Jul 26, 2008

Back for a Bit

Returned safely from another week in Anchorage at about 6:00 tonight. That was a long trip - left Sunday morning and returned on Saturday. Many, many meetings and a team building evening as well, so I am pretty used up at the moment. Sunday will be for R&R and then it's off to Calgary for three more days of meetings regarding the Big Pipe.

Anchorage was cool and cloudy/rainy all week. The locals are complaining loudly about the non-summer they are having. Hopefully, August will be warmer and sunnier for them, but typically that month is kind of drizzly in ANC.

I was so tied up that I took no pictures during the trip, nor did I post anything all week. The photo at right is the Coastal Plain, about 50 miles south of Prudhoe Bay (I am pretty certain this is in ANWR, by the way). It was taken in 2006 during a road trip from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay and back to recon the pipeline route and visit Toolik Research Station. Toolik is affiliated with the University of Alaska - Fairbanks and welcomed us with a tour and lunch in the cafeteria, which was nice since it's not like there are lots of good restaurants around there.

So, no news but at least I am home for a bit. That's it - ride safe and have fun out there this weekend.

Jul 19, 2008

BikeLove Picnic

MPLS BikeLove turned two years old this month and a picnic was organized at Brackett Park in South MPLS to celebrate the event. It was a good time. Met up with a lot of BikeLovers that I have traded messages with or sold stuff to and got to sample a lot of interesting food.

I managed to bring over a very large and ugly "Happy Birthday" sheet cake in my BOB trailer. Surprisingly, it survived the trip well and was not bounced or mashed into goo by the time I rode over there. I wish I had thought to take a picture of the cake in the trailer, but I just hauled it out and put it on the table. Evidence of the cake is, however, visible in one of the photos below.

The rain held long enough to enjoy the event. On MBL, most people use "handles" and have an icon that represents them in posts. One of the members (ThirteenofClubs) made us buttons with our icons on them so we could identify each other. That was a really nice touch and helped me identify many, including Nickel, hereNT, Radlerin, Sveden, Biker7, Fatguy1967, Graff, MacGyver, Euterpe, Deplaquer, Pannierpacker, and many others.

Here's some poor photos of the event (I specialize in people's backs, it seems):

MacGyver was kind enough to bring over his nice camera and tripod on his Big Dummy, so many of us posed for bike portraits; when I get mine, I'll post it. A slack line was also set up and many tried their hands at that. I did not; I was busy accidentally crushing someone's cell phone at that time.

Packing for another week in Los Anchorage tonight. I'll bring the camera and post if anything interesting happens, but for now, that's the news from here.

Ride safe, have fun, and don't worry, it's going to okay.

Jul 15, 2008

Rush Hour

There I was...

Downtown Minneapolis, at 5:15 PM. Rush hour was building, and the heat in the city was so thick you could wander in and get lost forever.

I wheeled my trusty mount out of the IDS Center and picked my way south on Marquette Ave. and east on 10th Street. These are busy streets with stop lights on every corner, so it's pretty slow going and you've got to keep your eyes open.

I make it over to Portland Ave., a long, straight and monotonous route that cuts through south Minneapolis like gash, but it's got a dedicated bike lane and and it is fast, so I tend to ride it a lot. As I pull through the intersection of Portland and 10th, I note four other riders waiting at the light, so I file in behind them and get in line.

The light changes and we roll forward, but before we are through the intersection, I have to tap the brakes because the group of riders is moving slower than I anticipated. Cars pass by my right elbow and there is no room to pass on the right due to parked cars, so I have to soft pedal several blocks to the I-94 overpass, where I can finally get around them. To my horror, I find myself thinking rush-hour thoughts ("C'mon buddy! Move over, for pete's sake - you don't own the lane!").

Good Lord.

I've gotten used to having my own lane, and now that more people are pulling bikes out of the garage and riding them to work, I think I own the lane. I guess I may be a hypocrite. Sheesh!!

Jul 13, 2008

Bad CL: Expend the Effort, Again.

Good Lord! This came up on Craig's List yesterday:

"vintage raceing bike 70/s tour de france /ginay - $800 (st paul mn)
Reply to: sale-752479373@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-07-12, 3:51PM CDT

this is a early raceing bike from the 70/s all original needs pedals and seat has not been used for a very long time has been hanging in my basement since the late 80/s has original tires and components it is very light ps silver in color has deposse? components record rims. cranks, sun tour gears the frame is double butted has the name ginny on head tube .allso made in france ,tour de france ,ground to top tube is 31''stronglight cranks and chain rings"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This is the kind of illiterate CL post that gives us all a bad name. No photo, thankfully, but I know enough from this post to know that the bike has deposse (what??). It's too bad; this could be a neat bike, but at $800 it's probably way over priced. That deposse might be an old Stronglight Super Competition crank set - one of the coolest looking cranks around, imho. Still, if this post was better and included a picture, I would have probably checked it out.

