Thursday, December 20, 2007

Trial and Error

I've been thinking the last few days about what I've learned since I started commuting back in March. I started with cotton long underwear tops and bottoms, a t-shirt, my old Columbia shell and various pairs of windbreaker pants. When it was cold I would freeze and sweat super bad. My jacket would be soaked and if it rained I either was soaked or put on my full pvc rain gear which did not breath at all. I wore tennis shoes and carried my gear in a backpack.

I believe I've come a long way since then. I got to where I am today through trial and error. I would know I was too hot but didn't know what to do about it. I would buy this and that and try and see what worked better then others. I've found that some stuff you can buy on the cheap, like Champion C9 shirts from Target- they are super cheap and work very well. I've also found that some items you really do get what you paid for like my Cannondale Morphis Shell jacket with zip off sleeves. I love that thing!

This brings me to today. I tend to be impatient. I don't like to waste time so when I found it takes me about 20 minutes to get packed and changed to come home from work I decided it was time to look for something to speed up my routine.

Here's why it took a while: I would have to change from my work cloths- put on my wool base layer, then my boot liner, then my Columbia omni-tech snow pants shell, then put the gaiter of the shell pants over the boot, then put on the boot, then bla-bla-bla... Anyhow, it annoyed me each time I got dressed. I figured I'd look for some nice nordic ski pants that would work well for biking so I would theoretically only have one layer.

After reading on some different types, I set off to buy some Craft Storm Tights. I stopped by Continental Ski and Bike and they showed them to me along with the Toko Nordic Pants. They felt heavier and thicker and seemed would work better (and had a good recommendation from the staff). So I bought them.

I'll be trying them tomorrow. I'm a little apprehensive about them though. I'm used to my gore-tex like shell from Columbia, it keeps me very toasty and warm. I can always add my wools back under these pants (maybe, maybe not) but I'm always hot and sweaty in my shell so hopefully these pants will work to keep me just right on my ride.

So, like I said, it's all about trial and error. Some things work for one person and not another but in the end, if you don't try it, you'll never know. I'll let you know tomorrow how well they worked for me.
Jeff

Monday, December 17, 2007

Busy busy busy

Aren't we all this time of year? I'm still not 100% done with the remod of two bedrooms in my house, adding insulation and tearing out plaster, replacing w/ sheetrock. Have had 2 holiday / Christmas parties, travel for family, travel for work, and a big injury to my foot have all kept me off of my bike for the last few days. I'll be working in Pequot Lakes again for two days; I'm trying to contain my excitement here... My foot, well, I stepped on a very pointy piece of metal and slashed the bottom of my foot. It's healing really fast and I could actually put weight on it today. I figure by Thursday (the next day I'll be able to ride) I'll be in good shape.
Another update- found my other Pro-Tec helmet liner... I knew buying a new one would help flush out the old one :o)
One last update. I bought a new SD card reader today (and it worked) so I can now download my latest photos- but a new problem arose, ran out of hard disk space. Time to buy an external drive with some raid so I can sleep at night with all the gigs and gigs of photos we have safely backed up and protected.

Anyhow, hope everyone has a wonderful week!
Jeff

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why, why why LBS, why? or Have you seen my pro-tec helmet liner?

Ok, sorry for the dumb title but I'm pretty tired.
A few days ago I went to put on my gear and was missing my pro-tec helmet liner. I think I may have dropped it by the sculptures on the lakewalk or perhaps my one year old girl hid it on me like she hid the remote yesterday- I was not happy with her. :o) (JK)
So if you found a pro-tec helmet liner, it's probably mine...
On my way in this morning I stopped at the LBS and they were closed when their sign clearly stated they should have been open. I was not happy with them either. Not that I really needed it today, as the temps were pretty decent but still- I wanted to buy a new one so my old one would show up quicker.
On my way home tonight I kept having the skipping on the back in the high gears problem. I decided to get off my lazy butt and stop and look at the thing, as I thought, a link in the chain was not moving- must have gotten bent or something. In the lower gears in front and higher in back (smaller rings on both) the radius of the chain ring is such that the links have to bend more then on the larger rings and it causes it to skip (also when it runs through the derailleur). I need a new chain or something and on that note, I hate my chain tool- it's just a simple tool; takes the chain apart very nicely but it's a P.I.T.A. to get the pin back in while holding both ends, the tool, the pin, the beer, the cig, the... o wait- I don't drink or smoke, but still, it's a pain. I'm now on the hunt for a nice chain tool, one that will hold multiple links on each side so you don't have to hold them and one that will make it easy to put the pin it there... The chain on there now is some sort of put it together and push on your pedals and it snaps together- I guess that works but I still want a new tool. Maybe if my LBS is open tomorrow when I get there I'll see if they have something like that.

Maybe a new pro-tec helmet liner too.........


(Enough silly business for one night)

Jeff

Friday, December 7, 2007

Under Pressure

On my way home Thursday I decided to try to ride the lakewalk which was a pretty bad idea. Earlier in the week I found out that some sections hadn't been plowed at all and I found out again that was still the case, but with the addition of about 6 more inches of snow. My typical commute in the summer was about 23 minutes, Thursday it took me 1 hour and I was working hard that whole time. From the lakewalk I took the sidewalk on London road until the stop light then road the shoulder. That worked out well because by that time I was pretty tired. I did manage to snap a few pictures but it was past 4 which means it was pretty much black outside :o) (turns out nothing in my house can read my new 2gb sd card- that really sucks)


Today I was thinking about how low I could go with the pressure of my Nokian Mount and Grounds. I checked their website and it says 58-65 (recommended / max) while Peter White's site says 45 is a good number- which makes sense for the typical surface the tire is intended for around here. But I was still wondering if I can go even lower when needed, say 20's or if that just wouldn't work. I think if I'm going to stick to the roads I might try to increase it towards the 60 mark, that way I should be able to get back up to a pretty good speed. I'll have to play around and, of course, keep safety as my main concern.

Anyhow, I've totally lost track trying to get my card readers to work :D
Have a good weekend.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cycling Practical - bahhh

See- even the DTA thinks we're nuts aparently :o)

"DTA ends Bike and Bus program

The most successful season of the Duluth Transit Authority’s Bike and Bus program is coming to a close as the DTA removes the bike racks from the front of its buses this week in preparation for winter.

During its eight-month run this year, 16,050 bicycles were transported by the Bike and Bus service. A news release from the DTA says that’s 23 percent above last year’s record Bike and Bus participation.

The bike racks should reappear at the beginning of daylight savings time or as soon as it gets warm enough to make cycling practical."

(http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/articles/index.cfm?id=55215§ion=News)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Are we safe? Please read and pass along.

Good evening everyone. I am writing to get some input from everyone out there who is still riding their bike.

I pose a simple question, do you feel safe riding in the winter? Personally, I feel like even in the perfect weather of summer that there is certain risk involved with riding in bike lanes or on roads without. Now that winter is here I feel I'm taking even more risk. Granted, I don't feel that it is so much risk that it's overly dangerous, but I do feel that I would like to try to do something to help all winter riders.

My plan:
I plan to contact local media to ask them to do a story on winter bicyclists. I want to point out the fact that even though it's winter and there is snow on the roads people still commute (and recreate) on bike- crazy as it seems. I've already contacted one tv station, WDIO, here in Duluth but have not heard back yet. I let them know I would post asking for some comments from those of us who are still out there.

The help I need:
I would like each of you who are still riding to do three things.

