Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rawland Sneak Peak

Yup, the shop's dirty. I'm working on that.... The headtube area looks a bit skewed in this shot, it won't when the bike is actually done. Off to the 'coaters.

Gravel Road Ride!

We're having a ride! Mileage may vary, but there will be at least a 50ish mile route and a 100ish mile route. The weekend will be October 10th, 11th and 12th. Camping and the goings on will be held at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. Rides will leave from there as well. We will update you with routes, details and food and such, but it's a pretty lowkey, bring your own kind of set up. Camping will be $10 per night per person, and we should be able to accomodate about 70 people at the group sites. Let me know if you want to come, and if you have any questions. This should be a pretty chill event, just hanging out and riding. All types and walks are welcome, and it promises to be a good time. I'll update everyone with more info as I get it, which should be before the end of next week for sure. We will be putting this on with Sean and Anna from Rawland Cycles, and some other note worthy people may lend a hand. So, come one and come all, it's going to be a great time. There are individual campsites at the park, (of course,) and you're more then welcome to bring the family. There are a lot of local attractions in nearby Northfield as well as Faribault, in addition to the beautiful hiking trails and sites that the park itself offers. We hope to see you here!

Again, if you're planning on coming, if you could drop me a line and let me know I'd appreciate it. I'm just looking for a rough number so I know what to expect.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meg's new title!

After a painfully long wait, Meg has been hired as the new Wellness Manager at Just Food Coop! Yay!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rawland #2

The SS is on the way. This one will be lighter, cleaner, more old school, and classier. It will take a bit longer to get done, but will be worth it. Back to work. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Things are picking up again after a bit of a lull at the shop. As the other posts have probably stated, the Rawland bikes have started to come through the door. Working with Sean on design aspects as well as mechanics, we assemble all of the complete Rawlands that are ordered. Starting next week, I have about 15 complete builds to do, with hand built wheels for each. That's going to be a fun challange, especially since this is Brandon's last week at the shop. It's going to be some late nights, but I'm actually looking forward to it.

Then you have a good bike build, it's something like a Zen experiance. After normal shop hours, when the lights are off, it's really calming to be alone in the shop working away. These builds will be of the best kind, just a frame box and a bunch of parts for each bike. All the parts are separate and compartmentalized, making building so many bikes much less confusing. I can just sit down with the task at hand and get it done.

It's been getting cool enough at night that I can open the back door to the shop after work. Downtown is pretty quiet after a certain hour, and it's nice to be able to listen to the sounds of small town Minnesota. You can hear the sound of the wind through the trees by the river. The occasional motorcycle or pickup truck with loud exhaust will fly by on the highway. There is a bike trail about a block away, and you'll often hear children riding by in small packs. It's a nice back drop against what are often fast paced, hectic days.

I am starting another bike project as part of the Rawland partnership. Mums the word on this one for now, but it will be quite a bit different than the last one. This one will be a good one as well.

Meg and I spent a relaxing few days this weekend lounging around Duluth Mn. For those of you that haven't been there before, it's well worth the trip. For those of you that have been, you know why it's a great place to be. Sunday was really hot and humid when we got there, like 95 deg hot and humid. We rather felt we got screwed on that one, as the temp back in Northfield didn't rise above 80! It was good though, we spent the day hiking next to the river, taking breaks to dip our feet to cool off. It wasn't all that hot at our campsite in Jay Cooke State Park, so we spent most of the day bumming around there.

Monday we spent up the shore of Lake Superior. Almost all afternoon we did nothing but eat fresh smoked salmon and other goodies by the lake. The weather had changed, dropping the temp by over 20 deg overnight. Both of us ended up in wool long sleeve jerseys and windbreakers by the lake, but that was perfect! It was really windy, and the waves were white capped a fair bit out. They were breaking just like on those tranquil sounds CD's, and it was just great to chill and do nothing. The salmon from Lou's was particularly good, and that along with several cheeses and crackers made for an awesome meal. Monday night we spent hanging out with Meg's aunt, and I went to Jake's house to assist in brewing some beer. I ended up capping a few bottles, but basically had a few beers myself and ate pie. It was an almost perfect evening.

