Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: "The Wonderful Ride"

I finished reading "The Wonderful Ride." Kent Peterson reviewed it here: for Outside magazine. His review is a good description so I won't rehash it. Instead, I'll add a couple notes.

Bicyclists had a tough time in 1895 when Mr. Loher rode across the U.S. There were very few roads and most of them were poorly maintained dirt. Reading this book reminded me over and over again, that today's cyclists have it easy. Well, except for the existence of automobiles. Next time you complain about a bumpy road, remember that it's much better than riding on railroad tracks.

In chapter 8, Mr. Loher describes riding through Minnesota and the people he encounters there.

"It is useless for anyone to go to Europe on a wheeling tour when he has the same opportunity to wheel through it in America. I had gone through a little Germany in North Dakota, and now I was traveling through Norway and Sweden. I would ask ten- and twelve-year old, white-headed, American-born children questions in regard to the roads and distances from town to town, only to be stared at in a frightened manner, as they could not speak a word of English. What an unacceptable state of affairs in our glorious republic. Our free schools have thrown open wide their doors for education of our childern, only to see them grow up unable to speak our understand the English language."

This is a near identical rant I heard the other day, after our presidential election, from a guy who works in the same building I do, but he was complaining about Somalis.

Bigotry and a lack of knowledge of how immigrants fit into their new homes is not new.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book review: Joy Ride

I recently completed reading "Joy Ride" by Mia Birk. Mia served as the Portland Bicycle Coordinator in the past and this book tells lots of short stories about what she encountered as she worked to add bicycling infrastructure in Portland and later as a consultant.

The book is definitely worth reading if you have an interest in bicycling infrastructure like bike lanes, bike trails, bike boxes, etc.

The most striking thing I can say about the book is that it caused me to be mindful and thankful of the hard work that's been put for me and other cyclists by people like Mia Birk. They've worked their butts off to make cycling more accessible and safer. Thanks.

I can loan you the book if you are one of those two readers who lives nearby. If you are the third reader who lives out of town, too bad. I'm not mailing it to you.

Welcome Spammers!

I just turned off the captcha quiz. I also turned off moderation of comments when the post is less than 14 days old.

Welcome back spammers.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dirty Riding

I was really looking forward to a Saturday off-road ride, but I got started late and the rain began to fall. I don't ride single-track trails when it's raining to prevent trail damage.

The disappointment turned into an idea. Could I ride the MN river bottoms? Those trails east of a certain point (Indian Mound school, if you care) are partially limestone packed and double track. Those types of surfaces are not damaged by wet riding.

I gave it a try and a couple hours later was happy that I didn't cancel the ride. Most of the muck on the bike is sand and leaves sticking to the water.

This bike is great on that type of trail. However, on Sunday I rode at Murphy Hanrehan and this bike kicked my butt. The Murphy trails are rooty and rocky. The little tires on this bike make that a rough ride. There is an ideal bike for every condition and rider. Someone with better skills than me could fly at Murphy while riding a cyclo-cross bike. But I'm slow, fat, and a poor bike handler. This means a dual-suspension 29er is best for me because it provides forgiveness for my mistakes, of which there are many.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Problem Solvers Products

I read the Problem Solvers blog and usually discover the cure for a problem that my bikes don't have. I wish I had more bike problems just so I could use some of their products. They show lots of smart solutions in their blog that are not their products, so their blog is not just a shill site.

One item I wish I had known about is the front brake cable hanger Problem Solvers sells. I bought the Paul Components version and it's really nice, as all most all Paul Components are, but I bet the Problem Solver version is much cheaper.

I have fun browsing both the Paul and Problem Solvers websites for little gadgets that make things work better.
For example, behold this headset spacer/locknut combo gizmo:

'73 Raleigh Super Course Completed

Note to GrimmTim: Yes, if the guy who moderates this blog would perform his moderation duties in a timely manner, this would be more fun.

