Sunday, August 13, 2017

Circle of the Tacos

July 22, 2017
Good eventide to you, feckless sojourner.  How are you and your friends, families, bicycles, etc.?  What?  How nice/dare they!  Please send a post card to elucidate at your earliest convenience.  

One unusual event that I experienced recently was going out on the Thursday night taco ride this past week.  This was the second time I went this year, but it was the #1 best taco ride of the year so far!  My friend Jim Bob was in town.  He was looking sleek and speedy, so I hopped aboard my fairly sleek and speedy new road bike that I won, fair and square, from the wonderful folks at Wear Yellow Nebraska.  I have recently made a few additional minor adjustments to the WYR bike - flipping the stem for a bit higher handlebar, and tilting the handlebar back towards me for a higher grip when I grab the bull by the middle part of the horns.  I also added a well-worn, comfy ol' saddle.  

So we hopped aboard our speedy steeds 

and sped off towards Margie-ville.  We speedily arrived.  As has happened a few times previously, I did not have a bottle opener of any sort, so I had to pop the cap off using a handy metal post, which did not work perfectly, but did allow me to drink my delicious and fulfilling beer with no noticeable glass shards or slivers.  

JB and I made it all the way to Tobey Jack’s place for some tacos and a pitcher of Fat Tire.  There was also a real live musician who introduced himself as Mike By-the-way.  

He also plays in a band called Cirkle of Fifths, which may have one or more members from the infamous band called the Circle of Jerks.  Mike was great.  He did some loops, hot solos, Bob Marley, and Neil Young.  Great stuff Mike!  Thanks for cycling with me Jim Bob.  Hope to see you again real soon.

August 5, 2017
Well what is new with you?  Yes.  Yes!  I know!  Here are some things that I’ve been experiencing that are quite similar to what you have been doing:  

I had to do some actual work the other day.  It was hot and muggy so I bought and quickly guzzled 2 bottles of Powerade (they were 2 for the price of 1 and I was thirsty!).  I felt a kind of semi-caffeinated buzz the rest of the day as well as a heightened sense of memory and self-satisfaction with my guitar playing.  I was temporarily very enthusiastic about getting a few gigs as a folk singer.  It might have been all the high fructose corn syrup or the medium-chain triglycerides, or maybe just a kind of natural high from working outside during the day, but it was kind of exciting and a bit scary.

Also, my Wear Yellow Ride has been transporting me faithfully to and from my day job.  It’s kind of fun because it is fast and quick around the corners.  Although these are things I mistrust due to the fact that I think my slow predictability helps drivers see me and react appropriately, I find it hard to resist their persistent seductiveness.  
It's been worn in a bit and feels a bit less strange.  
I know it's hard to tell due to my inept photography, but the sticker/ WYR lettering's now a bit jumbled.

It is also now great weather for mountain bicycling.  Maybe I'll get Shifty out for some trail riding soon.  Here are some fun things coming up -  

  1. Mode Shift Omaha is great and they are now accepting memberships to get some funds and get even more shit done (August 23).
  2. The Corporate Cycling Challenge is also rapidly approaching (August 20).
  3. One of those Pint-a-gon rides would be great, if you can find the time (August 19).
If you do all 3 I will applaud your audacity and, if you send me a self-addressed stamped envelope and signed proof of your attendance, make/send you a neat cap or shirt, but not both.
Best wishes to you and your mother.  Keep the circle of faith.
Your faithishly circular servant,

Monday, July 3, 2017

Completely Takin' it to the Streets!

July 2 through 8, 2017
I think we can all agree that bicycling is great.  Also that pedestrians should be able to cross streets without being struck by vehicles.  Those are a couple of things that are part of the Complete Streets Omaha approach.  

A manual is nearly complete that will make this an official part of the Omaha way to make decisions related to completing or renovating streets.  I went to the public input meeting a while back, but I felt like I just Boomhausered away until the CSO team politely hinted that I (being the only remaining member of the public at the meeting) should leave.  “Uh, them gosh-durn intersections, they really got some dangerous this way that way and no markings, they need some signs er something.”  Yes, although my contributions are typically questionable, I do not question my need to contribute.  One of these days it’ll all pay off.  And then?….  Ahh!  I’ll have a free bicycle. 
Wait a minute!  I do, I do, I DO have one of those!  