On Tuesday I finally broke down. We made the long trek up to Gander Mountain and I bought a large can of pepper spray. The dog incident was the topic of conversation that came up the most this weekend, and we both decided that this was the solution for the future. I am a bit wary about situations that may arise from sprayed dog's owners, but I'm unwilling to risk being bitten any more. This is a pretty low impact way to protect myself from that likelihood, and hopefully I never have to actually use it. It'll be in my back pocket from now on though.

So, here's to a new week, a lot of work ahead, and happy trails! Cheers.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The gravel was good tonight.

I took the Rawland out for it's maiden voyage this evening after work. It was a great night, about 80 deg, low humidity, and a slight west wind. I left Northfield and headed west out into the sun. The gravel is about perfect right now, just tacky enough to be hard, but not so wet as to be draining. The roads west of town are very narrow, only about a lane and a half at most, and are full of small rolling hills. The sun was setting into a bank of large dark blue clouds. The wind was pretty steady, but it was nice to have something to go into. I rode for about 6 miles or so west, turning north to avoid getting onto the busy roads out near the interstate. From there it's about another 6 mile jog north to the road east around the north side of town.

Here's where it got interesting. About 3 miles into the east leg, there were dogs. At this point, I had ridden about 18 miles at a sprint pace, and I was really feeling it. Two large German shepherds came running out of the back of a farmyard towards me first. I saw these coming, and I was already about even with them in a big ring sprint by the time they hit the road. I was able to pull away from them pretty easily. My quads were really starting to feel it now, and I was just ready to be home. The next pair of dogs were a lot worse. Two chocolate labs were sitting aside the road about two blocks ahead of me. As soon as they saw me coming, the ran towards me. I started out on their side of the road, swerving towards the opposite ditch to give myself some more room to get around them. They chased for awhile, until there owner yelled at them to try and get them to come back. I was very tempted to yell very bad things at them, but I didn't. The last dog was the most tenacious, and it was the little one. Some small white puffy thing chased me all over the road for about 4 blocks. I was really worn out after the two first sets of dogs, and this little thing just had me. It did break off eventually, but damn. I think I'll be getting some pepper spray next week, maybe two cans.

Brandon has been gone since Thursday. He's representing the shop at the annual Trek World dealer show. With no riding for four days, and working two rather busy days in the shop alone, I really needed the ride. I've ridden the Rawland around town quite a bit to shake the bugs out of it. I have really been pretty impressed with the bike so far. There is a little tow overlap, I was a bit presumptuous the other day about that. It only showed itself in the last of the night's hills around St Olaf, and I was so beat by then it was really my fault. The bike is really smooth, and the fork and rear end really compliment each other. The position of the flats of the bars level with the seat really make the bike quite comfortable, yet the drops are low enough to break the wind rather effectively. Overall, the frameset is working better than I had hoped, and the components really work to make the most of the bike's assets.

I'll have more and some pics later, but I'm off to bed.

Go Phelps!!

Tag, I'm it.

Marty poked me to fill out this survey. Some good questions. I think it should be at the start of all bike shop employee applications. Hell, it'd even help me figure out some first time customers. The walk in, "I'm looking for a bike." "Here, fill this out to start." I like it.

If you could have one bike - and only one bike - for the rest of your life, what would it be?

It'd be this bike.
It's basically a 29er Cunningham CCR. It would be a Steve Potts drop bar compatible (LD stem), have geared sliding dropouts for SS, CX/road, or MTB geared mode, disc Potts type 2 fork and Ti frame. I've the rest of it all figured out, and will go into detail if people want.

Do you already have that coveted dream bike? If so, is it everything you hoped it would be? If not, are you working toward getting it? If you’re not working toward getting it, why not?

I am thinking of having this bike built. I've been looking for a custom Ti builder to work with for customer's bikes and I can't think of a better guy to do it with than Potts. This bike would be able to run 35c slicks for road with the sliders for a tight CX like rear end, geared MTB or SS MTB equally as well. I'd have two LD stems as well, one for drops and the other for H bars.

If you had to choose one — and only one — bike route to do every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?

