Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Twice in the past week I've had a couple of extremely out of the ordinary encounters with SUV drivers. While riding my Big Dummy in different parts of town, both these drivers pulled alongside me and had conversations out their windows about my bike. The guy in the Yukon this morning wanted to know what frame size I was riding because he's going to get a Dummy. He's already an Xtracycle rider he told me. The woman last week wanted to know where I got my bike because she wants to check one out herself. Pretty cool and definitely not what you often expect when a car slows and the driver rolls her/his window down to have words with you while riding.
If you ride bike paths, and I know you do, do everyone a favor: A) get a bell and ring it and/or B) don't be too shy to state in a firm and audible voice "On your left!" when you pass other trail users. I was reminded this morning of one annoying thing you shouldn't think adequate for the situation -- flicking your brake lever. You know the trick: Slick roadie on his Trek Madone pulls up behind you, palms on the lever hoods with finger cocked to give the lever tip a short snap producing a just-loud-enough-to-be-truly-annoying "TICK! TICK!" that is supposed to indicate "Coming through!" It's minimalist and I'm sure quite chic and Euro in some crowds. But just like the autobahnesque double light flash on the interstate that some stuffed chode thinks is really supposed to get you out of his way so he can do 90 all the way to the cabin, it's rude and arrogant.
While I'm on the topic of picking on cyclists, get some damn lights! People, please, for the love of Jesus and the Mary Chain, BE SEEN! You might think you're all safe and stuff on the path away from dangerous drivers. Nothing can hit you of any consequence, right? People die from bike collisions, by the way. Or maybe going stealth is just your style. Well, guess what? That shit ain't cool. Bike lights are cheap. They blink a long time on one set of batteries. I actually had a friend tell me he has had folks on the Greenway tell him his bike lights are too bright as he rides by their unlit asses. Get over it. The paths are crowded, at this time of year especially. If you wanna hide out stay at home with your door locked and lights off.
Lastly, if you don't know me and I don't know you, don't draft my wheel. True story: Just last week some twit in tights, aero bar and all, drafted my Big Dummy for nearly a mile before I turned off. Classy -- a try-to-be-athlete drafting a 40+ lb cargo bike. I guess I should take it as a compliment that I hold a good pace.
After a recent comment from a friend and reader, April and I had a wonderful discussion about my attitude and blog persona. The thing that was most enlightening for me was being reminded of something I've known a long time: I am not a cheerleader per se, nor am I a very good handholder. I think, I examine, I do. I'm not going to love everyone all the time, in particular if they pull stupid human tricks or exercise a flagrant lack of judgment. I expect others to think and I hope they examine and I am happy to see those who connect the dots in order to engage the do portion of the equation. But too often if one moves to the do without thought or examination that leads to errors and a generous margin for ridicule. That's where I step in. I love to call these lapses in synapses as I see them.
I'm not so upset that I'm not more of a cheerleader either. There are people who start clubs to engage everyone and their Aunt Edna to join with them in what they believe to be the greatest hobby that has ever been contrived. Please visit them for casual conversation and gratuitous amounts of back patting and bottom slapping. (For cycling, might I suggest Mpls Bike Love.) Over the course of my life I've had countless friends and acquaintances tell me I've inspired them or someone they know by the things I do. I take that as a huge compliment. I try my best to do and to do well and to do consistently. I really couldn't care less why someone else doesn't do. But in the grand scheme I see that too many hide behind walls of excuses. That may just be a human trait -- hell, I love a good excuse as much as the next bipedal. However, when I see fortresses built of excuses I get bent.
We need doers. We need cheerleaders, too -- don't get me wrong. We need lots of things, like critical discourse. We need to be able to take that criticism and enact real changes from it. We need examination and we need thought. It's never a good idea, in my opinion, to shut one's brain off, nor to engage in action before shifting one's brain into gear.
Enough of that. Give it all up and check out the funniest Ebay post ever. Thanks to Sov for revealing that little gem.
