Saturday, December 30, 2017

9000 miles, Lost Mojo, Broken Freewheel and Wounded Knee

As the 2017 riding season comes to an end, December 31st 11:59:59 pm, so did my main bicycle and my left knee.  And my desire to ride.  I've experienced all of this before but this time ignored the warning signs.

Mojo, Where Art Thou??

How much, how much do you need?  I hit a wall.  Started with that bastard northwest wind.  One morning I decided to sleep in.  Had no desire to ride 12+ miles into a headwind.  It must have been a 24 mph wind.  Just get dropped off with the bike at work and ride it home.  And one day leads to another.  That was the 4th of December.  Add Christmas break and the day it was below zerex and I only rode both sides the commute 4 times for the entire month.  That's really bad for me.  This has been the biggest slump in bicycling for me in a decade.

Crap Freewheel

This is the freewheel after 6505 miles.  That'll do, that'll do.

If you ever need a SS freewheel I recommend these.  Just stop using it when it begins to freewheel in both directions.

For those that do not know what I am writing about, in easiest terms, pawls are part of the ratcheting system that engages and disengages inside a freewheel or freehub that allows the chain to move the sprocket.  Ever listen to a Campy hub coast by you and hear that buzz?  Or any other bicycle for that matter that uses this system.  Over time and use the pawls stop engaging and the chain moves but the gears just freewheel in both directions and the bike runs out of momentum it stops and tips over.  Or the pawls refuse to disengage and the wheel locks up.  It has always been the former for Mary and I.  Usually on a miserably cold day at 5 am on our way to work.  Make a phone call.

So during the month when the temperature began to drop I noticed that the single speed commuter of mine was having this issue.  Always on the left down stroke.  When the bike should have offered resistance it was like the bottom fell off and a my foot went to the bottom of the stroke at light speed.  WHAM!  But then it would behave normally for a few miles and then WHAM!  I did not think about it too much.  It was time for a new chain anyway so might as well get a new freewheel.  The friendly folks at Modern Bike fixed me up despite no Saturday deliver.  Had to wait a week to find the time to wrench.

About the freewheel....I discovered that I did not have the freewheel remover required for the ACS Crossfire.  So I took it to Fred's about a mile from home and across the river.  Brad and I are friends and he knows how much I ride and how many bicycles I own, rather, he knows I own a lot.  He looked at it and said "theoretically you should take this off every 1000 miles and soak it in a solvent and clean it up.  It's pretty gunked up."

My response, "I have over 5000 miles on this freewheel so theoretically I would have to do this 5 times a year."

"You have 5000 miles on this for this year?  What about your other bikes?"

"Two others have over 1000.  My other bikes much less.  The single speed is my main commuter.  I'd rather replace the freewheel for $20 than do that much maintenance.  My time is valuable and I am lazy."

Wounded Knee

But I continued to ride this bike until it got colder and then I started riding another bike to work.  But it was too late.  One Saturday I woke up and could not bend my left knee.  What now?  Has the gout travel up to my knee?  I have not drank heavily lately and I am taking meds for this.  The stiffness and pain reminded my of the time my statin tried to kill my legs.  But I am on another cholesterol medicine without that side effect.  I was stumped and limping and unable to ride.  That day I could not complete an upstroke with the left leg.  Too painful.  Sunday I put a half mile in but it was a painful half mile.  Let it rest.

Monday Mary dropped me and a bike off at work but I decided to have her pick me up because we had Dora's band concert to attend and I lacked the confidence that I would make it home in time.  Tuesday the same but I rode home.  The first two miles were painful but I eventually rode off the pain.  I rode real slow, like 8 mph average.  Wednesday the same but I decided to preempt the pain with Aleve.  I could feel the knee and leg come back on line and I gobbled 3 during work and 4 more before I left work.  Did not really help and then I noticed that my legs were starting to swell.  Take and extra dialectic.  Thursday I slept in again and was dropped off and rode home.  Much better ride until I stopped at Hy Vee.  After shopping I could barely ride home the last mile or so.  And Friday I wimped out again for the morning commute but rode home.   The leg and knee felt good.  It finally dawned on me that I had a hyperextended knee from that bad freewheel.