It would be my trip into work. It starts with 17 miles of rolling gravel into Faribault. From there I'd make the 8 mile MTB loop of River Bend Nature Center. After work, repeat going home. 50 miles of riding each day if you had time, and some gorgeous scenery to boot. I could be happy with that.

What kind of sick person would force another person to ride one and only one bike ride for the rest of her / his life?

If you think about it, we do. Not forcing really, but our culture kind of works like that. Most of my customer's can't afford more than one bike. I try to think about that when I'm selling them one.

Do you ride both road and mountain bikes? If both, which do you prefer and why? If only one or the other, why are you so narrow minded? I ride both.

I ride all types of riding, even BMX on occasion. They are all fun. Road rides tend to bore me, so they have to be done for fellowship, and I have to like the people I'm with. I find gravel and MTB to be more satisfying, as they are technically more demanding of riding skill, and the conditions change with weather and time.

Have you ever ridden a recumbent? If so, why? If not, describe the circumstances under which you would ride a recumbent?

Yes. They are great for some people, just not me. If I ride a recumbent it will be due to a medical condition that requires it to keep me riding. I just prefer traditional bikes better.

Have you ever raced a triathlon? If so, have you also ever tried strangling yourself with dental floss?

I can bike, swim, but running is for suckers. Period. You can't coast down hill while running, what's the point?

Suppose you were forced to either give up ice cream or bicycles for the rest of your life. Which would you give up, and why?

Come on, at least make me choose between biking and beer....

What is a question you think this questionnaire should have asked, but has not? Also, answer it.

The hardest introspective question of all, "Do I own to many bikes?"

Maybe. Thanks Marty!

There you have it, a little view into some of my views on my current state of being. I'll take questions, but would really like Sean and Jake to answer these questions, you're it!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A nice surprise at the gas pump.

I try to be as sustainable as possible at the shop here. We try and keep the energy consumption down. I ride my bike once I'm in Faribault almost all the time. I buy food in recycleable containers from loca growers and so on and so forth. Unfortunately I do have to drive the 14 miles or so to work. Yes, I could ride my bike, and we often do. But when we're crazy busy at the shop for 8-9 hours in a day, an hour ride both ways makes for a really long day. Not to mention that for five months out of the year, it's dark before I'd get home. On shoulder less country roads, that's not possible for safety reasons. All this said, there is a partial solution.

Last fall, we found the perfect car to try and make best use of the petroleum needed to get here. It's a 1991 Honda Civic hatchback. That's right, not only to Guitar Ted and I share many of the same ideas about what makes a good bike, we also drive very similar cars! It was about the perfect deal. We bought it from a Carleton College professor in Northfield. She had reached the age that she was no longer able to ride to school with all of her books and class materials. They found there solution, (after her also professor husband won on Jeopardy a few times!) in this little white car. So it only really got driven 4 blocks at a time for 15 years! Hard miles, but very low. How low you ask? The car had 14,900 miles on it when we bought it. No kidding.

The car to date has been nothing less than stellar. It is as basic as it gets. It has a 1.3 liter engine, with a manual 4 spd transmission. It has no electric anything, a nice stereo, and no air. Brandon and I have been driving it pretty consistently at 50-55 mph all summer, letting the car coast down hills. It does not get driven in town hardly at all, as we ride bikes about every where else. The car has been averaging above 40 mpg on every tank! The car's worst tank so far has been about 35 mpg, but that was helping a guy move, so a lot of short trips in town. Today was the good one though. I had driven just about 200 miles on the tank, all of it just between Northfield and Faribault. As I went to fill up, the car only took 3.8 gallons. This works out to be about 52 mpg!

I've been having a lot of discussions with people lately about all the hype about hybrids, bio-diesel, corn based ethanol and the like. Here's what I keep coming back to though: If 1991 technology, responsible driving habits, and in town biking can produce a system that gets 45-50 mpg consistently, why aren't we that much further than we are almost 20 years down the road?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hump Day

Last night's showers prevented our bike ride, so no real further updates on the Rawland. I hope to get out on it a bit tonight, but it'll mostly be errands around town. We're off after work to do some target shooting at the range. I've shot both trap and skeet as well as rifle target since I was a child. I find it to be an immensely relaxing hobby that's both physically and mentally very challenging. I've got a new scope on one of my old .22's, so the plan for tonight is to sight that in really well.

