Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Zapped Again

I wasn't going to, but then at the last minute decided to carry my bike to work with me today. I had a list of reasons for not biking today, needing to be clean shaven for a meeting and not wanting the hassle of bringing my shaving kit to work, not wanting to make another trek in 35 degrees, avoiding the prospect of a third flat tire in as many days due to spring road debris, etc. 

But as I rushed out the door (nearly late for the bus), I found myself heading for the garage rather than the bus stop. I wasn't going to, but then I grabbed the bike just so I could get it re-tagged at a Zap event that was taking place in my building today. I haven't been hearing the happy beep when passing he Dero Zap stations around town, and assumed there was something wrong with the reader. I have been riding for much of April, so was surprised to see when I checked my Zap profile yesterday that I hadn't been counted since April 2. I then looked at my bike and found that the fob was not broken, but just gone altogether. I assume it feel victim to the nastier than usual spring potholes. 

So at the last second I decide to carry my bike on the bus today, and was able to chase it down and get on. 

I'm glad that I did. Not just because I got re tagged (though I am reminded how much I hate the giant tag on my wheel), but because I had such a great ride home. Raining at 45 degrees feels like 28 degrees (especially when you are wearing shorts with the ice cold water spraying your hairy legs and the wind cutting you down to size). I was soaked and chilled when I got home, but was reminded how much I love to ride in the rain. I seem to focus more and breathe easier. It was glorious today. And was made even nicer by the sweet beep of the Zap station counting me among a community of bike lovers in the Twin Cities. 

Now I feel more motivated for tomorrow.

Getting Zap tagged again.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Big Adventure

I've had "Tequila" by The Champs playing in my head all day today, thanks to my local radio station, which played it to commemorate Pee Wee Herman's bike being sold for a small fortune on e-Bay yesterday. Not quite the hundred million billion dollars (or whatever) it went for $36,600 and free shipping. This brings back some memories. Thanks Pee Wee!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ce n'est pas mardi gras aujourd'hui.

totally thought it was Mardi Gras the other day, and I even celebrated by thinking about that one Brazilian movie from the 60’s that I saw in a film studies class in college (Black Orpheus, 1959). My wife had also seen it in the same context (different university) and couldn’t think of where it took place, except that it what where that huge Jesus statue is. I am actually lucky enough to have been to Rio de Janeiro, which has the biggest statue of Jesus that I am aware of. It was in early March one year, in fact, so I was able to confirm that it was indeed Brazil where the movie took place. When I was there, Lent was in full force though (at least as far as Brazilians observe it), and I did not partake in any particular Carnival festivities. If you consider “thinking about a Brazilian art film” – and not even watching it – as  “celebrating Mardi Gras” you might be about as exciting as I am, and this blog is the perfect place for you.

But I digress.

Back to the French title of this post: I have heard the phrase as a dig or to tease someone who is dressed ridiculously or inappropriately, like calling them a clown (BTW also useful for the Oscar’s Red Carpet). This is how I have felt as I have tried to get out on the occasional ride this winter in an effort to beat the Polar Vortex, which keeps dipping down into the Lower 48. (I heard an NPR piece recently on how many Alaskans are lamenting the mild winter they are not enjoying.) Well AK– you can have it your PV back because I am going a bit stir crazy (and look ridiculous in my wife’s pink ski goggles)! 

Here are some photos from a recent ride. The Minnesota State Fairgrounds look even more like a weird carnival ghost town with all of the snow.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sundog Days

For me, the rare gem during winter is the sundog. Due to so many extreme cold days, I have seen more sundogs this year than the rest of my life combined. Though they are sometimes feint, this morning the sundogs were particularly glorious, looking like 3 suns and a distinct halo over St. Paul. I wish I could have grabbed a photo to share it in its glory, but my iPhone’s lens is limited and I couldn’t get into a good position for a full shot, so I lifted a good representation of what it looked like (though the photo was taken by a professional in the more pristine setting of Denali:

I did get some partial photos earlier this winter and here is a link to some other people’s pics thanks to MPR:

A sundog tells me that it is below zero F out, and today continues a string of subzero temps, I am not sure how many days total that makes this winter, but I suspect it would be easier to count the days it hasn't dipped below zero. I can think of perhaps two (if that is not true, well... it feels true). I have been able to get out on my bike during a few of them, but this bike commuter has been cooled by the weather. My hats off to the many bike commuters, heartier than me, I continue to see through the window of the bus – like the sundogs.

More on sundogs:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Post Polar Vortex

When I woke up in Minneapolis today we had 4 inches of snow on the ground and it was still snowing. I had not slept at all last night because one of the twins has been sick and needed "daddy" to lay on the floor next to his crib all night. This May or may not have led to my judgement call to ride my bike in the snow. Really, this is not unusual for me, but I have been a little out of practice since the Polar Vortex visited the Upper Midwest, and it is funny to me that my first ride of the new year would be today. Yesterday was so fantastic, that I was kicking myself for not getting out. 

After seeing a couple of dudes on some commuters decked out with fenders and wearing trim riding gear, I felt skittle ghetto on my old ride wearing a ranch jacket. To each his own.

There you have it. First ride of '14 on 1/14 in 4" of snow.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I love the New Year time for setting and refreshing goals and for resolving to improve different facets of our lives. Fitness tends to get a special focus, especially because we are all in need of re-upping our game after indulging in some wonderful holiday foods. When I finished graduate school several years ago I resolved to get into better shape and decided to do some things I've always wanted to do but could never make the time. I started karate and dedicated a lot more time to riding my bike. Over the course of several months I had dropped 20 pounds and felt fantastic. When my wife and I had twins a couple of years ago, I found it difficult to keep up my training and was lucky to string together enough hours of sleep together just to keep my sanity. My bike commute became my only physical outlet, and the reason I started riding in the winter. I had to make a mental decision, similar to the one I made when my commute distance doubled when I started work in downtown St. Paul, to accept the conditions and embrace the growing pains. I have found that having the right layers and staying dry are key ... and make the difference in a thin line between comfort and misery. In the winter, I just ride an old mountain bike that I have outfitted with studded tires (to add traction in those icy spots) and fenders (to keep the "brown sugar" off my back and out if my gears). Ski goggles come in handy on occasion, for those crazy cold days when the wind freezes your eyeballs. The other important piece is visibility to cars. With the days being shorter, I am sure to have on reflective clothing and bright flashing lights as I ride through the dark. I find I must be more vigilant in the dark to avoid  ice patches, potholes and other obstacles, as well as being aware of the moterists operating in slippery and low-visibility conditions. It took me baby steps to get there, but once you get used to it, riding in the winter is a lot of fun. It is just like riding a bike, after all.