Apr 30, 2011

Meet the Co-Author

In case anyone is wondering, I am no longer the sole contributor to this blog. I have a trusty co-author these days, and he's as helpful here as he is in the workshop.

No Show, No Go on the Grand Rounds

No Show
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
Unfortunately the weather again failed to cooperate with our much-awaited 3-Speed tour of the Grand Rounds.

It seemed to be lightening up a little as I donned my rain gear and headed out the door, but literally as I was extricating my bike from the garage, I got a call from a friend telling me that "it's pretty wet out there".

I went anyway; in the unlikely event that anyone showed up, I didn't want to be a no-show. It was actually quite a lovely ride in the rain to the meeting place, minus the organized fun-run that turned Minnehaha Park into the cycling equivalent of the Gong Show.

While I waited under an eave sipping coffee and waiting to see if any intrepid TC3-SASer's would show up, the skies really opened and it was not possible to even see across the river. Sigh...

I finished my coffee, put my wet gloves back on and headed back home, shaking my fist at the bad fortune the weather Gods have been directing at me this Spring.

I am not going to reschedule this one. We'll watch the weather and put word out mid-week if it looks like the weather will allow for a lift-off.

I am too tired of writing about rides that don't pan out to keep this up much longer.

Apr 28, 2011

E-Bike Bills Introduced

The E-bike bills were introduced in the House (HF 1412) and Senate (SF 1136) recently. These bills would let e-bikes operate legally on all bike pathways and trails, including state trails managed by the Department of Natural Resources and paths created by local units of government, unless it is deemed that “operation of the electric-assisted bicycle is not consistent with safe use and enjoyment of the trail".

I have no idea who would deem operation of these to be unsafe - my guess is that it would come down to the entity managing each of the trails. Said deeming would probably only occur after a serious injury that results in a law suit involving that entity, I suspect.

Do we really need another law passed for what is a minor special interest? Opening trails to these seems like a bad idea for everyone in the State except the few people that have these things and live on or near a state trail (and the people that will make money off of this). These things will be popping up on City trails that are already congested with pedestrians (often listening to headphones), roller bladers, kids on bikes, adults on bikes and joggers.

I have already ranted that the industry people will tell you that the buyers of e-bikes are "cautious riders", and that they only use these things to help get up hills. I do not believe that is the case, especially with gasoline at $4.00/gallon. I think these are going to be used as cheaper alternative to a scooter by most buyers. Furthermore, e-bikes don't require a driver's license, they don't require any physical strength or stamina, and there's certainly no pre-qualification test for bike-handling skills. Anyone who can swipe a credit card can own an e-bike.

AARP will tell the politicians that these things are great because they can help keep seniors active. The bike industry will see this as a great way to suck some money off of the baby-boomers, and bike advocacy groups will nod along, dreaming of more memberships and sponsors.

This is simply another example of using the legislative process to benefit a small special interest and line the pockets of PACs, advocacy groups and businesses at the expense of the people that are using the trail systems today.

Apr 27, 2011

The Cool School, Beat Poets and Bike Blogging

A few years ago, I had to spend a weekend on my own in Anchorage. I had two weeks worth of meetings, and it was simply not a good use of my time or my client's money to fly home on Friday only to return to ANC on Sunday night. Therefore, I spent the weekend under my own supervision, occupying myself with whatever bohemian activities Anchorage could offer me. Coffee shops, brew pubs and movies were about all I could find despite having lived there for almost three years and knowing all the local haunts.

One thing I did was that I took myself to see the movie Cool School, which was showing at the Museum. For those that have not seen it, Cool School is a documentary about the nascent modern art scene in Los Angeles of the 1950's. In a nutshell, a group of artists rejected the "New York is the Center of the Art World" paradigm and struck out on their own, smashing paradigms, creating  modern art, stirring up controversy and having a great time in the process. In a similar fashion, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Corso, et al, created their own scene in the 1950's to form the Beat or Beatnik poetry school in that same era.

