Saturday, May 30, 2009

That's Mr. 530 to you....

May 30th, 1961. I remember hanging upside down, covered in blood. I was scared, cold, angry. A large man dressed in white and covering his face was beating me on my ass. I let out a scream. He quit hitting me. Knives, scissors. Passed to a woman. Something shoved in my nose. WTF! The horror, the horror.
My father predicted I would be born on May 30th. At that time in Texas, you could request only numbers as personalized on license plates. So, 530. The plate arrived as MR-530. A boy perhaps? Kinda cool. Pictured next to the plate is my favorite buddy from years long past. His name is Tom.
Friends and relatives are throwing a party, my brother Russ is coming in from San Francisco. A lot of love and friendship for today. It's all very cool. I am a lucky human being. Health, friends, employment, Obama, there is but one thing not right in the world today.
I promised myself I would never mention this in my blog, but I feel I must. My lovely wife, my friend, my partner and my foil, has been fighting cancer for ten years now. We are both very tired. She is trying so hard today to be energetic, and positive. The pain she endures on a daily basis is staggering. It sickens me to watch her struggle. And yet it fills me with pride to see the sharp edge still in her beautiful eyes. On this day, do this for me, go to the one you love and hold them. Take one short moment to take them in, and appreciate the fragility and immediacy of the life we are given.
And look out for old people who drive. Scary shit.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Escalades are practical when you’re so far removed from the effort of living, that you can believe anything." Gnome
I met a young man outside of People's Food yesterday. Grimy, but healthy. Shabby and smiling. He had a total POS single speed bike with bullhorns, one brake, 23mm tires. TT and DT almost paintless from years of scratching. He was standing in the shelter of the canopy to avoid the rain, and nursing the tail end of a doob. He was very interested in my Big Dummy, and I admit I looked to see if my bags had been touched. Asked some very techy questions about frame flex, load capacity, parts availability on the road. He was under the impression I was touring, but I assured him I was just doing a grocery run.
Now this is where it gets interesting. He is from Ontario Canada. He is traveling. Yes, traveling. Not to anywhere. Just traveling. He had no backpack, no spare parts, just a cellphone and cargo pants with some xtra socks. He had wintered in Vermont, doing odd jobs and sleeping in the back of a restaraunt. One day, the weather channel said it would be 30 degrees and sunny. Perfect day to get over the mountain pass. So he just left, and went, and arrived somewhere else. And that led him to here, and tomorrow he will be on his way to Chicago. Why? To check out the bike scene.
I stood in rapt attention, living my own great escape through his words and the animated flash of his face as he told stories from the road. He would hop a train southbound tonight, check out Madison and then head for Chicago. I asked him if he had eaten lately, and his immediate response was "Thanks, but when I need things they show up." Geez. I offered to wrench his bike quick and tighten his chain tension, which he accepted. While I was doing that, I slipped a $20 into his seat bag. I truly dont believe the guy would have taken it. I hope he accepts it in the spirit intended. He put the lust for adventure back into my heart, made me young and brazen for a few minutes as I listened to his exploits and plans. Had I been in a hurry, driving in my insular petroleum conveyence, I would have missed it all. Rock on bicycles, and all who roll with them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rainy day, Mellow all over.

The first two consecutive days off I've had in weeks and I'll be darned but I'm too tired to enjoy them. As an exercise in positive thinking, the rainy weather is a blessing in disguise. Lisa often says that I stay in motion from early to late, and rarely just relax and take it easy. So I say ipso facto declaro chill day.
While going through old photos, I found this of a local lady who takes her birds for a ride every day weather permitting during the temperate seasons. Neat lady, talked to her about her birds for awhile. Slow it down a notch, talk to a stranger. Hard for me to do sometimes, but I'm rarely disappointed with the results.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Deer in the headlights

Amazing how attitudes change when the camera comes out. "Just be here for two minutes". As though I had the ability to excuse a parking violation. What you dont see is the bicyclist just ahead of me who swerved out into traffic to go around Mr. 2minutes, and then back into the bike lane. Problably a nice guy. Just seriously uncool.

Live and learn, forget, relearn, repeat.

So the tires Kevin set me up with were the Schwalbe 2.3" Fat Franks. Touted as low rolling resistance, high shock absorbtion, puncture and pinch flat resistant. OK. I compared them to a set of WTB Allterrainasuaras tires at 1.95, and smaller OD. Guess which tires gave the best performance as per rolling resistance? Fat Frank, by a landslide. Just goes to show you that if your LBS main man says "Go with these, you'll be happier.", it is then your responsibility to shut up and listen.
The decision to go with a 20" frame over 22" has proven to be a good one. The only concession has been the use of a 130mm stem to provide the reach necessary for using Nitto North Road bars flipped. I wish someone would create a bar that has the forward reach of a mustache bar, and the rear extension of either the North Roads, or Albatross bar. Market penetration would be like, maybe .01%. Well worth the tool and die effort.
Memorial day is upon us, ride safe, grill twice, have a cool beverage.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quote of the diem

"The only difference between a rut and a grave is dimensions" - Anon

Well thats not very deep. Bicycles rooted in practicality and useful design fascinate me more than the current fixed gear trend. Load carrying capacity and daily transport are becoming the most important factors to my biking endeavors. I have circled the flame of the Surly Big Dummy for quite awhile, and decided to make the move. Kevin at Blue Heron Bikes did the build.
Yesterday I went from La Crosse to Onalaska, visited the LBS (Blue Heron) and on the way home failed to turn right. With a smile on my face, and full water bottles I headed for Sparta, 23 miles away. 83 degrees, sunny, breezy, no rain forecast. The bike was smooth as butter. Predictable handling, long wheelbase, and well tuned, the miles ticked away unnoticed. The only "sore point" was my taint, which was being beaten into submission by a new Brooks B-17 saddle. Half way to Sparta the saddle and my nether region came to an agreement, and the rest of the ride was pleasurable and peaceful.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sweet Monday

Well there it goes. Monday has reared it's ugly head, run past me, and is now on the way out the door. Morning bike commute started with a fat sheriff cutting me off at Hwy B as he rolled past the stop, and at the last second looked up to see me mouthing the word "What the @$#%?" at him. He looked at me as though he found annoyance with the inconvienience of not running me over, waved me ever so graciously out into traffic to make it around him, and then roared off. Couldn't even back up to let me onto the crosswalk and bike lane. Protect and serve my ass. Another two year degree redneck rascist prick with a gun no doubt.

A heads up for anyone using the upper road (Hwy 16) from La Crosse to Onalaska. Seems the college kids must have had a bottle throwing fit along the bike path. Lots of broken glass. Great for new tire sales, bad for being to work on time. Check out DC for some scary stats on bike fatalities - Makes me feel bony all over.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I imagine the purpose of this blog will morph over time. Right now, it's all about the heady enjoyment of a new Wisconsin Spring. Newfound energy abounds. What was once cast aside as a cold February musing is now thrown on the hotlist of "to do's".
The Krietler rollers have been stored away for another 3 seasons, the harem of bikes is tuned to perfection, oiled, pawls clicking merrily on freehubs and cassettes. Fixed gear bike slides by silently in the cover of a night ride, no lights. Each errand becomes one more excuse to ride.
Not that there wasn't plenty of riding during the winter months, but let's face it, gimme a 50 degree day over 10 anytime. Safer, faster, funner.