Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Welcome to the Jungle

This one'll have you grittin' yer teeth -- more helmet cam vids

Thanks to C.P. for the heads-up!


Monday, January 30, 2006

15 Seconds of Fame

Er, 1.5 Seconds??

OK, I didn't make the article, but my quote made it on B3 of the Local section in the Minneapolis Trib. Click on the Why Cyclists Ride link underneath the photo. Of course, you'll need to register for that part so here it is:

Here's what veteran bike commuters say about heading out into the cold:

Lee Penn, 36, Minneapolis, professor of chemistry at the University of Minnesota

"My biggest motivation is environmental. Avoiding the use of petroleum-powered vehicles is a priority for me. Being a one-car family is something that we are very proud of!"

Christopher Budel, 47, St. Paul, bookstore owner

"In spite of the cold (I do prefer 90 degrees and high humidity, really!) I enjoy my 17.3-mile daily round-trip commute. Sometimes it's hard to get on the bike, but I'm always glad I did. ... Everyone I talk with thinks I'm so tough, but anyone could do this, and they'd feel great about their lives and themselves."

Jeanne Ulmer, 44, St. Louis Park, elementary school teacher

"By the time I'm at work, little riles me; and if something does get to me during the day, it's off my shoulders by the time I reach home at the end of the day."

Barbara Quade-Harick, 40, Minneapolis, high school English teacher

"Driving is boring. Riding in the spring I hear birds, see eagles fly over the Lake Street Bridge and wave to the peace demonstrators on the bridge. In the winter I like the new snow on the roads. ... I also like the slower pace rather than rushing in my car."

- The Old Bag's signing autographs

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Aesthetics? Athletics?

After a few 46-degree days my front lawn is turning green and whatever snow is falling from today’s gray skies is sparse -- disappears when it hits ground. It’s tough to get excited about throwing the skis in the car when the backyard is nearly in full bloom...nor do I feel like cleaning off a bicycle after riding through road slop...my running shoes need replacing or my hip does, whichever so that’s out.

However, it’s a perfect day for some spring cleaning. Over the past month my closets have gradually turned into havens for piles of shoes, clothes, towels and ski equipment. It’s what happens in the winter when we’ve got questionable snow: the sudden early Saturday AM wake-up, the flurry of phone calls and arranged pick-ups, then we’re off to the north/west/east in search of good skiing conditions. Returning home after supper means laundry and unpacking...things often get tossed into drawers and refrigerator before an evening of kicking-back: I’ll sort through things later.

So, this dreary day is later. It’s perfect for washing rugs and sorting-out Goodwill items, scrubbing the fridge and sweeping the basement and sorting sweaters. Since company is coming in a few days, I look at my house through someone else’s eyes:
  • is that a...Christmas tree? STILL? What month is it?
  • doorknobs -- on the Closet doors -- how long have those been gone? er, 18 months?
  • ...dried-up OJ on the fridge shelves...I wish people, er, person would learn to clean-up
  • salsa and hummus...more hummus, hummus, salsa...hey, I’ve got yogurt -- CARROTS!
Carpet is camouflage. I didn’t know that until I moved into a house with wood. Dust bunnies show up everywhere on wooden floors. Would I rather see crud and know enough to take care of it? or would I rather have it be there unseen and me be happily ignorant? I guess it depends upon whether we're talking aesthetics or athletics. Athletics? gimme carpet and an unfinished basement for repairing my toys. Aesthetics? wooden floors with an area rug can’t be beat in an older home.

Answer: a day off during the week for cleaning and errands since weekends are for play.

I wish. :-]

- The Bag

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Not the Battery

...this time....

blinky blinky blinky
head l i g h t



ig ni tion



- tob's damned bulb anyway

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

And For the Boys

The whole 8 minutes.

I found this over at oV's place awhile back -- still in my mind.

All of it.

- The Bag always was a tomboy....


...because even little girls play with trucks in the sandbox....

thanks to Nerd's Eye View for showing me the way back

- TOB's out playin'

Monday, January 23, 2006

Breakfast Of...


