Aug 31, 2011

Twin Cities 3-Speed Adventure Society to Circumnavigate St. Paul


ernest manning
Originally uploaded by lowercase me
On Saturday at 9:00 AM, the intrepid cyclists of TC3-SAS will be circumnavigating St. Paul. The route will bring us a few hills, but we'll face these confidently with our planetary gearing, our muscles and our wit.

We will meet at The Cross and have a breakfast stop planned at Swede Hollow Cafe, so bring a lock and some money if you want to join in that action.

TC3-SAS rides are no-drop, social events that all cyclists are welcomed at. Although The Management will be tackling these rides on classic 3-speeds, riders on other bikes are welcomed and encouraged so long as they maintain a roadster pace and eschew lycra and carbon fiber for the ride.

If you have never made a TC3-SAS, now is your chance!

You can also find TC3-SAS on Google Groups and Facebook!

Aug 26, 2011

Lake Minnetonka LRT Trail and Reflections on the LHT

Friday gifted me with a solo ride and a new trail to explore. Well, kind of a new trail, I think.

I saw a regional trail when I was in Excelsior a few weeks ago and could not place what it was, so I checked a map afterward and discovered the Lake Minnetonka LRT (LM LRT) trail. I think I actually rode on a small portion of this that I blundered into once in Hopkins, but I never really followed it past Hwy. 7, so today was for exploration.

The trick to finding the LM LRT from The Depot (a well-known destination on the way) is 8th Ave. So in Hopkins. There's a light at 8th and Hwy. 7, so it's an easy crossing. Here's a gmap of the route from the Depot Coffee House to LM LRT. There are also regional trail signs pointing the way as well. North on 8th Ave. So brings you to the trail crossing. Once you are on the trail, it's a as easy as following the yellow brick road.

The LM LRt is a crushed limestone trail, but the surface is hard and relatively fast. The photo at right gives some feel for the surface of the LM LRT (and just how "Mad Max" the front end of my Long Haul Trucker is at the moment). The trail in Hopkins is annoying because it cuts diagonally through town, so there are stop signs and alley crossings everywhere, but once you are out of town it opens up into a more rideable situation.

The trail extends all the way to Victoria, but I made it only as far as Excelsior. With my morning start time, I hit Excelsior in time for lunch. It's about 22.3 miles from the house to the Port of Excelsior. Riding into a head wind in the morning, I was glad for a lunch break and some time contemplating the shores of Lake Minnetonka.

The ride home always seems faster; I think that's because you know where you are. Nonetheless, the miles ticked by on the way home, and I was aided somewhat by the tailwind (my luck is such that I generally have headwinds both directions, but today I had only a slight cross wind on the way home - it's good to be me today).

All told, my ride was 44.8 miles according to Garmin. The Long Haul Trucker was more than up to this. It didn't blink at the crushed limestone and road steady and true on all the surfaces encountered. I've been riding this bike since I got it on July 1, so by now I've got some cable stretch and ghost shifting going on with the rear derailleur (that's a new bike issue, and has nothing at all to do with the LHT or Surly bikes). What I appreciated today was another thoughtful little detail on the LHT that my other bikes have been lacking - the barrel adjusters for the derailleurs are located NOT at the rear derailleur, but instead at the place downtube shifters would be located (in other words - within easy reach while riding). Brilliant. I was able to pfutz around with the barrel adjuster and entirely eliminate the ghost shifting problems while I was riding out to Hopkins this morning, and enjoyed crisp predictable shifting for the rest of the ride.

One other point on the bike. I got a "good deal" on some Surly racks and installed them about a month after getting the bike. I like that they are so sturdy (way more than I need, honestly). But, they are heavy. The front rack in particular is a beast. It makes the front end noticeably heavier. The logic was "I have a touring bike, so let's get it tricked out so I can tour if I want to". The reality is that on everyday rides, I kind of resent that front rack, but it looks wicked cool and really bad ass, so I keep it on the bike as my penance for vanity.

While the bike was up for the ride, we need to do some work on the engine. I was not whipped at the end of the ride, but the thought of doing another 60 miles (i.e. a Century) would have been daunting. I need to get more diligent about throwing in some longer rides or this Century thing is never going to happen, it's as simple as that.

