Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 iciclebicycle Photo Recap

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the iciclebicycle archives for 2009. It was a snowy one. Will this next year be the same?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just Like Christmas Cards, Better Late than Never: Christmas Blizzard Aftermath Pictures!

Should I be doing Panda shots on this stuff?

We had a three day, all Christmas blizzard that left 10 inches of snow. They were predicting up to 20, but it rained in the middle, instead. I would have preferred the extra 10 inches to the icy result. But it's best to take what you're given and make the best of it. I waited until the final day of the storm to go out for a bike ride. On the first leg over to my Chai-house, I was thinking this winter biking really shouldn't be for everyone. It was a bumpy, slippery, white knuckle ride. How slow can you go? Glad I was riding Frankie, the Dutch bike monster. He does slow very well.

Handle bars are for hanging stuff on.

After a warm and wonderful Chai, I ventured out to try and find some other rugged individualists riding their bikes. In the spirit of cooperation and not holding a grudge, I helped push three cars that were stuck in the snow. They all had to get their vehicles off the even numbered side of the street or risk getting towed for blocking the snow plows. What a pain having a car! I don't mind helping out. Chip some ice, shovel some snow and push. Kind of fun to pull up on a bike, park it with the double kickstand and offer to help. Plus, I got some ginger bread cookies from one woman.

After some treacherous neighborhood adventuring, I headed to where the cars aren't, the Midtown Greenway(not so green, right now). There I finally found some fellow iciclebicyclists! One thing that disappointed me, was that none of the cyclists I encountered(except one friend) was in anyway friendly. They just looked at you like you were bothering them. I'm thinking you should be happy to see other bikers on day with so few. Thinking about it later, I chalked it up to fact that they were just as unsure as I was on this days challenging surface, and couldn't break their concentration to acknowledge their kinfolk.

At least it was straight and car-free.

Back yard.

After meeting up with a friend for dinner, I made the return trip loaded down with groceries. This leg of the adventure was the easiest. I was starting to get the hang of it, but I also think the 3 bags of groceries increased the bikes stability. Nice to finish on a relaxed note after an intense day getting acquainted with my new environment.

Three days riding since, and I am gaining confidence on my new winter bike. Tonight, I was riding down the hill towards Loring Park and I noticed that the packed snow on the path had a glaze to it. Another cyclist had decided to walk their bike down instead of chancing it. I eased up, but continued down the hill looking for matte surfaces. Frankie didn't have any trouble with the ice glaze and rode it with ease. Of course confidence can lead to overconfidence, which can get you in to trouble, real quick. At the same time, every ride, I get to know my bike a little better. Frankie maybe tall, but he has been very stable compared to my old winter bike. He's not fast, but fast isn't what's called for.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Shopping on Bike

Fully loaded.

I'm not a big shopper. I don't like to hunt all around town for Christmas gifts. That's why I'm so happy I found the Bibelot shop in my neighborhood. 3o minutes and I had some great gifts for everybody on my list. I think this shop is made for guys like me. Kitchen things, Christmas things, clothing, jewelry. Anything that makes a great small gift.

Imagining Winter

Becomes reality

Hiatus over.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Instant Winter Studded Tires

Frankie braves the storm.

Winter is now here. I better get those studded tires. I suppose I could have shopped for them earlier, but that would have acknowledged the inevitability of winter. Now, that it's here I can get in gear.

Getting studded tires became a little more complicated than I had imagined, until got educated. It seems tires sizing is closer to alchemy than to a science, because there are three different measuring standards. My local shop, Freewheel, had Schwalbe studded tires on sale($63), but needed to back order them. The confusion started, when they started talking about 700mm tires, but my bikes Schwalbe tires said 28x1.75, 622-47. Normally, 28's aren't the same as 700's. I ended up calling Cleaver Cycles in Portland. They set me straight. , 28x1.75's are different than common 28's, but are the same as 700's! And 622 is 700. There, nice to have that figured out.