Anyway, this is the Raleigh Super Course with all the modifications I felt it needed:
1. Narrow saddle (some kinda Brooks knock off)
2. Drop bars (Nitto deep drops)
3. French brake levers (Mafac)
4. New cables
5. Non-plastic shift levers (Suntour ratcheting)
6. Non-plastic rear derailleur (Huret)
7. Double-sided pedals (MKS)
8. Foofy saddle bag (Frost River)
9. New tires (Michelin World Tour)
10. Fenders (White Somas that look like Blumels)

It rides really nicely and I enjoy it. It seems like the right bike to ride around in the fall.

I forgot to mention that this is my third brown bike in three years. Does that count as a poop reference?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Blogging Used to be Fun

I just reread this post and the comments:

It has the second highest hit count of all my posts.

Blogging used to be fun. Maybe I need to throw in a few scatological references and that'll make blogging fun again.

Bike Lane on Park Avenue, Minneapolis

Minneapolis recently resurfaced Portland and Park Avenues. The city took the opportunity to re-stripe the bike lanes on these streets. I rode Park Avenue the other day and took a video to show the nice improvements.

Notice the "buffer zones" next to the bike lane.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Foggy with a chance of Snot

I had a cold or something like that all week and I didn't feel like riding or much else. This morning I felt much better and rode to work. From one vantage point over the Minnesota River Valley, I could see a fog bank that I would later encounter while crossing the bridge in the distance.
Here's what the fog bank looked like up close. It was a wall on my left and I couldn't see through it until I climbed the hill on the far side of the bridge. I cleared lots of mucus during the ride and that's what it's really all about, right?

Monday, September 24, 2012


I've got a cold and don't feel like riding my bike to work or anywhere. It's too bad because we're having some fabulous weather and it won't last long.

As any Minnesotan will tell you, winter will be here soon. That thinking provides us with the excuse to ditch work early and have fun outdoors. It's funny to hear people use this excuse to leave the office early each day, all week long -- that's fine with me.

For me, my favorite outdoor activity is riding my bike in the crunchy leaves on dirt trails. Although riding the road is great too.

My cold will undoubtedly pass soon and I'll be turning the pedals again.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cross Check Serial Number


2010 Surly Cross Check

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Plastic Simplex Shift Levers are Still Bad After all these Years

Just because a bike part has lasted for 39 years doesn't mean it works right. This shift lever is rubbery and slips under pressure. I found this out many years ago replacing broken ones just like it in bike shops.

I discovered it again this morning while climbing the hill in front of historic Ft. Snelling. For you out-of-towners, I say "historic" because there are two parts of Ft. Snelling: the state park and the old historic fort. They both have noticeable hills.

While climbing the hill, I had to reach down every few pedal strokes and pull the lever back into place to prevent it from upshifting and stopping me. At the top of the hill, I pulled out the adjustable wrench and tightened the fixing bolt. Now I have to apply more force to the lever when shifting. This will eventually cause the rubbery lever to break. Maybe I should replace it before this happens and keep the shift lever as a museum piece (in a parts box in the basement).

2012 Annual Bike and Pedestrian Count

Yesterday afternoon, I counted bikes and pedestrians for Minneapolis Public Works' annual count. So I stood at an assigned corner near my house in South Minneapolis and counted all the bike riders and pedestrians who passed between 4 and 6 PM. How many? Not too many. I'm disappointed because I thought I'd see more and I wish there were more. 

I also watched nearly every car run the stop signs. The only ones that didn't run the stop signs were waiting for the cars that arrived at the corner before them. This rolling stop sign behavior seems to work, because I didn't see any crashes.

Monday, September 10, 2012

1973 Raleigh Super Course Photos

Raleigh Super Course

This past weekend, I bought a '73 Raleigh Super Course at the neighborhood garage sales. So many homes participate in the garage sale that it feels like a festival. My neighbors throw a party in the alley in the evening.

The bike is a nice ride. It fits and rides well enough to become my commuting bike.

Serial number 0038322.

I'll add fenders and double-sided platform pedals.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Offroad Fun

I just had one of best rides of my life on this bike today . Yesterday, I installed Salsa Woodchipper bars and a new rear tire. It's a Novara Buzz and I don't really know what its intended purpose was when they designed it, because I bought it as a frame.