1) Answer these 4 questions
Where do you live (City / State)
Why do you ride (environmental, exercises, etc...)
Do you feel less safe in winter and if so, how much (percentage will do)
What do you feel is the biggest danger riding in the winter (bad drivers, worse conditions, etc)


2) Pass this post to everyone you know who is still biking and ask them to comment answering the above three questions.


The result:
I hope to take the results of the comments and come up with some info to pass along to the news agencies and hopefully make people open their eyes a bit more to see us out there.


Also:
If you have any comments you would like to add regarding personal stories of close calls or accidents involving you or someone you know, please add that into your comment.


Thanks!
Thanks everyone for helping with this. I would love to see hundreds of comments from people all over the U.S. so I can get some really good data on the number of people still riding their bikes!

(Image above from BikeWinter.org)


Ride Safe!
Jeff

OTHER LINKS---

http://cycledog.blogspot.com/2007/12/broken.html

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Did someone order more snow?

What a crazy few days of weather here in Duluth. First major snow December 1st, something like 14-16 inches and another 16 today in West Duluth. Funny thing is in Lakeside where I live we only had about 3 (only about 10 miles from West Duluth). I rode in this morning and the roads were ok. Word to the wise, watch the brown slop, it sucks you where ever it wants, be it into a snow bank or into the road- dangerous riding in that stuff. My morning commute went well. The Lakewalk was decently plowed except for a few places. On the boardwalk ramps behind the buildings on Superior St. I had to push some because it wasn't cleared there at all.
I didn't get to ride home; decided to buy a friends snowblower (attachment and riding mower for a price that couldn't be beat). We left work a bit early because of the snow. Neither one of us thought it would be bad but it took us 1 hour and 45 minutes to go about 3 miles. I've never seen a slower traffic jam in my life. The bridges were closed due to accidents, downtown was total deadlock. I wish I had just rode home, I would have enjoyed going faster then all the traffic. :o)
I don't get to ride in tomorrow either- left the bike at work. Tomorrow's ride home promises to be fun though.

Hope you stayed safe today!
Jeff

Monday, December 3, 2007

How much?

I was contacted and asked to review some music by a band that travels by bike (extracycles) and so far, I like. But, one song (poem rather) really struck home and I thought I'd share while I'm still writing more on the band. It's called "How much" (Best when you listen and read- go to http://www.gingerninjas.com/howmuch.php.

How much

How much Do I care
About Peace?

Do I care
Enough about Peace
To ride
My bike to work
To not say, "It's too far"
And instead,
Just move closer?
And quit when I get there
Say Enough is Enough is
Enough
I will not work for the Man
Anymore

Do I care
Enough About Peace
To ride and ride and ride
Cleaning my mind
Until I find
A real job
Working for everywhere, everyone, everything
Else in the world?

Not real like 9 to 5
Real like keeps me alive
Not real like Peter Jennings
Real like Amy Goodman
Not real like "Somebody's gotta do it"
Real like Earth Island Institute
Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty
International, Global Exchange
South Yuba River Citizens League
Real like if I don't do it
Who the hell will?
Do I care
Enough about Peace
To admit
That all inactions are actions
And all actions are votes
Not voting is
Voting

To vote
With my mouth
With my conscience and wallet
And my ballot while I'm at it?

To Buy
All organic
All the time, always
From sheets to roses to
Underwear to sprouts?

To cause
A commotion at Safeway, say
Let me know when you make the transition
And I might reconsider my decision
To never shop here again

To digup
My chemically dependent
Heavy drinking lawn and
Replace it for good
With a permaculture garden
To share
With my neighborhood

To ship
Forty pounds of corn
And 5000 gallons of water
To my refugee pen pal in Rwanda
Every day for a year
Before eating one more mouthful of
Cow?

To build my house out of straw
Make it small
Fill it with compact florescents
Superinsulate the water heater
Make certain
Every splinter of wood is
J. Butterfly Certified?

And once I've built it
To stay home
To not fly
To forsake air travel
And its suicidal tendency
To warm
Up the world, its
Insatiable greed
For being there and
Here, on the very same day
And Fuck those little plastic cups
Anyway

To let
My fingers
Do the walking
Right out the door of
The businessasusual yellowpages
And into the National Green Pages
Every time the American in me
Can no longer resist
The urge
To consume Do I care
Enough about Peace
To de-cumulate?
To sell half,
Of my shit,
Then give half of what's left away
Today? Except for the television
Much like a landmine
Must be destroyed
Before maiming the mind
Of one more little boy

To have
Just one child

To adopt
Between one and eighty eight
And to meditate
On the origins of
Impatience, anger and hate
So that I may never yell
At any of them
Or anyone else I love
Or don't yet love

To spend
As much time with them
As I do sending
Interoffice email
At my job
Real, or not

To remember
That the truth has been found
I can't buy from Exxon
Without Prince William Sound
I can't buy from Chevron
Without hired helicopters
Gunning N'goni to the ground
Not from Shell and that little thing
With Ken Saro Wiwa
Not from the Unocals
And their Ivy League Pals
Shilling on Niteline
Promoting the new
Uzbeki, Afghani,
Osama bin Pipeline

And therefore,
To commit
To a reduction
In internal combustion?

To drink
And drink and drink
Burning gasoline
Until I feel fiery compassion
For the eternal sufferers of my
Infernal dedication
To internal combustion?
Infernal internal eternal
Combustion

To admit
I'm addicted
To my automobile
My own two little
Axles of Evil?

I keep finding myself
Back at the pump
With every finger
On the trigger

And I know in that moment that
They is me
I am them
Pushed and sucked and pumped
Through a dirty oil
Filter



Do I care
Enough about Peace
To sell
My car?

To hitchhike
But refuse to ride
In any SUV-8 commuter?
Range Rover, Range Rover
Send our black soldiers
Right over
Jesus Chrysler, Honda Krishna


I keep finding myself
Back at the outlet
Ready to plug something else in
Or check something else out

Do I care
Enough about Peace
To clothes
The Gap or at least
Stand in front of The Gap
With a picket?

To never
Set foot in
Wal-mart K-mart Ware-mart
Bi-mart Petsmart Star-mart or
Star-bucks again?
How 'bout Home Depot?

To stop
Buying clothes made of oil
Sewn by 8-year-olds in dark factories on
The other side of the planet
Sold in stores built on wetlands
Farmlands, once quiet lands
So-far-from-where-you-live lands
So hemmed in by asphalt big
Trucks broken glass and
Mufflers so underserved
By public transportation that
Driving there seems like the
Only reasonable way
To get there
But which are too cheap
To pass up?

Do I care enough
About Peace
To stop
Buying those clothes
To shop instead at thrift stores
To buy organic cotton hemp recycled
Clothes made by people I know who
Live on my street?

To acknowledge
That peace is, redwood trees standing
Peace is, worldwide family planning
Peace is, organic peach canning
Peace is, Maya Angelou in the Oval Office
Sitting at the big desk
Peace is, live music in my kitchen
Peace is, your grandma riding her bike to
The bus to the farmers market
Peace is, a living wage for the
Columbian peasant who grew
My cup
Of Coffee
Peace is, the collective self-esteem of all
The world's kids

But I've got to wondering
If you gathered all the ten-year-olds in
China, America, Afganistan, Nigeria
And Mexico City
Into one giant circle
And gathered all their self-esteem
And put it in a laser beam
Of light
And shot it into the Night
Would it make it to the Lincoln Bedroom
Would it make it
To the Moon?

