Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I've never been one to make formal goals. Maybe that's my problem, with regard to getting things done. But for the past few months, I've considered setting an annual mileage goal for 2007. I don't want something arbitrary like 10k miles, although that sounds like a good goal. I want my goal to be based on something a relevant to my life, like 20 miles per day. My ride to work is about 22 miles round trip.
The one drawback is that I'd need a computer on each bike or I'd have to keep a log book. I've seen some people put their mileage on their blogs. That looks like a good way to get in a blog entry and record mileage.
For several years, I didn't have a computer on my bikes. I decided to not worry about mileage and that has served me well. Maybe I shouldn't change anything.
If you've got any thoughts on this, let me know.
Friday, December 22, 2006
I rode to work yesterday and it was dry on the way in. An hour later, rain fell on the frozen ground. It turned to ice and then the snow fell. Because of the treacherous conditions, I got a ride home from a coworker who lives in the same region of Minneapolis. He's a cyclist and had his roof rack installed.
So today I installed the studded tires and rode around town for a fun ride (I had the day off). It was quite a difference. The studded tires make traction a sure thing. I never slipped in the slush. Since this is my first time on them, I'll provide a full review later. I need to ride in really slick, hard ice before I know what they can do.
The tires are Innovas, I found new at a garage sale.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
I recently attended a Christmas party of married couples. None of them, except my wife, are close friends of mine. The host had us play a version of the newlywed game. They asked the men questions, then compared their answers with the women. Then they reversed the roles.
Some example questions:
1. What is his favorite band?
2. If she could go anywhere for a trip, where would it be?
3. Where did you meet and in what year?
4. When did you first have sex? (month and location)
5. If she could have sex with anyone other than you, who would she pick?
They asked 10 questions in all. We got five of them correct and I would have protested for a sixth, but I'd like to save my protesting for important things.
We were tied for first place going into the last question. But we ruined our efforts with overconfidence. They let us bet all or nothing. We bet it all and lost.
The game was entertaining and I felt more comfortable with the other couples afterward.
Have any of you been forced to play similar games?
I've been working on this for a couple of days. I don't want to put things out here that fall in the categories of bragging or boring.
1. I have a hiding place in the basement. It's in plain sight, but no one sees me there.
2. I say lots of sick things that I think are funny, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. I hold back.
3. By the time I graduated high school I had lived in 14 different houses, 2 countries, and five states. I attended 11 schools including college. Since leaving college, I've lived in 5 states. Now, I've decided to stay put because I think it's a better way to raise kids. With that in mind, I've lived in the same house for almost 12 years now. I've had a similar turnover in the job world. But I've worked at my current job for more than 4 years. I often have the feeling that it's time to go. I attribute that feeling to all the moving around I've done.
4. I used to be a gun nut. I loved to compete in target shooting events. Somewhere in my 20's, my interest disappeared. A friend dragged me to a shooting competition one Sunday and instead of being interested, I jealously watched the bicyclists pass on the nearby country road. I won second place in my class, but my interest in shooting was over. I still can't explain why my interest evaporated. By the way, I've been riding my bike for distance, competition, and commuting since I was a kid. That's an interest that has never diminished, only brightened.
5. I don't have anymore now. I'll add this later.
p.s. I don't live at the green arrow shown in the above map. That's just my zip code.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Did anyone else have trouble last Friday?
Thursday, December 14, 2006
During some water-cooler conversation, I realized I didn't know if it was Taco John's or Taco Bell that had the e-coli problem. Well, it's both of them. Here's the link to a news story that cleared it up for me.
If you really care, you should try to upscale your eating habits. Sniff, sniff.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
My lunch time ride was great. I didn't encounter many dogs in the woods today. I often pass by the wagon wheels shown in the ice water fall photo. Today, I had my camera.
These trails are located at an old fort located on the Mississippi River at Minneapolis: Fort Snelling. It's a great place to visit. Just watch your step in the woods. You never know where a the dog poop might be.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I wonder what sort of injury the bicyclist has in the video.
Correction, that's the Glasgow Survival Guide.
Warning! Bicycle Hardware Minutia
This post is filled with talk of bicycling hardware. If you're allergic to this type of stuff, please come back in a few days and maybe I'll post something of interest to normal people. I plan to create a graphic to warn people of this type of post in the future.
This is the time of year in which I over analyze my cycling equipment because of the cold weather. Today, I'm nit picking pedals. I installed platform pedals the other day. They're shown in the accompanying photo. I installed PowerGrips and use light-weight pack boots. The boots with thick socks keep my tootsies warm down to about 10 degrees F.
I have some battery heated socks for temps below that. They are wool with a single D cell battery for each side. When I slip my hand in them to test the warming power, I can barely feel the heat, but they make enough difference on my feet to keep me warm.
I keep making tiny adjustments to the angle of the PowerGrips mounting hardware in an attempt to make foot entry easier. Does anyone have any tips for PowerGrips?
Next post: balaclavas
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I read Boing Boing every few days and found this link to photos showing kids who are scared of Santa. It made me laugh, because I've waited in a few of those lines with my little people and watched the santa photo staff and parents try to make the best of a crying-kid situation. Nothing can be done. Just snap the photo and cherish it forever.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I've discovered a type of bicycling that I didn't know existed -- artistic cycling, also known as gymnastic cycling.
Here's a video of an artistic cyclist in action on Google video.
Here's the Wikipedia link describing artistic cycling.
I watched the video a couple of months ago and was very impressed. I noticed the woman in the video wore what looks like track-bicycling clothing. I assumed she was a track rider. Then I noticed the front end of the bike was really short. This indicated it was built for this purpose.