That said, this route is VERY manageable for a newer cyclist. The Depot is about halfway between MPLS and Excelsior, so there's a very nice built-in rest stop at the mid way point both out and back. The trail itself is flat and surfaces are good, so don't feel that this is beyond your abilities. What's more, this route is almost entirely on dedicated bike trails. The only "on street" riding was in Hopkins and Excelsior, and both are very manageable even for novice cyclists.

The Cicadas have been singing for a week now and the State Fair is on, so that tells that summer is coming to a close. If you have not made it out to a new trail this season, now is the time to get out there. You won't regret seeing something new, guaranteed.

Aug 24, 2011

Flash Back!


Mural Tag
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
After nearly two months of not going to work (in fact, I have not even worn pants in two months), I had a work flash back yesterday.

It all started innocently enough. Molly has been collecting a list of restaurants and bars with good outdoor seating. What could be more pleasant during my time off than dining alfresco with my sweetie, after all? We've been working through the list and enjoying...

Next up on our hit parade of outdoor dining was Kincaid's, a highly rated restaurant in Bloomington. I was a little suspicious of the location (494 and France) but we saddled up and headed out nonetheless. Once we turned off of American Drive and into the office park, I began to have work flashblacks, however.

For those that don't know, Kincaids is located on the ground floor of a glass office building in that complex south of 494 and just east of France Ave. It is the consumate business-lunch place. As I walked in, I was reminded of countless lunches and dinners in similar restaurants in Houston. The place was full of business people - generic tall guys who should lose about 25 pounds, wearing black loafers, dark dress pants and a 3-button golfing shirts. The big shots wear a button-down shirt. Some have little portfolios or attache cases, others (the ones being schmoozed) don't have anything with them.

I couldn't help but overhear the small talk. Shallow pleasantries about family, golfing and summer vacations. Then comes the appetizers/salads and the pitch starts. Responsiveness, quality, on-time delivery, inventory management, follow through. Groan. When lunch comes and it's time for question and answer. By the time the plates are being cleared, it's back to safe chat about plans for Christmas or where the kids are going to college.

The script was the same at all the tables around me, but the specifics varied based on what was being pitched, of course. The whole thing just repulsed me and reaffirmed how glad I am to be out of that work world.

Although our food was good, we paid the bill, got back in the car, and drove out of the multi-level parking ramp, resolving to never go back.

In more ways than one.

Aug 22, 2011

Putting Out the Welcome Mat

One of my internet pen-pals is coming to town!

Shawn and April of Urban Adventure League are well into a cross-county tour, traveling from Portland, OR (or "No. 2" as well call that City) and have pedaled through Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and the Canadian prairies so far. The final destination is... east. I don't really know how far they are planning to go, but I suspect it's as far as their funding and legs can carry them.

Shawn has been documenting the adventure (when he has time and internet access at his blog (link above).

I got an email from Shawn tonight telling me that he and April just arrived in Winnipeg, and they estimate that they are about two weeks from arriving in Minneapolis. During their time in Minneapolis, Shawn is hoping to do a presentation or two on his tour. He's led touring workshops and has some fantastic photos, so I will be helping him find a place (or a few places) to host his presentation.

It would be nice as well to treat these pilgrims to a little Minneapolis bike culture as well, so I'll see if we can't line up a ride or a meet-and-great event as well.

I am looking forward to meeting these people - Shawn sent me a kick-ass poster from one of the PDX 3-speed rides he organized and led and I have enjoyed his blog quite a bit, so it will be interesting to meet them and hear their tales of the road.

You can make a financial donation to support their trip and find out other ways to help them out here.

Stay tuned for more as this develops.

Aug 21, 2011

Things Seem to be Progressing Nicely...


DSCN0223
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
It's taken me awhile to decompress from my work reality. From the time I left work (July 1) until now, I've been kind if disinterested in getting "back on the horse" for whatever that means and filled my days with riding, swimming in lakes, doing house projects and generally bumming around.

Nothing really tangible yet on my so-called "next steps", however.