I have this crazy beautiful dream that we can do something similar to that with the various and assorted Minneapolis Bike Bloggers. We each have our own voice, our own reason for doing this and our own perspective, yet together we make up a common voice (or I guess... a chorus?). Build off of each others ideas, motivate each other to push boundaries and challenge our creativity and explore new material. Create our own scene.

Maybe that's a crazy dream - I do have those periodically. But, that's part of what's gotten me excited about contributing to Cycle Twin Cities. It's an open and collaborative venue for diverse voices of cycling in the Twin Cities. I've found that this has spurred on some creative energy that I've been lacking lately, and I've been recruiting a few friends to join in this scene as well.

It's an exciting time behind this computer.

Ride safe, go to the Bike Expo this weekend and/or go for a ride - the weather might just be getting a little better.

TC3-SAS: Grand Rounds this Weekend

Wobbling Along
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
This weekend's 3-Speed adventure will be a full frontal assault on the Grand Rounds. This is the make-up ride for our first Grand Rounds attempt, which was foiled by 25 mph winds and chilly drizzle, as I recall.

We meet Saturday at 11:00 AM at the Dunn Bros./Longfellow Grill at Lake St. and W. River Road. We will roll out not later than 11:10 and will be heading south from the starting point. Heading south gives us some better lunch options and short ride option of 18 miles or so for those that might the complete Grand Rounds to be a little ambitious or more time-consuming than they want.

Despite the name, bikes other than 3-speeds are welcome - just leave the crabon fibre and lycra at home, that's all we ask. No need for tweed, either. TC3-SAS celebrates the experience and eschews the appearance. This is will be ramble rather than a race - a pace suitable to the internally hubbed bikes.

Apr 26, 2011

It's Time... Beers for Bloggers

Joe and Kay
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
Despite the near-hurricane we are experiencing today and the forecast for yet more slush tonight, I feel spring in the air.

I propose an informal get-together at Sea Salt next week Thursday, May 5, to celebrate Spring and reconnect after the long winter. I'll have the welcome mat for my cyber (and sometimes real life) friends and hope to see you there if you can make it.

This means you, Brother Yam, Rueben, VelociPete, Wheel Dancer, Jim (both Jims, actually), Lowrah, CycleTC, Rigtenzen, Sigrid, et al.

Hopefully at least a few of you can make this...

Apr 25, 2011

Unexpected Niceness

Awhile ago, I stayed at the Jefferson Clinton hotel in Syracuse, NY. The trip was good and the hotel was lovely, and I enjoyed my stay. Some of what made the trip more than a standard business trip were the little touches at the hotel.

The icing on the cake, for me, was the "Do Not Disturb" sign. The "keys"in this hotel were electronic cards, so the DND sign was a little unit that went inside the key slot, and said "LEAVE ME ALONE (please).

I loved this, because it matched my mood precisely, Don't bother me, but I am not going to be a jerk about it. I liked this so much that snapped a photo of it during the trip. Tonight, I got a Flickr message from Jefferson Clinton. Apparently they were surfing the web and came across the photo. The message reads:

Hi Snack Shack [SIC]:
Just a quick note from the Jefferson Clinton Hotel. Came across your post and wanted to mail you one of our Leave Me Alone Signs since you liked it so much. You can send us a message through FlickrMail or email me at sb@bhphotels.com
Thanks again for being our guest and we hope to see you again!
Best regards, 
Steve Busch, Managing Partner
How great is that? Soon, I'll have my very own "Leave Me Alone" sign. I may very well punch a hole in this and wear it on my belt with my office access badge after all.

Spring Ride

Spring Ride
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
Today marks what I can honestly call my first "spring ride" of the season.

I took the day off to recover from my Easter travels, and made good use of that time with some much-needed clothes shopping and a short spin on the bike this afternoon.