Do I care
Enough about Peace
To cutup
My Discover Card and
Send it back to the bankers
Who are using my money
To erect the 3 gorges dam
To displace a million people
Brown, voiceless people
To drown the great Yangtze
And 5,000 years of cultural history
Beneath the largest chunk of cement
Ever conceived by Stanford University
Engineers

To distrust
Scientists with technological cures for
Organizational problems?
DNA cures for tomatoes that ripen
DDT cures for mosquitoes that bite
Nuclear cures for energy problems
Nuclear cures for war problems
Nuclear cures for nuclear waste problems
"This just in! Top scientists announced today
that they've found a cure for
ignorance,"
All the newsmen blared.
If Einstein was so smart
Why didn't he see we weren't ready
For MC
To be squared?


To revolt
Every time some corporation
Commits inappropriation?
Steals
A word, a plant, an idea, a gene
A famous face, mental space, sacred place, or
Sixth grade class?
Get the hell out of my watershed
Before I copyright our whole language and
Trademark your ass

To boycott
Their labels
Never worship their stars?
Carry scissors and markers and
Stand in the street
Offering on-the-spot removal of
Swooshes® from feet?

Do I care
Enough about Peace
To educate
Myself
In the Arts
Of resistance
By seeking out the real news
In Boycott Action News,
In Adbusters, WorldWatch, Mother Jones,
And Yes! Magazine?


To climb
Up the ranks
Of the Ruckus Society?

To recycle
But only as a last resort?
After reusing, retreading, reducing
Rejecting, rejoicing, and replacing our
Throwaway culture?

To wear
A plate and cup
In a cloth bag on my shoulder?
Ready to catch
Spontaneous nourishment without
Needing virgin
Old growth disposable tableware
And when the cashier say, "Paper, or Plastic?"
I'll say no
Thank you


To ask
questions about everything
I demonize, criticize
Generalize, jeopardize, ostracize, canonize
Fantasize, memorize,
Advertise or supersize?
About everything I say
I can't live without?
About everything I stand for
Sit for, work for, play for
Pray for, pay for
Live for?
About everything I eat, buy, do, make, facilitate,
Drive, consume, produce, wear, think,
Believe, value, throwaway and
Leave Behind?

Do I care
Enough about Peace
To set
Myself on fire on
Las Vegas Boulevard?


To walk
The talk?
To walk and walk and walk
To walk to the White House
To walk to Iraq
To walk to nowhere in particular
Holding a sign above my head
That says
One Walker for Peace
Ignoring mind closures and no trespassing signs
Testosterone fueled egos and
The intentionally blind
Planting tiny peace seeds in
Every fertile, bare patch of
Human mind
That I find?

Do I care enough
About Peace
To ride my bike


To work?



By Kipchoge Spencer, 2003

Duluth's Snow

I thought I'd share this funny picture from the Duluth News Tribune's online site. I didn't get to ride today, but will tomorrow and more snow is expected. This is not my bike :)

From http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/photography/includes/gallery.cfm?id=405##

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It worked! I love my LBS

Yes, cold temps and all, my newly re-lubed rear wheel worked like a charm, better then it has in a long time. I have to give props to Continental Ski and Bike's staff- they are wonderfully knowledgeable and very helpful and extremely friendly- my LBS of choice!

I had a good ride in and home today. On the way in I received a friendly honk and wave, not sure who you were, but good morning to you! It was 4 above when I took off, nothing like the morning commute on the cold days. After work I ran into a guy on the elevator who I've chatted with in the past. Today I parked my bike in the basement of our building so I didn't have it in the elevator so he asked me- so you didn't ride your bike today? I said, oh, no, it's just in the basement, I rode! His response; "You're crazy!". Another person I see regularly said "still riding, isn't it cold?" My response, no, the temp really doesn't seem to have much impact. On the way home I felt super pumped up to get riding- I was having a blast!

I cut back a layer today too and was much more comfortable.
I wore starting at the top:
Helmet with holes taped closed
smartwool balaclava
pro-tec helmet liner
smith goggles (no problems with fogging up)
cannondale shell
generic poly layer
helly hansen base layer
generic thinsulate gloves
generic "magic gloves"
Columbia titanium omni-tech shell pants
generic merino wool pants
bike shorts
smartwool socks
generic winter boots

I also bought some 20$ pedals, they worked quite well too, plenty of grip on my boots and a lot cheaper then getting lakes (Maybe next year)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Well, it's better so far...

It's quite comfy upstairs now that I'm about 90% done with the insulation project, just need a hand on the over the head stuff. Should have the whole thing done Saturday. It sure makes for a long, stressful week when you are living with three rooms packed into one.

The bike is back from the shop and looks clean- hopefully it will work well. They put in some better lube for the colder temps. I also bought a cheap pair of metal platform pedals, they've got some nice "teeth" to them and should work fine for the winter with my boots on (I've decided to go that route- no need to buy Lake's, though I would like to, and I have the added benefit of not being clipped in for my first winter on bike).

I heard we're supposed to get more snow tonight, 1-2 inches. I hope so because I really wanted to ride this morning in the fresh powder.

Peace!
Jeff

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I hope it gets better...

Ok, rode in this morning. Second ride in snow and cold to speak of really and second day of problems with my rear wheel / derailleur. Today I'm looking for some help- while riding my rear cassette would suddenly spin freely, as if I were pedalling backwards. This would also happen if I stopped at a light and tried to go again. I would have to push up to a speed and hope it would engage. Anyone have any ideas what that is? I think it's really time for the internal hub. (I called Continental Ski and Bike, my LBS and they said it's probably stuck pawls, I'll have to remove and clean and lightly oil / lube the freewheel- much better for me the cheapskate).

In other news, I had a 48 hour flu over the holidays. I woke up sick Wednesday so took the day off and Thursday still felt sick but dragged myself to my Mother's for Turkey. Friday, I woke up feeling quite normal, a little sore throat, but good otherwise. So Friday we began destruction in two bedrooms on our second floor. I had a suspicion there was no insulation in the walls and I was right. Nothing, only about 1/4 R worth of Balsa wood insulation in the ceiling. I spent about 440$ on insulation and Sheetrock for the two rooms, one is nearly done and the other I'm just about 1/2 way on the insulation and hope to get that finished tonight. The house is a disaster right now due to everything being piled into the one remaining bedroom up there (mine and my wife's) so I really want to get this finished.

P.S. If you want a vitamin c kick, try this stuff.
4800% in one bottle. I think that helped me get better quickly, 1 a day. http://www.bolthouse.com/html/cs_cboost_n.html

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's good to be back.

Hello again. Yes, it's been a while since I last rode. Between out of town work trips, kids first birthdays and wife birthdays I've been a bit busy. If felt really good to ride again. Decent temps, no wind (really nice) and no snow yet (for better or worse depending on who you ask). I will ride again tomorrow but then probably not again until Monday. I'm planning a major house project for this long weekend.

We live in a house built in 1911. Sturcturally it's quite sound, but the walls on the second floor are all plaster and have little insulation. We're going to gut as much as we can and add insulation and Sheetrock the whole place. It will be nice to get rid of the plaster. I don't like painting it, hanging anything on it, or fixing it when it cracks. I'm much more the drywall kind of guy.

