Friday, December 31, 2010

Obligatory New Years Post

Great Year blah, blah
Personal best blah, blah
Making New Year's resolutions blah, blah

Happy New Year anyway!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

SnowDancer

I get tired shoveling snow but my pooch really gets exhausted.

Here's why:




Ain't that a hoot?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Local Bike Shop Needs Help

Tonka Cycle & Ski in Minnetonka MN has just lost their lease with very short notice. They had just received their full winter inventory and agreed to take their spring bike inventory early when they got the news that their lease won't be renewed.



It's a great shop (it's where we bought our tandem) and they are looking for a new location but with only a couple months to get out of their current location, inventory reduction is their primary motivation. This means there are deals to be had for us which also help them.

Hopefully they will be back in business soon but in the mean time, stop on by for some great christmas shopping if you are in the Twin Cities.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Early Days

Rummaging around this weekend and I came across this old gem of me with my first road bike back in'72 or '73. I rode this bike on many self-supported tours and in this photo I was showing off the newly repainted frame as I had worn off a great deal of the factory black paint that it had.
I still have this bike though it's in rough shape now. I fantasize about rebuilding it to it's former glory. Campy frame marketed as Prima and mostly Campy parts; it was a sweet ride. It's been almost 40 years but it could be a sweet ride once again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

He's just not normal

But I like it!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bring it, I'm ready


Tonight: A chance of rain and snow before midnight, then snow. Low around 33. Northeast wind between 8 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible. 

Saturday: Snow. High near 34. North northeast wind around 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible. 

Saturday Night: Snow likely, mainly before midnight. Cloudy, with a low around 34. North northwest wind between 13 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

IMBA Alert, your call to Action!

CAMBA Urging Mountain Bikers to Comment on Trail Plans


Wisconsin's Bayfield County Forest is seeking input on the Access Management Plan for the forest. Several questions have extremely important and pertinent implications to CAMBA-built mountain bike trails and other non-motorized trails in the Cable Block of the County Forest. This block includes all County Forest south of Cable from west of Randysek Road all the way east to the National Forest in Namakagon. This includes perhaps the most important collection of non-motorized trails in the state and includes the CAMBA bike trails, the North End Trail Head and ski and snowshoe trails, some Telemark ski trails and the Birkie and Birkie Classic trails.






If you ride these trails, get involved and fill in the survey. The continued preservation of non-motorized trails is important for personal safety, trail maintenance and enjoying the wilderness experience. Motorized trails are little affected by non-motorized use but the opposite is true when motorized access is mixed in with non-motorized use.


If you don't ride these trails, you should as they are as good as it gets!


The more numerous our voices, the more likely we can preserve this wilderness experience. Take action, get involved and join with the other voices trying to protect this wilderness area.


Thanks!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sometimes Haiku


Sometimes I just live 
Sometimes I think about how
Just now, I'm thinking

Monday, August 2, 2010

1000 miles

Last month I got in 1000 miles which explains why the blog has been hanging on the hooks in the garage. I've had bigger months but not for quite a while and this is the first time a wheel decided I was riding it too hard.

So much for putting my old road wheels on my commuter to lighten it up a bit but then again I didn't like these wheels much anyway.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tandem Silhouette

Warm sun,

Good friends,
Does it get any better?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Physician Heal Thy Self

I love what can be found out there on the interwebs.
Take this sign posted in a BP station:

Thanks for the find BlueNoser!

I drive a car so I take 
my share of responsibility for 
our societies oil lust
 but I am averaging around 
6,000 miles a year or
less than I put on my bikes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Minneapolis Bicycling Rocks!

Here's one reason why:


Here we see public bike racks, not unique to just this street, so you know when you ride downtown on one of the many trails or bike lanes that lead into downtown, you will have a place to lock up.

Making a city bicycle-friendly isn't just about bike lanes or bike paths, it's putting together the whole picture.

It really helps, as shown in this bicycle view in Google (which also rocks!), that the bike lane saturation just in the downtown Minneapolis area looks like this:


The bright green lines are dedicated bike trails, the rest of the green lines are bike lanes on streets. I don't know what other cities are like but I think that's a lot of green.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Glasses!

As I age my eyes are changing and I have been outfitting myself with an increasingly large collection of glasses. I think these new ones just might be my favorites so far...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Satisfaction

She said, go read this
You just might like it. I did
I've said enough is

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bikepooling in Minneapolis

Last weekend 
we went to see 
the Twins play 
in their new stadium

It's a cool stadium
(outdoors, I might add)
with some awesome 
transportation options


Light rail on one side,
Parking ramps on another.
My favorite part though is the 


Comes in on another side
with plenty of on-site bike parking.
Bikepooling just got 
easier in Minneapolis!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bit by the security dog

Funny isn't it that the guard dog that's supposed to protect the corporate computers brought them down. I'm guessing this will be a bit bigger than Mcafee is letting on at this point.