Our plan Friday was to see the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi at 10 pm.  I took a nap after dinner.  Well my body went into repair mode and the mile ride to the theater was painful.  I rode with Mary and Dora.  After the movie I felt better riding home.  weird.  Must have the two beers that I drank during the Last Jedi.  The best part of riding a bicycle to a Star Wars film is that feeling one gets when riding home.  I felt like a Jedi in an X-Wing!

Finally on Saturday I could ride with speed.  Leg still not 100%.  I can feel the repair work occurring and every nerve coming back online.  I still stumbled every now and then.  Slow to get up and down but I can ride again pain free.

The day I replaced the freewheel and chain was the day my knee said it was fine to ride with speed.  I took this photo during Lady G Hoegaarden's birthday bash stop on WW Bridge.  Kevin, another Commuter of the Year, gave this beer to me.  I love the colors in this photo.  12/16/2017 and we did not need winter clothing to ride bicycles!

Mojo Found

On my way to my sister's house on Christmas Eve. Stopped to have a Shiner Holiday Cheer.  Very possible that this could have been my last ride of the year.  Mojo not quite there.

This is true.  I had a dream Thursday night/Friday morning.  I was at an establishment with other cyclists and someone asked me if I had 9000 miles for the year.  Yes I replied and then the alarm went off.  Turn on the radio to get the weather report.  Check the phone for wind direction.  Fresh snow but the Red Phoenix was rebuilt way back in October for days of ice and snow.  And I thought about it.  this was the last chance.  I was sitting at 8973 miles for 2017.

Time was definitely a precious resource that I did not possess very much of.  It was Friday December 29th.  The forecasted high was 16F.  It was 11F at that moment and thankfully the wind was from the East or at my back.  Radar was clear for the metro.  I laid there in agony.  So easy to stay under the covers and drive.  I could a 14 miler on Saturday and another on Sunday.  But the forecast labeled those days miserably cold and more snow was on the way.  Do or die!  And call about transferring to the downtown location.

So I rode.  And it felt great.  And I felt safe on my studded tires.  The previous day's car commute was hell with slick roads and too many other cars around me.  WHO 1040 radio described the carnage as "tons of wrecks."  I saw a four vehicle pile up on I-235.  I had to abort my left turn onto Westown Prky because if attempted the Taurus would have gone sideways.  This was on 22nd St in WDM.  But the bicycle gave me no issues.  As I always tell muggles, "When you drive during bad winter weather you risk causing thousands of dollars of damage, destroying your vehicle or others and possibly killing people.  On a bicycle properly set up (studded tires ect) you just look stupid to those without the knowledge of the magic."

I got to work on bicycle for the fourth time this month, the last day.  Was I cold?  No but a bit sweaty.  Hard to perfectly dial in the clothing.  My legs hurt because I had not really ridden as of late and the heavy reinforced tires (I placed liners in them last year to stop the flats with the intention of purchasing new tires, guess what?  I saved money!).

Some muggle asked how winter effects bicycle tires.  "Car tires deform (I think she meant deflate)" she stated.  My reply..."I squeeze them in the morning and if necessary pump them up in the comfort of my own home."  This is another advantage of commuting via bicycle.  I don't need no unreliable gas station air machine.  Worse comes to worse I'll grab different bicycle.  And then there is parking, I park next to the door at work.

I got the 27 miles on the way home.  Even stopped at Windsor Heights Hy Vee for two bottles of Italian sparkling wine (faux champagne but clocks in at 7.5%) to add to my New Years Eve arsenal.  The photo is on top.  9001 miles for 2017.  I foresee about another 6.

Happy New Years, bitches!!!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 2nd Outstanding Day To Bicycle Des Moines!

The candy cane.  I was not present when Joe gave this to Mary and when we rode back to our house after the bridge I thought that something was falling out of pannier!

It was a beautiful day in Des Moines, Iowa, to ride a bicycle.  Not that we did a lot of miles but we spent it with friends and enjoyed the outdoors without coats or snow for the first Saturday of December.  Two major events: Lady Hoegaarden's Birthday Bash on the Water Works Bridge and the 3rd Annual Beaverdale Bikes Holiday Bike Ride in the Beaverdale neighborhood that evening.  Mary and rode over 28 miles on our commuters, mine a single speed.

