Thursday, March 29, 2007


My seven-year old daughter was playing with a light saber a few minutes ago and asked me if I knew what Yoda looks like in the shower.

I admitted that I don't know and asked her why she wondered.

She told me all the girls love him because of his big muscles. I felt a little relieved given her answer.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dirt Drops

I installed the dirt drop bars last Thursday night and rode them Friday and Saturday. That was enough riding for me to know I like them. I wish I could mount them on my 29er. I think that would be ideal. The wide hooks give me plently of power to control the bike, but I'm bent over enough to feel comfortable. When I get another 29er, I'll install dirt drops right away.

I'm also applying shellac over the cotton bar tape. I like the look of shellac. I've applied two coats and am going into the back yard in a minute to apply another. I'll post a photo of the completed bars.

The new stem the bars require uses the correct size bolt that allows me to use my Inoled light mount. This picture shows the setup. The Inoled bolt replaces one of the bolts used to hold the stem face on. It's a really slick arrangement that saves some room on the tops of my bars for my hands. That's why they call them handlebars. Next, I'll try to mount my white blinking LED light on my helmet. My bars will be clutter free.

This bike is starting to look good to me, at least. If this bike didn't have such an ugly saddle, I'd be tempted to put nice fenders on it.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Just What is Argyle?

Today's HC ride had a theme -- argyle.

Our ride leader took us to the Aster Cafe on the Mississippi River. If I'm not mistaken, this the St. Anthony Main area. I've also heard it called St. Anthony on Main. The streets are cobble stone and the area has a nice personality compared to a construction zone on Lake Street.

Our ride leader found his way through the fog. I could see about 20 feet ahead of me. Then I realized my glasses were covered with moisture. I took them off and then I could see about one block. People with better eyesight claimed there was no fog. I'm going to stop drinking Windex before rides.
Here's a quiz.

Q: Is this argyle?
A: No. This is the side of Ray's head, but he's wearing an argyle headband/do rag thing.

Q: Is this argyle?
A: No. This is Pete's foot. He wearing argyle socks though. He should consider a career change to footwear model. His ankle is quite fetching.

Q: Is this argyle?
A: No. This is my tie. It is not even an argyle pattern. It's merely plaid turned 90 degrees. I bought it at the Gap about 10 years ago. I should take it back. I wanted argyle.

Wikipedia has a little article on argyle. It says, "The argyle (occasionally argyll) pattern is one containing diamonds in a diagonal checkerboard arrangement. The word is sometimes used to refer to an individual diamond in the design but more commonly refers to the overall pattern. Most argyle layouts contain layers of overlapping motifs, adding a sense of three-dimensionality, movement, and texture. The over-lapped argyle design is claimed to be the oldest known attempt at three dimensional spacing in history.

The argyle pattern is said to have been derived from the tartan of Clan Campbell, of Argyll in western Scotland."

That explains my inability to previously recognize argyle -- I'm Welsh and we don't give a dam about fabric patterns. As long as it's cheap, I'm happy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rainy Day

I've always wanted a rain cover for my helmet. While preparing to leave work today, I realized I could make my own. I grabbed a plastic shopping bag, scissors, and packing tape. The result is what you see. It worked great and I had a good chance to test it.

The rain was a very light mist at the beginning of the ride and turned into a mild, soaking rain by the end. My head was dry. That was the only part though, as my wind pants have very little water resistance in them.

I received a call from Target Corporation. They want to pay for advertising.
I stopped at the Hub Coop on the way home also. They moved into the building next door and have much more room. Some of the funky factor is gone, but they made up for it with indoor parking for my bike.

I bought some new handlebars for my commuter (the one with the politcal sign fenders). The bars are dirt-drop style, but they were only $19.95.

Mr. Cheapo approves.

I'll try to install them in the next few days. I intended to put dirt drops on my 29er, but as you may know, that bike is gone. I bought some red cloth tape to go on the new bars. I'd like to shellac the tape also. I've never done that and it sounds like a fun project.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What Makes a Good Commuter Bike?

I think having two bikes ready to ride to work is a good idea. If one breaks, the other is ready to go. By "ready" I mean the bike must have the following abilities:

The bike must carry a bag big enough to hold my work clothes.
The bike must quickly accept at least a headlight and a tail light.
The bike must have fenders.

Those are the things I like. On the other hand, I have a friend who uses a messenger bag to carry things so he doesn't care what the bike holds. He believes in stealth riding. That is, he doesn't want to be seen and he slips through traffic like a ghost, or at least that's his explanation so he doesn't think lights are worth the effort. He likes fenders for wet conditions, but not all the time. It seems to work for him and he doesn't own a car.

What do you consider the minimum necessary to ride to work or use your bike as a practical machine?

*As soon as a lightweight, destructive laser beam is invented, I'll include that on the list also. I'd use it to blast joggers off of the bike paths.

Blogger Question

Do any of you know how to change the order in which posts appear?

Sometimes, I write a draft and don't publish it for a few days. Then I publish it and it gets stuck down in the list in chronological order. Obviously, I could cut and past the draft post to a new entry, but I'm hoping there's a simple way to change the order.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dirty Chain Hell

During the winter, I broke a shifter cable on my blue commuter -- the one with the yellow fenders. I took it in to my spacious and luxurious workshop for repairs. I also found the rear wheel was grinding and difficult to turn with my hands.

I wanted to ride to work the next day, so I resurrected the bike that has the political yard signs for fenders. That was several weeks ago.