Speaking of fixing stuff; last I rode my rear derailleur would not give me any of my lowest gears. It may have had something to do with the layers of compacted grease, the twigs stuck all in there, and all the sand in the bearings, but that's just a guess. Last night I completely took apart my rear wheel, cleaned it up and re-greased the bearings- worked much better today.

I like the thought of an internal hub and was pretty discouraged when we had the slush and snow and I was already experiencing mechanical problems, but knowing just how gunked up my wheel was, it's no wonder why it didn't work.
See this picture shows some of the ick...



In my 12 hours of photography picture taking, I shot this image


and a few days later was contacted by a Montreal shipping company who, I think, owns that boat. They asked if they could use the picture in their monthly newsletter. I just thought that was pretty cool!

Anyhow, have a great turkey day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Biking Pequot Lakes... Just Kidding

I'm in Pequot Lakes, MN for work until Thursday afternoon. Let me just say, there is almost nothing out here. And what's worse, I didn't bring my bike. Had I driven myself, I probably would have taken it, but rode with my boss here. I'm going to be so out of shape- no exercises for a whole week almost.

To paint a picture of how "in the sticks" Pequot Lakes is- look at their water tower...



'Nuff said...

Stay tuned for more from the fabulous world of Pequot Lakes Minnesota!
Jeff

(Image from http://www.suecoulter.com/ )

Friday, November 9, 2007

The start of 1.5 inches of fresh wet snow in Duluth

The morning started with very little flakes coming down, a half hour later it looked like this...

I was super excited to finally get to ride in the snow. As quick as I could I got my new Nokian Mount & Ground tires mounted and headed out. They seemed a little skinnier then my kenda's but the worked very well as an initial impression. I would have had a major hard time with the slicks today.

On the way, my rear derailleur wouldn't go into 5th, 6th, or 7th without major skipping. I'll get it all cleaned out and see how that helps, may look at a fixed conversion or other options as I think winter will be a bear to deal with on the shifting components.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

12 Hours in Photos

Check out the latest pictures on 12 Hours in Photos! Had fun today, amazing how it made time fly super fast.

Got my Nokian's in today- says to ride 30 miles to set them right, I'll have to put them on soon. Going to bring the bike downstairs tomorrow for a thorough cleaning and maintenance to get ready for the winter months, hopefully I can put it all back together :D

Jeff

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Who turned out the lights?

It sure does get dark out early now that we've set our clocks back an hour. I knew this time would come but it's never before been as big of a deal as it is now that I'm commuting by bike. My morning commute is nice and bright now but the ride home is well past sunset and requires good lighting. I only have a cheapo 2 led headlight (not even that great of led's, there are some good led lights, this is not one) that I use to be seen and my DIY light to see (which works great but has very short battery life with my 50 w. bulb). I also have my planet bike superflash which I am very happy with and may buy a second. I'm also looking at some new led helmet mounted lights and may get one soon.

Unfortunately, due to the short days and the fact that I haven't been able to find my next subject for my Picture Tag, my next subject is going to have to wait until Saturday when I can go out during the daylight hours.

I found this site (Winter riding tips by Pamela Blalock) today which I haven't seen before. It's a nice accumulation of info (some personal, some found on other sites as well) and links regarding biking in the winter.

I am still trying to get the right layers figured out for the right around freezing mark, I've been too warm lately. I need to get some nicer pants, that should work well. Oh, also, I don't trust Google's temperature if you type your zip and weather in Google, it's been about 8 degrees off, but that's just Duluth I'm sure. I think I need to invest in a remote thermometer and stick it outside on the roof of our building. :o)

Don't forget, tomorrow @ 8 A.M. is the start of 12 hours in photos. Should be fun. Oh- that reminds me, I need new batteries.

Have fun tomorrow and ride safe!

Monday, November 5, 2007

And I came up a little short...

Well, in light of my attempt being thwarted by an uninvited, yet, appreciated guest, Doug, I'll just let you know where I went today, and I'll get my other idea for Picture Tag tomorrow.

I tried to make it all the way out to (right across from) the lighthouse on Wisconsin Point, but on the Minnesota Point side. Let me tell you, that is not an easy ride.

(Park Point)


I left work at 3:30 and headed out the 5 or so miles to the harbor airport and proceeded to the trail. Having never been there I looked on google to see a bit about where the trail goes. Once I was actually there, google did me no good. There are two main trails that are basically really nice to ride on, the rest is sand on more sand. On the way out when I lost any sort of a path I took the beach for a while as right where the water breaks the sand is compacted pretty well, not enough for riding, but much easier for walking.

(The nice trails on Minnesota Point)


I stopped by the old lighthouse ruins and an older cement building and got a very cool image of the docks in Superior. I even seen a huge own, I can only guess it was a great horned because of it's size, but that's a guess.
(The mystery building)


(The Superior Docks)


I made it so close, but to go the rest of the way would have probably added another hour- so with dimming light, I decided to head back. Which brings me to the aforementioned thwarting.

(So close)


(A close up)


I just exit the park at Park Point and I see an orange jacketed bicyclist heading my way- Doug I though. We stop and chat and he asks "You weren't out here taking pictures were you?" hahah.. Who me? No, I always ride do here... Busted I was. O-well. We rode back and chatted against a ferocious headwind and sleet and snow. It was quite fun to have someone to chat with on the way back.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The snow is coming!

This is by far, not me...

It's 37 degrees and raining outside right now which instills in me a sudden fear of black ice- at least until I get my new tires (yes, I'll still be cautious bla bla bla :o) ...)- but none-the-less, it got me thinking. I've read a lot on winter riding and everyone does it differently. Some use studs, some not, some have pugs, some don't :o) the list goes on and on (and on...).

But what is particularly on my mind tonight is clipless or platforms? I really do like my Crank Brothers Smarty's, cheap, work great, comfortable, but firmly attach your foot to the pedal, which makes putting a foot down when needed take ever so slightly longer to do (ok, I don't really feel like falling this winter :o), but if I do, it will be in snow I guess).

So my thought, get some bmx or other platform pedals like the Crank Brother's 5050's with nice grip and go with a nice waterproof hiking boot, or buy the Lake boots (much more spendy). Money is an issue for me, so cheap is nice, but safety, comfort, and performance all matter too. With the snow right around the corner I'm trying to sort a bunch of stuff out real quick- we'll see what happens.

Do you use platforms in winter or keep your clipless on?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Money money money... MONEY

YEA!!! I bought stuff today... Ok, I'm not really that happy spending money, ok, no- I'm a tightwad, just ask my wife (stove's needed a new thermostat for, ahh, gee like 4 months :o I'll be getting that tomorrow too- it better be the problem or I'll be po'd- anyhow, that's a different story)... So, back to what I bought. I got some.. Da da da daaahh... Nokian Mount & Grounds.


So, I did it. I actually committed and bought some tires. After much deliberation and review, I decided 294 studs were overkill for my generally road only commute :D O-Well, maybe next year.

Now, my next question is when do you put on your studded tires? After the first snow fall, after significant winter activity??? Just wondering.

P.S. Gravity is still in effect, I tested it for you all Thursday afternoon downtown Duluth :)

TAG! I'm it...again

Well, after many days of searching, and some help from family members who know more then I do sometimes :D (ok ok, and a few clues- Sorry Doug :D) I was able to find this house.




This house is on the corner of Roslyn Ave. and E. Oxford St.


On my way back home I found out that my speedometer goes past 35 :D I hit 40.9 on the way down Glenwood St. It sure was fun trying to find this picture- Duluth is full of some very pretty neighborhoods. I felt like a kid again today; we used to always ride around our town on bike- Thanks for picking a hard place to find this time!

