Jun 26, 2012

Rolling Again

Troll Fence
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
True to my word, I am back on the bike, giving riding in circles the old college-try.

Today took me to St. Paul, that fair sister city where the down town is quaint and everyone is home reading the Pioneer Press by 8:00pm. In spite of what anyone may say about St. Paul, I really like that town. They have excellent coffee coolers, don't knock down the old buildings as fast and generally understand what makes a city work (at least as far as I can tell from my saddle).

Conscientious readers will note that the Surly Nice Rack has now been removed from the front end of the LHT. The weight of the rack was too much for the little use it got. Although it looked really bad ass, that rack is now hanging in the garage until needed.

The Ortlieb handlebar bag is much more sensible addition for the style of riding I am doing these days. "Tools, rain gear and other things I "might maybe possibly need but hopefully not" go in the bag at the rear bag, but must-haves like the cell phone, sun glasses and other junk ride up front in the Ortlieb these days. A much more practical set-up for your truly.

Tomorrow promises to be a scorcher, so the plan of operation calls for an early ride to the west with a stop or two to pick up a few photo tags. That way I can check the ride off the to-do list and be home in time to enjoy the oppressive heat and humidity from home rather than the saddle.

In other news, despite our participation in some PedalMN installations, my new gig didn't get much mention in the press on the roll-out (no pun intended). Many thanks to Cycle Twin Cities for the post today to note our involvement in that project.

Stay cool tomorrow and as always, stay frosty.

Jun 24, 2012

Brompton Responds

I got a very polite "thanks but no thanks" from Brompton re: my open letter concerning the attire expected at Brompton races.
Hi Joe,
Thank you for your feedback. The 'English Attire' at our races is a bit of a tradition now and overall very popular. While we do not encourage people to dress up in fancy dress (that is their choice I assure you), we like the idea of everybody racing in a jacket and tie. 
We will take you feedback into consideration for future years and hope to see you at one of our races in future.
Kind regards
Truthfully, I kind of expected either 1.) no response at all, or 2.) this exact response. I certainly didn't expect them to say "gosh, you're right". Occasionally I just seem to find it cathartic to shout into the wind or bark at the moon, depending on the weather and time of day. Of course, it's their event and they can do as they please. I just don't see wearing a coat and tie on a windy, 90 degree day to race a bike.

To each there own and on our merry way we go.

Speaking of going on our merry way, I've not been doing much of that lately. I need to find my camera, hit a few trails and do some two-wheeled explorations. Not having a destination to ride to each day has put a hitch in my riding and I need to figure that out. I've never been to ride in circles - more of a point-a-to-point-b guy, I guess. Nevertheless, I'll be rectifying that situation with the more clement weather we are expecting in the coming week.

In other news, disappointingly, I've had to turn on "comment moderation" because of a spam storm that's been raging over the past few days and doesn't seem to be letting up. Too bad; I don't get a lot of comments, but I don't want to delay any comments that do come in, either.

Jun 6, 2012

Get Together: June 14 at Sea Salt

The bike bloggers of MPLS will be gathering at Sea Salt on Thursday, June 14 around about happy hour to share stories, get reacquainted and talk about those that don't show up.

If you blog for BikeMN, MPLS Bike Alliance, Cycle TC or some other fringe independent blog (like me at the moment) you are warmly invited to join us. Just look for bikey-looking people and we'll make you feel welcome. The pass word is "beers for bloggers".

Thanks Wheeldancer for the nudge on this.

An Open Letter to Brompton

Dear Brompton -

Your bikes are engineering genius!  I love them. They work so well for commuters and regular people who want to ride a bike but don't have room to store a bike.

Why, why, why do you encourage "English attire" in your Brompton championship events? Wouldn't it make more sense to have people show up in their every-day clothes and race it out?  Honestly, the whole costume-cycling thing leaves me cold and I am not participating in the MPLS Brompton event because of the dress code.

Seriously - consider encouraging people to ride in whatever they want to. That's what most Brompton people do. It would be just as much fun, I promise.

Hugs and kisses,

- Joe


I am back from yet another trip to the Ancestral Homeland to conduct some business on behalf of my Mom with carpet purveyors, handymen, attorneys and other such advisors and craftsmen. That all went well enough but I am glad to be home again.

I now have the drive to (and from) the Ancestral Homeland down to a science. I know exactly how long it will take, where to stop for the best coffee, where not to eat, etc. In fact, I predicted my arrival time in MPLS within 3 minutes of the actual arrival time today. Also, the new wheels are giving me almost 31 miles per gallon and the CD changer can power through 6 Cd's which makes books-on-CD a breeze. These are all big improvements over the Mighty Tundra (RIP, old friend).

One of the advantages (and disadvantage)s of driving the same route repeatedly is the that you get really familiar with all the landmarks. The St. Croix River crossing, the big bend in the freeway at Eau Claire, Wisconsin Dells, the Blew Inn, etc. are by now well-worn prayer beads on a string that mark my journeys back and forth. The possibility of a surprise discovery is lost, but the route becomes familiar and knowable.

By far the spookiest landmark on this pilgrimage is a small road-side grave sandwiched between Highway 16 and  railroad tracks between Portage, WI and Wisconsin Dells. I have driven by here many, many times. There is no sign or marker of any sort, other than the fence and two trees, so I am left to speculate on what's going on here. On this particular drive, I have a lot of time to speculate...

My imagination, informed by many, many 60 mile-per-hour visits, leads me to suppose that an old farming couple is buried there. I imagine that the patriarch died first, followed about 10 years later by his spouse. Why tuck them between the highway and the railroad? The family buried them on their original homestead site, which has long since been displaced by eminent domain and razed to make way for highways, railroads and progress. As a toe-hold against the march of time, he family planted a tree over each grave in remembrance, and fenced the site to keep brush mowers away from this sacred site.

Despite the overgrown vegetation, the fence is always freshly painted and well-maintained. This spectacle never fails to haunt me for the rest of the drive.