Cody admires Frankie's fortitude.

I couldn't wait for the tires to arrive, so I went for spin on storm night. It handled pretty well but I'm thinking the studs will be welcome. I had a couple times where I had to put my feet down quickly to avoid taking a spill, and I did have one half fall. I do have last years winter bike that has bigger nobbies than the Schwalbe, so I may use that bike more in heavy snow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

If You Want to Enjoy Winter, You Have to Dress For It

Godfrey dawns his scarf, but prefers my lap to keep himself cozy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It Begins

But hopefully it will be gentle. ;^)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Time for iciclebicycle to Melt Away, But Don't Worry!

Spring is here.  While there is snow in the forecast, I think everybody's sick of Winter and so I'm moving to greener pastures over at The Chai Cyclist.  That's my other habit.  Tea.  Love it.  Like to talk about it(while drinking it, of course).  So, I'm gonna try blogging about it.  

And bikes.  I'd hope to be getting  more involved in bike advocacy, this Summer, and will try and share that with you.  Every year there are more and more bikes on the streets of Minneapolis.  I want to do my part to encourage it.

Thanks to all who kept up with this endeavor.  It's been a lot of fun and has really deepened my appreciation of the bicycle.  Mostly, I have learned by watching other blog sites that do it much better than me.  Thanks to you for showing me the way.  I will keep watching...yours.

In Minnesota the snow always returns and with it, I'm sure, iciclebicycle...soon enough, for sure! 

ps. Coffee drinkers are more than welcome over at the new site.  Don't be scared.  Tea won't bite, not like strong coffee will, anyways. ;)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why Am I Still Here?

Why is iciclebicycle still here?  Hasn't Spring come and melted all the snow?  Well, yes, but we had snow flakes this evening as I ran errands with Harvey.  While it was cold and blustery, my ride down Lake Street warmed me up.  Lake Street is the heart of South Minneapolis.  My connection to it goes back to my earliest years.  Here's a funny story.  As a kid I lived two blocks from it, and so as I was learning new words, I would talk about it a lot.  One day when I was five, I walked over to the street by myself and looked up at the sign.  I had made a mistake.  It said Lake Street, not Leg Street!  All that time I thought everybody was calling it Leg Street.  Well that changed my life forever.

The street has changed a lot.  Gone are the new car dealers.  They moved to the Suburbs.  Gone are Porky's and the Red Barn.  Restaurants of a bygone era.  Also gone are the porn houses and massage parlors.  They went somewhere.  Perhaps downtown... or the web.  Today, the biggest mover's are the Spanish speaking folks(Don't want to get into the identity issue).  They have really brightened things up with the bright Orange and Yellow colors of their buildings.  

I came across a nice little taco shop called Pineta.  I hadn't been there in a while and was a little hungry.   They have great taco's at a nice price.  Plus, they have Horchata to wash down with.

Harvey hangs out with a cool new friend while do some shopping.

I am still working on the new website and hope to roll it out soon.  But I did see snow in the forecast for next week, so iciclebicycle lives a little longer.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I missed out on all the nice weather this weekend, because I caught a cold.  It seems that I should have been wearing more clothes when it got warm earlier in the week.  I had no ambition to do anything computer related and spent much of the weekend watch episodes of Lost.  These are some shot's I took at Loring Park, while I was busy coming down with this cold.  


My burnt orange Schwinn has told me his name.  I thought it was Orangina, but he corrected me on that.  I'm riding him tomorrow night, cold or no cold.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The New Yorker Profiles Street Fashion Photographer Cyclist

Check out Bill Cunningham on his way through the streets of New York City. This weeks New Yorker has an article on this gifted eccentric photographer who prefers to get around New York City on the bicycle pictured. He has a column in the New York Times "On the Street" which documents the styles people are wearing around New York. He's been doing it a long time and his pictures are window into the styles of the past.

What I liked was how he watches the Fashionista's but makes sure he isn't a part of it. He is his own creation.