Alas, the times we live in.

Jul 12, 2008

Saturday is for Farmers Market and Chaos

After brutal dew points and big thunder storm last night, dawn broke to a beautiful day... cool, sunny and breezy.

I met up with the crew for the Saturday morning group ride at Hiawatha Cycles. Today's destination was the St. Paul farmer's market. We took the Great River Trail in to St. Paul and then picked up a nice sneaky side-street way back to MPLS after some produce shopping.

The Lifetime Fitness triathlon has South Minneapolis tied up in knots this morning - the Parkway is closed to traffic and you can only cross it a few locations, and there are all sorts of people jogging, riding there bikes or just milling about around Lake Nokomis. It's over now, but traffic is still a mess and will be for a another hour or so until these people get out of here. I am always amazed at how many people complete in this event. I watched the bike leg of the race on Minnehaha Parkway last summer and hundreds and hundreds of bikes rolled by. A lot surprisingly nice bikes, too; Cervelos, Quintana Roos, etc. all tricked out with aero bars and HED discs.

On a cheery note, ridership is up! I am noticing more people on bikes, both commuting and running errands. I am truly optimistic that high gasoline prices are moving us slowly but surely to a more reasonable development and transportation model. I envision:
  • Convenience stores and restaurants coming to the suburbs (don't worry suburbanites - zoning will protect you; they will be nice, have understated signs and stock the things you need so you don't have to get in your car and go to the grocery store.
  • More bike parking at stores and restaurants.
  • More designated bike lanes.
  • Better mass-transit.
  • HOPEFULLY, delivery on the promise of teleconferencing so we don't have to travel by jet for business meetings quite so much.
  • An influx of people returning to the city to be closer to jobs and entertainment.
  • A drought and pestilence in the suburbs that cannot adapt to this change.
That's it. Have a good weekend!

Jul 10, 2008

Better Than Taking a Puppy to the Laundromat

It has been quiet here because I have been in Providence, RI for the last couple of days doing a strategic planning workshop with my office. I returned to the Twin Towns on a "wicked early" flight as they say on the east coast. Here's a (poor) photo of Niagra Falls from 32,000 feet to help you share in the wonder of my business trip:

I got up at 4:00 AM this morning to make a 6:00 AM flight to Detroit - that's 3:00 AM in MSP if you are keeping score - in order to catch a 8:40 flight from DTW to MPLS (welcome to my world). At about 4:20 AM I groggily stuck an un-capped pen in my shirt pocket and left my hotel room to catch a cab from the hotel to the airport. I had wrecked the shirt before I even got to the airport:

20 years ago, when I was in my courting days, the conventional wisdom was the best way to meet women was to either 1.) walk a dog (or better yet a puppy), or, 2.) hang out at a laundromat. It is too bad I am now 43 years old and happily married, because hands-down, I now know THE most effective way to meet women.

After discovering the problem at the Providence airport, I re-capped the pen and headed for security - no time to change my shirt and it's not like I really care, anyway. By the time I had gotten to my gate, about 5 women came over to me and told me that my pen was leaking. Two more women on the plane told me this as well. Another handful of women told me the same thing in Detroit while I was waiting for the flight to MSP. It got to the point where I told a woman at the Minneapolis airport that I should get one of those "HELLO MY NAME IS:" stickers and write on it "Yes - I know my pen leaked. Thank you!".

WTF??? Over the last 10 years I have been in hundreds of airports, and women never say anything to me. I am the stereotypical business guy - the "extra" in the scene that does not get mentioned in the credits at the end of a movie. Part of the scenery. Hiding in plain sight. Today was different, and I am still the same biofodder I have always been (and interestingly, while the women came forward, not a single male commented on my pen leakage - they either did not notice, thought I was a moron, or more likely... they were on to this trick).

Take the Snak Shak Challenge: try it yourself - go wreck a shirt with a pen, put it on, and then put another pen in your pocket (very important) and walk around for awhile. I bet you will get A LOT more attention from the opposite sex than you normally would. If you do this experiment, comment below and let us all know how it worked for you.

