Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rub a Dub Dub, Two Men and a Pug

Pugsley, courtesy of Surly demo fleet (thanks, Sov!). This has been my commuter this week. The Pug has been an interesting ride. This shot was taken on Monday night. I had fun. The Pug rolls over things I am accustomed to cutting through with a skinny-tire bike. However, depending on tire pressure, the Pug also has a tendency to slot into snow and ice ruts and push one around the lane like a "normal" bike. However, I really enjoy the Pugsley. Am I going to rush out and make plans to build one? April will be happy to hear me say, "No." The Pug is fun, a lot of fun. I think it would be really cool to ride some trails on one. I also think it would be an awesome bike for riding groomed snowmobile trails (which we don't have in the city). However, even on the cheap, it isn't a cheap bike to build. So, here's how it is -- if I owned a Pug I'd probably make it my primary snowy commuter for the fun of it. But I don't own one. I am turning this loaner back in tomorrow, then I have to take my 32c-tire, fixed gear back. Best to brush up on how to ride that thing through the snow and drifts, 'cause that's what's gonna get me through this winter.

And speaking of winter, anyone else in the TC area think it came about 4-6 weeks earlier than last year? I mean, c'mon, there wasn't even a lag in the skeeter (skate-skier) traffic before the real snow flew and those snobs got to claim prime cycling real estate to their elitist "winter" sport. I relish the day a black or hispanic person wins the Birkebiener.

Now, on to the title of this blog post ...

So, we got a big snow on Saturday (more on that later). Sunday was a mess. The Monday morning commute was even a bit of a mess. Then, Tuesday we got snow all day. The ride home would be interesting for sure. Skiles rode in to work on one bike and wanted to borrow a Pugsley to ride home. He lined up the ride. We coordinated times. It seemed like a good plan. By the time we rolled out the door at 6:15 or so things were kooky weird. The parking lot had not been plowed; getting going was hard enough. I had my usual route along the sidewalk north of Old Shakopee to pick up a side street a few blocks away; Andy apparently wanted to take the street. We were immediately separated before our ride ever began. I never saw Andy the rest of the night.

Old Shak (pronounced 'shock') was bumper-to-bumper headed west. The sidewalk I was riding had not been plowed. It was basically 4-5" deep over pre-existing snow ruts. (Now, let me tell you a thing or two about winter cycling ... snow is one thing. Depth matters, fer shur. But when you get a sizeable snowfall on top of an existing and re-frozen snowfall, things get interesting.) I'm sure those frustrated motorheads on the street were getting a kick out of me on a bike trying to ride the snow on the sidewalk -- making it 20-30 feet and almost crashing, walking a few yards, remounting and trying all over again. Thankfully, when I made it to the street, things were easier going, but still not easy. Here is where I have to insert a rant:

Some drivers get it, most don't. Bicycles are legal users of the roadway. And guess what? If you see a biker on the road during or after a snowstorm, they're not crazy -- they choose to, or have to, be there. So, calm yerself the fuck down AND slow down. I don't get why so many people in cars are willing to plunge headlong (at speed) toward their own deaths by passing me close enough to kill me. Slow the fuck down, people. Bikes deserve the road -- get over it, for it's the truth and the law. Well, because plows concentrate on the arteries, after a snowstorm you can expect to see more cyclists on your route. It's okay -- you're amongst friends ... I promise. We all want to get home ASAP, and alive. After a day or so, we'll be gone out of your bourgeois lives.

The ride home was lonely and uneventful except for the part where my cycling "friends" blew by me and cut off my access to the lane on Penn north of 62. Nice move, guys. Jerks is more like it ... wait, Frane was among them, making a rare commuter appearance. I got home after almost two hours of riding (my usual commute is 50 minutes or so). I wasn't just tired, I was soaked through with sweat. Happy to be home, but kinda cranky nonetheless. When does winter begin?

So, back track ... to last Saturday. The snow was fresh and new and we were all excited (and the bike jerk himself was still deciding which gear to screw onto his hub). I didn't hesitate to hook the Burley up to the Malvern Star -- 46x20 fixie, no brakes. Sylvia and I rolled to CRC, then over to Bryant hardware where we picked up a sled.

From there it was on to Lyndale Farmstead Park. I have to be honest, I haven't been sledding since before I moved to MN nearly 6 years ago. I picked a small hill and asked Sylvia if she'd like to sit on my lap for the ride. We immediately got going really fast and the fresh, powdery snow blew straight in to Sylvia's face. One trip down was all for the day. She was pissed; her feet were cold. We loaded back up and I pedaled as fast as I could back for home.

It was an interesting trip without goggles (fogged up) with snow driving in my eyes and a daughter screaming from cold feet. When I emerged on our street (a major street, 38th) I was shocked that a mini van behind did not want to yield behind me as I pulled left while signalling a turn into our alley. With snow blowing from a headwind I watched a "family" car speed by fully in the opposite lane, against driving snow, as the teenaged girl in the passenger seat craned her head to see whether I truly had a child in the bike trailer I was pulling.

Well, yep. Tell your parent to slow the fuck down. Sense a pattern here? Thanks!


Anonymous said...

I grew up sledding at Lyndale Farmstead. It's killer, in both senses of the word. Me and two friends decided we'd do a threesome and I got the middle position. We got to the bottom and the sled tipped, my arms were trapped and I scraped my face across the path. I actually got to hang out in that big ass house until we were able to reach one of my adults. My mom was at the Vikings game so I got to hang out with the "trashy" neighbors til she arrived. Their chihuahua pissed on me and then my mom got to see how bitched up my face was. Now listen you fleckin flecker, your stories always bring back memories, and this one is actually a good one, despite leaving part of my face on the path. thanks for the memories...

Andy said...

Nice one. Well played, sir!

Patch O'Houli said...

JB ...

You have a blog now?! Since I know you are occasionally tuning in I'll have to throw in more profanity. Gotta go ... I have a blood test tomorrow!


And, Andy, thanks for the compliment!