And after making the following replacements:
  1. Put on a front chain ring more suitable for the rolling hills of Omaha and my moderately fit legs and lungs.  I had a 38-toother lying alluringly about so I replaced the 46T with the 38T and now I am able to make it up all the hills I typically encounter without feeling like I might experience a heart attack or rupture of some kind.  
  2. After replacing the front ring I realized that, although I revere Sheldon Brown and his sagacity, I had never tried riding a fixed gear bicycle.  Also I had to replace the 1/8” chain with a 3/32” chain due to the spacing in my alluring 38-toothed enabler.  I had a 3/32” 16T fixed gear cog handy so I grabbed it and went to town.  So I tried things the fixed way for a few days and I did not like it for the following reason:  I love to coast without brakes going down hills.  I liked it for the following reason:  I liked being able to slow down using my legs instead of brake pads.  The pro outweighed the con.  The pro then grabbed the con by the pigtails and performed a merciless headscissors take down, as demonstrated in this GLOW video.  Here is a more in-depth discussion of the fixed gear experience.
  3. So then I ordered a 16T with a freewheel so that I would be able to return to my fearless coasting habits.  
It is now great.  I made it even slightly greater by replacing the uncomfortable saddle with a well-worn WTB Rocket V.  

It’s a bit bumpier and speedier than the Old Bastard, but it’s kind of fun/something different for now.  Nextly I will tilt the handlebar back towards me a tad so that I've got a better view of what's coming up down the road.

Recently I took part in another edition of the always enjoyable Rollin’ to Colon.  

I love this ride and its peaceful, smooth, mildly hilly highways.  This one was the best yet!  It was on Father's Day, and I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with my dad bicycling around the gently rolling hills around the Valley and Colon areas.  As we rolled into Colon I told him it was fortunate he got all of that BRAN because it made it easier to get to the Colon.  We noticed lots of men, possibly fathers, were out on the water.  

The after-ride party was also great and featured the inimitable Chris Saub, who I haven’t seen for at least 10 years.  His guitar playing is now phenomenal.  This ride is great, but it seems like it could use a few more participants.  So please mark it on your calendar for next year, if that is possible.  

After the after-ride party I eventually made it back home to spend some quality time with Snot Jr. and Collegiate Snot.  I read Snot Jr. one of our many books about bicycles and bicyclers.

I have also been picking up tips from my best friend Rich about mountainous bicycling.  He says he's learned a lot due to his participation in the DEVO program.  Things like what to do when a problem comes along.  And also pointing your belly button in the direction you want to go to get around corners and curves is way more effective and not as intuitive as it sounds.  Selene also mentioned that in one of her recent columns, so you know it is legit.  He also mentioned that you’ve got to look pretty far ahead if you want to be successful on riding balancy logs.  

I may try to get out for the slightly longer version of the GONG ride this year.  Last year I enjoyed the ride and camaraderie, but I felt like some extra distance would’ve made the end-of-ride celebration more festive.  I felt sniffly so I whinged and stayed home instead of GONGing it up tonight.

Now let's take it to the complete streets!  Hell, let's even throw an elbow or two as necessary!

Happy Independence Day Month and have a great ride!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Yellow glory!

June 7, 2017
Hello again!  Where have you been!?  You (un)lucky bastard!  Well please fill me in and we’ll see what we can do about all that!
Things for me have drastically changed.  Let me express myself.  
  1. I won a bunch of stuff at the 2017 Wear Yellow Ride here in Nebraska.  A bunch.  I am not pinching your fancy about this.  Here are the things I won:
  1. Most importantly a deep sense of satisfaction…. because I won a bunch of stuff!
  2. A hat
  3. A gift basket.
  4. A screen print(?)
  5. A bike!

Yes, I am a lucky middle-aged bastard!  I am enjoying this deep sense of unearned merit that I have embraced as a result of my winning ways.  Now that you have some sense of my puffed uppityness let me take a couple steps back and fill you in on the how now.

Way back in May I was but a humble bicycler with a will to type about bicycles.  Then I registered for the Wear Yellow Nebraska Ride.  I got there early and scoped out the raffle prizes.  There were a ton of sweet prizes and there didn’t seem to be too many entries.  So I grabbed $20 worth of raffle tickets and distributed them as I saw fit (i.e., mostly the baskets with the fewest tickets).  There were more expensive raffle tickets you could buy for a single speed/fixed gear bicycle, but I forewent that option.  Already feeling pleased with myself I met up with my dad and Rich and prepared to get a’ wheelin’.  
The ride itself was very nice.  I spent some time with Mr. Snot Sr. and my best friend Rich.  The route was basically the same as last year, but the weather was much nicer.  
This year I had also embraced a sense of my own limitations and signed up for the 42 miler instead any of the lengthier options.  This, I reckoned, would allow me to return in time to enjoy some satisfying pancakes supplied by the superb Pancake Man himself and his accomplices!  

