April 30, 2005
Twin City Bicycle Club Swap Meet Review
Today was an interesting experience. I was there with two other volunteers representing the Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance and the Sibley Bike Depot. We received about 5 bikes, a couple of boxes of miscellaneous parts and one cash donation. Also another nice man gave me his number and said he had about 15 bikes for us to pick up.
There was a lot of information available there and I got some nice bike route maps and signed up for information on a volunteer opportunity called Bolder Options, a bicycling or running mentoring program. I also joined the Twin Cities Bicycle Club and got a copy of their newsletter and ride schedule. But probably one of the greatest things that came out of this for me, was meeting a lady who is starting their own Bicycle salvage and donation program specifically for woman, promoting bicycles as a means of transportation. Last year as a test they fixed and gave away hundreds of bikes. Now they are converting their garage into a full-blown bike shop and incorporating as a non-profit organization. I thought what they were doing was a good thing, so I offered my services to help fix up and restore bikes to give away. I got her number so I'll call her in a few weeks to see how it's going.
Overall the swap meet seemed kind of small. The Saint Paul Bike Racing Club's swap meet was at least 2-3 times larger. But there were a lot of buyers there. Many people looked at my tandem bike which I was trying to sell there with a sign that said, "Best Offer" But no-one wanted to make an offer. So I ended up bringing it home.
It was a good event overall and It was interesting watching people look over the stuff, trying to decide whether to buy or not. Even the people that came with me bought some stuff, but I didn't see anything that I wanted, so I didn't buy anything. Well, that's not true, I bought a bike for 10 dollars to donate to the Bike Depot. Other than that, it could have been worse. But I really don't want or need anything for biking. So I didn't spend too much money.
April 29, 2005
Long Ride Recovery
Tonight after work I rode with Dan to County Cycles in Roseville. I bought a few things I needed while Dan signed up with the Gopher Wheelmen bike racing club. After that we continued up to County Road E, then headed west to West River Road. Dan went North to his house, and I rode down to Lake Street, across the bridge to East River Road, then to Summit, down the Ramsey hill and back into downtown St. Paul. 31 miles. Added to my 5 mile commute I had a 36 mile day and it felt pretty good. All day today I was weak and tired but I ate 3 times today, plus had a cliff bar 1/2 hour before the ride. The ride was also not quite as fast as my previous ride, but still a good pace. Now I think I'm recovered from sunday's ride! It's only 5 days later!
Don't forget tomorrow is the Twin Cities Bike Club Swap meet. It's a place where members sell and trade their bikes, gear and anything cycling related. There will be thousands of people there. If you need anything bike related, this is one of the greatest events to go to.
Also, tomorrow night I'm going to be a movie star! haha. My daughter has a video production class and is doing her project on cycling. After the swap meet we are going out to do the shoot. haha. I can't wait to see what she does with it! The last video she did had me laughing. It was really good and comedic.
You probably won't be able to see this one in the theatres near you. But it will be well produced I think. Of course I might be biased about the producer. haha.
April 28, 2005
No Plans are complete without...
It seems that no matter what our plans are, they can change. Just like the weather in Minnesota, haha. Tonight my plans were to work on my bikes, but instead we went to Home Depot to buy materials to fence in the rest of our yard so the dogs can run free and play back there without us having to watch them every second while we're working out there. It'll be nice. But I wasn't planning on doing that tonight. That was about 4 hours worth of time, including going out to dinner. hmmm. But I think all plans have to be flexible. One of the items on my to do list should be "Change plans" Haha.
After Home depot I bought two rubbermaid-like bins with covers to use as paniers for my bike, haha. Pictures will follow soon. Total cost for these water-tight grocery haulers? about 15 dollars for both. They will hook onto my rear bike rack that I installed for 5 dollars.
April 27, 2005
This morning and today at work I experienced a period of low-energy. My muscles are tired and weak. Sunday I did a hard 60-mile bike ride. On Monday I only rode about 5.4 miles on my bike and Yesterday I rode 6 miles on my bike and ran for about 2 miles.
This morning I tried to ride with Kevin and Rich. It was ok at first, but I quickly felt exhausted and weak. I couldnít maintain their pace. After about 10 miles, I slowed down to a 16mph pace on a straight, long-flat stretch. I only rode with them 13 miles this morning. I felt like my muscles just didnít have it and my lungs were breathing as hard as they could. Iíve been yawning all day. Even last night I went to bed fairly early, so I know I got about 7-8 hours of sleep.
Maybe it was the cold,
Maybe I need more recovery time after such long, hard rides,
Maybe I need more conditioning to sustain a rigorous workout schedule.
Maybe Iím not ready for that group of riders
Maybe I didnít have enough fuel, since I skipped breakfast, thinking Iíd eat afterwards.
Maybe itís like the song, Ďthis old gray mare, she aint what she used to be, aint what she used to be.í Haha.
Maybe itís a combination of some of these or all of them or something else.
In any case I could not sustain a high level of energy for very long today. By 4pm I was even nodding off at work. Today I ate two lunches, tonight I plan on getting a good nightís rest and in the morning eating Ĺ hour before my ride tomorrow with Kevin and Rich again. Weíll see how it goes.
By the way, in my experience, all the bike racers Iíve met so far are super nice people. This is a good spirit to have. I especially recognize Kevin who rode back and tried to reassure me that itís ok and that I probably needed more recovery time after that ride on Sunday. He said Iíd feel better tomorrow. It was nice of him to take the time to do this.
As far as my athletic plan goes, it will take time and a lot of hard work and my ability to sustain will improve. By next year at this time It is my belief that Iíll have a much stronger base with improved nutrition and fitness habits. Iíve already made such great changes and a low-energy day may be reason to evaluate what I am doing and how I am doing it, but is no reason to give up.
April 26, 2005
I have been seeing in the cycling/running/fitness world the feeling of inadequacy some people feel when around someone who is motivated. It could be a feeling of intimidation or a fear of being seen as somehow Ďless.í There are many opportunities to feel this way when doing group events or even on runs or biking with friends. I have let this fear pop up in myself, recognized it for what it is and then let it go.
The truth is that every person is at a different point in their fitness for any given activity and in life. Itís natural, tempting and easy to start comparing ourselves with others. After all, we are all models for each other. But how we use that comparison is sometimes unnatural. Itís not good if we use it to self-deprecate ourselves. We can have wonderful results when we can compare ourselves with others to better ourselves or improve our methods, but when those comparisons are not serving that purpose itís kind of counter-productive. Iíve seen people on bike rides that just give up when someone zips by them effortlessly. Or after years and years of training a person sees a newcomer exceed their best efforts and loses their ambition to keep working at it. Iíve even felt a sense of futility in the lead-up to the start of my bike-racing season. Monday I start the St. Paul Bike Racing Club Beginning Racing Program (BRP). Iíve ridden with so many incredibly strong riders now that could leave me in their dust. I remember thinking, ďWhatís the point? I could never hope to win a race if there are people like that racing. Especially when Iím going all out on a training ride and they make it look easy, pulling ahead and riding off into the horizon until I canít see them anymore. Itís easy to feel like the huge effort is really pointless. It happened to me when I first rode with Kevin and Mike. Their pace was really fast and I had a lot of trouble keeping up. I felt like I was improving over the last year and that I was in pretty good shape coming into this season, but that ride with them made me feel totally inadequate for bike racing. But when we compare ourselves with others who are way above our physical or mental ability in this way, itís easy to feel inadequate.