Is this a good time to say that I love my Mac?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Betty and the Giant

In The Church of the Big Ring there are few holidays as important or joyous as the Road Bike Season opener. It often comes up suddenly with little warning as it did today. I started the day on the commuter running errands and while there was no question that there would be riding today, I didn't realize the high holiday was upon us and figured there would still be the CostCo run, perhaps another spin up to see George

I assumed it would be more miles on lumbering steel and touring tires.
Noodling through Saturday chores while the temp rose and the threatened rain sulked away without accomplishing a single patch of drizzle. I've had Saturdays like that so I understood as the skies lighted and the wind dropped. I've been screwing around with my road shoes, another story for another day, and thought I may have come up with a configuration that I had not yet tried.

I should have seen it as the harbinger of the high holiday but I missed it. TOB has a new horse in the barn and had spent the morning putting on svelte new shoes, bars and grooming it so her ride choice was clear. So off we go down the street each marveling at our handiwork but we don't make it past the end of the block before Betty's mournful wailing fills the neighborhood.

Even when we don't detect the opening rituals of the high holiday, the bikes know and won't risk missing out on the festivities. So it's a quick U turn, shoe swap and Betty is right side up for the first time in months.



And that's how it came to be that Betty and the Giant spent the day frolicking on the tarmac, celebrating the return of skinny tire days.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stud-less in Minneapolis

I'm usually the last guy to remove the studded tires but I took them off a few weeks back and am happy I did.

Feels like I'm riding around nekkid but without the blushing...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Turbo Tax HSA Miscalculation

So like many folks I'm diving into my tax preparations and as I have done in the past am was using Turbo Tax from Intuit. It's all going along swimmingly until I enter my HSA information at which time it tells me I have over-contributed and tells me I will be paying a penalty for my transgression thereby reducing my refund by more than $300.

What?

The IRS clearly states I can contribute $3000 as an individual:

Limit on Contributions

The amount you or any other person can contribute to your HSA depends on the type of HDHP coverage you have, your age, the date you become an eligible individual, and the date you cease to be an eligible individual. For 2009, if you have self-only HDHP coverage, you can contribute up to $3,000. If you have family HDHP coverage, you can contribute up to $5,950.

The Turbo Tax online support forum is full of complaints (for example) on this issue going back to last year with transcripts from support chats showing Intuit (maker of Turbo Tax and Quicken) agrees this is a problem and will fix it. There is no solution available and lots of ranting on the Turbo Tax site's own support forum. 

A search of the interwebs did uncover a potential solution where you have to go under the covers and delete some form to get it to work correctly but really, should I have to go under the covers to mess around with something to get it to work correctly? If this is a reliable solution then why doesn't Intuit have it available in its support forum?

It's a matter of trust

I found this error because I know what the right answer is and the software got it wrong. How am I supposed to trust this software to make the calculations where I don't know the right answer? Isn't the point of this type of application to correctly make the calculations so you don't risk making your own stupid mistakes? How many other calculations need me to find some obscure form and delete it in order for it to make the right calculations? 

If I don't already know the right answer and detect that it's wrong in the software, how would I know to go looking for the right answer. If I do already know the right answer, why do I need software to "help" me out with my tax filing?

Trust is a delicate flower; does it ever really come back once it has been stepped on?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My First Bike Mentor

My brother Dan introduced me to the bicycle as something that was more than just a toy. He was my first bike mentor and helped me purchase my first serious bike, the only one I have put more than ten thousand miles on in a single year.

Today he would have been 56.

Two years ago I visited Hatcher Pass in Alaska where his ashes were spread many years ago.








When I lived with him up there we went camping up on the pass and spent some good hang-out time. When I returned to the pass I knew there would be memories but it turned out to be a pretty spiritual experience. I remember scribbling the following in a notebook while at the top of the pass but forgot about it until I tripped on it a few days ago.


As I walked

There lay Dano
Quiet, at rest
Surrounded by beauty
Life beyond death
On a mountain side
Warm sun
Gentle breeze
I've come full circle
To say goodbye to his life
To say hello to mine
He found this place of beauty
Now it's mine

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Remember when...

...this was mostly a bike blog?...

Life has been, well, very interesting lately and my two wheeled miles have been greatly reduced.

Sometimes there are things that have to be taken care of that preclude time on the bike. 

I did, however, get out for a great ride in this afternoon's spectacular weather.

It's amazing how studded tires can soothe the soul.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Homecoming

My aging father
Lost his wife and his dog too
Melancholy times
He understands some
Does he know how life has changed?
Welcome home daddy

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weak End

A record snowfall
Out of place beauty down south
It wasn't enough


Beauty and sadness
Journeys long and too complex
The natural order


It would typically
Be a bright spot, lovely snow
Shadows are too long




Life changes, evolves
Choices following their course
Should we check progress?