At Mr. Snot Sr.’s suggestion I liberally applied the cinnamon before gobbling up my 4 or 5 pancakes they had generously piled upon my styrofoam plate.  After socially interacting with Dad’s priest, Dad bought some raffle tickets and then we both waited around for the raffle to begin.  I think I won the gift basket first and I’m sure the bike was last.  In between was a screen print and a hat, in that,(or similar) sequence!

And that was the yellow glory that transformed me into the new, yellowishly glorious me!

I would like to offer my sincerest thanks to the Wear Yellow organization as well as all the individuals and businesses who donated raffle prizes.

How, the attentive among you may ask, did I manage to win a bicycle without purchasing the more expensive $5 raffle tickets for the single speed/fixed gear cycle?  Well, I was informed that you are automatically entered just for registering for the ride!  I suspect my rich uncle may have also bought a few tickets and written my name on them, but I have no evidence to support this conjecture.

There is so much more I would just love to tell you.  However, I will try to restrain myself and fill you in on all of that other stuff later.  Here are some of the items I have on tap:
  1. I have been experiencing some comfort jumping Shifty and Rich’s Gnarvester over at Tranquility.  It seems there are some very sweet new jumping opportunities over there these days!
  2. Updates on the status of the many Wear Yellow prizes I won.  In all honesty, I feel that perhaps this is a message from my mother who passed away from cancer 13 years ago.  She was a great mom.
  3. A question for you - Would you prefer that I send you handwritten letters instead of typing?  I am thinking maybe this would be more personal and maybe you could send me some sweet bicycle stories and/or photos.  If this seems like a good idea, please just send me your address or otherwise inform me of your preference.  We could even be pen pals!  This never worked out in grade school, but I feel that both of us have cove along way since then and maybe now we can make it work.
  4. Mode Shift Omaha has some interesting information on a flyer I obtained at the somewhat recent Bike Advocacy Night.
  5. Good Life Gravel Gran Fondo is almost here (next Saturday, the 17th of June).
  6. Rollin to Colon is on its tyre!  (next Sunday, the 18th of June). 

As you may have noticed, there are many bicycle-related events that are happening these days. Tranquility is funner for mountainous bicycling than ever before.  It’s nice weather for some taco riding.  I hope you have availed/will avail yourself of one or more of these opportunities.  Mr. Snot Sr. is on recently finished BRAN and I have the impression he is enjoying enjoyed it greatly.  Maybe we can do some cool bicycling too!  See you there!  Let’s ride!  

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bicyclers of the future and the past

April 28, 2017
A good day for ducks.  
Painting by Jen Beirola

Not bad for bicycling, either, just a tad on the soggy side, but no torrential rain.  Here is the view from the local multi-use trail, with and without safety glasses.

As you are undoubtedly/indubitably aware, May is nearly here and ‘twill be National Bike Month!  

Lately, perhaps inspired by Snot Jr.’s influence, I’ve been wondering what the younger generation will do for transportation.  I’ve encountered several young 2-wheee!lers lately.  Here are a couple of them. 
Youngster #1, whom I shall refer to as Herbert, was standing on the multi-use trail and talking with someone on the phone.  “It’s cold out!”  he stated in a bratty, demanding tone. 

I encountered Youngster #2, whom I shall also refer to as Herbert, at Chatty Corner where he cheerily mentioned, “I didn’t expect it to be this cold!”

I am so glad that both Herberts were happy to talk to an oldster like me about one of my favorite subjects.  But underneath this promising interest in our atmosphere I detected two different perspectives.  I really wanted to tell Herbert 1 that he would never amount to anything.  Herbert 2, while brashly unaware of the weather forecast, seemed to have a promising future and I wanted to tell him that he would assuredly be a successful city planner and/or heavy machinery mechanic.

Soon I met two other even younger humans.  One was popping some wheee!lies and so I informed him that those were some nice moves.  Another one was pushing her bike up a hill.  Although I didn’t stop to check, I’m guessing she had a geared bike that had either been cross-geared or had the chain stuck/de-ringed or somesuch.  SOAPBOX ALERT!  This second observation along with a prejudiced supposition angered me somewhat.  When will parents stop buying kids bikes with more than one gear?!  They are more complicated and less fun!  More gears = more headaches.  Maybe once your kid gets fairly proficient at doing some sweet wheeelies and jumps and curb-popping they might be alright with a few extra gears.  Even then, I recommend waiting until they show interest in and can provide a reasonably cogent comparison of single vs. multi-geared bicycling.  Preferably in cursive.  But still, please don’t get a drivetrain with 3 chain rings!  That’s too many!  Unnecessary!  Having ranted thusly, maybe an internal hub might be alright.

So I think these kids will be alright and bicycling will soon take over the nation and/or make some modest gains, if only parents don’t buy kids bikes with too many gears.