It doesnít have to be that way though. We can use these comparisons to motivate ourselves to push harder, to keep training. There is a difference in attitude. First of all, I remind myself that Iím not doing this for them. When I compare my fitness now with my fitness level last year at this time, I realize that Iíve come a long way! To me it all depends on MY attitude, not someone elseís. I am motivated for my own reasons and Iím free to accept myself for who I am. Secondly, I have multiple levels of motivation for doing Bike Racing and Running and even Language Learning. Itís not to prove I can do it. Itís not to prove Iím stronger or better or smarter than someone else. Iím following my heart, and the interactions I have with others in these things will reveal even more purpose for me. One of which is to become a mentor with Bolder Options. Thirdly, I believe physical fitness is good for my mental, physical and spiritual well being. Have your own reasons for doing what you are doing. Use your comparisons to improve yourself.
That is one thing I wish for everyone. Be free and do things for your own reasons, donít be intimidated by others to the point where you give up your dreams. Even if you have to work harder than others, your success will depend on your own attitudes and motivation, not someone elseís.
Tonight I will be at this class: http://www.bikeped.org/Calendar/view_entry.php?id=105
There is still room in the class so if this is a skill you need, the price is right. Be there at 6:30pm.
Tomorrow night I'll be working at the Sibley Bike Depot fixing bikes. Wednesday night is volunteer nights.
Saturday, April 30th is the TCBC 2nd Annual Swap meet from 1-4pm. I'll be there at a table for the MNBPA non-profit group accepting donations of bike parts, bikes, biking related things and talking about the programs of the MNBPA and the Sibley Bike Depot
Sunday, May 1st is my last day of work at the group home. :-( I don't feel so good about that yet.
Monday night, May 2nd, I start the TCBRC BRP!
Next Friday, May 6th I'm taking the day off and going on a 120 mile bike ride in prep for the following week's 200k Brevet. I'll be leaving St. Paul in the early morning, possibly 6am, riding toward Afton, then Prescott, then heading into Wisconsin. When I hit 60 miles I'm turning around and coming back the same route.
On Sunday May 8th I'm doing the Lillydale Time Trial Part 1. Haha, we'll see how fast I ride with one day of rest between the long ride and the 5-mile sprint!
April 25, 2005
My day in the rain
It wasnít raining when I left the house this morning but I got a little wet riding in to work. I had a rain jacket on so my upper body was fine but the tops of my legs got a little wet. After I got inside it took about an hour for my pants to dry completely. Itís a good thing I didnít have a meeting this morning. But then again, If I did, I would have put the whole rain suit on or packed a dry change of clothes to put on when I arrived. Oh well, I didnít melt and the ride was very pleasant. Oh that reminds me... I didnít put my Kool-Stop brakes on yet and that laziness made my commute a little less safe in the rain.
At lunch time I decided to go to the bike shop to get two new tubes for that bike I found. Both tires had slow leaks and this morning I found them both flat. I saw the problem was that both tubes were installed improperly and holes developed on the sides of the stems. This created a slow leak, so thatís why they didnít go flat while I rode it the first time. Also whoever installed these tubes had them twisted and folding over themselves.
Attention all bicycle owners: Changing an innertube is a good skill to know how to do! It can save a lot of grief later down the road.
After hanging out at the bike shop during my lunch hour, I was out of time to eat. It was fun though. After work I went outside and changed the tubes in that bike. Now they are in good shape to ride on. All I have to do is clean it up. Itís kind of dirty. Then I think I will put this 3 speed near a busy bus stop with a ďFreeĒ sign on it. Or park it by the homeless shelter, or something. Itís a good little bike and rides nicely.
After I fixed those tires, I began my ride home on my Schwinn 5-speed. I had installed a new headlight on my helmet and some kid was making fun of it as I rode by him. I just laughed and kept riding. I looked in the mirror when I got home and I do kind of look like a miner with that thing on! Then I laughed too. On the way home my five-speed all of a sudden wouldnít shift into the lowest gear for the big hill. So I stopped and adjusted the rear derrailluer so it shifted properly. I wondered how it got out of whack. All Iíve been doing is riding it to and from work. Must be like a Harley where parts vibrate loose as itís been ridden or in this case, vibrate out of adjustment.
When I got home I didnít feel like working on anything so I read some blogs, made a couple of comments, talked to my brother on the phone, talked to my mom on the phone, sent some email replies and sat down to write this. And here I am. It was a rainy day but somehow it didnít seem like that mattered. I still got a lot done and I still rode my bicycle to and from work.
Did I mention that I also had a motorcycle? Last week I gave it away. And next week my Jeep will be gone. It wonít matter though, because Iíve already been riding my bike almost everywhere I go. For some events like the Iron Crotch bike ride I did in Stillwater on Sunday, Iíll have to ride my bike to or find a different way to get there, or not go to things like this. Iím with Jim in not wanting to drive to events. It might make some bike races interesting. How much energy does a person need? My activities will probably get moved closer to home starting next week or Iíll have more interesting adventures to talk about. Either way itís a win-win situation for me. It is because of the car that we have become so spread out and spread thin. I remember driving my children all over the cities to play with their friends or take music lessons or go to gymnastics or soccer practice. Nothing was done in our own neighborhood it seems.
One more week until I cut the dependency on my motorized vehicles. Of course my wife and daughter will still have their cars but I think Iíll not ask them to give me rides unless we are going somewhere as a family and they have a reason to go themselves.
Another rainy day that turned out nicely.
I have a handle on it, sort of.
Last night I spent two hours scrubbing the rust off the handlebars, stem and bolts on this Armstrong bike. It did shine up nicely! Today I went into the bike shop and found out that one very nice man who rides a vintage British 3-speed had some identical white hand grips that were in better shape than these. Mine are all scraped up on the ends. He had left four of them in a bag with my name on it. That was very nice.
Slowly but surely this bike is being dismantled, to hopefully be put back together in time for the ride. Iíve decided thatís the only way to do this right. It will be stripped down to the bare frame by the time Iím done with it. Then it all goes back together.
Problem number 2: How do I get old bicycle registration stickers and strips of reflectorized stickers off without wrecking the paint underneath? I tried a couple different versions of goo and tar remover, but neither one can penetrate this type of sticker. Iíll have to try something else.
April 24, 2005
The Non-Iron Crotch
A summary of the ride today:
17.1 mph average speed
Holy cow there are a lot of hills in Western Wisconsin!
We rode from Stillwater up to Osceola, then East, South and West back to the beginning point. I had several 8mph hills on this ride and for a few yards 5mph. But most of the hills I took at a much faster pace. There was also a strong headwind for part of the ride which made it interesting and challenging. The good thing though was that I dressed appropriately and was not too cold or too hot.
I lost steam after about an hour and my pace slowed considerably. I thought I would feel more tired than I did overall, but maybe if I had gotten more sleep I would have done even better.
Overall I give this ride two thumbs up. But after 60 miles at that pace I was wishing for an iron crotch. I was tired, no pretty exhausted when I got home and a little stiff, but not sore. After running some errands with my wife I took a 1 hour nap and then worked on my bike projects outside, as if I didn't get enough fresh air today! haha. I survived the ride, although a little exhausted, but now I am wondering how I will do on the 200k brevet ride next month. Thats more than double what I did today and probably equally as hilly.
I think today was a success for my training purposes.
April 23, 2005
The big ride - So little time.
Well, this is definately not a good way to prepare for a 60 mile training ride! Staying up until midnight, getting up early and then riding 60 miles can't be healthy for the body. But I worked today, ran some errands, cleaned and re-lubed my bike because it was in bad shape, fixed my speedometer and came online. Where did my time go? haha.
I would have prepared last night, but I was at the art-crawl until 10pm. I would have prepared Thursday night but I was out riding. This is a lesson I've been learning over and over. I recognize that now. Real athletes, and non-athletes all need a proper balance of physical exertion and rest. So when I don't get enough rest, my body doesn't function as well. I have been doing better about getting to bed sooner overall, but still have a long ways to go for proper training.
