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Thursday, August 30, 2007

The question was asked: "what happened to Shawn?"
When my clock radio that barely penetrated sleep at 6:30 Monday said "Shawn Marmion" and "suicide," it rattled me from sleep well before I had to rise. Since I was bustling around by 7:30, I couldn't tell if I missed the repeat or if it had been edited,but I thought "that's not just news for them... they lost a friend."
I met Shawn at the Ride to the Depot , in the dawn's early light of my first century, a solo effort. He was about the first person of many to pass me, and spent a good five miles encouraging me... managing to convey not patronization or confusion, but admiration for "doing 100 miles in sneakers on a hybrid!" and conversing with respect for my dawning strengths, instead of cruising past and waving. I was so impressed with his kindness that I made a point of figuring out who he was from the registration on the ride.
The second time I encountered him was on my first "ride with the fast people," in a memorable paceline where I averaged 21.3 for 30 miles. (I'd never topped 18 before.) It was when the front of that group peeled ahead for a final sprint and he hung back to pull the rest of us in at that ridiculous, euphoric average that I remembered the assorted comments he'd made along the way, some encouraging and some just making sure communication was happening with a new person on board. I thought, "Oh! It's that Shawn guy!"
I only saw him a couple of other times. When his son was killed ... shit. Irreconcilable. And when I heard the news Monday morning, I thought... I *know* he's touched a ton of people... and they're reeling now. Which is why I wanted to be riding with "the contingent..." I like the chaplain's words because they are valid as well as comforting. My friend who was at the service said " he said simply that it wasn't Shawn who took his life. That wasn't Shawn, the man who had lived 47 full and productive years. Something took the Shawn we knew before the moment of his death. Shawn will be missed."

I'll remember Shawn on the dawn of the 30th when once again I'll be tackling a century, at the Ride to the Depot that's happening this year in Fritz Miericke's memory, and if there's somebody plugging along in front of me, I'll pause and go for more than the surface comments. Fritz and Shawn, both, saw more in all kinds of people than most of us ... are able to? bother to? It's those extra kindnesses that live on.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Welp, I was very busy at work but part of my heart was out with the riding and triathlon contingent at Shawn Marmion's funeral. If you love some one, let 'em know...

and here's a first: a youtube link at the heavily, haughtily moderated forum about someone who really "enjoys cycling" ... welp, they may link but I won't :) ... a lesson in seat adjustment, indeed! Ahem, best viewed in privacy or not at all adn well, it is of course sexist and inappropriate in a special European way.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sometimes the calling has pedals :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rode with the women's ride last night (the men stood me up :)). I *like* riding in a group that really slows down for the corners where you can't see around the corn, and when a car's coming, we go single file (with the other groups, cars coming or going - they gotta go 'round... whcih makes sense when there are 14 of us 'cause single file we'd be half a mile long sometimes, but I still *prefer* being in a group of four and neatly folding over). We still went fast.
Besides, they reminded me that Sunday is the Coal City Bike Psychos Century ride, which I put out of my mind 'cause of the LIB meeting, which got postponed. Sweet!!
(But... I still like riding with my guys better. They also stop for corners and give room for cars, but I can make more sense out of the conversations :))

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The end is now in sight

... I saw a wooly caterpillar today. A very, very dark wooly caterpillar.
It was still 90-ish degrees. It was a hot caterpillar :)

Gas jumped a few dimes to close to three bucks a gallon. I reckon it's been a month since I bought some (and that was for the rental car). Gotta figure out the bus route for the just in case case.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Something made me think... oh, yea, that person emailed to say that "Women who ride" was *so* getting off the ground, and I'd see info about it soon... well, it was a while ago, but it looks like it's started! (May, August, whatever ;)) I can see why it was tough choosing... and no, Trek still doesn't have competent web design... but the ladies are at Women who Ride (just don't expect to get back to the main page from within ;))


Posted this pic on and got the reaction "Port-a-potties in a cornfield?? Isn't that redundant??"

Topped 6000 miles for the year & 825 for month yesterday; remembering somebody posting that they'd done 1000 miles in 24 days and thinking "now *that's* beyond my reach." Mebbe, mebbe not...


Make your own church marquee :-)
(note the address: )
See a small collection here

Monday, August 20, 2007


The Buzz wrote up the Bike Co-op - very sweet little piece of journalism. It's nice (and rare) when a reporter gets an accurate "feel" for a place, instead of projecting his/her own definitions on it. I love the picture of the pile of wheels :)

Yesterday I was cruising back from a ride and a skater powered by me. I accelerated and clocked him at 20 mph. (No, he couldn't sustain it, but that's power. Don't know if I was a rabbit or he was doing formal intervals. I'm sure it felt good to pass me, though!)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

what does "ride and maintain" mean? It means why do commuters make do and improvise? And I maintain it's only because we have to. It's certainly not my natural inclination.