I'll get my next shot Monday if it's not raining. I know exactly where I'm going next :D

Thanks!
Jeff

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Burrr... First sub-freezing ride of the fall

My temperature on my computer said 31.9 on my way to work this morning, it felt pretty good to be riding at that temp and knowing I'm still here, still riding my bike like I said I would. It's odd seeing cars and trucks buzz past you, exhaust puffing out the tailpipes, seeing my breath as I pedal into work. That was the first time so far that my legs actually felt pretty cool. I've got a set of poly pants that I've used before, but they were too warm- I think in this temp zone, between the 30's and 40's is going to be challenging to keep just right on the comfort scale. The other hard problem is that if the wind is off the lake, it's very moist and thus much colder feeling.

At my last trip to REI, I bought a turtle fur turtle neck thingy. I've used it a few times now and it keeps my ears chin and neck very warm, but not too much so. But this morning I wanted to cover my mouth too, but it is two layers thick and I can't breath through it.

So I stopped by the LBS (Continental Ski and Bike) to find a thin balaclava. They had one by SmartWool. I'm already sold on SmartWool, I've got their socks and I swear by them so I figure this will be a great buy too! I'll probably use it tomorrow if it's below 40.

On another note, I tried to find the current Picture Tag photo from Boz, but was still unsuccessful. I've tried all along London road, superior st, 1st and 2nd, 21st ave (big hill rode up, not as bad as the last hill I went up :D ...) and woodland to Snively and didn't see it. I'm going to have to hunt inside the woodland neighborhood now.

I didn't know how much people would like the picture tag idea, but it's been going great from what I can tell so far. On a personal note, I've seen streets I've never been on and some of the most amazing houses in Duluth! And also, twice down Glenwood (a very fun hill to bike down :o) hehehe) thanks to picture tag. I've got to find this picture soon because I've got a great idea for the next picture!

Anyhow, that's all for now.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Biking Duluth? Need a map?

I thought I'd post this today since I've been thinking about doing so for some time now and with the new picture tag and all, I thought it may even help me find some nice spots.

This link is for the Duluth / Superior area bike map. It's very detailed and will help you get from point a to point ? and everywhere you need to in between. I also thought I'd make a note of it due to the fact that pretty soon the snow's going to be falling and if you ride in the winter, you may be thinking about alternative routes (riding on London road with no shoulder and a big bank of snow does not sound too fun).

(Image captured from Duluth News Tribune Website 10/30/07)

Another site I'd like to point out today, Duluth Trails, is a site detailing the various trails in the Duluth area. The Duluth News Tribune (I believe) created it with help from some other sources. It's very nicely done and I plan to use it to find some future Tag pictures.

I hope you can benefit from these links and I hope you keep having fun Biking in Duluth.

Jeff

Monday, October 29, 2007

October 29th, 2007. Tempature, 60 (Above) (Tag, I'm not it)

Wow! What a fantastic day. 60 for Duluth this late in the year just does not happen that often and when it does, it's like spring break around here. I left work about an hour earlier then I would have otherwise. Had to make a trip up the hill a bit for another picture for picture tag. Well, I wasn't first to find it this time, nor would I have found it without the exact location, but none-the-less, it was a fun ride! I took Superior St. from work to Hawthorne then to Vermillion which is straight up about a million blocks :D Ok, so it felt like it going up at a speedy 3 mph.

After I found what I was looking for I went to St. Marie St. then to Woodland, then Snively, then the fun hill down Glenwood which when going down my speedometer said 35 again (and I was still speeding up) so, I think I found the limit of my speedometer.

Where to next Boz? (He's "It" and gets to take the next picture)

P.S. My first picture tag picture was from Old Main Park 2305 E. 5th St. here in Duluth.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

TAG! I'm it...

So, here's my first Bike Photo Tag photo. I'll just say it was much more fun coming back from getting this picture then it was going to get it. A new all time fastest speed on my bike, 35 mph, and that was only because of the van in front of me. Dang minivan drivers (say... I have a minivan... o-well)

Where am I? It's an easy first shot!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Picture tag? (or hide and seek perhaps)

Ok, so maybe this will sound stupid and boring, but I think it could be fun. (Hold on, dog's barking...Ok Back)
So, the few biker blogs I read here in Duluth seem to all include heavy use of a camera. So I was thinking it could be fun to play picture tag. One person is "it" and they can go take a picture of something in Duluth, not too crazy far away, of something somewhat "identifiable" and then everyone else can go try to find that thing and take a picture of it also. The first blog post with that image and that person is now it- they will go take a picture of something new, and the fun continues. I've been thinking of that for a while now, pretty exciting hu! hahah... But seriously, I thought it could be fun and could make for some really interesting pictures (i.e. try to be creative) and more fun on the bikes getting us out and about.
I'll be it first, and if you want to play along, comment. I'll take a picture tomorrow and I'll try to get off my normal beaten path of the lakewalk :)

Cheers!
Jeff

Monday, October 22, 2007

Nice and cool

That about sums up today's commute. The ride in was around 46 I do so believe, but no rain, which meant I took off my high-tech shoe covers. Doing so really surprised me in that my feet were quite cold today- wool socks and all. Blocking the wind is 90% of the cold battle so far as I can tell. I also opened up a few holes in my helmet cover (high-tech also). My head would get ever so slightly cold even with the helmet liner from Pro-Tec. I think I'm going to invest in a nicer helmet cover (a real one) and some nicer pants. I need something with some warmth, Doug from MN Bicycle commuter really likes his Novara pants from REI. Maybe I'll try those.

The way home was about the same but darker and way faster. I left about6:30 from work and took the lakewalk. I typically average about 14 miles an hour for the whole commute but today was about 20 the whole way. I was going like a mad man. That was the most workout I've had in a while- maybe it's because I'm scared of the dark :D My light has been working great though! It lasts my whole trip home and is very very bright! I want to make it new and with better parts- we'll see though.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Here's what the lake walk really looks like...

This picture was taken today in the same place the last post picture was taken, but that one was from a November storm in 2001. You can see how bad the damage was! Hopefully it will last through this winter unharmed also.


I have a few more interesting pictures from today- enjoy (full size w/ click).



Old Central School's Clock Tower in the Duluth fog

Another shot of the tower in the fog



A view of the lakewalk and train tracks.
The blue along the left side is the mosaic I referenced in an earlier post, you can see just how long the mosaic is in this picture.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wet and Windy... What's New?

Yes, another lovely day in Duluth. 47 or so both ways I believe. Gusts not as strong as yesterday, but it was raining pretty good on the way in to work, and lightly on the way home. I'm beginning to quickly realize how it's really going to be commuting this fall and winter, Fun!!! :o)

I met Doug (MN Bicycle Commuter) on the lakewalk today. He seemed to be enjoying himself also. He had just come from Brighton Beach, just north on the old scenic highway, where there were a few people surfing. Yes, I said surfing. That's what people do around here when it gets really windy! I was going to check it out and take pictures but my camera is not exactly water proof :o)

If any of you ride the lakewalk in the winter, remember, bikes stay on the pavement, not the boardwalk...
(crh.noaa.gov 11/27/01)


Jeff

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Power of the Lake

What an amazing day to be on your bike! Day's like today remind me of how lucky I am to live right next to such a wonder of the natural world. Like I've said before, I love the waves of the Lake Superior, but when I said it last time, the waves paled in comparison to what we had today. I wish I would have had my camera, but sometimes, just enjoying the view is what really matters.
I like to sit on my bike on the lake walk right next to the mosaic of tiles (I couldn't find a picture or info online, I'll have to get a picture) and this morning when the waves were breaking and shooting some 20 feet + into the air I could feel the waves pounding the break wall and shaking the lake walk, literally!
I had a late ride home, left at 7:30 or so and took the lake walk again. What a site! The white of the waves would grow out of the black water like some fierce storm. I can't imagine what it's like when it's really bad, and you're in the middle of the lake, miles from nowhere.
I used my home made light on the way home tonight. I took it out for an actual test run Saturday night. I rode to get some ice cream bars for my wife and I and took a trip through Lester Park. It lasted about 30 minutes before it started to really fade so knowing that tonight, I used my led headlight until I got to London Road, then turned on the bright 50 watt light :D . It works really well for 14$ or so in parts!