Water Works Bridge.  That's me up front in red standing behind Bill L in the Kyle's Bikes kit.  Plenty of room to ride through.

Spoon was the best dressed on the bridge.  Failed to see him in Beaverdale.  Perhaps he had too much fun!

Homer said that he would be at Water Works Bridge at 1 pm for Lady Hoegaarden's birthday celebration.  This is a popular stop for cyclists in the DSM Metro area.  I admit that the bridge gets a bit congested but the only people that complain about it are uptight cyclists with sand up their bums.  Funny, most of these people complain that the surface of the bridge is too rough for their bicycles.  The people taking wedding photos, a large group, just smiled as they filed by our rampage of baggers.  We were just celebrating life and enjoying the warmth and sun and each other.  Soon enough we will be hibernating indoors at home when Winter arrives.

After an hour or so Mary and took off for home to prepare for the Beaverdale Christmas lights bike ride.  Basically, we need to let the dog out and grab lights and extra clothing for the temperature drop after sunset.  We planned to meet our Ragbrai crew (funny thing is that we ride the week of Ragbrai but rarely see Ragbrai proper) at the Triangle Tap.  They were not there so we headed to Beaverdale instead.  They were not there but were at Captain Roy's.  we must have just missed them since only two bicycles were there when we rolled by.  Mary and decided to make Reed's Hollow our HQ until the other arrived.

Holiday Cheer!
Never been here before probably because Beaverdale is not really in our travel path.  Nice place.  Mary had a cider and I had Shiner's Holiday Cheer draft.  First one of the season.  Donnie then text and asked where everybody was and I went outside to Beaverdale Bikes to fetch him.  Then the others arrived: Joe, Nick, Kevin and Mike.  They had some moonshine made with Everclear that tasted like applesauce.  Dangerous.  I stayed with beer.

From the FaceBook event announcement.

Amy and Don, Team Mystery Machine, our old teammates.

Don and a good look at the lights.

Action shot during the ride.

Time to ride.  The sidewalk was packed with bicycles!  Must have been 200 people.  Just saddle up and get in the flow.  Many cyclists have decorated their bicycles and themselves.  As for us, Mary had a candy cane that Joe placed on her panniers and I wore a Santa hat.  The neighborhood outdid itself with lights!  I failed to take any photos as not wanting to stop and lose my friends or cause a crash.  I was amazed how many houses were ready for Christmas and had the Spirit.  Home owners stood outside or in their doorways and waved at us.

Afterwards we regrouped at Saints for a post ride brew and food.Then the chilly ride home.  I definitely plan to do this ride next year.  Maybe we'll add lights to our bicycles.

How many warm weekends will we enjoy before Winter arrives?  Few and fewer.  We will adjust.  Just hope for an early Spring.

Special thank you to the people I stole these images from.  You are the best!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

"Where You Heading So Early?"

445 am.  Last morning ride of the week.  30 something degrees Fahrenheit.  Trying not to over exert myself as I seemed to have picked up a virus and am really tired of coughing seizures.  Riding on the Meredith Trail along the Raccoon River when I spot a bicyclist underneath the 7th St bridge.  He had his bike leaning against the bridge supports a few yards away from the trail.  Never seen this one before.  One thing one does when commuting the same circuit at the same time day after day is recognize the other trail users.  At any moment I was expecting to see Joe Ayers on some refitted classic roadie and the bright headlamp as his only illumination but I saw this guy first.

He was messing around with the bike of his back pack.  A black bike with no discernible branding decals on it.  A few reflective strips of tape and no lights.  Probably a homeless person or a newly "forced to bike" person, dead car or OWI.  Poverty victim.  Perhaps a fisherman but it's a little cold for that activity.  I see them occasionally here.  I see them all.  And bridges are popular overnights for the homeless.  Perhaps he hit Thirsty Thursday a little too hard and had to take a nap.

I pass and look on.  Up ahead there are two headlights next to the trail at the old depot now home of a disaster service and TopBun food truck.  Police?  No.  Perhaps they are here to pick up the cyclist I just saw.  Roll on, coffee awaits.