Tomorrow afternoon I'll let you all know how it felt. A lesson will be reinforced. ;-)
April 22, 2005
ďEven we have our standards!Ē
What is an abandoned girlís Murray 3-Speed Bike worth? Today while running I saw another abandoned bike! I found out from another guy later that it had been there for a few weeks. Itís been a few weeks since I ran by there so I didnít notice it until today. I decided to pick it up and take it back to the bike depot to put it back into use or recycle. So I ran, wheeling the bike along on my right side, holding onto the handlebar. The tires were flat but it coasted ok with no weight on it.
When I got to the Sibley Bike Depot, they all looked at me like I was crazy. Dave looked at it and said it was junk, to scrap it. He might know something about the value of bikes, and what people would pay for them. But this bike seemed to be in pretty good shape other than two flat tires and it seemed to be a shame to scrap something that was working. They didnít really want it so I made a snap decision to clean it up myself and find a rider for it. Is there any reason this bike shouldnít be out on the road being ridden? So I pumped up the tires, they even held air! I then rode this bike back to work from the bike shop and it was a smooth ride. It needed a little adjustment on the brakes to make them grab properly, but that only took a few seconds.
Old steel can get rusty if neglected. Then we want to throw it away for a newer model. People can be neglected and devalued and then we want to discard them also for newer, better models. It would be a shame to scrap something that is working even if some people determine there is no value in them.
Changing Light Bulbs
Last night after my bike ride I got home, ate dinner, watched a little TV, talked with my wife and by the time I decided to get to work on the computer it was dark outside. I went into the library and turned on the light and there was a quick flash, a popping sound and then it went dark. The light bulb had burnt out. Actually that ceiling fixture has three bulbs and evidently they were all burnt out.
Obviously this didnít happen all at once. I wondered how long the other bulbs had been burnt out! After I changed them it seemed so bright in there! I must have gotten used to only one bulb after some time.
As I screwed in the first of the three light bulbs, the light came on. Just a few minutes before this my wife and I had been talking about neglected friendships and how itís easy to get caught up in life and get too busy and before we know it, months or years have gone by without any contact. Sure it happens and we donít always realize itís happening until itís dark. We even get used to being without them after a period of time as one-by-one they go out of our lives.
I had this thought that it would have been better for my eyesight if I had kept all three bulbs in the library light fixture. And I could certainly think of a few friends I have not talked to in ages, just because we are all too busy. It would be better I think, to keep the lights on and have friends to love and interact with during our daily lives than to be in the dark.
April 21, 2005
The St. Paul Art Crawl
It's that time of year again! Every Spring and Fall there is an Art
Crawl in Downtown St. Paul where over 200 artists and galleries open
their doors to the public. For the past several years I've been
volunteering in the Lowertown Lofts as a door greeter, giving out maps,
talking to people about the artists, giving directions, telling them
which floors of the building are open, etc. It's been a lot of fun for
me and I've seen a lot of old friends come through that I haven't seen
in a long time.
Because of my weekend job, I can only be there on Friday night. So
tomorrow night I'll be sitting at the door greeting people. In my
opinion, the Lowertown Lofts is one of the greatest artist's buildings
downtown, partly because they have a 3-story atrium gallery in the
center of the building with the artist's studios surrounding it. The
studios are really cool also, with large windows and ceilings.
Also, somewhere in Lowertown, one of my co-volunteers at the Sibley
Bike Depot is going to be selling bike jewelry that she made from old
inner tubes and bike chains. She showed me the bracelet she made and it
looked really interesting, like braided leather with the chain parts woven in. She's using the money she makes to buy a nice bike frame for herself. What a cool way to recycle old junk.
I hope she sells some of them.
April 20, 2005
Have Bicycle, Will Travel
Today at lunch I rode my SUV of bicycles home, fixed a flat tire on the Limousine of Bicycles and rode it back to work by myself. This Limo is built for two and it felt kind of weird riding it. Iíve only ridden a tandem bike once, and it was kind of squirrelly feeling but I thought that was the guy on back shifting his weight around too much. But no, it felt that way by myself.
My sister gave me this old Huffy Tandem bike to try to sell at the TCBC swap meet on April 30th. It needs a little work though, so Iím fixing it up tonight. I donít really know what Iíd do with a tandem bike, so am not sure if I need it or not. Dan joked with me about accumulating bikes. Well, I am getting rid of bikes too, not just collecting them. I think Iíll hold at 4 bikes with different purposes. But thatís a different story! This tandem bike is a mess.
I donít know where she got this thing from, but I would definitely not recommend them for fixing up bikes. Here is a list of the problems so far:
Dry-rotted tires that are old and cracking.
Whoever changed the front tire last did a poor job of it. The tube was punctured because they didnít put a liner in the wheel to protect it from the spokes. The inner-tube was also folded over on itself, twisted around and creased.
Itís a ten speed without a front derailleur! What? They just forgot to put that back on?
The brake pads on the back were riding on the tires.
The front handlebars creak every time you pull on them. May just need tightening.
The front wheel has a wobble in it. I know how to replace and repack bearings now!
None of this is major. I plan on fixing them all tonight. Then Iím not sure what will be the fate of this fine Limo. Until I sell it, maybe Iíll rent myself and the bike out for rides and bike tours and sightseeing. Anyone want to go on a long bike ride, check out the nice trail system we have, but arenít sure if you can make it by yourself? Hire an experienced cyclist, in halfway decent shape, that knows how to fix a flat on the trail! A tandem bike ride could be just the thing for you! Itís cheaper than hiring a motorized limo too!
Another thought I had was ĎBike-Pooling.í You know, like ĎCar-Poolingí to work but on a tandem bike. Anyone want to commute to and from work but donít know the best route or are afraid to try it? Hire the limo with a driver! I could come to your door, hand you a bike helmet, stow your work stuff on the rack, and off we go. Then after work weíd cruise on back in the sunshine. What a beautiful way to get back and forth to work. Actually this is kind of a fun idea. I told one of my coworkers this idea and he actually thought it sounded like fun to do sometime. Several of us are still trying to get him to ride his bike to work.
Do you need a little more exercise in your day? We can ride fast on that bike and go up hills too! I know where most of the good hills are now!
My wife told me these were weird ideas and no-one would take me up on them. I donít know. It sounds fun to me, but Iím the driver for hire and I donít mind meeting new people and working hard. I think she thinks itís weird because she still thinks of bikes as purely recreational. She didnít think it was weird to hire a stranger taxi driver a few weeks ago. And just like a taxi, why not hire one that some experience and can help get you to your destination safely?
What do you say? 5-10 bucks per ride? I think this could buy a lot of bike parts for the community bike shop.
April 19, 2005
Uncovering the past
Tonight I finished scrubbing as much rust as I could from the front fender of this bike. Itís shiny on the outside, mostly shiny on the underside with some rust that I just couldnít remove. Add 30 minutes to the front fender time!
After doing the fender, I was curious about the stickers on this bike. Dick Mier of New Richmond, I have your bike! I carefully uncovered 5 New Richmond Bicycle Registration stickers. The sixth one was only partially there and could not be read, but Iím guessing itís the one for 1971-72.
It appears that Dick Mier owned this bicycle from 1966 to 1976 and was diligent about buying and displaying his registration stickers. It would be fun if I tracked Dick down and showed him the final project. It will not look exactly like the original but it will be cool looking.
Removing stickers to uncover the past is not really part of the restoration, but it is interesting. Now that I found out this information I can remove all of the registration stickers from the bike. It will look much cleaner without five large stickers on the tubes and back fender.