The ride was short but glorious. I have enjoyed a lot of rides already this year, but this one was different. It was the first ride of 2011 where I wore shirt-sleeves, didn't wear gloves, didn't have long underwear on, didn't think about studded tires, didn't worry if the batteries were still good in my lights, and didn't watch for icy patches in the shade.

The total and complete mindlessness of this ride was exhilarating.

I rode my 3-speed to try and diagnose an annoying drive train problem before the next TC3-SAS ride this weekend. I think it's a cone problem, and the bike is in the basement now awaiting further attention, but the added benefit of riding this bike was that unlike my Rawland, i was sitting as upright as a preacher and could ding my bell at every other like-minded soul that was coming the other way.

They all smiled and waved back. too, including this guy, which was an added bonus.

Bikeby Shootings

Miserably wet roads
Originally uploaded by lukefrancl
One of my favorite groups on Flickr was (and kind of still is) Bikebyshootings. Technically, for a photo to be a "bikeby shooting", it needs to be taken from a moving bicycle. I am a little disappointed to see that the site moderator seems to be letting people post simple pictures of stationary bikes in the group as well. While those are nice to look at, they are not bikeby shootings.

The photo with this post has not been added to that group, but it certainly should be. It captures the nasty good times of swooshing along in the wet better than any of the images I have attempted to capture so far.

Here's the link to the photo pool for bikebyshootings - add you best shots and bring the quality of this pool back up to the standards that we have come to expect from the internet.

Apr 24, 2011

Two-Timing on the Internets

I am very happy to report that I may be appearing now and then as a guest contributor to the Twin Cities cycling website/blog Cycle Twin Cities. I did a feature for them that may run some time next week and I'll probably continue on a few other "special assignments" going forward, if they will have me. I'll still do bikey-stuff on this site, as well as my off-topic rants and meditations. If/when I appear on CycleTC I may cross post here - I don't know, it hasn't happened yet so I'll have to burn that bridge when I cross it.

I have been following Cycle Twin Cities since its inception. The interesting thing about this site is that is seeking diversity in voice. So many blogs are somebody's soap box or a cyber-alter-ego of some sort. Cycle TC seems to be honestly getting their arms around the Twin Cities cycling scene, which is ambitious because it's so diverse. They are still looking for a female blogger to add perspective to the site, so if you match that description, you should drop them a line and let them you know if you are interested...

In other news, I was out of town this weekend so TC3-SAS rolled out without me. They rode the bridges and saw the flooding of South MPLS and St. Paul. It sounds like nobody got seriously hurt and there were no arrests, so that's all good. Next week we'll tackle the Grand Rounds, so stay tuned to the thread for the latest on that.

After my Easter weekend "off" I am exhausted. Driving, visiting, driving some more. It's enough to make a person need some time off.

Apr 21, 2011

Another Tragedy

Today, another cyclist was killed in a collision with a truck. This time the victim was a senior at the U of M and it happened in Dinkytown. This accident was very similar to the one that claimed Dennis Dumm's life in 2009. Both cyclists were in a bike lane, both were struck by trucks turning across the bike lane, and both were killed in the accident.

A friend posted a link today about what cyclists need to know about trucks. It's very useful, and anyone that spends any amount of time on a bike should read this. I am by nature a pretty defensive rider, and I hate dancing with buses on my commute - not because I am afraid of them, but because it's a constant game of either getting in front of them or getting behind them, and minimizing to the maximum extent any time spent next to one. Read the article and find out way.

My heart goes out to the cyclist, her family, the truck driver and everyone that was involved in this - from the witnesses to the first-responders.

