Saturday, May 31, 2014

Closing Out Bike Month

10:30 tonight I have to make a run to the store so that my minions will have bananas for their breakfast on Sunday  and Monday. 

It's raining and I am not the type to be riding to the grocery (especially after reading an article on bike theft he other day), but I spot a small platoon of 5 or 6 bikes riding in the thunderstorm and I longed to be with them. I get back with my groceries and think what the heck, and I pull out my bike and ride off into the pouring rain. It was dark and quiet except for the patter of rain on my helmet, an occasional roll of thunder, and a Stevie Wonder raggai that I heard this morning jamming in my head. 

Everyone in my part of Northeast Mineapolis seemed in slumber, but I roused a squad-car as I crossed into sleepy St. Anthony a few blocks from my home. The bored officer was lurking on an adjacent street and pulled up to me for a closer look. I must not have been very interesting because after he slowed next to me he turned around to go back from whence he came. 

I enjoyed the calm serenity of the quiet neighborhood, and kept having a hard time returning home. After circling for a total of 5 miles, at a few minutes before midnight I returned home and logged my miles to close out May riding. Happy Bike Month! Looking forward to a beautiful summer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bike-Walk at MN Capitol

I found out about and participated in the Annual State Capitol Walk/Bike which is being promoted by the the "Switch My Trip" program, encouraging folks to replace a drive-by-yourself trip and instead take the bus or train, carpool, bicycle, walk, telework or vanpool. 

The commissioners from the Minnesota Departments of Health and the Minnesota Department of Transportation were on hand to lead a bike-ride (in side-by-side recumbent tandem) through the streets of downtown St. Paul. It was fun to ride a few miles with some St. Paul commuters and see folks smile in reaction to our little platoon, and especially to see the heads turn at the dapper pair in what I have come to term the Cony Island-style tandem.

A few photos of our group ride:

Friday, May 16, 2014

Buon Compleanno Giro d'Italia

The Giro d'Italia officially celebrates its 105th birthday today. After kicking off the 97th edition (took some time off for world wars) with 3 stages on the Emerald Island last week, stage 4 was perfectly timed to start at the same location (though not at the same ungodly hour) as the first stage of the first edition of the 'Corsa Rosa' in 1909.

A Little Trivia

There have been 11 foreign starts of the Giro. If you don't count the Vatican City start in 1974, half of those starts have have occurred since 2002. 

The first ed. of the Giro d’Italia left Milan at 3:53am on the morning of May 13, 1909 and finished in Milan on the 30th of May after eight stages and about 1,500 miles of racing.

Only 49 of the 127 starters completed the first race.

Luigi Ganna won the first edition at an average speed of about 16mph.

American Andy Hampsten became the first non-European winner of the Giro in 1988, so far the only American victor. Hampsten was also the first American to wear the Maglia Rosa (the leader's jersey)

In May 2008, 20 years after Hampsten's win, the new American team Garmin-Chipotle won the team time trial in stage 1, and Christian Vandevelde, as the first member of the team to finish, became the second American to wear the Pink Jersey. 

Ron Kiefel was the first American to win a stage in any of the Grand Tours with a win in Stage 15 of the 1985 Giro for Team 7-Eleven (competing in its first Grand Tour) and was followed by Andy Hampsten's (also from Team 7-Eleven) victory a few days later in Stage 20. Looking back, here's what Hampsten had to say about Kiefel's win: "You can't downplay what Kiefel did. His win kicked down the door for all of us. He rode away from the peloton and showed everyone on the team that we were capable of doing what we were there to do."

The first American to officially win at least one stage at each of the three Grand Tours was David Zabriskie, who won Stage 11 in the 2004 Vuelta while riding for U.S. Postal and time trials in both the 2005 Giro (Stage 8), and the 2005 Tour (Stage 1) while riding for CSC to complete the first "official" triple by an American. 

Lance Armstrong participated in his first double in Grand Tours in 2009 when he rode the Giro d'Italia as well as the Tour de France. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

St. Paul's Future of 4th St.

MPLS Bike to Work Day

Bike to Work Day 2014 was a soggy one.
It rained on the way to work, and absolutely poured on the way home.

Don't get me wrong, I love to bike in the rain. I love getting into a rhythm, hearing the echo of the rain on my helmet. Believe it or not, I enjoyed pouring the water out of the sleeves of my windbreaker at the stops. It was raining that hard.

Fortunately, the middle of the day was perfect, and I was able to take a walk to check out St. Paul's "Future of Fourth Street" event, which felt like St. Paul's contribution to Bike Week. It was a nice community event that brought people out to celebrate the new and coming updates to St. Paul's transportation infrastructure. 

Nice Ride was there doing some demos on their green bikes, and they were also teasing us Twin Cityans with their "prototype" orange commuter bike (#001), a hundred if which will be hitting campus at Bemidji State in Northern Minnesota this summer. 

I have to say, it looks a bit more my speed than the green ones, a bike that got my attention, one you could spend a little more time on. 

Maybe it appeals to the 10 year old in me, I've seen that styling before:

Assuming their pilot up north goes well, I wonder if they would consider mixing this type in with the yellow-green ones.

It turned out to be a gorgeous lunch hour to wander downtown. There were a bunch of other booths representing the community and local businesses; I'll post some pictures Here.

Thunderstorms rolled in as I started my commute home. Wind and heavy rain that I have seldom been out in on a bike actually made the ride a little fun, despite the tornado watch that was in effect. I found myself wondering what I would do if the warning sounded, and was thinking of potential places to take cover. 

As I neared home though and the rain started to let up, Dero's ice cream pit-stop beaconed and helped me to forget all of that. 

I'm going to miss these little perks once Bike Week is over, but for now I am enjoying meeting new folks that, like me, love to move on two wheels.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May is Bike Month

This month is National Bike Month, this week is Bike Week, tomorrow is Bike to Work Day -- where it will all coalesce into complete awesomeness. Fortunately I didn't destroy my bike in frustration earlier in the week as I took on some repairs that I had usually reserved for the bike shop when the coffers were a little more flush (pre-twins) -- and so have been able to enjoy riding in the nice weather the past couple of days.

I have to say, it has been cool to see a lot of 'non-riders' become 'riders' as they get out on their bikes to participate in the over 50 special events around town. Speaking of, I passed a bloke who's squeaky Trek seemed in bad need of a tune up (at the very least needed some drivetrain lube); should I have mentioned that there are several places around town offering free quick tune ups this week? Ever the reserved Scandinavian, I just pedaled along without comment in order to avoid any possibility of perceived offense. 

Today, it was great to happen upon one of the many commuter pit-stops provided by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition throughout town this week to promote the MPLS Bike Week and bike commuting. I thank them for the morning snacks and the free bike lights and maps I was able to pick up. I snapped a few photos with my phone. (See how biking makes people happy!) I'll prominently display my new "I Biked" sticker this week and hope to bump into some of these nice folks again soon.