Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Ginger on the Red Giant Stop Whining


Gave serious, serious consideration about riding to the High Trestle after work.  What the fuck, it would add another 80 miles to my day.  No big deal.  But as soon as I stepped outside 6200 park Ave my dreams ended.  Strong wind.  I fought the bastard all the way home.  Face up, go home and think about dinner.  I missed dinner yesterday.

Twasn't that bad of a wind.  I never pulled over to cry and beg for mercy and raise a fist at God and shout "is that the best you can do?".  Just strong enough to make me realise that any significant ride today would be be much longer than I really wanted or was able to do.  Vampire Wind it is.  Slowly sucks the life out of you.  So I slogged forward into it on my home contemplating my next move and then forgot about it.  Shit average speed.  Like I really work on average speed while commuting on a heavy touring bike.

Eventually I made it to the intersection of the trail and Flagg near the football field.  3 cars on both directions.  No big deal.  Patiently wait for them to get out of my way.  I don't think I unclipped.  Being aware that I may have to stopped I slowed down ahead of time and was prepped for track stand practice.

Soon enough it was time to cross.  I made a mental note to remember to downshift before intersections so I can accelerate quickly when crossing.  Forgot to do that this time.  Looking up I see a woman on a red Giant road bike.  Green shirt, not a jersey.  Sunglasses and pale skin.  She looked at my fat ass and said "You think they'd stop for us."  Expression of her impatience for lacking the right away.

Honestly, I have no clue how long she had been there.  Could have been there since 545 am as far as I knew.  But now it was nearing 4 pm and the traffic on Flagg was picking up.  Pre-rush hour.  I am at this intersection 5 days per week.  The only time I thought it sucked was when the Fleur Viaduct was under construction.  Traffic diverted.  The best time to be here is during flood season, assuming, of course, that Water Works and the trail is not deluged.  But that was not the case today.

Here I was bumming about wind and potential rainfall and barely noticing a need to wait a few seconds or 30 for all the cagers to clear out.  Maybe I am used to waiting a minute or less here.  And I certainly was not expecting or demanding that a car stop to let me through.  They have the right of way.  I have a stop sign.  And there have been plenty of times that I have blown through this intersection like a bat out of hell..

I really hate it when cars stop to let me cross.  Most of the time it is the last car out of 4 vehicles.  Kind gesture but I don't need your charity. Just get the fuck out of my way so I can resume with my life.  Instead of wishing that they stop and part the sea for my princess ass I wish that they were not driving in the first place.  Don't need your charity for I am not handicapped and I actually feel sorry for you driving.  But the rule of the road is right of way and when you lack it you either sieze it or wait for it or find a way around it.

I did not say anything to her.  I wondered, however, how bad of a driver she is.  Would this be the person so impatient at a gas station that she floor it to cut someone off and then lose control and ram the gas pumps and cause a fire?  How would she react to the stop lights in the suburbs?  Good grief, you can be a red light for 5 minutes.

But maybe she needed to use the kybo.  Who am I to judge?  Have not ridden a metric in her shoes.  It is just a few cars.  There will be a clearing soon enough on this warm March day.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Bike Lebowski and "I dub thee the Fireball Bridge"



Just a quiet night at home.  Mary and I settled with The Big Lebowski on Netflix.  Netflix is all great at first then like any other rental place or kiosk you gotta drill deeper to find gold.  Mary insisted that had viewed the film before.  I have no memory of it, just images from television commercials pimping it.  But she was willing to watch it with me, God bless her. 

I had just opened a bottle of Rock Rabbit sweet red California wine.  Sweet reds can be such a gamble, some tasting like shit and need to be mixed like the bottle Leeper brought to the Safety Shack back in November.  Others are tasty such as Barefoot's and Jasper Winery's Bedhead Red.  Rock Rabbit was a $3.99 bottle in the clearance booze cart at Windsor Heights Hy Vee.  If it was bad Mary would not finish it and I'd have more.  The bottle said "chill out, chill your glass and change your life."  Heavy words for a $4 bottle of vino.  It tasted more of a cab than a cheap table wine which was alright and Mary approved.



Barely two sips into it and the phone rang.  Brad O.  Normally we just text.  Texting is leisurely.  Texting does not demand one's complete attention.  Phone calls disturb.  Most bad news comes from phone calls.  One does not need to turn the music down to text.


My Giant Via Raw, now stolen

"Dude, what you doing?"
"Enjoying cheap wine and Netflix, what about you?"
"At the High Life.  Your bike is here.  Your stolen bike."
"Is there a scratch on the right fork?"
"Yeah, it's scratched there, just one."

That was alot to take in.  The Giant Via Raw has surfaced!  Purchased on St Patrick's Day and stolen about the anniversary of my father's death.

"I'll be right there."

ALLLLARRRRRRRRRRRMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Profile shot of the thief waltzing in before stealing my bike, fucker.  Hoodie down.

OK, get dressed for being outside after 8pm on a warm March day.  Locate the owner's manual.  It contains the receipt with the serial number of the bike nicely stapled on the inside of the front cover.  I distinctly remember Steve or Justin from Bike World Urbandale telling me that and when the fooker was swiped I remembered it again.  But where the fuck is it?  Supposed to be in the red folder on my dresser.  And where are the police reports and contact info?  Does not matter if I match the serial numbers.  Mary found the folder.  The police info and case number were in it.  Clean the torn up room later.  Looks like a twister hit.

 Bike lock, cellphone, safety vest.  Flasher for the 520.  Leave guns at home, only an asshole dies over a bike.  Hoodies are unarmed, right?  Let the DMPD handle this one as I got all the evidence. 

Heart rate greatly increased.  Out the door.  Back inside and grab the computer for the 520.  What the fuck, these will be important miles.  Off I go. 

Plan?  No plan.  Get there and pray the bike is still there.  Is this a 911 situation or a police non-emergency phone call?  And if it is the latter, are they answering phones this late.  Just get there and if it is my bike lock it up and get cops somehow.  Damn, the non-emergency DMPD number was 3 phones ago.  Crap.

Ride toward Mullets and get on pedestrian bridge.  Mullets is hopping pretty good.  Quin is still at work.  No time to say hello.  Cross the bridge and a zig zag action to cross MLK and take first left.  High Life in sight.  Brad has a table outside on the upper deck area.  He points to the Giant locked alone on a rack. 

The shape is right but the rack is gone.  Easy modification.  Bike World's stolen white Giant has been spotted many times sans the front basket.  Fenders added.  Nice touch.  But the closer I got the more I realized it was not mine.  Too big.  Mine is the small frame.  This one is the medium or the large.  The dead give away was the distance between the top of the bottle cage and the top tube.  Mine had very little room which is why I installed an cage that the bottle enters and exits through the side.  This one had a normal bottle holder.  Yep, same scratch on the fork.  Must be a trait.  I calmed down and my heart sank.  So close.

"All these changes are easy to do."
"It is a different size."
'Yeah, maybe a frame stretcher."
"No, even the tires are original.  Remember when I got that used one from you?"
"I have never seen another one besides yours."
"Neither have I except at the shop."
"Let's get a beer."


The thief riding away on my bike.  Notice the hoodie is up?

We walked back to his table at the High Life.  Ian was there and Clayton too.  A few minutes later Steve, the young Steve, from Bike World arrived on a classic radioactive yellow Trek 830 from the early 90s.  Great frame but sub-mid level components that could always be replaced.  The frame is the soul of a bike.  Robert Prunty has one too.

Damn, I thought, the guy I bought the bike from is here.  And Ian makes a third witness, he has seen the bike before.  Everyone is here, everything in place--witnesses and evidence, but the bike is not.

After a half dozen pitchers and a few shots we decided to leave.  I suggested a bridge.  I had to run home and grab something.  Ian said he'd pick up some beer.  I grabbed some of the extra Busch Lights from the SPERM ride and we all gathered on the green bridge.  Craig L would have been so proud.  I don't remember how long we stayed there.  Ian produced a bottle of Fireball and I knew we'd be there a while.  Eventually Sam A rolled up.  Guys night out.

I went to fetch two BLs from the 520, setting one on the railing and it fell over into the river landing on a sand bar.  Unopened can.  A sacrifice to the river deity.  We laughed.  I could clearly see it on the sand but in the morning when mary and I met Craig there it was missing.  No foot prints.  Vanished.  Maybe a skilled fisherman or an aquatic bird.

We managed to kill the Fireball.  Ian would place a photo of it on FB.  I walked to the 520 and threw a leg over it.  It was late.  I had reached that point.  Getting up at 415 am limits my ability to hang all night.  I just rolled off to home giving the remaining fellas a nod.  Great night to be with you all.  Did not get my bike back but nice to have friends willing to give me a call when something turns up.  We all would be hung over and some of us had to work and those that did not had to be productive or had to train.  Gonna be sorrow try to wake up tomorrow Bowie sang in Diamond Dogs.

I won't bore you with the details of our morning/afternoon ride to Saints in Beaverdale accept to say do not go there if you are absolutely starving.  You may perish.  Our waitress sucked or was overwhelmed.  But when she did come around to take food orders she skipped Craig.  He was in stealth mode, a bright red Hawaiian shirt.  I really was not impressed with the tenderloin I ordered and probably was still hungry when I left.  Brad and Calli, Jennifer and Chad were there as well as Kelly B and LadyG Hoegarden.  Mary and I left before BV Heather and Abby arrived.

