Friday, December 22, 2017

Canfield's of Nostalgic Dreams

December 22, 2017
Just as Cinderella pointed out to me back in junior high, sometimes you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.  This is how I assume many people feel after a locally beloved business/institution closes.  The place that we are now losing here in Omaha is Canfield’s.  When I was a kid I seem to recall it was somewhere downtown.  Dad took us there a few times before we went up to Canada to fish one summer.  We got some fishing supplies and several ponchos.  I was fascinated by the military surplus supplies, which evoked the excitement of my little plastic army men, but scaled up to grown-up size.  Before going up to the great northwest to work in the salmon industry I stopped in to purchase a surplus of supplies, including a synthetic fill sleeping bag and a big army stuff sack to fill with my many camping and cooking supplies.  I had to accept help from a passerby in Seattle to get the thing hoisted up onto my shoulders to walk down to the bus stop to get to the processing boat.  I still have many of those supplies, including a hand ax that I have never used to chop anything.  Climbing shoes, work boots, work pants, an R2D2 fishing rod for Snot Jr.  I wasn’t there a lot, but it was nice to know that they were always there when I needed them.  Usually when I was leaving town.
The last time I was there I glanced around and realized they’d cut down on their floorspace.  The work clothes and army surplus supplies seemed to have been nearly, if not completely, absent.  There was a bicycle department.  Quite a few full-suspension Yetis (are there any other kinds?) and a few road bikes, mostly Specialized, I think.  Not really my thing.  It seemed to have lost most of its uniqueness.  I could get everything they had at other, bigger shops with more to choose from.  They did automatically price match my work boots, which cut the price by $50 - now what kind of way to do business is that!?  Well, the big chain shops have been here in town for quite a while.  Cabela’s/Bass Pro, Duluth Trading Co., and Scheel’s were just down the street.  Not to mention Campmor and Backcountry reaching their ghostly hand into the pockets of outdoor supply purchasers.  Their corner on the market had become a small corner of the market and, apparently, become too small to be profitable.  
So thanks for the memories and for sparking my imagination and wanderlust. As a friend of mine once said about living in Omaha - it’s kind of an intellectually inclined place because there’s nothing else to do here so people sit around and read a lot.  It was also nice to wander around Canfield’s and picture yourself out adventuring someplace else with mountains, lakes, and/or rivers.  

So if you need a few more Christmas gifts, you might want to stop by Canfield’s for some nostalgia and/or great deals on outdoor supplies (including full-suspension Yetis and Specialized road bikes).  

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What are you looking for?

December 6, 2017
Chilly Salutations from the cold heartland,
How is the start of this holiday season treating you?  Great/shit!  Wow!  Same here!  I’d love to hear more about that.  Here are a couple things I’d like to relate to you.
  1. I noticed that I had some frozen snot on my still fairly new MEC Mica pants.  I guess that snot rocket misfired.  But such is the fate of many exploratory missions.  
  2. I lost my wallet (pronounced wall-AY,  kind of Fonzee, kind of Wall-E) because I didn’t zip my pannier lid!  When will I learn to zip my damn panniers!?   
Allow me to expound upon these items.
  1. Snot is sticky.  People can be sticky too.  Or slick like Teflon.  Which are you?  I hear you.  Let’s stick with that.  Right!?
  2. Aren’t we all looking for something?  Maybe something to eat?  Something to drink?  Someone to love?  Some sleep?  Well, I felt a bit sticky sheepish as I looked for my wallet.  This isn’t the first time I’ve lost my wallet by leaving my pannier lid unzipped.  Maybe I should just put my wallet in the main compartment of the pannier where it is virtually impossible to lose.  But then what would I do if I stopped at the grocery store and the wallet was in a hard-to-reach location underneath my lunch containers in the pannier?!  What!?  Dig!  That is what I would do.  I can dig for it, if need be.  But we all want convenience.  Well, let’s see if I learned my lesson.  I’ll get you an update one of these days.  Anyway, while searching for my lost wallet, I resolved to either reward the finder of my wallet (if returned) with all the money in my wallet - $41.  Or, if I found it myself, I vowed to give $20 to the next person I encountered who was in need.  I decided that would include a Salvation Army bell ringer.  I thought about the human situation.  About how sometimes we feel so slick, together, and aloof, and how the next moment we feel foolish and needy.  Well I felt blessed to be happily reunited with my money and identification.  Here is where I found my sweet wallet.  Great to see you again!

Here are some photos I wasn’t really looking for, but I just happened to accidentally encounter.  Maybe I’ll use them when I try to sell my Big Shot Wear Yellow Ride bike - it just doesn’t fit me very well.
Ben Watts girls on bikes shoot -
Although I don't want to overthink the presence of these lovely ladies with these bicycles, I kind of wonder how they really feel about them.  I mean, I like bikes and would be glad to pose in a similar manner, but I couldn't get sexy with it.  I did come up with a few jingles a while back.  Maybe I'll share them with you later.  Whether you're looking for jingles or not!

Warm and non-sexy regards,

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Deking Out!