Tire update: My tires arrived today but we weren't home, so I have to go to the post office tomorrow to pick them up. Now I hope they actually work on these rims. The seller said they would.
I started putting parts in plastic bags with notes on where they came from and how they go back together as I tear this thing down. I should then be able to put it all back together fairly quickly.
Progress seems slow, but I could have gotten a lot more done if I wasn't trying to uncover the past. But for curiosity's sake, I'm happy I took the time to peel back those stickers.
April 18, 2005
There is a limit and it keeps stretching
This morning I met Rich at 6am for a 20 plus mile ride at a good pace. My odometer is still broken so Itís an educated guess, erring on the low side. Then I went to work and remembered I had a meeting in Roseville at 1:30pm, which is 10 miles away. I rode there, had my meeting, and then rode back. That was good, but I was starting to get tired, so I ate a second lunch. It was only about a half hour before I was finished with work and I talked to my coworker and we decided to ride together up to freewheel bike. Thatís another 20 miles round trip. So by the time I crawled up Smith Avenue I was pretty tired. I just had a 60 plus mile day!
I ate dinner and collapsed for a while while watching the winners in each category reach the finish line in the Boston Marathon. These are very strong runners with an amazing pace for such a distance. I told my wife I wasnít planning on running a marathon this year. I have my limits.
On the ride home, somewhere along Summit Avenue I was passed by a guy wearing a ĎNow Fun and Sportsí jersey. I was in no mood to pick up the pace, but he got stopped at a red light so I caught up to him and struck up a conversation. It was very interesting. Heís working on increasing his miles on the bike because heís a triathlete and the Ďbikingí portion is his weak spot. Well, he also confided that he hates running and that swimming is really his strong suite. But he was out stretching his limits, to improve his race times.
Just two weeks until my Beginning Racerís Program (BRP) and Iím already getting excited about it. There are 60 people signed up and there are 10 volunteer coaches so weíll be split into groups of 6 based on how we answered the questionaire. Iím glad I answered honestly. haha. But my limits are stretching and my speed is increasing so Iíll be ready when the training begins. There are a lot of people interested in bike racing. I was kind of surprised. Tomorrow night I was going to bike to Edina out by Highway 169 to see the first Opus Criterium bike race of the season, as a spectator, providing itís not pouring down rain. That will be another large mileage day for me, so now at only 9:55pm, Iím going to bed. My limits have been reached for one day. Maybe tomorrow will be a rest day, weíll see.
In the news, Lance Armstrong announced that he will be riding in the Tour de France this year to win a 7th time, then heís retiring from pro-racing. I guess even he has his limits, and they stretched considerably over the past 6 years. Itís interesting to me that as I begin bike racing Lance is retiring. But of course Iím not making a career out of bike racing, just increasing my miles and spending a lot of time doing it, haha.
The Iron Crotch ride is coming up on April 24 which is a 60 mile ride. That will be like today, except all in one ride. I know what my limits are, I think, and they will be stretched for that ride.
April 17, 2005
This old Bike
Iím sitting here looking at this old bike Iím restoring and thinking, ďWhat did I get myself into?Ē and ďThere must be an easier way to do this!Ē But there isnít I think. So tonight after work I dug into the restoration project again.
I spent another 2 hours on my front wheel trying to scrub the rust off. So far that makes a total of 4 hours of work on the front wheel alone! It did have a lot of rust on it though. But I think itís in a condition now where I cannot do anything more to clean it up. I still have to repack the bearings, but I wanted to get all the rust cleaning done before I did that. Now Iím thinking I should repack the bearings tomorrow night, and go to the bike shop on Tuesday with it and make sure the wheel is exactly true before I put the tube and tire on it. I noticed a few loose spokes as I was scrubbing it. The white tires I bought on eBay to fit this old bike have been shipped so I should see them on Wednesday or Thursday. I'm not going to make any more predictions about how long this will take because yesterday I said that it should only take me one more hour to finish that wheel and it took 2 more just to scrub the rest of the rust off. I'll just do the rest to my standards and try to work on it every day or two until it's done.
After I was done with the front wheel, I took off the front fender and started to scrub that with steel wool. I got most of the rust off the outside, and started on the underside where the rust is the thickest. It has nice chrome fenders so I think this bike will really shine when Iím done with it. It has a few dents so Iíll probably try to push some of those out with my rubber mallet. I spent 30 minutes working on the front fender so far.
Total time invested in this 1960ís Armstrong Lightweight:
Front wheel- 4 hours
Front fender Ė 30 minutes
The seat dilemma:
I pulled off the seat to examine it and to try to decide what to do about it. Itís definitely a mass-produced, cheap seat that they would have only put on their lower-end bikes. It has heavy steel framing, with tin underbody and two big springs in back, all painted with silver paint. Over the tin seat there is a thick-black-molded piece of plastic. Over the plastic there is a VERY thin piece of foam and then a thin vinyl cover in red and white. The red is now faded to orange. The vinyl is also torn on the back corners and has come loose all along the back topside. The white machine stitching all the way around the bottom edge is almost completely gone and the rivets along the sides to keep the vinyl in position are all rusted. Itís a big wide seat and the springs still work well, but I canít imagine this hard seat would be comfortable on any length of ride.
So what do I do about the seat? The way I see it I have three options:
1. Buy an entirely new seat, which would change the look and feel of the original mass-produced cheapo seat.
2. Rebuild this seat, which would take time. Also I donít know if I really have the expertise in me to do this and have it look professional. Maybe I could take it to an upholstery shop and have someone duplicate the red and white cover for a reasonable cost. I could scrub the rust off and repaint the metal parts silver then have them put a new vinyl cover on it, with a little better padding maybe. Maybe I could try it myself and if I donít get it looking right, then take it somewhere or scrap it and buy a Brooks saddle or something. That wouldnít be red and white like the original though, but it would look nice on this red bike.
3. Leave it the way it is and cover it with a black gel seat cover. That would change the look and feel but the original seat would still be under there in the same condition, hiding.
Iím not a bike collector, but I am under the impression that those people that do collect bikes like to see all original components where possible and like to see it in the best possible condition without redoing the whole bike. Even re-painting the frame Iíve heard can detract from the value of the collectorís item because itís no longer Ďoriginal equipment.í Thankfully the paint on this bike is in really good condition except for a few scratches, which are now rusted. I think Iíll get some of that rust inhibitor from the auto parts store and try to find some auto touch-up paint to match the bikeís red paint.
To keep this project in perspective, my wife told me today, ďItís still a funny looking old bike.Ē I think I need to shift gears and move on to the back wheel as soon as possible so I can get that Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub working before I run out of time. I still have some broken cables and donít know if this thing will shift or not. Then once I get that working I could take the rest of the bike apart to finish cleaning it up.
In any case itís a lot of work! I have a feeling Iíll be working on this until the day I go down to Redwing with it for the ride. But the good news is, it will feel like a new bike when I do. I hope.
Why am I doing this again? To meet some new, interesting people and experience English-Style Bike touring where they purposefully make as many stops as possible. The Bicycling Magazine has a good article about a bike racer that went to Ireland to learn how to slow down. He purposefully did about 30 miles in a day and had beer and food along the way. I think itís the same idea as this ride, except they are serious about doing this ride on old British-made 3-speeds or less.
And I do love seeing this old, rusty, dirty, damaged bike shine up and come back into practical use. We are such a wasteful society where so many things, even automobiles, have become disposable. When it no longer looks pretty, or things start to go wrong with it, we get a new one. People donít repair things anymore it seems. I think even people are being treated as disposable, because thatís the way we treat our things. And thatís progress?
