Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Case o Wine

The wine is actually inside the panniers and the other groceries are inside the wine box.  Safer..

New first for me.  Carried home a case of wine on the bike.  10 miles since I sidetracked for dinner.  Originally was planning to strap it to the top of the panniers but I worried about having a high center of gravity plus the stress the case would put on the bungee cords.  Concerns about bottles breaking worried me as the case was not designed for such transportation method.  they did rattle inside the box.  So I placed 6 bottles in each pannier and placed the contents of the panniers in the box the wine came in and strapped that on top.  Worked great.  No broken bottles.  Nothing lost.  It was a heavy load!

I stuffed bags around them and placed the middle bottles in paper bags to prevent them from breaking.

I was almost joking when I said that the photo of a bike with a specially built wine carrier was weak and that I could carry more wine in panniers.  Now I have proven it although 3 or 4 bottle in the past was common for me.  Had I a front rack with panniers I could have carried 2 cases home.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Errandonee 2014

Errandonnee: Complete 12 errands in 12 days and ride a total of 30 miles by bike between March 5-16, 2015.

Winter Challenge Errandonee 2015 from Chasing Mailboxes blog.  I like to participate in bike challenges.  Bicycle Ride&Seek, Brewvet and now this.  12 errands, 12 rides.  Once again, mileage will not be an issue.

TRIP 1 YOU CARRIED WHAT ON YOUR BIKE??--15lb of dog food
DESTINATION: Store to Home
What I Learned: The Soho is not as stable loaded parked as the FX is.  The rear kickstand of the latter makes it better for parking the bike loaded.
MILES: 8.5
DATE: 3.5.2015

TRIP 2 YOU CARRIED WHAT ON YOUR BIKE??--$3 tallboy of Stella
WHAT I LEARNED: The Angel Cage can carry a tallboy but it rattles
DATE: 3.5.2015

DESTINATION: Iowa Farm Bureau
WHAT I LEARNED: 23F with south wind feels like 40F after the below Zero day yesterday
DATE: 3.6.2015

WHAT I LEARNED: the juvenile bald eagle is still along the river and the nesting pair is still at their nest
MILES: 6.5
DATE: 3.6.2015

DESTINATION: Pappa's Pizza, Polk City, Iowa
WHAT I LEARNED: trails were not clear of snow, crossing mile Long Bridge with tailwind and in Big Ring is fun
DATE: 3.7.2015

DESTINATION: St Anthony's Catholic Church
WHAT I LEARNED: the seat on the Bianchi not only is still uncomfortable but loose AGAIN
DATE: 3.8.2015

DESTINATION: Laotion Buddhist Temple
WHAT I LEARNED: This place could use a good influx of cash to fix it up a bit.  Such beautiful artwork here a bit marred by age and neglect.  Photo is a water fountain
MILES: 7.5

DESTINATION: Methodist Hospital
WHAT I LEARNED: Bicycling to this hospital is the best way to get there do to the location of the bike rack and never ending remodeling/construction at this place of healing
DATE: 3.9.2015

DESTINATION: Craig's House
WHAT I LEARNED: How to get to Ingersoll Ave from his place

WHAT I LEARNED: I can get a $18 bottle of moscato here, friend Colin turned 50 (his b-day party)

DESTINATION: Methodist Hospital
WHAT I LEARNED: I can make it all the way from work to here without having to stop to pee (I drank a lot of water at work)

DESTINATION: Iowa Farm Bureau
WHAT I LEARNED: If I am late enough I can see another bike commuter going the other way on Westown Pkwy
MILES: 12.5


Errands 1-2, 7 thru 12 2011 Trek Soho.  Designed for commuting.  Nexus 7 speed internal hub with Shimano Roller brakes.  Originally belt drive but replaced with chain before sold.  Bike World has a ton of these that never sold prolly because it requires tools to remove the wheels.  I got it last month and use it for my daily commuter.  It just rolled past the 300 mile mark.

Errand 5 1994 Trek 2200 road bike, Campy Veloce group.  Good old road bike especially when roads are not the cleanest.

Erran 6 Bianchi Boardwalk converted to Shimano 600 and Tiki bars.  Fun and great handling bike.  I need to put the rack back on it.  I usually use this to pull the Burley trailer to the store.

