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May 31, 2005

Losing Sole, Gaining Soul

Tonight as I was working on our fence the sole of my boot fell off. I thought about buying new boots but why do that when glue will solve the problem and make them last longer? How many things get thrown away because it's too difficult for us to repair, or we don't know how, or we can't find the parts, or the parts are more expensive than buying a new object?
A $99.00 bicycle from Walmart, Kmart or Target is disposable when a part + labor costs more than buying a new bike, which could easily happen.
A plastic fan at work that had a problem with the electric motor is disposable because getting a replacement motor is more expensive and time consuming than it's worth. The fan was tossed.
I think it's good to re-gain some sole to stop losing soul.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:57 PM

May 30, 2005

Another Emergency

I don't know, I don't really have a category for traffic accidents. Tonight when my daughter was coming home, two kids ran out in front of her so she had to slam on the breaks. One kid ran off scared and the other stood in the middle of the road like a deer staring into the headlights. My daughter stopped in time, but the guy behind her swerved and hit a sign, missing her car. The car following him swerved around his tail end and slammed into my daughters car. Her car sustained a lot of back end and rear quarterpanel damage.
After this accident my daughter felt a lot of pain in her neck and was having trouble moving without hurting. So we took her into the emergency room to be checked out. I guess there was no bone damage, and they said that her muscles were strained but she would be ok. She got some pain killers and was sent home. I'm just thankful that everyone involved in the accident is still alive.
That was my adventure for tonight.

Prior to that I had talked my neighbor into going for a bike ride with me around the neighborhood. That was fun, but how much fun should a person be allowed to have in one day. Now I'm off to bed exhausted.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:58 PM

May 29, 2005

The good little consumer

Yesterday I had problem with the new tire I bought at Freewheel bike on April 9th. It was a $51.99 Continental Grand Prix 4-Season. Under close examination I see that the seam between the thick bottom rubber and the kevlar sides is very week and somehow I got a small slice along the seam.
I decided I would bring the tire back and see if there was anything they could do about it. Well, they weren't convinced that it was a defect in the tire and the sales lady basically told me it was bad luck. I suppose I should be thankful that she offered to give me another tire at half off. I accepted her offer because I needed a new tire for my bike and it was cheaper than buying one at full price. I told her how frustrating it was to buy a new tire and have it fail so quickly (I haven't ridden on it too much in the past 3 weeks due to the rain and the tire has very little wear on it.) She didn't care. It was business to her. Her line was something like, "It is the strongest tire for the amount of money you paid. I could put you in a tire that will be much stronger, but it'll run you a little more." Maybe so, but unfortunately it is the last item I will ever buy at Freewheel bike. Frankly, it felt like I was in Erik's again. It's not the competition that kills business. It's staff who doesn't really care about the person buying their products. I was a salesperson and I know what upselling is. I know what the sales lines are and what they sound like. I was a good little consumer and bought it the first time, and the second time, but won't be going back.

Then I went to find the Hub. There I bought a new set of 45 dollar clip pedals for my mountain bike to match the shoes I have. Now I can ride with the same shoes on both my road bike and the mountain bike. At the Hub I witnessed a guy come in with an old blue 1976 Schwinn Suburban and ask to borrow a screwdriver. The person working there was more than happy to help this guy so he could tighten the basket on the front of his bike. I talked to him for a little bit about his bike and the 1971 Brown Suburban 5-speed I have and then I bought my pedals and was on my way.
The lady at the Hub was enthusiastic about their co-op and wasn't trying to upsell me anything, and given the decent treatment of that Schwinn bike user, I'll stop there again.

Granted I'm only one person and the salesperson at Freewheel won't even notice I'm not coming in there again. They don't know that I bought my cycling shoes and my original clip-pedals there and my cycling clothing and other various parts over the last year. They have enough 'consumers' that it won't matter.

I won't matter.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:40 PM

May 28, 2005

To Ellsworth and Back

Today I rode with Jim on the 300k Brevet. Given our time and conditioning for this ride we decided to only ride about 125-some miles, which is about 200k. Which is good; we got back before dark. My dogs were so excited to see me too. Overall today gets a 3-thumbs up! In two weeks I do the 400k.

5-29-2005 UPDATE to this entry:

Yesterday I rode 150 total miles with Jim. He sent me a few pictures so I'm posting one here. Yesterday was the first time I met Jim in person but I already knew what I experienced during our ride together; Jim has an authentic smile and a good heart. It didn't hurt that he brought some really awesome peanut butter and chocolate bars to share.