So. I want better lighting - hey, I want better sounds, too. It should be really, really easy to put together a little electronic MP3 gizmo with my favorite sound effects. If it were anything remotely resembling my natural inclination I would do so. (I've gathered some of the stuff to do it with. The inclinatin hasn't sloped me down there.) Yes, I can purchase a flogging foghorn or assorted high decibel cacophinators. There are other options which would be a whole lot more fun.

And the bottom line is most stuff is made for fair weather riders. My Gazelle is clearly designed to be like a car - park it wherever, it's fine. Drive it through whatever, it's fine. I don't have to clean everything up if it gets caught in a sprinkle. I want that to be true for my sweet Xtra.

Forgot to mention the Friday parkingl lot scenery - myriad cars at Hobby Lobby ... nope, they're wearing cubs jerseys and getting out of their cars and... there's the bus! No wonder those silly guys won ;)

Thursday, August 16, 2007 hmmm... wondering if I could request one of these for outside of D wing.

*why* do bicycle commuters ride and maintain and ride and maintain ? Is it a self-perpetuating cycle? If there were good products for commuting, I would buy them. They aren't there.
One problem is the theft thing. There are huge advantages to a bicycle that appears undesirable. However, perhaps there would be a market for a nicer bicycle with good built-in security (hmmm.... and that could be creative - booby trap the seat so that if you don't enter the right four-digit code a little ink capsule explodes in two minutes? )

Hmmm.... p'raps the biker bloggers out t/here should form our own focus group and brainstorm desired product developments.

I for one would like to see - yea, turn signals, of course. That's not the end of the light story, though. Fact is that one little blinkie or even one big blinkie is utterly behind the times. Remember when cars just had little red lights at the back? Now there are big fat brake lights... oh, and they're amber, and we've got running lights and all kinds of froux froux. Welp, while part of me suspects that this is a path to maximal entropic visual confusion when light will no longer contrast, we're not there yet. There's that Down Low Glo setup and Hokey Spokes but both are overkill and therefore overpriced in their respective ways. I've got two Hokey Spokes that alas, i need to find the spoke attachments for to put 'em on again. I never use the funky features (scrolling letters) and while I *do* thoroughly enjoy the designs, they're not necessary. I picked up some other Bell spoke lights at Dick's Sporting Goods (my safe-surf rating just plummeted, but so be it) for I think 7$... but they didn't restock and I have not found them online.

I have ideas. Christmas lights with batteries work well - but if there were somethng designed for my needs it would be far superior, such as an at lesat slightly weatherproof much shorter string of LED lights (less batter drain - maybe even like a calculator and solar powered?) More thoughts soon...

Nice commute in. Had my little swishy broom from another era that conveyed with my house and a few minutes to spare so (instead of going the back way in for an extra half mile) I paused on the path to brush those Miller Chill chunks and shards off. They've gone out of their way to make it usable even with all the ocnstruction on the other side - and they made a nice cut curb down to the college entrance, which is a huge improvement 'cause I don't curb hop and the other access points aren't so good.
I don't get why they also "improved" the path that goes by the soccer fields and cuts to the other college entrance to put in a roundabout... a *tiny* roundabout that's apparently a "traffic calming" device so that a bicyclist has to slow to 5 mph. 10 I can understand (and maybe other people would slow to 10 - I corner slowly :))... but mishandle it and you have a fairly bad wreck.

I returned last night to tackle the re-attachment of the front wheel, which is actually more challenging than changing the tire because the tube and what have you are big round things that can go on any which way. To put the danged wheel back on severl things have to be precisely lined up - oh, and you have to remember what they are. And then you have to remember to tighten up the nuts that hold the wheel on! (No quick release.)
So! I turned the bike the rest of the way upside down (of course spilling broom, ductape, sunscreen, ah! there was that last bottle of beer taken off the road last night! on the garage floor), and attached an end to where it looked right. Turned it rightside up but it weren't right a-tall.
Remembered that I hadn't put the nuts on, so I did that and said to self "remember to tighten them!" but didn't -wrench is in the house. Considered finger tightening but decided that would be a tactical error (correctly). Bent down and dredged up memory and had a few unsuccessful attempts at connecting things. Oh, yea... it's the curvy part back *there* that has to get put in second (after the thing sticking up slides into the slot it slides into and making sure the wheel is in right). Make successful attempt at attachment, and successful attempt at making the back brake tighter, too.
Ready for a test ride! Oops, gotta tighten those nuts. Good thing I didn't finger tighten them or I'd have been riding... Go in and get wrench. Look at wheel and decide to Do That Thing with the fender, and I loosen the nut and manage to hold the right things with different fingers to make that one shorter. Mirabile dictu!!! *Now* it's time for a test drive! ... Oops, gotta tighten those nuts. Good thing I didn't...
Also test drive my Reef Sandals (Flip-FLops glorified with a bottle opener in the sole). They don't feel right on the bike (prob'ly don'te feel right period, but mayb just 'til I get calluses between my toes.)