Many hours later Mary suggested an evening ride.  My sweet tooth was bothering me so I suggested a DQ or a DQ clone.  Having gone north on the way to Saints once today we decided to ride west to Windsor Heights.  Near Pal Joeys we encountered the usually suspects, our Saints crowd, heading to Mullets.  Craig said we'd meet up.  screw WH there's a DQ across the street from Charlies on Grand.  I had a root beer float.

It was dark when we caught up with Craig under the Fleur Viaduct.  Venus, Jupiter and the moon were lining up.  Under a bridge.  We knew we'd end up on a bridge.  And after LDs (formerly LC's Corner Bar) and Mullets the rampage of bikers met on the green bridge, the sight of the previous night's crime.   Craig purchased an 18 pack of Busch Light, standard beer for bicycling and Jon Cox produced an unopened bottle of Fireball.  The potential coup de grace was Brad's bottle of Jager.  Shit, they keep dragging me back!



Well we killed the Fireball.  Took some time but mission accomplished.  We danced and enjoyed ourselves.  I bet if there is a wedding dance for Brad and Calli it will be the greatest thing ever.  No one got hurt.  The people fishing probably were amused.  We were too short and/or not sober enough to place the empty bottle next to Ian's but we found another place and photos were taken.




The changing color heart shaped thingie of the Miracle Field.

Jon pulled a box of Thin Mints out of is panniers.  He did this once before.  This usually signals the closing of the night.  We ravaged them quickly and started leaving for home or elsewhere.  After most everyone left I convinced the remaining people to accompany me to the Miracle Field so I could photograph the Heart arch colorful thingie.  But it was locked up so I did not get the best shots.  Four of us with the last beers sat on the sidewalk and finished the night here on the river.  Then we parted.  Craig and Abby made it to GTs.  Glad I had an easy ride home.



Ian would see the FB photo the next day and comment, "I dub thee The Fireball Bridge!"

Dance of the FireBall

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Drunken Iowish Day


The dark streets were full of drunks as he walked home.  Some were singing.  Some were alone and staggering, holding the fences of the areaways to stay erect.  None of them were with women.  A hard wind was now blowing off the North river, and he heard a foghorn blowing and some muted Irish music from an unseen place.  The song was called "Never Take the Horseshoe from the Door."  Harrigan and Hart.  Every door in the neighborhood needs a horseshoe, he thought, starting with mine.--Pete Hamill, North River

I have a feeling that St Patrick's Day was another pagan festival that was co opted by the British in the name of Christ Jesus to appease the locals.  Feed them all beer so their heads won't swell.  After all, winter is almost officially over and everything has turned green.  St Patrick was British.  Hamill continues "...the way the British refused to give them power of any kind, except to get drunk and assault their women.  Drunks were no threat to power."  Then again, do they celebrate this on the other side of the pond?  Probably not like we do in Iowa.

Despite this Roman/Basque appearance there is quite a bit of Irish in me.  Why stop there, Dad's mother was a Hungarian of German descent.  Add the Spanish lineage when my ancestors left the Pyrenees and I wound up with a high capacity for alcohol but a extreme allergy for it.  So I feel the need to celebrate this ritual albeit not at the level of Depression era NYC or the stupidity that happens in DSM.  Fights in front of the Locust Tap or getting my name on Current Inmates Polk County, Iowa

The days leading into this holiday were a bit of a roller coaster, extreme ups and downs.  Beautiful weather but ugly realities.  My chef decided to trash her knee and I had to contend with substitutes and then a change in routine.  I found myself with an extra hour to sleep in and a large truck to drive but my commuting miles dropped drastically as the new commute was shorter.  I did discover something called "max a/c" and a radio that did not require AA batteries or the plugging in of an iPod.  I could dress for work and not have to lug around a change of clothing.  And when I got to work the coffee was already brewed.  that is a plus.  I lost 8 miles a day for a week and a half.  No bueno.

Then it got worse.  Although my chef eventually healed and work returned to normal, my sole remaining living grandparent passed away on Thursday.  Big changes in my peaceful life beginning.  The bicycle will remain my fortress of solitude giving me ample time to meditate on the shit storm.  Thursday dwell on the news and make phone calls.  Friday go to Ottumwa and help my mother.  I got the disctinct unpleasure of picking out a casket and burial vault and the other  funeral arrangements that one should never have to make.  Kinda of surreal listening to to the songs I picked out when my grandmother lay in a coffin 6 feet away.  But I got ahead of myself.  Thinking about building a bicycle hearse.  Twin tandems and a Surly Bill trailer or a Quad style arrangement.  One day in Ottumwa and back that night.  Back to Ottumwa on Sunday to stay at my in-laws and bury Granny on Monday.  The fact that my stretch of 100+ miles per week ended did not bother me at all.  It was the least of my troubles.


O Carlo, o no no no.  This is all that remained.

