Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2013 Dave's BrewFarm OverNight Details

Hey Everyone!

It's almost time for the most magical weekend of the summer: Dave's BrewFarm OverNight.

Pam "Lady BrewFarmer" has put together all the information you need to get started. You can download it HERE.

We hope you can make it!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Not All Pugsleys Are Created Equal: Whitey Vs. Mr. Black

For three years I had a white stock Pugsley. Let's call him Whitey:
I liked that bike a lot and rode it all over, all year 'round. It was comfortable and stable and matched quite well with my slow style of riding. I enjoyed the crazy feeling that I could go anywhere and that it popped wheelies like a boss.

What I didn't like I didn't really know until Mr. Black made the scene:

Mr. Black is Whitey's replacement. You see, Surly has had a run of Whitey's on crack. That is to say: the frame is prone to cracking where the seat stays join the seat tube. Mine had two such cracks to which my local bike shop guy, Jim Thill, responded "What color frame do you want?" 

And so begins a tale of upgrading that is familiar to anyone who has ever owned a bike.

My first thought was, "I would like black please. As inky and light-sucking as you can get. Oh, and see if they will replace my offset fork with a symmetrical one."

The response was a good one. Surly's excellent customer service people got me a Necromancer frame (subtle gray decals and all) and Moonlander fork at no charge. UPGRADE!

Of course, no bike upgrade ever happens in a vacuum. It was simply not possible to leave well enough alone only the fork and frame, I needed a new front wheel.  Jim sensibly suggested the Surly Clown Show rim. At 100mm wide, it represented a substantial UPGRADE! from the stock 65mm rims, as anemic and skinny a rim as ever made, by comparison.

Here is a standard Larry tire on a stock rim (left) vs. a Big Fat Larry tire on the Clown Shoe (right):
Photo: Jim Thill, Hiawatha Cyclery

Tell me who wouldn't want that kind of girth?

Although it's not in stock yet, a new rear wheel is in the works, too.

A Rolling Daryl rim, at 80mm wide, is not as girthy as the sublime Clown Shoe, but it's going to put a lot more rubber on the road than the current skinny rims. I'm looking forward to riding this when it comes in.  UPGRADE! 

While I was thinking of wheels, it seemed as if my mechanical disc brakes were not working as well as they had. "What do you recommend, Jim?" Hydraulic discs are nice, so UPGRADE!

They are Avid Code R, for those who geek out about such things, and they are excellent.

The old rear tire was worn out. Answer? A Surly Nate that Jim had kicking around. UPGRADE!

So after all of these upgrades, what's the big deal? 

It's like this: the old bike was great and I enjoyed it, but as I mentioned, I didn't know what it didn't do well until Mr. Black made the scene.

Mr. Black floats on the wider wheels. In place where I used to have trouble corning, the new set up provides stable, sure footing. Nate tires have traction for DAYS, the only limit being my puny leg muscles and having the forethought to stick the bike in the right gear. With the worn-out Endomorph tires I could count on wheelspin in the snow to give me an extra second to jam it into the right gear. Those days are gone as the Nate's just grab hold of the ground in a deathgrip and don't let go. Wrong gear? Not Nate's problem.

Mr. Black stops better, with better control and less gritty cable-y feedback. Less squealing, too.

But here's the biggest payoff of all: the symmetrical fork on Mr. Black makes riding narrow tracks—a very common task in the winter—much, much easier. Just today I was riding in an icy wheel track exactly one truck tire wide. Maybe twice as wide as my front tire, but I doubt it. Tight single track. Ice. No room for the shakes, man.

I only heaved out of the track one time in about a mile. Once. With the old set up I would have been walking. The snow was too deep to ride outside of the track and the old setup was too squirrelly to stay inside the track. I know, I tried it a week ago, same place. 

I'm glad I owned Whitey. He was a good bike. But Mr. Black? He's dynamite.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bikes Don't Pay Taxes For Roads!

I had an interesting exchange with a friend of mine this past weekend, who wondered why it was legal for bikes to ride on the road when they don't pay their fair share of taxes. I was brought up short and said "gas and road taxes do not pay for the entire cost of roads." To which he responded "they pay more than bikes do!"