Have a great weekend.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
This is a custom bike. It has distinctive features and NICE parts. You'll see a hooligan on it and know right away something is up. Take that person down -- derby style! It went missing last night from the 40th and Elliot vicinity.
Here's the message from J.B.:
My Specter 29er was lifted from my garage last night. Help me get it back and I'll give you something nice for your assistance...
Flat Black 29er Frame and Fork; Gray Specter graphic painted on downtube
Has a stainless coffin for the brake bridge and the seattube has a big stainless plate on the back where it's been cutout. There is not another one of these frames around, it's the only one...
Black King h-set
Hope brakes with goodridge lines, front caliper is black and rear is silver.
Hope Front hub on Salsa rim and salsa QR, surly hub on salsa rim in rear bolt on.
Race Face Deus SS Cranks blk, x type
silver shimano clipless pedals
Surly Torsion Bar on salsa cro moto stem
rouge lock on grips...
niterider light mount on bars.
knog taillight on seatpost
trail a bike hitch on seatpost too...
PLEASE help me get my cherry back! If you see it, call me and I'll come a runnin' with my tommy gun and brass knuckles.
612-741-7468. or 311 to get connected to the police.
Thanks very much.
Of note: The a**hole that did this also removed my daughters training wheels and took them also... I just don't get that...
Friday, July 18, 2008
Of course, I'm a cyclist and you'd think that would mean I'd be overjoyed to see so many more people out on bikes. On a certain level I am, but I am also hip to the fact that I need to be aware of safety concerns posed by the presence of a glut of newbies on the trails and in the lanes. If I, as a cyclist, think like that then imagine what the increased presence of cyclists means to habitual motorists and commercial/professional drivers.
Well, this issue has made, and will continue to make, its way into the media. I don't have to point out that one of the mainstream public's favorite things to do is address the safety (or most often the lack thereof, as depicted in the media) of cycling. This article from MSNBC, Cars vs. Bikes, is no exception but it presents some valid observations from the "outsider" perspective. Four Wheels make Room for Two is a local story from Rochester MN. It features quotes from and a video of legendary rider Chewie Moffit. (Never mind that they call him "Brian". News folks always check their facts and get the details right y'know.)
In both articles there are two fairly distinct sides presented. Sounds kinda like American politics, eh? The cyclists and advocates say "Yay! Give us more space, acknowledge our rights, take notice!" The drivers say "Geez! You guys and gals are in the way, we can't get around you, this is a real problem." Who's right? Both, of course, and while I am no fan of the villification of transportation cycling it cannot be denied that there sure as hell have been no provisions for the boom that the US is experiencing in ridership. And I do not feel the least bit out in left field to say we're only viewing the tip of the transportation cycling iceberg.
What does this mean? A lot of different things for sure. But one big one is don't expect, brothers and sisters, for the stink eye to shift away from cycling anytime soon. Legislators and officials are baffled. Drivers are frustrated, in some cases justifiably so. They're gonna bitch and moan and that, combined with the regally stoopid stuff I see some riders do, will likely increase scrutiny and regulation of cyclists' actions. That means I think we can expect more enforcement (i.e. citations) in an effort to make cyclists "ride safer." And perhaps that is not entirely bad to get some of the lackbrains on 2 wheels to clean up their acts. I am, on the contrary, extremely resistant to the idea of regulating cycling, but that's a topic for another essay.
Ride safe, ride aware. Take the highroad whenever possible. Keep your third eye open and carry your Zen mind in your hip pocket. Most of all, be aware that the psychological impairment of habitual driving can only be heightened by high fuel costs and more of us -- the "annoying cyclists" -- on the road. Rubber side down.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
One thing I have to say I'm proud of (Can I toot my own horn? Wait, this is my friggin' blog): I've taken a number of days off from the office for work, family (Willa's birth and care) and a few sick days, but I have only driven to work two days this year. I got one day's worth of rides to and from work from friends. I've also been picked up by April so we could leave for roadtrips a couple of times. My "stretch goal" was to not drive at all. I blew that obviously, but I am not entirely displeased to look back at the stats and see that I haven't done a half bad job of going car free.