Oatmeal Buttermilk 'Cakes

4 c. rolled oats
1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
2 t. soda
pinch salt

1 quart buttermilk
4 eggs
1/2 c. melted buttah
2 t. vanilla

Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients. Stir both together with fork. Let stand 45 minutes. Batter will thicken. Cook on a hot griddle using 1/4 cup scoop. Insides will be moist from the oatmeal.

Massively dense! Add a side of 2 lbs. turkey bacon/sausage and it all serves 8-12...or 7 famished skiers.

- TOB can sure cook when she's hungry

Friday, January 20, 2006

Live for the Routine

one thing elevates
the routine, the everyday
to the anticipated

the waited, hoped-for
attitude is new

halfway through the day
I become the highway-bound
friends, snow, skiing, sleep

- The Outta-Here Bag

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Who You're Seen With Matters Less...

Than Being Seen

Two Joe Average cyclists with above-average light comparisons:
Bike Forums' New Blinkie Comparison thread -- Video clips comparing tail lights: Cateye LD1000, Cateye LD500, and Niterider tail lights from various vantage points: back, side, 3/4. Posts #1, #23 and #29 have clips and/or photos. #29 really makes the case for reflective tape on the bike WOW (and illustrates the fact that neon yellow jackets aren't neon in the dark).

MTBR Forums' LED Light Review thread -- side-by-side photos of the Dinotte 5-watt Luxeon, Vega 4-watt Luxeon, a DIY Luxeon headlight of 12 watts, older NightRider 12-watt halogen for comparison. Posts #1 and #18 have got photos of the beam pattern, along with charts and graphs if'n yer into all that tech-type info.
*Updated* Also, James Sharp of Lactic Acid Threshold is running some of his own LED headlight tests with results found in Gear Review (if you haven't seen his blog, there is a ton of product evaluation).

- The Bag's on a roll...or on a ride, whatever....

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

At This Price, Who Needs Five Hours Runtime?

I Really Like the Cateye, but...

So, how tied are you to the water bottle shaped battery container?
Tied? Not particularly. Why?
Well, using this premade sealed one would cost you about half as much. I can snip the cord right off the top of the old battery, connect it and it's done. About $30-35 total compared to $60-70 to redo the old one. It's just a matter of where you'd put it on the bike. It's got a bit more amperage so you'll get about 5% more runtime.
Wow, half? more? Serious? Looks like it should fit in a bottle cage, but if it doesn't I can always rig-up something.
It's the labor -- not having to cut the old one open, scoop out the foam insulation, solder the cells and then reseal it...wouldn't look as good when it's done because of the hot glue reseal. This Werker is a bit heavier, though.
It is a bit heavier, but heck it's for commuting -- I don't really need lightweight. It's not like I'm mountain biking with it.
Yeah, new ones are tons lighter. I use a helmet light myself.
Yeah, that's on my list. So, the old charger will work?

...10 minutes later....

Materials: $16.99
Labor: $9.99 (I might need to change jobs)
Tax: $1.10
Batteries Plus Grand Total to Keep Me on the Road in the Dark Mornings: $28.08

- The Old Bag loves a deal

Monday, January 16, 2006

It’s All Dad’s Fault

So, after my 6:30 AM one-mile commute down the street last week, I headed out to the LBS to look for a new headlight. They had a couple, but it’s obviously ten years later than it once was. Bulbs and batteries are better, but materials are cheaper.

My old VistaLite 10-watt halogen that I got for around $89 back in ‘97 has a nicer bulb housing than do most current $189 models with three-hour smart chargers and NiMH batteries. My old NiCD charged overnight (I was sleeping, who cared that it wasn’t finished in three hours?!) and the 10 watt halogen serves my commuting needs well: it lights up the road. Cars notice me and give me space. I’ve survived in fine shape for nearly 10 years without NiMH batteries and three-hour smart chargers...