Here is the guy I shared 150 miles with:

28-May-2005-300K002.jpg

Posted by carl1236 at 11:54 PM

May 27, 2005

The Non-Critical Mass

Tonight I met with a couple of other bicyclists at Kellog Park, by the water fountain at the top of the hill, closest to the Wabasha Street bridge. Itís the last Friday of the month and this is the same time for Critical Mass rides all over the country. There are a couple of reasons I called this ride non-critical. First of all itís not like the Critical Mass rides Iíve heard of in other places. My intention is not to purposefully block or hinder traffic. My intention is also not to bar hop and get drunk and act crazy. We did mass, and we did ride around St. Paul for about Ĺ hour, but we rode in traffic on the right hand side, used arm signals and talked and generally had a nice tour of downtown, twice. Itís just not that big of a place, unlike downtown Minneapolis. Another reason I called this Non-Critical Mass, was that it is not designed to make a statement or cause something great to happen. Itís just a good night to get out with some good people and ride around beautiful downtown St. Paul. The connection between people is more important than how the drivers of cars perceive bicyclists. If there were political or other motivations for this ride, then it would most surely fail at itís mission, because there are many more things that have to be done besides riding around. As bicyclists, if we want to be more visible then we need to get out and ride more all the time. Ride to work, ride to lunch, ride to the grocery store, ride to dinner, ride to our friendís houses, anytime, all the time. That would have an impact. Getting people used to bikes on the road will take 24 hour per day of bicycles on the road. Most people arenít willing to do that. But I sure enjoyed this ride tonight. I plan on meeting there every month to do this ride, rain or shine.

What: The Non-Critical Mass ride in St. Paul. Itís not critical you are there, but weíd love to have your company.

When: Last Friday of every month, 4:45 massing time, 5:00pm ride departure time. It goes until we decide weíve covered enough of downtown.

Where: Kellog Park, by the large water fountain at the top of the hill, closest to Wabasha Street. There are two fountains there. Itís not the one with the walkway through the middle. Itís the other one.

Who: Anyone who loves to ride bicycles and loves to do it with other people. Also anyone who appreciates a nice city like downtown St. Paul. We may discuss ways to improve biking in various parts of downtown as we take our tours. If you are Councilman Dean Zimmerman and you are reading this, weíd love to have you come out and meet with us and ride along. Itís really a great city to tour on bike!

Why: Because we can and want to.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:14 PM

May 26, 2005

More about Cycling

Today I went to the bike shop for lunch to pay for some things and to work on a wheel I started building the night before. That was fun.
After work I rode with Dan over to Freewheel bike. I missed seeing Jim by a long shot. He cut out of work early today I found out. Oh well, I still managed to occupy myself in the bike shop while waiting for the rain to stop again. I bought some new break pads for my road bike and a couple books and some chain cleaner. Then I had to carry that stuff home! But thankfully one of the workers there had the brilliant idea to use an old innertube and plastic bags to make my own courier bag that slung over my back and around my waste. Brilliant! It worked great. Now I'm going to make my own courier bag with heavy plastic, duct tape and innertube bands.
After Freewheel I rode back to St. Paul to pick up my backpack from work and had this gut feeling that someone was still at the bikeshop and there was! There were three people there working on bikes! So I threw my bike on the stand and put on my new breakpads. Then we chatted for a while waiting for the rain to stop again.
The odd thing about my bike riding tonight. It rained a lot, but I completely missed it all and stayed fairly dry. I'm really happy about that.
Oh, and I found out that the pictures from the British 3-speed ride have been posted: http://www.imageevent.com/abce

Posted by carl1236 at 10:50 PM

May 25, 2005

1964 Armstrong 3-Speed Bicycle

Finally here is a photo of the British-made bicycle I tore down and rebuilt:

P5240004.JPG

there are a few minor things I have yet to do but it's almost complete.

On another interesting note, tonight I found a 1967 lady's aqua blue colored Robin Hood 3 speed bicycle and bought it because my wife wants to go on the next 3-speed ride. It's a really cool bike with chrome fenders like mine. I already bought a nicer seat for it on eBay. Now I have a second project.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:57 PM

May 24, 2005

The Illusion of A to B

In the big picture of what we call life, what are we in such a hurry for? We all seem to be trying to get somewhere, whether that's a physical place or a certain job or title or status. Point A to Point B, Point A to Point B, Point A to Point B. Billy Joel sang out, "Slow down you crazy child, you're too ambitious for a juvenile!" And where are we when we get from point A to Point B? And who's Point A and Point B are we travelling through? And what's with this need for speed to get to where we are going? And what do we miss by zooming around to get somewhere as fast as we can?
This weekend I went on a bicycling event unlike any other I've been on. The greatest part of the event wasn't the 3-Speed bikes we rode or the ride from Point A to Point B, Point A to Point B, Point A to Point B. Even though we did have a tour book and a map, it wasn't the destinations that mattered. The woman riding next to me talking about her children and me talking about mine, and the bicycling author that's sending me informaton on his books talking about his cycling adventures across the country, mattered. The illusion is that we have to get somewhere or be someone special to make the journey worthwhile.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:21 PM

May 23, 2005

Is it lack of motivation?