Photograph: Clint Spaulding/Patrick McCullen

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Another Week, Another Planet

What a difference a week makes. Last Thursday started out a cool -4F. This Monday it got up to 65F. That's a lot of degrees! In the summer, 65 is a cool breezy day, but after a sub-zero winter, it felt like 80. Who knows how long this will last. We are sure to get another dip in the weather, but that will probably not beat what we have had.

I was very happy to see tons of bikes out on the streets, yesterday. It was like a bike convention. I think it's good if people get out earlier in the Spring, because if they don't, it could be August before they hop on. That happened to me one summer, a long, long time ago. I'm trying not to be a pain in the ass, but I do use these occasions(Nice weather) to suggest friends get on their bikes. I'm actually going to help a woman I know find a good touring bike for a breast cancer ride this summer. She hasn't had a bike in a long time, but the seed has been planted. I hope she catches the bug... or is it fever?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Playin Hooky?

Today would be a perfect day to play hooky from work. Watch the thermometer on the right as it rises, perhaps to 65F. Unfortunately, I must work today, but will be on my bike, soon after work... in shorts!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Schwinn Time

First time of the year on the Schwinn.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Smells Like Springtime

Water hazards

Cycle mob

Couch Potato's

One thing that happens when Winter comes is you lose the ability to smell much outside.  The cold air constricts the blood vessels in your nose, and there isn't as much to smell anyways because the frigid temperature keeps things from decaying.  And that's is much of what we are smelling outside.  Decaying stuff.  

Well, today we reached a temperature(50F) where I could actually smell things besides car exhaust.  It wasn't the pretty smells of Spring though.  Not flowers and grass.  It was rougher smells like dog poop that filled the air and my nostrils.  My landlords dogs have been pooping in the yard all winter and now, like the Dawn of the Dead they have risen again.  And it's not pretty... the smell is not pretty at all.  But I'm okay with it, because I know that it this means that things are changing and finer smells will soon arrive.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Winter Returns

Yesterday we set a record for this date, by not getting above 5F. I let go of Spring and decided to enjoy the Winter by getting on my bike and going for a nice ride. Being that it was Winter, it took 15 minutes to get properly dressed and ready to ride. I'm glad I took the time because that wind was strong and bitter(just like the coffee I used to drink). I didn't have much company, seeing 5 cyclists during my travels. 2 days earlier I had lost track of how many.

I must say that letting go of the idea that Spring must come soon, allowed me to enjoy riding in the crisp air. I was planning to take a few photo's but I wasn't that adapted to the cold, that I was going to stop and pull the camera out. No time for lingering. I made a few stops and talked to friend. Checked out a used bike shop, someone had told me about(I forget the name) on Lake Street. Got some groceries and headed home. Thanks to the rain, turned to snow storm of the night before, it was icy in spots. I wasn't riding my studded tire bike because the chain has started to slip. But my other bike has good winter tires on it. That didn't keep me from falling once, when I got stuck in an ice rut, while going down a hill. It was a nice fall and the only damage was to the banana's in my side pack. If there was picture that I should have taken, it would have of that path. This a busy ped/bike path across from the Walker Art Center and it was all icy ruts. That should be somebody's priority. Perhaps they had get the streets first.

All in all, it was a nice evening ride. I'm glad I chose that over hibernating.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

chaiciclebicycle Anyone?

You all are jogging my blog naming juices. What do ya think about chaiciclebicycle? Kind of riffs off of iciclebicycle. Is it getting too out there?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What's in a Name?

This iciclebicyle gig isn't going to last forever. It's going to get green and flowery at some point in the near future. Some of you may be more optimistic than me about when that will happen, but then again, you probably don't live in the Ice Box State. I also think that as Spring Fever spreads throughout the blogosphere, who's gonna want to feel the chill of iciclebicycle? So at some point soon, iciclebicyle will be going on a hiatus until the snow falls again.