...but I don’t know how I did it without two bright white LED bulbs! I walked out the door swinging my bag that held the cool black box...which cradled a headlight of quality aluminum housing...which held two bright white LEDs...that could be mounted on handlebar or helmet...paired with a three-hour smart charger and NiMH batteries that would provide nearly five hours runtime. A CatEye Double Shot!

And a receipt with some big numbers on it!


But, three days of a head cold gives a person time to hang around the house and really think. I didn’t plan to think, but things ping into my head when I’m not expecting them ... let’s see, whites, darks, red workout pants in with that purple top? ... $280, ARE YOU KIDDING? ... red, though, you know what red can do... SO, THE THING YOU’VE BEEN USING REALLY CAN’T BE SALVAGED AT ALL? ... I’ve got those red and pink towels, but towels in with my good workout gear will make them all pill-y ... YOU SAID WHAT YOU HAVE IS BETTER THAN SOME OF THE NEW STUFF OUT THERE ... maybe in with that pile of black tights ... AND DO YOU REALLY NEED 5 HOURS RUNTIME WHEN ALL YOU’VE DONE IN THE DARK LATELY IS COMMUTE? ... black lycra sheds everything except cat claws and mtb biffs -- hey! did you have to go there?

Damn the internet anyway -- who ever heard of rebuilding a proprietary battery shaped like a water bottle? Who knew a bottle-shaped housing really holds five D-cell sized rechargeable batteries?! This girl had no clue about soldering and hot gluing rechargeable batteries, stuffing them into a water bottle and jamming in some sprayable foam insulation! The guys at down the street at Batteries Plus know all this. Me? I’m of the that’s-cute-I’ll-take-it-home ilk. Hip new adorable product innovations...that I know.

So yesterday...I...rode...back...to...the LBS......with the same box cradling that aluminum housing which holds those two bright white LEDs paired with a three-hour smart charger and NiMH batteries providing nearly five hours of runtime * sigh * and in return I got a receipt with a zero-balance.

In the end, it was Dad in the back of my head: buy quality, but first check the garage. I’m willing to pay an extra $80 for quality workmanship over a lighting system housed in cheap plastic for $189 -- after all, a headlight will keep me safe and sane on the commute -- but, I’ve got to really think about quality at $270 vs. $60 for a simple battery rebuild on a system I already own (even cheaper if I do it myself), bulky as it may be because it’s suited my needs fine up to this point. ARG.

Although I really would like a longer run-time.

I found the bauble-influenced one still within, however. I found DiNotte. Relatively new and waaaaay cool. It’s got a machined aluminum housing and a bright LED, a simple attachment for helmet or handlebar, and it uses four plain old rechargeable AA NiMHs for 1:45 of 120 lumen run-time (twice as long using the low setting -- TWO SETTINGS!). For the cost of carrying four more AAs in a jersey pocket, one can easily and cheaply double its run-time; and in a pinch it can even use lithium batteries lithium batteries are everywhere... and the battery pack is so tiny that it can hang off the stem or on the helmet. All to the tune of around $190. Nothing proprietary. An LED with 10,000 hours burn that has the lumens of a 12-watt halogen. Longer run-time than what I’ve got currently.

All in the justifiable range. Oh man.....

- The Bag likes shiny things....

Friday, January 13, 2006

Outta Here

Iconoclasst's Paean to the Power of the Pedal... -- the physical, metaphysical, and social reasons we ride.

Kent's Memoirs of an Invisible Man -- yes, even a firetruck....

Mags' Because it's There -- if you have to ask, ya just don't get it.