I didn't make the connection that this must be another niche in cycling. And now I know it's not a new niche either. I've also seen a video of a guy doing similar riding from 1899.
My neighbor bought a fixed gear bike this year and he spent lots of time in the alley trying to ride backwards and in tight circles. I'll have to talk to him about this. Maybe he's working on his artistic cycling skills.
I'm sorry for all the links in this post, but I don't want to merely repeat what already exists in Wikipedia. By the way, I added the link in the Wikipedia page to the 1899 video. That makes me an contributor - yeah!
I rode my 29er at Lebanon Hills yesterday. I attended a job-related training class in Eagan during the day and brought my bike knowing we'd complete the training early and I'd have time to ride at Lebanon Hills which is also located in Eagan.
The parking lot was full. It felt like a weekend ride with all the other riders out there.
The 29er (with no suspension, remember) rode great on most of the course, but it beat the snot out of me on some rough sections. These are the sections that have eroded into little cup-shaped depressions and ripples in the dirt. After going through those sections, I felt as if I'd lifted weights and operated a jack hammer. My fat felt all jiggly.
Last Sunday, I rode at Theodore Wirth park and didn't have any of the same complaints. That trail is smoother and I really felt like I was carvin' the course. I felt like I was in a groove and a rhythm at Wirth. I never got a good rhythm at Lebanon. I guess that's the reason for owning more than one bike.
I'm traveling to Omaha for Thanksgiving. They built a mountain bike trail near my in laws' house. I'm bringing the suspension bike to ride that trail. I'll have fun, but no turkey.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I made a big mistake, I think. I merged my blog with the beta version of google blog or whatever it's called. Now, I have to use my google password to leave comments on other blogs. I have to use my blogspot password to login to blogger. Then it tells me I have to login to google blogs to post an entry.
It's also been very flaky. Sometimes when I submit an entry, it hangs my browser. I haven't been able to upload photos very reliably either.
Don't merge. If you disagree, please let me know what I'm missing. I'm open minded about the change, but it has only made blogging more difficult for me so far.
The photo is a plane flying over my neighborhood. I took the photo with the creepcam. Yeah.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I'm going to cover the coroplast in reflective tape. I've got some stashed around the house somewhere.
Friday, November 17, 2006
If I could find a time when no dogs were out there, I could rip around a bit more, but I don't want to spoil the fun for others so I ride cautiously.
On Sunday, I'd like to go to Theodore Wirth Park to ride. That'll be a nice test of the 29er.
Note: The rear hub sure does look big. I wonder what happened to it?
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I've always wanted to build some bike stuff made of coroplast. Coroplast is the material used in lots of political yard signs. I built this rear fender from a Mike Hatch for Governor yard sign.
I had my original inspiration from the recumbent world. Some recumbent owners use coroplast to build fairings and bodies to make their bikes more aerodynamic and insulate the rider from weather.
Another inspiration is Kent Peterson. His name and work are familiar to many internet-connected bicyclists.
The rear fender took about 20 minutes to build or maybe it took an hour and I didn't notice the time passing because I had so much fun. The finished fender is as sturdy as a plastic, store-bought fender and it's much uglier.
Another guy I know recently built a handlebar bag, er box, from coroplast.
I'll build the front fender soon. I think the crazy tires enhance the looks, don't you?
Thank you, Mr. Hatch.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Riding a single-speed bike or a rigid bike on off-road trails is a more vigorous activity than the alternatives. I reminded myself of this today while taking a lunch-time ride on the Minnesota River bottoms trail with my new Redline Monocog 29er.
I stood up on each rise and hill. I had to use some finesse to get over roots and rocks. My arms and back are more tired than I'm used to after riding this trail. I really enjoyed the ride. The woods are in beautiful shape right now. I recommend everyone get out there and ride or hike or run.
I took a few photos with the mildly CreepyCam. It takes better photos than the original CreepyCam. I added some effects, because I've always wanted to play with that stuff.
I passed a pair of hikers and a dog on the way out and also on the way back. The dog was running so fast I figured it had a rocket pack. It looked like a German Shorthair, but it was white. On our second meeting, the dog was going the opposite way on a parallel trail to mine. She crossed through the woods behind me and ended up on the same trail as me. She changed directions and started to pass me from behind when she hit a pretty large branch sticking out into the trail. She did a complete flip in the air and landed right next to me. I had slowed down to a crawl as soon as I knew she was behind me. As she flipped next to me in the air, I saw her pink belly. She landed, rolled to her feet and bolted, but immediately pulled up limping. The owners were on the scene by then. They said she'd be OK, but I don't know. That four-legged wonder might be limping for a while. Athletic dogs like her are amazing.
I should have taken her picture. Her nose was half pink and half brown.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
In my last post, I forgot to mention that my new bike is a Redline Monocog 29er. I bought it at Hiawatha Cyclery. They have a few in stock. Mine is a 17 inch.
It's a dull brown color and doesn't really look much better in person than the very poor photo I took using the CreepyCam. I still promise to take a better photo with a better camera.
I've had a chest cold this week and haven't had a chance for a proper ride. I rode it to a park near my house. That didn't tell me much except that I had tightened all the bolts properly.
I'm sure I won't stick with one speed. I've got a few ideas to convert it to a couple- or several-speed bike. I'd like a granny gear and also a bit higher gear for riding to the trail heads. That totals 3 speeds. The MC29er comes with a cassette rear hub that has room for at least three cogs. I tried it out, but the cog spacers I have lying around are all for 9 speeds. The chain is a 7 speed so it rode on the adjacent cog. Tonight I'll go to the Hub Bike Co-op and try to dig up some spacers and maybe a better collection of fatter cogs.
