Saturday, October 31, 2009

Once Weened Twice Smitten

Stop thief!
Fixie Eric goes Dutch.

I really love letting people give it a ride because it's so different than any other ride. Eric couldn't get over how the front rack doesn't move with the tire. You get used to it.


No pictures of my get up, yet. Perhaps it's not such an original costume for the likes of me, but I think you'll approve. I have another chance tonight. Nice thing about Saturday Halloween is Friday means to nights of fun.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dramatic Change to Downtown Bike Lane Worries Me

I new that there were going to be changes to some of the main downtown streets. Hennepin and 1st Avenue where to return to 2 way traffic. I didn't know what would happen to the bike lane on Hennepin, but was hopeful it would remain. I wasn't ready for what happened, though. My first ride down the new street had me gasping. What happened to the bike lane? Then I started to get mad. How is this progress? What's improved about this? My temper grew after talking to a friend who had been to a few Hennepin County meetings. She said that drivers had complained about being afraid of the bikes being in the middle of the road. "They're afraid of little puny bikes?!" I said. "I was hoping their fear would cause them to drive more cautiously". At one of the meetings she had asked the members if any of them rode bikes. Nobody raised a hand. After talking to her, I was furious. My thought was basically they were giving cyclists the shaft and returning the streets to 1980's conditions.

Where'd the bike lane go?

The Dream.

Hennepin before change. Bike lane in between buses and cars.

When I got home I did a little research and found that it wasn't exactly as I had imagined it. But it still isn't complete, which has all the cars using it like it's their lane. I found a video that explains how it's supposed to work and website describing the changes to Hennepin and 1st Ave.

And I didn't even get to 1st Ave, yet. That's real interesting.

The new 1st Avenue.

The Rules.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Strange New Bike Comes to My Town

Today, I was biking on out of downtown when I saw a bike a ways in front of me that looked interesting. He seemed to be taking his time, climbing the slight, but still formidable Nicollet Avenue hill. As I approached him, I was mostly thinking about peddling up this hill. A guy passes me, and says "nice bike!". I say "Thanks!". When he passes the mystery bike, he does a double take. That's when I realized that this really was a special bike. When I came up next to him, I said "Bakfiets!"

Frankie meets Mr. Bakfiets.

"Yes", he says. Then he does a double take when he looks down at what I'm riding. Ahh! it all makes sense! We continue riding up Nicollet, chatting and blocking traffic sometimes. I find out that Paul has been riding his Bakfiet for about a month ago and has been loving it(No surprise). His plan was to just use it for hauling groceries and other things, but has ended up riding it all the time, because...because it's so much fun, of course. He bought it at the same shop as I did Frankie, Dutch Bike Chicago. He was more enterprising and found a micro-hauler on Craigslist that hauled it up to the twin towns for $120. He saved himself even more money by buying last years model.

At the top of the hill we parted, but not before I got his email address(Good to keep in touch). I rode away happy knowing there's one more cool bike in town, and hopeful that the Bakfiets won't be a strange sighting in Mpls. for much longer.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cycle Spree Gone Bad Takes Pleasant Turn

Peter Rabbit or down a rabbit hole? Don't care.
Just happy to be off Lyndale Ave.

Saturday was my day to go shopping for winter clothing. Things to keep me warm on my bike when the snow comes. My destination for the day, was that retailer where you could climb rocks if you wanted to(hint). It's about 8 miles south of my place and I've made the trip before. I always have a little apprehension about the journey, I'd be going out into the suburbs and there aren't any path/trails down to this store. But driving just didn't seem right.

The ride down Lyndale Ave. wasn't too bad. While I did have cars passing me all the time, they seem to give me plenty of room. Just when I saw the spire of the store up ahead, I noticed an obstacle to my destination. The bridge over the highway was closed to all traffic. The detour sign suggested crossing a half mile down the road at Nicollet. I declined. I'd take my chances with a few construction workers. Plus the bridge looked pretty much done anyways.

I'm not a frequent shopper. I need to get in the mood, which usual happens when the weather changes, and last years clothing have lost their appeal. I went at it with gusto. Getting gloves, socks, caps, undershirts, pants and shoes(reviews in future). Whew! Time to get out of here. Get that bike loaded up and let's roll.