Is it lack of motivation or lack of energy that makes me feel lazy about my bike racing training? I'm finding out that I need a high level of energy to work out like this. Energy comes from proper nutrition and adequate rest. Tonight for instance I didn't feel like going to bike racing class. I did fine during class but after class riding home I just had no motivation or energy. Actually I think my lack of energy caused my lack of motivation. I ended up riding 37 miles tonight, but the last 7 miles to my house were really slow. I then realized that I didn't get enough sleep last night and I did not eat any fruit today or have any snacks or food after lunch and before my ride. Can we reverse that and say that adequate sleep and proper nutrition cause motivation? It sure helps create a positive attitude.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:44 PM

May 22, 2005

I'm back!

I'm back from the British 3-Speed bicycle tour and it was a lot of fun! My project bike was completed by the time I left my house on Saturday morning so I was able to ride it this weekend. Pictures and a description of the event will be posted this week some time.
See http://www.3speedtour.com

Posted by carl1236 at 11:35 PM

May 19, 2005

Remove the cottered crankarms

I am stuck. It's two days before the British 3-Speed ride and my bike is in pieces and I'm not even close to being done. I can't overhaul the crankset and bottom bracket until I get the cotter pins out. The cotterpins won't come out with a punch and a hammer. Besides that, here is a quote from my bicycle repair book, "Whatever method you use (to remove them), plan on buying new cotters because the removal process usually damages the originals." I wish I would have read that a few weeks ago but I didn't think this would be such a problem. Tomorrow I'm going to see if the bike shop has a cotter-pin press and new cotters. If not, I go to plan B, which is to borrow a 3 speed for the weekend.
I cleaned and repacked the bearings in the headset and scrubbed the rust and grease off the chain. The nice black pedals I bought were the wrong size, so tomorrow I have to find different ones.
I like problems like these because I learn a lot from mistakes and challenges. The great part is, I took Friday off from work so I can work on bikes all day and I'll be ready with something on Saturday morning.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM

May 18, 2005

The Joys of 3 Speeds

Tonight I worked on my Armstrong 3-speed bike for 3 hours. Most of that was spent scrubbing rust off the rear fender. It really shines now. With these chrome fenders and bright red paint, this bike must have been a sharp looking bike in it's day! When I put it back together on Friday, it will look and ride like new again. I can't wait to see the results of all this work!
I know after reading this blog and seeing the final product all of you will want your very own British made 3 Speed Bicycle to restore. So, I have made available online 6 decent, ready to restore bikes. Most of these bikes are in better shape than the one I'm restoring now. Hurry up and bid on the bike you like the most before someone else gets it for a steal. I paid 75 dollars for my Armstrong and the really, really rusted Raleigh Sports on eBay I bid on sold for 110 dollars plus shipping.
You know you want one! We'll all wear knickers and ride from pub to pub and enjoy the wonders of English-style bicycle touring!

Sibley Bike Depot British 3 Speed Bicycle Auction

Posted by carl1236 at 10:53 PM

May 17, 2005

Wheel building 101

Tonight ten students sat around a circle building bicycle wheels. Charles did an excellent job of teaching the class and I feel confident I can repeat the process. I learned a lot, so the class was a success.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM

May 16, 2005

Miscellaneous ramblings

Today it rained again during our Beginning Racing Program class, but this time I had a new rain jacket and I covered my shoes with plastic newspaper bags. Several people commented on my baggies but they worked fairly well and were free! They ended class early because of the rain. Iíve been riding in the rain every day since last week on Monday. How about that? That also means Iíve been spending a lot of time cleaning and lubing my bike. Oh boy.

Yesterday I spent several hours working on my 1960ís Armstrong British-made bike. I was still removing stickers! What a pain! Now Iím basically out of time. Iíll have to work on it Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night.

Tomorrow night is the wheel-building class at the Sibley Bike Depot. Iím looking forward to that and I hope it gives me more confidence in fixing and building wheels. It seems weíve been getting a lot of wrecked bikes in as donations and mainly the only thing that is beyond repair is the wheels and maybe the fork like the one I saw today. So the skill will come in handy right away.

I heard some disturbing news today, that the president of a certain non-profit organization blew his top on Saturday at a volunteer and started throwing things around, and he did it in front of a couple customers who turned around and left. He also reportedly threatened them that he was going to open another shop for sure now and close this one down. I donít care who you are, position doesnít give anyone the right to treat another human being like crap. It truly shows his contempt and lack of respect for these other human beings.

