- Pixies: Mr. Grieves
- fIREHOSE: Chemical Wire
- Wayne Kramer: Bad Seed
- Throwing Muses: Freeloader
- Arctic Monkeys: I bet that you look good on the dance floor
Archive for May, 2007
May 30th, 2007 | Published in general
After a great streak of cycling days this month, i just finished a stretch of 6 days with only one bike ride. First the rain, then a weekend trip to Duluth, then just a day at home with no extra travel. My one ride was in Duluth, and it was fine. My in-laws live near the UMD campus, and it’s really nice to ride for 5 minutes and be out on wide 2-lane roads on a bike. I could see moving to Duluth just for the cycling; the hills and endless winter would be a nice challenge.
I’ve also been catching up on some spring bike work; the first maintenance cycle for the road and CX bikes (riding in loose sand = gritty chain!), and rebuilding the winter commuter. My winter bike is an old Lotus MTB that was a 6-speed last winter due to being plain cheap. Me being cheap, not the bike, though the frame was free. I reused a bottom bracket from a road bike, which is really too narrow for this frame, but since the crank arms are a whole millimeter from the stays, i used it anyway. BUT, that meant that i couldn’t use the big chainring at all, because it rubbed, and so i was stuck with a 39t ring. I was going to make it a singlespeed from the start, but i couldn’t stand the 39×17 gearing i had with the SS freewheel in the parts box, so i restored the 6-speed freewheel and derailleur, though in practice i never shifted from the first or second cog. Then, of course, the shifter cable froze and i couldn’t shift if i wanted to. Amazing how a few dozen winter miles can wreck bike parts.
So now, i broke down and bought a chainring for it, and rebuilt the BB (gritty) and made the brakes actually work, and it’s a nice 44×17-geared SS now. Well, maybe a 44×16 fixie, if Autumn changes the cog on her newly built fixie. All told, ignoring the impossible-to-calculate cost of the parts from my garage, the winter bike has now cost me $40. It’s my cheapest bike.
from my parts bin: wheels, bb, cranks, post, saddle, stem, bars, brake levers, front brake
new: tires, chainring
used: fenders, rear brakes
(photo to come)
May 22nd, 2007 | Published in general
This has undoubtedly been linked to death already, but one more can’t hurt. A fantastic presentation from the Taipei Cycle trade show, where Trek president John Burke gave an inspiring talk about why the bicycle industry should divert cash from marketing and R&D to help advocates and politicians create a ‘bicycle friendly world’.
May 18th, 2007 | Published in general
I got out for a bike ride over lunch today, and it was fine. I used to ride home for lunch every day, but lunch and break policies changed at my job, and i haven’t been going out over lunch as much. I’m lucky enough to work close to the Mississippi River, so there are good dirt trails to ride nearby as well as beautiful views where i can watch hawks riding thermals or see if the fisherman are having any luck, or if the topless sunbather is out again. The lunchtime ride is a little like playing hooky in the middle of the day, so even a short 30-minute ride can be a mini adventure.
Speaking of adventures, the Lake Pepin 3-speed Tour is underway this weekend. It’s a tour in the English style, with a 5 mph average speed and plenty of stops for pictures and pastry. Our daughter’s birthday (6!) is the same weekend as the Tour, so we haven’t done it ourselves, but will eventually. Maybe we’ll find a nice 3-speed tandem, or build a 3-speed trail-a-bike or something.
If you’re having trouble imagining the charm of such a thing, i’ll offer these fine examples from a recently-uploaded video. If you don’t get it after seeing this, i’m afraid i can’t help you. There are similarly-minded people planning to contact Amtrak to see if this sort of thing is feasible around here. I’m in.
May 16th, 2007 | Published in general
a 4 second improvement this run. woot! one minute is definitely within reach.
A few notes: i am taking a rolling start, mostly because it’s not the greatest spot to stop for any length of time, being rather a bottleneck. This and the first run were on the Rivendell, #2 on the Surly. They’re pretty equal to the task, i think. This time i didn’t have the usual commute saddlebag, but i did for the first two runs (done on the way home from work). This ride was after about 20 miles of riding.
May 13th, 2007 | Published in general
We’ve been using a trail-a-bike with our oldest daughter for a year now, and it’s been going pretty well. Ella loves riding it, has done up to 30 mile days with it, and she’s not yet 6. Still, it’s pretty floppy, and Autumn doesn’t like riding with it because it pushes her around the road a lot more than it does for me (she has a much smaller bike and a lot less body mass to stabilize things).
Of all of the many various tandem bikes around, the Bike Friday Family Traveler is by far the best solution. It has a super-compact folding frame – the folding part isn’t that important, though i’m sure it’s easier to ship that way at least. There are two cool things that make it work great for riding with kids.
First, it’s super adjustable, fitting stokers from 3′ to 6′2″ tall, and a similar but taller range for the captain. This allows you to make the bike work for parents of different sizes, as well as adjusting to properly fit the child as they grow.