Anyhow, it was simply amazing to be able to experience the power of the Lake today. I'm going to make sure from now on that I have my camera with me. No excuses :o)

Hope you had a great ride today too!
Jeff

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Come on Duluth- make up your mind!

As I left work this afternoon, around 6:20, the temp for 55804 said 40.2 so I dressed for 40.2. Get outside in 55802 and it's like 54 or some crazy thing. It didn't take long before I was cooking! I stopped a bit later and shed a layer, which helped a lot. When I got home, it was 43 still, lying weather :)

I believe this morning it was 40.2 on my bike computer, which would be my coldest ride yet. There can be such a difference depending on which way the wind is blowing, and if it's blowing off the lake, that wet cold air makes it seem much colder.

I'm getting nervous... Any day there could be snow now and I'm still on my Kenda Kross's. I'm thinking of going all out and getting the Nokian Extreme 294's.


Granted, that may be overkill, but I'd rather be safe then sorry. They are a bit pricey though, but I found them on bikeman for 69.95, has anyone out there bought from bikeman? If so, let me know how that went.

Later!
Jeff

Monday, October 8, 2007

Dry feet?

I just happened across this site: www.sealskinz.com
Those look really cool! I think I might have to get me a pair to try this winter. If anyone has used them, shoot me a note and let me know! Thanks!
Jeff

Trip to Two Harbors (Blog meets Blog)

This past Sunday I went on the longest single ride of my life (which isn't really that long, but hey- I'm just getting started here)... I haven't left the city of Duluth by bike for a few reasons, one, I'm usually too busy, two, I'm newer to biking and haven't had experience for longer rides, and three, I'm usually too busy :) but this weekend I asked Doug, from MN Bicycle Commuter to join me for a ride.
It started out as a possible trip towards Hinckley, but ended up being an out-and-back to Two Harbors. The ride was great! We had cooler temps, mid 50's to low 60's but it was nice.
We stopped in Two Harbors for some Culver's Frozen Custard and headed back the 22 or so miles.
For me, I put on 45 miles Sunday- almost a weeks worth of my commuting route. Doug had a bit longer ride back home, and unfortunately, got hit with some nasty weather, sorry Doug :)

As a first long ride, it was great! We stopped for a picture next to the big chicken in Two Harbors.




(From left to right, me, chicken, Doug)

I had today off, so I didn't ride today, but tomorrow it's supposed to only be a high of 46, and start off at (looking at weather.com now) 36, Ohh man- that's going to be chilly!

Have fun on your rides tomorrow everyone!
Jeff

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Maybe I'm just picky

OK, yea, I am picky, but I think I deserve to be- anything I buy I want to be right- well, I haven't been able to find the "right" rack trunk. So after a few months of backpack on back, I bought a rear rack, then after a few more months of backpack bungied to rear rack I bought the Sunlite Toploader 3 "fridge"
- it's insulated to boot- I figured, sure why not... It also has expandable side panniers- a nice addition so I don't need to buy panniers yet.

Anyhow, I'm still not happy with velcro straps holding it to the frame so I'm going to buy some quick clip buckles and strap the one end to the frame, the other I'll velcro to the bag and bam, simple, easy on / easy off connection system. We'll see how that goes :o) Here's my frankenbike- I think it looks like a taxi, specially when I'm on it in my yellow shell and black shorts.



Here's an ant's eye view of the eastern most part of the Lakewalk this morning.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Crazy Duluth- October means "Snow" not 70

So, it was 70 today, which you may have already read because 70 for Duluth on October 2 is crazy... None the less, I'm thinking winter.

I spent some time tonight reading about last year's Arrowhead 135 which MN Bicycle Commuter raced in (Props to you!) . While there I followed a link to a site I've been at in the past, but a new idea crept into my head.
If you've never been to http://www.bikewinter.org/ it's a site where people who actually bike in the winter (a hem, not me ... yet...) can post event listings and it has information for those, like myself, who have not yet biked through the winter. A nice site with a lot of info. However, it seems that only Chicago keeps up to date with events.

There are currently 4 cities listed: Chicago IL, Milwaukee WI, Madison WI, Ann Arbor MI. I thought it would be cool to at least get Duluth, MN on the list with one event! It would be fun to see how many Duluth area people are out there who bike in the winter. I know you're out there! If you're interested in one "official" BikeWinter event let me know and I'll gauge the responses and keep in touch with BikeWinter staff. This would be a good event for one (or more) of the local bike shops to spur winter bike traffic (hint hint).

Well, it's supposed to be nice tomorrow. I think I'll take the camera again should be a nice morning for some picture taking!
Night!
Jeff

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A trip to the "not-so-local" bike shop

Well, if I lived closer I'd probably shop there way too much! "There" being REI in Roseville. I was like a kid in a candy store! I behaved though, bought a nice turtle fur turtleneck and a set of gators- I think they'll both come in handy this winter. I didn't get to ride down in St. Paul today either- another late day of working and down pouring rain to boot. On the way back to Duluth though, I seen a sign for the Munger Trail. Not that I didn't know about it or anything... it was just a thought that popped into my head that I still want to ride from Duluth to Hinckley, 75 odd miles or so in all. If anyone local (or otherwise) wants to plan a ride someday- shoot me a line.

Jeff

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I'm back!

So, yea, it's been a few days. Last I left off I was heading to St. Paul for work Wednesday and was going to try to get in some biking while down there. Well, the best plans are always affected by work, right? I didn't get things worked out as fast as I had hoped and was still sitting at a computer hours after I wanted to be on my bike already. O-well, there's always Tuesday... I have... no, "get" (yea... right) to go back Tuesday. So, weather depending, I'll try to ride down there again.

In other news, it's been wet and cold here the last few days. I've been caught in a few rain storms but 1 was worth it. Temp was a nice 68! I thought it was cooler so I had the sleeves on my jacket. After about 3 miles I got quite warm and took them off. At that exact time, a small sprinkle fell, which felt nice. 30 seconds later it was a downpour and the wind kicked up and next I looked it was 61. By this time I was quite wet, so no use putting the sleeves back on, I just enjoyed the ride.