Today, I took it for its first ride of the year and it was great. I worked my ass off and eventually it paid off when I achieved that feeling where I can pick my line between roots and I can flow through a corner with little effort and maintain my speed. It's that feeling when I'm comfortable on the bike -- a settled feeling

I didn't have any way to tell if I was riding faster than normal, but it felt faster and that's the important thing.

The other bike I ride off road is a dual suspension 29er with 2.3" tires. It allows me to ride sloppy. It forgives me when I pick a poor line or lazily roll over a set of logs. The Novara forgives none of my mistakes and makes me focus on the trail more intently.

This is turning into analysis and I've promised myself to ignore that sort of thing when riding and enjoy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Bike for Our Foreign Exchange Student

Update to this post: Chris is too tall for this machine. I will enjoy finding a suitable bike.

We have a Chinese foreign exchange student coming to live with us today for the whole school year. He'll attend the same high school as our son. His English name is Chris.

I've got a bike ready for Chris, but I don't know if it's the right size or whether he'll like it even if it fits. I think it's a pretty cool bike and I have a use for it in case it doesn't work out.

The photo below is not accurate. Since that photo was taken, I installed straight bars, a triple crank, and white Schwalbe tires. And a bit cushier saddle.

More "Not a Helmet Debate" Talk

Yesterday, I was forced to think about bike helmets again. Many times my wife and I attend an event together, but one of us needs to leave before the other. When this happens, I stuff a bike in the car and I get another chance to ride. This happened today, but I forgot my helmet. That's not a problem for me. I rode home anyway, but I had the recently flaring helmet debate going through my head and wondered if people who saw me were the types who want to yell, "Get a helmet!"

I have a friend or two in that category.Their first reaction upon seeing bicyclists without helmets is to comment about the lack of helmet. I rarely notice and instead notice the bike brand or some aspect of the rider's style.

I guess I'm more interested in bike gear. Anyway, in this situation would the strong helmet proponents chose to not ride home?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Not a Helmet Debate

I've been reading blog lately. A recent post there was interesting in that the author made a guess that bike helmets will be mandatory sometime in our future. His most convincing point is that kids growing up now have lived their entire lives seeing cyclists wear helmets and they won't be too concerned when a future legistator proposes mandatory helmets.

Slump shouldered, I can't disagree.

Also, that was not the only point of his post. That was just one that I feel deserves my attention.

Seattle -- Elliott Bay Bicycles

We recently traveled to Seattle and I visited Elliott Bay Bicycles, the shop in which Davidson bikes are built. The owner, Mr. Davidson himself, gave me a tour of the framebuilding shop. It was really nice to see where my bike was built. It was also fun to see the bikes on display. Elliott Bay Bicycles has museum quality bikes all over the place.

It's just a few blocks from Pike Place Market. That's where they throw around fish. Maybe you corporate employees were subject to a team building program based on fish throwing.

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Dutch Cycling Infrastructure Boggles My Mind

I can barely comprehend the culture that would place such a high value on cycling to build this roundabout bridge.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Sidetracked by the Minnesota River

I decided to take a dirt route to work this morning. It was worth it. I'll make it longer next time. 

 Graffiti under the 494 bridge.

You can't tell from this shot, but the wild flowers are everywhere.

Mud on the tires. I should have kept riding and skipped work.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sunday Ride

Yesterday, I rode the Luce Line Trail which I had never been on before. It starts in north Minneapolis and goes west. I planned to ride to the trail head at Theodore Wirth Park and ride a lap or two, but it was closed due to wet conditions. So I continued on the paved trail that passes the trailhead and discovered I was on the Luce Line Train.

I got as far as Medicine Lake, another local place I've never been to. 

I passed a golf course.

Lots of summer wild flowers everywhere I went.

This is some interesting urban decay. A better camera may better have captured what caught my eye.

Cricket matches at Bryn Mawr park.