Okay - that's not entirely true - I completed my League Cycling Instructor (LCI) training and got my credentials in June, and I've assisted in a kid's Bike Rodeo. I am also writing an "Ask the LCI" column on Cycle Twin Cities, so I have used that a few times, but otherwise no really tangible "2.0 release" stuff just yet.

This weekend we seem to have turned a corner, however.

Through the LCI channels, I got the opportunity to volunteer to ride race support for the Mankato Marathon in October. Race support will have teams of riders assigned to each aid station. Riders will circulate between their assigned stations looking for runners in distress and render assistance as needed. I'll be one of those people.

What luck! Race support is something that I have been interested in doing for some time - it seems like a great way to see the world, have some fun and do good deeds all at the same time. This has been on my "to-do" list since I began to think about getting out of the rat-race, but it's not exactly something you can just waltz into. This is a great introduction to that scene and I would be a fool to pass this up.

First Aid/medical experience is helpful (but not mandatory) for this Mankato gig. I have completed Red Cross First Aid/CPR at least 4 times, but I am currently expired, so I'll be refreshing that in September. What's more, I signed myself up for the Red Cross Emergency Responder training this Fall as well. That will obviously be more demanding, but I have no doubt I can master that and with that credential, leg that out into race support for the countless marathons, triathlons, bike races, etc. around the State (or the Country, for that matter).

I also got the chance this weekend to throw my hat in the ring for another teaching gig. This time it's to assist with a Confident Cycling class in Rochester this weekend. I think Confident Cycling is one of the most important courses offered and wish everyone would take this class. Hopefully I am not too late to help out - the course material will be old hat to me, but skill drills and teaching will require some advance study, but that's what this week is for.

Finally, I took a walk on a prairie last evening and got to exercise my plant identification muscles. These were never all that strong to begin with, but botany and native plants have always been an interest, and I'd like to get better at knowing what's what in the wild. Yesterday was a good foray in that direction as well. Plus, time spent outside with no specified outcome is always good for over-all wellness.

All in all, things seem more optimistic right now than they have in a long time, and gentle movement towards another destination is beginning to reveal itself.

Aug 17, 2011

On Target


50 yard .22 caliber
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
One of the the things I resolved to do with my Liberation from Labor time was to delve into interests and hobbies that I've either fallen away from or never quite found the time to pursue.

There's a very long list of these that includes such things as:

- Knitting;
- Welding;
- Construction/handyman skills;
- Sailing;
- Drawing and other visual arts;
- Writing (fiction or journalism, not just this self-published bloggy crap);
- Reading (if you are going to write, you need to well-read after all);
- Sewing;
- Long distance cycling;
- Cycle touring (potentially);
- Gardening/horticulture (perennials and roses, mostly);
- Improved/expert bicycle repair/sales/shop experience;
- Yoga;
- Meditation;
- Weight lifting (not power lifting, more for improved balance and strength);
- Cooking;
- Music (I used to be pretty good at guitar but I also hack away on mandolin, electric bass, electric guitar and flute);
- Great Lakes regional history, and;
- Many other things I am forgetting at the moment.

That's a pretty diverse list and one that will keep me occupied for the short term, at least.

One activity that is not on the list is shooting (target shooting, specifically). It's not on the to-do list because I am already doing it. I enjoyed target shooting as a kid, but fell away from it later in my teens.

This summer I joined a range, and although it's a little far from my haunts in So. MPLS, it's friendly and the facilities are good, and I feel welcome there.

I was at the range today, sighting in a newly-mounted scope on my little .22 rifle. I find that I am drawn to the challenge of small calibers at long distances. There is something about the precision, concentration and focus that is required to place 10 shots in a 3-inch circle at 50 yards that attracts me. You can't bluff that, and you can't fudge the results, either.

The photo with this post is today's finished product after I got the scope to (finally) behave. The pattern leads me to believe that the scope is about spot-on or perhaps a hair low, and the variability is due to me, not the rifle or the scope. The outlier shot in the 9 ring doesn't bother me because the mosquitoes were ferocious today, so that's probably a flinch.