As I got closer to my turn off of London road, I noticed a very crisp rainbow form. It was completely full, from one side to the other- the most bright and complete I've seen in a while, so that made the ride nice! But more so- soon after I noticed the first rainbow, I noticed it was a double... I haven't seen a double in probably 6 years. While I was gawking at the rainbow, I had a thought... "I wonder how many drivers are gawking at this too (while talking on their phones, heads bent upwards)" I figured best to move over a bit more. :o)

On to a different subject- "On your left"
I used to not really say "on your left" very much, if ever, until that fateful day when I ran into a jogger (or, more accurately, he ran into me). I used to think that people are somewhat readable or predictable... well, I don't think that any more. However, it seems that many bicyclist do think that way. I've ridden behind a few people on the way into or out of downtown and not one of them used "on your left", so when I say it, I scare the people a bit more then I would on a normal day.
I typically say "bike on your left" and most (85%) say thank you and are truly thankful, given the other riders I've seen lately. So, you can continue to blow past people without warning, but not me, maybe you'll think twice too after you've ran someone down! :o)

Last but not least...
I bought two things today! Yea for shopping!
I stopped by my no-so-local bike shop, the favorite of MN Bicycle Commuter's, Twin Ports Cyclery. I live way east and don't get west very much at all but I volunteered to help out the fun folks who run the "Haunted Shack" in Morgan Park. I love Halloween and have done a few haunted houses and decided this year to try to hook up with someone local who runs a fine show- some say the best around! So, anyhow, I stopped by the shop and looked at the following... Trunk bags, panniers, lights, boot covers and fenders. I bought the fenders- in bright yellow too! Bonus! Props to Mn bicycle commuter- the person at the store was very helpful and quite nice! Some shops have their noses in the air and will talk down at you if they feel you maybe "don't know enough" but not there- I'll be stopping there again for sure.
I also bought my 20 watt mr16 light bulb so I can finish my headlight project! Maybe I'll have time for that tomorrow.

Anyhow, I think this post is long enough so see you all later!
Jeff

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

St. Paul, here I come!

Well, I have to go to St. Paul tomorrow for work so I'm going to bring my bike with me! I'll be just 14 blocks from the Capitol building so I'd like to go get some pictures and maybe take a tour of the Capitol if time allows. If not, I'll just go for a ride.

I'll be honest though, the thought of riding down town St. Paul has me a bit nervous. I sometimes think that Duluth drivers are worse then anywhere else, but at least we have wide streets and slow / sparse traffic downtown here. We'll see how it goes- if tomorrow I have pictures I'll say it was a good day!

On another note, yesterday road crews moved the lane markers on London Road. Near 35th East I think I recall... It's the section where northbound has a left turn lane, but they made the normal north bound lane there take up the whole road. Yesterday they moved the markers to the west, giving about 3 feet to the shoulder which is nice for us bikers! Now if we can just stop motorists from using the shoulder for passing on the right...

See ya.
Jeff

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's raining it's pouring!!!

5:30 check of the weather online showed a rather large storm heading right for Duluth so I got out of work asap but still got soaked. The ride really wasn't bad, but I did think of two things I wanted to research on the way home: 1, shoe covers, and 2, stopping on wet pavement. I've only been caught in the rain a few times, and always forget to be careful when stopping. Like today, put the rear brake on medium force, tail slides out to the left, I felt like I was going down, no time to get foot out, but luckily let go of brake and physics does the rest :o) Gotta love gyroscopic motion! I was just wondering if there's a trick to stopping better in the rain on wet pavement with slick tires- owell...

Other then that, my brakes barely worked at first anyways- and this morning the rear would howl and screech like a flock of geese- it was funny- scared a few pedestrians... I'll have to adjust those a bit.

Just hope my shoes are dry for tomorrow's ride in the rain.

Friday, September 21, 2007

WOW! That is SUPER bright!

Ok, so maybe the 50 watt bulb was a little overkill :o)

I got all my parts at HD today, and quickly got the light built, for the most part. It ran for about 15 minutes at a crazy bright output, and then quickly degraded. That may be in part to the super old batteries of the cordless drill I used, but more likely that AND the fact that it was 50 watts. I think I'll keep this setup, make another 20 watt setup, and put a "high / low" switch in line and use them both. I drained the battery completely, hoping to remove any memory it may have built up- we'll see how that helps. The only thing that didn't work so good from the instructable was the "no-hub coupling" that I found, it didn't work quite right, so I'll look again tomorrow.
My bill today was 14$- some parts left over, and I'll see if I can figure something better for keeping the bulb in place.
Have a good weekend!
Jeff

Thursday, September 20, 2007

DIY Light- I think so!

Riding update: well, there hasn't been much riding. Today I rode to work, but not home. I've been so insainly busy at work I haven't been able to spare even 15 extra minutes. I would work at home remotely, then get a ride w/ my wife on her way to class, then she would pick me up later. Anyhow, our project is finally back to a somewhat normal status, so riding can commence once again.

With all the night riding I've had to do lately, I've been looking at headlights a lot. I've stopped at both LBS's I shop at and haven't been impressed with either's selection of lighting. Either the lights seem dim compared to my UK Sunlight SL6 Dive light (8 watt 201 lumens xenon lamp) (40$) which their site says can be used just fine out of the water, or they cost 300$ or more. I figured I'd find something better or build a mount for the SL6.

So next I looked online for DIY headlights and found many many differnt setups but one in particular looked quite nice, and super cheep.

First off, I want to let you know about the cool site which I just found, "Instructables.Com" which provides instruction for how to make just about anything it seems. Quite nice, but their ads slow their site down which is slightly annoying, but none-the-less I found this--> "BIKE LIGHT 500 Lumen "Mt.Bike" for under 10 bucks". 500 lumens for under 10 bucks- now that's just what I'm talkin' about!

It uses a common halogen bulb among the DIY lights I've seen, the "MR16". The expensive part is the power system: batteries. However, I've got a spare 14.4 v drill battery which will work just fine! So, as soon as I can get to Home Depot and batteries plus and that light store down there too (can't think of the name) for the parts, I'll be set!

I'll be sure to take pictures of the build and resulting light when I get to it. I wanted to this weekend but Saturday is the "Lester Park Rendezvous" which we'll be going to (I'm working @ noon there for the Police Reserves, so look for me if you go) and I also promised my daughter we'd try to fly kites and use my free passes to the Omnimax- so, we'll see what I get done.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.
Jeff

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Trip to the lighthouses

On my way into work today I took a very small detour to the lighthouses. I took some pictures, some are below, others are waiting for a software install so I can make a panorama.

On my way home I took London Road. The drivers on that road make me a little mad sometimes, like tonight. I always watch for people taking lefts when heading north because EVERYONE (nearly) will pass them on the shoulder (bad for bikers). What's worse is when someone actually does obey the law and waits patiently behind the left turning vehicle, but the person behind them doesn't, but the the first person gets to turn, so the second in line begins forward, only to have a car on their left, trying to get back into the lane before hitting me... The back car honked and the car doing the right thing, so I turned back and pointed at the passing car and mouthed "You're wrong, not them!" Then when they passed me I pointed at the shoulder and said "MY LANE!"

I was very angry as it's a big pet peeve of mine. Especially when the looser in the back honks at the other person! Come on! Anyways- I'll get down off my soap box now and post some pictures of a much less stressful part of my day!
Lake Avenue




















The Lift Bridge
















The North Lighthouse x2




















The South Lighthouse

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Can you see me now?

Since I purchased my Super Flash I've been trying to stop along side someone at a stop light to ask how visible my light is. Well, on the way home tonight an SUV pulled up along side me and had their window open (it was like 68+ out tonight @ 7:30, nice ride home). I asked "Excuse me... Could you see my light pretty well?" They both quickly and quite assuredly said "YES!" I'll take that as a good thing! I'm thinking of buying another one. I seen that you can mount them on the seat stays- I figure two blinking out of sync would really draw some attention. We'll see though.

