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.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Elliptical Chain Ring???

For some reason my new Kabuki has a chain ring that is not round.  It is not stretched or something.  It's elliptical for some reason.  For more Kabuki pictures, click on the picture and you'll go to my Flickr site.  

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kabuki Head Badge

Here it is.
I'm still not satisfied with the picture, 
but it was cold and breezy today.

Isn't it is a cool design?

Put your 2 Cents in about Bike Lane's in Edina

The Edina City Council going to be putting a bike lane on a busy road and the natives are restless. Go let them know what you think.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

From Kabuki to Rivendell and Beyond...

Today, I had a lucky find.  I was dropping off some recycling at a drop off near work and I noticed a couple of blue bikes sitting next to the dumpsters.  I checked them out and threw the one with most promise into my trunk.  When I got back to work I showed a guy who should know it's value and he said "that's a nice bike.  With a just a little fixing up, you could get a buck and a quarter for it on Craig's List".  I wasn't sure I what I wanted to do with it, but it made me curious to know more about this bike.  So I Googled it and ended up finding some interesting things about this brand.  

It was made by Bridgestone in Japan and sold in the US as Kabuki.  As I dug deeper I found that Grant Peterson had been a designer for Kabuki for 10 years in the 80's and early 90's.   After Bridgestone closed it's doors in the US, he started Rivendell Bicycle Works.  Grant Peterson is known for swimming against the bike racer tide and creating high quality bikes that aren't just single purpose bikes, but ones that anybody can use.  Then I found an excellent interview that Cycloculture did with Grant just 6 months ago.  

Note the reflector on the chain ring.

Even though the bike I found was made in the late 70's, before Grant Peterson worked at Kabuki, I still am happy for the connection to someone who is trying to steer cycling in a different direction.  Kabuki's were known for being a little different, having their own style.  I like that.

What I know so far is that this bike is a T-5 which I assume means a 5 speed.  From what I've read, the Kabuki's come in 3 grades.  I'm not sure what grade mine is, but I will be tapping my sources to find out more.  What are my plan's for this bike?  Who knows!  It's a mixtie and it bit short for me.  I'm thinking, fix it up and see where it wants to go... if it will tell me.  

And Beyond?  One of the links on Cyclocultures interview is about wooden bikes in Rwanda.  Wooden bikes?  That's definitely worth checking out.

ps. the plate on the front of my Kabuki is real cool, but my pics were crap, so maybe tomorrow.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Art Shanty Leftovers

A ironing board sled with TV

The Hard Times Cafe's bike with side cart

Peddle powered mobile home... really!

Thanks to all those people who made the Art Shanty Project 2009, such a great time!

Back in the Saddle...

Yesterday, was my first time on a bike in over 3 weeks.  It was wonderful! It's like being born again.  Hallejujah!  It was 3 Friday's ago that I had sprained my ankle, badly.    I had gained 10 pounds, felt out of breath, with weak legs, but it was so nice to be out cruising around.  I did take it slow, and my ankle is still not 100%, but by today I was getting my old mojo back.  And on my way to Namaste Cafe for a chai, I saw this beautiful bike.  A Suburban.  Note the melting snow.   Now I can start seeing bikes again.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ice Bike Championship

They haven't come up with a cool name for this race, so I'm going with Ice Bike but the Iciclebicycle Invitational has a nice ring to it. I'd be happy to lend them the name... at a non-profit rate.

If you don't know this race was held at the Art Shanty Project site "on" Medicine Lake, MN.

This year champion is the same as last years. I didn't get his name but he's the guy holding up the trophy, which is some spokes with imitation ice chunks on the ends. The race was notable for it's slippery finish. The winner and two other cyclists fell on the same spot, 10 feet from the finish line. Don't feel sorry for them. While falling on ice happens often and without warning, I have found it to be a reasonably easy fall. I think it's because when you hit the ground you are sliding on the ice. Don't fight it. Just go with the flow. You're most likely to get into trouble if you try to save it. Just take the fall and get back up. Thankfully, everyone who fell down at Saturday's race got up with nothing but perhaps a bruised ego.

Birds Eye View

Today, I was back out at the Art Shanty Project, on their last day.   After last weeks warm up, the snow was gone and things were extra icicy.  That gave me the opportunity to take these shots from the second story of one of the shanty's.  I think the first 2 shots give you that sense that you are walking on a sheet of ice.  It is kind of scary when you can look down through the ice.  It was thick enough that you don't really need to worry, but you feel safer when the ground is opaque.

The last picture was a happy accident, that I really love.  It reminds me of the Ed Wood movie "Glen or Glenda".  Very, very, very bad!  So bad, it's hilarious.  It's a movie made in the 1950's, about a guy who is a cross dresser who eventually reveals his habit to his wife.  But this being an Ed Wood movie, Bela Lugosi also stars as... God, or somebody up above, watching over things.  He says lots of off the wall things.  My favorite being "Pull the string... pull the string!".  What it has to do with the story, only Bela knows.  When Bela speaks, they do this weird montage with old stock footage.  