Once I tighten up my 50-yard patterns, I'll move to the 100 yard range. That will be a real challenge (more than twice as difficult). But there is something almost meditative about long distance shooting that makes this appealing; it shuts out the mindnoise, and that vacuum rewires or re-boots the brain a bit, much like drawing or music does.

Surprising, but true - I suspect most people who don't shoot expect that this is some kind of Rambo thing, but target shooting is a lot more like Zen than "First Blood".

Once I up my proficiency, I'll likely venture into league competition. After finishing with the .22 scope, I went over to the 25- yard range for some pistol practice and out-shot most of the other people there. One of the old salts at the 25-yard range suggested I join the Pistol League ASAP based on my target, but for now I intend to just work on my form and concentration.

It's possible that I'll sign up for winter pistol league. Until then, I'll just take some small satisfaction in being able to hit a small target at great distance.

Aug 14, 2011

The End of the Empire


An Omen
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
During my drive to and from Central Wisconsin this weekend, I spent a little too much time listening to podcasts. If I have one thought-leader I follow, it's James Howard Kunstler. I listen to his Kunstlercast podcasts pretty regularly, and although he can be a little strident at times, I almost never disagree with him on the basics of his premises.

One of the more interesting Kunstlercasts I listened to discussed the continuing emergence of a conservative/religious/tea-party movement in the U.S. and what's behind it.

Kunstler referenced interviews and Rand Paul, comments of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and other Tea Party types and rendered it down to a common theme - hate and intolerance.

It was not lost on me that the next podcast dealt with Kunstler's trip to Berlin, and the efforts that Germany has gone to to try and remove the fascist history from their streetscape (here's an example: after trying to demolish Hitler's bunker 3 or 4 times, it's now a paved parking lot).

One of the precursors to Germany falling into a fascist state was the stress and strain of it's prolonged economic troubles. Now, after 3 years of bad economy and with Bachman winning the Iowa straw pole and coming off of the clusterfuck that was the debt-ceiling "discussion", I see more than a few parallels between Germany and the U.S. at this point.

I don't know what it is going to take to get our politicians to put their petty gamesmanship aside and focus on the public good. There's a lot that needs fixing and a lot that needs to get pointed in the right direction, and political coup-counting is not in the public interest at this point.

I blame both sides - the Republicans for spewing hate (or letting the far right spew hate) and the Democrats for not calling it what it is. If they don't put it to bed, I think things will get worse for all of us, regardless of how we voted in the last election.

Exploring the Upper Limits of Dorkhood

This weekend I had a short out-of-town trip to Central Wisconsin for a family function (more on that later). I knew that I would have some free time and saw this a potential opportunity to fit in two of my favorite pass-times: cycling and bird watching.

I have this snazzy new folding bike begging for adventure, so it came along on this trip. Minimally, there is a 4.5 mile trail around a lake near where I was staying, so I figured I could ride around that before breakfast or something. It's a nice short ride, but the birding this time of year is pretty thin. After a bit of internet research, I was able to up the ante.

The Sandhill Wildlife Area offered something like 14 miles of limited access trail/gravel road through Central Sands habitat, with the potential of Sandhill cranes, hawks and who knows what else. After about 3 seconds of deliberation, I planned a Saturday morning assault on the place with the Brompton and binoculars.

Biking, and specifically riding a folding bike, can be considered kind of dorky. Bird watching is also kind of dorky. Combining them like this makes for an absolute dorkgasm.

I was admittedly a little self-conscious unfolding my bike in the parking lot of Sandhill. The Brompton looks like a clown bike already, but putting on my little binoculars and hopping on the bike was the icing on the cake for this experiment in being un-cool.

Any un-ease dissipated very quickly, however. The Brompton proved to be very capable on the gravel roads, so I was able to scan for birds while riding quite easily. Hopping off to see something was simple, and parking the bike was a 2-second operation. Once I was done, I folded the thing back up and stuck behind the front seat of my pick-up truck in about 30 seconds.

I was rewarded with 4 excellent Sandhill crane sightings, tons of woodpeckers, chickadees and other common birds, and a weasel.

Is this the best riding bike I have? No.

Is it a bike I would take on a long, loaded ride? No, again.