Last night at our discussion group several of the people mentioned a book they were reading. Evidently they belong to a book reading and discussion group also. I was curious about it and the host of this meeting went into his office room and brought a stack of about 6 books that they had read and discussed since last Fall. I looked at the titles and authors and they all seemed interesting. Iíve even read other books by some of these same authors. The way they described their meetings and discussions, it sounded like a lot of fun to me. I thought it was a cool idea so I might try this sometime.

I just read the 2005 Briefing on Gambling by the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC), made up of the Jewish Community Relations Council, The Minnesota Catholic Conference, The Minnesota Council of Churches and the Islamic Center of Minnesota. Their official position is: ďJRLC opposes state authorization of casino gambling or other new forms of gambling and we oppose the state increasing its reliance on gambling revenue.Ē
I assume that these organizations represent the majority of the population in Minnesota, since I think this is a fairly religious state. Iím also guessing on this statement, but I think that many of the proponents of state-sponsored gambling, like the Governor, legislators, track owners, mall developers, bar owners, and others promoting gambling schemes are members of one of the churches that are represented by the JRLC. It seems to me that all of these religious organizations are wrong or there are a lot of hypocrites going to church on Sundays, hearing the message of Ďoppose state authorization of casinos because it will create more addicted gamblers, cost millions of dollars of social costs, ruin thousands of families, and corrupt our state.í and then go out the doors and do just what they were told not to do. I wonder if the church Pawlenty goes to is part of this coalition. I wonder how he justifies it to his priest or pastor who is lobbying against him. I wonder if they care as long as he keeps donating money to the church.
I like one quote from this Ď2005 Briefing on Gambling,í which says, ďWhat do we teach our children when our state government authorizes, operates, promotes, and advertises gambling as a way to get ahead?Ē

I played my trumpet again tonight for about 15 minutes trying to get the timing right on that song I got yesterday. I can read and play the notes, but thatís where I really need practice!

Today at work we got a free fitness stretchy-band if we signed up for a 10-week upper-body muscle development program. We have to track do a set of exercises using this band 3 times per week, log it in for 10 weeks and then turn in the form for a prize drawing. Three of us in my workgroup are going to do them together at work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That should be fun. Weíll see what these simple exercises will do in 10 weeks.

Yesterday I bought some Fair-Trade Coffee and Green Tea. Tonight I tried the green tea and it was good. I also read about the Fair-Trade thing and like it.

Iím going to go to lunch with my friend tomorrow and have Vietnamese Pho. I love that! That will hit the spot and warm me up after a week of getting wet every day.

Tomorrow is another day.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:49 PM

May 15, 2005

Numb Lips

Today I was at church and heard a song on a flute that sounded really cool. I thought it would sound good on my trumpet also, so after the service I talked to the music director and found out what the song was. She gave me a copy of the sheet music they use in the music program and I brought it home to try out on my trumpet. It was like that song, ďIt was the summer of 69...I bought my first real six string...played it til my fingers bled..Ē except it was today and I played a trumpet until my lips were numb. It was fun though, and I was right, this song did sound good on my trumpet! What felt really good though was the spontaneous rekindling of my love for playing music. I actually got out my trumpet after a long break, oiled it up and played.
I like the image of trumpet playing as a model of how to treat others with love and compassion. Like trumpet playing, we have to build up our strength to be able to do more, play longer and hit those high notes. When we first start practicing we are not conditioned to it and we have little stamina to keep playing. Today my lips got to a point where I just couldnít play the note anymore. But the more we do something the easier it gets. Thatís kind of the idea behind the Ďpractice random acts of kindnessí philosophy. If we do one random act of kindness each day, then it becomes habit and easier to do. After a while our fingers donít bleed anymore and our lips donít get numb. And itís beautiful music.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:47 PM

May 14, 2005

The Self-Sufficient Rider

My motto is Semper Gumby - always flexible. Here is a summary of today:
I got up and rode 11.99 miles on my way to the starting point of my 127 mile ride.
I got a flat tire about a mile away from the start of the organized ride.
I put a new tube in, put the tire back on and began to pump it up.
My pump broke.
I was stranded.
I carried my bike a quarter mile to a gas station.
I called my wife for a ride home.
After standing in the rain trying to fix my tire, I was cold and wet so I bought a cup of coffee and an apple fritter, then waited.
As I was waiting I talked to this wonderful old lady named June who just came into the gas station for a cup of coffee. I really had a good conversation with her and it felt like a warm, sunny June day.
My ride showed up and I went home.
I tried to fix my tire pump.
I took an hour-long nap.
I went to the recycling center with my wife to get rid of some stuff from the garage.
I went to the bike shop with my wife to buy a new tire pump, but they had a part kit for it so I bought that to fix it.
My wife saw a bike she liked and she test rode it and liked it. We bought it.
She was excited. I was excited.
We stopped at the book store on the way home, hehe. I bought a good bicycle book and my wife bought some cook books.
We had a snack and then came home.
I worked on my retro bike for one hour. (more on that tomorrow)
We ate dinner.
We went for a 2-mile bike ride (TOGETHER!!!) :-) My wife loved it.
We watched the movie, Romancing the Stone.
I had another rootbeer float.
I typed my blog entry.
I'm going to bed now.
Tomorrow I'm going to church (no work on Sundays anymore!)
In other words, it was a perfect day for a self-sufficient rider. I didn't get my long ride in but the day sure turned out great! If not for a flat tire and a broken tire pump, none of this would have happened! Amazing how things work out.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:22 PM