Riding back up Lyndale was okay for awhile but it was a little darker and the motor traffic was starting to bug me. Then a 4 bus whooshed by, about a foot away from me. Just as I was trying to think of a better route home, I had a sign.

It was a sign... that said Minnehaha Parkway. I didn't think twice but hopped on the bike trail headed East toward the river. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it earlier. I was going to be on trails the whole way home.
Almost a bridge too far.

Minnehaha Parkway follows Minnehaha Creek to Minnehaha Falls. Then I'd be at the Mississippi River and would ride the river bike path up to downtown. But it was so gorgeous out, that Frankie and I had to make a few stops to take in the beauty before it passes.

That's the Mississippi River down below.

Below U of M West Bank

Almost Home
An interesting message the two signs, together convey?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Important Dutch Bike Moment, Not Caught on Film

In hindsight, maybe I could have found someone to take a picture, but time was tight. The moment had to be seized.

Yesterday, I was having a chai at my favorite cafe, planning to meet someone for dinner at six. When my friend Emily dropped in. We got to talking about her new job and other stuff. Then I remembered that we had talked about her taking my bike for a ride, sometime. Since Frankie was waiting out front, this was her chance. She's a tall lady, which is what you need to be to ride this Dutch. She loved it. So smooth and stable. The upright position was new to her.

Recently Added:

Emily was on the bike for less than 10 seconds before this couple stopped her, because they were curious about what kind of bike it was. First ride and already peppered with questions. Get used to it! I was thinking of making a handout, explaining the bike and it's accessories. But figured it's funner to do the spiel myself.
I noticed that was going to be running late, so we said our good bye's. She mentioned that she'd be walking over to the Wedge Coop, about 10 blocks away. I offered to give her a on ride on the back of Frankie, and to my surprise, she agreed. Nobody's ever said yes before. I had read that it doesn't taking long for rider and drivers to get used to it. So, I knew it could be done. She hopped on, side saddle and I pushed off. It was definintely a different ride. We wobbled for a bit and I had to really grip the handle bars, to keep it from swinging too far one way. After a few blocks, I started to get the hang of it. Frankie, really handled it well. I got the sense that with practice, it would become much easier, as long as the passenger knew what they were doing, too. If she had started shifting around a lot, it could have got tricky.

I was really fun. People watched as we passed. We were taking side streets and I noticed the cars behind us didn't mind that we were taking the lane. They just sat back. When we got to the Wedge, we cruised past the windows by the check out. Then I doubled back again, just to show off! Since I was already running late for dinner, I didn't take the time to arrange a picture. You'll just have to believe me.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Snow Brings Rude Awakening

Waking this morning with snow on the ground and a temperature of 26F was a real shock to the system. A couple of weeks ago it was in the 70's. Last year, we made it into late November without snow. But that's Minnesota. No promises. Abrupt.

Frankie doesn't mind the chill. He's a trooper.

That's how it goes. I needed a little reminder. I guess I'd better start getting ready for winter. Luckily, I had started pulling some of wooly wear out of the closet this week. That made today's cycling much more bearable. I do need to find the heavier gloves, because my thin, liner gloves were the bare minimum today. I started a list of things to get before winter really starts. Get last years winter bike tuned up. Gets some studded tires for Frankie. Get all of last years winter clothing out and decide what I'll want to replace. Plus, I think some more wool is a must. Stuff's expensive, but it's so effective that it's worth it. Cotton bad! I had cotton socks on today and my feet were frozen, when I got home. Last year, I got by wearing tennis shoes all Winter with Smart wool socks.

I'm glad that over the last week, I have been making the mental transition, too. From Sun loving, little clothes wearing, Summer, to dark chills, lots of clothes on, Winter. I've done it many times before, but until it happens, you're still holding on to the idea of Summer. What is also a little disheartening about this Arctic blast is, it got so cold, so fast, that the leaves are falling off the trees, green. It is a little strange that so many of the leaves are still green, but we did have one of the warmest Septembers ever. But one of the joys of Fall is seeing the orange, red and yellow leaves on the trees. It's brief. Better not be to busy, or you'll miss it. But it's considered one of the trade off's for the coming freeze. Well see if Winter keeps that arrangement.

Get back up on the trees, where you belong.

One of the reality's of this change, is I'll have to start moving over to my other blog iciclebicycle. Got to clean it up. Better hustle. Been thinking about some good Winter preparation blogs, but now Winter beat me to it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009