Apr 20, 2011

The Next TC3-SAS Ride and other Important News

With the help of Minnesota's own Bikesmith, I am happy to announce that the next Twin Cities 3-Speed Adventure Society ride will be as soon as this Saturday! Here's a re-post of Bikesmith's announcement that ran on Gentleman Cyclist and Bike Love today:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The next Twin Cities 3-Speed Adventure Society (TC3-SAS) ride will be Saturday April 23rd.
Meet us at the Princess Station at 11:00 AM for a very casual 16 - 18 mile ride.  Most of the ride will be on bike paths, including the repaved Shepard Rd. bike path and the Great Rivers Trail.  The few streets and roads carry only light traffic.  Plenty of places to stop and visit or admire the still impressive amount of water in the river valleys. 
Pack a simple lunch and beverage as we will be stopping to eat at the W.P.A. scenic overlook near where Sibley Memorial Highway meets Hwy 13.  (While not a great birding spot, it may be worthwhile to bring binoculars.)
BTW The Grand Rounds Ride scheduled for April 16th has been rescheduled for Saturday April 30th.
TC3-SAS was started with this thread on Minneapolis Bike Love - future rides will be posted there, so bookmark it if you are interested.
TC3-SAS is about the ride, the company of like minded souls and the scenery, not so much about the bikes.  These rides are to be done at the leisurely pace of a proper English 3 Speed. So while hub geared roadsters are encouraged, any steed appropriate for a "stop and smell the roses" pace is welcome.
Not a lot of roses to stop and smell this early in the season, but I do plan to stop at a few points of architectural/historical interest.
Lower Your Carbon Footprint - Ride Lugged Steel
Bridge rides are always fun, and this will be reprise of the Flood Ride to some extent, so this promises to be a good time, and the weather will be more clement for this ride. As an added bonus, Bikesmith has probably forgotten more than most people will ever know about 3-speed hubs, arcane bottom bracket configurations and the intricacies of proprietary English threading, so he's a fountain of information. I hope to someday apprentice myself to him and learn these ways (seriously). I can't make this ride due to a clandestine "black op" that I can't really discuss here, but hopefully I'll get some photos from those that can make it.

In other bike-related news, the on-street bike parking project at 48th and Chicago seems to have hit a small impasse. Not unexpected, but a little disappointing nonetheless. It's not a death blow, but we may need to... revise our tactics. I need a little more information before I can map out a path forward and get this organized, but suffice it say that I may some help. Stand by for further information...

Last but not least, the Bike Lovers of downtown will be meeting for lunch tomorrow at Black Bamboo. Click the link for details. If you are downtown and at all bikey, the welcome mat is out.

That's the news for tonight. Now go out and get some fresh air.

Apr 18, 2011


Winter Bike gets De-Crudded
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
So I had a lousy day at work today and now the forecast calls for up to six (6) inches of slush between tomorrow and the day after.


It's getting to be late April. My anniversary is coming up, and on the day I got married it was 84 degrees. Of course, that was 21 years ago, and we've had a lot of global warming since then.

I am going to pull out the winter bike and go for it on the commute tomorrow - for the bragging rights if nothing else. It's like the miserable 3-speed ride last Saturday, or camping for that matter; it wasn't great to do it, but the memory is always better than the reality.

Apr 16, 2011

South Grand Rounds

Old Clanky
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
Well, the weather was not quite as bad a predicted, so we did the first TC3-SAS ride this morning after all. The snow that fell over night was melting by mid-morning and the temperature rose to about 35 degrees. The winds were between 20 and 25 miles per hour, but it was not raining so we rode.

We rode a shorter version of the Grand Rounds - the south half, specifically. The winds were particularly difficult heading west on the Parkway and again around Lakes Harriet and Calhoun, but they gave us a nice push down the Greenway on our way back to the starting point. At 18.5 miles or so, it was a decent early season ride.

Too bad the weather was not better or we would have a better turn out. This winterlude should be over soon, I would hope. Still, it was a good ride and we were proud of ourselves for braving the elements to exercise the old bikes.

I've got a few mechanical issues to take care of this bike, it turns out. This was more of a shake-down ride than I would have liked, but I can get after that during the coming week.

Apr 15, 2011

3-SAS Eve

Tomorrow is the first Twin Cities 3-Speed Adventure Society (TC3-SAS) ride. What's planned is a lovely ramble of the scenic Minneapolis Grand Rounds. What may very well happen is a cold, windy and possibly rainy ordeal around the trails of South Minneapolis.

