone.I mean the longest day of riding I have had yet this year.  It was a store ride from Hiawatha Cyclery.  We went around Lake Pepin, clocking 72.37 miles. Longer than my previous longest day by almost a factor of 2.   I would have needed another 8 miles.  I set a new top speed on Frenchie at 38.6 miles per hour. It was a nice sized group of 11 people.  I was happy to be able to keep up with everyone else.

The morning started off humid and cool.  But as the clouds and fog burned off it turned into a beautiful sunny day.

We stopped at the Smiling Pelican.  The Cherry Popper I had was about five minutes from the oven.  A buttery sweetbread with cherries in the middle.  

We stopped in Wabasha for lunch at the Eagle's Nest.  I thought we were heading to Austria, but appreciated not have to ride through the Alps.

It's Jim!

the refuge

Frenchie being a good bike.

Everyone in Lake City cooling off in the shade.  I'm pretty sure the population is more than 11.  It was all of our group hanging out at this time.

I think it is time to figure out the water problem.

Monday, July 14, 2008

maybe if they had some lava

I'm not a big fan Pulp Fiction, but John Travolta's line from the bathroom just keeps popping in there.  Just look out for Marshmallow men.

Here is one of my favorite of the volcano pictures. I think Shannon took it.

on this screen it looks a little yellowish, but it should be reddish. at least it was in Photoshop...

And those damn CR2 formats. errgh.  I had to open the picture in Preview and save it as a TIFF just to have the privilege of opening it in photoshop.

The website is down

I saw this on Blood Sweat and Gears.

I laughed so hard I got a bloody nose.

Airport security

I don't dress up to travel.  Some people are in the security line looking like they just stepped out of Tiffany's.  I look like I am about to go hiking.  I like loose fitting clothes, zip-off pant legs in case I get cold or warm.  But I also get searched a lot going through security.

Some people suggest it is the Mamiya that causes the trouble.  Not a lot of people travel with large cameras like that.  And I usually travel with it.  I like the 6x4.5cm format.  I like the way the math changes on exposures.  Through an x-ray machine it prolly looks like something gruesome.  I don't know, they never let me look.

But I was searched at the airport going from Hawaii to Oahu and leaving Oahu heading for home.  And they were the most pleasant airport security people I have ever been searched by.  They were just as thorough as the grumbling people at MSP, they opened all my camera bags and swabbed everything down, but they smiled and made small talk about our stay in Hawaii.  I actually enjoyed being searched.  I felt like I had taken part in some sort of happy exit poll.


I don't mean that those guide books were wrong about much else at all. The restaurants they suggest were excellent.  And the beaches where they said turtles could be found had turtles.  

I am just saying: there is biking on those islands. 

The place we stopped for shaved ice was just down the street from that other place, and the nice people behind the counter were precisely that.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Big Island Revealed and Oahu Revealed were wrong about something

Biking specifically.

The only roads that did not have bike lanes, or share the road signs that I noticed were H1 and H3.  

I would venture that the islands are very bike friendly.  But then, were are getting used to more urban biking and the authors prolly expected people looking for island biking to have off road mountain biking in mind.  

But all day and on every road we saw cyclists.

We watched a guy bike up to the Pali lookout on the old highway (which is now a paved trail for pedestrians since the road goes through the mountain now rather than over it) and then go screaming back down. Not Tarzan screaming, but his knobby tires made that TIE fighter "CHWHAAAAAAAAAA" sound.

So don't forget to bring your Travelers Checks with you.  There is beautiful biking in Hawaii, though most of it is going to be on a bike lane.

wool socks

yes I when I was wearing socks in Hawaii they were wool.

Nice light Smartwool socks.  Awesome.

In that picture of me: woolens

Signs of Hawaii

I think this sign is trying to tell us not to drive down the dirt road to the southernmost point in the United States.  

Specifically not to offroad, but since the road more or less ends a couple hundred yards from there and what continues are two tracks in the grass what are we to do?

As a side note: Kapu used to be punishable by death in Hawaii.  

This next sign was at the ranger station by an old lava flow in Volcanos National Park.  

And the seals are also out to get you

And so is the lava.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The first of many vacation posts

It's early, but not early enough for a long post.

We've been home from vaca for a couple days now and I've been building up to the first post about what and where we've been up to.

Just before leaving I had a discussion of bike helmets with an RN.  And she made some compelling arguments for me to wear a helmet.  But that just wasn't enough.

I saw on a friend's Facebook page pictures of him getting stitches and his busted helmet. And that scared me a bit.

But the second day we were in Hawaii, I was riding shotgun and looking to the left when the motorcycle next to us got taken out.

caveat: The motorcycle did pull in front of the other car.

But watching the guy roll over the windshield shook me.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

We're ready to party We're ready

We hope you bring lots of spaghetti.

Shannon and I are heading out for vacation, so don't expect posts.

Fencing is not relaxing work.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

a response to the rebuttal

It wasn't until the last few weeks that the serious thought of a new bike even entered my head.  I've talked about it a lot, probably driving everyone crazy with my demented parrot chatter about various bikes, but the idea of buying a new thing usually froze my brain.

