I took the Schwinn out for its shakedown cruise to see Jim and Kevin at HC to pick up a messenger bag and some lights. It felt so good to be back on the bike again that I didn't go home, but went to Town Hall. I haven't ridden a single speed since I was, what, ten or twelve years old. But the simplicity is a real asset when riding in the snow and slush of winter. That, and the Nokians. Studded tires are the shit. 'Nuff said.
It's geared really low (like 38/18), but I think that if I were to gear it up, the back tire would spin more. I also don't want to put any more money in this thing than I need to so I'll have to deal with it. I need to keep some sort of decent chainline and to use the outer chainring would be a bit too far of a stretch I fear. I'm going to pitch everything on this and probably turn it into an Xtracycle this summer, so it just has to get me through the winter. Truly, the definition of a winter beater...
I'm off from work this week, hence the blogging spew. I'm just cleaning the house, building a new server and working now and then at the liquor store plus a little freelance thuggery for Ray. It's nice to have a purpose...
Christmas season has ended, or at least pretty much and with that comes the end of the &*!%*+=!$% Christmas music. I don't have anything against carols, but that's not what we play at the store. Instead we have the XM radio "Holiday" channel. Crimeney, every song celebrates the birth of Santa with Rudolph and the other wise men or some such thing. Look, call it the Christmas channel, I didn't hear any other seasonal song, so at least be honest fer crissakes.
One of the worst parts of that channel is the fact that I've heard rendition after rendition of "The Christmas Song." It's a maudlin piece at best (when Nat Cole tolerably sang it), but now every hack with a microphone covers it and each one more treacly and brain-dead than the last. It's like every goofball that picks up an electric guitar and plays "Stairway to Heaven." Stop. Just stop. It makes my head hurt to listen to some soul-patch sporting dork breathily wheeze that tired tidbit in a way that makes Johnny Mathis sound like GG Allin. Four or five covers of that turd an hour, that's gonna leave a mark. I would like to issue a Golden Hand Grenade to the winner of the suckiest version to James Taylor for his dirge-like rendition -- a moaning, lifeless cover that really shows me the Meaning Of Christmas. His limp bleating makes the death of a dear family pet more exciting than Christmas. To suck this bad takes a lot of work and he beats out such "talent" as Kenny G, whose painful, siren of a saxophone treats the song like my dog treats a beef rib.
Also, why is "Winter Wonderland" a Christmas song? There's nothing there about Christmas except snow. It snows in February, but it isn't played then. Christmas occurs in Australia in the bloody beginning of Summer. Hell, they play the shit out of that song before the Solstice, so it's not really winter either. I'm old enough (and Minnesotan enough) to remember the best cover of this one -- Casey Jones' Walking In My Winter Underwear. (Is there nothing that isn't on YouTube?)
"Frosty the Snowman" is another non-Christmas song that gets played at Christmas. Just because Rankin-Bass turned it into a cartoon doesn't mean it's Christmas. This is second in the list of the most overplayed "classics" I've been forced to enjoy. This is a stupid song and nothing else need be said about it.
Most annoying single rendition of a song goes to Mannheim Steamroller's "Deck the Halls." Mannheim Steamroller is for people who find the Boston Pops too challenging. Take the tympani and the synths and go away. Now. And take the Siberian whateverthehellthey'recalled with you.
I also hope that a special pit in Hell is reserved for the idiot that wrote "Jingle Bell Rock." My stomach immediately starts to flip at the sound of that guitar intro and I do my best to run for cover when that shows up. I hope you have footmen there -- everyone who's ever covered the miserable tune. The writers of "Siver Bells" and "Home for the Holidays" and anyone who covers them should have neighboring pits. With extra brimstone, please.
I could go on, but you probably have been in malls, restaurants, elevators, nursing homes, garages, etc and you've heard one or all of these gems. But anyone who works in retail knows how I feel and the Donut Guy is one of 'em. But, today, we're back to the same shitty, non-Christmas music.
And it's wonderful. Except for that really execrable song "You're Beautiful." I don't know if that's really the name of it, but since that phrase is repeated 700 fucking times, I'm gonna assume it is. That song should be banned. And the singer/songwriter forced to listen to James Taylor for eternity.
The Schwinn has been reborn as a single speed winter bike. I finally got the chain length right (it would keep throwing the chain) and then the front tube exploded. I decided to run with the front wheel off of the Specialized and remounted the Nokia. Took it for it's shakedown cruise around the neighborhood and I'm really impressed what those tires can do. I've got better traction on my bike than I have with my car!
I stopped by the new HCWHQ to get a tool to remove the rear cassette from the freewheel. Jim suggested that I get a single speed freewheel for it instead of building out a whole wheel and I went with that. A new set of tires and fenders for Mrs' bike (a very fetching silver that looks good with the blue bike) and the Yam household is fulled winterized in the bike department.
Of course, I've never really biked in the winter, so I have to get used to it and that is going to be the challenge. Biking in mashed potatoes is considerably different than the streets I've become used to. But, that's fun of it. I think I'm going to set a New Year's Resolution to get to work more with two wheels than four.
I need to ride more -- I can feel the holiday eats settling down for a long winter's nap around my waist. That, and the fact the we are taking a trip to Portland, Oregon at the end of January. We're not going to rent a car, we're renting bikes and taking public transit and I want to be able to get around without wheezing so much.
It actually snowed here. In December. In appreciable amounts.
As a winter guy, I'm floored. The past winters have been cold but without snow. Dustings here and there, but we'd have nothing but frozen ground well past December. Snowshoeing was, ah, dull. Ten below zero Fahrenheit with no snow sucks wet, hairy moose rocks from a winter sports perspective. But now we have snow and it looks like it may hang around (knocks on wood).
As Minnesotans, one of the peculiarities is to go driving around when there are snow storms, so during Saturday's snowfall, the Mrs and I drove around. We ended up picking up a couple of biking-related things: warm things for hands and heads and a bike. I'm glad Mrs is open-minded and cheap. I've been looking for winter biking mitts or gloves or something, but after the disaster that the Novara Headwind gloves turned out to be, I figured I'd think out of the box and find better for a whole lot less. Bikers need to use their fingers or at least more of their hand than a mitten would allow, but gloves leave the fingers exposed. Lobster claws are a typical answer, but they're expensive. Sure, windproof, waterproof, lets the skin breathe, yadda, yadda, yadda, but to they really live up to the hype? Generally, no.
Enter the fond memories of childhood and my trips to the army surplus store downtown with my friends. I love the smell of old canvas and the weird and wonderful things that are there. Especially Trigger Finger Mittens. Ten bucks a pair, built like iron and have room enough to wear gloves underneath. Got a pair for me and the Mrs. She also found a Balaclava and I found some wool gloves. No more cold hands and faces.
Winter footwear seems to be a discussion topic among a lot of bikers, and I'm not joining in as I haven't really biked all that much in the snow. But I do have something that I'm gonna wear -- Mukluks. Moose hide and wool felt liners. I've snowshoed in these things for years and I've never had cold feet, so I figger that I'll try them on the bike.
Oh, the bike. Mrs' younger brother has been away from home living in Alaska and now San Diego, so he said take his bike. Early 90's Schwinn hybrid. It's a mess, but so what. It's a winter bike. I need to get it into working condition, but that's an easy evening of tinkering. I'll probably dig around to find a rack for it and some tires (if these aren't any good) and we'll take 'er from there. I can't really ride the Bleriot in these conditions, now can I? Much too nice for the slop, snow and salt of the next couple of months.
Besides, it's cheaper than getting new tires for the Honda, which handles like a penguin in molasses in snow.