April 16, 2005
This crappy computer
I know I'm persistent. My computer gave me so many problems tonight while I was writing. I think I should have learned my lesson a long time ago to not type in this edit box, which I'm doing now. I always think it's going to be a quick entry, but find myself getting too wordy and it locks up and I lose everything. Tonight I lost about 45 minutes worth of work. But here I am writing in this edit box again. This time I'm ending here and going to bed. My persistence allowed me to vent a little frustration abou this crappy computer and gave me an opportunity to write about something I haven't discussed recently. I did write about my bike, but there was no way I was going to try to rewrite that tonight. Tomorrow night you'll hear about my restoration project.
Oh and Happy Birthday UThink Bloggers!
It's not Lance!
But it is an Armstrong!
Last night I started working on my new 1960ís Armstrong 3-Speed bicycle made in England. I discovered that the front wheel was wobbling around and grinding so I decided to take it apart, clean it up and repack it. Iíll tell you more about the rehabilitation of this bike as I go along. It has to be done before May 20th for the group ride down by Lake Pepin. So far Iíve spent 2 hours scrubbing just the front wheel with steel wool to clean off all the rust. I also took out the axel and degreased the whole wheel. This is going to take a lot of work, but it will be a very nice British-made 3 Speed bike
When I pulled the axel out of the wheel, I was being very careful to not lose any bearings. But by the time I finished cleaning the bearings and the wheel there were only 19 ball bearings. Either one was already missing or I did lose one in spite of my careful process. Today at lunch-time I went down to the Sibley Bike Depot to find another bearing. Dave told me, ďNo, donít ever put old bearings back in. Put in new ones to prevent further wear on the (racers or whatever they are called).Ē He pointed to the things that the bearings ride against. I said ďOk.Ē Iím a newbie when it comes to bike restoration and repair. He found a gauge for me to measure the size of my bearings. Then I found out they didnít have any that size. I rummaged through some boxes and found a junk box that had multiple bearings of different sizes and happened to see just one the right size. So I took it and plan to use the old bearings, pack them with fresh grease, put it back together and move on to the rest of the bike. Iíll put new bearings in after the ride. Itís really a quick job so not a big deal. In my opinion two days of riding with freshly packed bearings, even if they are old will not damage the wheel any more than it is now. They didnít have any rust on them so it should be non-detrimental and spin better than it was when I got it.
This wheel looks pretty good now on the outside, but I still have about an hourís worth of work to get all the rust off on the inside. 3 hours on one wheel? Wow. Thatís a major project in itself, and I havenít even gotten to the Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed hub yet!!! I am keeping track of how long this is taking and my newly gained knowledge about it for future reference.
From a spiritual viewpoint, there is something very satisfying about taking something that someone else abandoned and neglected and restore it to near-new condition. Take my neighbor for instance. When he saw me working on my bike out in the driveway, he got all excited and brought his bike out of the basement to show me. He said it was all rusty when he got it and he totally cleaned it and fixed the broken parts. He was really happy with his bike that he had paid ten dollars for that rides and looks like a brand new bike. And he enjoys riding it. He told me, ďIíd much rather be riding a bike like this than one of those new ones.Ē Old bike restoration involves some tedious, painstaking work and the owner is investing time and heart into it. Itís really like transforming old junk into beautiful artwork. Others may not appreciate it when they look at the end product, but the process of restoration seems to be very healing and enjoyable and those that go through this understand that the true joy is in doing it. The end result is icing on the cake.
The latest step in the project was last night when I won a bid for 26x1-3/8 inch white-wall tires on eBay. This time I set my max bid at 20 dollars and I won it at 15.51. I think the other bidder set his or her limit at 15 dollars. Still, even with shipping, I am only paying 26 dollars for two brand new tires with white walls. 13 dollars each is not a bad price I think. Now I have tires on the way.
I found out that Armstrong bikes at some point was taken over by Raleigh. Armstrong was also located in Nottingham, England. The first owner of this bike registered it in 1966, so Iím thinking it is probably a 1965 or 1966 bike and was a low-end Raleigh. Iíve seen other high-end Armstrong bicycles online that are older than these dates. One 1953 Armstrong chainring had the name ďArmstrongĒ cut out of the disk, and another bike from 1969 came with a Brooks saddle. So I think there were some Ďbetter gradeí Armstrong bikes than this one.
More later as I progress...
Themís the Brakes
Iím borrowing the title for this blog entry from Nathan, http://oat5tout.blogspot.com/, because itís appropriate to todayís encounter with brakes. Today I went to the community bike shop to pick up my new brake pads and to find a ball bearing for my retro bike. The bike shop had put in a parts order and I had ordered Kool-Stop breaks for my mountain bike, and when I got to the shop, another guy was putting them on his bike. Ok, thatís cool. I didnít need them as bad as he did. He was rubbing metal on metal. So I ordered another set for my bike. Hopefully Iíll get them next week. Themís the Brakes! (Thank you Nathan, ;-)
Don't sweat the little things.
April 15, 2005
Thank you to everyone who commented and sent emails about my health issues. I really appreciate it. I'm very thankful for my life and to have met some nice people like you. Health problems like this do make me think about what's really important in life, and your thoughtfulness is high on the list.
April 14, 2005
Going to the Emergency room
This morning I was having chest pains and I thought I was having a heart attack. The excruciating pain lasted for about fifteen minutes and as soon as I could move we went in to the emergency room. It turns out my lungs and heart and whole cardiovascular system are in excellent condition and I had some swollen, inflamed muscles and torn inter-connecting cartilidge in my lower three ribs right above my heart. The doctor gave me some anti-inflamatory medicine and sent me home to rest. Probably caused by doing too many push-ups at once yesterday, without building up. I think I will pay more attention now to how much Iím doing, especially if itís a new routine.
Anyway, the doctor said he wished he had my lungs and heart and veins and I suggested he ride his bike to work. He laughed and said the only bike he was going to ride was his harley. His choice.
During this emergency trip this morning, my wife, my daughter and I had a lot to think about. Often we donít think about it so seriously until we are going into the emergency room. Iím thankful itís not my tirme right now to go. So is my family. Even though I accept death as inevitible, itís difficult to plan future things and think about Ďwhat ifí at the same time. Today we were forced to think about it.
As it turns out, there were many other people in the emergency room that had far worse problems than me. One was a severely injured bicyclist who was hit by a car driver quickly backing out of his driveway without seeing the bicycle at all. Something else for me to think about as a bicyclist.
Last Nightís Missing Entry:
Last night I spent about two hours trying to troubleshoot my internet connection last night, which was intermittant, then non-existant, until I called Comcast Cable and heard their message that there was a service outage and they were working on it. I called back several times and it was still out, so I went to bed. Sometimes it helps to be troubleshooting the right problem. In Einsteinís way of thinking we have to be working on the right problem: One that has a solution. Because of the intermittent way I had access, and the way my cable-modem and router were acting, I assumed that the problem was internal. In my way of thinking I was working on a problem that didnít exist and therefore had no solution. I could have worked all night on it, sometimes having success and then not. Sometimes itís difficult to see the real problem when we are busy applying the solutions we know to work to a problem that we think exists.
Tonight I saw an episode of Star Trek, the Next Generation, in which Data was being put on trial by a Star-Fleet officer who wanted to dismantle him to study him. Captain Picard was chosen to defend Data. At first Captain Picard thought he was trying to prove that Data was more than just a complex mixture of hardware and software, and he was losing the trial. Then he realized that the real issue was Dataís right to choose and without that right to choose, Star-Fleet would be creating a race of robotic slaves. He could prove that Data had a right to make his own choices. By working on the real problem, he could find a solution.
