Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fast is good too

This morning I decided to work at home. I seem to get more done at home when I'm doing certain types of work, like writing. Which is what I'm doing.

I stepped outside and found the weather to be as good as it gets. So I placed the laptop in the goofy messenger bag (I couldn't find my homemade laptop pannier) and threw a leg over Big Red. I rode to the Firefly Bistro at 52nd and Bloomington for coffee while I worked sitting at a table on the sidewalk. Very nice. I used up my battery and rode back home. I worked for a couple of hours in my backyard with an extension cord supplying power.

I then rode my Lemond road bike. I haven't been on it for months and within a few miles found it comfortable and fast. Before I knew it, I was pushing it hard and making myself very tired. It's fun to go fast. I'll do more of that kind of riding.

On the way home, I stopped by a bike shop for brake pads. The commuter bike needs them badly. The shop has a Felt cruiser styled like a bowling shoe.
I really liked it. The photos do not do it justice. It has an aluminum frame welded in halves. I think it's called a monocoque frame. The seat is upholstered like a bowling shoe with "12" printed on the back. And it's a three-speed.

Felt has lots of styled cruisers based on the same or similar frames. If that's what it takes to get people on bikes, then I'm all for it. I think I'd like to sneak over there and ride one. I've never liked cruisers, but I'll try to open my mind.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Limited Nature of Scattered Thundershowers

On my ride home yesterday, I fully understood the pattern of scattered thunder showers. The weather site I use predicted scattered thunder showers. I left the building during a sprinkle. Within a couple of blocks I was riding in a heavy downpour and I was completely soaked. The rain felt a little cold and I hoped it would end soon.

It did and I rode through puddles and wet pavement. Then the rain started again, not too heavy though. Then I rode into a dry area. A woman was mowing her lawn. Then I rode into more light rain as I neared the Mississippi River. As I crossed the river, I noticed the ground was dry and no signs of rain.

In my neighborhood, I saw a friend and we rode to my house. We turned into the alley and my son came roaring at us on a big wheel. My daughter was riding some kind of crazy new scooter and other neighborhood kids were riding bikes. There was no rain at my house.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Three-Speed Tour was Great

I rode in the three-speed tour last weekend. It was great. I'm already looking forward to next year's. The two best things about it are meeting and talking to people and seeing the beautiful Lake Pepin area.

This year, I stayed at the back most of the time and hung out at the numerous stops much longer than I planned. That gave me lots of chances to meet the eclectic bunch that attends this ride.

Friday night, before the ride, someone called me and wanted to share the drive down to Red Wing. I was glad she called, because it can be a lonely drive. I enjoyed talking to her.

I camped at a city park with about eight other riders. The other 40 or so riders stayed in motels and B&Bs. One of the campers has a super power. He's the most powerful snorer I've ever heard. I fortunately brought my ear plugs. That was the end of that problem. I got up to relieve myself during the night and heard a domestic squabble in the neighboring RV park. Lots of screaming. I wonder if alcohol was involved. The RV people also run generators at night. Ear plugs are great.

I'll post one of two of my good photos when I get around to it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Commas Be Gone!

I keep letting extra commas slip into my writing. I've been writing more at work lately and it reminds me of a problem I've had for as long as I can remember. I use too many commas. My fingers just blast them into places they don't belong. It's as if my right middle finger has a mind of its own. I remember receiving papers back from teachers and having lots of slashed commas. I got over the problem when I was a technical writer. I wrote much more carefully then. But I'm back to my old tricks. I'm familiar with the guidelines for comma usage. I just a have a tick and it expresses itself this way.

I reread one of my recent blog posts and found an extra comma. That was too much. I've had it up to here! I think I'll remove the comma key from my keyboard for a while. That'll teach me a lesson. I'm not really clear on what the lesson will be, but I'm doing it anyway.

Down with excessive commas!

By the way, I just used the spell checker provided in Blogger for the first time. It does not recognize the word blog. That's kinda funny.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ride Slow

On Wednesday, I rode my Raleigh DL-1 Roadster into work. It was a much slower ride than I'm used to, especially up the Pelham and Fairview hills. This is the longest ride I've had on the old thing.

It has a really laid back angles. So it requires me to use my muscles a bit differently. It feels like the tips of my butt hurt. I wonder what a bike like this built with some modern components and current frame materials would ride like. Hmm. I could call it the Throwback.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour

This weekend is the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour. I enjoyed last year's much more than I anticipated, despite the rain and headwinds. I took lots of pictures and will again. The tour organizer distributes a log book for everyone to record their experiences. He told us to read them after a few months and the memories would come back clearly. He was right. I just read it again and I'm even more eager for the ride.