A minute later I hear a voice.  Sounded like someone in his 20s, jubilant and happy before the an extra 20 years cripples him with the weight of the world and cynicism.  For a moment I thought it was one of Jay Pontier's twins, Alex or Nathan.  Drama and theater kids now well into adulthood.  No, someone else.

"What brings you out so early in the morning?"

My reply was short, "Gotta go to work."

"Oh the old grind.  Have a nice day." And he pulls ahead.  I should have said more but then again I was ill.

Wonderful attitude he had.  I wish all cyclist were this friendly.  I see people with thousands of dollars worth of bikes and gear who won't say hello or dim their bright lights when encountered.  Lost in their own world.  But this guy's bike was a real piece of work.  Basic late 80s or early 90s hybrid without lights or markings.  The rear derailleur was gone so the chain was shortened to make a single speed wrapped around the 12T or 13T of a rusty freewheel or cassette.  But damn, he made it work!  When he got in front of me and my bright lights I saw how he survived in the dark.  His backpack was completely covered with reflective tape.  A 12" by 12" square of silver/white reflectivity.  Brilliant!  Literally.  My lights still lit that backpack up 1/2 mile away.  Just proves my opinion that it is better to be seen from behind than to be seen from the front.  You can avoid what is ahead of you but not what is behind.

I was hoping to see Joe and wonder if this guy asked him why he was riding this early.  Joe would say "I ride 20 miles every day at this time.  I'm retired."  Maybe another day....

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Easter Lake Trail Update

On the west end of the bridge looking east.  Trail is between the lake and the road.  NOTE the lake has been drained for dredging.

Mary and rode to Carlisle on this lovely November day.  Temperature right now is 59F which is amazing for Iowa this time of year.  As stated many times in my posts, we like to get to Carlisle by riding to Easter Lake.  Back in late August was our last visit to this place See Easter Lake in August.  Today we saw a lot of progress.

Looking west from the bridge, trail is on the north shore of Easter Lake.

The bridge on Evergreen Ave is not quite done and there is about 200 yards of trail that need to be completed and paved before one can bicycle or walk on the finished trail.  As it was a Sunday there was not work being done so we felt legit riding through the construction site. 

Looking south of Evergreen Ave and the bridge at the trail segment that leads to the park entrance on the southeast corner of the lake.

On the other side of the bridge the trail is complete to park entrance on Easter Lake Dr.  Also a new trail south of Easter Lake Dr looks complete and it leads to SE 34th St.

At the south east entrance to the park/lake.  Not shown in photo is the trail leading south of here to SE 34th St.  There is a trail entrance

The pink line is the new trail.  Green is the existing trail,

What does this all mean?  It means that there may eventually be a trail or trail system that connects Des Moines to Carlisle.  Yes, I am aware that is the plan.  But I have not always supported it.  There are other trail connections that I'd like to see done first.  Others that I deem more important like connecting downtown Des Moines trails to the Gay Lea Wilson Trail.  Today, However, I changed my mind.  We took our normal route which brought us to the north side of Easter Lake then we hang a left and take SE Brooks trough a nice curvy road with a few rollers that empties into a wonderful downhill by the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative then hang a right at the stop sign and climb the hill and down again to Highway 5 or Old Army Post Rd.  Left toward Avon Lake and various entrance and exit ramps for the bypass.  That last part may sound a bit scary but really is not.  But today 11:15 am on a Sunday it was the busiest I have ever seen it.  Church just let out?  Holiday travelers?  Mad dash to and fro to the store in Des Moines before lunch?  Then it downed on me.  traffic increases every year and in a few years I may not be able to use this route.  Shame too because it is scenic, fun and a great workout.  So now I wholeheartedly support the new trail connection.

I think I'll go back next weekend to do some more exploring here.  We did not take the trail south of Easter Lake.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Post Thanksgiving Ride South of Cumming Iowa

My black stainless steel growler.  Mooncat Porter from Court Avenue Brew Pub.  A toasted coconut porter.  thick, heavy, delicious for a cool autumn day.   The glass is from Twisted Vine Brewery.  Holds a tallboy.

Had to take advantage of the weather.  Sunny and in the 50s.  Not too many of these days left in 2017.  Took the last growler of beer, left over from Thanksgiving, and my Trek 520 packed with extra clothing because I was sure it was going to get very cold on the way home.