Not long after getting home that evening the phone went off again.  Cigar Bitch wants me over to drink beer, eat grilled meat, smoke cigars and enjoy life.  He called and texted something like 7 times before Mary and arrived, 520 burdened with the large jug of Carlo Rossi sangria and 8 lb of ice.  Jay said that Sam requested wine.  This was beginning to feel like the past few weeks.  They keep dragging me in.  The usual suspects too.  This time we did not stay out til 3 am.  I would be productive on Saturday.  However, it is always good to see old friends especially those that I have spent alot of time with away from the world.  Some of these guys ride bikes.  Jay offered a fifth of BV and some $$ to get his son's bike shifting again.  I should do that but I have a ton of my own to repair.
Cigar Bitch, World's Greatest ISU Fan

But I had plans.  Rather, there were things I needed to do.  House to clean.  Bikes to fix and build.  A broken hitch on the Burley to repair and mountains of cans and bottles to redeem.  Saturday morning was full of promise.  It would actually be a nice day.  Weekends were usually colder than the week days.  Not this one.  Thank you Jesus that I was not hung over.  My illusion of productivity was shattered when the phone rang.

"Hey there Large Penis Man, are you home?" Joe Hildreth salutated across the invisible electronic waves.  He reported that his brother Donny and him were heading my way via Neal Smith Trail and asked if I would like a beer.  Joe lives in Norwalk, Donny south of Cumming.  They were enjoying a nice ride of length and desired an excuse for a break.  We had not seen each other for quite some time.  "Yes I would" I replied.  Mary and Dora were prepping for the parade.  Dora has learned that there are mass quantities of loot to be had while watching parades.  Mullets was on the way.  We had time for a beer.


These people were forced to eat outside at Mullets.

Mullets was packed.  The winter was good for them.  Spring and summer promise to be outstanding.  Who says the economy is dead.  We were lucky and seized a table inside.  One beer turned into 3 or 4 pitchers.  Dora had a Cherry Coke.  Joe and Donny invited us to join them for Tour de Kota  They have room in their vehicle.  Fully supported ride of 464 miles in 6 days.  Chance to use fast bikes.  Only need to carry tire repair equipment, water bottle, camera/phone and cash.  How could we say no??  I have been lamenting my Ragbrai experiences lately.  The bagging out thing does wear a bit thin after a long run of it.  Tour de Kota would fulfill the need for easy speed on bikes that we do not get to enjoy properly.


Eventually we left for the parade.  4th and Locust on the south side of the road.  The crowd was thick and the parade was long.  Stand there and chant for free stuff to be tossed at us.  "BEADS  BEADS GIVE US BEADS!!!!" I waited for what seemed like hours to see the bicycling community in the parade.  Stretch, Craig, Tammy and Joe, Liz and Brad, Amy, and others.  The Quad, Humesy and Sally.  All the dogs were barking.  And other Iowish bikers on parade.  Best of all was the bacon.  Iowa Pork producers or Bacon Cartel had a float and gave out cooked bacon!!  That almost ties Fat Cat Roadhouse on Ragbrai many years ago in strange but good category.







The parade never seemed to end and after the bacon Joe, Donny and I stepped back and looked at each other and almost in unison said "I gots ta pee."  We wandered back to the Beechwood where they thoughtfully placed 3 kybos for the drunken Iowish.  We stayed for a beer and then my phone rang.  Davis.  it was loud.  I don't know what she said.  I heard the word "bridge" and concluded that she was in town and wanted to see me.  But we needed food and when Mary arrived it was decided that we continue south to Capital Dog and Pub.  After all, they gave us free beer tickets during the parade.  I texted Davis about our move.  Hopefully it would be quiet there and I could use the phone as a phone not a texter.


Mary and Davis


Joe talking to a young mother.  Her shirt read "Let's Get Ready to Stumble"

Capital Dog was just as loud as the Beechwood.  There was a band set up and a parade float with a musician on it pimping his show later that night.  This was a kid friendly place as it was packed with children as well as drunkards.  If you wanted to find a MILF on St Paddy's Day this was ground zero.  Hell, I was guilty too, bringing my wife and child.  Davis brought her kid too.

A cool Sting Ray clone at Capital Dog

 We stayed quite sometime.  I felt sorry for Joe and Donny since they had to ride up to 20 more miles than I had to when we split.  But they drug me into this and they will pay for it.  Those Irish looking Buds were $3 per can.  They cleaned our table several times.  Later Craig and Kelly B arrived.  More beer.  I think I ended with a Guinness, after all it was Drunken Iowish Day. 

Dora with our bikes

Eventually we went home.  I took a nap and missed dinner.  I woke up after dark.  Time for round two.  We had to pick up a van from friends.  Living carless only sucks when one needs a vehicle to travel out of town with family for a funeral.  I will not give the name of the people who we borrowed the van from.  they were quite drunk.  I called both of their phones.  No answer and then they called back immediately.  They were at the Japanese pagoda on Robert Ray Dr near the Botanical Center.  We would have to ride home with them.  Off on bikes again.  Safety vests and lights.


