Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Ox is slow...

...but the Earth is patient.

Back on the bike again -- the Red Menace to be exact. I've been fighting a chest cold as of late (coughing up bits that look like chewed up candle, if you must...) and lacking the the, ah, testicular fortitude to soldier on like more hearty souls (Ray and Snakebite). But, biking all year means biking in the winter and biking I must. I needed to shake the blahs (Christmas and being sick), so I tagged along with me Mrs as she went to work at the Cedar and had her drop me off at Town Hall. Proceeded to have pints and jolly fellowship with jolly fellows and then pushed on to see me Mrs. Heard Dark Dark Dark play live and then took meself home. I managed to slip while locking up the bike and my body doesn't like the sudden impacts that I enjoyed in earlier years. Just sayin'...

I pedaled on home and I felt better than I have in weeks. I avoided the Greenway (with much regret) and ploughed on home by city streets. The streets and sidewalks were really a mess, but the Nokians stood me in good stead and I had no fear and no slipping at all. Accompanied by the sound of frying bacon, I slowly rode home. Heavy rider, heavy bike and studded tires don't lend themselves to rapid transit, but the sizzling meant that my footing was sure and I wandered the 8 miles home without incident.

The fall on the ice left me with a scuffed left hand and a back twinged nothing like the days of yore when I was a hockey player. Age and years of sedentary desk work have left me less able to take a body shot and I was reminded of it when on my home. But, hell, you play through the pain, yes? Besides, the motion of riding is more therapeutic than drugs or hot tubs or sylph-like waifs massaging me. No, Midwestern grit and misery were enough to drive the pain (or most of it, anyway) from my back. I'm a Minnesotan, there's no other way! I'll be fine, just give me a minute...

Let's see how I feel tomorrow. Me Darlin' Mrs took a couple of spills today too, so it'll be good to see how sprightly we feel on the morrow.

The ride has opened up my spirits again. I've been feeling like Scoogey McGrinchypants throughout Christmas (my Holiday upbringing, yet I claim none of it now). Cloying "Holiday Spirit" shoved up my ass for the last couple of weeks has left me, uh, crabby. That and the cold and the work have drained most of the cheer out of this fellow. I have to say, the ride back from da bar was just the tonic I needed. The rich food, the lack of exercise and nicey-nice has driven me nuts and the slow, grinding ride home tonight really made me feel much better, despite the back pain and the aching elbow and wrist.

Weird. As much as I despise Garrison Keillor, his descriptions of Midwesterners is spot on sometimes. Yes, it hurts and no, it's none of your business. I'll be fine. I'll just have another slice of pie (you were gonna just throw it out anyway) and I'll sleep it off. I got another day off, so's I'll just be fine. Don't you worry about me. Of course, I'll help you shovel your walk...

Oh, by the way, the Red Menace has fenders and will be growing a rack, so it will be a real commuting bike and not just an afterthought that I ride when the roads suck. I have taken apart the Specialized, and I hope to add its cranks and pedals to the Red Menace (if only to rid myself of a the fucking Biopace chainrings, they do tend to throw a chain on a single speed). Wish me luck.

[Edited at the request of Mrs Yam]

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Step away from the browser...

Microsoft will be issuing an out of band patch for Internet Explorer for all of their operating systems and all versions (5 through 8 beta). Read more here. Basically, IE is really unsafe (no, duh) and you shouldn't be using it.

I mean it. This is my day job...

Really now, practice safe net:

These are all alternatives and I recommend most of them for your daily browsing needs. Unless you really need IE, I suggest switching and switching for good.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blistered thumbs

Bloody Nokians are some stiff tires. I really had to wrestle to get them on the rims last night and now my soft, delicate hands are all battered from the experience. I'm traumatized.

I need a tissue.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

ipod blogging

I've just gotten my new toy working -- an ipod touch. This is quite an impressive li'l critter, though typing can be bit trying.

I still need some practiceto type faster and without mistakes

Friday, December 05, 2008

Nothin' in the tank

Crikey, it was cold this morning. I was awakened with an enthusiastic grooming from happily purring BoyCat. I scratch him, he fixes what little hair I have on my head and both the contented rumble and the warmth of the bed did little to encourage my departure for work. I manage to break the spell and start my day regardless.

Morning ablutions complete, I pack gear and food and then step out into December's biggest hit this year. Dig the Dummy from the garage and begin my trip to work. Within the first block my legs are just not going to have any of this nonesense today it appears. No power, no endurance, just cold and struggle for the entire commute. It was a bad scene, man.

I hope that this is just a bad day (I've had them before) and not a foreshadowing of my winter. With any luck, soon I'll be as right as rain and I'll join the fine folks on the Hiawatha shop ride tomorrow. If not, I may just stay in bed all weekend. I'm just getting off my on-call shift and that does sound rather enticing at the moment...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

From the City of Minneapolis

Bicycling Update Subscribers,

In Minneapolis, many bicyclists embrace the winter months by continuing to ride. If you are already biking, or considering winter biking, here are some tips for dealing with the snow, cold temperatures, and motorists:

* Travel slowly when snow and ice are present. Riding a bike on a street can be challenging, particularly when ice has formed or snow has become lumpy and compacted by vehicles. Ride in bare patches of pavement or non-compacted snow when possible. Take turns and curves at a slower speed, and allow longer distances for braking. Be sure to plan ahead for extra travel time. And remember that cyclists have the right to ride in a general traffic lane, which may be necessary if bike lanes have not been properly cleared.
* Ride defensively around motorists. Cyclists are less visible in the winter (with fewer cyclists riding and less daylight), and roads are more narrow (when curb-to-curb plowing has not occurred). Always be prepared for motorists to make a mistake. Follow traffic laws and be as considerate as possible. Educate yourself and your friends (motorists and bicyclists alike!) on traffic laws and safety.
* Take the off-street trails. Since Minneapolis has so many miles of trails (82 miles and counting!), urbanites from across the country often suffer from “trail envy.” To top it all off, the Park Board and Public Works Department have policies of clearing snow from off-street trails soon after the end of a snowfall (read more about how the Midtown Greenway and Hiawatha Light Rail Trail are plowed). In most cases, this occurs in less than 24 hours. If you have the choice, leave the grime and compacted snow of the streets behind and head for the trails!
* Stay visible. Riding in the winter months means more darkness. Brighten your ride by using headlights, taillights, and reflective clothing and gear. Legally, cyclists are required to ride with a white, front headlight and rear, red reflector at night.
* Use an old bike in good working condition. Salt and sand can wreak havoc on your treasured bicycle, resulting in rust and breakdowns. Use an older but functional bicycle in the winter months. Two elements of a well functioning winter bike include effective brakes and a well greased chain (wet lube is ideal for snowy conditions). Wider tires with good traction are also essential. Add a pair of fenders to your bicycle to keep street muck from landing on your clothing. The Midtown Bike Center has a bike washing facility which can be used to clean off your bike for $3.
* Dress in layers. Just like other winter sports, bicycling can heat up your body rapidly. Apply layers to your torso and legs, and be prepared to strip them away as your body warms. A good rule of thumb is that you should feel chilly when you step outdoors – if you’re cozy before you start riding, you’ll likely be boiling when you stop.
* Cover your extremities. All of us have experienced the extremes of a sweating torso and numb ears or toes. Don’t ignore your head, neck, hands, and feet when you bike. Comfortable stocking caps, scarves, socks, and gloves (which allow dexterity) should be considered. And goggles don’t just look cool; they’re great eye protection from the cold wind and road grit.
* Use 311. If you see a bicycle-related problem which involves plowing, shoveling, signing, or another traffic concern, call 311. The City relies on the public to flag problems. If you live outside of Minneapolis, call 612-673-3000. A Minneapolis bikeway maintenance responsibility list is available for more direct call routing.
* Use transit. When the going gets tough, give yourself a warm break by using the bus or train. All Metro Transit buses and trains are equipped with bicycle racks. Bike commuters are also eligible to sign up for Metro Transit’s Guaranteed Ride Home program, which provides free transit rides or cab fare reimbursement for emergencies (like a snow or ice storm).
* Look for more information. We’re hardly the final say on winter bicycling. Any winter cyclist on Minneapolis streets probably has some good ideas, so go ahead and ask around. If you want to read on, visit In addition, several winter biking classes are being offered locally, and we’ll be adding more. Visit our Local Events page to learn more.
* Embrace winter. Our identity is shaped by our weather. Snow and cold temperatures add diversity and beauty to Minneapolis. Riding a bicycle in the winter can be exhilarating and practical. It keeps you in good health, it’s good for the environment, it’s cheap, and at times, it’s even the fastest mode of travel. [Ed Note: this is really the thing to keep in mind above all else. I live here because I love winter and biking is a good way to be out in it.]

Happy Riding,

City of Minneapolis Bicycle Program

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


An Incomplete Inventory:

I ride my bike to work, to play, for play. I don't even think about it anymore, I just ride. I grab breakfast and lunch, stuff 'em in the messenger bag and roll out without a second thought. That took a long time (and, possibly, selling the second car), but now it's weird to get a ride in a car or to drive -- I usually ride and me darlin' Mrs drive.

Procrastination. Why do today what can be put of till tomorrow. Any excuse will happily be the scrap I cling to avoid doing what needs to be done. Prioritizing is easy, execution is a bitch.

Making breakfast ahead of time and bringing it to work. I'm usually not hungry when I get up, but after arriving at the office, the familiar knocking comes around in about a half hour. Breakfast is now pretty much the same thing and it is a hot cereal of mixed whole grains: steel-cut oats, barley, wheat berries, wild rice, corn meal, buckwheat, etc. We buy them in bulk and mix 1/4 - 1/2 cup of a grain we have (it varies) into 2 cups of mixed grains and 8 cups liquid (usually a mix of water and skim milk). Put this in a crock pot over night and cook it all on low and you have an inexpensive, wholesome, simple cereal that keeps well and microwaves easily. A handful of raisins and almonds on top and a splash of soy milk and I'm ready. Packaged cereal is a costly joke.

I'm wearing my helmet all the time. I don't like it, but so what.

Talking to people as I ride. Saying hi to everyone is really a pretty neat thing and everyone seems to warm to a person on a bike. Maybe because I don't threaten them with 4,000 pounds of steel, rubber and glass. You'd be surprised how friendly people can be. But, you'd also be surprised at how unfriendly people can be.

I get wound up easily. I'm not as bad as I was, as aging and marriage have calmed me considerably, but the punker/hockey dink/rugger still show up. I'm not ever violent, but it sure can look like it sometimes...

Eating better food. We've cut out most of the junk -- no prepackaged/frozen foods, no huge chain fast food, gardening or shopping at the coop and the farmers' market for vegetables, fruits, whole grains and skipping a lot of stuff we used to have around the house. Not only are we healthier, but it tends to be considerably less expensive. Down side -- you have to cook. Up side -- I get to cook. We have time as we don't watch TV. As an aside, I can't eat a lot of stuff that most folks do now. The Hardee's burger ads make me a bit queasy and too much junk food starts to affect my insides in less than pleasant ways.