I think our Governor, and other Republican Governors that are doing the same thing, are working on a different problem than the people are by trying to create Government sponsored Casinos. They say it is to adequately fund our social programs, our schools, our transportation, our government, but isnít the real problem they are working on how to fund government without relying on taxes? The problem they are working on is not the lack of funding, but Ďalternate funding sourcesí. Another one of the solutions to THEIR problem is to increase fees for government services, or creating new fees which were previously paid for by taxes. Then they call anyone who stands in their way a Socialist, with a negative connotation. Once they get their money without taxes, wonít they be able to spend it on whatever they want without having to go to the people to ask for it? Donít we want to spread the burden of paying for our government and itís services out over all the people through taxes? Obviously we donít want taxes without representation, but do we want a privatized government without representation? What problem are they really working on?
April 12, 2005
Why do anything?
We have to do something with our time and we do until we die. Beyond that who knows, so letís stay focused on this life. Many people seek to be told what to do with their lifetime. But you are free to choose. So do it by choice. Donít wait.
April 11, 2005
A day in the sun
This morning I rode with Mike, Kevin, Rich and Scott for 21 miles at an average speed of 19mph, then I crashed into a pole and broke my speedometer. I think I was about 5 miles from home. My handlebars were bent but I was no worse for the wear. I took the day off from work and promptly took a 2-hour nap. After that I worked on my bikes, blogged, rode my mountain bike down to the Sibley Bike Depot and replaced a broken cable housing and adjusted my rear derailleur. I had fun talking to the other people there working on bikes. I canít believe there were 6 people there working! It was really interesting. Then I followed one guy to a church where he was going to eat dinner. We were talking as we were riding together and I found that he sleeps under a bridge. We both made it to the church while there was a lull in the rain, so at least he was dry for dinner. Then I proceeded to ride home and it started to rain heavily. I didnít have any rain gear on, so I got really soaked. But let me tell you that the ride in the rain was awesome. First of all, I learned this last year while commuting every day even in the rain: As long as you have dry clothes to put on at your destination, who cares? The rain is actually very cleansing for the soul and itís liberating to not worry about it. I also had my wallet in a Ziploc so again, who cares if itís raining? Secondly, I had just cleaned and lubed my mountain bike, put two new slick tires on, plus the new aluminum stomper pedals, adjusted the rear derailleur and it was a great smooth ride that handled well in the rain. The final great thing about today was that if I didnít follow my heart into the rain, I would not have had the interactions I had and would not have been building these friendships. It was really a great day.
When I got home, I was already soaked so I sprayed off all the road dirt from my bike with the garden hose, shook it off, carried it into my basement and hand dried it. Before bed Iíll go down and relube so itís ready for the next ride. Tomorrow night I have to fix the handlebars on my racing bike and replace the speedometer. I have one from my old bike so I donít need to go out and buy one.
Today was kind of rainy and cloudy, but to me it was a bright sunny day. What made today so bright? It had to be coming together with these other people, first on my morning ride with Mike, Kevin, Rich and Scott, then the bike shop with the six other people, then the ride to the church with my new friend who lives under a bridge and gets around everywhere by bike, all year-round. Life is really good when you can see the sun through the rain. He told me that.
Boehmís 2 Ė A Bike Shop Review
Going home on 110 by the Mendota Bridge I saw that Mendota Bike and Hobby is now Boehmís! Iíve been to Boehmís in St. Paul and liked it. This store is like that one but larger. The sales staff were busy helping people and it seemed like a good store.
April 10, 2005
Dee Duckwall, No Prison Walls
ďIf you cannot reach the stars why take to the sky?Ē The answer lies in Dee Duckwallís Acoustic Folk Guitar Ballads. Charming like a spright in the early morning dawn, with fresh laughter, beautiful voice and honest smile says, ďAnother Gaelic song that had to be altered for public consumption...Ē
April 9, 2005
Breaking down by a bike shop is convenient
Yesterday I rode fast from St. Paul along Shepard Road, through Crosby and Hidden Falls parks, back to Ft. Snelling, along Hiawatha and North to Brooklyn Center. On the way home I had a disaster near Freewheel bike and was thankful to get back on the road quickly. Good service.
April 8, 2005
Running after an injury
My co-worker had warned me about injuries. After my last running race my upper legs hurt. I violated a rule of not increasing speed or distance too soon. I had not been running long enough to run that race. Yesterday I ran again at a slow pace and feel ok.
April 7, 2005
Who's my neighbor?
God says, "Love your neighbor." That's not just the person next door but everyone we come into contact with. That's difficult because of the way some people treat us. And when God says, "As yourself," it's treating others the way we'd like to be treated, especially when we are mistreated.
April 6, 2005
The only way to get faster is to do speed work
This morning I went for a very fast 23-mile ride with the two guys I met last night at the St. Paul Bike Racing Club spring party, Mike and Kevin. It was really good, but in my haste to make it to the meeting place on time, I accidently left my tire pump at my house. I had cleaned my road bike and re-lubricated it the night before and had taken the pump off the bike. So, here I was going on a ride with patch kit and tools, but no pump.
As we were leaving the parking lot by the grocery store where we met, I said kind of off-handedly, ďI forgot my tire pump, so hopefully I wonít get a flat.Ē The ride was going great until I got a flat and they were spinning on ahead of me at a rapid pace until they were out of sight. I knew they wouldnít leave me there, so I began to take apart my tire to fix it. I pulled out my patch kit and took the tire and tube off. Then I waited. Soon enough both of them came riding back to help out. They knew something must have been wrong because I was nowhere in sight when they looked back. Kevin pulled out a spare tube from his bag and threw it in there, then put my tire on really fast, pumped it up and put it back on my bike. It took him about 5 seconds it seemed. I still struggle with changing tires. It takes me much longer. The last time I changed my own flat, it took me 15 minutes! Kevin told me the first change I have to make for group rides is to carry a spare tube and patch the old one at home. Putting a new tube in is faster than trying to find the hole and fixing the old tube. Good idea. Now I carry a spare tube with me.
While riding with these two guys this morning I talked to Kevin quite a bit and he gave me a lot of pointers about riding. The first was about proper drafting techniques, making sure I cover the brakes with my hands in case I have to stop suddenly and watching the wheel and the shoulders of the guy in front of me so I can see when he is stopping or slowing. These two guys were riding much faster than I am used to. On average we were riding above 20mph, and at times I was riding 23 and breathing heavily, while they were riding 26 and pulling away from me. I tried really hard to maintain the 26mph pace but it was clear to me I need more work to ride with these guys. Iíll get there, but I havenít been practicing like this. Kevin told me that the best way to increase my speed is to practice speed work. Riding fast like this will improve my race times and make me a better rider. When we were done I told Kevin I would ride with them again on Monday morning.
I was lucky to find a group like this so close to my house. I think itís especially important to match myself up with people of higher skill/capability levels to challenge myself to go beyond what I think I can do. Practicing riding at a faster pace can only help me. This is the same concept as interval training in cycling or running. It makes us faster.
Tonight I went to the Sibley bike depot to work on bikes again. I was happy to meet Nathan and to see Dan again. I fixed one kids bike by adjusting the spokes, putting a new tube in, cleaning it up and attaching a brake. Then I helped strip down a nice looking Trek bike that had been run over and bent up by a car. We scrapped that frame and saved everything else to put on another frame. Then I worked on a mountain bike, putting on two new tires. With these two tires I tried to change them as fast as I could. I must say that practicing something at a higher velocity does make me faster at the task. Then I bought the same tires for my mountain bike and plan on changing those tires soon. After a while I think it wonít take me very long to change a tire. The last bike I worked on was a total rebuild and was taking a long time, so we didn't finish. It needed new brakes on front and new cables.