Meanwhile, in Mosul, Iraq bicycles are now in high demand due to bans on potentially explosive-laden motorbikes and cars.  The pacifist embraces and smooches the bicycle and gets some errands done while he is at it.  No woman, no bike.  Sorry ladies.  Maybe you could ride on the rack?

Well, it's not all quite so gloomy everywhere.  Here is an exciting story about a woman who wore bloomers and bicycled around the world.  Her name was Annie Cohen Kopchovsky (or Annie Londonderry for short).  She had become pessimistic by the time she made it to Chicago on a heavy, multi-geared Columbia.  But then she switched to a lighter, single-speed Sterling.
She also stopped wearing corsets and dresses and started wearing bloomers and pantaloons.  She notably,  "rode the train across most of Nebraska because of the muddy roads."  and "Near Gladbrook, Iowa, she broke her wrist when she crashed into a group of pigs and was forced to wear a cast for the remainder of her trip."

So watch out for the pigs and ducks and keep on smiling through the rain!

Let's ride (and maybe performs some maintenance on ye olde drivetrain in the not-too-distant future)!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bicycle to Earth! Come in!

April 20 13, 2017
Happy 4/20.  I hope your elevation is where you like it.
Every once in a while I am especially grateful for Friday.  Such a day is tomorrow.  Huzzah!  Temperatures are increasing, days are lengthening, and the pollen of spring is inhabiting many nasal passages and/or sinuses.  It all adds up to some tiredness and a sore throat for this traveller.  It also means activity on the multi-use trails is rapidly increasing:

I stopped by the Bike Rack yestereve to enjoy some bike advocacy camaraderie and education.  It was great to see you there and was even attended by my new favorite city councilmember Chris Jerram.  I also like Brinker Harding.  His name sounds funny and I met him while he was standing on a street corner with his family and cheerfully waving at passersby.  He even chatted with me for a moment about my bicycling commuting habits. 

At the Bike Advocacy Bash they had some free food and drinks, even including beer.  I ambled about and received a few updates on the status of various items including the following:
  1. West Papio Trail connect - the trail is planned to be connected from near Millard Ave (132nd) and Q to somewheres near 108th and Portal Road (over in the LaVista/Papillion area) by late 2018.  This is along an old railroad grade and they are planning on having an area featuring some good ol' fashioned rail history!  All aboard!
  2. Complete Streets Program Manual - this policy is very vague, but it purports to allow for multiple interested parties to have their voices heard when planning specific street improvements. 
  3. Hummel Park Trail Map - hiking trails only, but it seems like a neat area to roam.
  4. Omaha Bikes (new website + positive bicycling story solicitation happening soon) - Pell Duvall is in charge of this great site these days.  He is enthusiastic and well-spoken.  He seems to be focused on educating drivers and bicyclers on safe co-existance.  
  5. DEVO - my best friend Rich was telling me about this great opportunity to get kids off their lazy asses/arses and get out there and pedal!  They may even pull off some sweet rad moves if they stick with it and outlast their innate suckiness.  At least that's what I intend to tell them once I sign up to be a coach.

Here are some exciting photos from the event.
Here's where it all happened!

Mr. Pell Duvall in action!

Let's get inclusive with bike action!

There is also the exciting Pint-A-Gon event sponsored by Nebraska Brewing Co.  coming up on April 22.  So that’s plenty of bicycling fun for you! 
Also plenty of bicycling-related booths at Earth DayOmaha. 

I was also informed that 2 of my favorite artists on the 1998 H.O.R.D.E. festival promotional CD – Gov’t Mule & Galactic will be playing at the local Sumtur Amphitheater on August 18 but that  tickets will be available starting today.  So that is sure to be heavy groovy. 

Every so often it is time to reevaluate the situation.  Who are you?  What am I doing?  Why am I here?  How much is that?  That kind of thing.

We sometimes find ourselves taking a hard look at ourselves and/or the world around us.  Some may become philosophical.  That is fine.  But realize that there are things in the moment that may be much more immediately important. 

We also like to know the answers.  So here are the answers to the aforementioned questions.  You are a creature with divine aspirations.  You are reading.  You like to bicycle.  How much is what?

So that’s that.   Please send me the correct answers at your earliest convenience.
Here is a review of a book by a bicycler that is just in time for Earthen Day 2017.  With the classic bicycler's sense of subtle understatement, it is entitled How Cycling Can Save the World.  

One place to get philosophical is out on ye olde WabashTrace Trail.  There is a big clean up for the start of prime bicycle riding season on the WTT happening this upcoming weekend - April 29.  So if you get out there and help you may be fulfilling your destiny.