36" wheels.  This bike was in a previous video here

The scene at the pagoda left me with the impression that these people were wasted.  I missed a good one during my nap.  The Quad was there inside the building.  Humes red thing was on the trail.  The white bike with 36" wheels was there lit up with blue lights.  I think a shroom bomb may have gone off.  Great photos before a long ride.

There are two ways to our next destination.  We took the dangerous one.  But this route included a QT (smokes) and Gusto Pizza (Scooby snacks).  I would have preferred to take the indirect route by taking the NST and Inter Urban Trail.

But Ingersoll was the direct route.  One person had trouble getting on and keeping the bike upright.  Bags were probably heavy and after filling ones veins up with cement (beer and booze) biking is difficult.  i know the feeling.  The other bike was slow because of design.  At least we were properly lit.  And I was sober and had a job to do.  At one point I told him to stare at Mary's ass as a way to keep him on the bike lane.  That gave me freedom to wait for the other bike and hit the ATM.  We made it to their house and shared some PBRs.  Hip to the end.  I left my bike there and drove the van home.  Interesting to move without effort and to see pairs of bikes with lights and safety vests.  Drunken Iowish Bikers rarely go in stealth mode.

Monday evening I returned the van.  It was fun ride home.  The rain held off til then.  That was a good thing.  I was grateful that we could get through the funeral and burial without a storm.  But the storm waited for me.  20+ mph winds driving the rain into my face like a sandblaster.  Willow Creek lost a bunch of limbs and trees.  PFG Call Center at 6200 Park lost a large tree and that was talk of Tuesday.  More chatter than when the turkey flew into the window and died.  Yeah, is that the best you can do??  Let me absorb it all so that others were spared.  Fair enough.  I wish we could bargain with the weather like that.  Often I ask for that to spare Mary.  I can take it.  After all, I am Iowish.

"I oney hit her one shot, Doc, I swear."
"That's all you needed, Brick.  She's dead."
..."I'll be right back," he said.  "Don't do anything, Brick.  Don't do anything at all."
Brick was still weeping twenty minutes later when two sour, chubby dectectives arrive, dressed in plain clothes.  They also smelled vaguely of whiskey.  Delaney thought: It's a great day for the Irish.--Pet Hamill, North River

Sunday, March 11, 2012

S.P.E.R.M. Ride 2012


Just another Saturday morning our house, Festung Ebar, roars back to life.  Been an ugly week or so and I was looking forward to a quite day of rest.  Plans were made to take me away from my loved ones.  Plans were quickly rescinded.  But there were a few things we needed to get accomplished before running away with the Irish Biker Crowd.  I needed to replace my mobile phone and we needed groceries.  I am very grateful to God and global warming/global cooling/climate change and solar storms that it was the warmest and driest Saturday morning this year.  Weekends have been nothing but crappy weather wise this year.  43F and sunny.  Windy but what else is new.

Despite the destruction of the US and global economy by the previous regime and subsequent failure of the current regime to fix it, Best Buy did not want my $$ at 945 am.  Mary and I rode bikes there since we sold our car as an act of defiance and our refusal to be sodomized by terrorist nations, Texans, Canadians and big oil companies.  How much does gas cost?  I have no clue.  Besides, the bicycle keeps my weight in check without having to waste time and money at a germ ridden gym.  Best Buy opens at 10 am.  Wal Mart never closes except for in the Peoples Republic of the western Ghetto near Jordan Creek. 

This was all sidewalk action up SE 14th from Park Ave.  I wish they would rip out the current sidewalk and replace it with a side path like on MLK.  There is no easy way to ride north and south on the Southside of DSM.  Crossing SE 14th/US 69 was not an issue.  Simply wait for the light.  But Mary's chain fell off at the intersection.  She had to push it across.  Nobody honked.

We had a very pleasant consumer experience at Wal Mart.  Despite being dressed as bike nazis and fearing that some armleutcher (German for asshole literally the arm that holds a lamp) would take our photo and Youtube it for a "freaks at Wally World" montage it was good.  Well, the southside store needs a bicycle rack but then again this place is not very accessible via bike because it is on a highway.  We locked up on the employees break shelter aka smoking lounge.  Out of sight and there was a camera recording everything.

We use Virgin Mobile.  No contracts.  No fuss.  Service is improving, Sprint network.  If you are going to give your money to an evil corporation you might as well give it to a cool billionaire.  Sir Richard Branson not only signed and subsequently screwed over the Sex Pistols when no one else had the genitalia to do so, he spends his $$ para sailing with naked women and building spaceships to take civilians into space.  Now he is building a submarine to explore the deepest crevices of the oceans.  If you can buy the ticket he will take you there. 
What has AT&T, US Cellular an Apple done for you?  Taken your money and invested it into more mundane ways to take more of your money.  Steve Jobs was nothing more than a fauxhippie Bill Gates.  Besides, I can replace my phone at any Wal Mart or Target at 945 am and get it up and running in minutes.