Pathways are to choose
But in certain cases we 
Can only observe



With this in your glass
Pleasure should be real easy
This time? whatever...



Finish line sprinting
Doesn't apply for this one
It's crossed anyway



Better days lie past
This trial, however, is harsh
Spattered observer

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Too Much

I like winter and all but down here in Dallas for a quick trip and they have an all time record snow fall. I thought I would be leaving all our wonderful snow behind but here it is.

I have pictures but can't figure out to post them here with my iPhone...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Staying Warm While Biking in the Cold

I started a series of posts last year tagged with the label Chilly Dress Code in which I detailed what I wore for a given ride at a given temp. I did it mostly to help me remember what I wore at what temps and how it worked for me. I also thought that some folks might find it useful and I do try to light the way for others to consider the bicycle a viable means of year-around transportation. You know, to help the environment, increase personal fitness, save money, blah blah blah. For me it really comes down to being a heck of a lot of fun that I can incorporate into my daily routine. Due to bad choices I made earlier in life, I may never be able to retire so I need to make sure I am having as good a time right now as I possibly can.

So, how do I dress for winter bike riding? I don't have to think about it that much any more so I didn't carry through documenting my gear this year even though I have have been riding more and in more varied conditions. I guess when you have it down you just do it and it becomes the natural way of things that don't require planning. For example I don't have a list of instructions for brushing my teeth, I just do it. I don't have a guide for taking a shower, I just do it. So it is with getting ready for my commute, I just do it. I do have a strategy for showering and brushing my teeth but don't worry I'll spare you the details since if you don't have those down yet, this blog might not be what you need to focus on.

Here's my general strategy for staying warm when cold weather riding.

As the temp drops below shorts and jersey weather, I switch to wool cycling shorts and a wool jersey (if I'm not already wearing them…) and then add a wool T-shirt under the jersey.

This is very important: I add knee warmers around 65 degrees.

The reason this is important is that the ligaments in the knees don't have much in the way of blood supply and are easily stressed by the cold. Some folks apply embrocation, others like me just put on knee warmers. It's not that my knees feel too cold, they are in fact just fine but this is important to keep them in good shape to keep riding without having knee problems. Since I want to continue riding, I don't want to make choices now that will restrict my riding in the future. Folks have different opinions on the critical temp but the bottom line is that you need to protect your knees before they feel cold.

Anyway, I add arm warmers when it drops into the 50's and long finger gloves as the temp descends towards the 40's. I also tape the vents on my shoes with Gaffer's Tape, a removable version of duct tape that was developed for the theater. Sometime as it is nearing the 40's I will switch over to a soft-shell jacket with just a wool tank top under it or maybe a wool T-shirt. I should mention that when I say 'wool' what I really mean is 'Merino Wool'. Merino wool is offered by lots of companies but mine is mostly Icebreaker and Ibex with a little Patagonia and SmartWool mixed in for good measure. I can't say enough good about merino wool but I could in this post so I'll leave it with the fact my opinion that it is the best performing fabric out there and not just because it NEVER gets stinky.

My soft-shell also has some features that are exceedingly important for ride comfort. My commute is currently 16+ miles each way so I am on the road for an hour, an hour and a half or more when the temp drops and I have to battle snow and ice. For a ride of this length you will sweat and venting is the key to comfort (and safety when it's really cold). I generally wear my Gore Bikewear Tool Jacket soft-shell which has both pit vents and a small zippered pocket over my heart that also acts as a very effective vent. When I start out I am a bit chilly but within a couple miles I am comfortable; a few more miles and I start to get hot.

Another important point: The importance of venting before I get overly sweaty.

I will sweat some in almost all temps but the trick is to vent before I get too wet; once I'm wet, finding the balance between comfort and chills is very difficult if not impossible. It took a while to get tuned in to when I needed to start venting or removing layers for my gear that doesn't have venting built in. My key for when it's time to vent is just when I'm get to my temperature comfort zone, which can be anytime from 5 to 20 minutes depending how hard I am riding and how cold it is. When I reach that point, and not a moment later, it's time to introduce some more cold air to prevent sweating from really getting started.

My last few jobs were closer to home than my current position, around twenty to thirty minutes riding, so I didn't have to pay quite as much attention to what I was wearing or how sweaty I got since I would be at work before anything bad could happen. Now that my commute takes nearly an hour and half as I battle the rough snow and ice conditions with my studded tires I could injure myself if I didn't get it right. You may not be facing risk of a freezing injury but you may find that you can ride in similar comfort as you do in summer if you pay attention to the right things and preventing your clothes from getting wet from over sweating is one of them.