I was not able to formulate an informed response. His point seemed to be that because bikes don't contribute directly to the upkeep and construction of roads, they should not legally be allowed to use them. At the most basic level, this makes sense. But it seemed like I should be able to refute it somehow. . .

This helps.

It turns out that the percentage of road costs covered by car, road and gas taxes (let's call them "user taxes") has dropped over the years. Now "non-users" pay about 50% of the cost of roads. That's to say, property taxes, municipal bonds and other revenue sources pay as much of the cost of roads as gas or user taxes do. So the question becomes "if cars only pay half of the cost of roads, why do drivers demand 100% of the use?"

In fact, if we weren't building so many car-bearing roads, we could get by for a lot less money overall. Car infrastructure is expensive as hell. Streets wide enough and strong enough to support cars are much more expensive to make and maintain than bike trails. So in a way the high cost of roads is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Cars make roads MORE expensive, not less, because without cars (and the subsequent need to accommodate them side-by-side and to park them) we could get by on the cheap in many areas.

Another common frustration for motorists is when a bicycle is on the roadway even when a trail runs alongside it. The thought is that the bike should be on the trail to free up the road for "traffic". I can think of a lot of reasons why this is not always the best choice for the cyclist. Many trails are rough and hard to ride or have a posted 10MPH speed limit or are clogged with pedestrians and dog-walkers and runners and baby stroller-wielding walkers, all of whom are potentially hazardous. My wife has crashed hard when a flexi-leashed dog ran out in front of her bike. The woman walking the dog had no idea what was going on and could not hear because of her earphones. The truth is, bike trails are really multi-use trails and everyone assumes that the other users will yield right-of-way. When the trails are crowded, the streets are the safest, most expedient option.

All of this said, I started the conversation by noting how courteous Minneapolis drivers had been during the summer. It seems like my motorist neighbors are more accepting and understanding of bicyclists all the time. I've only been honked at once all summer, which is a significant reduction from prior years. We still have a ways to go until everyone believes, as I do, that it is not only possible for cars and bikes to share the road, but that we can do so without stress or confusion or conflict.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Save the Date: 2012 Winter Pedal Pub Crawl, January 29, 2012

More details forthcoming, but for the one and a half people that still read this thing, consider yourself forewarned!

We'll be doing a Minneapolis version of it again this year as we have more places to visit than in St. Paul. Maybe even a brewery visit? It could happen.

Stay tuned. . .

January 29, 2012. Starting at noon, somewhere. Ending later, someplace else.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

3rd Annual Winter Bicycle Pub Crawl Sunday, January 30

The time draws near!

Show Jack Frost that you won't lie down!

Join us at the Bulldog NE (401 East Hennepin) at noon for the premiere winter bicycle pub crawl in Minneapolis. Maybe even the only one.

We will hit five destinations from NE Minnneapolis to South. Food and drink specials, door prizes, lots of laughs and I can almost guarantee that you will enjoy yourself. Unless you are joyvoidant.

No registration needed, no charge to ride along, no way you should miss this.

Stops include: Bulldog NE > Tilia (if they are open) > King's Wine Bar > Bryant Lake Bowl > The Aster Cafe (where the end party includes tacos, music and beer specials!)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Bike Alert

Big news in Lanville.

I gots me a Surly Pugsley.

It's white with mud and road dirt highlights. It's mostly stock but I had Mongo add twist grip shifters (which completely transformed it for the better) a rack and, as you can see, a frame pack.

My physical condition has not allowed me to thrash it as much as it deserves, but if slow and unsteady wins any races, I'm a winner.

I find it remarkably comfortable and have done a couple of 25 mile days on it. So far it's not drawn blood, but I'm sure it's plotting my downfall even as we speak. The false sense of security that it engenders will surely be my undoing at some point, but for now I'm enjoying life on the hairy edge.

Perhaps the biggest transformation is that it allows, encourages and requires that you look at your environment differently than while riding "normal" bikes. Limitations on where you can ride, or when, are largely gone. Railbeds, narrow trails, big rocks, little rocks, snow, ruts, dirt track or gravel are all fair game.

For sure it's a fun winter bike, but I suspect that my Pugsley and me will have a year-round relationship.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Big Canoe, Small Bike

I wish we had better footage, but you get the idea.

This worked remarkably well, by the way.

Thanks to my friend Eric for loaning me the Brompton. It's being used and loved, as you can see.