It's a good thing Wirth park was closed because it forced me to discover a new route.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mac Shorcut for Delete Key

It's taken too long, but I've found the Mac equivalent of the Windows Delete key: "fn" + "delete". This is not news to most, but it's a really convenient Mac shortcut for me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An Adventure Ride to Work

I took a different route to work today. This route took me by a little lake. I kept taking side routes off of my normal route and realized I was on an adventure ride -- a short one.

Then I found a hammer in a roundabout. I was able to carry away it because today I rode my bike that has baggage.

I like the idea of adventure riding. I read a blog post yesterday that covered this subject.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Photo of Stormy Skies

This is a view I see on one of my routes to work. The company I work for recently moved to a building attached to the copper-colored building in distance. It looks like a long way from where the photo was taken, but it's probably only a couple miles. Perspective is everything.

If I ride directly to work, it's a five miler. But this route is 10 and much better because it involves some nature. Last week, I fixed a woman's flat tire on this route.

Monday, June 25, 2012

BrewFarm 2012

I rode my first Dave's BrewFarm Event this past weekend. It was more mileage than I've ridden in several years: 64 miles each day. We left Hiawatha Cyclery in Minneapolis on Saturday morning and passed through St. Paul, Afton, and Hudson. From there it was straight east through some small Wisconsin towns. The roads were good cycling routes without too much traffic and had shoulders where the traffic was heavier.

I think I've learned to love the sound of loud motorcycles too. Who would have guessed that was possible?

Some of us drank beer(s) and Rumchada(s) at the stops along the route. Rum Chata: horchata with rum. Like my wife says when the dog eats her own vomit, "Don't knock it until you've tried it."

The Brew Farm is what it sounds like -- a farm where beer is brewed and served. I'm not a beer connoisseur. Funny that until I wrote the last sentence, I'd never written the word "connoisseur" before. 

We ate a pot-luck dinner and sat around enjoying the peace and quite. Some riders' families joined them at the campsite. I enjoyed seeing the kids have fun in the dirt and in the fields.

We camped in the fields. My tent was one of those under the wind generator. The generator provides power for the brewing operation.

It was a really nice ride and I enjoyed the whole weekend. I rode to work today and I'm not even sore. That doesn't make any sense to me.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

2012 Brewfarm Event

I'm signed up to ride to the 2012 Brewfarm event. This is a great opportunity to go bike camping. I've always wanted to try it and this will be a painless way to try it. I'll carry my own camping on my bike and rely on the Brewfarm event for food.

If I like bike camping, I'll try it on my own, without the other riders and rely on myself for food.

It seems funny to me that when I started riding as a teen, I wanted to be a bike tourist, but never got around to it. Now, I'm 49 and planning a one-night tour.

I'll do my best to take photos and brag.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tandem Spring

I installed PlanetBike Cascadia fenders and new Schwalbe Big Apple tires on this tandem. My daughter and I ride it. For some reason, we've gotten very wet riding it in the past and I wanted to put a stop to that with the fenders. The fat tires make it ride like it's on a cushion of air, a bigger one than the skinny 1.5" tires it previously had.

We've gone a few rides this Spring and really enjoyed ourselves.

Click to look at the bigger view

The next day, I took my son out on a ride (on the other tandem). He is about 100 lbs of power -- we can really fly. I need to make a few changes to that tandem too. I also need to add a suspension seatpost to both tandems for the comfort of the stokers.

My kids ask me to ride which is nice because I don't want to force bicycling on them. I'd prefer that they come to like bicycling on their own terms. I'll encourage, but not push. My daughter wants to go on two-day fund raiser ride this Summer -- the breast cancer ride. I like her enthusiasm, but I'm not sure I want to take the time to raise all that money. Either way, we'll get in lots of tandem rides this year.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Never ending Ice Cream Bowl

We had some fun creating animated GIFs. This is one result.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Do spammers target their email? I just received my first spam directed at the "over 50 crowd," at least that I'm aware of. I don't recall seeing any of this crap before directed at people over 50.

Although I am not over 50, I'm close enough that the appearance of spam for "50 singles" makes me wonder if they know I'm gray and wrinkly.

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