If you are still awake, you may ask, "Rob, how are you going to shift the chain?" Good question. I can do it manually or I could mount a derailleur to do the job. I could use a rear der. with a built-in der. hanger like on cheapo bikes. Another option is a drop-out tensioner with a built in der. hanger. I need to order one. I found a place that has them.
An internally geared hub is the other option. I've got a couple of three speeds on hand that I could try. I hate to sacrifice them though. I hear they won't hold up over the long haul. From what I've read, the Rohloff 14-speed and the Shimano 8-speed red band are the only hubs capable of sustained off-road riding in the vigorous manner that I intend.
And even another option: the Shimano Hone and Saint rear derailleurs mount on the end of an extended axle and don't need a hanger at all. That would be a pretty clean installation and would require another hub and allow nine cogs -- much more than several. Perhaps that's too many gears. After all, this is the 3-Speed Blog.
Lots of options, lots of potential projects. I look forward to them all.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I picked this up last Friday. It's not a replacement for my other off-road bike(s). I simply wanted it.
It's a single-speed, rigid, 29er. I think you're supposed to say, "Twenty-niner." The rims are the same diameter as 700c. The difference is that this frame is built to accept huge tires -- like the ones that are on the bike. They measure 53mm wide and 29 1/4 inches in diameter. 26 inch bikes have that kind of width, but their diameter is only 26 1/4.
I apologize for the different measurements, but in the U.S., we're stuck between the English system and the metric system. I relate to both and am constantly caught using both systems in one sentence. Don't blame me. I represent the current situation. It's like being bilingual except not as useful.
The reason this tire size is useful is that the bigger wheels allow the bike to roll over rough terrain more smoothly. A bigger wheel gets stuck in fewer small bumps. I've ridden a few of these as test rides at shops. I also rode an un-named riding companion's 29er in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago. I'm convinced they ride more smoothly over bumps. But mostly, I'm convinced that new bikes are fun -- even if they're old, new bikes. Like the old bike that got me thinking of this wheel size in the first place. The Raleigh DL1 3-speed with 28" (635mm bcd) wheels.
I sold an old road racing frame and fork last night and still have another for sale. These sales are to keep the bike supply in balance.
Rigid: A bike with no suspension.
29er: 700c with extra fat tires and a frame built to accommodate those fatties.
700c: A wheel size that most road-racing bikes have.
Off-road bike: Any bike you ride on dirt trails.
Single speed: A bike with one gear that also allows you to coast, that is, it allows you to stop pedaling while moving without being thrown up in the air like a rag doll.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I circled around to move the rock from the road and by the time I made my turn, the rear wheel was flat. I kicked the rock pretty hard and it landed in a lawn under a street light. I rolled the bike over and started digging out the tire repair equipment.
I remembered I grabbed the pump from this bike to use on last weekend's ride in Wisconsin. No pump.
I've been through this before. Some lessons I never learn. This problem results from having more bikes than pumps and repair kits.
I rode the bike home (about 4 miles) with a flat rear tire. Thump, thump, thump into a stiff, cold headwind. I used lower gears than I'm used to. I decided to shower and drive my car, because I either needed to move the bag and lights to another bike or dig out another tire and repair the flat. Both options required more time that I can justify.
The rule that should come from this is that I should never remove any tools from the commuter bike for use on another bike.
I could use the tire in a pinch, but I'm in no pinch with regard to tire. I hoard tires like Imelda Marcos hoarded shoes. For all I know, she might still be hoarding shoes. I'm working on my tire hoarding affliction. I put a Kenda Kozmit Light 1.75".
Monday, October 30, 2006
I had lots of fun and the weather cooperated. We saw a few snow flakes. They only added character to our ride. I'll try to write up a trail review also.
I rode with two nameless cycling friends. We stayed at the Bon Nuit motel in Cable, WI. It was the perfect location sitting in the middle of all the trails.
I think Bon Nuit means, "Hotel with neighbors who don't have mufflers and park in front of the rooms in the middle of the night with their loud engines idling." Or something like that. Cable has an ordinace that prohibits mufflers. We didn't want to get in trouble, so when we drove around, we rolled down the windows and made engine noises with our mouths.
The truth is that I woke up at my usual time: 5 a.m.-ish. As I lay there, I heard someone start up a pickup truck that had no muffler. During the next hour or so that I lay there, I heard lots of mufflerless vehicles pass by.
Friday, October 27, 2006
My daughter grew tired of waiting and began decorating on her own. This is an example. This is our front doorway. She placed a chain with a sign on it. She says the trick or treaters are not allowed past the chain -- only family and adults.
Here's a closer shot of the sign. We don't have anyone named Beth here. That's a "d."
Here's what the little guy wielding the chainsaw is saying.
Please excuse her spelling, she's in 1st grade and I think it's one of the best things about this sign anyway.
We're staying in Cable at the Bon Nuit Motel. Our room is $53 per night. They don't get much cheaper than that. I'll write a review of it when I return. Please let me know what Bon Nuit means. I hope it doesn't mean, "We eat our guests" or "Home of Norman Bates."
I love the CAMBA trails and this is the best time of year. I've ridden there in the fall before and experienced rain, snow, and sun all in the same day. I think we'll only have sun this time.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I changed the handlebars and stem on the blue commuter bike. I replaced the old stem which was a threadless-to-threaded stem adapter with a shim to a correctly fitting quill stem. So the old setup was an adapted adaptor that creaked no matter how much lubrication I applied. With the new setup -- no more creaks. The new bars feel nice too. Little changes make riding more fun sometimes. Compare this to my previous, complicated setup. I think it looks a bit simpler now.
