Friday, December 25, 2009

Snowy Splendor

Christmas Eve in the backyard

Fat, happy snowflakes on the local rinks

Fat tires carry me through the dark

The way is clear, my heart joyful

I hope your wheels carry you 
Joyfully through the season

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Warm Feet With Lake Winter MTB Boots

I've got several seasons in with my Lake Winter MTB Boots and they have to rank near the top of my favorite equipment of all time list. I've once again been wearing them on my commutes and find them to be as comfortable as they are warm. Temps have dropped into the single digits Fahrenheit (a dozen or so below Celsius) and I have been plenty warm every day. My commute is currently just over 16 miles or 26 kilometers for those using the more rational measuring system, which takes me just over an hour with the extra gear and studded tires. These boots also have reflective markings front and rear so they also help me show up in traffic.

Now as good as the boots are, I do use chemical heater for longer rides when the temps are 30 degrees (f) or lower. I also put on neoprene shoe covers for zero and below but they keep my toes warm. Warm toes are good for everyone but for someone like me that experiences Raynaud's Phenomenon,

warmth is both difficult and critical to maintain. My toes can go numb sitting around the house in the summer if the air conditioning is set a bit too high. OK, the Wikipedia pictures are overly dramatic (where did they find orange and bright red people?) for how it affects me mostly due to my aerobic fitness level as that helps greatly.

The bottom line, however, is that even though I have had some issues with them, the Lake Winter Boots have opened the winter season to me for riding and I can't imagine winter riding without them. Oh and they are clipless so along with the warmth I can still maintain my full power-stroke which is sometimes all that keeps me upright in the deeper snow.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I don't Get It

We got a dusting of snow
less than an inch
and as I sit here
I hear the sound
of a snowblower
clearing the top 1/4 inch
followed by the
sound of a shovel
getting the last 1/2 inch.

Petroleum independence might be further away than I think...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This is Winter!

When I leave the house I see this

I look up the alley

and down the alley

and I saddle up and head out
with a big smile on my face.

In the middle of my commute
 I hop the train for a while.

This is my commuter hanging
a convenient option
that splits my riding into
two six mile legs
which is great.


This isn't so great
see the footsteps
next to the bike track?

It's the Mendota Bridge

The bike path is filled
with what was plowed
the road and
the bike path,
frosted with several
inches of fresh powder.

Without snow it looks like this.

Notice how far the
highway sign is
from where I stand
 in each of the pictures.

It's a looooooooooong bridge.

The good thing is that it overlooks
the Minnesota River Valley

I just missed two
Eagles cavorting in
the chilly air in this shot.

Nearly a mile of hike-a-bike
made me a little slow
pulling out the camera.

Now I just have to figure out
how to determine when
the bike path on the bridge
gets cleared
so that I can ride
rather than trudge.

After all, I can drive some days...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter's here!

My commute's not gonna look like this again for a long time

Let's hear it for the winter commute!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Missing, presumed having a good time...

Having too much fun to post.

Hoped to put up some pics from the muddy mountain biking last weekend but I managed to shoot all my photos in macro mode. It makes them look like this:

Which is its' own flavor of cool but doesn't show the massive mud spattering on everyone.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Equal Time!

It was a cold wet commute coming home tonight. The sun had long set so it was night-dark even though it was still in the thick of rush hour. I take to the left lane to make a left turn, lit up like a christmas tree as I always am for my darkness commutes. Traffic is slow so I just merge into the left lane but I miss the light so I am stopped waiting in the rain for the light to change when a guy in a pick up rolls his window down and and says, "Be safe!" while giving me a thumbs up.

There are two sides to every coin and this guy totally made my Friday commute and restored my faith in human kindness and set my weekend off on a pretty good note. I had almost ten miles yet to go in the steadily increasing rain but I smiled with every turn of the cranks. It's easy to whine about the morons but isn't it really the random acts of kindness that keep the whole thing stitched together?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bucolic Parkway

I have, as part of my commute, a bucolic little parkway that many moron drivers use as a high speed shortcut from the Hiawatha corridor.

screamed and been screamed at,
flipped off and been flipped off,
banged on windows,
(and anything else I could reach)
been driven off the road by
people passing way too close,
people driving up onto the grass
(one guy telling me he won't be that nice next time)
people swerving over at me from the oncoming lane
(generally telling me to get the $%^&* off the road)

After too many morons drivers have put my life at risk, I have surrendered to the bike path for this section.