On another note: today was the 2007 North Shore Inline Marathon. I volunteer as a Police reserve for the city and got to help with today's event. I had to get my butt out of bed at 5:15- but it was worth it.
It was pretty amazing watching the elite racers doing their thing! Props to everyone who raced and finished- even the last few I clapped on towards the finish!

Congrats to everyone who raced today!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A scary ride home

Yes, tonight was probably one of the scariest rides I've ever had. It started out quite pleasant. I had to work late again, so I left a little after 7. Got to the lakewalk and thought about riding out to the lighthouse to take some pictures but decided I should get home to the family. Riding was nice, there was no wind and very few people out that late... Well, until I got to Leif Erickson Park... Today was Friday night, and on Friday nights in Leif Erickson Park they have "Movies in the park". (I've not gone to a movie there yet, but really wanted to... Maybe next summer!) I remember my wife telling me about it, but I didn't recall what movie it was going to be. I was guessing Lord of the Rings, and yup, that's what it was. Again, I thought about taking some pictures and staying to watch some of it but needed to get home plus I had about 15 minutes to sit and wait and it was pretty chilly (47 or so).

So, I continued on down the lakewalk. I couldn't believe how many rabbits I seen tonight, there must have been close to 50 along the way. So, this is where it gets scary... I again thought about stopping to take some pictures of the rabbits, even slowing down while contemplating the thought, when it happened... I came around the corner by the steps behind Perkins and there it was, about 10 feet off the path... Yup, a skunk... He looked at me like "hu... wa? what the heck is that yellow thing coming at me??? Run away, run away"... He turned tail and I was like, "oh crap, here it comes..." but with tail held high, he ran off into the brush.

I think I'll take my chances with traffic on Superior St. from now on when it's past dusk; the wildlife out there is crazy!

About two weeks ago, on my way into work I was almost hit by a young deer. I had just stopped out get something out of my bag and was just barely going again when I heard some really funny sounds on the pavement to my left, coming towards me. I looked and seen a deer darting right at me. I locked up the brakes, as did the driver in the lane next to me, and just missed being hit by about 2 feet. I looked at the driver in the car, he looked at me, and we both laughed. :o) Come to think of it though, I'd hate to get hit by someone swerving to the right for a deer, glad that guy was paying attention.

On another note, I stopped by the other bike shop today- the one I don't like as much as the other one, to check out their lights. They have the extreme low end and the extreme high end- neither of which I want. I think I might do a DIY bike headlight... We'll see.

I'll have more night rides through Wednesday I think- on top of 10-12 hour days at work- I think I'll get some good comp time after that though- so all's well.

Ciao!
Jeff

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Night Rider

We've been sooooo busy at work lately that I've had to push my ride home time out pretty late. Yesterday on the way home it was just about mid sunset and I felt I needed something in the back to get me noticed. As I mentioned, I was looking at the cateye products so this morning, I stayed home a bit longer so I could stop by the LBS when they opened. I checked out their fare and was recommended the Planet Bike Super Flash which looked good, and seemed very bright in the store even- so I bought it (feeding my instant gratification need).

I was a bit bummed that it only had a seat post mount but I rigged it up on my rack with the reflector mount that came with the rack. The seat post wouldn't work as my bag is generally pretty full. So, on my way home tonight at like 7:40 or something, it was pretty dark, especially on parts of the East Lakewalk and London road. I was going to get a head light too, but they had two that were 45 (I think I recall 45) lumens, one a helmet mount (10$ less then the other), the other was a handlebar mount. Well, that put an end to buying a head light that morning because I am Mr. Indecisive.

I think though, that the helmet mount makes more sense, but I think I want something stronger then 45 lumens, more like in the 200 range. I don't want to spend mega bucks either, so I'm not sure what I'll do yet. I might just find a way to strap my nice scuba light I have to my bike, it's quite bright but I'll look super geeky- but hey, who else is out riding at 8PM? Not too many people I bet :o)

If you have a suggestion for a headlight, please let me know! I like personal references better then website advertising...
C-ya!
Jeff

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I call it luck, what do you call it?

Wow, I am so lucky! What? You don't call gale force winds and temps just below 50 luck? How about if I say I actually brought my camera today, and it was Wednesday night? What does Wednesday night have to do with anything? Well, Wednesday night just so happens to be the night of the sail boat races in Lake Superior. If you haven't seen them, I feel sorry for you as it's quite a site to see, especially when it's quite windy!

So, yes, I call it lucky. I've been wanting to get photos of the boats for some time now, and also, I love when the lake has big waves. Granted, the waves tonight, while large, were nothing in comparison to what the lake can dish out. I've also not checked out the cribbing that washed up last winter- so that was an added bonus.

So, since I was able to take some pictures, I suppose I should share them with you now...
Here are some of the waves crashing agains the washed up cribbing.

















Some of the sail boats...



























Here's the cribbing from a distance. Below is a link from the Minnesota Public Radio's site from when the cribbing first washed ashore.



















here
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2006/12/20/duluthcrib/

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Auntie Em Auntie Em..."

Yea, it was that windy today. Gusts upwards of 40 mph I think. Temps in the morning were 58, on the way home was even less, 55. Hu... I just tried to figure out the wind chill for the way home, the Weather Channel says it cannot calculate for temps over 40, that's odd. Well, I'm no weatherman but it sure felt cold. My ears were getting quite a chill which does not help given the fact that I still cannot hear 100% out of my right ear. I'm on the end of a few weeks of being sick- sinus infection said the doctor. Seems like everyone I know has caught this bug.

Now that the temps are a' changin I've been quite consumed by the thought of riding once the snow hits. Mind you, I've only been commuting since April so this will be my first winter of riding my bike. I have fond memories of riding in the winter while a kid. We used to pop the front wheel up and firmly plant it into a snowbank, launching us over the handlebars and into the snow. I'll try not to have that happen this winter :o)

As I look forward to the shorter and colder days I'm preparing a mental list of stuff I need to buy. Topping the list right now is a nice light set. I'm thinking the Cateye TL-LD1000 for the rear and probably the HL-EL530 for the front. If anyone has an opinion on these or others please let me know. I'm also going to need some new tires (I have the nice road tires with the knobies on the side only) and for sure some fenders. I plan to make my own studded tires for when it gets really icky out there, I figure I have a couple of months yet (knock on wood) before I need them.

One last item. I called the parking garage right next to my building and asked them if I could park my bike there in the winter- they said sure! I was quite happy because I didn't know what I was going to do with a snow/dirt/sand covered bike in my office... If you ride in the winter- where do you keep your bike at work?
Peace!
Jeff

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Oh what a beautiful morning"

Wow- it was so nice this morning on my way in to work. I did not get to leave until 9:30 which gave the weather a chance to warm up a bit from the 48 degrees it was when I woke up.

I was wearing my wind jacket as the breeze was still a bit chilly but when I reached the lakewalk I had temps around 61 so I took off my sleeves. I noticed today how much more quite my bike is. I recently put on a new chain and rear cassette and that seems to have made a huge difference. I love being able to enjoy the lake in the morning- it was so peaceful and quiet with a hint of the smell of fall on the wind.

I'm going to start to bring my camera. I've been wanting to get pictures of the lake steaming up around a ship for a few years now but as I've always been in a car when I see such an opportunity I've not had the chance to get the picture.