Here's the scoop...

We have had fantastic interest in the first ride based on the posts on Bike Love, in fact we have somebody that's planning (tentatively) to travel from somewhere in Wisconsin for this ride. Unfortunately, the fickle weather on Minnesota is not cooperating with us on our first ride. The forecast for tomorrow calls for a few inches of snow by morning and winds in excess of 20 mph all day.

That's pretty harsh, but 3-speeding is not for the weak, and what's the point of riding a 3-speed if you're not going to be a total bad-ass about it. Therefore, come hell or high water, I will be at the Longfellow Grill at 11:00 AM and will be prepared to ride in these conditions longer than anyone else wants to. That said, I am expecting a pretty weak turnout because anybody with a dram of sense and/or any better options will probably be doing something more sane than chugging around through slush on an old bike tomorrow.

Check back tomorrow and/or hit the 3-SAS Bike Love thread, because if the weather is truly poor, we will be rescheduling this ride for next Saturday the week after next. I have an Easter obligation that I simply cannot shrug off. I am still thinking that the Chicken Little weather forecasters are predicting worse than we will get, and I'd like to get a ride in tomorrow, so if you come, I'll be there and we shall ride.

Yes - we ride!

Apr 14, 2011

Another Misadventure in Transit

We had a little celebratory happy hour at work today so I bussed it instead of riding my bike. The happy hour was a good time, and as I left the office to catch my bus, I was in a good mood. Things got better still as I rounded the corner on 6th and Nicolet to see what I was certain was a 14C bus at the stop. Fantastic! No wait whatsoever. That never happens to me - I'm always the dork standing out there for 10 minutes waiting for the bus.

I hopped on, opened my newspaper, and was promptly whisked to St. Paul on the 94C.


I swear that some of the lights were burned out on the route sign on the front of the bus, converting that "94" into a "14". Or perhaps I simply willed myself into seeing a 14. We shall never know.

At any rate, I was blown significantly off course, and as luck would have it, I forgot my cell phone today as well, so I was kind of up a creek without a paddle. Left with only my wits and a bus pass, I hiked from the first stop in St. Paul (I-94 and Snelling) to Marshal and Fry street and waited for a west-bound bus that I hoped would take me down Lake Street to the point where I could get back on my usual 14 at Bloomington Ave. After waiting 15 minutes in the chilly wind, I was joined by a group of three Chinese students who had no idea when the next bus was coming either. Somebody in a silver car honked at me as I stood there with my collar up - if you are a Bike Lover or friend, be advised that I could have used a lift...

At any rate, my Chinese students and I, travelers joined by fate, finally boarded a west-bound 21 and that took us down the hill to MPLS. Despite a little language barrier, we all sort of made friends as they practiced their English on me and I coached them on how to get to the Mall of America via the Light Rail. We wished each other a safe journey as they headed south on the train and I continued on to Bloomington, only to wait again for a 14 and finally made it home after wasting a little over an hour on a transit tour of the Twin Cities.

Next happy hour, I am just going to ride my bike.

Apr 12, 2011

E-Bikes - The Fourth Sign of the Apocalypse

We are all worked up over the prospect of electric assist bikes (e-bikes) being allowed on the trail system here in Hennepin County. The Minnesota Bicycle Alliance is in favor of e-bikes, and the Three-Rivers Park District will be allowing them on the trail system this year. Other than BikeMN and 3 Rivers, there is no consensus on whether or not e-bikes are a good thing or a bad thing. The position one takes on e-bikes seems to be tied not to e-bikes themselves, but to demographics, politics and, um... politics.

Many of my friends are horrified by the prospect of e-bikes being allowed on to the bike trail system. To be perfectly clear, I am, too. Every time I think of the prospect of e-bikes on trails, I immediately go to images of the Flomax chowderheads hammering down Minnehaha Creek Trail at 20 miles an hour, trying to remember what testosterone and fitness feels like as they toast each other with water bottles and crash into trees and buses in the process.

