Monday, September 03, 2012

Back in time...

I have been reminded that I haven't been posting much and that I've not been putting much music, either (thanks, Beany).  I hope remedy both with this post.

I have been wandering back into time in my musical tastes of late; alternative radio and I started haunting college campuses about the same time. Until I left for school, I was a typical mid-western metal-head with the tastes of the times: Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, etc. with a strange fascination for Rhythm and Blues that I picked up after seeing the Blues Brothers movie. Punk was barely on my radar, but I liked some of the stuff that I'd heard and the music scene in Minneapolis at the time was phenomenal. More on this later.

I had a roommate that came into our room one night and declared, "You gotta hear this!" He set down a 6-pack of beer and the new R.E.M. album, Murmur. Fascinated by the sound, we just played the album (real vinyl, kids!) over and over, flipping from one side to the other and back again, marveling in a sound we'd never heard before.

There are few albums that have grabbed me like this has and it still has a pull on me 30 years later. I've been wandering through collections and I've been listening to all the old R.E.M. that I have and thought I'd let you hear what's grabbed my ear as of late:


This TV appearance on the Letterman has crappy sound, but it truly captures the energy of the Hibtone recording of this song. It's a lean, muscular punk version that is nothing like the shoe-staring, dreamy version recorded later for the album.



 The other YouTube video from the same Letterman show - South Central Rain, but it didn't have a title at that time. It's funny now, but this song sounds so much like Modern English's I Melt With You:




The last video was a song included on their first compilation album, Dead Letter Office. Ages of You is a sweet little pop song that R.E.M. has apparently tired of, but this song is one that scratches my brain in a happy spot and I include the song in this live video (it's the first of three songs) because it again shows the energy of a young band and their sound at a less placid tempo.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Trucker is Dead. Long live the Trucker.

I have been destabilizing my stable, as it were. I started out this year with:
  • A K2 mountain bikecycle (as Stevil would say)
  • A Brompton (S6L)
  • A Schwinn something-or-other as a winter bike
  • A Pugsley
  • A Big Dummy
  • A 58cm 700c Long Haul Trucker
I have sold the K2 and the LHT to purchase the LHT shown above.  This one is a 56cm 26" wheeled Disk Trucker.  The reason for the swap was to find a better fit; the 58cm was a nice-riding bike, but it was too tall for my stumpy legs and would cause me too much grief when it had loaded panniers on it.  This one seems to fit me better and I hope to load it up and go away for a while with it.  It certainly calls to me...

Jim at Hiawatha Cyclery was kind enough to bird dog one before the next shipment was to arrive at the middle or end of September.  His eagle eyes and cat-like reflexes snagged this beauty when two mysteriously appeared at QBP.  The bike arrived and was lovingly assembled by Mongo and then Tubus racks were applied.  This is a change for me as I'm quite a fan of the Surly Nice Rack.  Well, the rear racks anyway.  The front rack seems to be over-engineered and is a real test to install.  It was probably for the better, as I'd heard that the front rack wouldn't fit over disk brakes on the Truckers.

Before the arrival of the DT, there was a point where I had a non-functioning K2, the LHT was being ridden by a potential purchaser, the Brompton had developed a mystery skip in the rear cog, the winter bike was disassembled and the Pugsley was giving me fits with the brakes after changing the tires.  A velostential crisis was looming: I was running out of bikes!  My trusty Dummy was still ridable, but really, I was starting to panic (a little).

Then it seemed as if the clouds parted and all was right again in my personal velosphere: the mystery was solved on the Brompton (loose hub), the brakes were righted with a another set of hub maintenance and brake tightenings, I discovered the weirdness on the K2 and fixed that (a middle chainring that was a collection of dolphin fins and shark's teeth -- repaired by replacing it) and the potential buyers both committed to purchasing the LHT and the K2, thus garnering the funds to purchase the new Disk Trucker.

As an aside, the problems with the Pugsley began after I replaced the standard Larry/Endomorph combination with a set of Black Floyds.  Boy howdy.  These things really change the character of the bike and turn it into a real street-rod.  I'm loving them muchly and if you find yerself riding less demanding terrain, these will make your fat bike roll easier by an order of magnitude.  Sweet new tennie-runners for the Pug.

I can't honestly think of any more bikes that I need, but I wouldn't pass up a chance to get a set of his-and-hers gaspipe Raleighs.  Or a Salsa Fargo, I like the Fargo.  And a beach cruiser.  Or maybe a...