Also before I forget, Dan helped me adjust my rear derailer so it wouldn't hit the spokes when changing into the lowest gear. Now I know how to adjust that. Thanks Dan!
Now because itís been a very long day, Iím off to bed exhausted. Iím going to take a nice easy ride into work in the morning, then run at lunch time, but not do speed work. In this case I need to make sure my injury doesnít return. Running fast wonít help me until I build a stronger base.
April 5, 2005
St. Paul Bike Racing Club Spring Party
Tonight after work I rode my bike over to the Summit Brewing Company for the St. Paul Bike Racing Club (SPBRC) Spring party. They are one of the sponsors of the club and hosted the annual party in their large party room with pizza and free beer. And it looked like these cyclists enjoyed the beer. I did. I tried 3 different types of beer. I like beer but donít drink very often, so you can imagine what 3 small glasses of beer did to me. Whew! Iím glad they also had rootbeer, which I think is a good tasting rootbeer. I never knew they brewed rootbeer also. Thankfully by the time I had to ride my bike home, my head was back to normal and the ride home was a good workout.
The whole event was only two hours but it was good. We all put name tags on when we first walked in and then about 6:15 they brought in what looked liked 20 or 30 boxes of pizza which were all gone by the time we left. There were a lot of hungry athletes in the room! I met the organizer of the Beginnerís Racing Program (BRP) and chatted with him for a few minutes, then went to stand in line for pizza. I found a table and while I was eating another one of the BRP coaches walked by and started talking to me. It was a good conversation about what to expect during the first couple of weeks of the BRP which made me feel more comfortable about the whole thing and consequently made me feel good about my decision to join this class. All of the BRP students were asked to put ďBRPĒ on our name tags so we were easily recognizable. After talking to two of the coaches I started wandering around looking for other BRP members and ran into Kevin. Kevin was there with his riding friend who is not in the BRP but is a member of the St. Paul Bike Racing Club and has done a lot of racing. They have a small team of four that does 4-person team time trials. I found out that they live right by me and go for a long ride every morning as a group. Other people from the SPBRC often join them so they invited me to ride with them in the mornings for their training rides. I accepted so tomorrow morning Iím going on a 20-30 mile bike ride all before 7:30am.
Also, a very nice surprise for me was running into Luke. Luke is the owner of the Highland Grill in Highland Park, one of my favorite restuarants. They are very busy all the time and it gets kind of crouded but the food is good. I know Luke because I painted their window several times. Last year and the year before I entered a window painting contest sponsored by the Highland Park Business Association. I think the first year I got second place, but thatís because another artist I respect a lot, Holly Tappin, painted a ĎChrismas Carolí scene that was really awesome. Actually sheís the one that got me started on window painting that year when I talked to her at one of her art showings. Anyway, Luke at Highland Grill is one of the Sponsors of the SPBRC. Painting a very large window was a challenge for me because everything was larger than me. It was a good experience because keeping things in perspective and proportion was difficult for me when I painted something so large. Here is a picture of one of the window paintings:
If you ever get around town, this is a neet little business area. Right across the street is a movie theater and a vietnamese restuarant and The Tea Source, which has many awesome teas from all over the world. Thatís where I buy tea. Then around the corner thereís a Half-Price Books, and across the Street and over a half a block is a Barnes and Nobles. And if you like imported wine and beer there is a liquor store in that same area that has an annual sale thatís worth checking out. And while you are in the area you can eat at the Highland Grill. Luke and his sister own it and are two of the nicest people Iíve met. When I was out there freezin my butt off painting the window, he instructed his waitresses to keep coming out to offer me hot chocolate. One day last summer I ran into Luke walking his dog and he stood and chatted for a while. Being a nice guy goes a long way to make a lasting impression. I like Luke because he always smiles and treats everyone like they are worth talking to. He even recognized me, even though I trimmed my beard short and cut off my pony tail since I last saw him. So running into Luke tonight was an added bonus that reminded me just how small the world is. I did notice the Highland Grill logo on our SPBRC jerseys but didnít put two and two together that Luke might be at this party so I was happy when I saw him.
As far as large window painting goes, Iíd like to find a building and paint a mural sometime. I think that would be fun. Right now Iím a bike racer, and with little time to spare that'll have to wait. Maybe I could paint bike racers on a wall. hehe.
Well, that was my night. It was a successful party and I'm happy I went, because I was reassured that the BRP is a good idea for me, met two new riding partners and saw Luke again, which reminded me of why it's good to be a nice person all the time. You never know when or where you'll run into someone from your past. He is a nice guy and lives it.
While Iíve been typing this, I was doing laundry. I already cleaned and lubed my bike to get it ready for tomorrowís ride, and now Iím off to bed. Remember you bicycle enthusiasts, Wednesday night is Volunteer night at the Sibley Bike Depot. Come on over and meet me in person! Iíd love to chat with you as we build bikes!
One on One Bike Studio Review
I know several of you have been to One on One Bike Studio in downtown Minneapolis and have said some good things about it. Iíll have to admit that they are interesting people, but to me not really attentive to customer needs. I got there and the most sociable of them all was the guy working in the coffee shop. I went into the bike shop to tell them what I was looking for, a British-made 3 Speed, and as I walked in not a single person looked at me. No eye contact at all. Some guy in long hair was working on a bike and did not look up at me. He looked at another guy who worked there and said a few things then went back to work. Several people came in and out and I was looking them right in the face, but none of them made eye contact. It was like I was invisible.
Then I said excuse me, and one guy turned around like he was surprised to see me there. He didnít ask what I wanted, I just said, ďIím looking for a British-made 3 speed.Ē He nodded his head and said, ďjust leave your backpack with the guy at the coffee shop and go downstairs.Ē I said ok and proceeded downstairs. There were thousands of bikes and frames down there, and I hunted through them. I found several specimens to choose from, but I must have looked for an hour and not a single person came through there. So I went back upstairs and had trouble getting someoneís attention again. The long-haired guy working on the bike looked irritated that I interrupted him, and asked another guy to help me. The other guy came over and asked what I was looking for and I told him that I found several bikes to choose from, but none of them had prices on them. So he came downstairs with me and we looked at them. First of all, I did not know that some bikes behind the ribbon were off limits. They were part of a Ďprivate collection.í So that limited my choices to one bike. It didnít have a seat. I was told it used to have a brooks saddle on it, but someone took it for another bike. Then he looked at a few other bikes there and compared them, spun the wheels and said, ďthatíll be $55.00.Ē
I said ok, sounds fair, because compared to the bike I was bidding on in eBay, this one was in very nice condition and would require very little work. I didnít have any way to get it home, because I rode my bike there. So I might still go back there and buy that one.
After that I went back upstairs and decided to eat there and a have a small coffee. The food was good, and I had a good conversation with the guy making my sandwhich. He had an Xtra-Cycle there and he suggested I go out in back and try it out. Heís been riding it for about a year now and loves it. He said if I had had one of these, I could have carried that extra bicycle back home on it. Thatís probably true. It was a nice bike that was stable and had lots of room to haul things in the side bags and on the flat board on top.
After I left there I took the Light Rail to Fort Snelling, then rode my bike home.
This trip gave me a lot to think about. Iíd like to report a great experience at the bike shop, but really the best part was talking to this one guy about the Xtra-Cycle and test riding it. Oh I saw the person referred to as the Satanic Mechanic but he was sitting out on the back porch tearing something apart. He must have been tired of the basement. It was really nice outside last night.