We were in and out in 5 minutes.  Had the phone I was spying online and was not pestered about "insurance" or other fees.  A quick glance at the bicycle aisle in search of the mythical Sting Ray I once obtained here.  Not today.  But we found a cheap 2-pack of St Patrick's Day socks.  Holiday spirit!  We decided to get groceries at Hy Vee on our way home.

I will say this.  Our other alternative is the Hy Vee and Wal Mart in Windsor Heights.  We notice, and this was verified by someone else last night, that in these two establishments we are constantly bumping into other people.  Maybe the aisles are more narrow.  Maybe their frequenters are too rude.  maybe Mary and I are out of phase with these folks.  But we do not encounter such issues on the southside.  And another thing, if you bitch about the people at Wal Mart, and there are some truly disgusting and amusing shoppers there, you are an economic elitist.  These people are poor.  I can understand a Republican or rich snob bashing Wal Mart.  But my liberal friends merely prove their hypocrisy when they do this.  Cheap consumer goods for poor folk like me.  I do not have the time or money for go support the greedheads and land rapers of Jordan Creek ect or the expensive trendy hippie stores that charge way to much.

My Lord, defending Wal Mart....we took the frontage road to McKinley Ave and then turned left on Indianola Ave.  If and when they ever finish rebuilding this road it will be the way to go instead of the sidewalk of SE14th.  The completed section has bike lanes.  McKinley, on the other hand, sucks and needs to be widen and resurfaced.  This took us straight to Hy Vee where we filled the 520's panniers with provisions.  Mary and I swapped bikes and I rode the remaining 2 miles on the loaded 520.  8 miles total trip.

Back to SPERM!!!  We missed the 11 o'clock meeting on the Raccoon River bridge at Water Works Park.  I needed to set phone up and give it a decent charge.  We needed to change clothing and dress festively for the ride.  And most importantly, we needed to eat.  We left our home around noon.  First stop at Mary's ATM and then Abelandros for cheap Mexican food.  There was a bet between us on the location of the bank and the restaurant.  Mary lost and failed to pay her part of the bet.  She will pay sometime when she least expects!

Leaving this establishment a group of 4 bikers came in.  They said that people were already leaving Waveland.  Yeah right.  Jerseys were leaving.  The bagger crowd was just getting in.  And on the rest of the journey there we saw many bikes heading in the opposite direction.  Nobody we knew or recognized.

And as we expected, the parking lot was overflowing with bicycles and bikers.  I was told the line for a beer was 3 deep across the entire bar.  We did not step foot inside except for the use of the restroom.  Having great foresight from previous experience, the first stop after leaving home was to purchase a 12 of Busch Light and 10 lb of ice.  This was a great $12 investment.

Big crowd.  Many familiar faces.  Good to see Crabb out of hibernation.  Also nice to see Jennifer W Ulrich.  Chad needs to stay home with the kiddies more often.  Too many others to mention.  Lots of competition for the ride given the first Fat Tire Fun Ride of the year and the run.  But a great showing nonetheless.

When it time to leave we headed to Charlies Filling Station and filled up on $6 pitchers and ignored a 10 minute warning.  Teena S M or Brad M lost their hat on the way there and apparently, while retrieving said hat, had a cash bag malfunction and lost valuable time time chasing their "green".  Brad B had to stop on Polk Blvd and remove a beer can from his wheel.  And I noticed a large pile of broken glass on Ingersoll.  Somehow we all made it.  Other people went to Orlandos, we did not.  We stayed long enough to not wear out our welcome, some of us calling Harley riders "faggots" after South Park made this argument.

At Charlie's

Next we got back on the trail south of Grand and made our presence felt.  First we stormed on the trail at speed like a stampede of buffalo, soliciting comments such as "how dangerous" ect.  Then one of us yelled at some trail users who stopped and parked their bikes on the trail.  Not quite as good as Crabb's "GET THE FUCK OFF THE TRAIL!!!!"  but Chad U got the point across.  Later, we said the exception to this rule would be on the trail near Windsor Heights due to large amounts of dog excrement before and after the dog park.  No where safe to pull over there.


Brad M in typical SPERM or St Paddy's Day attire. Raccoon River bridge

Nice weather sends everyone out to the trail.  Today was no exception.  Having not stopped riding since September 2007, I always a bit overwhelmed by the fair weather trail users.  Had the temp been 10 to 20 degrees cooler, we would have had the trail to ourselves.  Today we had to share.  And share we did.  I bet we pissed many people off when we occupied the Raccoon River bridge but we tried to keep out of the way and tried to stop spilling beer on the bridge.