First stop was at the picnic table we call the Lean To.  Since the  Land Rapers and Greed Heads decided to pave new roads through the Great Western Trail the Lean To has never been the same.  They removed it and people placed a picnic table there instead.  New roads are located too close to the trail.  Then they reconstructed the trail to avoid this spot anyway.  The trail to the Lean To has been closed off but one can get around the orange fencing.  Time to move the table.  I suggest that the table be placed at the intersection of the new section of trail and the section that has been blocked off to fade away.  This is near the original Lean To.

Nothing lasts forever.  Soon this will be paved over.  Fitting that Cortez the Killer is playing on my stereo right now.  The Hildreth farmstead is across the field and highway from here.  The patriarch bought it after WWII and raised a family there.  Soon it will be gone and paved over.  Thoughts like this have me laughing at the fact the sun will turn into a red giant and fry us all assuming the human race survives 3 billion years.  Too bad it cannot harm those that harm the earth right now.

That farm way off in the distance, that belongs to the Hildreth family.

Speaking about the Hildreths, I text my friend Donnie Hildreth to join me but he invited me to his place south of Cumming.  Hang out in his barn and drink beer.  So I finished my beer and rode on.  Donnie collects junk to sell at auctions and flea markets and his barn is full.  He gave me two small chairs with backs that will be perfect for touring when the Spring and Summer return.  I asked if he had any vinyl records and i was directed to a ladder that lead to a tall shelf where a covered peach crate was.  I snagged two Led Zeppelin Lps and Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Live Rust.  I could have had revolver by The Beatles but I felt that he should get money for it.  Oh well, good vinyl scores!

I left after dark.  Saw one bike ahead of me before I hit the trail and one on the way back to Des Moines.  The Tap looked bicycle-less.  Two other bikes were in Water Works Park.  Weird riding in late November.  Few ride after dark.  6 pm feels like 9 pm.  No issues.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Bike Friday > Black Friday

We took advantage of the 65F day and added 35 miles to our road bikes.  Two objectives:  look at the progress on the pedestrian bridge Urbandale has been building to connect with the Raccoon River Valley Trail.  It was supposed to be done at the end of September.  In October they were not finished.  The other objective was to share a pizza at The Other Place in Clive.  We have only been to the OP in Cedar Falls when I was attending college in the 1980s.  Being that it was our 27th wedding anniversary the OP seemed appropriate.

First stop was to drop off two pairs of pants at to get them properly hemmed.  Winter is coming and I'll need to stop wearing shorts.  Tailoring By Lechi on Grand in West Des Moines was that stop.  I'll return to pick them up on Friday.

From there we decided to hit the Jordan Creek Trail.  But what should happen??  A brewery jumped out in front of us!  Fox Brewery on 11th St.  We have never been here before but have consumed their products elsewhere.  Plenty of parking for bicycles which is a plus.  But the sign said they do not open until 4 pm and it was noon!!!  What is it about breweries opening their tap rooms so late??  Wineries open at 10 or 11 am.  But the people inside waved us in.  I have the Arctic Breakfast, a vanilla/almond porter.  Mary had a hard cider.  One and done.  I like this place and will return.  Friendly staff.

11th St leads straight to the Jordan Creek Trail.  The wind was strong from the south west and slowed us down a bit.  We stayed on the JTC until we reached 60th and then headed north to Clive and turned east on University to go to the OP.

The OP was packed but they found us a table.  It also was a bit warm but that may have been us from riding bicycles.  And the people in front of us talking to the hostess had bad BO.  Please bath and use deodorant.  Despite the warmth and smell our food was great.  We had the Maui, their new Hawaiian pizza.  I recommend it.  I decided to drink water just because I have had a lot of beer lately and need to properly hydrate.

When we left he headed to 123rd to make the north turn toward the Greenbelt.  Guess what?  The wind changed direction!  Now a NW wind.  Oh well, it will be a tailwind on the way home.  From the Greenbelt we were able to connect to the RRVT and investigate the new bridge.

The "TRAIL CLOSED" signs were gone.  The work on the bridge and trail is done!  The bridge starts at the RRVT and crosses Walnut Creek and  turns into a sidewalk with a few switchbacks that lead to the sidewalk on Hickman Rd.  Why is this a big deal?  It is dangerous to cross Hickman at 128th.  Now one can take this sidewalk and cross Walnut Creek.  Great for people that live north of Hickman.