May 13, 2005

the Trailer guy

Tonight on the way home from work I saw a guy bent over his bike trailer trying to use some tools on the back wheel. It looked like he things under control but my heart told me I should stop and make sure he had everything he needed to fix it. He answered, "Do you have a nut for this wheel?" The problem was that he had this old Burly trailer that was all beat up that no longer had the original wheels and the right wheel had two issues: The cones were loose and the wheel hub was too narrow for the frame mounts, so he could not tighten the wheel in place. He needed another nut on the axel bolt to tighten against for the bracket. I saw his problem and offered to take the nut off my old Schwinn front wheel since I was so close to home anyway. I know I have some spare wheel nuts at home so it was no big deal. I checked out his wheel and showed him how to tighten the wheel cones and he was appreciative about that, then he showed me the way he rigged up the hitch because the original piece was missing. Then I was holding his bike upright for him while he put his tools away in his bag and felt the back wheel wobbling. I shook the bike back and forth and saw his back wheel cones were loose also. I told him he would have to get that fixed soon or it would wreck the wheel. He got his wheel back on and looking at his trailer, rode off nodding approvingly. Sometimes regardless of the appearances or what our physical senses tell us, it's good to listen to our hearts. In all of my experiences I've usually found a good reason for doing so. At the least it's a considerate act and generates a positive feeling in both people.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:16 PM

May 12, 2005

Sharing a cookie

Today was another rainy day. In my email I was having a deep philosophical conversation with a friend. I thought I might go for a run at lunchtime but didnít feel like getting drenched again. It was warm and stuffy in the office and I was sleepy. Everyone seemed a little out of it today and quiet. By about 3pm I had to get out of there and take a break, so I walked over to the bike shop and talked with a few people. I bought a hot cup of mocha and two peanut butter cookies, one for me and one for Terry at the shop. He recommended the peanut butter because thatís his favorite. It was really good too.
Then the inventor was there trying out tires on his rim. I talked to him about working on bikes and things. Then the possible new bookkeeper came in and was looking at the shop. He offered suggestions on how to make it more efficient and to keep track of our parts better. I soaked it in and thought about what he was saying. I think now that big changes are in store for the bike shop. It felt awkward to me talking to him, mainly because he was talking about changing everything before he was even sure if he was going to be doing the bookkeeping there. He talked about getting all of the parts in an inventory and being able to pull up parts on the computer and making hanging racks on rollers for the bikes and labeling major parts that come off bikes and entering them in the database and accounting for inventory. And he was talking to me like I was in charge of the shop and expected me to tell Andrew all of his ideas. I was just there having a cookie and coffee with Terry.
There is one thing I have to mention. There are a lot of people who would like to run that shop and they talk about how it should be run when no one else is around. A lot of places are like this though. Once you get to know who the people are you start seeing the quirks and weirdness of it all. In this case almost everyone is a volunteer. They hired a good bike guy to run the shop, but heís the only one getting money for this. But the volunteers that have been around a while seem to have strong opinions about how things should be done. I just want to fix bikes and help out where I can. But this is one reason I didnít volunteer for the board; I wanted to get to know the whole operation and who was involved. Things will change, I can feel it. People on the board are making decisions about the bike shop that the volunteers donít know about. One thing I can see coming is that the homeless people this shop serves will be left without a bike shop resource like this. Iíve heard people say something to the effect that itís not the mission of the bike shop to be a homeless shelter. But to me thatís one of the worthwhile things they were doing. Homeless people could volunteer and earn a bike. And several have. Terry is homeless and heís there every day working on bikes. Listening to Terry talk is exciting because heís getting excited about something. Heís organizing and leading rides now. Heís bringing in donated bikes. Heís getting people to bring their bikes in for repairs so he can earn bike parts. Heíll be riding in the Grand-Ole-days parade and heís excited about it. So what would happen with Terry if this shop should happen to close? I think building a comfort level, trust and community takes a long time. This shop has itís own community. But the mission may be different than the board thinks. I see that they want to expand and increase in size, opening another location in higher biking areas, catering to those who are wealthier and already bike. Teaching classes to kids in schools and to whomever else will pay for biking education. Weíll see. Iím just observing and helping where I can. And to tell you the truth, eating a cookie with a homeless guy and listening to him get excited about doing these things is a lot more interesting than getting a new shop on the greenway. Itís like spotting a flower that found a way to grow up through the cracks in an urban sidewalk. The busy city people rush by in their all-important urban daily missions and fail to notice the beauty of what is at their feet.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:09 PM