Would I toss this in the trunk on a road trip? Hell yes!

Would I be a little self conscious the next time I ride it? Um. Yeah, I probably would, but I'd do it anyway because it's so fun.

Aug 9, 2011

Realigning

Pardon the long post, but there's a lot to tell here...

Faithful readers will know that I am undergoing a "Life Change".  I've posted previously about the peculiar human instinct to re-arrange the furniture in times of change. Apparently, that restlessness spills over into other areas as well...

In the past month or so, I have bought and sold more bikes than in the past three years.

My Bridgestone fixed gear was the first to go. It was sold to a nice young man looking to upgrade his ride. This was a nice bike - it started as a Craig's List find (classic ten-speed) that I converted to fixed gear, partly for the experience of doing a conversion and partly to give fixed gear riding a try. After a decent go, I determined that I am too much in love with gears to ever be a serious fixed gear aficionado. This one hung from the rafters for too long, so it was time to go.

Another bike that's "out" is my Cross Check/Xtracycle. I bought the Cross Check in Anchorage back in 2004 or so (after reading all the orgasmic reviews on Bike Forums). Somehow, the Cross Check didn't do it for me. I may be the only person that doesn't like a Cross Check.

I commuted on it (a lot) for two more years in Anchorage, rode it another two years back in MPLS and finally picked up the Rawland Sogn, which became my "do-everything" bike. The Cross Check grew an Xtracycle add-on at that point.  This was a cool set-up, but I found that I didn't use the cargo bike enough to justify the garage space that this unit was taking up, so I sold it (for a fair price) to a friend last week.

I also sold a very nice old school Marin Pine Mountain MTB. This bike was beautiful. It was steel, but very light. Beautiful paint (silvery blue) with high quality components from the mid-'90's or so. I picked this up on consignment from the Hub because it was so nice, but the niche I was trying to fill at the time was "bad weather commuter" and this bike was just too nice for that duty. I found a better setup (for $60!) and stopped riding the Marin unit once I had the replacement configured. Eventually, it became evident that this bike needs to move on to someone who would ride it.

Nature abhors a vacuum, so I've added to the stable, of course.

The first addition (which I have posted about previously) is the Long Haul Trucker. I am a little embarrassed to say that I bought this bike on the first morning I was Liberated from Labor. It rides really well. It's a 52 cm frame, which is bigger than I normally ride, and it's way more Grant Peterson than any of my other bicycles.

I kind of kick myself over going LHT, but despite the hype, it's really a great bike - 26 inch wheels, which works with the smaller frame, steel (it is real, after all), very stable and smooth, yet stiff on climbs, etc., etc. I like it a lot and hope to ride the snot out of this, as well as teach on it. I stumbled into a really good deal on Surly racks, so I got this tricked out in full touring mode, although I am not a "touring cyclist" just yet. Maybe a few S24O's in my future, but until then, this is mostly posing.

The second (and most enjoyable) addition has been a lemon-yellow Brompton folding bike. We found a great deal for The Spouse on a Dahon Boardwalk via Craig's List earlier this summer, and that got us thinking about the potential of folding bikes. After borrowing a Brompton from a friend, I decided that it was time to sample this cycling goodness. I used the proceeds from the X-Check/Xtracycle to cushion the expense of the Brommie, and I couldn't be more delighted.

You can't help but giggle when you ride this bike. I opted for a six-speed set up in a bright, optimistic lemon yellow.  The gearing is quirky as hell - a two cog combination on the rear wheel mated to an internal SA 3-speed hub. Lots of cross shifting, but it's become second nature after a few rides, and it' tons of fun to ride (It has 16-inch wheels - I believe that I can turn a complete circle in an elevator on this bike).

Our plan for the folders is to pack them up and take them to State Parks and towns we spend a weekend in. We love to ride around small towns and see the sights from a bike saddle, and these will make that ever so much more easier.

I still have two nice road bikes that don't see much action, and the Rawland and I are on trial separation at the moment, so there might be some more horse-trading in the future. For now, I am pleased with the realignments, though.