I have had a lot of fun blogging and learning from all you folks who have created better sites than my own.   So, I will be looking to start another blog, to tide me over until iciclebicycle becomes relevant again. But I will need a name for my new blog.  

Here are few things about me that will be blog themes.

~I love biking and want to see more people on them.  Bike Love!

~I love tea, and could spend much time talking about it. So much so, that I hardly have time to drink it...not true.  Tea Connoisseur.

Here's a few names that have popped into my head as potential names for the new site:

Cycle Chai
Chai Cyclist
The Chai Cyclist
Cycle Chai-ist
A Bicycle Built for Tea

I really have gone off on a tangent with a few of these.  Can you help me out by giving me some good suggested titles?

Thanks for your inspiration,


Monday, March 9, 2009

Adventures of the Day

I really needed that extra hour of sleep today, but I didn't get it thanks to Daylight whatever.  After work, I hopped on my bike to get a chai with my friends at Namaste Cafe.  There ain't another chai like it.  As I was heading up Hennepin Avenue, I came upon a real cool old bike.  "Nice bike" I said as I was passing him.  At the next light, we talked some more.  It's not an old bike at all.  It's an 8 speed Schwinn that has that old style look.  I love the color.  Green frame and white fenders.  The owner, Dustin, has an nice commute up Hennepin, but is really looking forward to ditching the jacket.  Me too!

Note pile of dirty snow in background.

This evening, I saw tons of cyclists.  It thrills me to see all the bikes coming back from their winter hibernation.  It seems like every year I'm seeing more and more bikes on the road and I hope it continues(even though I do like the solitude of winter riding).  My city counsel person, Diane Hofstede is going to recommend me for a bike planning committee.  I'm excited for the opportunity to have some input on what my city can do to expand cycling infrastructure.  Build it and they will come.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Endless Winter

The last snow storm really brought out the dread of endless winter in people.  I have to say that I was one of those people.  I started think that it's always going to be like this and all those summery days would never return.   It seems like a lifetime ago that I could walk around in shorts and sandel's without concern that I had enough clothes on.  Not having to worry about losing my hat or gloves.  There really is so much to keep track of in the winter.  It was becoming a lot of work.  Just going outside was always a big production.   You had to have good reason to go outside.

 We have a had winter conditions since late November and that was a long time ago.  I wondered how I had been doing this for so many years.  How had I been making it through all these winters?  It dawned on me that I hadn't been getting outside as consistently as before.  I have come to believe that the best way to not get the winter blues, was to get outside more.  10 years ago I had a job where I was outside in all year long.  There were some tough moments, but I noticed that I didn't have that overwelming sense of dread that comes just before Spring.  It was nice to see Spring when it came, but I could enjoy whatever weather we had, as long as I spent time outside, everyday.  And before I knew it, those warm, sunny days returned.

Picture courtesy Meligrosa

New York Times Article on Biking

Here's a NY Times article about how cyclist may need to change their ways, if they want a better bike scape.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Crime Fear Increases Risks on Midtown Greenway?

Midtown Greenway in front of the Freewheel Bike shop.

I love the Midtown Greenway.  I ride on it all the time, day or night.  It originally was railway trench dug through the heart of Minneapolis, over 125 years ago.   It was converted to a bike trail about 8 years ago.  It has really changed the cycling culture in Minneapolis, because it has made it easy to cut through 5 miles of city quicker than a car.  It also connects to the Cedar Trail, the Chain of Lakes Trail and eventually may hop the river into St. Paul.

Hiawatha Trail.  The sign says "Riding After Dark?".  If you were riding after dark, 
you wouldn't be able to read it, due to lack of lighting.