My daughter was giving me artistic direction while I was shooting these photos. She arranged this last photo of us in the mirror. Click on the photo to see the enlarged version and you'll see her smiling in the mirror behind me.
Last night, I coached my last soccer game of the season. Regarding difficult players, everything was the same, except my wife took over the job of substituting players. That took a load off my mind and allowed me to concentrate on the field.
I talked to the other team's coach for a while after the game. He's a special needs teacher and noticed that one of the kids on my team was in that category. I wish I could have talked to this guy earlier in the season for pointers on how to handle the difficult kid. Mrs. Rigtenzin told me the kid's dad was just as difficult to be near on the sidelines also. I wish for the best for those guys.
I have a desire to play soccer, but I need to find a league full of old guys who promise not to sprint or play rough. And it has to be pretty close to my house too. Too many qualifications, but I can hope can't I?
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
A couple of years ago, I crashed and fell in some of it during an off-road ride. It was wet, cold and really messy.
However, the leaf mush forms the coolest looking patterns. I'll try to get some photos today, before the mush is all mixed together into one color. I would have taken some this morning, but it was dark. We've got some great leaf piles in front of our house.
One of my routes home includes a street with lots of gingko trees. Gingko leaves turn gold from the edges inward. This year they fell before turning entirely gold so they've left a nice mix of green and gold mush.
No really, you have to see it.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
Why was I reading so late? That's another story, but I really liked the book. It made me think about racism, or my racism and bigotry specifically. At first I told myself that wasn't the author's focus -- the author was trying to tell us about "thin slicing" or "rapid cognition." It all sounded like intuition based on deep experience. Although the author went out of his way to avoid the word intuition. An example of rapid cognition is a basketball player passing the ball to someone behind him who is out of his view. He passed the ball, because he knew his team mate would be there even though he couldn't see him. How did he know the other player was in the right spot? Based on his vast experience playing basketball and playing with that team mate.
The last chapter summed up all the concepts nicely by describing the change in orchestral auditions in which auditioning musicians are hidden behind a screen to prevent the judges from prejudging them. The author says this changed the gender makeup of orchestras.
Another interesting point is that about half way through the book, I went to amazon.com and read some of the book reviews of Blink. They are favorable overall, but some reviewers didn't like the book. The negative comments usually ran along the lines of, "This is too obvious, we already know this stuff, it doesn't deserve this much space." Or they said the author cited a study or example and then took that as fact without questioning the study. Those are fair criticisms open for discussion. I suppose where your opinion falls is a result of your background with the subjects discussed. Something that bothers me about the amazon.com reviews is the meanness shown by many of the reviewers. They write as if the author has personally harmed them. I've noticed this every time I've looked for book reviews in amazon.com. I don't understand it. Disagreement and criticism are wonderful, but meanness gains nothing.
I think one of the best qualities of the book is that the author shows his lack of meanness. In many of his examples, he could have ripped into the people who were later shown to be wrong (like the officers who killed an unarmed, harmless man), but he gave them some credit and explained that we all make mistakes when thin slicing and that it's human nature. He didn't excuse the mistakes, but he treated them rationally.
This morning I went to the author's blog and discovered he is a very thoughtful person. In his latest entry, he says we don't appreciate how hard other people's jobs are. It's worth a read.
My wife handed me The Tipping Point the other day. I'll read that also.
It starts as a sore throat and blah, blah, blah. You don't want to hear about my sickness.
The problem is that, each year, after I get over my fall cold, I find the weather has changed while I was sick. The temperatures have dropped and I'm not acclimated in a bike riding way. So I drive my car to work most of the time.
I'm going to try to avoid this cycle of sickness this year. I don't know how, but when this cold goes away, I plan to be back on my bike riding to work even if I'm not acclimated.
I'm going to make some tea now.
That is all.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I love running around talking to them and helping them focus on the game and what to do. Not that they need much help, but sometimes they get distracted. Sometimes, they forget the ball is in play.
Each game leaves me with the uneasy feeling that I've failed though. In each game, there's one incident that proves to me I'm not very good with little kids.
We play three on three. That means if I have five kids, substitutions are unfair as far as the number of minutes each kid gets to play. And no matter what, some kid goes in and has to come out really quickly when there are five kids.
Tonight, two of them revolted and wouldn't leave the field. I talked to them at length about how five kids makes it unfair as far as the time goes, but they weren't getting it. They are kindergarteners and aren't interested in reason.
I finally had to take them by the shoulders and point them at the sidelines. I told them that they needed to go talk to their parents. One of them cried and the other one gave me the big lip. I didn't know of a better way to handle it. I started by reasoning with them and when that didn't work and the other team was waiting to play, I had to resort to stronger methods. I think if I had a bigger toolkit of methods to handle them, I could do better. If they were dogs, I would have thrown a ball for them to chase.
I suppose that's just part of the territory. But I wish I had a kindergarten or 1st grade teacher to give me some pointers on how to handle the little people. That might be of more value than a coach's clinic on how to run drills with them.
Friday, October 06, 2006
First off, Levis/Trow Mounds is a confusing name, I think. Here's the background that might help it make sense. The place is located in Wisconsin near Neillsville which is East of Minneapolis about 2 hours. In that area, they call the hills mounds. The trail was originally only on Levis Mound. Then they added the trails on Trow Mounds. So it became known as Levis/Trow Mounds. Sometimes it is pluralized. It must be confusing to even the people who live there.