By the time it's dropped into the 30's I have on tights over my knee warmers, or have on my Craft Windtex bib tights. These tights have a considerable wind stopping front along with insolation so the knee warmers aren't required. They can carry me in comfort into the upper 20's but then it's time for my cross country ski pants to come on the scene. Mine are Ibex with their Climawool fabric that has wind protection but I still wear my knee warmers underneath. I will also have switched from my taped up cycling shoes to my Lake Winter Boots. Mine are the mountain version but the road version may work just as well for warmth though not so much when you have to hike a bike through a snow drift. When the temps drop into the teens, I add wool tights between the knee warmers and the ski pants and drop a chemical warmer into the boots.

Yet another important point: As the temp drops there are two variables; the number of layers you wear and the thickness of those layers.

Perhaps you aren't convinced that wool is the way to go and prefer the various technical fabrics. Fact is they also work very well and will keep you warm (and also capture much of your body odor…) but you will still need to add layers as the temp drops and/or increase the thickness of each layer. I find that three layers is suitable for almost any conditions though as it drops well below zero and/or the wind really kicks up, I have added a forth layer. Wind protection also needs to be considered and this applies to your entire body. When it gets into the single digits or perhaps below zero, I add Neoprene boot covers over my Lake boots and will also have chemical heaters in the boots to make sure I keep warm. 

Note; I have Raynauds syndrome so I need to take more precautions than the average person to keep my fingers and toes from freezing but most folks don't have this and don't need to take the same precautions as I do; knowing yourself will always be the key to success in cold weather activities.

I haven't discussed my hands much yet but I add layers there too. Wind protection starts in the 50's, then wool liners in the gloves in the 40's. I carry WindStopper lobster shells as a backup though I don't have to use them much unless it's quite windy. In the 20's I replace the fleece gloves and their wool liners with cross-country lobster ski gloves and then add the wool liners back in as the temp drops. I may add heater packs to my gloves and at around zero I generally replace the ski gloves with mittens but it depends on how much effort I am putting out and how much wind factors into the ride.

For my feet, it's pretty simple. In addition to switching to the Lake boots, I add liner socks under the regular socks and this is one area where it seems the polypropylene liners work a bit better than the wool. My boots are a size bigger than I would normally buy so I have extra room for thicker socks but still never more than two pairs. When the temp drops into the single digits and below, I also put on some neoprene boot covers and maybe a second chemical warmer in the boot; one on top of my toes and one underneath.

Last up is my weather protection from the neck up. Having a beard, even my wimpy beard, helps a lot with protecting my face from the elements but I do add a balaclava somewhere in the 30's though I don't pull it up to cover my mouth until it's well down into the 20's or even the teens if there isn't much wind. I DO, however, start with it over my mouth for the first ten minutes or so until the furnace kicks in. I have found that toughing it out at the beginning of a ride only makes it take longer for me to find my comfort zone so I start with more knowing I will remove it pretty quickly. I don't mind being a wimp and driving for comfort on my commute; I'm not a masochist, just a commuter.

I wear my regular cycling glasses down into the single digits, perhaps even below zero but at some point I will switch over to ski goggles which along with the now pulled up (and thicker) balaclava will cover all my exposed skin. I also have switched over to my downhill ski helmet in the 20's because it has built-in ear flaps and really keeps my whole head comfortable. Mine has venting that I can open as I warm up (remember; venting is your friend!) and sometimes open and close the venting over the course of a ride.

So there it is, my approach to comfortable bike commuting through the Minnesota winter. Did I forget anything? Oh, yes I did! 

Final important point (ladies can skip this part or just giggle your way though it): I depend on wind protection for my manly parts; wind briefs become essential as the temp drops. Men's parts are designed for cooling but that doesn't work out so well when cycling (or skiing for that matter) so you really need to have extra wind protection over the family jewels. Wind briefs tend to be on the expensive side but are worth every penny and then some.

Your results will vary and you will need to do your own fine tuning but I think this should be a pretty good guide for what you need to consider as the temps drop. The two main things to remember are managing your layers and making sure you vent before you get overly sweaty.  It is possible, in fact it's exceedingly enjoyable, to ride in colder weather and by taking the right precautions it can be every bit as comfortable as riding in the summer. It might even be more fun since it sort of feels like you are getting away with something and when doesn't being a little bit naughty enhance your pleasure?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Root Canal Fashionista

When you don't feel good 
You can, at least, still look good
Jealous aren't you?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Six below and falling

It's now six below
By morning that will seem warm
Why do I live here?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nokian Extremes Rock

Bright snow all day long
A lovely evening to ride
My secret pleasure





Partly Cloudy

6 °F
(-14 °C)
Humidity:
73 %
Wind Speed:
NW 18 MPH
Barometer:
30.36" (1030.2 mb)
Dewpoint:
-1 °F (-18 °C)
Wind Chill:
-13 °F (-25 °C)
Visibility:
10.00 mi.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010