Saturday, April 29, 2006


For several years, since I read about brevets, I've wanted to participate in them. If you're interested in what they are, see this link.

I've had some knee problems during the corresponding several years. This year, my knees seem better than in the past. This causes me to be hopeful I can ride more long distances. Maybe this will be the year I can do some brevet distances or even participate in one.

Tomorrow, I ride the 60 mile version of the Minnesota Ironman. I'll take it very easy and find out if this is the year for brevets. If my knees don't complain much, maybe I'm ready to ramp up the distance. Years ago, I said that anyone can ride a century if they just take their time, regardless of their condition. I know better now. As we get older, those sorts of things are less predictable.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Not that Ironman

I'm riding in this coming Sunday's Minnesota Youth Hostel Ironman bike ride . I'm doing the 60 miler with a friend and one of his friends. I'm going to ride the sow bike. I wrote about that a few posts ago.

Since then, I've fixed the headset. I can now ride it with no hands. I also installed drop bars and 26x1.25 slick tires. Holy crap! It rides like a road bike now. No more sow sensations. It makes me think a road bike specifically built around 559 tires would ride great.

They're forecasting rain for the day, so I'll bring my poncho.

Is that a Sears poncho?

I rode home in the rain and that gave me a chance to use my new bicycle rain cape (poncho). It has little elastic loops for my thumbs to hold it down in the wind. It also has elastic loops for my legs to hold down the rear of the poncho in the wind. That's a flatulence pun.

The poncho worked great at keeping me dry. It would have worked better if the bike I rode had fenders. I just built up this fixed-gear bike and haven't installed fenders yet. I've got an old front that will work and I'll find a used rear. I have a few good sources for those.

I had a problem coordinating the fixed-gear riding style, which is new to me, and the loops on the poncho. I use arm signals to tell the others on the road when I'm turning. But the elastic loops prevent me from extending my arm. So I had to pull my thumb out of the loop to signal. Then get it back in again. It was difficult to place my thumb back in the loop. I wore long-fingered gloves and they were wet. I had no feel in my fingers for the fiddly little loops. The wind blew the poncho up and while trying to straighten it out and get my thumb back in the loop, I forgot and tried to coast (can't do that on a fixed-gear bike). I almost crashed in a tangle of poncho and whirling pedals. I didn't crash, but I got to feel those sensations just before you crash.

I imagined my face and shoulder piling into the asphalt. It was wet so I would have slid nicely unless I did a pile-driver. Those suck. I'm familiar with sliding and the pile driver. Neither are very nice, but at least the pile driver gets you some very pleasant pain medications.

When I arrived home, I dug out the water-proof camera and tried to take a photo of me on the bike with the poncho. It's a film camera and it had a fresh roll of film in it, so I'll have to wait for the results. I'll have them put on a photo CD and post the result even if it's pretty bad. Sometimes those self-timer photos don't turn out very well.

Don't get me wrong, despite the near crash, it was a great ride. Rain makes a ride special.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


This morning, Jack gave himself the nickname Beepers. I don't know why, but it made me laugh. It also reminded me of a guy in junior high who insisted we call him Groundhog. His last name was Grounds. I get it, but I didn't like the idea of someone giving himself a nickname. I think nicknames should be earned or based on a physical feature. Here are some examples. A person who is very fast could be nicknamed Speedy. A person who lisps could be nicknamed Sylvester. Those work for me.

Back to Groundhog. He had very pink skin and I wanted to call him Pinky. He really didn't like that. If I remember correctly, he threw me against a wall and told me to never call him that again. Looking back on it, I'm sure I knew he'd hate being called Pinky. It was my way of saying that you can't give yourself a nickname.

I think my kids might call me Stinky.

Do you have any funny nickname ideas?
It rained last night. That brings out the worms. They were all over the roads and paths. It was ugly. I always imagine that one of them will stick to my tire and then the tire will fling it into my mouth. That's the reason I use fenders on my bike. I try to keep my mouth closed, but you never know when one of those little beasts will fly off the tire. Sure that's irrational, but it's not like I believe in [insert your irrational belief here].