Don't let the confusion stop you from going there. It's a wonderful group of trails. We rode for more than three hours and didn't do any back tracking. We didn't ride all the trails either, but I want to go back and plan for more time, because it's worth a day.
We started from the trail head and ascended through pretty deep forest. It was a very easy climb, but slow because the trail is littered with rocks and roots. My newest dual-suspension wonder made it pretty smooth. I bet a rigid bike would make it a more manly ride.
My nameless friend, heretofore known as Nameless, had ridden there many years before and remembered an overlook we could climb to. We had to dismount and scramble up rocks to get there. Nameless brought his camera and took the panoramic photo you see in this post.
The trails are mapped and have lots of signs to guide you. If you are paying attention to your map and the signs, you'll never feel lost or misdirected. The trails are named like ski hill trails. I enjoyed everyone of them, but a few stand out.
Toadstool includes large rock formations with a gap big enough for bikes to fit through. The trail builders added a wooden bridge that allows riders to cross smoothly through the gap. Some people have been known to ride it without cheating.
The Cliffhanger is a short trail that circles the top of the mound. It is wide enough to ride a bike around the cliff-face trail, but not much more. The trail has lots of rocks and roots to throw you off and make you think about falling down the cliffs. I walked through the parts that made me nervous, but I bet braver folks ride the entire thing. I was glad when I completed the Cliffhanger. It made my feet sweat, but I'll do it again.
All the trails felt easier after the Cliffhanger because it was so difficult for my mediocre skills.
I also really like the Snodgrass trail. The topo map shows that it winds through lowlands and I didn't expect much from it, but it was fast and fun with lots of wetland vegetation growing around -- a nice change from the deep woods and hills of the other trails.
Levis/Trow Mounds is a great trail system within a 2 1/2 hour drive from the Twin Cities. This makes it closer than the CAMBA trails and a nice alternative for a day trip.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I did a few laps of of each loop and was ready to head home when I saw two riders start at the trail head. I greeted them and they took of, knowing I was behind them. I followed them and stayed on the second guy's wheel (a safer distance away). They were going faster than I had been earlier and I had to work hard to stick with them.
It was fun to ride with a competitive spirit. I haven't ridden hard with other people like that in a long time.
The next day, I felt great. My legs were fresh and felt powerful. I think riding fast in a competitive way is good for me.
I took a few photos of the beautiful colors in the woods along the trail. I can't get them off of the phone though. I've sent them to myself a couple times and they never arrive at my email addresses (I've tried two different addresses).
Monday, September 25, 2006
Tomorrow, I'm off to ride the trails at Levis/Trow Mound near Neillsville, WI. It's about a two and a half hour car ride from here (Minneapolis). The trails are listed as Epic Trails in the IMBA web site.
I'm taking my new mountain bike. I rode it last week a couple of times and had a noteworthy knee pain. The bike came with 175 cranks and the seat was too low. I didn't measure it and just jumped on. It felt fine and I rode. I was wrong. It was about 2cm low.
A couple of years ago, I discovered that when riding long cranks, like 175s, my knee came up higher at the top of the pedal circle than with shorter cranks and it's at that point where I felt the pain. Back then, I installed some 165mm cranks on my mountain bike and found it made a difference. 10mm? I hear you saying, "What are you some kind of princess? That's too small of a difference to notice."
But it's true. I can feel the difference. The low seat plus the long cranks combined to mess me up.
Tonight, I mounted the 165mm cranks on the new bike and a longer seatpost to accommodate the extra 10mm. The seatpost that came on the bike was at its maximum. I almost forgot, I had to install the correct bottom bracket also. That's not a big deal, because the current BB was an ISIS and the 165mm crank was an Octalink (not Octalink 2, silly).
I took it out on a after-dark test ride. Those are the best. I don't wear a helmet and I don't use a light on the test rides after installing new equipment. I love flying around the neighborhood from the light patch of one street light to another.
Those rides are nice, because they remind me of my first test rides in the dark when I was in college working at a bike shop. And those test rides remind me of riding around my neighborhood as a teenager with my buddies after dark.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I installed fenders on my Davidson. The fenders came from a dumpstered Fuji mixte. I thought they were cheap chromed steel. After sitting in the garage for a year or so, I realized they must be stainless steel.
I had to build the front stay from aluminum stock. Not too bad.
I still need to install some better fitting bars and a better looking stem.
I want it to look like it came from this book.
I had a heck of a time getting this phone and lots of hassles afterward. I am not fond of Verizon. As far as I can tell that's pretty normal with cell phone service.
anyway, here is the photo. I think I'll buy the hacking kit that allows me to use the USB port on my phone to transfer data. I hear that it voids the warranty, but I'm not sure I care.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
I'm in a mood to categorize bicycles. Two categories: simple and complicated.
Where does your favorite bike fit?
I don't have a favorite bike, but the one I ride every day is complicated: gears, fenders, rack, lights, bag. I keep forgetting to add the handlebar bell.
I have a couple of simple bikes, but I keep trying to make them more complicated by adding stuff.
I've had several single speed bikes, but they always lack something for me. I appreciate that many riders love singles and get along with them better than complex bikes. That's great and I admire it.
I want at least a few gears. I want some fenders. I think lights are really important in the dark. I like a rack or bag to carry things. Next thing you know, I've got a complicated bike. I guess that's just the way I am.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
- The study was conducted in England, so I'm not sure what we can safely learn from it that will apply to the U.S. But it should create some good discussions about helmets.
- They apparently conducted the study in only two cities in the UK.
