Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Can Breathe Again!

You can think of it as sinking below water... for over a month.  Today, as the temperature rises above freezing for the first time in over a month, we here in Minnesota can take a deep breath. 

Ahhh!  It feels so good!

For the first time in over 33 days, the temperature in Minnesota is above freezing.  I don't believe me, look down below, on the right.  The weather gadget says 45F!  Going around today, it feels sort of like Mardi Gras. Where did all these people go to the last month?  Everybody is running(or better yet, biking!) around, underdressed and smiling like a kid.  It's a Frank Capra moment.

Complaining about the weather only spreads the disease of unhappiness.  If I was going to complain, I would probably complain about the fact that I can't ride my bike due to the injury to my foot.   I definitely have a jones for some biking, today.  I've probably put on 5lbs, since last Friday.  Car dependency has it's price.  Now, I got to get back out and enjoy the weather while it lasts.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Philosophy on Winter Biking

If you didn't know, this comic strip is Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery.  It's a daily strip that chronicles the odd couple-like bike shop owners, Yehuda Moon and Joe. They represent the polar opposites of the biking world.  Yehuda sees biking primarily as transportation, while Joe is more concerned with speed.    What I like about Yehuda Moon is, this strip exposes so many truths about biking, especially if you have been riding awhile.  It's been a great introduction into a different biking philosophy, for me.

The strip above is exactly my experience of winter biking.  You always have to prepare and think ahead.  You have be very mindful when your riding, because conditions are going to change.  But in the end, your feet are gonna get cold.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Roller Disco Catastrophe!

It wasn't supposed to happen that way.  It was supposed to be all bliss and great music.  A few years back, some friends started going to the Roller Gardens in January and February.  I hadn't been roller skating since I was 12, and was a little worried about falling.  Maybe I had forgotten how to do skate.  But after a few laps of looking like a fool, I got my mojo back.  At the end of the evening, I was wondering why I had ever given it up.  So, we have kept came back and now it's a January ritual.  What's really cool about Friday nights at the Roller Gardens, is it's music from the golden era of roller skating.  70's Disco!  That music is made for roller skating.  It just flows.  No kids either, because it's 21 and up.

But there is a down side to all this revelry.  It's a little secret that is hidden in plain view.  You can fall down, and if you fall down the wrong way, you can get hurt.  I blame the blonde.  She was a very good skater and was doing all sorts of cool moves.  But she was moving all over the rink.  One time towards the end of the night I was passing her and she moved toward me and I reacted.  Well, that wasn't a good thing.  I started to lose my balance and tried to regain it(big mistake).  The some how my ankle ended up underneath me. It didn't hurt real bad, but I knew it wasn't good.  I got up and made for the seats.  I really didn't want it to be a sprang.  I even tried to skate again, hoping I'd shake it off.  But it finally dawned on me that it wasn't getting better.  So I got help from my friend Sarah and a bag of ice from the concessions.   

My weekend plans have changed.

What have I learned from this misfortune?  
Plans change... and you'd better make the best of it.  
Watch out for blondes(somebody suggested that maybe it wasn't her skating I was reacting to). 

But maybe I won't learn, because I'm sure I'll be getting back on my skates as soon as I can.
I'm not sure how long I'll be off my bike, but if there is a time of the year to be out of commission, it's now(2F today).  

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ice House Artsy

Is the Arctic climate getting to you?  
Or do you just need a good non-traditional reason to get out on the ice?
Well, come check out to the 6th Annual Art Shanty Project on Medicine Lake.  You have until February 14th to see all the crazy art ice houses.  Saturday's and Sunday's are the best days, because they have the most going on.  

They are also having bicicle races every Saturday at 2pm!  I'd enter but I don't think I have enough studs on my bike tires to keep from falling on every turn.

The art shanty's are fast becoming a winter tradition.  I was out there last year, and had a great time checking out the funky ice houses and finding a little community on the ice.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Portland Blizzards Pay Off

It's great to see that these guys out in Portland won't let a little snow ruin their fun. Actually, it is the fun. In Minneapolis this is expected, but Portland is used to more rain than snow. So, in a city with almost no snow plows, those cyclists with some gumption have the roads to themselves. Wee!

I love seeing these Dutch style bikes, which are handmade. I really, really want one, but can't at this point say I'd get a lot of use out of one. But who cares! Maybe I'd get one just to cruise around in and pick up chicks.

Photos used by permission from Metrofiets

Saturday, January 10, 2009

City with a Future

Here are some rankings of cities by sustainability. Minneapolis ranks 7th, according to Sustain Lane rankings. I don't know much about Sustain Lane but they seem pretty thorough. They also have have a really good interview with Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak. I know he is a politician but he seems to be genuinely interesting in making Minneapolis a greener, sustainable city. He mentions the fact that despite the harsh winters, Minneapolis has a lot of cyclists/commuters. He also, reflects on how global warming will impact the city, describing the winters as an asset. I like that attitude. For quite awhile, the Twin Cities has been the fastest growing metro area in the Midwest. That despite the fact that winters are sooo cold here. There must be something going on here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Winter Sun


Flame out

The winter sun is always in your eyes. If it isn't, it must be dark out.
I'm happy for shades.

For those Cold and Breezy Days

Last Sunday, was a very cold day and I didn't run into to many other cyclists, besides the few hardy souls. It was sad, because they missed out on a beautiful, sunny day. Well, it wasn't one of those days where you just head out the door, to enjoy a nice bike ride. Riding on a day when temperature didn't get above 5F and the windchill was well below zero, is crazy if you don't know what your doing.

One of the big mistakes people make it putting on too much clothing. As you build up steam while riding, you'll find that you'll get plenty warm. If you get too warm, you'll start to sweat. Then when a strong wind comes up, you will really feel it. I've come home sometimes, hopped in the shower to warm myself, and have it not even feel like the hot water is warming me up.

Here are couple of the things I've learned that have kept me from over sweating. First, is "stove piping". Stove piping is about funneling the excess heat in the body, upward and out the top of the head.. You do this by wearing less on top of the head than you normally would. What I have found best to achieve this is, the Pearl iZumi face mask and headband. That's usually all I usually wear on my head, besides my helmet and gator(or something on the neck). The nice thing about the Pearl face mask is, it does a good job of keeping out the wind, but is thin enough, so you can breathe through it when you work harder on the hills.

If I have the head gear right, I find that it makes the next part easier. That is I try to dress with just enough clothing that I feel chilled when I'm outside, getting ready to ride. I do this for the same reason that I keep it minimal on the head. I'm going to generate I lot of heat. Sometimes I'm worried that maybe I underdressed, but usually that isn't case. There are times when that isn't true and hopefully I have thrown some extra gear in my pack.