AHEM

Sorry.  Got a little carried away.  Number of bikes you have plus one and all that, you know. 

Heh.

Yeah. Well, anyway, it seems my crisis has been averted and all is well again in Veloland.

Keep the rubber side down, and we'll see ya out there.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beer time!

We're meeting at Harriet Brewing (one block south of Lake on Minnehaha) on Thursday, August 2nd. The taproom opens at 16:00. It's a great place; the beers are good and the food truck on site will be Anchor Fish and Chips.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Presidential candidate insults both long-time ally and local blogger:






ahem:





Sure, they're no Dressage horses, but we like 'em.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beers for Bloggers, anyone?

Now that it seems that Summer here has finally descended from the copper-smelting temperatures of the past month, does anyone feel like getting together for a beer?  Wheelie, dahling?  OB?  VPete?  Msr S. Shak?  Others? 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bromptoneering

To bromptoneer:  
(v. int.) 
1. to explore by English folding bicycle. 
Ex. We exited the train and began to bromptoneer around Milwaukee. 

 (v. tr.) 
1. to sightsee while mounted on an English folding bicycle.
Ex. We bromptoneered the city upon arrival. 

Wiser and more adventurous folks than myself defined the word bromptoneering not by coining it and submitting it to the OED, but by traveling to distant places and riding their little bikes. Grabbing adventure and using 16 inch wheels to make it bow to their will, these forerunners defined the word before my attempt to qualify and quantify it.

My charming bride and I have begun to follow in their noble footsteps and below are some pictures of escapades had in distant locales whilst astride the Brompton.

THE BEGINNING:

Mrs. said one sultry summer evening last year, "We'll be travelling to New England next year, why don't we get the Bromptons now?" I was unable to come up with an reason to counter her suggestion, so we were off to Calhoun Cycle to pick up a pair of little bikes:


(The little bikes as purchased) 

A month later, we were in Door County, Wisconsin and found out that you could cover a sizable distance (30 miles) comfortably on these little bikes as we biked the interior of the peninsula (sadly, no pictures available). Biking the deserted interior roads while avoiding the outrageous traffic along the main coastal roads was indeed more pleasant and safer.

THE INITIAL RUN:

Your host is a college hockey fan, and I attempt to join friends to watch the Frozen Four where ever the tournement lands; this year it was Tampa, Florida.  I packed the bike in a cover and was able to check it as regular luggage on the journey to the Sunshine State.  My attempts to leave the airport by bike were met with denial as there was nothing but 6 lane, high speed traffic around the airport.  I did see people biking, but that was after I was in the bus to the hotel.  The first night was as I expected FL to be, hot and muggy and the biking wasn't horrible, but, crikey, it was hot.  Storms passed by that night and for the rest of my time there the weather was utterly magnificent.  I biked around and the drivers were alert and courteous, which I also found surprising.

(obligatory palm-like tree tropical shot)

THE AWAKENING:

B.A.D.A.S.S. called for a group ride in Milwaukee at the beginning of May. The Brompton And Dahon Adventure and Survival Society was formed by Masons or Shriners or some collection of people with funny handshakes and hats. Why they let others in, I don't know, but the Mrs. and I, along with a collection of others, were summoned from On High to Eastern Wisconsin by train to the home of the Brewers, Laverne and Shirley and Allen Bradley. We did not miss the call.

 (Brommies take to trains like fleas to Mastiffs)

We joined a pub crawl already in progress,

 (not Heaven, but just a drill)
and we went to bars after that and then we had our pictures taken by a couple of Milwaukee's finest as the slowly trawled by in their cruiser and then we had dinner and went to bed.  A big day...

We then crawled the waterfront and were amazed by the coolness of Milwaukee:

(Lake Michigan)

 (a watertower)

We then biked to the station and made it back home amazed at the city and looking forward to another visit.

to be continued... 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fat boy on a little bike (the Winded-but-not-out-of-hot-air mix)

I completed my first sanctioned bicycle race: the U. S. Brompton race here in Minneapolis.  Six miles of pain wrapped in a suit with a tie and a jacket to make the whole 85 degree endeavor just that much sillier. I've never raced in anything, but the Mrs signed us up and today dawned hot and windy as we waited for a front to arrive.

Calhoun Cycle put on a nice party for  the silliness that is the Brompton race.  We showed up and were told how to place the bikes (folded) and where to stand for the Gran Prix styled start.  I am a slow runner but a fast unfolder; this afforded me a 10 second start ahead of those who were more able to race their bicycle machine faster than I, i. e., most of them.  I then managed to find myself utterly winded before even starting the race and giving those faster than myself an advantage.