Errand 7 Mongoose Dolomite, proletarian fatbike

Also photoed in Errands 8 and 10 is my wife's 2014 Windsor singlespeed mixte.  It has the Bianchi's rack!  She has put about 3000 miles on this since mid-September

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Winter's End

"This winter is almost over but before it ends there will be more snow and ice and northerly winds and many good commuters will lose hope and quit."-- Winter Bike Daddy Jones

"Just wait until tomorrow.  I guess that's what they all say right before they fall apart."--New Order Regret

40s, 50s and 60s in the forecast.  Just need to get through Thursday and Friday morning and hold the weather people accountable if they are wrong.  Just 2 more bitterly cold mornings.  2 more to go.  Thursday, tomorrow, it is called to be in single digits dipping below Zero before warming up into the 20s.  Friday morning it is slated to be in the low 20s.  And from then on below Zerex morning commutes are history for the Winter of 2014-15.  I can feel tears swelling in my eyes.  Another winter of commuting almost over.  2 more awful rides.

In Iowa we still live in the Ice Age.  It is reasonable to say that the winter last 6 months in our state.  Snow and ice and cold can exist from October through April.  It snowed in May last year,  Sure, it will warm up next week and the next but I know that the monster is not dead and that we could see a foot of snow in April.  But that will be gone in a few days.  I just need the below Zerex days to be over,

But here is the deal with Iowa and weather, just wait 5 minutes.  One day we could be running around half naked in  shorts and the next in full winter regalia.  There is no ease into season change, at least from summer to winter.  BOOM it's cold.  Nothing gradual. So two days before the warm up it will be 0F.

I always describe winter this late in the season as a monster or villain* from a film.  The hero kills him/it and then turns away to comfort the survivors and in the blurred background the villain gets up for one more attack.  One more go at making us miserable.  Tomorrow better be it.

*  I love this definition of villain "a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel."  Perfect description of the never ending winter.

Lack of Plowing of the Great Western Trail

Many years ago I'd meet with the Des Moines Cycle Club on Friday evenings in December for the purpose of riding the Great Western Trail.  We'd start at Cumming and ride to Martensdale and back or to Des Moines and back.  MTBs were our choice.  None of us used studded tires.  This was before the trail was paved.  Fatbikes and cyclocross bikes did not exisit in the DSM cycling community.  The trail would be snow covered but rideable.  I feel that unpaved trails handle snow accumilation better than paved.  This was probably over 20 years ago.

Now the trail is paved and well used.  There are more places to frequent, more cyclists in the community.  More people just walking the trail for fitness than ever before.  Yet Polk County feels the need to ignore the trail during winter.  The familiar refrain of "we leave the snow for cross country skiiers" is beging to ring hollow if one actually visits the trail.  There are no ski tracks.  From the 2 mile point onward it would be impossible to ski on the trail.  Too much snow and ice packed down.  Two ruts created from people walking have destroyed the surface layers making anything but slow measured steps all but impossible.  There is a medium bulging in the center.  And even a dusting of snow makes it more dangerous as it covers the visible ice.  I do not think snowmobiles would ride on the trail.

Probably a money issue.  No budget or lack of budgeting for snow removal is the likely cause of this neglect.  Yet Warren County manages to clear snow on it from Cumming to Orilla.  For people starting in Des Moines, one must take a labyrinth of paved and gravel roads from Park Ave to Orilla.  Not a big deal if you are an expirenced gravel rider and know your way around.

Some people prefer to ride on trails and even refuse to take to the roads.  I overheard a conversation between one such person and the a few bicycle advocates.  She said she loves anture and the trails and but feels streets are too dangerous.  Not only because of automobile traffic but her own habit of looking one way and then another at birds and animals and such.  Should be noted that there iws a variety of animal life that habitat on the Great Western Trail even in winter.

But there will be a time in which people will demand better from Polk County.  The area is developing rapidly.  Microsoft is building a data center out there.  Rumors of a strip mall and business park abound near the trail.  People are moving  out there to live.

I am just voicing my concern that Polk County is falling behind the times.  I hope they change their policy.  If it is a funding issue let us work together to solve this issue.  Trails are not outdoor swimming pools.  They are legitimate places for travel for commuters and recreationalists.  People use them all year round.  Judging by the frozen tracks imbedded in the ice, people use the Great Western Trail during winter.  And even the forecasted warm week ahead of us will take its time melting the snow and ice but make the gravel roads a sloppy mess.  When people are ready to get outside the GWT will not be ready.