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.


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.

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!

(Image from )

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


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


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.