Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wisconsin Wonderland

For a variety of reasons, the missus and I opted to flee the insanity that is the holidays and seclude ourselves in a cabin near Lake Pepin for the duration. We found the perfect spot near Maiden Rock up in one of the coulees run by the Journey Inn. The goal was to enjoy a quiet holiday, catch up on some reading and movie watching, and bike and snow shoe.

When we drove down Thursday afternoon, the snow we were getting in the Cities was pretty much sleet and rain by the time we got there. We fired up the wood stove, unpacked our gear and I headed out for a ride on the Pugsley. As you can see from the pictures, there was snow on the ground but it was rain falling from the sky.

I also took the opportunity to explore some of the various roads in the area in anticipation of a dirt/gravel circumnavigation of Lake Pepin. The ride around the lake is one of my favorites, and the boys at HC are working on a grand tour next spring/summer that will travel through this area over a week. If you're interested in such insanity, stay tuned for more info as we get closer to warm weather.

In several days of riding, I was passed by two cars and both stopped to chat about the bike, the weather and the world in general. One couple out delivering newspapers told me they saw my tracks in the snow and made a detour to see who would be riding a motorcycle in such crappy weather.

We also visited the new National Eagle Center in Wabasha. It's in a magnificent new building right on the river and they have several eagles that you can see up close. This is Harriett, the eagle portrayed on the Minnesota "Support Our Troops" license plate.

We watched two being fed (not for the faint of heart) and were able to see several out on the river. They have made an amazing comeback since DDT was banned in the early 1970's, and their biggest threat now is lead ingested from bullets and fishing sinkers.

The missus enjoying the view.

It started to snow again as we were heading north and the sky had that steely grey look to it.

The snow conditions there didn't lend themselves to snow shoeing but we did get some short hikes in. We had a thoroughly enjoyable time and this may become a new holiday tradition.

Hope everyone has a safe and prosperous 2010.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rasputin Haunts My Dreams

Ok, that would be Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, brewed in NorCal with a 9% alcohol content. They should require a prescription for this stuff, seriously. How the hell is this bike related?

So, this long time customer walks into the bike store. He suggests that, in the spirit of the holidays, we hoist this beer he likes. But before I take my first sip, he whispers " this won't get you drunk so much as high". Ok, whatever. So I consume said spirits (on an empty stomach I might add), bid farewell to my colleagues, and start the ride home.

A mile in, I'm feeling the warm glow that good spirits typically provide. Two miles in, I have a full on Chernobyl burn, and completely miss the turn for home that I've made hundreds of times before. A few minutes later, I find myself at a busy intersection staring at a hockey rink and water tower, both of which I'm pretty sure didn't grow next to my house during the day. Apparently, I have ridden an extra mile or so up a gradual hill in heavy traffic on streets that feel like they're covered in oatmeal, just lost in what I'm not sure.

Getting my groove back on, I somehow find my way home without falling. Once home, I pass out on the first horizontal surface I could find, which fortunately was my bed. At least I had my helmet on. And my helmet mounted blinky has so traumatized the cat, he'll never come near me again.

Following a short coma, the missus and I went out for pizza and beer at Savoy's in St. Paul. After Rasputin, Newcastle tasted like warm dish water. I am really getting too old for this.

As Paula tells Andy in 40 Year Old Virgin == "I'm discreet, but I'll haunt your dreams". Rasputin was anything but but I'm pretty sure I'll have nightmares.

Thanks Tom. Lets do crack next time and get it over with.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Missing The Point

When I started this blog a month or so ago, I promised not to rant on topics political. So, technically, I'm keeping my promise but a recent article in a well known cycling publication requires some comment. The article, written by a well published author, attempts to explain the importance and advantages of mounting a stiff rack to one's touring bike before heading out.

Now, I've read the author's articles for years. and while I enjoy the historical analysis that always finds its way into the content, most of the topics are over analyzed and usually miss the point. This article on racks is no exception as it describes a rack's "load paths and triangulation", and uses words like compression and tension to describe the structural forces at play.

I'm sure there are a few engineer types out there who care about such things but the majority of people reading it don't. It takes two pages to get the reader to the concluding paragraph which is all the information most of them want -- "A well designed rack is stiff, light-weight, and strong".

The point the article really misses is that the weakest point of any rack, no matter how stiff or strong it is, are the 5 mm bolts attaching it to the frame. It doesn't matter how good the rack is if one of those bolts shear off as you're bouncing down the road -- and they often do. IMHO, frame builders should utilize attachment points that use a 6 mm bolt but that's another story.

A touring cyclist really can't go wrong buying a rack from companies like Surly, Tubus, Blackburn, Nitto, Jandd, Old Man Mountain or Topeak. They should ask touring cyclists for their recommendations or work with a shop that sells products for touring cyclists. When you're in the middle of nowhere looking for that ideal campsite, load path's and triangulation really don't matter.

Just carry extra bolts.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Successful Sub 24

Three intrepid souls left HC world HQ to head out into the great cold night. But since an army never marches an empty stomach, a stop at Caps for BBQ Chicken was the first order of business. Our stomachs full, we headed into the night.

We rolled up the Minnesota River Valley, enjoying the solitude and the clear cold air. Arriving at our camp sight, we set up a tent, and solved the world's problems over a good cigar and some 20+ year old scotch. As the night grew colder, we crawled into our sleeping bags and slept soundly. Without a thermometer, the exact temperature is unknown but given we were in a low spot and along a creek, my guess is our temp was somewhere south of 10 degrees, colder with the wind.

Not wanting to leave our warm cocoons, we delayed breaking camp until the sun was just above the horizon. We headed west over the Cedar Avenue Bridge before looping back and re-entering the world just east of the Mall of America. We continued east towards the legendary IHOP to wreak havoc on their advertised breakfast specials.

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera with a flash so the photographic record is of low quality and starts with:


Now thoroughly full, we opted to utilize the Light Rail for part of the ride home.

The boys, pre-boarding.

I'm pretty sure the train car designers didn't envision trying to squeeze a 4 inch tire into the bike hooks.

A great trip -- great company, and no mechanical/equipment problems. Already scheming up the next one.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter Sub 24

Heading out for an overnight excursion. Location is a closely guarded secret known only to the one they call Jim. Temps could get to single digits and maybe some snow -- perfect. Warm sleeping gear, large tobacco rolls and adult beverages packed and ready.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Pugsley Is Great, but . . .

this definitely has the cool factor going for it. Rumor has it the owner is Twin Cities based but, like Elvis, sightings have never been confirmed. Mr. Inglis can build one for ya.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

They Take Their Cycling Seriously

Powell's Books, Portland Oregon. August, 2009