May 11, 2005

Honking Horns

This morning it happened to me again! Someone came speeding up behind me on 5th street in Downtown St. Paul and honked their horn at me. I didn't get out of the way because I was already going the speed limit on my bike! The driver, obviously impatient gunned his engine and passed me in the clear lane on the left. So what was the point of that display? I am starting to appreciate and understand the problems bicyclists face. Last night on the club ride someone threw a paper bag with glass bottles in it at our group and hit one of the riders, but that kind of agression is different and more isolated. Honking the horn and gunning the engine to pass, while speeding is another kind that's much more common. The driver somehow feels put out by having a bike in front of him and becomes impatient. The driver has an underlying attitude of owning the road and bikes have no place there. It's an inconvenience and irritation to the driver to have to wait for a bicycle. Hello! Bicycles are street-legal vehicles!
Last year I got in an accident by getting too close to the curb while going downhill fast, trying to accomodate the driver passing (over the speed limit). Now I don't do that. When I'm riding that fast, I move into the middle of the lane where a car won't be tempted to pass me at close quarters. So to all of the impatient horn honkers out there: What are you trying to prove? Slow down and stop endangering lives. This is really about respecting other human beings.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:53 PM

May 10, 2005

The Gopher Wheelmen Know how to roll!

Tonight I rode with the Gopher Wheelmen club. The ride was 35 miles and fast, with an average speed above 20mph for the whole ride. When I finished I thought that I really had a good workout and was happy I was able to hang with them the whole way. Even on the 30 mph sprints. Then when I got back to County Cycles, one woman said that this was a 'slow ride for this group!' Haha, I cringe to think about their faster ride. I might try it some Tuesday night to see how fast it gets.
I think this ride went ok for me because I took in a lot of fuel today. I ate breakfast plus two lunches plus a snack right before the ride. When we finished the ride I finished off a bottle of gatorade and a clif bar. Then I proceeded to ride the 10 miles home.
It was a good experience, but I realized that this is the second night in a row I've been riding in the rain!

Someone threw a bag of glass bottles at us and hit one of the guys, then the bag crashed in a glass shattering explosion onto the ground in the middle of our group. Dan gets the hero of the day award for chasing the car down to get their license number. The guy who was hit called the police and the police looked up their license and were happy he's going to press charges, because they said these guys have had prior incidents of the same thing. Obviously they don't see how dangerous what they did really was.

When I got home I changed clothes right away and then ate again! haha. Then I had a rootbeer float! I love those, especially A&W rootbeer since it reminds me of my childhood summers. We used to live only a block away from an A&W. My grandma used to buy the jugs and bring them home so we got that as a treat. mmm.. Anyway, I ate a huge amount today, but somehow I don't think it's a problem. I'm sure one of the main reasons I did so well on this ride, is that I had enough energy.

Tomorrow is a rest day.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:25 PM

May 9, 2005

Training is hard!

I knew this wasn't going to be easy but when I made the decision last year to start bike racing this spring, I had no idea what that committment would really entail. Today I ran at lunch, that was fine. Then I went to class and I was freezing in the rain, then sweating coming home. Now I'm exhausted. Besides biking, all I got done tonight was eat, then eat again, then type this.
I know I have to intensify my training just to be able to compete, but that really is the difficult part for me. Intensity = time + energy. I asked myself in the rain tonight what I'm trying to prove. The answer is nothing. I'm trying to experience bike racing. I can't experience it without actually doing it. I cannot actually do it without working really hard.
So tomorrow after work I'm going for a ride with the gopher wheelmen club. That should be interesting, if it doesn't kill me, hehe. Then Thursday night is the SPBRC beginners group ride which should be about 30 miles by the time I get there and home. Yes, training is really hard, but it's worth it.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:17 PM