I used to think of the car as a last resort if I was running late or under the impression I just wasn't feeling up to the ride. Now every morning I realize the bike is my "car" and wherever I need to go it needs to be under pedal power. It's a big commitment, don't get me wrong. And I'd be lying if I said that I love every minute of every ride. But the truth is I've spent so much time outside of a car, working my body to get where I need to go, that I honestly can't fathom regularly turning an ignition switch as a viable alternative. I'd rather suffer temporal discomfort (temporal because I only perceive it as discomfort in the moment when weather conditions are less than ideal or I'm feeling shitty) than suffer the long term discomfort that reliance on internal combustion transportation signals in me.
Is the rest of my life aligned? Pshaw! Far from it. But I'd have to say this rather large part is. And I'm going to bask in that a while ...
Monday, July 7, 2008
Last Thursday, July 4th eve, yours truly went on a little cruise to da Nordeast to see that mythical band which is called 4-1-3-0. The band did not disappoint and succeeded in unleashing a generous helping of dirtrock favorites. Stasiu's (the venue) did not disappoint either. Much mayhem ensued. Trust me, it happened, you don't have to have been there to know. It was so much mayhem that by the end of the night we were gathered in a garage full of motorcycles. I'm not a huge moto fan, but there were some cool rides there. My Mom was always quite happy I never got into motorcycles. I do enough damage to myself under my own propulsion.
Mark started the eve by unveiling this sexy silhouette of a saddle. British Racing Green no less ... (now, if he could just lose that Salsa seatpost. AND, ya might benefit from a little Proofide there, my friend. I'm just sayin'.) Nonetheless, it were the stuff that centerfolds are made of. Bike centerfolds, that is.
We rolled onward and upward through the alleyways and via the byways under the expert guidance of the Butcher. Our crew stormed into Stasiu's sweaty and thirsty yet invigorated by the roundabout urban route we followed. We had time before the band went on. We mingled with band folk and friends as they filtered in for the show.
The playlist didn't look encouraging. Cheese, cheese and more cheese?
But the band went on and played the sounds we all needed to hear. I'll eat cheese curds out of Brandt's hand any day o' the week. He rocked. They all rawked.
Later we regressed to Brapper Dan's cycle garage. Brapper Dan is the fine chap who recovered Girl Carl's stolen Steamer. (Wow, if that sentence doesn't come off a bit risque.) The garage was full of lots of cycles and stuff. Sarah and Mark take a mock run while Hurl takes advantage of the camera angle. Good fun. Sarah is headed for Naropa in Boulder. We had fantastic conversations about life, Buddhism and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. You never know who you're going to meet on a bike adventure in Mpls.
Hurl pointed out a sticker adorning the wall of the garage. I was not aware that my adopted family name carried such local prestige. The message is apt: Don't ride junk, friends.
I got home later but it was tough. After dodging a few cars I felt it was prudent to strike out on my own and took an undisclosed route around downtown Mpls. I arrived home safe and tired. I have nothing more to say. It was to be a long weekend.
The next morning I finished my Travelers Check. All Campy drivetrain -- would you expect anything less? I've been commuting on it and I have to ask: Is anything like a Cross-Check? Quick, nimble, amazing. Does anything compare to the Cross-Check? It's my favorite bike. Wait, except for the Big Dummy. And then my Long Haul Trucker is pretty cool. Well, my Bianchi race bikes are amazing too ... you get the idea. That's why "they" say the answer to the question "How many bikes do you need?" is "Just one more." I do miss my daily Dummy fix since I've been riding the Check. And the logistics of beer hauling or dealing with found objects/cargo are significantly more complicated with a short bike. But I need to make sure the Travelers Check is dialed in and all the kinks are worked out. In 3 weeks I'll be loading it into luggage and taking it to Japan for a week. The humble Tennessee boy is off to see the world!