The industry people will tell you that the buyers of e-bikes are "cautious riders", and that they only use these things to help get up hills. I have never even seen one of these "in the wild" so I can't agree or disagree with them. I do know human behavior, however. If there is an easier way, people will take it. Especially when gasoline is $4.00/gallon. E-bikes don't require a driver's license, they don't require physical strength or stamina, and there's certainly no pre-qualification test for bike-handling skills. If you can swipe a credit card, you can own an e-bike. Easy-peasy. No background check and no waiting period.

Yes, cost is a barrier with e-bikes - I saw an e-bike for sale on CL tonight for $1,200 - more than most people would spend on a bike. Still, that's less than the price of shit-car or a scooter, and with gas approaching $4.00/gallon, that's got to get some attention.

Making biking accessible for people with physical limitations is a good thing - I am on-board 100%. For that matter, putting more people on bikes and getting them on the trails is a good thing, too - sign me up. But - are e-bikes really the best way to do this? Are the people that will be drawn to e-bikes the kind of folks we would like to share the trails with?

Politically powerful groups like AARP will undoubtedly stake out the position that e-bikes are "pro-bike" and "pro-senior citizen". Pressure will be applied to politicians and bike advocacy groups to support them. The industry heavy-weights, Trek, Specialized, Giant and Bikes Belong will nod along, dreaming of more customers, members and sponsors.

With The Industry and politicians behind e-bikes, I think this is going to be virtually impossible to stop. Add the baby-boomer demographics into the equation and it's a foregone conclusion that we'll be "sharing the road" with e-bikes. At this point, I think it's best that we move on and focus on rider education and brushing up on our evasive action maneuvers.

Let me know your thoughts - comment below.

Apr 11, 2011

Tragedy and Drama

This evening, in eager anticipation of the TC3-SAS Ride, I was going over Old Clanky in pre-ride maintenance fashion when I noticed a distinct wobble in the rear wheel. I had the wheels on this bike re-built last year because the original rims were in pretty bad shape. I swapped out the steel rims for some Sun CR-18 alloy rims, but going on the cheap, I opted to re-use the spokes.

Bad idea. Tonight when I tried to touch up the true and round on this wheel, I blew out at least 4 spokes - and I was being careful, too. It sounded like a .22 shot in my basement.

Dammit. Dammit, dammit, dammit!

I've got the first TC3-SAS ride on Saturday and a busy week between now and then. I dropped an email on my favorite LBS to see if they can replace the spokes and get this wheel in ship-shape before the weekend. If not, I"ll borrow a wheel from a spare Phillips 3-speed in my garage (I am going to be selling that shortly, by the way), but I'd rather get this wheel repaired and ride it on Saturday.

Stupid, stupid, stupid to opt to re-use spokes that are almost as old as I was, but if we didn't make mistakes now and then, we'd never learn, would we?

Apr 9, 2011

Mississippi River St. Anthony Falls

A reconnaissance ride of the Grand Rounds this morning took me to the Stone Arch Bridge and this view of the St. Anthony falls. Despite the flood waters starting to recede, there is still a lot of H20 hurrying on to the Gulf of Mexico as of this morning.

Apr 8, 2011

In-the-Field Research on Placeless Landscapes

I am recently back from a short business trip to Houston. I have been to Houston many times for work, and unlike my traveling companion on this trip, am quite comfortable driving around there, so I volunteered to drive on the condition that she take a few photos of placeless landscapes while we were driving around.

Houston has some truly placeless vistas. It's a sprawl and pretty much even-age, and it's grown up entirely with the automobile, so big boxes in a sea of asphalt are pretty common. Framing placeless landscapes can be difficult, though. Maybe I need some sort of wide-angle lens or something to truly capture it.