Aug 8, 2011

Aug 7, 2011

Meditation


Mushrooms
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
I sat in on a meditation group this morning. This was my first foray into organized meditation. Oh, sure, I've dabbled in contemplative prayer and attended some Quaker meetings for worship (who hasn't?), but I've never gone to a meditation class, per se.

It was interesting. I have long been aware that my brain skips around in dizzying non-sequiturs that can leave people I am hanging out with somewhat mystified (how did we get on that topic?), but I can also concentrate like nobody's business when I am in the right frame of mind and the subject interests me.

I figured I would be pretty good at meditation. after spending an hour doing nothing but, I think I am... um... not too bad.

What was most interesting about meditation was paying attention to concentration. For example, for awhile we focused on our our breathing. Pretty simple, really: in, out, in, out... and so it goes.

But like clockwork, other thoughts would creep in and pretty soon I was off in the cauliflower, thinking about whether it's worth it to swap tires on the Long Haul Trucker now or wondering how long the potato salad has been in the refrigerator.

Hopefully, I'll get a little better control over my brain through these classes. There were a lot of new people in the class today, and we were talking afterward about how unaware we are of the thoughts that go flitting through our minds. Yet those thoughts create moods and moods spawn personalities, so it's really something worth paying attention to.

Aug 5, 2011

Something About Me

When I was in second grade, I stopped learning. Specifically, I stopped learning anything that was being taught on a black board. That includes things that matter, like math and reading.

By third grade, I ended up in special ed, or whatever they called programs for developmentally disabled kids back in the early '70's. I found myself in a small, windowless room, working with a guy who wore a mustache and a sweater vest every day. We did exercises like arranging blocks to match a pattern on a piece of paper. Red cross in white field? Got it! White square in a red field? No problem, Buddy!

As my education continued to falter through third grade, we plodded our way through the diagnostics, trying to figure out what what was "wrong with this kid". Eventually, we worked our way up to some worksheet with three columns on it. The first column was numbered 1 - 10, the second column was 11 - 20 and the third was 21 - 30 or something. At any rate, I worked away at my little 'tard worksheet with #2 pencil until I ran into a problem - I had run out of worksheet before I ran out of questions.

This was a watershed moment for both me and the Special Ed teacher. I concluded that I am, in fact, a moron. There was something seriously wrong with me and I would be in Special Ed forever. The teacher (God bless him) reached another conclusion - he looked at the worksheet (I had filled in the first column and the third column, and skipped the middle column altogether) and wondered aloud why I would make that mistake.

"You are going to the eye doctor!" he almost yelled at me.

It turned out that I had congenital cataracts - a birth defect, very rare in fact. I could barely see out of one eye and had abandoned that one in favor of the other (which was not working all that well, for that matter). That explained why I missed the center column and couldn't comprehend anything that was written on a black board, and the eye tests confirmed it - I simply couldn't see for shit.

After this epiphany, the summer of third grade and fourth grader were devoted to complicated eye surgery and lengthy recovery. Cataract surgery in the mid-'70's was a big deal - it was not an out-patient thing like it is today. I was in the hospital for a week each time, sleeping with my head elevated and monitored like a heat patient or something. No swimming, no sledding. No fun.

By fifth grade, I could see (with the help of coke-bottle glasses), My recovery was more far-reaching than just vision. I swam competitively in high school (despite being blind without my glasses). I taught myself guitar and flute. Somehow, I picked up the reading and writing in spades, but math continued to flummox me. I was not been able magically absorbed all that math I missed.

The stigma of the coke bottle glasses was with me until high school, when I started using contact lenses. In 1997 I had secondary lens implants and now wear "normal" glasses. However, the math problem could not be resolved with technology, and I built up a case of Math Anxiety that continues to this day.

If I had been better at math, I would probably have been climatologist, or perhaps a mechanical engineer.  Playing the cards I was dealt, I ended up a geographer and environmental consultant with a flair for governmental relations and regulatory policy (which is not a bad gig, actually). I learned a lot and proved that I was not a moron after all.

That said, I still have a bit of a chip on my shoulder over this whole ordeal although it's been a long time since this all played out. I can't help but wonder about the road not traveled...

