Sunday, March 18, 2007

My friends did the Slick 50, but all I got was this muddy ass

Subtitled: "Fenders -- Always a good idea for spring-like rides in MN." Yours truly forgot his camera. So, all I have to show for the 50+ miles of slogging through muck with like-minded, two-wheelin' friends is the crusty afterglow. We all met for breakfast at the Triple Rock, I sampled the Northern Biscuits and Gravy. Being a TN boy, I'm always intrigued whether the other half of the country can get certin signature dishes right (grits included in that list). I have to say the Triple Rock didn't do too bad and the portions were big enough to make Cracker Barrel cringe. Of course, you can't down two pints of Guinness with your breakfast at Cracker Barrel. (Hey, it was St Patty's Day, okay?)

Our group was of decent size -- large enough that I overheard one innocent bystander ask whether we were a Critical Mass ride. We headed west along the Greenway from Triple Rock (where they were later to host a tribute to Thin Lizzy) enjoying smooth, dry pavement. In Hopkins, that all changed. All of a sudden it was like I was living in the middle of one of those videos I've seen of European Spring Classic bike races. Mud (not just any mud, mind you -- fine, sticky limestone mud), ice, puddles, snow, ice, and mud. You just couldn't find the right gear to move efficiently through the mud. This made me envious of my single-speeding friends to some degree. At least they didn't need to worry about looking for the right gear. This mud was like nothing I've ever ridden before. It didn't suck the wheel in like a pit, it just seemed to create a surreal amount of adhesion between the tire and the squishy ground. The mud was like plasma, morphing between states of almost liquid and certainly not solid. I'm very glad breakfast hadn't included ingesting any psychodelic agents.

The group took it in stride at first. We were all getting pretty caked with the shit. A few goody goodies had full fenders and looked like they'd just stepped out of the house, clean as a whistle (Irish Spring!) The rest of us resembled rejects from a 1933 Tour photo. We pressed onward, however, drowning our sorrows in beer, flask emissions and foul sarcasm. Returning east on the Luce Line trail, Hurl bent to group consensus ("Enough is enough!") and we proceeded our tour meandering, via pavement, through posh lakeside villas. We took over a corner of a parking lot in Wayzata waiting for 2 riders who'd taken another route. While there we enjoyed 25 minutes of surveillance from across the street by Wayzata's finest. What a crock. I kept waiting for the dink to pull over and tell us we had to move on. But, he didn't. Maybe he was waiting for back-up.

We rolled back to Hopkins, tackling a few more miles of the trail we'd ridden out hours earlier. In some ways it seemed better, but it was still a slogfest at best. When we finally hit the true pavement of the bike highway again, energy (and thirst) returned. We were clocking 20-25 most of the way back into Uptown. We were back in time for Wrex, Trevor and me to get some heckling from B-Rose at CRC. When you visit B-Rose, bring some of your favorite Irish tunes on CD. Check out more words about and (actual action) photos of our quest for the holy gray whale at Hurl's blog:

In the meantime, I'm thinking SheMan-o could benefit from our beneficial R&D efforts on Saturday. An earth-friendly anodizing pattern seems to accent their components quite well. Am I gonna wash it? No. It's supposed to rain/snow tonight. I'm planning to ride this beast to work and let Nature do the cleaning for me.

Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't profess my undying thanks to my partner, April, for letting me go play for the day. And, Sylvia, don't worry, Daddy will quit leaving you to go ride as soon as you can reach the pedals on a Trail-a-bike. Which will, of course, be outfitted with one helluva set of fenders.

Sometimes I communicate with Blogger using sign language

Especially when it won't upload my photos.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What does it mean?

When two side-by-side headlines on your online home page talk of a "Mortgage Default Tsunami" and Maserati intoroducing a new car? Well, there's a disconect somewhere. You do the math.

So, this morning I got cut off at an intersection. No big deal, you say. Well, the woman in the car cutting me off had attached to her trunk none other than a bike rack (an empty bike rack)! Ha! She looked at me the whole time while slowly pulling away from her stop sign (I had the right of way). Ah! Ah hah! And you drivers ... I hear from time to time that drivers are SO pissed off that cyclists don't obey the traffic laws. Do you know how many times I pull up to a stop sign only to have the motorist opposing wave me through (after a conspicuously long stop where THEY have the right of way)? A lot. A lot. Lots and lots. Thanks, but no thanks. If I stop, then you go. Drivers want cyclists to behave like motorists but then they bend the rules for cyclists all the time. It seems like courteous treatment, but it's confusing as hell.

So ... a message ... do you know why, as a conscientious cyclist, I don't obey a great many of the traffic laws/signals? Ahoy! They weren't designed for cyclists! Stop lights don't cycle for bikers; traffic won't yield for a left turning cyclist; etc. You drivers need to get over it. When I ride, I want to live. For the most part, I make my own rules of the road. Most drivers don't even obey the laws. I'd recommend you clean up your own crowd before attempting to enforce the legal high ground with bicyclists.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Well, the weather outside is frightful ...

... not really, lately. We have been, in a word, spoiled. "Pure spoilt rotten," as some of my TN kin-folk might say. It has been in the 30s and 40s and, today, even the 50s. I'm not talking about a throwback to McCarthy-era conservatism either. We're talking some of the best riding temparatures known to woman or beast. Yesterday was the first team training ride for illustrious Team Hub, aka The Hub Cycling League. For those not in the know, The Hub is only the coolest bike shop in town. Yeah, really. Check it, check it, check it out.

Well, back to the weather. Consider this image. Barely two weeks of bumbling American political history has come to pass since this was the scene out the back window. (And, no, that's not my Beemer.) Anywho, the bike commuting was hellacious. I was even overheard to admit on one morning ride that, "I am tired of this shit." Imagine skating one two wheels, basically -- sliding into ice ruts created by car tires. Careening out of one rut into another, which throws you back the other way. Lots of fun. Back and forth ... 2 feet, 3 feet ... all the while wondering how you've escaped horizontality. (New word. I like it.) High "pucker factor." It's a joy to start your day totally gripped, just imagining that you don't want to slide the wrong way should a car be overtaking you. I am proud to say that I did not have too many biffs. But winter ain't over yet. Forget the groundhog; I'm gonna hire a plump woman to belt out a capella tunes curbside. Then, it's over. Enough said.

We got another whopper of a snowstorm recently. Something like 10" in a day or so. Some were even calling it a blizzard. I think it's been too long since a real blizzard has visited Mpls. Folks just want to roll the word off their tongues to make sure they can still pronounce it. My company even concocted a strategy to get employees out of work early. I had an option to drive. But I also had the option to ride. My good pal, Dave Lee, was leaving work at the same time. Dave is my favorite co-worker to ride with since we have a good groove and similar pacing. It was hard in spots since the snow was already 8"-10" deep. What a great ride though. It was one of my favorites of all time since the temperature was reasonable and the energy was high. We had residents out shoveling their driveways cheering us on. A Papa John's delivery driver even rolled down his window to shout, "You guys are awesome ... yeah!!" I was greeted upon arrival at home by my loving family. Sylvia was still in her snowsuit and charged out to greet me. You'd think I'd just been released from prison or something. Maybe I had.

Perhaps drivers ought to reconsider the plight of existence inside a four-wheeled prison cell. All things considered, I got home faster and safer that afternoon on my bike.