Craig and I, Jon by bike and Tara in background.  Fingers provided by a public school teacher


When trail traffic calmed down we made another move.  this time to the Fleur Viaduct, rather, underneath it.  This has been a favorite spot for me.  Sorta secluded.  Ample places to hide.  Places to sit.  Plenty of room that we never seem to use.  Sunlight, moonlight.  Shelter from the rain or snow.  Shelter from funhaters.  We consumed the last of our beers here not before a photo shoot and seeing more friends.  Sean Seanson Johnson and Rebecka stopped, the later sporting a new hot pink and black cross bike.  Then Stephanie and Tara stopped.  I should have taken photos of the first two.

We were heading toward El Bait Shop.  Craig made the decision to boycott Orlandos due to their inability to fix the path's connection to the trail.  There is a large drop off from the trail to the path to this shithole and somebody may get hurt soon.  Today I decided to form a FB group "NOT OCCUPY ORLANDOS".  Details and invites coming.

Out of beer and with one bridge left we made the decision to resupply at the Philips station on the corner of SE1st and Jackson.  Otherwise known as "Best Trip" by the sticker on their door.  What should have been a friendly 2 mile ride became a race because of Mary.  She was riding the bagless and rackless red Phoenix as her bagger bikes are out of commision and she did not choose her road bike.  As I have blogged before, the FX 7.5 is a fast hybrid and she made the most of it.  Acceleration is its strong suit especially against loaded touring bikes ridden by people who have been sedating themselves with beer since 11 am or earlier.  Mary took off like a bat out of hell and it was all we could do to keep her in eyesight.  Jon Cox and I we doing 23 mph and not making progress.  She does this all the time.  And when we arrived at Best Trip she had a 12 of Busch Light on the counter and was completing the transaction.  At least her race was for a noble cause.  Someone else purchased vodka due to a gluten allergy, beer being bad for that person.  Slushie as a mixer.

Resupplied we retired to the Jackson St bridge.  This is also known as the "green pedestrian" bridge.  Plenty of places to sit and park bikes.  Speedy, however, decided to crash the red bike as part of a clipping out failure.  She may or may not have a black eye.  She did this herself and I have witnesses.  We all laughed.  Craig busted out a bag of Jack's Links jerky and Jon a box of Thin Mint GS cookies.  Life is good on the bridge!!!


the view from the green bridge

This is where we parted ways.  Mary and I had a birthday party to attend.  A friend of ours from Church, a converted Jehovah Witness, was going to be surprised by a large gathering of fellow Catholic parishioners at Jasper Winery.  I was looking forward to a bottle of Bedhead Red.  But given my intake of alcohol, mostly beer with a few shots of Fireball and a shot of vodka, I settled for 1 glass of North, a cab, and did my best to act sober.  Food was catered in by an Italian American catering service and we were able to eat after a near 7 or 8 hour fast sans cookies and jerky.  Different crowd.  We were the only ones on bicycles.

All in all a successful SPERM ride.  Only one crash.  No cops.  No fights.  great people.  Awesome weather and 21 miles of the best riding in DSM.  I look forward to many more.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Frühlingserwachen

Pride of the Fleet chained together like the hearts that beat them on this pre-Spring day

Another cold Saturday morning.  It has been a great week but as usual the wind picks up Friday and we wake up below freezing Saturday morning with a 20 mph from the north.  The forecast improves once the weekend is over, 64F for Tuesday's high.  But we made it March.  Two set of studded tires are by the back door with prospects of returning to the shed or basement soon.  Songbirds are chattering away.  Things are turning green and some plants are surfacing from the ground.  Spring awaking, frühlingserwachen as our German brethren would say.

We wake up about 7 am.  That means I slept in for 3 hours!  Little Ewok is making her needs known before we leave the comfort of the bed.  But that cat failed to  understand that in order to be fed some human needs to leave the house and purchase cat food.  Dog food is gone as well but Heidi remains on the floor in front of the tv.  Eventually I exit the bed and and grab a knife and left over chicken breast.

"here, enjoy the cooked version of what you would be eating if you existed in the state of nature."  I plop a large chunk in Heidi's bowl and they summon her.  This will by us some precious time before we have to leave the house.  Besides,  I give left overs 48 hours in the fridge before I refuse to eat them.  After 48 hours they aint kosher for me.

The plan was a simple one.  Hit 2 credit unions and one bank and then stop at Dollar General for tooth paste, shampoo animal food.  Small load that can be carried in back packs.  Why not take road bikes?  Been quite some time since we experienced the joy of riding something other than a mule.