Back in November there was a string of evening muggings on the greenway.  Groups of men would stand in the way of cyclists and try to mug them when they stopped.  It became big news, perhaps due to fact that it happened on the Greenway and it involved cyclists(pity the people who get mugged on a plain old street).  Something had to be done!   So... they put up a sign!  It listed thing you should do(and not do).  Number one on the list?  Avoid riding at night.  On a personal level, that may make sense, but by discouraging night time riders, they make it even more dangerous to those who do ride.   While I understand the Midtown Greenway Coalition's concern about not having the Greenway associated with danger, and they are taking steps to make sure it doesn't get that reputation.  Scaring people away from the Greenway at night is not the best way to do that. These muggings started to happen in the Fall, when it started getting dark earlier in the evening.  As soon as the snow fell in December, no more muggings. 

Spring is coming soon.  Hopefully they start taking actions that will actually make people safer.  Such as,  getting the police to increase their patrols and getting funding for lighting on the Hiawatha leg into downtown.  The best way to make it safer on the Greenway is to increase traffic, especially in the evenings.  I hope that they don't keep using scare tactics that keep people away.  

To Helmet or Not to Helmet?

It's a question I ask myself, more and more.   I never wore a helmet until 5 years ago.  Then, two months later, I got in an accident where the helmet protected my head from certain injury. But now I find myself questioning the wisdom of making helmets the one thing that will keep you safe on a bike.  How many times, when the subject comes around to my biking, has someone asked "Do you wear a helmet?".  Why this question, again and again?  Perhaps more importantly, what is behind that question?  You'd be crazy not to wear a helmet because cycling is dangerous!

I'm not going to suggest that cycling isn't without risks, but it does seem obvious that as long as riding a bike is seen as a high risk endeavor, it's not going to rise above the exclusive club of risk takers and become apart of the larger culture.  And that would be a pity, because it has become obvious to me that the car culture that has grown to dominate our communities, is not a good one.  I found this on David Hembrow's A View from the Cycle Path blog, on the trouble the Dutch are having finding places for people to park their bikes.  Isn't that funny?  Think about what, we here in America, have done to accommodate the the car.  We have literally spread out our communities to make room for this mode of transportation.  Just take a look at a suburban mall to see what I mean.  The parking lot is bigger than the mall.  If I have a problem finding a place to park my bike, it's because of all the space cars take up.  

For me the helmet issue has become a question of, is it helping to knock down the car culture, or is it something that will continue keep the bicycle culture on the fringe? has written much on this subject.  In this article he talks about how a helmet awareness push may be causing a decline in people who ride bikes in Denmark.  And this is in a country that is a generation or two ahead of us bicycle culture.

I'm not saying don't wear a helmet, but if you hear about a drive in your community to require helmets or even a just a "wear your helmet" drive, you should have some real concern about how that is going to affect the growth of your bike community.   If you really want cycling in your community to be a safe pursuit and you want to see it grow, "helmet first" isn't going to to it.  

What do I think will grow the bike culture into something wider?  That'll be a future blog.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

When it Snows You Have to Take the Lane

No point hanging out in the gutter after a snow storm.

These gents grab some real estate.

On some streets you have to ride right in the middle.

I'm happy they plowed at least one bikeway.

Friday night, we had a nice snow storm which left about 5 inches of fluffy snow.  I was happy to see it, because I hadn't rode in some good snow for awhile.  But when you get this much snow it, becomes a little more challenging.  Being an early 21st Century American city, Minneapolis' biking infrastructure isn't what it could be.  There aren't that many bike lanes, much less bike paths to begin with.  When the snow falls you have to deal with a much smaller street.  I have found that getting out and making your presence known is the safest way, especially when you get this much snow.  Riding on side walks or in the gutter aren't really good options because that's where the most snow is.  

My experience is for the most part, Minneapolis drivers are more aware of cyclists than ever before.  But I don't take that for granted.  There are the occasional suburbanite's who make their way into the city.  In the suburbs it seems, bikes should only be seen on bike trails, on weekends.  Best to just to assume that people aren't looking.  I'm always making sure I know who's behind me and who's coming my way.  

While progress is slower than I'd wish, I think we are moving towards a more bikeable city.  But let's not wait for Obama to bring that about.