Unfortunately, we both got kind of off-task with this project, so I only got a few decent photos, but I am sure I'll be back and that I'll come across more generic landscapes in my future, so I am not disappointed with my lack of documentation.

Apr 6, 2011

Could Spring Really be Here?

Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
I hauled the Old Clanky out of the garage last night after dinner for a short spin around Lake Nokomis with the Spouse. We both needed to check the box on our 30 days of biking commitment, and it was a nice evening, so we went for a ramble around the Lake.

Based on the number of people we saw riding, walking or jogging, Spring might finally be here.

During our ride, I ran across somebody I recognized by their bike, although I had never met them personally. I had traded email with this person regarding a certain frame that I am contemplating. They are not common, and this person has one and offered me the chance to see it in person before I make a purchase. I happened to glance at the downtube as we passed each other and hollered out his name, and low and behold, it was, in fact, my email contact.

The bike is lovely, and I might just "need" one. It was fun making a random connection on a little evening ride like this, too. I also saw two other people I know, and they tipped me that Sea Salt is open for business once more, so we'll have to add that to the list of possible destinations.

Apr 4, 2011

TC3-SAS Grand Rounds Ride: April 16

The mid-April 3-speed ride tentatively proposed in my MBL post is on! Somebody from Wisconsin is coming in for it. If anybody travels all the way from Wisconsin for one of our humble 3-speed rides, I'll go with them - through hail if it comes to that.

So here ye, here ye:

The Twin Cities 3-Speed Adventure Society will be rolling out from Longfellow Grill at 11:00 AM on April 16. The plan is to do the Grand Rounds, but the management reserves the right to change that up if weather or other adversity stamps its authority on this ride.

I also got a question on the MBL thread today about how tolerant TC3-SAS is about the number of gears on the bikes at these events - they have a 4 or 5-speed works jammed into an AW 3-speed shell. The answer, of course, is that we of TC3-SAS are extremely tolerant, and celebrate diversity in drive trains as well as race, creed and gender and preference.

That question got me thinking about what the minimum qualifications - or membership guidelines - might be for TC3-SAS. Never one to miss an opportunity to meditate on trivial subjects, I reflected on this for an hour or so in the dentist chair today, so here's what I've concluded (on a provisional basis).

Lance Armstrong and I agree that it's not about the bike. While I'll be pumping up and down on an old 3-speed for these rides, I select that bike based on the ride experience it gives me rather than the bike itself. It's upright, it's slow, it's kind of quirky. It's low-tech....

Yes, this is an English bike, and it's in pretty good shape, but it's nothing to write home about. I got it for $40, it's from 1973 or so, and it's a "Sport", not the higher end Club model. Nothing special here. I'll most likely be wearing shants (aka knickers), some modern gloves and an expensive helmet, and a wool sweater or high-tech jacket; nary a stitch of tweed or a tea cup in my possession.

While we appreciate cool bikes for what they are - cool bikes -TC3-SAS is not a bike beauty contest (or a freak show, for that matter). Nor is it a faux fashion event. Wear what you like and what works for you. Ride what you like, too, for that matter. That said, I think it would be best if we stayed away from titanium and carbon fiber; not because we are luddites and neanderthals, but because titanium and carbon fiber are by-products of what I am seeking to avoid on these rides...

TC3-SAS is about freedom, movement, curiosity, empowerment and sense of adventure. It's about truly enjoying the places we go and the ride to get there and back. It's about moving slowly enough through our environment to really experience a sense of place and distance, and to realize a sense of accomplishment as well. It's not possible (for me at least) to really get a feel for a neighborhood or get the vibe of a town if I am time-trialing through it in the drops with my tongue flapping in the front spokes.

I think we are more interested in riders that are eager to enjoy a ride, explore their city and have fun. This is no geriatric toodle, but it's no-drop and anybody that gets too "testosterony" will be sent ahead to scout out a rest stop or buy treats for the rest of the group.