That's why I like this pic.  It reminds me of Glen or Glenda.  To get more of the Ed Wood/Bela story, watch "Ed Wood" with Johnny Depp.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chic Winter Photo Contest Over at Chic Cyclist

If you live in a wintery climate, ride a bike, and consider yourself Chic, you should send a picture to the Chic Cyclist. But if you think Chic is someone you might whistle at or a cute little birdy, don't bother. Think Shiek. They are looking for stylish people on bikes, looking chilled. Maybe not chilled, but it should have a cool aestic. You'd better hurry because submissions are due February 14th. I don't know if I'll have time to get a new pic, but will pull something out of the archive, before then.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Demented DeMint Defeated in Quest to Quash Bikes

I just got this from the Bike Commuter blog.  Senator Jim DeMint(R-South Carolina) introduced an amendment to the stimulus bill that would block states from using the funds for bike lane projects.  But according to Jeff Miller of the Thunderhead Alliance the amendment failed.  This is good news, but shows that biking is seen as a threat to some, who prefer obesity increasing automobile's to a more sustainable, healthy bikestyle.

The fact that biking infrastructure rates being attacked, may be a good sign.  There must be a lot of talk about increasing bike funding, for these 20th Century folks to feel threatened.  All they have is fear, because the truth is bikes are much better for us, than cars.

What can you do?  It always comes down to this.  If you care about increasing bike space, you should contact your elected officials.  Right now, your congressional representative and senator would be the ones to contact.  Let them know that you want the bike money to be a priority.  After the stimulus bill is passed, you should be contacting your state an local officials to let them know that you want to see that more stimulus money goes to bicycle infrastructure.

This stimulus bill is a tremendous opportunity to change our communities for the better.  The best way to insure that is by having your voice heard.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Throwing Art Down a Hill?

If your looking for something fun to do outdoors, look no further.  This weekend is the 2nd Annual Art Sled Rally at Powerhorn Park, Mpls.  If you'd like to see creatures that look like hedge hogs, careening down a snowy hill, it'll happen here... if it's going to happen anywhere.  
By the way, it's a big hill.

Monday, February 2, 2009

IceSlickle Bicicle or Death Race 2009?

I don't know if they have a name for this race.  Maybe the Art Shanty Project Bicicle Race 2009, but whatever it is, there should be something about the risky nature of this race in the title.   Ice biking is tricky. You usually don't know when you're going to fall, but you do know that it will be quick.   Swoosh and you're on the ground.  It's a humbling experience, and I try to get up as fast as I can ,hoping no one saw.  Hopefully, you don't hit too hard.  I don't pretend to be an expert on ice biking but I am pretty good at falling.

So, how do you keep from falling, when riding on ice?  We'll from what I could tell from the riders at this event, you have 2 choices.  One is to put as much metal on your wheels as you can, hoping that it will dig into the ice and keep you from ending up on your bum.  The other idea seems to be going with the narrow tires that have surface contact with the ice that presses down hard, and avoids slipping.  

When you fall down, you got to get back up on the bike.  
Which isn't easy on ice.

The Winner!
This guy had more steel on his tires than 
there is on the rest of his bike.

Riding off into the sunset.

If this race was any indication, it looks like lot of steel studs are the way to go.  The guy with the studded tires, rolled over everyone else.  He looked stable, while the others seemed to be riding very cautiously.  And some of them, fell.

And this is just a qualifying race.  There are 2 more races next weekend at 2pm on both days.   The championship is in 2 weeks on Sunday, February 14th.  

Hey! Bored with my Blog?

Check out some real cool blogs down on the right side!  

Maybe Cool isn't right word, because the temp gadget says 2F, here in the Twin Towns.  
Ain't too much cooler than that.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Art on the Ice of Medicine Lake

Wind Surfing at a glacial pace.  No really...they sailed it through the camp.

Space conscious.

People power.

I finally got out to the shanty's, today.  The Art Shanty Project is a collection of little art houses on the ice.  For those of you not from the northern latitudes, it is perfectly safe to be out on the ice in Minnesota... after a very cold January.  Except that yesterday was warm and there was a glaze of ice on top of the snow, today.  So when it's icy, you have to do the Minnesota Shuffle.  What's that?  It's the best way to keep yourself from falling.  You do it by skidding your feet across the ground as you move.  Shuffle, shuffle.  It just teaches you patience, since it takes you a lot longer to get around.

I shot a gaggle of pictures and I'm planning to do a couple more blogs with those.  One blog will be on the Bicicle race they had.  Biking on ice is sure to have some spills. I'm also going to be putting the leftovers on my Flickr site.  Take a look.

Running the Gauntlet?

The Hennepin Av. bike lane cuts right through downtown Minneapolis.  I ride it quite often, because I live across the river in North East.  It's probably the fast way to get through downtown on a bike.  Sometimes I take it for granted that I can get through town real quick on this path.  But is it really a safe and well thought out path for bicycles?  You are right in the middle of the street, with buses on one side and 3 lanes of traffic on the other.  You always have to watch out for cars turning in front of you.  

Is this the best the Minneapolis can come up with?  For me it's OK.  I'm used to it and know where the danger spots are, but what about the cyclist who is new to this path?  Is this really the best design they could come up with?  

The more I think about it, the more I realize that it was just a first step.  It's not really the best option we have.  We need to be doing something different, here.  We need to be incorporating ideas that have been tested.  In Europe or other cities around the country, there are solutions to our problem.  How to get this city, which has been designed for cars to start having respect for other, more efficient means of transportation.

I am beginning to buy into the notion that we need to be design bike paths that work for the average person.  Road design that doesn't require a risk taking attitude to participate.