Saturday, October 7, 2017

Fallaciously yours

September 22, 2017
Happy fall!  
As you have assuredly learned from your friendly neighborhood druid, the balance tips.  The leaves fall.  Here are the three photos I took to represent the autumnal equinox.  
A runner and a brick manor.

The cat sits/at the edge of light and shadow/took over what was once/Groundhog Holler.

I think maybe one of these kid lived there and were locked out?  

Although they are all my favorite, you are welcome to decide which one is the true meaning of the end of summer and the beginning of fall.  After you have thoughtfully considered, please feel free to tell me which one is best and why.  Or, if you're that kind of person, you could just tell me which one is suckiest and why.  Oh, you couldn’t decide, eh?  How droll, my good lady/boy/mannish friend.  Droll indeed.

Here now.  Let me pontificate upon the greatness of my week.  As I quickly and ruthlessly smacked down my flu virus, I was again astride my glorious steed.  I even made it out to LaCasa Pizzeria (West) to enjoy a bicycle ride with my friend Bob and then some beers and pizza.  

It was very nice and it was pretty fun to be back on ye olde Keystone Trail after many fortnights.  We rode south and eventually reached Dr. David Banner’s brother’s park 

where there were kids playing both north and south American futbol.  Separately.  When will we play together, mis amigos?  You with your round ball.  You with your fusilinid-shaped ball.  Me with my donut-shaped ball also known as a tyre.  Sigh…. Hey, who’s ball is leaking!?

Although we were the only noticeable pizza riders, I think this is bound to catch on and become a medium deal.  Oh, alright, I tried to get enthusiastic.  Selling just ain’t my forte.  I loved the pizza!  I have lived here most of my life and this was the first time I recall going to LaCasa.  Very good pizza and the people were nice.  Bob and I sat outside with Peppi and the airplane.  

It really was great.  Maybe we’ll get out there for another square slice of glory in the near future.

October 7, 2017
As the bike crank turns, these are the days of our lives.  Here is some drama that involves my drive train.  What is wrong in this photo?

  1. The chain doesn’t really mesh with the chain ring anymore.
  2. Something else.

If you chose a, you may be right.  But if you chose b, you may be crazy.  But it just may be a new chain ring I’m looking for!  Oh and also a new chain and a new sprocket and I’m also going to put a new chain tensioner on the Bastard.  The first few chain links aren't settling onto the ol' chain ring they way the used ta do, sigh...  It makes for some noisy pedaling and just don't feel right (sob!).      

So there’s something else I should be doing instead of typing to you about my hopes, fears, and dreams.  Well at least I ordered my parts.  Niagara cycling, if anyone needs a 38-T 130 mm chainring, which seem less common than they used to be.

It’s been a bit soggy around here lately.  Here is a poor fellow that just wanted to get away from the sogginess.  Instead he was crushed and ignominiously transported with me to my place of work at the hookah bar and grill.

In more serious news, at least two pedestrians have recently been struck and killed by motorists here in Omaha within the past month or so.  Also a bicyclist was killed when he was hit from behind in Lincoln.  These are reasons it might behoove me and/or other bicyclers/pedestrians to consider relocating to a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly area such as Amsterdam or, possibly, Portland, OR or ME.  Unfortunately I have few no skills that are marketable outside my locality.  I also have a severe lack of ambition when it comes to relocating.  I would, however, like to encourage motorists to pay close attention to their surroundings.  One way to do this would be to provide more serious penalties for these types of offenses.  They need to be kept out of the driver’s seat and off the streets.  Preferably forever.  If that is not feasible, at least until self-driving vehicles are effective and reasonably priced.     

Here was a sad story about a bicyclist who was struck by a vehicle from behind and then sued.  She started a website to offer advice and help to other bicyclists who find themselves in similar situations, or to help them prepare for that unfortunate possibility.   

In less depressing news, my wrists have sprung back into pretty good shape after their recent hardships, as noted in excruciating detail here.  Yes, I got back on the Chariot of Yellow Glory, got aero, and rolled speedily about my business on one of the few recent unsoggy days.  I also noticed that there is much less strain on my wrists if I pull on my bars when doing some standing climbing, rather than pushing (as is my wont when propelling the Bastard).