Second, since it’s low to the ground, when it’s adjusted to fit he child, the bike is at their level. Regular full-size tandems can generally support stokid
kits to create a kid-sized cockpit for a short stoker, but they are sitting at an adult saddle height, which creates problems mounting and dismounting.
Bike Friday sells their bikes direct, so there aren’t any local dealers where we could see and try one out for ourselves. So i took a shot in the dark and posted a note to our local craigslist asking if anyone had one and was willing to let us check it out. To my great suprise, a great guy named Dan responded, and we went to check it out this afternoon. He and his daughter told us about their experiences riding it over the last 5 years and their trip together on it from Glacier to Yellowstone National Park while we checked it out.
Ella and i took a short test ride, and aside from the cranks being too long, she loved it. I liked it a lot too, it’s quite rigid and stable. Truck-like stable, in fact, though we really took it slow and didn’t really test the handling much. Autumn was totally wiped out from a weekend of racing and a long ride this morning, so she didn’t try it herself.
The short ending of a long post is: i really want one. We’re going to have to start saving pennies. Anyone out there have a used one to sell (locally)?
May 10th, 2007 | Published in general
It’s not obvious from anything on this page, but the genesis of the blog is really my own bike mileage tracker, conveniently located at the top of this domain. When i got back into regular cycling and biking to work a couple of years ago, i thought a good way to encourage myself and track my progress would be to have an easy way to log my miles. Traditionally, people have used a notepad and pencil or maybe and Excel spreadsheet. Being resistant to monopolization and a hopeless web geek, i instead wrote my own with PHP and MySQL.
One of the early features of the app was a way to have it track commuting miles ridden -vs- fun or training rides, and an automatic calculation of the gas and money saved by doing so. The gas price portion of it is a pretty crude (ha!) setup really, just a number set in the preference file. If i were to be really careful about it, i’d find some online source of current local gas prices and log that with every entry. It would be interesting actually, since i could graph the prices over time. But so far i’ve been too lazy for that.
For quite a while now, the price in my bikelog has been $2.60/gallon, which is more or less where it hovered for several months. Now with the coming of spring, it’s bouncing along just under $3.00/gallon locally. Of course, there are places in the country where it’s already rather above $3.
As an aside, it’s also interesting to note that (at least around here) gas is around $0.10 more a gallon than diesel. Given that diesel engines get around 40% better mileage, all those VW TDI drivers must have little secret grins every time they have to stop at the pumps.
As of today, i have biked 762 miles, 563 of which were commuting miles that might otherwise have been car trips. Our car gets 25mpg average, so i’ve avoided burning 22.5 gallons of gas. Under the old price scheme, that save me $58.53. With the new, improved gas pricing, i’ve saved $66.40.
I’m not walking around with $66.40 in my pocket these days, but it’s nice to watch that number ratchet up a bit every day. Since i’ve spent less than $66.40 on my bike this year, so far i’d say i’m ahead of the game.
May 9th, 2007 | Published in general
I took the kids to the Mayday Festival at Powderhorn Park last weekend and just got the pictures downloaded. As usual, the best part of the whole deal is the people watching. Sure, lots of outdoor festivals are full of scantily-clad youths, but Mayday is a true hippie- and hipster-fest, with plenty of bare skin, fresh tattoo ink, hari krishnas and wacky bands.
And bikes. lots of bikes.
parking was a challenge, even for the cyclist
because practically every steel bar had a bike or three attached.
luckly, we found an unused lamp post to hitch up our own bike train
We ate, we played, we made puppets and danced. We’ll be back next year.
May 9th, 2007 | Published in general
Apparently not content to just have a Bike to Work Day like the rest of the world, Minnesota has decided to make it Bike Safely to Work Day, coming up on May 18, 2007. Are the rest of the days Bike Dangerously to Work Days? Bike Stupidly to Work Days?
Our former Saint Paul mayor (the Republican wanna-be Randy Kelly) was actually a cyclist, at least to the point of riding on these Bike to Work Day events, and i think in things like the St. Paul Bike Classic. Typically, a Bike to Work day event here has been a gathering somewhere like Como Park, then a ride in to downtown. I didn’t make it last year, but i plan to this year.
Our current mayor, Chris Coleman (who i like so far) doesn’t seem to be much of a cyclist. At least, i haven’t seen evidence of it. It’ll be interesting to see if he does ride, and how it goes for him. It would be rather illuminating to have a politician who really isn’t a cyclist get a taste of riding to work. Though doing that ride with escorts and a couple of dozen other cyclists after eating free coffee and donuts isn’t the same as riding on your own with typical car traffic.
Finally, a little plug for Share the Road, Minnesota website, which is a decent source of info on urban cycling.
May 4th, 2007 | Published in general
No, it’s nothing in particular, just… every once in a while, i wish he were still around. I found this concert video today, and i got chills. Chills! Makes me want to buy another amp. I wonder if he’s been reincarnated yet.