Fast forward to that evening in our new backyard ...
Joel, Faith (Willa) and Eric, Angela (Sylvia) right outside the back door. We had a little impromptu party at our new house. I hauled over the grill in the old Burley. Thanks Eric for bringing beer and cheer. And thanks to all our old friends for helping us feel at home in the new place. Fireworks exploding from the neighbors' yards, a beautiful summer evening and a grill feast in courses were all accompanied by a modest fire in the pit the previous owners were kind enough to leave. It was a great evening all around. I hope there are many more like it in the future.
Saturday brought more labor. Johnny Nebraska came over. We braved the heat to haul a couple loads by bike from the old place to the new -- a distance of 6 miles or so, almost entirely on bike trails. Although we were loaded down with 100-150lbs a piece we enjoyed the chance to pass the majority of other trail users. Weren't they surprised. Johnny was a trooper. He would have stayed to haul more, but I had to take off with the family. I intend to haul some more by bike, but we're renting a truck to get it done in one fell swoop this Saturday. In my ideal world, we'd pull off the entire move by bike. Hauling by bike is extra work for sure, but it makes the rather mundane process of transporting one's worldly trappings from old to new much more enjoyable, for a cyclist anyway.
And finally, Willa. Oh, Willa. She is growing fast. She remains happy, content and as ready to smile as ever. She's discovered her feet and she rolls over at will. She is starting to hold her head and shoulders up while on her tummy. We believe she is destined to make an early acquaintance with ambulation, just like her sister.
Be well, folks. Blog updates are sparse -- there's moving to be done! The deal goes down this Saturday a.m. at our old place. Come join the fun! I know at least a few who can't make it due to a little thing called the Bicycle Film Festival which is also happening this weekend. These damned life events keep getting in the way of my cycling plans ...
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
As it was we walked out half an hour later chatting pleasantly with our realtor and the former owners of the house. As it was we were handed a bag of keys and garage door openers which we clutched along with our kids and a parcel of awkwardly sized sheets of paper -- all of which are terribly important. "Thank you very much! Enjoy the house! Oh, about that backdoor lock ..." I have no idea how I'm going to clip that garage door opener on the non-existent sun visor of my Big Dummy.
Afterward we piled into the Subaru and went to our new home on Irving Ave. We had to wait for the water guy to come read the meter. He could show up anytime between noon and 4pm. Luckily he came at 1:30, since without supplies or furniture or toys for the kids it could have been a very long wait indeed.
Here the girls, in various stages of girding, enjoy our new living room. We have an honest-to-goodness porch out that front door, not an enclosed three-season kind, but an actual porch. I kinda like that being a southern boy and all. Open porches can be a bit of a rarity in the northern climes. And above that porch is a second floor patio which opens from our third bedroom.
One of the major search criteria was original woodwork. We succeeded on that requirement. This built-in is par for the course for houses constructed in the early 1910s. Very nice indeed. The walk through from living room to dining room has wooden columns. It's not too shabby at all.
Here's our kitchen pictured from the eat in bar. Nice updates but an excellent touch with the classic range and hood. Yep, six burners and a double oven. The hood has a built-in warming box which was modified to accommodate an exterior vent.
That's enough of a preview for now. I'm certain more photos and stories will follow. One cool detail we learned from the previous owners is that we are the third owners of the house -- they bought it from the original owners who had it built in 1911. I guess that might explain why it has a mellow, peaceful vibe about it. It already feels like home.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Some Amuhricans shift priorities given high gas prices
Have a nice few years, ya lazy freaks. Do any of you give a shit about your children's futures? It appears ya got yer cookpot where yer shitpot oughta go. Dern tootin'.
And never quit guessing that YOU might have been brainwashed during the 80s. Magnum PI is a McCain Man!!
Ouch. Never trust a man with only a mustache.