I think think that bike shop is very disorganized with parts in buckets all over the place, junk on the floor toward the back of the basement, tools laying in piles on the floor, half buried by other bike junk, and poor customer service. I could have died in the basement and they might have found me hours later. Haha. Most other bike shops Iíve been in have seemed much friendlier. I probably wonít go back there too much, except I can say that I liked the coffee shop. At least there is one person who talks to strangers. I might just have to build an Xtra-Cycle too. Seeing it in person and trying it out is a really good sales pitch. My only concern in using it as a general transportation choice is that it wonít fit in the bike rack on the front of a bus or on the light-rail, so in those cases it would not be as convenient or flexible.
Itís funny how different people can have so different of experiences in the same place. I didnít like it I think because they made me feel invisible. But at the coffee shop I had a totally different experience. In any case, it might be a good resource for an oddball part, but in the future, Iíll try other places first.
April 4, 2005
Do you want to see a picture of me? Here I am riding my solid-steel 1971 Schwinn Suburban 5 speed hauling a bike trailer.
Using the rental trailer at the Sibley Bike Depot, Andrew Koebrick and I went down to the woods by the railroad tracks and recovered three abandoned, wrecked bicycles for recycling. On my lunch-time runs I often go this route, and because the leaves were not yet on the trees, my eyes were drawn to something bright yellow. Being a bike enthusiast, I recognized it right away as a bicycle, though at a distance I couldnít see it very well. The next time I ran by there I decided to check it out. Sure enough, there were several bikes hidden down there in the woods with wheels off, parts missing, rusted steel frames, rusted chains, etc. It was a little bike graveyard. A place where useable bikes became abandoned after stipping their useful parts presumably for use on other bikes.
Why they ended up in these woods is a good question. My guess is that the person or people responsible just did not know what to do with old bikes. I knew what to do. The Sibley Bike Depot has a program that recycles aluminum and steel and also salvages useable parts for rebuilding other bikes. If a frame is in decent shape itís often saved for rebuilding. Brake calipers, crank arms, fenders, handlebars, seats, bottom brackets, bearings, deraileurs and other re-usable parts have often been saved for future use. The rest gets scrapped or recycled. They know what to do with old bikes.
This is the second time Iíve used the rental trailer to recover abandoned bikes. Both times Iíve seen these bikes while out running then went back to pick them up, usually in some obscure location out of sight by most motorists. I think itís good to clean up our environment of these little bike graveyards, because no-one should have to see junk laying around while out running. Itís trashy, unnatural and detracts from the overall well-being of our environment. Recycling makes sense because it gets materials back into use.
If everyone just knew what to do with their old bikes, I think I wouldnít need to go around cleaning up. Sure, any excuse to ride a bike is good, but I shouldnít have to do it for this reason. These old bikes simply do not belong out in the woods or under a railroad bridge.
The Sibley Bike Depot accepts old bikes as donations, and puts many bikes back on the road. Last month I gave two bikes to them from my garage. Iíve ridden both of these bikes over the past years and have since replaced them with other bikes. When I discovered the Sibley Bike Depot this winter I decided that I should start my Spring Cleaning early. Both bikes ended up going to good programs and are in use right now.
While cleaning out your basement, garage or storage shed, consider donating your unused or abandoned bikes to a good cause. If you canít make it to the Sibley Bike Depot you can arrange for a pickup.
April 3, 2005
The black Squirrel
Today commuting to and from Burnsville, 20 miles each way was a good experience. I practically had the roads to myself. This morning i was tired and went slow, I think because I didn't get enough sleep due to daylight savings time. But going home I focused on keeping a steady cadence. 1&2&1&2&! I tried to keep about 80-90rpms the whole way even up the big hills. By doing so coming home did the 20 miles in 1 hour - 6 minutes. Given that I wasted the whole first 3 or 4 miles dragging my butt because I was tired, this process actually felt good and reinvigorated me. By the time I got home, I was feeling great.
The highlight of my trip was spotting the black squirrel on Highway 13 hill coming North out of Mendota in the woods to my right. This morning because I felt so crummy, I questioned several times whether I could handle bike racing. Coming home I felt like I was improving and the season would be good for me. It felt good to get into a set cadence and keep time like a metronome. It was music to my legs.
This week I will meet others from the St. Paul Bike Racing club at their annual party. I'm looking forward to it. I'll also probably meet some of the people in the beginning racer's program with me, which starts in May.
April 2, 2005
Less value as a human being?
Today I showed my motorized vehicle to someone who was interested in buying it. I wish I could say that I no longer own it, but I talked him out of buying it. Somehow during the conversation he told me that he wants it because for him it would be a higher status than driving around his old beat up pickup truck. (My car is an SUV by the way). I have a 1989 Jeep Cherokee. As we were talking he basically said that he wasnít as good as people who drove SUVís. I told him that he was just as valuable as every other human being on this planet and no one was greater or less.
Then I proceeded to list the things wrong with my car and showed him how much money he would have to put into it to get it up to ĎFair conditioní (more than the Jeep is worth). The bluebook value of my jeep in fair condition is $1000.00 but this is far from Ďfair.í I compared his current pickup truck with my vehicle and told him all the good things about what he was driving. (He doesnít have to put any money into it to make it into Ďfair conditioní) Plus I told him that if a person could do all the mechanical work themselves it might be worth it, but he has to take his vehicle to the shop to have it fixed. That would cost him more than 1500 dollars I would guess and thatís more than the car is even worth. So finally he said that he might have a mechanic friend who might be interested in it. I told him to have his friend give me a call.
How does someone get the mentality that they are less of a person because of the car they drive? Gee I wonder. Thatís what marketing is all about isnít it. Sell an image and it drives sales of the product. People want to ĎBeí something and advertising plays on fears of Ďnot beingí something. But being the good used-car salesman that I am, I talked him out of buying my car. I told him he doesnít need my car to increase his value as a human being.
So then when I got to work today, one of my coworkers suggested that I donate my car. Someone else on here suggested the same thing. So with one buyer down, and the other one dragging his feet, I may just do that. Iíve already determined that even if I am going to sell my car, Iím going to give all the money to a charity. So whatís the difference? So my intention next week is to find places that want it.
Once I get rid of my SUV, I will have a lower social status than I did, and thus less value as a human being, right? Will I be treated differently because I have no car? Or thought of as less of a person?
I will be so happy when I get rid of it!
April 1, 2005
Today after work I did a training ride with Dan from downtown St. Paul, along Shepard Road, through Crosby Park, across 5, down into Ft. Snelling park by the old fort, up Hiawatha, along West River Road to Freewheel Bike shop. There I found a pair of Kool-Stop brakes for my bike. I canít wait until it rains again so I can try them out! hehe. Iím easily amused.
After leaving the bike shop I rode to Lake Street, across the bridge and down East River Road to Summit, all the way along Summit to the Ramsey hill where I hit 32mph with the brakes on frequently, then up Smith Avenue and back to my house. All total: A very fine 26 miles. It was a fun ride with a kool pitstop in the middle.
1. Crosby Park trails have been totally swept clean! Itís awesome! No lakes, ice, sand or stick debree on the trails.
2. Ft. Snelling/Hiawatha trail between the Fort and Hiawatha are totally free of ice. Just on Sunday I think it was, Jim posted a picture of some glaciers across the trail. Itís all gone. I was so happy to ride this route again because itís a fun, beautiful way to go with very few stops.
3. They really have to fix that road coming down from Freewheel Bike to the river road! I canít believe they let it deteriorate this much. They just seem to throw tar in the holes and leave it at that. I thought I needed my mountain bike it was so bumpy. I forget what the road is called, but itís jarring.
4. At the time we rode by, I did not see Jim and Jesus at all.