I kinda don't want to get a new tire right away... I'll have to do all that all over again... on the other hand, that would be the best way to get it into ye olde motor memory. Perhaps a lunch trip is in order, but there is something nice about working with a tire so old it's like Kleenex instead of rubber and wire. Maybe a few hundred more miles? Yea, another week ;)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Indeed! I found the offending sliver. Took a bit to prise it out - resorted to pliers and am extremely grateful for my younger-than-they-should-be eyes and good fine motor skills ;)
Now to stay awake enough during my net-haven chat to be able to go back and figure out those silly brakes...

It's all about the words.... my fender has been riding against the tire on the right side. So I asked the folks on last Tuesday's "day off ride with the Tuesday morning tour" ride to tell me how to think about it so I could fix it. Sure enough, Cliff was able to look at it, think about it, and point out that there's a nut attaching the fender on both sides of hte wheel, and it's on an adjustable-length thingy that attaches.
Add to mechanical verbal repertoire: Inquire of self whilst examining mechanical obect: are there any nuts and bolts here, and what do they do? Could they change something besides tightness?
In this case, by lengthening one side and shortening the other, it creates a curve and therefore guides the fender to go in that direction. It's like those auxin hormones in plants which are the reason they curve to grow towards the sun. (This is so cool!!!) You send a little more growth hormone to the shady side of the plant, and it grows longer. Jes' like slackin' off on one oar... if one side grows more than the other, the plant isn't straight. It curves towards teh short side.
This, I know, will not amaze most of you. To the linear mind, it's a marvelous harmony.

Okay, now to fix that silly flat on the Red GIant. It's not really totally flat... so fi this doesn't work I can pump it up and ride fast :) I might have even on purpose remembered the tip about putting the tire on with the label above the valve stem becuase then you don't have to *mark* it to say "okay, where in the tube is the damage... let me check the tyre especially closely there." Oops, this is the red, not the Gazelle, it's a tire. Good ol' German Conti's... but this one perhaps ready to trade in for a hard case :)

Welp, this "rich media" will probably get enough hits to make the server twist and turn... but here is the interview and slide show about the cyclist who was one of the first people on the scene of the bridge collapse.

Oh, and I'm on the Gazelle today because last night's adventures yielded a morning-after flat tire ;)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mission accomplished!!! Required some snooping in the grasses and hiding in it when a car went by (only 'cause around here people would want to wonder what was wrong, not why I was snooping in the grasses in the dark) but the treasure was located and secured . It probably won't be consumed ... not since I found Ommegang...

And a song may be hatching... a bicycle song of course, "The How're you gonna bonk me this time jubilation blues" or something like that.

The storms gave me a window to commute in this a.m. - a fun ride watching the psychedelia to the North and getting in as the edge arrived wtih big floppy drops.

Gotta love Parkland... I leaned my bike almost lying down against the bike rack to beat the wind to it. Went out at lunch - storms were gone, and the bike was neatly standing up.

Went to bike shop. Got tube for Schwinn. Didn't get patches because they revealed themselves on the sofa (they were *not* there last night or the night before.... hmmm.... maybe the same elf that put 'em out where I could see them stood the bike up for me, too.) Scot wore a t-shirt with a bicycle graphic and the words "Powered by Fat." Said he'd seen a sticker that said "You look fat in that SUV." Snork...

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Tuesday's Pedaling for Pleasure in beautiful Bondville.