- I hope we see more studies like this that dig into the issue with some science rather than the typical Myth and Lore of Bicycling Knowledge (MLBK).
- Information like this might prove helpful for people trying to decide about helmet use.
- I oppose any helmet requirements for bicyclists based on the study that shows bicycle use goes down when mandatory helmet laws exist.
A study showed a cyclist wearing a helmet is more likely to get knocked off the bike by a passing motorist than a non-helmeted cyclist.
This is very interesting. I need to digest this and gather my thoughts before I make a comment.
Here are the results of the survey:
I rode the St. Paul Classic this past Sunday. I met a friend at Hiawatha Cyclery before the ride. No one else could make it.
I decided to adjust my seat height and broke the binder bolt. So I rode home, (only about 2 miles) standing up the whole time, grabbed a different bike from the garage, and rode to St. Paul.
We crossed the Ford Parkway bridge and ran straight into the ride route. We couldn't figure out why we needed to check in, so we joined the ride. We had already paid anyway.
A light mist was falling and throughout the ride increased to a light rain. We never complained. It was fun to ride without auto traffic through beautiful St. Paul. It's more hilly than my normal riding. I felt like I had a good workout even though the entire distance was only about 42 miles.
I had one of the best cookies at the last rest stop located in the Como Lake Pavilion. It was a large chocolate chip and raspberry cookie.
I saw at least three chainsaw-carved bears along the ride route. One was a panda. No photos, sorry.
At the end of the ride, we tried to check in, but couldn't find the right tent. We rode home.
I needed time to prepare for my daughter's bowling alley birthday party. That was lots of fun also, but it's another story.
Friday, September 08, 2006
My IM client shows his status as
He says he's working at home. Home is where the heart is. His heart is on the golf course right now.
It's this time of year when I install my serious bike lighting. I have a spotlight for seeing the road and a white blinky for being seen. I wear a couple of red blinkies on the my back.
I couldn't find my 10 watt spotlight last week. I dug around everywhere I could think of. I found the mount, the battery, and the wires, but no light. So I rode with only the white blinky in front and didn't feel very safe. I missed the big light.
A couple days ago after giving up the search for the headlight, I bought a Inoled 1 watt LED headlight that works with my current battery and wiring setup. Hiawatha Cyclery had it in stock. I doubt any other shops around here do.
It is noticeably brighter than my old 10 watt halogen (the one I lost). Once again cars stop for me at stop signs and I can see the road well enough to avoid potholes and roadkill. Don't laugh. I once rode with a guy who purposely rode over a well-dried opossum and got a puncture from one of the bones. Smartasses always get what they deserve.
This reminds me that I've often wanted to see what I look like to others on the road (not as roadkill, but at night with my lights on). Maybe I can find a friend or loved one to ride my bike at night and I can follow them in a car. A photo of that would be nice.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
I plan to ride in the St. Paul Classic next weekend, Sunday, Sept. 10. I've always wanted to ride on car-free streets through St. Paul. It's pretty expensive ($30), but I've missed it 11 years in a row.
If anyone wants to join me, let me know.
The next weekend, is the All British Cycling Event (ABCE). I'll attend the swap meet and ride. I plan to ride to that one also. That will stretch my personal one-day mileage record for the riding a 3 speed. The ride starts in New Brighton. I guess that's about 12 to 15 miles from my house. The ride is 45 miles. That should be at least 70 miles. That distance is more of a chore on an upright 3 speed than some might think.
By the way, even if you are not interested in this sort of event, take a minute to read the ABCE website. The writing is lots of fun. The guy who puts it all together is very talented in many ways.
Friday, September 01, 2006
My legs feel tired lately. When I start my ride, it feels like I just completed a few intervals. Later in the ride, when I should be warmed up and ready to ride faster, I still am tired and don't want ride fast.
Instead of fighting this feeling, I rode the 3-speed today. I wore my sandals and just toodled into work. (Toodle is not a real word, but I like it.) I stopped at Brueggers and bought two bagels. The Brueggers is located in a terrible place for bicyclists. It's surrounded by a fairly busy intersection and no way to just safely jump into traffic. I usually ride down the sidewalk a bit and jump off the curb in a burst of speed to fit into a gap between cars.
I took a different tactic this morning leaving the Brueggers, because the 3-speed is not a very good curb hopper. I continued further down the sidewalk and rode under a rail bridge. The sun was rising and threw light through the steel bridge supports. I stopped for a moment and looked at it. The rust on the steel was highlighted by the rising sun. Although I didn't have the creepy cam with me, I have a distinct picture of the bridge in my head. I like it.
I took that with me on the rest of the ride to work and didn't think about my legs until now.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
This isn't the sort of prediction that will get me any respect, but I won't be surprised if it comes true.
First of all, I want to know if anyone has real information about whether people are riding bikes more and walking more. If you see something written about this, please let me know.
So far, it's all anecdotal. I see lots more cyclists than I'm used to and I bet most motorists would say the same, but they'd sound growly as they said it. "Yes. I see more of those bikers in their tight, shiny pants riding in the middle of the road." (That's a parody of what I hear people say about cyclists.)
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The most interesting thing to me about the NHTSA numbers are that deaths and injuries of non-occupants (this is their term) increased while deaths and injuries of vehicle occupants decreased.
ABL says the change is due to distracted vehicle drivers. The NHTSA report offers no opinions, just the facts. My initial thought is that cell phones have something to do with this. But the more I think about it, the less sure I am. If cell phones are distracting drivers, then wouldn't all categories see an increase in deaths and injuries? I'm sure it's not so simple.