Since we were in the recon mode we took the Greenbelt all the way back.  Yes, we did not take the detour.  We got to see the progress on the trail.  It is rideable but some sections are dirt.  There are still trees here.  Clive is moving part of the trail away from Walnut Creek and making the new section less curvy.  It appears that they are also working on water drainage as well.  Big rains have flooded this trail in the past.  Completion of work is scheduled for the Spring of 2018.

Blog Supplemental: Urbandale's Bridge to the RRVT Open Now

I have been trying to get out to visit the new pedestrian bridge Urbandale installed on the north side of Hickman Rd to the Raccoon River Valley Trail.  They were to have it completed by the end of September but did not.  I took a few looks after work in October to see that they were still not finished.  And with the Greenbelt closure I have been taking a different way to and from work and did not have an opportunity to look at it until today.

It is complete.  It is a pedestrian connection from 128th to the RRVT.  Crossing Hickman at 128th has always been risky.  Now one can take this sidewalk to the trail and ride underneath Hickman Rd on the trail. 

I'm a bit miffed that it is not wide.  Also disappointed that no one has made a paved trail section/sidepath at the corner of Hickman and 128th to connect with the existing sidepath on 128th.  It would not be a long section.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Coffeeneuring 2017

Once again I combine two of my favorite activities, bicycling and drinking coffee, into one for the opportunity to earn the esteemed Coffeeneuring patch.  And why not?

Des Moines Brew Coffee Co
October 13, 2017 FRIDAY THE 13TH!!!
Large Americano with room for half and half
4 mile round trip as we went to the store afterwards

We had been planning to go here for quite some time but never had the opportunity.  It is located in a renovated building that now houses several restaurants, a fitness place and a bar.  DSM Brew is also located on a MLK bicycle trail.  Just a mile from our home it is a safe and easy ride.  Just crossing 3rd St is the only bump but there is a button to trigger the stop light.  It was the Friday before our daughter's wedding and I had the day off.  Mary and rode to the taco place next door, Fuzzy Tacos, and had lunch.  After lunch we moved our bikes over for the photo shoot.  I had my standard, large Americano with room for half and half.  Mary had a cup of tea.  They used a tea kettle to heat the water for her tea and this took some time.  Basic "dry look" (unfinished ceiling) with art on the walls.  Friendly staff.  I don't recall much more about this place because our minds were focused on our daughter's wedding.  We plan to return.

Scenic Route Bakery
October 21, 2017
Small Americano
4.5 mile round trip

Dora's cappuccino.  Also a  better photo of the "bike rack."

Original plan was to get here early, 6 am, because the weather folks promised that it would be raining.  We overslept and then checked radar and the rain was a long, long way off.  Took our daughter Dora with us and hit the famous Des Moines Downtown Farmer's market on the way home as well as stopping at Graziano Brother's Market (Italian food) on the way home.  First thing we noticed that there was not a bicycle rack in front of the establishment. There was one across the street and another down the block. So we locked up to the iron decorative fencing that protects the planted flowers from would be blind pedestrians.  This is a common practice for those that visit the East Village via bicycle.  Mary was in the mood for breakfast food but we did not see anything but pastries which were good.  We had fruit danishes.  Mary had a hot chocolate, Dora a cappuccino and I a small Americano.  Dora is used to the fake sugar infused hot water style of cappuccinos and thus did not finish hers.

Mars Cafe
October 29, 2017
Large Americano
3 mile round trip

The Red Phoenix.
Always be coffeeneuring!

Chilly Sunday morning but it was starting to warm up.  Spent the day before inside working on bicycles.  The red bike is the Red Phoenix, my winter commuter which has been sitting underneath a tarp since March waiting for the day, usually in November, when I kick off the rust and restore it to functioning order.  This is Red's first spin since March.  A test ride for coffee.  This coffee shop is located in Des Moines East Village.  Mary rode with me and had a hot chocolate.  I found this to have been among the best Americano I have ever had.  $2.75 for any size I wanted.  I chose the the large and added about an inch and a half of half and half to cut the bitterness and cool it down.