I've been debating lately on the usefulness of having the Rawland as well as my disc Poprad. The bikes are very similar, albeit the Rawland has the capability to take much larger tires. They are both disc bikes, they both fit me rather well, they're both steel, and they both have the ability to take a rear rack quite easily. While I love the look and ride of the Lemond, it's almost identical in it's use as the Rawland. I might have to let it go, particularly in light of the wedding coming up in October. The ace in the hole is that I have another Lemond frame set in the shop, so if I did sell it and regretted it I'd have a back up in the future. The Lemond has a slight edge over the Rawland as a road bike, but I've been loving the ride of my Bianchi lately. That bike just flies over the road, and is simply a joy to ride. Really it comes down to the fact that I don't really have a use for the Poprad now that I have the Rawland. Sad.

Mike Pofahl came to the shop on Saturday and looked over my dented MTB's from two weeks ago. The results were mixed. The OS bike was really alright to ride he thought, as the dent did not crease the tube, was shallow and uniform, and did not occur in a really high stressed area. The Surly was pretty much the opposite, and I thought it would be. The tube is nearly collapsed, the tubing is creased in the middle, and the area it just behind the head tube on the underside of the TT. All of these together are pretty damning. What can you do? I'll touch up the paint on the OS, ride the crap out of it, and retire the noble Surly to a place of honor on the wall. I think it will look good next to Sean's wreaked Madone....


Saturday, August 09, 2008

My Rawland


The first Rawlands have landed!

Here are a few shots of Sean and the Rawland builds yesterday. They really turned out well.

The handling of these bikes is spot on, regardless of wheel or tire size, and the ride feel is very nice. I'll hold off on my opinions on the 650b wheels until I ride my own a bunch, but basically, they ride like a bike should. Along with the quick handling, the fork is very supple, and smooths out bumps rather well. Rotor size should probably be kept to 160, as the fork legs are pretty close. 180's could fit, but might be a bit much for the smaller diameter blades.

Old school enthusiasts will love the look of these bikes. From the classic semi-horizontal top tube, to the gorgeous fork crown and curved blades, this bike really stands out. Details like the full barrel rack mounts, pump peg, taller head tube, and Ritchey hooded dropouts also take things up a notch.

Over all, the bikes are really impressing me with the quality for the price, included features, overall aesthetics, and fit. For the record, my ML sized frame, (22.6" or 57.5cm ETT,) has no toe overlap with 29er tires, 175mm cranks, and size 13 feet! Oh, and the flats of my drops are level with the saddle with 60mm of spacers and a -7 deg stem!

The camera crapped out after these, so no shot of mine yet. Soon though, I swear! I have switched the tires to a Bontrager XR front, with a Maxxis Crossmark in the rear. I like these tires the best for gravel around here, and it's all good. The clearance is perfect, even with light mud room, and the bike is very well mannered.

Mark, it's good, really good!

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Actually it will look like this. Guesses as to the differences?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My Rawland!

Will look like this! It'll be a bike after Guitar Ted's heart, a true drop bar, gravel road burning tourer.

More to come...

The Rawlands Are Coming!

The first of the long awaited Rawland framesets should be arriving this morning. Already we have two builds that have to happen today! Both of these include full wheel builds as well, and must be ready by tomorrow. I should have my hands full today. I am very excited to get one of these bikes. For me, 650b makes sense in the fact that I can have a bike that fits like my cross or road bike, but one that allows for a large mtb offroad tire without toe overlap. These should be very capable and versatile frames. I am planning on old skool down tub shifters and 8 or 9 spd rear ends. Racks are definately a must, probably front and rear. I would really like to do some touring, or gravel road burning with full camera gear, and this is going to be the ticket. I think that there may be room in the frame for a 29er rear as well. I know that a 29er barely clears in the front fork, but it does fit. This adds yet another dimension to the fun factor of these bikes.

I will have the camera going to mark the momentous occasion today, so look back for build updates. Cheers.