I have owned 1 new bike ever.  and I gave it away.

I have owned many used bikes, most of which have been given away. Eight of them if I am not mistaken (in fact only three are retained).  But I haven't close attention to how they rode.

Sir Walter rides completely differently from Frenchie.  In fact, riding Sir Walter like Frenchie is terribly uncomfortable.

For one thing, going over hard bumps on Frenchie I have to lift off the seat and bring my weight forward slightly.  The same maneuver on Sir Walter makes for wobbling and mwa-ja-ja-ja *waving arms.*  By  lifting and shifting back over the rear wheel though, the bump is smooth.

Also Sir Walter tracks nicely.  But steering is more in the leaning than turning the handle bars.  I think those handle bars are just something to cling to.  But I've only ridden it for 26 miles, so what the hell do I know.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

the Other

Shannon picked up Frenchie, and dropped him off at Hiawatha Cyclery to be reshod.

But she left Sir Walter with me so I could still bike home.  Which was awesome.

that bike feels WEIRD.

obviously, someone else's bike is going to be set up the way they are going to want it (And my preference in Frenchie is rather bizarre).  But the bike felt completely different.

I think Shannon should get a new bike first.  Handsome as Sir Walter might be...WEIRD!

mwa-ja-ja-ja *waves arms*


So I'm riding over to work, and I hear a terrible noise. It sounded like a valve stem blasting off. And then wah-wah-wah-wah-waaaaaaaaaah

But the tire pressure is there.


busted spoke.

Jim I wish I'd bought that temporary spoke wire thingy you showed me last summer.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Computer please, make me a vanilla double fudge sundae with whipped cream and extra nuts"

As I think about it, more and more, I have no idea how many miles I have actually ridden so far this year.

Last year Shannon and I rode exactly the same number of miles.  This year I have been commuting half the way to work since the beginning of the summer alone.  I have gone on rides on Monday mornings without Shannon deep into Minneapolis.  And she has been going biking with other people too. Since the computer is on her bike, the computer gives me nothing for guidance on the number of miles ridden this year.

The current estimated figure is around 4-500 miles.  I know I have biked roughly 150 miles commuting, and over 300 dinging around miles.  But I haven't really kept closer track than this.  It feels funny to have so immediately participated in an activity and not know the amount of the activity I have been involved in.  It is easy to look at an odometer and say "the van has been driven x miles" but I really have no idea of the milage on Frenchie.

Maybe I should get a computer to keep track of this stuff, maybe it doesn't bother me enough to buy another thing.  (besides I'm trying to save for a bike remember)

There is something wrong with Frenchie

I've been riding my trusty french bike for so long I think I don't notice how quirky it really is.

Shannon thinks it is squirrly. She hasn't used the word squirrely, but the handleing is kinda...*waves arms.*

Tonight I test-rode a Long Haul Trucker.  And it was not squirrely.  When I turned, it turned; when I went straight it went straight.  Which leads me to two conclusions:

1. The Peugeot is sick
2. A LHT is sick (as in cool)
3. The cat has found catnip and is very clingy.

perhaps a new bike is somewhere in the future.  But I have new questions.

I have been using 27in tires and like the larger wheel, maybe, should I try out another bike with 27in tires and see if I like them better than the 26in tires I rode today.  

What about the Pugsley I test rode last year?  I seemed to be pretty gaga for that too.  what the hell, am I just excited to buy something new?

How am I going to come up with the extra thousand dollars.

The difference in size of wheel might be enough so I don't feel like I am buying a modernized replica of what I already have, or like Jim said in the shop: "you could make it [Frenchie] a single speed." tempting.

The trouble with me buying an expensive mountain bike is: I don't mountain bike.  winter commuting by bike might be just as easy with Nokians. (I dunno, but thats what I hear).

2. Profit!
3. buy bike

Saturday, June 21, 2008

bakelite tea service

So we're sitting around watching cheesy movies.

First we watched Star Trek: Insurrection, which I am convinced is the worst of all the movies, even worse than the one with "Rich Corinthian Leather"-man (which wasn't so bad, as I can't take him seriously).

Now we are watching Hang em High, and Clint Eastwood has just woken up in a brothel, and been served breakfast including coffee from a tea service with a bakelite handle. 

somebody missed the memo about the history of bakelite. And I'm a dork.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

warm beer

I have been reading over old posts in an effort to keep fresh material appearing in new posts.  And got back into the posts about the trip to Duluth and I got to thinking about that growler we bought at Fitgers which was really tasty.  And then I got to thinking about how tricky it is for someone who works on Saturdays to get a growler of beer from Surly.  And then I got to thinking about Irish whiskey verses Tennessee whiskey, when I remember I poured a glass of beer an hour ago.


now I have a mostly flat glass of warm beer.

mmm warm beer.

I wonder why I got to thinking about whiskey though...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

the things they carried

Two years ago I was given a tool wedge for Christmas.  And I carry it always.  On You Just Don't Want To there was recently a post about what a commuter must have, and while I certainly haven't been commuting long enough to have anything approaching authority on what a commuter should carry, I do have opinions on what tools a cyclist should carry.


Specifically everything necessary to repair the bike in the event of the worst.