St Kilda Cafe & Bakery
November 4, 2017
4 miles round trip

St Kilda is a new place located on one of our major travel paths just across the river on our way downtown.  Always wanted to stop there but they always seemed busy especially with the Downtown Farmer's Market going on.  Well, the Farmer's Market ended for the year and we got our downtown back.  Special ride for us today.  Last week a stick went through the drive train of my Campy bike and destroying a wonderful original Campagnola derailleur.  The bike never missed a beat but riding it with a saggy chain is not the best thing to do.  So as a fond farewell to the noble gear switcher of the past 23 years I though Coffeeneuring would be apprope.  The place as a bit busy but we were greeted immediately by the hostess and once we told them that we were here for coffee we were able to grab a window seat.  As usual, I had an Americano and Mary had a hot chocolate.  For once our bevies were not in disposable cups.  Mary's received the arty foam touch.  My request for cream was granted in a tiny cream pitcher.  Nice!  I wish we would have had more time to study the menu.  service was fast!  When it came time to pay we were stuck behind a family of slow ordering people but the owner saw our dilemma and tendered our payment on a different register.  Thank you!  we shall return.

Theme Within A Theme (The Accidental Coffeeneurer)
November 8, 2017
Large Medium Roast from Java Joe's
15 miles

Coffee sitting on the Salsa Anything cage.  Thank you DMPD.

So I stopped at the store to pick up dinner.  While loading the bike at the rack next to a gentleman with a fatbike and putting gloves, headband, lights back on a police officer walks up and asks if I'd like a coffee.  "You bikers must be cold.  They gave me two coffees and I can't drink both.."  I responded immediately, yes, I'd like a coffee.  I was not cold but it is hard to explain to muggles that 47F is not cold for a year round cyclist.  She gave me a large coffee and I thanked her.  PIPING HOT and black.  So I went back inside and purchased a small container of half and half, the one with the screw top, to cool the coffee and mellow out the bitterness.  She said it was from Java Joes's, a local coffee shop across the street.  I drank it while finishing my journey home.

Inspired Grounds Cafe
November 11, 2017
16 miles

I should have removed the lid.  The back of my bicycle can be seen with a large bag of dog food on back.

If it would have been warmer we would have enjoyed our coffee outside.  It was a cloudy day with the temps in the 40s and the possibility of rain constant.

Mary inside in yellow.

Somewhere to coffeeneur where we had not coffeeneured before.  This time in Historic Valley Junction.  I like this place and will most likely be back.  Not only do they sell java but books and art as well.  Good place to do some Christmas shopping.  My coffee was good but much better when half gone.  They had real half and half here which is a plus.

Madhouse Brewery
November 18, 2017
Sumatra Coffee Stout
2 mile Round Trip

Thought I'd finish this with an Americano, didn't you??  Nope!  We tooke the streets and rode bike lanes mpart of the way.  not much traffic.  This coffee stout is one of the finest local stouts in my city.  Sadly, they are no longer producing it so they can make room for new beers.  No longer available on tap either which explains why I purchased the bottle.  When I heard the news that this brew was to be no more I knew I had to get it from the source.  Brewed with cold brewed Sumatra grounds from Zannibar Coffee. From Madhouse's website, "We then partnered with Des Moines based Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure for house roasted Sumatra coffee beans. The coffee is cold pressed and added just prior to carbonation of add depth and flavor to the beer."  Delish!

Also in contention for coffee beer was Reclaimed Rails' UnRailed Porter which is a normal looking beer with coffee flavor.  Mind bending since it looks like beer but tastes like coffee.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Will You Ever Drive?"

I was asked this tonight by a co-worker.  I just wanted to tell him about the POS car he owns and drives and what a money pit it turned into.  And the car that his nephew destroyed last week.  But I lacked the crayons to draw him a picture that he would understand.  I simply replied that I enjoy riding a bicycle to work and enjoy the freedom of a car free life.  No payments, not insurance, no big repair bills ect.  If my bicycle won't start in the morning i.e. flat tire of something wrong, I just grab another from my fleet.

Cars cost about 1/4th of people's income.  That's a sacrifice I enjoy not making.