November 11, 2017
Do you ever feel like you would like to take a break from all the hustle and bustle that is frequently a part of modern life?  The news can be depressing.  Your workplace unrewarding.  Your family alternating between demanding and stand-offish.  I know!  Me too!  Well luckily we have bikes and space.  For most of us, going to space is unlikely.  However, we can dream about it and watch plenty of movies about it.  Bicycling, on the other hand, is a get-away that many of us are able to enjoy.  But, unfortunately, it is difficult to enjoy both of these awesome things at the same time.  No, I don't think riding on a Surly Moonlander counts.  Fortunately, and unbeknownst to many of us, we also have the Deke Slayton Bike and Space Museum in Sparta, Wisconsin (the Bicycling Capital of America)!  Mrs. Snot planned our last family vacation, but was kind enough to include a stop at the DSB&SM on our trip.  Although our visit was several months ago, I have somehow not yet taken the time to document the glories we experienced at this bicycle and space lover’s paradise.  Here are a few of the items most entranced me. 

A folding Huffy!?  Yes!  It's the 3-speed Touriste!  And one of at least two John Deere bikes on display.

Rural highways always have room for another JD!
Here's something to aspire to someday.  2 things, really - riding a penny farthing and bicycling into my 80s!

Behold the Pegasus!  It may have had a rocket booster and a soda dispenser!
Add caption
There was also an ice bicycle with outriggers and a mountain bicycle ridden by a Wisconsinian in the Iditasport.

Friday, November 10, 2017

All lit up again

November  10, 2017
Hola guachos y chinas,
Blessings to you from the heart of USland.  Let us ride with gallantry and pageant.  
We here in the midwest are now thrown off the hot shackles of daylight savings time.  My lights have been at full blaze for the past month or so.  I currently enjoy deploying the following set of lights at all times or more:
  1. NiteRider MiNewt 750- good headlight.  I always keep mine attached to my helmet.  Cord may not hold up to yo-yoing with the light.  Shocking, right?  Nite Rider fixed it up for $50.  Good customer service.  
  2. Bontrager FLare R - rechargeable rear tailight and very reliable so far.  Will see how it takes winter conditions.
  3. Planet Bike Beamer 3 LED - gift from my father in law.  Good up-front beam to help me stay visible.  Good enough to function as a headlight if you aren't in a hurry or if you're on familiar terrain. 

I also frequently activate this little fella that I’ve got strapped to the back of my helm:  

As I was recently coasting down the neighborhood hill I startled a pedestrian who jumped back when she espied my illumination.  As I braked to a more conversational pace she declared, “You scared the daylights out of me!”  Well bike lights will do that to a person, I reckon!  I sometimes have a mild sense of nervousness when I consider the silent menace we call the hybrid vehicle - they might sneak up behind me without any audible forewarning!  Aaaaccckkkk!

Here is the one fellow cyclist I occasionally encounter, typically at Chatty Corner, on my way to and from the grain silo at which I am employed:

Butt serious; however, let’s get lit!  Snot Jr. went to sleep before 11 tonight, so I am getting crazy and drinking a Belgian style ale and typing!   Whew-ha!  

Not much out of the usual happening here.  How about you?  Well, I don’t really know what to say about that.   Will you please send me a written explanation with or without a graphical representation of your feelings?

I have been treating my wrist discomfort with the usual gluc(osamine) and chondroitin. 

We Nebrascyclers have got some work to do, if the League of American Bicyclists rating system is worth its weight in chamois butter.  We are woefully unfriendly towards bicyclists here  in the C-huskerplex.  We came in 50th out of 50.  And this with a governor who is an avid cyclist!?  Oh the shame!  I feel like it is all everyone else’s fault!  I am moderately active!  I ride hither AND thither on my 2-wheeled companion I like to call the Bastard.  Or B for short.  What more do you ask of me LoAB!?  Do you want me to quit my day job and devote myself full time to bicycling and/or bicycle advocacy?  Speak to me great LoAB!  I am your vassal!  Let these motorists be freed from their plastic and metal enclosures to experience the great freedom of skinnier and fewer tyres!  Well, maybe I can find some great goal/mission to liberate the box-enclosed masses from their self-imposed, somewhat comfortable traveling prisons.  

Well, I went out to the movies last night and saw Le Ride, directed by and starring one of my good bicycling buddies - Phil Keoghan.  He came by one time for a bike ride with me and a few  other close friends (he was riding across the US to raise money for fighting MS).  Le Ride is a film about PK’s epic bicycling adventure with another of his good bicycling buddies named Ben.  I think he might have asked me to participate too, but his invitation must’ve gotten lost in the mail.  Do you have my current address PK?  It’s 8515 No. Kizmiaz Rd., Phil.  Is that so hard to remember/write down, Phil!?  Anyway, it’s a good thing you didn’t ask me to go because I’m very busy getting ready for my own top-secret epic adventure that I will tell you all about later, whether you want me to or not!  
Anyhow, PK and Ben intrepidly set off to ride the 1928 Tour de France.  As all of his close friends know, Phil is a Kiwi, which means he hails from the island of New Zealand.  In 1928 one Kiwi, Harry Watson, set out to ride in the TdF with 3 Aussies.  I think the press dubbed them the Austrasian team.  There were only 4 vs. the average team size of 10, so they worked very hard and the elder statesman of the team, at the ripe old age of 38, became overly fatigued after several crashes and 200 mile days in the saddle.  He sadly quit and rode in the car.  And he was very sad to sit in a car - just like all us motorists normally are because we are not bicycling!  Right!?  

This film was brought to my/our town by a company called Demand Films, which I trust will continue to bring great movies to me right here.  I demand!  Of course that movie gave me a good excuse to hop in a car to make it over to the movie theater so I wouldn’t have to freeze my Nebrass off bicycling in this chilly fall weather!  Shwew!  
Your puny,

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.