Stickers and knickers

Last night after working on my yard projects I decided I had better get back to my bicycle restoration project so I worked on it for an hour and a half, disassembling the rest of the bike and heating up and pealing off reflectorized stickers. Iím still not done with sticker removal, because it still doesnít work quickly. The stickers cool and harden again before I can peel off too much. Iím going to have to work on it next weekend a lot because my time is running out! But I anticipate it will go back together faster than it came apart. Itíll be like building a new bike from frame up. Of course thatís speculation, because Iíve never done anything like this before. So far itís still a fun project and look forward to seeing it all done.
The last time I was at County Cycles I bought a new set of black-rubber pedals to replace the highly worn pedals on the bike. They are very similar to the original but have reflectors on them and are better quality. Those cost 10 dollars for the pair. I also got some white cable housing and new cable for the rear hub and brakes to replace the yellowed-existing cable housing.
To make this more interesting, this ride comes with a costume requirement. I have to try to dress in the period British style, which I think is knickers, button-down shirt, tie, etc. Iím still going to wear my helmet though. Iíll have to be creative in this one I think and maybe go shopping at the thrift stores. When do I fit that into my schedule?! 11 days until project deadline!

Posted by carl1236 at 4:20 PM

May 8, 2005

Time Trials

Today I did the Lillydale Time Trial. It was an interesting experience. Iíve seen time trials on TV but not in person and Iíve heard people talk about them. But now I got to experience one. Based on how Iíve been riding my friend Dan helped me set a goal for today, which was somewhere around 21.5 miles per hour average speed for the five miles. I rounded up to 22 mph. Somehow without really being able to tell while riding, my average speed ended up at exactly 22.0 mph. Given my current conditioning I donít think I could have given it much more today. But now I have a benchmark for future training and racing.
I think there were about 115 racers there today all trying to go all out and test their own limits. Dan said, ďIn a time trial you try to get up to your pain threshold as fast as you can and then try to hold it.Ē I was in pain. Mostly my legs were burning, my throat was dry and my lungs felt like they couldnít take in any more oxygen. Also, my hands started to go numb on the lower drop bars from the pressure. As far as the mental game goes, there were plenty of opportunities to refocus on what I was doing. My mind kept trying to wander and think about other things and I found myself slowing down. I pulled myself back to the present and pushed harder.
After the time trial ended, I waited around for the results and chatted with the other racers. That was fun and interesting. Now tomorrow night is the Beginning Racerís Program class again, so Iím off to bed now to make sure I get enough rest tonight. I had an excellent day, with excellent results for my first Time Trial.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:21 PM

May 7, 2005

My Car is Gone!

Tonight I finally got rid of my car! I wasn't even sad to see it go. I wasn't worried about what I'd do without it. My wife asked me if I felt liberated now, but I don't. I think I'll feel liberated when I have to give up some activity because I can't get there within a reasonable amount of time or condition. Let's say I get in a car vs. bike accident and happen to survive it but I break my leg and can't ride my bike and the bus doesn't go where I need to get to. then I will feel liberated.
I will feel liberated because I won't have a choice. For the first time since my junior year in High School, I will experience what people without cars exerience every day of their lives. So I don't really feel liberated from my car yet. Right now I'm just riding my bike like every other day this past year. Maybe in a month or so I'll realize the impact of being without my car. So far I don't miss it. I'll let you know when it hits me.
Tomorrow morning is my first Time Trial. Time for bed. I'll post the results tomorrow. It should be fun. My goal is an average speed of 22mph for 5 miles.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:18 PM

May 6, 2005

Sticker Shock

Tonight I spent 45 minutes trying to remove stickers from this Armstrong 3-Speed Bike. I tried the blow dryer to soften the glue and that was working. Except I tried to use a razor to peel it back and accidently made a little gouge in the paint. I stopped doing that right away! Add that to the spots I have to try to touch up. I did find out that my thumb nails work just fine after heating it up and it doesn't wreck the paint underneath. After the sticker is gone, the rest of the glue is easy to remove with the citrus solvent.
Two weeks until the event and I'm starting to panic because I haven't really been working on this bike lately. I'll get it done though. I did put one tire on to make sure it works on that rim and it fits good! The white tires I bought will look so good on that red bike!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:31 PM

May 5, 2005

That's life

Last night I stayed at the bike shop working until 10pm. Well, some working and a lot of talking, hehe. After that I made my way home and promptly fell asleep thinking I was just resting my eyes. I woke up at midnight on the couch and decided it was too late to write a blog entry so I went to bed. That's life sometimes.
Today was a long day and I put in about 36 miles total on my bike. I went to a party in NE Minneapolis and ate so much Korean food that I thought I'd burst! Riding home after that was difficult for the first few miles. It felt very uncomfortable! But the food was sooooooo gooooood! That's life sometimes.
Tomorrow I have off from work and I was planning to go for a long ride, but now I'm changing my mind. At least if I do, I'll get a later start and do a shorter ride because it's now almost midnight. That's life sometimes.
I just read this passage from the bible, and it is amazing to me to think it was written so long ago, and we still have a problem with this in our society.
Eph. 4:31-32 - "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,..." Well, it's difficult to state this in more simple terms that it's written here. What part of this don't we understand?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:52 PM