So I wonder if he thought of me when he stepped out into the drizzle tonight.  Yeah, he probably chuckled knowing that he would be dry while I spent an hour getting wet.  But I was not unhappy.  Quite the contrary.  It was a warm ride home and warm rides home are becoming a resource we are running out as winter approaches.  I also carried home 4 unopened bottles of wine left over from tonight's special event on my bicycle.  And that made me smile.

Wet clothing.  I'll wear something different tomorrow.  Perhaps with the money I'm not spending on a car I will buy some better rain clothing.  Or bicycle parts.....or a new bike....

Will I ever own a car again.  Probably.  But I do not feel the need for one now.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Silent Rider

There is a person that I see every so often cycling his way to or fro work.  Usually I spot him at 517 am in the Windsor Heights/Clive/West Des Moines area.  Many times I did not realize it was him.  Back a few years ago when Mary worked in Urbandale (crap generic name for a city but it was named after Mr. Urban) we would ride together and part ways at the end of the Windsor heights trail where the Clive Greenbelt begins or as it is known for its landmark, the Burger King on 73rd by the Wal Mart.  Occasionally we would see this guy riding on the street and heading up Buffalo Rd.  One time when I was riding my slow Soho with the horrid Nexus 7 speed internal hub,  I did catch up with him at the intersection of 22nd and Westown Pkwy but he did not acknowledge my presence.  Oh well, I climb that hill on Buffalo Rd like a demon and I was happy enough with that.

Through the years my commute has changed and I started taking the Greenbelt all the way to 128th.  And on those days I'd occasionally see a bicycle blinkie heading the same direction on University Ave.  Who is that?  Where's he going?   How's his commute?  Or her.

Once again my route changed due to reconstruction on the Greenbelt.  Now I take the trail to 86th St and ride on the new trail access and enter the street, University Ave, across from the Casey's and Hardee's.  One morning last week as was on the bottom of the climb I notice a blinking red light about a 1/2 mile ahead of me.  Another bicycle!  I wonder if the rider is on this road because the trail is closed??  I better catch up.  So I put more effort into pedaling since by bicycle has only one gear.  And the effort paid off as I caught up with the cyclist around Valley West Mall.

This rider had a flasher on the bike, a flasher on the helmet and a reflective pant tie/strap on each leg.  Good visibility.    He also had a backpack on instead of using the collapsible rear baskets his bike had.  Then I recognized the bicycle.  It was the same one I'd see at 517 am heading to Buffalo Rd.  Must be the same one I'd see on University Ave when I was on the Greenbelt near 515 Brewery.  I reached deep and summoned more power to overtake and pass this commuter.

As I passed him I said good morning hoping to elicit some response and have a conversation about the ride.  Get some different perspective of commuting by bicycle in the metro.  Solicit his opinion on conditions and trail work ect.  Networking.  I have met quite a few people on my ride to and fro work.  We have each other's backs.  Now some folks are silent and never say a word unless it is to warn of a fallen tree, suspicious vehicle ahead, flood ect.  Others are friendly and will say good morning.

So my new encounter on University Ave said nothing.  I pulled along side him and said good morning.  No reply I responded with a hello.  Nothing.  No movement, no word, no waves, no middle finger just silence.  Not even a movement of his head.  He just stared straight ahead like I was not even there.  He looked to be in his 50s hitting his 60s.  Dressed as a normal human, no overpriced cycling clothing, jeans and a jacket.  Maybe he socially ill, some sort of mental health flaw.  Maybe he was so lost in thought that he was not aware of my presence despite my voice and lights.  May be just a loner.  Or a dead person.  Or an undead person.  A ghost?  Figment of my imagination?  Sign of of a diagnosed brain illness?  Deaf?  Headphones?  But he looked to be a serious commuter with all the lights and reflective stuff.  And this twat, me, pulls up and asks for validation.  Even a response like Ralph Feinnes gave to the train passenger in the film  In Bruges would have been preferred to silence.  Nada.  Add more power and leave this guy alone.  Would not be the first hill I smoked him on.

So he blew me off.  That's ok.  I do not need this validation of my life.  Just wanted to network.  Gather information on riding conditions ect.  Some people do not speak or smile or acknowledge others.  I saw him again and I know where he turns off of University.