A bumper sticker made me laugh, "I'm pro-accordion and I vote." It was styled like the "I'm Pro-Choice and I vote" ones that have been plaguing the bumpers of innocent cars for years. Acutally, I don't remember if the original bumper sticker was pro-choice or pro-life. It doesn't really matter, because the mocking bumper sticker works.

Claire wore her hillbilly teeth to school yesterday. She said everyone laughed and that Asher's were even uglier. I assume she meant Asher has his own set of play hillbilly teeth. I've seen the kid and his teeth look fine. It's difficult for me to imagine that Asher's play teeth are worse though, because Claire's have bloody gums. That's really bothersome to think about.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Broken Glass

The weather has been fantastic and I've gotten in plenty of rides. I rode to work three times last week. I rode with the Hiawatha Cyclery bunch on Saturday. They had 13 people on the ride. Nice people and a fun collection of bikes. I didn't see any carbon or sti on the ride.

As I noticed the buds were showing on the trees and bushes, I also noticed another thing I see primarily in the spring; broken glass is everywhere. I see glass all year long, but I see much more in the spring. I've only had one flat -- strike that -- two flats so far. I'm not riding the armadillo tires with Mr. Tuffies and Slime tubes this year, so I should expect a few flats anyway.

Why is there so much broken glass in the spring? I'm not sure, but I guess it's because kids are out partying and throwing bottles from their cars. That's my guess, because I did the same thing when I was in high school. Stupid. Each flat I receive is a little payback from my dumb mistakes. Get the Slime tubes.

Every way one tries to minimize or eliminate flats has a drawback or two. Slime is good, because it usually heals itself. Its bad because it leaks Slime. (I'm not counting weight as a drawback, because I don't care about it.) Mr. Tuffies are good, because they stop large and small objects from penetrating the tread of your tires. They don't protect the sidewall and they kill the ride qualities of the tires. Usually, I've put lots of thought into which tires I ride based on ride qualities. It's really sad to kill all that work with Mr. Tuffies. Armored tires are pretty good at stopping most flats. They can still get flats, but the seem to ward off the common causes of flats like glass chips and thorns. They don't feel as good as similar non-armored tires, but it's not too much of a trade off for flat protection.

I used to ride through a neighborhood that had more broken glass per square foot that I've ever seen. After a couple of flats, I bought Armadillo tires. After another flat, I bought Slime tubes. After a couple more, I bought Mr. Tuffies. With those three items aligned against the glass, I could ride through patches of broken bottles with impunity. I was impervious to flats. When I replaced the tire due to worn out tread, I found lots of glass chips embedded in the tire. I also found many large cuts on the tire. That system worked to prevent flats, but the bike rode like it had solid cement tires. I don't remember the pressure I was riding with though.

This year, I'm starting with no flat protection and I'll see how it goes.

Last night, (Sunday) I rode two hours on the atb/commuter. I think that will be my bike of choice for the Minnesota Ironman bike ride. I'm doing it with a couple of friends and I'd like to ride a similar bike just so we're all in the same mindset. If they are on atb/commuters and I'm on a drop-bar racer style bike, I'll be out of touch and surging ahead the whole time. That's no way to ride with friends.

I'd like to make one change to the bike before the ride. I'd like to put some 1.25 inch smooth tires on it. It currently is running 1.5" Ritchey megabites or something like that. The Ritchey have thick tread and feel a bit squirmy with all that rubber. I'd like a thinner tread for a bit more supple feel. Maybe I'll remove the fenders if no rain is forecast.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Electric Cars

I just read an article in the Star Tribune about an electric car manufacturer right here in Minnesota: I tried to find a website for the Classic Golf Car Company, but I had no luck using google and ask. I tried a couple search terms, but no direct hits on the company's website -- if they have one. It's difficult to tell if they have a website given the strange rankings of the search engines. Lots of businesses run by people who aren't into computers don't have useful, effective websites or even a site at all.

I've tried to keep up on electric powered vehicles. I find them very interesting. I've also looked into electric bikes and trikes. I think that's a good way to go for some people. I'm attracted to those. If I had one that could get me to work at 25 mph including pedaling, I think it would be great. Motor scooters are also interesting, even gas-powered ones. At least they use a lot less gasoline than a conventional automobile.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Nice Weather Makes for Nice Riding

I've had some excellent rides lately. Last Saturday, I rode with the Hiawatha Cyclery guys. It was a nice, friendly ride. There were lots of different styles of bikes. We stopped at a coffee shop afterwards. That gave my toes a chance to warm up.