So there you have it - a social ride, a mechanical observation (of sorts), an appeal to our elected officials and appointed lawmakers and judges and the like, and a tip on technique.  I know all of you bicyclers are eating this stuff up like a Clif bar.  Don’t worry.  There’s more where that came from.  Just let me reach into my sweaty jersey pocket, right next to that dead worm…

Yours truly, 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mushy headed

September 12, 2017
I have a cold, so please don’t get too close.  Having a cold sucks, but it also gives me some time to plead sickness and retreat from my usual familial responsibilities.  For example, I managed to use some rudimentary computer skills to create this image of a bicycler with a mushroom and/or mushroom cloud hat/head.  

I call it “Mushed.”
As we all know, bicycles are the best.  But sometimes it’s nice to do other things too.  Like paddle around in an inflatable kayak for example.  I took Snot Jr. aboard and paddled around Zorinsky Lake this past weekend.  We saw many humans out enjoying some bicycling or running.  Also a few fellow kayakers.  
photo credit:  Snot Jr. 
We even saw this reptile basking upon a rock. 

It has recently gotten cooler outside, which feels pretty great.  I have felt faster, stronger, with more endurance and less sweat.  This would be a good time to do some kind of epic bicycling.  Hmmm.  Let’s see what others might be up to…
Ah ha!  Here's an example of what someone can do when they are actually using their time for productive purposes!  It's a webpage dedicated to bicycling in Omaha, featuring a link to a new 2017 interactive bike map!  The bike map seems well thought out and useful.  It also appears that the League of American Bicyclists has bestowed upon Omaha a bronze rating in their Bicycle Friendly Community program.
And here is a webpage I've not visited before that has a lot of great ride information.
So there you have it.  Now I'll get back to lying around, resting, listening to soothing music, and drinking plenty of tea during my sick day.  Hope you feel better soon!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Get a Grip on Your Galactic Mule

August 22, 2017
Dear Fellow Thespians,
Greetings from the midwestern stage.  Here the mushrooms have taken center stage as evidenced by these photos I snapped this eve.

Old Bastard for scale

But I and many others did not need our powerful fungal allies to wage a war upon the day to day grind as we bravely set out some mobile lawn furniture, drank some beers, and watched a glowing ball of some sort being batted around near the stage most nobly occupied by Galactic and Gov’t Mule last Friday (8/18/17) at Sumtur Amphitheater.  
This show was the best show I have witnessed, possibly EVER!  Galactic knows how to keep a funky, flowing groove.  They also find some great musicians to tour with.  This tour featured Shamarr Allen on some kind of electronically enhanced cornet a Blackhawk pocket trumpet and the lovely Erica Falls on vocals.  Warren Haynes of G Mule was personable and low key, with evocative vocals and fiery solo-power.  G M played some refreshingly straight ahead power rock, but also included a Bob Marley cover (Lively Up Yourself) mixed and or mashed up with some other rock groove instrumental.  Other memorable numbers from Mule included Rocking Horse, Painted Silver Light, Mule, and the Allman’s Soulshine,  Although Badly Drawn Boy and/or Regina Spektor remains my favorite artist on recordings, Mule is now my favorite live show.  I don’t really consider myself a fan of jam bands, but Mule didn’t overjam things up and they always rocked.  I think the fact that there were only 4 of them helped.
Before this show, I wasn’t very familiar with either band.  I had only heard them due to the fantastic 1998 H.O.R.D.E. CD I may have previously mentioned. 
I also recently saw one Stephen Earle play at an indoor venue.  The sound was subpar and too loud for this too old guy and I didn't really like the set list, grouch, grump, etc.  I may try to focus my concert going energy to the outdoor variety from this time forth.
I also made it down to Indian Cave State Park where I saw a few bicyclers and most parts, with the minor exception of the cloud-obscured totality, of a solar eclipse.  
Now that I am back in civilization, I am happily screen-gazing and typing away.  Have I mentioned anything about bikes yet?  No!?  While let me fix that!
My wrists have been sore lately.  Not since high school have I felt this ache.  After doing some deep visual thinking, I self-diagnosed myself with improper bicycle handlebar angle gripping on my new WYR.  I had it too erect for too long.  Why didn't you tell me!?  
Wasn't it obvious?

So I drank a nice glass of wine, lowered my angle to one that is compatible with the natural position of a straight and stable hand/wrist position, and popped a few glucosomine-condroiton pills to relax and restore my wrists to their natural supple spryness.  Ahhhhhhh.
Tomorrow is the exciting membership drive event for ModeShift Omaha!  
I heard that the Corporate Cycling Challenge was as awesome as usual.
So let’s all keep those wrists loose and ride into the beautiful, sun-adorned future!
Hold on loosely, but don’t let go!

Warmest handshakes and hearty regards from your true BSO.

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)!