It has a 10 mph speed limit and during warmer weather is filled with
dogs stretching their leashes across the bike path,
meandering baby stroller pushers,
squeaky cruisers wobbling from side to side,
occasional punk clusters practicing their rudeness skills
(they're already rude enough and don't need more practice)

As annoying as these all are, none of them are as likely to kill me as the pea-brained cagers who seem confused between the terms Parkway and Raceway.

The good part is that all the fair-weather path users have abandoned the path so I generally have it to myself except for the occasional fellow commuter refugees who all nod knowingly.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Who has time for this?

I face this sign every day in the locker room at work.

I don't leave things in the locker room but damn if you've gotta spend two whole weeks contacting Facilities to get your stuff back.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tomorrow will be a good day

I'm pretty sure about it since all the suckageness that I can imagine landed on today. It started with forgetting my badge and having the regular security guard out and his replacement didn't quite get the routine so I spent ten minutes just trying to start on what would be 11 hours of contorted effort into which I needed to pack about 40 hours of productive time. Needless to say, I left some work undone and will have to get in early tomorrow to have any hope of not repeating todays carnage.

When I get home I can count on some serious quality time since I have the honor of living with the sweetest lady on the face of the earth. I contemplated, fantasized about the relaxing evening waiting for me. Cocktail in one hand and nothing to do but kick back until sleep overwhelmed me, something I suspected wouldn't take long.

However...I have this wonderful dog.

Really, he's a great pooch. Well trained, sensible, predicable and pretty much lives his life with the most optimism of any creature I have ever known. Lovely to come home to after fighting the corporate fight since every day for him is a great day. But he is still a dog and today he demonstrated in exemplary style what the statement 'sicker than a dog' really means.

I used to train dogs with the same vigor I turn the cranks and had a house full of them. I know what can go wrong and what a sick dog is like to come home to but today that was totally redefined even though he is the only dog in the house. I'll spare you the details but let's just say that if I had hired a painter to paint the basement floor, I would have been quite please with how thoroughly he had covered the floor down to every single nook and cranny. Places, in fact, that I didn't know existed.

I just wanted to come home to my nothing box. Instead, it was several hours of something I never want to do.

SO, with all the action packed into today, I just know tomorrow will be a good day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Single track repose

Still basking in the glow of three days riding some of the finest single-track courtesy of CAMBA and their work in the Chequamegon National Forest.

The temps were chilly but the friendship was warm and I know how to dress so the cold doesn't set me back even when my toes get a little cold.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Back to regular programming...

Yes, I was bored and thought it might be fun to crank up my stats like someone once said they accidently did with a similar post title. My faith in the on-line search world was somewhat restored as my hit count actually went down with that last post.

There was of course no sex graphic or otherwise in that post. I don't care what folks do with their on-line time but I do think that porn shouldn't come to you in your daily travels unless you travel the porn circuit in which case you would likely not be here reading this. Anyway, it was a cheap ploy for traffic that failed so perhaps not only is the internet here to stay, but there might be less porn surfing than I heard talking heads declare.

This post makes a lot of sense to me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Graphic Pictorial Bicycle Sex

Was it good for you?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Random Thoughts

It's the weekend in a long week of short goals. Long stretches of limited production followed by multiple deadlines collapsing on a single day. Not all deadlines met but those that were exceeded expectation and the Arkel pannier carries the laptop to and from quite well so no worries.

I started running a few weeks ago, a fall tradition as I attempt to get in shape for the cross country ski season. It starts with a week of great soreness from short runs followed by a week of seeming invincibility. No more agonizing pain in legs that can turn the cranks seemingly indefinitely but are turned to masses of screaming flesh by a short, brisk run towed by the pooch in my own canicross competition. The week of invincible exercise turns into overwhelming exhaustion as my body adapts to the new regimen.

I started thinking a few months back, an employment tradition as I attempt to get into shape for the next level in my career. It starts with great confusion from simple thoughts followed by months of apparently flawless thinking. No more awkward thought gathering from a brain that can seemingly crank out analytical models indefinitely but is turned to a quivering mass of sparking synapses by a situation infected with contradictory truths. The months of of flawless execution turn into overwhelming exhaustion as my brain adapts to the new regimen.

I started feeling a few decades back, a life tradition as I attempt to get in shape for experiencing the world around me. It starts with an introspection on the unchangeable past followed by the realization that I can respond as I choose to the life events that cross my path. No more second guessing choices from a diverse emotional base that can rise to the most dire life situation but turns to a whimpering soul by a lost opportunity. The years of satisfied conscience turn into overwhelming exhaustion as my emotions adapt to the new regimen.