- TOB's even heading somewhere else

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Commutus Interruptus

I Bought my Headlight in '97




b r i g h t ! ?


d i m m e r


- The Bag turned around less than a mile out...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Clouds Since December 23rd

for two days

clawing out of the black pit

p a l e



- TO finally B

Monday, January 09, 2006


9:00 invades my evening
I want to write and think and ride and ski
but I need sleep to be at my best at 5:30 in the morning
I want more life outside work
I’ve always had a tough time being two people
in the early years I was a teacher day and night
I carried the kids with me everywhere
I’d have to set them on the floor to write out my check at the grocery store
but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized they’re mine for only eight hours
the rest of the day is my own
now I want all day to be my own
but it can’t be
like everyone I’m two people
myself and my job
myself has ridden and raced
skied and drank beer
smoked the cigar-of-the-month
gone to late movies on a Sunday night
now I want to stay up until 2:00 and write something new
form it like Play-Doh
pinch it and pull it out so that it has form and shape
so that it plays and dances through another’s thoughts until he says
yeah it’s like that isn’t it
then sleep until 10:15 the next day
but I can't
I made resolutions for the first time in years
reduce the clutter in my life
get the sleep I need to stay healthy and balanced
because I lose-it if I’m tired all the time
and then I’m a sucker for
every germ that looks at me in that slutty way and says
baby take me home with YOU
so I’m posting this at 9:27 and I’ve already overshot my resolution
can I please be done with my resolutions now
nine days is so long to have resolve....

- not enough time in TOB's day....

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Master Returns at Last

Master, I've been wandering and wondering for so long. IS the Bike Shui for all?

Of course Bike Shui can be shared. It's best shared with someone that also shares your vision.

Ahh, we all share a vision. This is reassuring! Master, there are rumors of those who don't share the Shui.

It's the difference between "looking" and "seeing". One "looks" at a bike. Another "sees" something entirely different. A work of art, perhaps? Custom paint, hand made lugs, butter-like welds, white carbon!

...looking and seeing.....

Bike Shui brings harmony and balance to the creator and the space he or she uses -- the garage -- but not to everyone who walks in.

Not to everyone? How ever can that be?

You can have perfect Bike Shui but it may not be readily "seen" by the untrained eye.

Master?! So it is true! It can be this way for some?

People who may have difficulty seeing Bike Shui say things like...
"You bought a new bike? I thought you already had a bike."
"$3000 for a bike? Are you nuts? Your car isn't worth that much!"
" If I paid that much for a bike, it better have a motor on it."
"Why would you hang two bikes in the laundry room?"
"If you sold some of your bikes they wouldn't take up so much room."
"You're going on a bike ride? Didn't you do that yesterday?"
"You're going to drive all that way just to ride your bike?"

These questions are VOICED, Master? Truly, not! The uninitiated cannot truly be this wayward in their thinking!

Some may "see" Bike Shui right away, they share your vision. Others may have to be taught.

Oh my! This seems an undertaking even larger than we are....

The creation of the Shui is often much easier than the teaching of others to "see"!

This must require much difficult work and dedication. Master, what of the unitiated Other? How must we help them to "see"? How did you initiate your Other?

I got very lucky and married someone who kept her Merlin in the bedroom. Not a frame, but a built bike she was riding. Now that we live together, we share equally in the enjoyment of the Bike Shui and I'm happy it's not me down in the laundry room on the hand rubbed oak racks!

Do not stray from your vision, it will bring you happiness. The creation may take a weekend, the teaching of others to share in your enjoyment may be a lifelong endeavor!

...a lifelong endeavor? I’m unsure of my readiness! The Bike Shui requires much commitment and energy. How ever does one persevere?

Riding will cure all ills.

Ahhh, the ride cures!

...again,TOB can't take credit for this -- italicized portion is part of an email sent by an honorable biking buddy!

If you're unsure of the Bike Shui, please visit:
-- Ahhh Grasshopper
-- Master, Does the Shui Require
-- The Novice Begins the Quest

- The Old Bag has her own Shui

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


exhilaration defeat freedom exhaustion selflessness
camaraderie trust friendship
fibers thread strings into ropes net
binding yet loose enough
for one to slip

- tob

Monday, January 02, 2006

Can't Beat It

...skied two spots over the New Year's weekend: one is smack in the midst of the metro, one is on the edge. Cross country ski areas are scattered throughout the Twin Cities (and throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin), as are commuter bike highways, road shoulders and trails. What a great place to live!