fair-weather vs. most-weather commuting

So! My friend Rich landed that local job and is planning on commuting by bicycle. Rich is already an active, activist cyclist, and when I asked, yes - he wants to use the bike most of the time. (I suppose, as in, don't even think about trying to pay for a parking spot.) Welp, first, there should be a name for it that has parallel opposite connotations to fair-weather :-) ... I suppose die-hard?
What advice? I've been thinking about it, and I think that even if you're already a pretty die-hard cyclist, I'm not sure there is a "standard" set of gear or strategies that applies to everybody. Commuting situations vary so much; riding style (are you a masher or a spinner? I'm thinking it might matter) and ... body type. Gore-Tex and a few layers, and this well-insulated frame is happy and genuinely warm (I show up at work with warmer hands than anybody else), but I'm pretty sure that doesn't work for everybody.
THen there's theft: I gotta lock my baby up (tho' I've forgotten once or twice ... but it looked locked...) but it doesn't compare to the U. and the Urbana Free Library (where two bikes were swiped - locked but not well - while we were at our bike advocacy meeting last month). Beat-up baskets have been swiped, not to mention computers or seats or lights or wheels.
Welp, I'm going to (right now!) go pump up the tire on the black Schwinn and see if it holds and then ride it on Tuesday's ride and offer to loan it. Personally, I think it's the ultimate commuting machine except that it's eclipsed by the Xtracycle & the Gazelle. THat brings me back to the original thought: would I recommend a Gazelle and/or an Xtra to everyone? Well, yes, as far as the Xtra goes - but it's a cognitive leap as big as the one into commuting at all. I don'tt hink most people are ready for that level of lifestyle change.
On the other hand, if you don't have the gear to make it feasible, you're not likely to stick to it. The Xtra goes a loooong way to making bicycling as transportation feasible. We're just a people that hauls stuff around with us. (On the third hand, most people are better than I am at figuring out how to carry things on their bicycles. I am a person who leaves a trail; Pigpen has nothing on me.)
Okay, the other thing that needs to happen is that we need an article in the silly paper with all the other "welcome to campus" glurge that outlines cycling as an option. Hmmm....
Nope, I will pump up that tire first!!!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mary Cliff is disorienting me entirely. Peter Yarrow dropped by. Then she played Arlo.

Old? Young?

Can you understand about the Blue Ridge?

37 miles toward the cause with the Saunter plus pre-and-post miles. (37 miles/day avg. x 30 days = 1110 miles; 1 more for a nice sounding 1111 mile month. SOmeone asked whether people who get that many miles have lives ;) ... yea, we just don't have *cars.* )

Poster and registration
for the Fritz Miericke Memorial Ride to the Depot coming on Sept. 30. Just saying we lost a good one last January isn't quite enough. Waking up the Depot ride is a good idea - it's great scenery (even if the roads kinda lumpy) and hey, you might even see some wild White Heathens out there!!!

C-U Across the prairie is sooner, tho - get that registration in! It's a neat ride from Lake of the Woods in Mahomet.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Okay, I'm out of some loops around here. Strawberry Fields' management has rather alienated its market by closing its cafe and doing some unpopular firings. It'll be interesting to see whether they can maintain themselves based on image and relying on student turnover, or whether folks will be driven in droves to the food co-op to get their stuff and then gather at, say, the Iron Post or in Lincoln Square... hmmm... how about that vacant lot next to ... who knows?

This morning had more than the average waving. Started with the CUMTD bus driver and included the security guy at Carle. I decided to graduate from waving back from behind the "ships passing in the night" veneer. It's not even as hard as making sure you get to know your neighbors, eh? Why not look at the guy and see him as a person, not the "morning video" of scenery? As if he were a celebrity, even.
(Yea, one's mind goes in odd places some mornings...)
Easier ride in - less load without the smoothie apparati and I didn't have the light on. Traffic was less cooperative, though.

"Cycling is the new golf." That was in some article or other; now there's a marketing idea. What functions does golf fulfill? SOcial, personal whatever? Could cycling do it? Can you picture execs tooling around... yes, I could, though it's hard to say whether they would deign to do things on public roads as opposed to exclusive golf courts.
New bike lanes are up on Illinois! See pictures here!!1

Oh, and the aforementioned Adult say's she's gonna get a Trek 7100. Commission, please?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"Fredcast" of story of cyclist on the scene of the bridge collapse in Minnesota.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


My sister in law finds this amusing... I, too.
Missing Tommy Makem and Four Green Fields and all that.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Lots of folks out riding today, tho' it was hot. Had a nice ride to Sadorus last night - has the route.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Okay, what am I doing putting in comments what wants to be blogged? Pardon the utter redundancy...

I was selling "real bikes" to yet another Adult Who Wants TO Buy A Bike and was thinking Wally World tonight. I b'lieve I did a good job. Main points: Service (before, during and after purchase) , product quality (parts that can wear out and be replaced instead of "get a new bike"), and ... "there are still thriving bike shop businesses. If it weren't genuinely a better deal, they would have gone out of business like so many other places that Wally World has put out of business."
Gosh, you'd think I'd been helping English 101 students write persuasive papers or something (I have... though not about bicycles.)

Pain is fear, leaving the body. Welp, that's what Mr. Ashley's T-shirt says. Or maybe it was "pain is weakness, leaving the body," which is what somebody else posted somewhere that reminded me, and I modified it to suit what would inspire me. Hope he makes/made it back from Iraq with a few shreds of sanity. And I shall hold the thought when things get ouchy... or scary. (Hmmm... so when you're scared, you should ride until it hurts?)

Made the 1000 with a mile to spare... couldn't have made it without those extra midnight miles...

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