It's the weekend in a short life of long goals. Long stretches of seeking followed by a dizzying array of life choices, realized in a single life. Not all ambitions took root but the wealth of life lived so far has exceeded expectations and my satchel of life carries boundless dreams with no room for worries.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


What was I saying?...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's Time for Health Care Reform

The government is run by those who show up. It's time the real cross section of America shows up to be counted and dispel the twisted image being crafted by the Republicans and Fox News (oops, that's redundant...).

Please Donate

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wanna be's

A few weeks back I passed a couple of shaved-leg racer-wanna-be's at the beginning (meaning before I was even warmed up) of my commute. Now I know that racers aren't always going to blow my doors off, they're likely working their training plan and I'm not relevant. What I do know is that they are easy to spot at any speed because they are smooth and steady. These guys were neither.

They pulled onto the road about a quarter mile ahead of me and I rolled up onto the second one's wheel for a moment waiting for traffic to clear enough to pass them. When I did the second one made some snotty comment about stealing their draft.

I like encountering racers on my commute. I observe them and sometimes learn something. They are nearly always examples of road courtesy; racers know that they only get down the road by protecting their riding mates and receiving protection in return.

After passing them, the first one sort of freaked out and jumped up on his pedals and tore out down the road like he had big money on a sprint finish. It wasn't a bad effort but he looked pretty goofy when he ended up missing the turn onto the bridge. He didn't touch the floor, he just was going too fast for the U turn and rolled past it as his buddy started shouting at him to turn.

I wasn't racing them, I wasn't even warmed up but this hairy legged, oversized backpack carrying commuter passing them without even breaking a sweat must have just been too much. I had to laugh since if I had been warmed up and interested I could have given Mr. stomp-on-the-pedals a run for his money without a problem even with my loaded pack.

I just turned and proceeded over the bridge but I glanced over my shoulder several times just to watch them huffing along trying to catch me. The bridge is a little over a mile long and when I made the turn at the end I never saw them again. Now I'm not complaining about them, I just find it a bit entertaining that they made it so clear that it wasn't OK for me to pass them but then couldn't catch up to me when I wasn't even trying to out run them.

Wanna be's; gotta love 'em. At least they are out there riding...

Thursday, August 27, 2009


It's nearly Friday
Won't that be nice, really nice?
It's still Thursday now.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Life is full of surprises,
I always try to smile
Through the fireworks
I know it can be done

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Been off the bike for a week.
Bike trouble first,
Then some nasty upper respiratory crud
Now the work schedule won't allow it to happen until Friday.
200 miles a week to zero.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fight like Susan

Take a moment to send some love and support to Fatty who now has only the memory of Susan to drive one of the greatest fights against cancer ever mounted. Here's a man who whipped up a massive drive to support the fight against cancer at the same time the love of his life was slipping, inexorably into it's deadly grip. Mere mortals would have wrapped themselves in a blanket of pain and sorrow but Fatty took up what is already a record-setting fund raising effort in the fight against cancer.
Please think about joining in the fight by donating to Team Fat Cyclist.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Iliicit Sextet

We have the good fortune of a couple great jazz clubs where our fantastic local talent are showcased. The Illicit Sextet is but one example of our very deep local jazz pool and have just gotten back together after a 15 year hiatus where they all seem to have honed their skills considerably, quite amazing since they won the Minnesota Jazz Awards, Best Jazz Group in 1993.
If you are any kind of jazz fan, do yourself a favor and check them out!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I wonder... many of the jerks who try to run me off the road as I ride to and from work every day are aware of the important role bicyclists played in getting them their paved roads they now feel bicycles don't belong on.
I have a close call several times a week. This morning's moron brushed my arm as he drove past 3 miles an hour faster than me rather than pull out a bit since there was no oncoming traffic. Nearly every day someone hollers at me to get onto the sidewalk or trail. Last week some jerk crossed the center line coming at me from the other direction to try to run me off the road while giving me the finger. For what purpose I wondered since he was traveling on the other side of the road.
Anyway, perhaps they should read this:
There, I feel better even though I know not one of the mouth-breathers who should read it will have...