Today, I got around to starting the necessary repairs on the blue bike. The chain and cassette are orange with rust. I removed the chain, cassette, rear derailleur, and crank for a thorough cleaning. Here's the point of this post: I soaked the parts in Simple Green. I read a few years ago, that some riders believe Simple Green causes chains to break. I thought those guys were nuts. How could something like that cause a chain to break? I've used Simple Green since the early '90s and had no problems. I worked at a shop that used it for everything. I even brushed my teeth with it.

I followed all the links I could find by searching in the rec.bicycles. and alt.bicycles. usenet groups. This led me to the simple conclusion that if metal is allowed to soak in a bath of Simple Green it may weaken. I've never left parts to soak in the stuff.

Here's a link to a usenet discussion that sums up the Simple Green topic nicely.

Here's a link to a few Velonews tech letters that are helpful.

My conclusion is that it's fine to use Simple Green, but don't soak your parts in it and rinse them thoroughly after cleaning.

I did that today and my laundry tub is a big mess, but my bike parts are very clean. I've just about reassembled the bike. I plan to install some nice riding, supple, fatso tires and ride that baby again soon.

Question 1: What do you use to clean your chain and parts?

I'm taking suggestions for fat, supple, nice riding 559 tires. I'd like 32 to 40 millimeters, please.

And I made the part up about brushing my teeth with Simple Green.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Working at Home = Fat Guy

I'm not sure if working at home is a good idea. I made this bag of cashews disappear over the course of the afternoon. I even made a cabbage and cashew burrito with them.

Lunch Time Ride

I rode the Davidson 650B conversion. It's a nice riding bike.

I chose the airport ride. It's pretty quite at lunch time and I stopped to take some photos.

An old building at historic Ft. Snelling.

Those are parking garages they're building in the back. The power lines are for light rail trains. The photo was taken on the edge of the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. Everything in this photo is directly related to transportation.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Post about 3-Speeds

I found a blog that includes scans of an old Sturmey Archer service manual.

Because I attended the 3-speed hub overhaul class this past weekend, I find the service manual really interesting.

I also rode a 3-speed bike to work today. We didn't have any ice so I didn't need the studded tires. It was a very nice ride today.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Stolen: My Redline 29"

Someone stole my Redline 29" Monocog Sunday afternoon from my open garage. It was special because I added a Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub and 170mm cranks to it.

Here it is.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday Ride

I had a chance to ride on Sunday afternoon.

I first stopped at a coffee shop, because I missed yesterday's HC ride.

Last year, the city connected two trails and I'm still really pleased with the result shown in this photo. They connected the Midtown Greenway with the River Road bike path.

Blue sky.

Are they adding a little band shell at Lake Harriet?

You really should use fenders if you pull a trail-a-bike thingy, unless you like to hear your kid scream. This video doesn't really show it, but this kid is totally soaked with dirty water.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

3-Speed Hub Overhaul Class

I spent my Saturday morning in a 3-speed hub overhaul class put on by Hiawatha Cyclery. Mark Stonich of Bikesmith Design taught the class. We took our hubs apart, inspected them, and reassembled them.

Mark has an encyclopedia of Sturmey Archer hub information in his head and shared lots of his knowledge with us.

For fun, I took a few photos of my hub. It's a Sturmey Archer AW made in 1966. It has 28 holes and I have a set of 700c rims that it will go with very soon. This will be the start of my new commuter bike.
Did you know that most of these hubs will accept two cogs? That gives me an idea.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Snowy Ride Video -- very boring

Here's a really boring video of a snowy ride a week ago or so.

I promise to only post interesting videos from now on or none at all. This was just a little experiment.

Video Test

This is a jumping exhibition I saw on Sunday at the Minneapolis Bike and Travel Fitness Expo (did I get the title right?).

Bicycling Law Quiz

A Minneapolis Star Tribune blogger posted a quiz about local bicycling laws. The comments are pretty predictable.

Take a look.

I posted all my immature thoughts.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hey, St. Paul! We'll Store those Horses Here in Minneapolis.

This story made me laugh. The City of St. Paul wants to build stables for their police horses in the city. Currently, they transport the horses from a far-out suburb. Instead, they want to use Como Park (located in St. Paul), but the neighbors don't want it to happen.

I have a suggestion if they can't find a suitable location in St. Paul. Use one of the many closed libraries or schools in Minneapolis to store the horses. Minneapolis is much closer than any suburb. Maybe they could add a horse car on the light-rail connector route between St. Paul and Minneapolis. That would allow them to move the horses to St. Paul without wearing out their hooves.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Snowy Day

We've had some snow around here over the last couple of days. I've spent some time walking and riding in it and I brought a camera.

Yesterday, I rode to Lake Harriet on the bike path. It was fun to ride along side the snow shoers and skiers. When I reached Lake Harriet, I couldn't go any further, because the path was drifted shut. I'm not sure this photo shows the drifts very well -- not enough contrast.

On Thursday, I walked to a coffee shop. Here's Chicago Avenue at about 50th Street.

During yesterday's ride, I paid attention to the slush building up in front of the front fender. As the tire rotates, it pulls a little snow out to the leading edge of the fender where it accumulates and rides on top of the tire. When I stopped it remained sitting there. During the ride, it grew and shrank, but it always hung on. The bike was full of interesting snow buildups. The brakes had snow fins on them like a 1950s era Cadillac.

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