On Sunday, I rode the Davidson road bike for the first time. It rides wonderfully. I think I want to get a taller stem to raise the bars and a different saddle, but other than that, it's right on.

I skipped riding on Monday to allow my knee to recuperate. Today, I rode the atb/commuter to work. I cleaned it last night and it's running quite well with a set of 1.5" Ritchey street tires on it. I find that my shoulder hurts more on upright bars than on drop bars. That isn't what I expected.

Between my knee problems and my shoulder problems, I'm a mess. Well, at least I can manage them and keep riding.

Gotta get more photos up here. Maybe tonight. This one is a picture of the atb/commuter. I borrowed a coworker's camera to take the photo. I need a small camera so I can take it with me on all bike rides.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Link to list of bicycle-related blogs and the Fixed Gear Bike

I just added my blog to a listing of bicycle-related blogs.

I need to change the stem on my fixed-gear bike and take a photo of it. It's beautiful in its cheapness. I haven't shown it to any bike nerds like myself yet. I'm wondering whether they'll overlook it because of its cheapness and because no one has heard of it: Krystal Mark IV. It's made in Japan and has cheap high-tensile tubing with stamped dropouts. Those are signs of a junkyard bike. However, it has a few qualities that make it interesting -- the best of which is the nice ride. It has a long top tube (56.5) for such a smallish frame size (53 ctt). It's pretty old. I bought it for $5 at a Goodwill store. It had SunTour Barcons on it and I wanted a set. I intended to throw the rest of the bike away.

It also had randonneaur bars and a 165 mm alloy, SR crankset. I stripped the parts and let the frame sit for two years. A couple of weeks ago, I built and fixed gear bike using a Benotto frame, which is for sale, and then swapped the parts to the Krystal. The Benotto was too small even with a 130mm stem. The long stem made it ride very strangely. I hated it. The Benotto used to be built up as a time trail bike. With the aero bars it rode nicely, but not drops.

Anyway, I really like the fixed gear and I really like the bizarre old frame I built it on.

Speaking of getting fixed, shortly before building a fixed-gear bike, I got myself fixed. It's a story in itself that I'll tell another time, but one issue to be aware of with an operation like a vascestomy is the that hair regrowth is very uncomfortable. I'm sure everyone's story will vary, but that's the most interesting issue from my experience that no one warned me about.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

This bike is a sow

Imagine a sow laying in it's pen. It's so fat and old that it can only move with difficulty. When it does move, it's not graceful in any way. That's how I think of the bike I rode to work today.

It still has knobby tires on it from winter riding. The headset is notchy (yes, I know, brinnelling) so it fights me when I steer. I felt as if I wallowed to work. I need to fix this machine. I can change the tires and rotate one of the pressed-in headset cups. I may need to buy a new headset. That would hurt though, because I'm a real cheapo. I need to post a photo of this bike. It has a blue ATB frame, yellow fenders, and a red fork. It's a useful eyesore that needs a little work.

I just remembered it also needs some work on the shifters. I installed some of those cheapo Sun Race friction shifters last fall and they regularly slip. The cables and housing are the right length and I've cranked down on the friction bolt, but it still slips. I should swap the shifters for something more effective. A trip to ebay may help. I want friction shifters so I can swap wheels and not worry about having 9 speed or 7 speed or whatever.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The weather today made for some great riding. I got a late start again on the way to work, so I didn't need a light. I'm glad when I don't have to hook up the lights. It's not a big deal, but it makes me feel like I can just jump on the bike and go when I don't have to prepare much. And that's what I'm after and why the three-speed is so nice.

I saw lots of other riders out on the trails also. Many of them had bags and appeared to be riding to work. That's really nice.

I saw a few people on inline skates also. I think I'll use mine in the morning. I've ridden three days in a row and in an effort to take it easy on my knees, I'll try some variety. At least, I'll try variety until I find I can ride my bike every day without knee problems.

Blog Archive