The dogs in the cart attached to the bike are waiting outside the St. Louis Park Trader Joe’s. Met the interesting Terry bike owner after admiring doggies. She may or may not send me details about her ride around Lake Superior so I have sketchy story about an 1100 mile ride and some time spent in Thunder Bay. So if I hear back from her I’ll make detailed post. But, why I write is to rave about better feed, food, grub, dinner, nutrition, and whatever since Trader Joe’s has become my go to store. Fergetabout my Costco rebates and Rainbow gas miles and the carpeted isles at Byerly’s. TJ’s is a grocery bag or less 3 or 4 times a week. I posted pictures of the contents from one such trip. Now with a full house for the past week, we have shopped exclusively for fruits, vegetables, cereals, dried fruit and nuts, chips and salsa, crackers and bruschetta, milk and eggs, Italian bread and red sauce. These staples are high quality, very tasty and a better price than sale items at these other stores. Banana’s 5 for a dollar! Like when you go into Joe’s you don’t get into a buying frenzy like Costco. Nor do you over consume because Joe’s packages are never “family” size. I still go to the chains in town once or so a week to buy our meats, always on sale, and ice cream, can’t live without. Let’s face it to keep the house well stocked and not break the bank we are shopping around 4 days a week as we did this week. Why buy more? It’s great to live in this city were at times much is taken for granted. Then we realize how fortunate to be wherever we are as we are already there.
Oh, about the dogs in front of Trader Joe’s and what was it? Yeah, you meet more people when on a bike and especially at Joe’s. Sometimes too, friendly dogs and a story. Did you know in Liberia in the Mandinga tribe that Donzo means Hunter? So don’t let the broken English persuade you that it means all done or finished. That bit of lore coming straight from Donzo the Liberian clerk at Joe’s
The Bull Horn sees the light of day during late Winter in Minneapolis. Although a body has to stretch and very few of us are limber enough to ride this style, the Uptown Downtown messenger biz/look has a devout following of lanky riders. Are we not what we ride?
It’s springtime, with that a fresh start on the biking season. Are you ready for a change or upgrade on your LOOK. Has the winter added a little more spread and not as lanky as last year? Check out your ride ASAP. Air up and get out today. Enough now. Stick it to the man as HR would say.
How is it that during the past decade false energy markets continue unabated? The core of the matter is government energy policy which hypes unsustainable renewable energy schemes. Government mandated ethanol hands out billions of dollars in subsidies to such a false energy market. While the ethanol business went bust in 2008, the food commodity corn price increased negatively affecting global populations. Ethanol decreases mpg and increases gasoline consumption, but government energy policy has increase the mandate to 15% blend.
Should we care that energy policy is a prop for oil consumption and single occupancy automobile use? I think yes and no. Awakening to an awareness of our own consumption of energy is a start. Remember, we are consumers that generally believe we share energy as long as we have our share. But, lets face it the race is to capture energy. Powerful China for better than two decades has fueled their standards of living and the rest of us with cheap energy, cheap labor and rapid industrialization. Worldwide energy capture is less about the American dream imploding than to fuel world trade in emerging societies. As standards rise in those cultures the standards decline in ours. The positive aspect in our time is that we feel something for humanity in gratitude or guilt or empathy or anger. The choice is always ours.
What do we get by capturing energy and what is the exchange? Government subsidies for hybrid and electric automobiles? Cheap imported automobiles from China? Will the worldwide demand for oil create a second class America that leaves us stranded? Are we obliged to police the world so we continue to capture our share? What price is too high, after all we are a country of 300 million people hungry for oil?
Capturing energy is as simple as a swipe of the credit card. The exchange is fairly simple, our work days are spent paying for unfettered mobility. As technology changes the clean electric car has become a promised reality. In a few years inexpensive Chinese auto imports are due to flood the shaky American auto market. Our reliance for good government and fair priced imported goods is no more than blind trust. Not seeing what hit us will make us second class citizens unless we are personally accountable for our individual energy use.