In my tool wedge, in addition to the multitool which is awesome and the handfull of other handy tools it came with; I carry a 1/4 drive ratchet for 8mm, 10mm, 11mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm, 15mm, and 1/2in sockets and a 6" crescent wrench for good measure (the 14 and 15 actually are 3/8" drive sockets for which I carry an adaptor).  This is because between Sir Walter and Frenchie I have at least one bolt to deal with in each size.  For example: Sir Walter doesn't have quick release on the back wheel and guess what size bolt it is...thats right 15mm.

I also carry a few spare parts. Like a spare bolt for locking the seat post.  Guess why.

I'm not really trying to set any land speed records so I don't mind the extra weight (923g or the exact same as 26oz of water in a 1l nalgene bottle.  (yes I just weighed them on the digital kitchen scale for this post and I knew I was a dork)).  

Blood on the Pavement

I did that I did that that's my fault...Too bad the table didn't break my fall.

Over by Caribou, they resurfaced the parking lot with oil and gravel. Which it needed.

Coming in I thought I would do a powerslide, but traction was too poor to get a controlled skid in.  After coffee, I forgot how much loose gravel there was and I leaned into the turn.

My knee took most of the landing, my elbow the rest and I stopped on my right shoulder.

For the first scrape of the season: not bad I say.  I still biked home after work. I think it really comes down a bit of holding myself responsible for the series of events.  And I feel that if I am going to commit to biking home from work two or three nights a week, then I should be prepared to do so regardless of how stupid I have been or how crappy the weather is.  That weather thing might need tweaking--I always feel exposed on the Mendota bridge.

I tried to just shrug it off, but a whole bunch of people from outside the coffeeshop jumped up to make sure I was okay.  Which was very nice of them.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The long ride home.

Not actually that long...but after a days work, it was a bit of work.

Also, I forgot water.  Anyone surprised?

I made it home in about 45 minutes, but the ride to the Mendota Bridge only took about twenty minutes, and riding in Eagan is much crappier than the rest of the ride.  But without water, I started flagging on the bridge and by the time I was past the Fort I was in rough shape.

Around 54th I got a fresh wind, and kept it going for a bit.

On the bridge I had been damn near clipped by a mute.  So when I saw him coming up the trail from the river side of the Fort I put some heat under it and held the lead as best I could.  He turned off at the round about and I stopped for water and a dizzy spell.  It's one thing to keep up with someone, another to be the one lugging panniers too.  

I crept the rest of the way home and pretty red on arrival.

Tomorrow: Again! (hopefully people will have a sense of etiquette...)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Terrible Daiquiries

I've had Drinkology on my shelf forever.  And some of the drinks are pretty good, but the daiquiri recipe in there sucks.  Burntburntburntburntburnt.

What I concocted the other day though, was Vernors and Jack Daniels.  Mixed pretty weak, but it gave a new twist on my favorite soda.

One of my good friends who moved to Hawaii made an awesome drink he called the Captain Jack Sparrow.  Captain Morgan, Jack Daniels and Coke.  Awesome.


I'm annoyed.  

just in general I feel cross, and I have a good idea why.

the pictures

who puts cotter pins in the seat?  it wobbled every time it was looked at sideways.

Here's a look at the donor

how the hell did I miss the derailleur?

here are what I expected to use from the SBR. We switched the Hurricane over to mustache handlebars, metal pedals, and tension shifters.  

I prefer the subtlety of tension shifters.  The rear derailleur works perfectly and smoothly. Though the front is pissing me off.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

more assembly required

I forgot the camera at my folks, so pictures tomorrow.

The brakes were a pain in the ass.  Compared to the front derailleur though, they were a walk in the park on a moderate and sunny day.

This is because it was missing. Somehow I missed that...and then the SBR lacked a front one that fit. So I tried to make one fit with a nylon shim which worked at first.  And then every time I changed gears, the derailleur would wriggle down the tube.  Till it hung up on the large chainring and went crazy wonky.

After two hours of fighting with that we called it a night.

This has been a weekend of discoveries though:
1.  I really like some of these wicking shirts.  I haven't bought anything nike since middle-school till the shirt I am wearing right now, and it was cool and comfortable all day long.
2. I might like canti brakes.  I've defended the old sidepull brakes forever, but the cantilevered brakes were easy to adjust. And move on more axis than my brakes on Frenchie.
3. With the addition of a tin snips to cut cables and housing, I had all the tools I needed in my tool wedge.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Some assembly required

My Mom has had a bike hanging in the garage rafters for years.  

I don't think it has been ridden for as long as she has had it.  At first this sounds like a terrible thing, but upon closer inspection--the bike was in no condition to be ridden.

Immediately apparent problem: no brakes.

I was able to tighten the play out of the rear hub easily, but the brakes are in serious need of attention.

What I had forgotten about was an old Schwinn Hurricane hanging in the back of the garage.  I noticed it when we got her bike down.

It has cantilevered breaks and 26inch tires, just like the road bike with all the troubles.  I don't think my Mom wants to ride a mountain bike, but with a different set of tires and more upright handlebars...

pictures of the project as I get more into it.