I plan to camp this year. So rain, rain, go away ...

I Named a Bike

I've never been one to name my bicycles. I know some people who give them names. I've never understood until today.

I rode my Red Raliegh 3-speed to work. It's a bit tall for me so when I stop I know the top tube is right there. For some reason the name Big Red popped into my mind. I immediately snickered, because the name seems to mock the Nebraska Huskers, also known as Big Red. That's where I went to college. I didn't exaclty become a big football booster while there. Instead I saw the football games as a great opportunity to ride my bike on nearly deserted streets.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Baseball and Bicycles

Last night was the first baseball practice for my son, who is nine years old. He isn't very good at catching the ball. He's better at throwing and much better at batting. He's really afraid of the ball and closes his eyes when the ball gets close to him. I know it's pretty difficult to catch a baseball with your eyes closed. I play catch with him, but he's not getting better. When I think about it, it seems to be getting worse. If you've got any ideas how to help him get over his fear of the ball, let me know.

While my son practiced, my daughter rode her bike around the park. My daughter is six years old. Each time she passed me, she told me about the continent she had just visited. She went to Europe, Antarctica, Australia, and Asia. She crashed and lost a little blood on her elbow. She got over it quickly and went traveling again. I noticed she also introduced herself to anyone nearby in the park. By the end of practice she had traveled all over the world and met nearly everyone in sight.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The President Caught a Fish

I have trouble understanding what the President was thinking when he told a reporter that the most memorable thing of his last five years was catching a fish. The more I read about the story, the stranger it gets.

On a related note, I just watched a Monty Python skit that is still making me laugh. It's the one where one guy dances around and slaps the other guy with fish. Then the other guys knocks him off a dock by smacking the first guy with a giant fish. The guys are wearing safari outfits and it is officially known as the fish slapping dance. Good skit comedy is really wonderful.

Link to the skit:

Friday, May 05, 2006


My family made this cake and they think it looks like me. I think I have less frosting in my ears.

My little rides

My daughter learned to ride her bike solidly without training wheels two weeks ago. She flys up and down the alley with her friends. I hear their voices carrying all over the block as they scream at each other.

I hear from others that she crashes, but not from her. She doesn't think of the crashes as very noteworthy, I guess. I ask her about the crashes and she gives me the details, but doesn't show any concern.

When she can't find friends to ride with, she asks me to ride. I get on the handiest bike and ride along side her. She tells me about things as if we were on a walk together. As she rides, she swerves and overcorrects, just missing dumpsters and bushes. I can barely concentrate on the conversation, because I'm focusing on her riding.

When we park our bikes, my mind catches up and I realize I'm filled with love.

Monday, May 01, 2006

How are those knees?

My knees were pretty sore by the end of yesterday's Ironman ride. I'll see how quickly and completely they recover, before I make my decision about riding longer distances again.

The ride was memorable. It was raining from the start to the finish. Within a mile of the start, I knew my waterproof socks were a sham. I'll return them. I bought a bicycle cape from Campmor. After several hills, I was so sweaty underneath that the cape didn't matter. I was in the same condition under my rain pants -- soaked from the sweat. At the first rest stop I wanted to stand on top of a table and ask if anyone's rain gear was working. By working I mean that it was stopping the rain from getting in and still letting perspiration evaporate. I didn't ask.

Instead, I took off my rain cape and pants and put them into my Carradice bag for the rest of the ride. I rode with just my shorts, leg warmers, and double jersey layer. It worked nicely. The rain was light enough that I never felt soaked. If the temperature had been a few degrees colder I bet I would have been miserable. That's a lesson: sometimes no rain gear is best in light rain.

The wind made some of the hills really tough. I like hills so it was not a big problem. But I'm really sure there were lots of people suffering out there.

Near the end, the route crossed some railroad tracks. Just after we crossed them I heard the revolting crash of body and bike to asphalt. A couple guys crashed. That sound is so bad. I turned around and saw they were already up and walking around. They had twisted bikes. Just after that another guy crashed. Those tracks were wet and at a slight angle to the direction of the road. That's treacherous for skinny tires. I used to bunny hop tracks that were like that.

I've been icing my knees. I don't know if riding tomorrow is smart or not. I hate driving to work. But I want my knees to heal. Then I can ride any time I want. If I ride to work too early before my knees have healed, I may jeopardize my riding in the long term. Maybe one more day of driving my car. Then I can ride on Wednesday.

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