Those who were able to graciously take my offering then leapt to a start, never to acknowledge my gift, as they left without saying a word.  I then decided to take a winded, though uneven course through the race to make sure that I never interrupted the cads that denied thanking me for my gift as the sped by me two or three times as I rode the course.  Lacking the proper hydration, I searched for a Bloody Mary or a Gin and Tonic, yet none were offered on the torturous course that I found my self upon.

Nearly an hour later, I did manage to "finish" it the parlance of the boors that ran this event, with nary a proper drink handed to me upon completion of this savage of courses.  A mere paper cup of water was all that was afforded me.  The offense was immense, and I decided to assuage my indignity in a proper pint elsewhere...

As I was awash in the less than proper juices of the most heinous of physical events, I was summoned by the none other the Knight of Belgian Zymergian efforts, Sir Lanny.  My darling wife and I were than able to dine in the most of affable company of the fine nobleman and his family and to restore our constitutions away from the most of the windswept and overheated  public that we were able to espy whilst dining.

Whence after the rabble dispersed, we then were able to find our way to the Nipponese house of respite and dined on the "candied spiders" and foreign ales that proffered until the sun lowered its demonous self below the trees and we were able to find our way home without being treated like some Christmas Pudding.

Over all, a day of splendid adventure and sport, but one I would like to not repeat.  The years I've spent in the Raj were enough, thank you very much...

 Your host is number 103.  Number 123 won best-dressed (surprised?) Courtesy Calhoun Cycle

Forward motion supplied not by my faltering legs, but the power of my suck...  Courtesy CycleTC.com

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

I Aten't Dead

Sorry, I've been lax in posting.  I blame Facebook.

I've been busy living life and taking the time to jot a note to the aether just hasn't been a priority, but I've come to the realization that this is as much a good reminder of my life to me as it is a wall full of scribbles in feces to y'all.

So, in an attempt to spark myself and to see if anyone is still there, I'm starting again.  This will be a quick update of the bike collection and some of the adventures had on said collection.  Pictures and details will come later.

Current stable consists of four bikes of mine, plus some ones I've plans for, and two for Mrs. Yam.  We've both a Long Haul Trucker and a Brompton folding bike; mine, a classic British racing green 6-speed and hers, a very darling hot pink and black 3-speed.  The Brommies were purchased last year on a whim instigated by the Mrs. and a wonderful addition to the collection.  There will be lots more about these wonderful little bikes.

I still have the Pugsley and the Big Dummy.  This winter's riding wasn't really very wintery, but the Pugs did most of the communting duty anyway.  Which wasn't much, sadly.  Mrs got herself a job in downtown Minneapolis and takes the bus every day and I became lazy and started to drive.  Fell into a bad habit, I did.  When I decided to start commuting again on January 2nd, I managed to flip the Pugsley and land completely on my back with the bike landing on top of me.  I ended up wrenching my back quite badly and it was uncomfortable to ride for about three months, so the bad habit continued.

By the time that my back started feeling better, March was upon us, with its ridiculous warmth and utter lack of snow.  We decided to take a chance and start the garden early and my interests went straight into the ground, so to speak.  We're reaping the benefits of this now though, with the ability to walk out and grab a bowlful of salad whenever we wish.  The spinach is already gone, save for the stuff I've let go to seed for August and next year's planting and the tomatoes and peppers have been planted.

A new feature of our garden is a rabbit fence.  I've never needed one before since the dog kept the bunnies at bay. But, our beloved Sheila developed a tumor and we had to make the hard decision of putting her to sleep and the little bastards took no time to show up demolish Mrs's peas.  The fence went up in short order upon discovery of the culprits.  I'm sad we couldn't turn her wrath into an anti-rabbit ray -- there'd be little left of them.

Places have been visited (Duluth, Milwaukee, Des Moines) and biked.  I've taken the Brompton to Tampa for the NCAA Frozen Four and found a soft spot for the city and hard spot for American Airlines (don't ever tell them you have a bike -- it's an extra $125 for "sports equipment").  Mrs has taken hers on the bus to work to ride home in the evening and we've been doing more errands by bike since we needn't worry about our elderly pup any longer.

One other thing, Mrs. signed us up to compete in the U. S. Brompton Championships on Sunday which means I will be competing in my first bicycle race ever.  In a coat and tie, nonetheless.

Should be quite the race...

Sunday, January 01, 2012