If you are the kind of rider who would get pissed off if the group stops to take a photo because it would screw your personal best time around Lake Calhoun, then TC3-SAS probably isn't your cup of tea - go drive to the ride and hit Black Dog or hook up with TCBC or something like that. On the other hand, if you want to go for a ramble, challenge yourself, meet some interesting people and enjoy the ride over the gear, this might just be the ticket.

Apr 3, 2011

2011 Flood Ride

Today was my first group ride of the year. Five brave Bike Lovers met at Minnehaha Falls this afternoon and set out with no particular plan to sample the sites of the great flood of 2011 from our Brooks saddles.

We managed to pick up a few stragglers along the way, so by the time we reached what was surely the zenith of the flood ride - Lilydale Marina - we were no less than 7 strong. The photo with this post is me frolicking in the flood waters on my Rawland, sporting the new wheels I built in December.

Lilydale Road was submerged and closed for business all the way from Lilydale Marina to Harriet Island across from downtown St. Paul. With Lilydale road flooded, we had no choice but to either turn for home or gird our loins for the high route on 13.

High road it was! The young skinny guys did better than I did in that aspect of the ride, but I hauled my butt up the hills, too. Although the police moved us along at Harriet Island (closed due to flooding, we were told), no crimes were committed and no one was injured today. And, we got a break on weather - despite forecasts calling for rain and possibly thunderstorms, we stayed dry, although it was a bit windy and getting noticeably cooler by the time we turned for home.

These kind of rambles are always fun, and it was good to explore the other side of the river and ride with people I don't know as well. It makes the trip so much more memorable and it's fun to discover places through other people's experiences and share in their sense of wonder.

More photos from today's ride can be found on my Flickr site. Thanks to Too Fast For Love (aka 2F4L) for some of the shots.

Apr 2, 2011

Studio Bricolage Space Tour

Show Room Space
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
I stopped at the former Whitaker Auto Dealership on University Ave. this afternoon to "kick the tires" on this space. Studio Bricolage is evaluating either purchasing or leasing the space for their program. The problem is that the space is too big but attractively priced. The hope is that they can get other groups to move in or sublease space to fill the building.

To that end, they conducted tours of the location today. The space is huge - there is a full basement (with a garage door and ramp leading down below the building no less) as well as shop, show room, body shop and office space on the main floor. The second floor includes a very large open room, a smaller locker room and roof-top access for a potential garden/cafe.

This would be really wonderful space, but I had a lot of difficulty envisioning how this could be cut up or subdivided to make sublet space. I have no doubt that the Studio Bricolage people have a vision for this, however.

More photos of the space are on the Flickr site. Studio Bricolage is also maintaining a mailing list so if you are interested in more information or following along on this, hit there website.

Saturday Morning Video

Such lovely lyrics woven into a head-banging song...

"Could you give me a wish if I tell you what I want?
Will the price be no object?
I wish for dreams of light; live for wishing well surprises"

Apr 1, 2011

Show Your Love

For a limited time only, you can order a MPLS Bike Love Jersey from our own Twin Six. This is a pre-order-only jersey inspired by the hot and happening MPLS bike scene and local artist Adam Turman.

Yes - I am being a bit of a shill, but we need at least 100 pre-orders to make this happen, and I really want one, so go in on a pre-order and help make this possible. This is the old school logo overlaid on the new logo. I really like the old logo, but I am moving on, so this seems appropriate. At $75  this is no more money than some stupid brewery or rock band jersey from Primal, either. Plus it's Twin Six. Local, cool, now. Be there or be square, Daddy-o.

Hopefully we'll get enough orders and this will pan out. I'd love to see these on the road and see a thread of photos showing Bike Love jerseys all over the world, like they do with the Kathy Sarns Alaska Jerseys.

In other news, this week sucked, but - dare I say it... this weekend looks promising. I have writer's group, a field trip to Studio Bricolage and a Flood Ride on the calender for this weekend. I doubt I'll be able to sleep tonight because I will be tingling in anticipation.

Stay tuned, and for God's sake - be careful out there.