Only one percent of Americans ride a bike for transportation and those are the people I’m reaching out to. The other 99 percent are who the one percent need to reach. Our energy, the environment and economic situations are based on exchange and for us to give back by using less is the gift we give to our children. Feed your car less and ride your bike more.
Deconstructing bicycle shop showroom floors from visits I made yesterday to the Angry Catfish, the Hub off of Lake St. and Calhoun Cycle in Minneapolis. On my visit to the Catfish I encountered a modern coffee shop atmosphere upon entering. The laid back scene is spacious and comfortable but divorced from the showroom. That is a good thing for the customer who comes in to get a cup and is busy doing busy stuff that you do in a coffee shop. I busied myself with the latest issue of Urban Velo and coffee then I wandered back to check out the bikes. This was third visit to in the past eight months. I was surprised to see quite a few of the same bicycles I saw on those earlier visits. The three dozen bikes on display had the sort of sameness or tiredness you would associate with wallflowers. I don’t know why a shop person didn’t come over and ask me if they could answer any questions. Maybe they sense tire kickers and know when someone has brought their wallet with them. Many nice bikes that I would use if I needed a replacement bike which I don’t. I lean towards steel frames that are fast and flexible. On display were Surly and Raleigh standards that appeal to males who want a sturdy commuting experience. Prices were not on all the merchandise though. There was a Colnolgo frame set hanging off a display with a Speedhound frame set. Both orange. Eye catching. Money I don’t have. But who does anymore? I wandered over to the Electra bikes. I want to try one in the Spring. What will the feel be when I straddle an Electra with those wide bars and geometry? I haven’t seen anyone riding one yet. Are these selling? Well, after a long as heck winter, the Angry Catfish is like every shop. They are ready for people to start thinking bikes again to get the cash flow flowing. So on my way and out the door for a snap ride to the Hub.
The streets were mostly dry today. The Masi is my ride and I can tell you I am loving it. The bike is light, it weighs about 21 pounds. Reynolds 853 and Reynolds Carbon Fork. The REV 2 handlebar cuts every hill in half. The Campy shifter is taking some getting used to hand positioning but is so smooth. Thanks to the great deal I got at Re-Cycle, $20.00 for a vintage component is a steal. After a headwind I arrive at the Hub. There is a mural that is going up in sections. It has that Russian worker look to it. Photo op next time I’ve over that way.
Enter the Hub. On my left is the cashier check out. A guy and a chick. The chick says hi and before she can say anything else I tell them I’m just looking. There is a sale going on. Nice three speed Jamis for $269. Lots going on with this bike as a sturdy first bike if that is fun and dependable. Everything is on sale. It looks like the Hub wants to move some inventory. Hard to tell if these are bikes from last year. Good variety of bikes for racing, MTB and transportation. Prices were visible on all bikes and the bikes overhead are spaced far enough apart to identify type of bike.
I was treated equally well at both shops by sales methods that are hands off. If this works for a shop I am afraid to ask. When I go into a shop and see employees engaging customers with a sort of buzz then I feel compelled to dig deeper into products on display or items that I don’t see. How many times have you walked into a place and you are treated like you are invisible? Bundling back up for the ride home I decided to drop in at Calhoun Cycle in Uptown. Calhoun might be the most focused shop in my area. They have their niche. A mix of recumbents, folders and commuter style bikes with swept bars or drops. Displays are easy to access and the three employees were busy with customers inside and outside the store. I looked around and saw they did not have a single track trailer but other styles. I asked about the item and was told they could order one for me. My previous experience with Calhoun is they are low pressure but get to the point readily to see how they can help. Engaging a customer even when they are just looking might make your place of business inviting for those people like myself that have a back story to biking.
Each one of these shops has appeal for bikers, the deals right now are at the Hub. The Catfish is great for gathering and getting that special bike, and Calhoun can’t be beat for personalized service and gear that is hard to get.