May 3, 2005

The Cult of Human Power

I just borrowed this book from someone called ďThe Immortal Class. Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power,Ē by Travis Hugh Culley. First I skimmed through various parts of the book to get the flavor of it, then read the first chapter. My first impression is that being a bike messenger is another one of those little understood forms of sanity. And we can read about it, but not fully grasp the implications until we experience it. I think raising children is another one of those we canít quite grasp until we are in the thick of it.
I like the way the first chapter starts out with the authorís indoctrination and gradual awareness into the bike messengerís inner circle, until it was no longer just a job, but a state of being. From the outside looking in, it may seem absurd, but to anyone who knows the ropes, itís perfectly sane.
I am a bicycle commuter. I ride my bike to work and back, nearly every day. It practically seems like nothing to me anymore, and perfectly natural. To some people, including myself about a year ago, this would have seemed insane and something requiring medication. But I think that Iím closer to sanity being outside in the fresh air and all that comes with that.
Human power is a cult, just like any other inner-circle we decide to Ďbelongí to. Once we are inside of it, after the indoctrination, we are no longer outsiders. Outsiders canít always comprehend what itís like until they dive in. Some would never dive in because itís too insane or itís below them or any other reason. They are still outsiders. But they have their own inner-circles that they belong to. I rode bike once with a guy who was really into acting in plays. Evidently he has been in hundreds of plays. Itís an inner-circle that I have little real understanding of. I can read about it but until I go to the rehearsals and practice my lines, Iím still in the audience, an observer of a life I think I understand. Until someone told me about his passion for acting, he was just another guy on a bike. Itís because we were in a different circle together.
The SPBRC is a cult. Many people who belong to it donít even race, but are insiders because they ride together. The community bike shop Iím working with is a cult, with itís own set of characters and rules that only insiders can know. The workers at the group-home company I worked at had their own inner-circle and set of unwritten, unspoken rules to follow. It took me a few months to learn them and become an insider.
There is more of course, but Iím still an outsider, looking in. But at the same time Iím also an insider, with my own inner-circles looking out, which seems to me can be equally incomprehensible until we experience what is out there.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:43 PM

May 2, 2005

What do 50 adults do on bikes together on a cold night in the state park?

Tonight was the first night of the Saint Paul Bike Racing Club Beginner's Racing Program (BRP). For almost two hours we learned about various techniques for riding in a group. We practiced bumping into each other, taking turns at the front, signaling, etc. It was a good class! In spite of the cold everyone showed up.
I rode my bike there, but I was really surprised at how many people dished out the dough to pay for a State Park sticker for their car so the could drive to the class that teaches how to ride. There were several people who rode their bikes, but the majority of them drove a car with their bike on the rack. I don't know if I can draw any conclustions from this but it just struck me as odd. I am getting the impression that there are many bicycle racers that are not bicycle commuters. Maybe it was the cold tonight, or maybe everyone is just too spread out. I rode my bike for a half hour to get to class tonight. I know that when they start extending the rides outside of the park and adding miles to our training, I'll still have to ride at least 7 miles to get home. But that's ok too.
The class itself was really good and I already feel more comfortable riding in a large group. This does take practice to get comfortable doing it. For the first night of class I give this 2 thumbs up. So far so good. I'd recommend this to others who want to try bike racing.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:02 PM

May 1, 2005

Dare to speak positively

"Every happening great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message." - Malcolm Muggeridge, from the book, "Your best life now." by Joel Osteen.
Today was my last day working at the group home. My coworker was wishing she was leaving and we talked a little bit about the company and it's management, or mismanagement. Then I started to direct the conversation toward what was good about the job, and how it was the perfect part-time job for me over the past year and how the flexible schedule and weekend hours was good for her also. It allowed her to finish graduate school and be at home more during the week with her youngest child. She's been doing this kind of work for 6 years in a job that usually has high turnover and burnout rates. Working at a group-home isn't always easy or pleasant. A person has to bring a certain attitude with them each day that's positive, patient and persistent. My coworker has those qualities. She used them at work and she's graduating with her Master's Degree Next week.
Let's face it, we can complain about anything, but like diamonds, there are always multiple facets to it. Which facet we are looking at may determine how we value our experience. And sometimes we cannot even see the whole thing when we are examining the flaws.
It's easy to fall into the complaining mode, but the truth is I've had a great experience this year and so has she. Even cleaning up someone's bowel movements from the floor has taught me about human dignity. God has spoken to me a lot this year and I've tried my best to get the message. Sometimes when we find ourselves in the middle of a mess it's difficult to speak positively and it may even take some courage to do so in every situation we face.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:34 PM