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Last week my mountain bike developed an issue with the hydraulic brakes, an issue for which I don't have the tools to address though that may change soon. So what did I do? I took it to the best shop in town, you know, the one that has all the high end bikes, sponsors a race team and has some of the best mechanics. Nothing but the best for one of my bikes, it just goes without saying, no questions asked. It's a little different story for The Beater I drive on those rare occasions I'm not on the bike. It's a single-owner car, maintained well and still very reliable but as will happen, The Beater has this, um, little problem:
I can generally just push it back together and it's good to go for a month or two but inevitably it pops out again. When something goes wrong with one of my bikes, the fix is generally in place within hours and usually with the best parts available. This problem, however, came with The Beater when I took possession several years ago. I could repair it myself, it's just a broken lens that I could pick up for half what I just spent on my mountain bike's brakes. But I'm so tight with my money, yes I do squeak when I walk, that just don't want to spend any money on The Beater so it just keeps getting worse and pops out more frequently.
While it's true The Beater is worth less than any of my bikes, it still didn't seem quite right. I started feeling sorry for this reliable, taken for granted, transportation alternative not getting the attention it deserved so I pulled out my beater repair manual and fixed it:
I decided to go with the upgraded clear tape rather than the duct tape the manual recommended for this type of repair. You know, to show it a little respect...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm a fly!?!

I've been taking some pictures on my commute. Many of them haven't turned out but enough have that in a post real soon I'll be documenting my ride in to work every morning. This one, typically too blurry to post, really caught my attention however, since with my commuting pack on my back I have become a fly.
No wonder so many cars seem to be trying to squish me in their grills!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Holodeck

Touching life,
Dotting the I's of other's lives as they
Cross the t's of my transformations.
There are many times I look out my digital window and find a richness for which I could never have been prepared. Friends I have never known reaching into places my closest confidants rarely see and doing so with the casual flare of a "How are you?" flung down an office hallway by a stride unbroken.

I decorate my emotional lawn with these holodecks created by distant minds and walk through their familiarly foreign landscapes, pleased to find my old slippers waiting by a door I hadn't thought to open. There are some who speak of the human spirit's strength and many who ponder out loud the vistas through which they pass. Sometimes with humor, sometimes to pick up their own thoughts and hold them in a different light, sometimes just the random glance of a lightning strike. Yet others set them on the table near the door as they head in or out to their next experience on the chance that someone will pick them up and find a place for them. I often do.

I wonder, today aloud, about sprinkling my lexical regurgitations about the cyber garden. I think I am all of the above in my motives and beyond the wonder of the wheels, don't know that I can detect a theme in my missives. I do know that as life unfolds before me, kicking as I do at the dirt clods of possibility, I mostly just enjoy the diversity taking root before me.

It's Saturday and while the possibilities are endless the weekend is not. I'll toss this post into the digital winds knowing it's as likely to never germinate as it is to become a flower. It doesn't matter though since I only sow seeds here, I harvest the plots of others.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Franken In, Palin Out

Al heads for Washington
Sarah returns to oblivion
It's all good.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tires in Three Parts - Part Three

MTB tires

I'm sure I should pay attention to my MTB tires but the simple fact is that I just don't. When I purchased my current mountain bike it came with tires that seem to work just fine so I just ride them. When it comes to mountain biking, I'm a fan of swoopy single track with a tacky dirt ribbon of rolling pleasure punctuated with some technical spots but I'm not out there to prove anything or risk life and limb. I've done enough of that already in this life. I have run the Schwalbe Big Apples over some single track and they are OK but are pretty close to being slicks so if any kind of bite is needed they just wash out.
For the record, I am riding Jones XR-B 29 x 2.25 on the front and WTB Nano Raptor 29 x 2.1 on the rear.
It's possible that these are simply the perfect tires for the type of riding I do as they do serve me very well but until I do more experimenting I won't know. So there it is, more than anyone likely cared to hear from me on bike tires but I feel better for it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Walk Softly Carrying a Big Stick

No biking this weekend
Had a great walk instead

In the park
With the pooch.

He ate sticks,
Bugs ate us &

We ate up the
Peace of the woods.

Tires in Three Parts - Part Two

I don't know how you've all been sleeping waiting for this but, finally, here's...