We have to brighten up the day somehow in March now that winter has lost it’s traction. Those long days are coming fast as daylight savings is 9 days from now. So looking at the super snow and ice melt reality to come; I want to switch into high gear and soak up the longer evenings. What does this picture have to do with any of this, it’s not Minneapolis, but New Orleans. I think capturing the moment of our passage through a place, a season is closets to our human nature if that time spent is at a human pace unencumbered. Walking or riding time exercises our 5 senses, but also may increase our sixth sense, or intuition, by moving and doing, so that later in life we won’t have disappointed ourselves in these formative years, What better location than where you live to start biking. Your life is the beginning of a Charming and Great Location.
Last week -10 below F This week 40’s F. The challenge we are facing regardless of the weather are road conditions. Frankly, Minneapolis has the worse street conditions of anyplace I’ve lived. Literally cars are breaking from foot deep pot holes. I replaced a set of broken springs last month. Now I play whack the pot hole as I dream about breaking something else. Leaving the car behind just got a whole lot easier.
I want to thank the Mayor for not addressing this problem. I’ll thank him next time at the polls on election day.
Hey, how about the Non-violent middle east. All these years we’ve been told this is a cauldron ready to explode and bringing on WWIII. Did we get our information wrong? Where was WikiLeaks on this?
So much for trusting those in the know. Do just the opposite of what you know. It worked for George Kastanza.
Upside down and backwards is looking better the more we look at it. If you haven’t given the Rev 2 handlebar a shot on one of your loaner bikes then you’re missing out on a new pleasure in biking. May be the only pleasure when Spring comes.
The roads will be barely passable and drivers are thinking, get out of my way, bumping from one pot hole to the next. Maybe we should protest for medical pot hole relief in solidarity with our middle east brothers and Wisconsin state employees. Or get real about how fast the headlines fade in our mind. Can we protest our own behavior and not call it guilt?
Crusty and dirty but very functional transportation. This rider was one of hundreds that turned out for the 2011 City of Lakes Loppet events last weekend. The weather was above freezing then. Since Monday we have been -10 each morning after mid-night. Brrrr. This weather does not stop many outdoors people. Dogs get walked, runners get stretched and bicyclist roll right along. The momentum starts with dressing for the weather, mentally warming to the idea that you are getting outdoors and then pushing on through the door to the other side. Pretty complicated stuff when taking into account will power. If we had to wait for an above freezing temperature to go outdoors, that would have been a long wait. It was 5 weeks in a row below 32 degrees since December 30th. Yeah, plenty of indoor home gyms and gym rats keeping in shape but for the rest of us embracing the outdoors is more freeing and healthier.”One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things” –Henry Miller
What is the big deal with riding in the winter? Clothing should be a no brainer. It is cold outside so figure out what keeps you warm before you strike off on a ride. Don’t know where to start, then look closely at the type of apparel you already own. There may be ‘cross over ‘ gear that you can use for biking activities. Still don’t know what to wear? Most people will tell you to layer your clothing. I’ll tell you to put a hat on and your layers on at least five minutes before you leave the house or office so that you bring your temperature up to toasty so that you start out warm when you hit the street. If you are still reluctant to extend your biking season then try taking a walk for seven days in a row to acclimate yourself to your winter environment. While winter biking is just one of many daily motions, outdoor walking and running complement bicycling. I emphasis outdoor since the effect is to get out of the house and office as much as possible in the winter. So don’t make excuses for your winter fat and how you are a couch potato. One more day of cold weather biking is one less day of winter!
Even with a short warm up the snow takes on a life of its own. To appreciate the nature of snow, is to know nature a little better. Snow sliding from table top glacial latent image now lost into the white earth.
Harper’s Magazine January / 2011 poem by Adam Zagajewski excerpt from ‘If I were Tomaz Salamun”
If I were Tomaz Salamun,
I’d ride wild on an invisible bicycle,
like a metaphor sprung from a poem’s cage,
still not certain of its freedom,
but making do with movement, wind and sun