Anyway, as I paged through the report, I found something interesting on every page. I imagine we've already seen some of the statistics in news stories, but it's much more informative to see the numbers for yourself instead of a filtered version in the news.
Why do you think non-occupant deaths are up?
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I rode the trails at Theodore Wirth park today on my backup bike. That's it in the overexposed garage-backdrop photo.
I've ridden the trails at Wirth many times, but only on my dual-suspension bike. It's quite different on a bike with no suspension (don't mistake the springy stem and seatpost for suspension). It's a total body workout. My legs feel like they have growing pains. Remember those? My legs ache like that right now.
Dual suspension is a pain in the butt for maintenance, but it keeps the rider fresher. I'm in the market for a new mountain bike and I'm not sure what to think of all this. I've been through it before with two other dual suspension bikes. One time, I conducted a sort-of experiment. I brought a dual suspension bike and a hardtail to the same trail and rode laps with both. There was no question that my laps on the dual-sus. bike were more comfortable and easier. I didn't time the laps. I don't really care much about that.
Maybe I should get used to my flip flopping opinions and just buy all the bikes in the world. That will allow my to ride whatever I want.
I almost forgot to mention that I really like the trails at Wirth. They are lots of fun to ride.
Friday, August 18, 2006
I bought a garlic bagel on the way to work this morning. I was dripping sweat all over the store. I leave my helmet on in these situations where I am in and out of the store really quickly. That way they know why I'm sweating and they're reminded that some people chose to get around on a bicycle instead of a 4-door F-350 with smoked windows and a duck head cover on the trailer hitch. I bet they just wanted me out of there.
I toasted the bagel at work and made a pot of French roast. The garlic alters the taste of the French roast into a very strong flavor that I love. In the past, I've always thought the two foods went together well, but this morning I realized a new flavor is created by combining them both. I'm sure this flavor isn't for everyone. My sister, for example, might suggest that I just eat dog turds instead, because they are probably a strong flavor too. I'm not sure that's what she'd say, but it sounds like her. She has a great sense of humor and can stab a nice one in ya and still make you laugh about it.
Anyway, this flavor combination is one of life's little pleasures.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Then I broke a suspension bolt on the same bike due to my ham-fisted inattention while tightening the bolt.
Then on Sunday, I was riding my backup bike, which took lots of work to get together for Sunday's ride, and I potato chipped the rear wheel. It was a pretty funny stunt and might have been worthy of viewing by other people had any been there.
I wore baggy cycling shorts that day. I was descending a trail with sharp rocks and picking my line carefully, when I got a little fast and and the trail became steeper. I slid my butt off the back of the saddle to prevent myself from going over the bars. It worked well, I saved my skin. At the bottom of the trail, I needed to turn left, but I couldn't get back on the saddle. My baggy shorts were caught on the back of the seat. I unclipped my right foot and fell over on the left side. This was a very slow crash. Crash is too strong of a word. It was more of a slow motion tipping maneuver. It didn't hurt. I got up feeling a bit awkward, jumped on the bike and it didn't go anywhere. The wheel was very potato-chippy shaped.
I pulled the wheel out of the frame and wrestled it into a decent enough shape to fit in the frame and rode home with the tire buzzing on the chain stay. The lack of tire clearance on the chain stay of this bike has always been a complaint of mine.
The rim was really too light of duty for an offroad bike. I bought it from Rivendell and they warned of exactly that. But I'm a cheapo and these rims were a real bargain. (That's sarcasm, you know.)
This time, I'm buying a Sun Rhyno Lite replacement rim. They're known for strength. I'm not using anymore lightweight stuff unless it has a reputation for being bullet proof. I'll pick it up today, maybe have it built tonight and ride it tomorrow. That bike deserves to have its photo posted here.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
My family attended the art fair this past weekend. We had a really nice time. I've been there at least twice before in past years with my kids. This is the first year my kids didn't ride in a stroller. They're just too big for strollers. The last time they rode together in a stroller, they looked like two big goons stuffed in an old Volkswagen Beetle. They were elbowing each other and had lots of problems getting along.
This year was different. My wife and I expected them to get tired and want to go home or take breaks because they had to walk. Instead, it was my wife and I doing the complaining. My kids looked in far more tents than we did. Everywhere they looked they saw art that interested them. My son liked the photography and my daughter liked anything with color. They both liked anything that was on the lighter side like cartoon-style paintings.
My daughter loves tie-dye clothing. She stopped in one tie-dye vendor's tent and bought a t-shirt. She already has at least five tie-dye pieces of clothing, but this one was really nice, so we allowed her to buy it. While paying, she asked the people running the booth if they were hippies. I wonder if they saw my face turn red. They told us they considered themselves hippies and so I asked what it means to be a hippy. One of the them told us hippies are people who don't judge others. They just get along. The other added that they don't take plastic either.
I really like the part about being non-judgmental. We could use more of that. I thought about this for a while and wanted to add that hippies are more cooperative and less greedy than most of us. At least, that's my impression.
My friend, who is a police officer, would add that hippies tend to pass out on lawns more often than the rest of us.
Monday, August 07, 2006
I planned to ride a 12-hour mountain bike race a couple of weekends ago at Mt. Kato in Mankato, MN. On the preceding Thursday while checking the tightness of the suspension pivot bolts on the bike, I snapped the head off of one of them. Yes, I have a torque wrench, but that didn't help.
I took the bolt to the local shop that sells this brand of bike and they didn't have the bolt in stock. I didn't expect them to anyway. There are far too many suspension components for a dealer to stock. They said they'd order it, but I know that will take weeks.