Aug 4, 2011

Missing Commuting


Haybales
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
I've been liberated from labor for a month now and as the line from "Office Space" goes, "I wouldn't same I am missing work". In fact, I feel pretty good.

Ironically, what I miss most about not working is what many people probably like least - the commute.

My commutes were physical and gave me experiential insight into myself and human behavior in general. I either rode my bike or waited for a bus in whatever Mother Nature had to throw at us (the Bomb Cyclogenesis was very memorable. I rode for that one).

Mostly it was a bike commute (March - November, more or less) but I would supplement with a bus if the weather was bad or my energy was low.

Both modes were pleasant enough. The ride first thing in the morning kick started my brain and gave me an energy edge at least through lunch, and the ride home was a good way to decompress from the stress and frustration of the office.

The bus was less redemptive but had its good points. I had a bus friend or two that I would chat with, and I enjoyed reading on the bus. Bus riding is also a real-time Anthropology project, too. People amaze me. I have gotten more than a few "Bus Tales" posts out of the 14 route.

Riding the bus has also taught me how to deal with waiting. I think most Americans are bad at waiting; the Russians could probably out-wait us to no end. Good thing that's not an olympic event or a step towards world domination.

I ginned up a faux commute this week to get away from contractors at the house; I went to the LRT trail and 26th Street to do some in-the-field work for a Cycle Twin Cities post, then grabbed a mural tag on the way home.

10 miles before 8:00 is a nice gentle way to start the day. It's interesting that getting to and from work is a bigger deal to me than work itself. That's probably the geographer in me leaking out.

Aug 2, 2011

Anniversaries

Yesterday marked two anniversaries, of sorts.

First, 4 years ago on August 1, the I-35W bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River. Although I was not personally involved in this disaster, it was kind of traumatic for me. Yesterday, the City dedicated a memorial to the people that were killed in that calamity ( "calamity" or disaster are the words I can think of at the moment - there's no F'ing way I am going to call this an "accident").

The memorial and dedication is a nice gesture. I am glad they did something to remember this. Too often, it seems people are willing to sweep unpleasant realities under the rug and focus on what's "nice".

Yesterday also marked the one-month anniversary of my "retirement". I need to come with a better term for that as well because I am too young to retire, but I am not exactly unemployed in the conventional sense. Perhaps I'll call it my liberation from labor.

The first month has flown by. I got one LCI teaching gig under my belt thanks to the help of a friend, did some rides, got the new LHT tricked out for some sub-24 camping expeditions I am now contemplating, and I have a number of house projects on the go. We are (finally) doing something about our side yard, which will be converted from a neglected, weedy mess to a rose garden this month. We are also resurfacing the deck in back of the house with some new low-maintenance stuff, which will be a big improvement. We plan to break in the new deck with a little get together on the weekend, as a matter of fact.

I still have boxes from the office to un-pack, but I am working my way through that slowly. Most of that garf should probably just be thrown out because I'll never use it again, but I need to go through it and make those decisions this month. I also find I am sizing up other things around the house (clothing, bags, shoes, etc.) and finding a trip to Goodwill happening in the near future.

It's interesting how what you "need" can change so much over time.

3-Speed Ride: Complete Success!

We had a great ride on Sunday. Two new riders showed up, including one that traveled from Wisconsin! The complete report is over here. The route totaled out at about 23 miles, which was plenty long enough given the humidity. It was probably closer to a 30 mile day factoring in the ride over to the start and back.

An added bonus to this sortie was that I was able to connect up with a fellow TC3-SAS rider and pass on a Dahon RV-mate folding bike that sort of came home with me. I ended up getting this piglet as part of a deal I swung to get The Spouse her nice Dahon Boardwalk. The seller wanted rid of both bikes but I only wanted the Boardwalk, so I ended up getting a good deal on the RV-Mate.

The RV-Mate sort of a cool bike, actually. It has a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed coaster hub, which I figured was worth the purchase price alone. The last thing in the world I need right now is another project, however. I was able to talk a friend into taking this off my hands, so he's got a new project to play with and I have an incremental increase in space in the garage.

Who knows what the next 3-Speed adventure will be? We'll figure that out in the coming week and probably uncork a ride in the relatively near future.