Commuter tires

I started out with the factory tires on my commuter and have changed both the bike and the tires over the last four years. I started on on a Trek 'Police Bike' that was the first bike I put studded tires on which is the only reason I mention this bike. Those tires were Nokian Mount & Ground and I liked them a lot. They had a nice ride and were very stable over everything a Minnesota winter could throw at them but when I retired this bike, I sent them on their way.
The new commuter is a Surley Karate Monkey and is a very nearly bomb-proof bike that wears the jewelry from the Trek but has new wheels since this frame is a 29er. I had some custom wheels built that could accommodate either rim or disc brakes and started out with rim brakes. I put on Schwalbe Big Apples, 29er big and 60mm fat. These tires are so big that it borders on looking like a clown bike. However, it rides like a Cadillac with these super cushy tires and the rolling resistance isn't nearly as bad as you might think.
When the temp drops below freezing it's time for the studded tires and I have tried two flavors on the the Monkey. A couple years back I picked up some Schwalbe Snow Studs and they were OK but were a bit narrow for deep snow and have pretty big tread blocks so they are pretty squirmy on pavement.
They didn't ride as well as the Nokians I had on the Ice Bike but Nokian didn't seem to have anything comparable in a 29er tire. The Nokians are also notoriously hard to get your hands on as they become available late, for a MN rider, and sell out quickly. I rode the Snow Studs for a season but decided that I needed something else for the next season. That's when I picked up the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires which is a studded version of their excellent touring tire.
I love these tires and you can see with them side by side how different the tread and stud patterns are.
This tire turns out to be as close to perfect as a studded tire can get. They roll very smoothly, in fact the first few rides I kept stopping to see if I had flatted as the ride was disconcertingly smooth but in fact they really do ride that smoothly and I have yet to flat them. As commuters they roll well on pavement and are just enough wider than the Snow Studs to do pretty well in several inches of snow. I took them on some pretty deep single track and with lowered pressure they did pretty darn well though I did develop a healthy lust for a Pugsley and their ability to just float across the snow in a way that a 'normal' bike never could. The only improvement I could imagine would be if Schwalbe added a studded version of their Big Apple tires as they would have sufficient float to attack some pretty serious snow and still be prepared for underlying ice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is It Friday Yet?

I'm sure
I'll figure out this
Full time (plus!) job thing
Still find time to post
but in the mean time...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What Do They Mean By That?

I'm just sayin'
PS. Parts two and three of Tires are caught up in the regulatory approval process but should be released from quarantine soon...

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I can't even believe how short these long days have become. I'll be right back after life station identification.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Are You Listening?

It's a peace that comes over me

A wave of quiet

Crashing around me

Sucking out the noise

Everyday noise

Long times longing

Belonging within

A circle spun out

Long before me

It's where I come from

Aging relative brings contact

Reaffirms what 

I already knew

Solace in knowledge

Questing, caring, asking

Am I taking care?

Am I paying attention?

The waves crash around me

173 years of peace and wisdom

Am I fine? Not the stock answer,

Really asking, listening

Offering sage wisdom

Not forced, just set on the table

For the taking or leaving

My father's brother sharing

Concerns I've had,

Patience, waiting for the crisis

Yet to come, a stroke or perhaps

Wandering off the edge

Existence ever fragile,

A keen eye on the maybe

A tear on the likely

Watching all your friends

And family die, isn't lonely

It's life, better for the acceptance

Worse for the resigning to it.

Chances are there for the taking

Not by him or her, but each

Of their own, for their own

Fruit we pick is the feast

We have bounty or rot

As by our own hand and not

Calling as it is the scenes

On the stage that is our life

Curtain calls by our performance or

Curtains, sewn by our own hand

Connections to the possible

Dreams of what could be

Woven from the same cloth as

You owe me and I never

How fickle the current

How strong the paddle

How mysterious the strokes never taken

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tires in Three Parts - Part One

I'm so late answering Fat Lad on this one I don't suppose anyone even recalls that the topic was my suggestion in the first place. No matter, it's finally ready for posting so here it is in three parts.

Road tires

When I got my road bike, I ran the tires it came with and didn't think too much about them. I was returning to cycling after too long a hiatus and just relishing being back on two wheels kept my mind occupied. It had seemed like I was flatting more than most but so often the flats were discovered when I went to get the bike for a ride so a quick change and I was on my way without the embarrassment of continually holding up the group. Well one day I figured out I had purchased more than twenty tubes that spring and I started thinking about new tires.

I do have to thank those tires since it was a result of one of those flats that I met The Sweetie but other than that one time, the flats were getting on my nerves. I hit the wall the day both tires were flat when I came out of work and the next day picked up some Specialized Armadillo tires. Kevlar is the magic ingredient though from the weight of them it might as well have been steel belts. I didn't really mind too much though since I rode my first pair of them better than 3000 (4000?) miles and don't recall a single flat. I replaced them with the next version of the tire that now comes with a reflective sidewall, a great feature for commuting since it's often dusk when I'm riding to or from work. 

I now have several wheel sets (they're like potato chips; you can't just have one...) and keep the Armadillo tires on the bike's original wheels and run Michelin Pro Race on a much lighter set of wheels borrowed from The Sweetie since she upgraded to a wheel set that seems to have negative weight. It might be the helium she puts in the tires. I put a set on last fall towards the end of the road biking season and have been riding them all spring. They are smooth, supple and amazingly puncture resistant. Just this spring I have put over 2000 miles on them running over quite of bit of left over winter road crud and they just keep rolling.

Stay tuned for part two!