Road bikes are me favorite.  Fast and efficient.  99.99% of energy put into pedalling is converted into momentum.  I push myself harder on these than I do on other bikes.  Better reward for the effort.  Sleek and sexy.  Fast and unforgiving.  Never mundane.  The Ferrari of bicycles.

I have filled a water bottle and took off for 100 mile ride on a road bike.  All I need is cash, a phone, sunglasses and a tire repair kit, which fits nicely in a small bag under the saddle.  What more does a person need to enjoy biking in its purest form?  Remind me to put Osceola on my list for destinations this year.  Warren County offers the best county roads in Iowa for long rides.  Hills, baby, hills!  Road bikes eat them up with greed!

Now other bikes have their merits.  Mtbs on single track are quite outstanding.  But whenever I have the time for that or am in the mood for off road it is too wet.  Can't destroy the trail!  Touring bikes offer freedom at the sacrifice of performance.  Unless you have Sheldon Brown's touring bike, a road bike with a credit card.  And the list goes on, so many types of bicycles these days that my fingers would go numb before I am done.  Let's just say that the roads were clear, the sky was blue and it was time to ride something different.

I do not recall when i last took the stick bike out.  Possibly November or even December given the merciful warm winter we are almost done with.  But January and February I have ridden only a hybrid and a touring bike and my Raleigh 3 speed.  I think I took a tandem out.  But once I get the bike log off my dead computer I will not be sure.  Basically I have ridden heavy slow bikes that merely have been used for grocery runs and commuting to work.

Mary and my fast bikes have been nestled in hibernation.  Just sitting there with tires slowly deflating.  I pulled the computer for my LeMond Versailles out of the drawer.  Clock still on Daylight Savings Time or whatever is not the time now, an hour ahead.  Stupid of me to change it since DST or Standard Time is going to "Spring Forward" in a couple of weeks.  But I did.  I also reset the odometer.  1197 miles last year.  That is almost average for the bike.  I got in in 2007 and still have the original tires and brake pads on it.  Pristine!  Mary's Trek 1600 had 3733 miles on it from last year.  The year before maybe 4K.  Both bikes still had front and rear lights on.  This is a minor miracle because we have been cannibalizing the other bikes to keep our commuters illuminated.  Tires definitely needed air.  Both bikes still had mud on them from last year.  Note to self: purchase proper bike washing soap.

The first thing we noted is that the bikes felt a bit twitchy.  Given that these bikes are considerably lighter than the commuters this is no surprise.  Put more weight on the handle bars.  The second thing we noticed is how damn smooth they felt.  As if angels were pushing us!  Quite too, having not suffered the abuse of riding through rain and snow and all the shit on the roads from winter.  No noisy knobbies either.

The elation ended at the end of the street.  North head wind was there to greet us.  Until we got to the Raccoon River Bridge.  The never ending weather battle in Iowa is the north/south wind.  Winter trying to make another push into the state.  Better than the tornadoes that sacked the states south and east of here.  But it seems like there has not been a day without a strong wind this week.  Wednesday I think it was 28 mph sustained with gusts up to 60 mph.  And yours truly had to ride into it all the way to work.  After work things calmed down to 44 mph gusts.  I deployed sailed and enjoyed the ride home.  But now we had 3+ miles until the shelter of the trail.

I could bore you the details of the rest of the trip.  First stop was at the Greater Iowa Credit Union on 22nd St in West Des Moines.  We took the trail to Wal Mart and then rode up Buffalo Ave and waited 5 minutes at the stop light at 22nd.  There was one bike chained up to the tree at the credit union.

The next stop was in Urbandale near Bike World.  So instead of retracing our pedal strokes we opted fro crossing Buffalo and doing some parking lot and frontage road action to University where we crossed by Hardees and did a bit of lawn action to get to the Clive Greenbelt.  This trail to Windsor Heights trail and then to Hickman ect a bit of residential.

Other things we noticed.  Mary's brakes are lacking again.  She averages 3 to 4K a year.  Her computer was not calibrated properly.  It was set for a 26x1.5 tire not a 700x25.  The brakes on the Versailles almost sent me over the bars!  Damn, I love strong brakes!  So another repair on the list of things I should be doing instead of blogging.  STI road shifters do not work well with severe winter mittens.  Mary did not want a smaller pair of gloves today since the temp was still below 30F when we left. 

A very pleasant 24.5 miles.  We even stopped at B&B for Italian sausage for two meals this weekend, chili and pasta.  Felt very very good to be on the Versailles again.  I should be on older road bikes but they are in various states of repair.  My Campy bike needs the chain whacked 2 links or so and the rear hub bearings repacked.  The 560, ultra twitchy lugged steel classic Trek needs a new derailleur and the drop out bent back thanks to a son of mine.  My theory is to ride the older bikes first and wait until Spring rains wash the streets clean before busting out the good bikes.  But I have been very lazy this winter keeping commuters running.  Spring Awaking, time to move!