I could have ridden my wife's bike, but it needed many changes to make it 12-hour worthy. I gave up and rode a long ride on my road bike Saturday instead of the race.
I was only a little disappointed. I didn't feel like I wanted to participate in a whole-hearted kind of way. However, if the bolt hadn't broken, I would definitely have raced.
This situation has brought up a line of thinking I've been developing for a couple of years now. I don't like the idea of putting my bike on a car and driving to an event or special ride. I've been doing much less of it recently. I've taken to riding my ATB to the trail heads instead of driving a car there. I ride to the Minnesota River Bottoms trail head and Theodore Wirth Park. I need to try riding to Lebanon Hills and Salem Hills parks. All my road bike rides start at my garage. My daily rides go from the garage to work and back. So my off-road rides all start at my garage now also.
The great thing about bicycling is that I can enjoy it right out of my garage door without going to any exotic places (not that Mankato is exotic). I also have lots of really great places to ride in the Twin Cities and this area enjoys lots of cycling events. For example, this coming weekend there's an Alley Cat race and bike scavenger hunt right here in Minneapolis. The St. Paul Classic is coming up soon. This fall, we have a couple of cyclo cross races right here in the city. I have countless group rides to attend in this area. I could even do one or two off-road races each year without traveling by car.
I'm not trying to throw a guilt trip on those of you who carry your bikes to events, but I've decided to drive less and this is an outcome of that decision.
On my ride this morning, I noticed they repainted the lines on the Lake Street/Marshall Street bridge. (Or is it Marshall Ave? Ray will know.) I forgot the creepy cam. So the photo above is from Google.
They must have cleaned the street before painting, because there was very little of the usual debris. I noticed only three types of items were on the shoulder: little tiny rocks, cigarette butts, and lottery tickets. I think that says it all.
Well almost. I'd like you all to congratulate me on not using the work detritus. I've seen it used quite a bit in the last two years or so. Maybe it's been used all along and I haven't been paying attention, but my impression is that detritus has become a trendy word for the hip people to use in writing. I haven't heard anyone use it in speech though. I just listened to the pronunciation of it from Merriam Webster's website. It's funny to hear words come out of my computer. Try it for yourself.
There is no way I could say that seriously without breaking into a laugh.
Friday, August 04, 2006
One of the guys I work with decided to brew a batch of beer for our upcoming company picnic. I went to the Vine Park Brewing Company with him yesterday to start the batch. That's the step where you end up with a fermenting barrel of stuff.
We'll return in two weeks to bottle it (and sample some, I'm told).
I brewed beer with a friend several years ago in his apartment. At the time, he had his masters in Chemistry and was working a his PhD in something related. I was sure he'd be a great partner. I figured because he works in labs, we'd have clean and sterile stuff and we'd follow the directions exactly.
It didn't work out that way. We boiled the wert over the pot on his stove. It went behind his stove and inside every crevice in the stove/oven. We couldn't get it all out. His apartment smelled badly for ever after. When I helped him move out many months later it still smelled a bit.
Our beer turned out to be some of the worst crap ever produced. My friend suspected that we had some bacteria get in the ruined it. We didn't keep a clean enough environment. I knew after a couple of sips that our beer sucked. I felt as if it were my duty to drink the first few bottles though. But I couldn't make it through the entire case. I threw out the last bottles without telling my friend. He kept asking for the bottles back. They save those, you know.
He continued to brew and got some good batches, but I had no interest.
I had bad memories of brewing the beer and the disappointing taste of our work.
None of that's going to happen to this batch. The Vine Park Brewing Company is perfectly clean and everything is organized. The guy who helped us, well he did most of the work for us, made sure we didn't make any mistakes. It was fun and the people who run the store were fun to talk to. I enjoyed the brewing.
It'll be tasty beer, I'm sure of that and I'll report on it when I have some.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I haven't ridden in the rain in several weeks. However, that changed on yesterday's journey home. I stepped into the parking lot headed for home when the skies opened. I got soaked within a couple of blocks. It was a warm rain and I enjoyed it.
This morning, on the way to work, it was about the same situation. As I pushed the bike out of the garage, the rain started to pour. For a few moments, I felt chilly.
"I remember that feeling."
It's a huge change from a couple of days ago, when I swear I felt my cerebral fluid boiling. If I had a little teapot spout installed on my head, it would have whistled all day long last Sunday.
It's difficult for me to imagine the weather will be cold ever again. But that's the way I always feel when we have a stretch of extreme weather. When it's 0 degrees (F) for an extended amount of time, I can't imagine what it feels like to be hot and sweaty.
The seasonal changes in this climate really make life interesting. I've lived in places with less seasonal personality and that really gets old.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
In a recent post I said I've found a difference in the quality of street repairs between Minneapolis and St. Paul. I took some decent photos today as examples using the Creep Cam. I realize my experiences are merely anecdotal. I am not sure why there seems to be a difference. I'm not sure anyone else cares. But here they are:
St. Paul manhole cover repair on Raymond Ave.
Minneapolis manhole cover on 42nd Street (thanks Ray)
Both of these repairs are at least a year old. The Minneapolis one was in this condition before summer. I like the Minneapolis repair, because the asphalt has flowed over one of the manhole covers. It's like they used black gummy bears to fill in the hole. They get an A for creativity. The St. Paul repair doesn't compare with regard to creativity. It's very square and even. I usually avoid manhole covers regardless of how smooth they are, but I ride over the middle of this one in St. Paul and don't even feel it. Where's the fun in that? I'd get some air off of the Minneapolis one, but it's located at a stop sign and I'd have to run it to get enough speed to catch air.
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