In other news, I might have a bead on a new fixed gear frame thanks to friends in the weeds (keep your fingers crossed) and Red Bull is obstructing the Stone Arch Bridge as I write this.

That's it! Ride safe and stay cool!

Jul 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

We had an All-American July 4th at our house this year. Yesterday we kayaked the Cannon River. I got horribly sunburned and dumped my kayak screwing around in the "rapids" of the Cannon and just generally had a great time. Last night we baked my usual July 4th cherry pie (one of our few holiday traditions around the old Snak Shak) last night. I opted for "Lite" pie filling this year. Not as good as the "Heavy" pie filling, but we seem to be eating it nonetheless.

Today we returned to the scenic Cannon River Valley and rode the Cannon Valley Trail. The trail is one of the earliest Rails to Trails routes in the U.S., I believe. The trail turned 20 in 2006 (I know that because the trail pass people in Welch gave me a free sticker commemorating the event). It was a great day for it and we had a nice 40 mile ride all told.

Molly gathers her energy for our thundering charge into Cannon Falls, MN.

Finally, we capped the day with a Twins game - I got tickets through work and they are very good seats; that's a nice perk for our MPLS office staff and we had a good time at the game. Molly is wanting to go back again in August, so we'll watch for some tickets.

Good times were had by all and we have the weekend before us. It doesn't get much better than that.

Jul 3, 2008

Bike Advocacy Alert - Downtown MPLS

The City is holding an open house on some upgrades to Marquette Ave. and Second Ave. in downtown MPLS on July 8. Of course, I will miss this because of work related travel to Providence, RI, so I will instead whine about it here.

This photo shows Marquette Ave. at about 2nd Street or so, looking south, towards the IDS Center. You can see that we currently have two north-bound car lanes, a center "contra" lane for bikes that heads south, and then a bus lane that also runs south immediately west of the bike lane.

Post-improvement, Marquette will have two north-bound car lanes, two south bound bus-only lanes, and NO bike lane whatsoever. To accommodate cyclists, Nicolet Ave. (the next block northwest from Marquette) will be opened to bicycles 24 hours per day. For those of you not from MPLS, Nicollet Mall used to be a great pedestrian mall in the heart of downtown, famous for being the location where Mary Tyler Moore tossed her hat in the air.

The city restricted bikes on Nicollet and turned the thing over to buses years ago, which I still maintain was a piss-poor idea probably made by a transportation engineer over the objections of some landscape architect. The mall is currently loud and smelly from the buses, and siting outside at the bars and restaurants on Nicolet sucks, so getting them off of Nic and on to Marquette and 2nd is a positive development.

Because this is post is all about me, however, my main gripe is that the only way into my office building ramp (and this is the tallest office building in MPLS, btw), whether by bike or car, is on Marquette Ave. Unless the City has the wisdom to add a bike lane to the east-west streets we will end up with Nicolet being a bike artery to nowhere. They need to go the next step and add a bike lane on 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th similar to the one that exists on 9th Ave. and 10th. or cyclists will end up having to choose between a block of dodging the smokers and pedestrians or getting into traffic.

I plan to write comments since I can't make the open house, but if you are available, and ride downtown, you should make you voice heard. The City is planning a meeting to discuss the project on July 8th from 4-6pm in the mpls convention center room m101ab. The first link in this post (upgrades to Marquette) take you to the site on the City web page.

That's it. Have a funtastic 4th of July and enjoy your freedom and liberty for me!!

Jul 1, 2008

Out and About

Late last week Molly and I rode to One on One to meet up for a CD swap with a Bike Lover. She does not ride downtown much and the center-of-the-street bike lane on Marquette made her a little nervous, but she did great and we had a nice ride and lunch.

We survived our family reunion in Sturgeon Bay, WI this weekend with little trauma. It was a long ride to Milwaukee to meet up with my parents. We got a handicapped van a few months ago to make trips possible with my Dad, and this was it's maiden voyage. We had no trouble on the way up and the family reunion/Gramma's 100th birthday party was a success.

Here is Molly and my Gram - they get along quite well and had a nice chat.

Long drive back to MPLS on Monday, but we made it back in time for a late supper. I am posting a few other pics for my sibs, who may want a copy as well...

That's sister and brother-in-law prepping their plane for the short flight back to Racine (Scott is a flight instructor and co-owns a small plane with a couple of other guys). That's the latest news - nice seeing you all at the reunion, enjoy the pics.

More non-family stuff later, but for now this is all I've got.