Sunday, March 21, 2010

RIP Phil Wood.

This may not be news to some of you, but it was to me.


Saturday, March 20, 2010


There's lots of stuff going on at the shop this weekend. We'll be kicking it all off with the first of several trips to Menard's this morning. There is sheetrock sanding to be done, two new doors to hang, priming and painting, along with installing a new light and ceiling grid. Oh, and we need to build a new bike rack.

So it's going to be busy. The sun is out and there's lots of encouragement to get things done. God willing, we should have enough time, food, and coffee to get everything done. Have a great weekend all, we will.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fargo, Moisture and Mud.

Despite the somewhat dreary weather, last Saturday was the day of the weekend I had the most time to ride. It didn't rain all day, it was more like a constant light mist. The temps were over 40 deg, and the riding was very pleasant. It was a very calming day. Because of the weather, there were very few people out on roads or trails.

Starting in West Duluth, I headed over the Hwy 2 Bong Bridge to Superior. I have never actually ridden over the bridge, despite having driven over it more times than I can count. This building off to the south has always caught my eye. It's located smack in the middle of the south bay. I have no idea what it does, but I think it just looks cool, especially at night. Once in WS I headed up the shore towards Wisconsin Point, a park that surrounds Allouez Bay. The lake was realitively calm. Little waves steadily lapped at the shore from a light north wind. As few people as there were out in town, there was no one to be seen out here.
I actually descended a hundred feet or so to the shore though ground hugging fog. It was sweet. Proof of moisture.
They are currently salvaging one of the old, unused ore docks along the bay. There were a plethora of photo opportunities here, almost all unfortunately behind fences and large no trespassing signs. I could spend a day just walking around this little area. There was so much old iron and rivets, it was just awesome. The foggy bay behind it made for some really cool views as well. Ore boats. It's hard to fully understand just how big these things are. I think this gives you some idea. It's just huge. This is the ore carrier Walter J McCarthy Jr. It is 1000' long and 105' wide. Damn.After leaving this area I headed out towards the Brule River State Forest. I mostly just tooled around the country roads for a bit, then headed for home. I rode every surface from gravel, pavement and even some ATV trails. It was here that that versatile nature of the Fargo really shined. No matter what was under the tires, it just trucked along. That is until I made the only bad decision of the trek. There was a bit of single track trail running along side of a particularly nice looking stream. Without much of a thought I veered the Fargo onto the path and promptly sunk over the rims in some of the thickest, muckiest mud I've ever seen. The bikes stopped dead, the fenders, fork and frame completely froze up with mud. It was awesome.Using my fingers, boots, and bunches of grass I cleaned the bike off to roll lumpily down the tar trail. I then found a 20' long puddle that was about a foot deep. I just rode through it until the bike was clean. I love fenders.Not too bad all things considered. I was a great ride. I got dirty, the bike got dirty. I got wet, the bike got wet. I had a great time, the bike had a great time. What a good day on the bike.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring on the lake.

Signs of spring were obvious everywhere last weekend. Other than the obvious 50 deg weather, almost total lack of snow on the ground, and people out in force, the ice on the lake is rapidly diminishing. Small ice flows are breaking up on the shore, ice in the harbor is cracked wildly, and the air around waters edge is full of the eerie tinkling and chinking of ice crystals. It was pretty awesome no matter where you went.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


We're back from the North Shore. We had a great trip. Weather two of the days was stellar. I got about 75 miles of riding in, and was able to take a ton of great photos. Here's a teaser, it'll take a while to sort through the rest. Have a great week.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rainy Thursday.

Things are returning to normal at 311 Central. My eye is almost unnoticable already, which I am very glad for. The work Curtis and I have been doing at the shop is progressing at a nice rate, and should be done in the early part of next week. Repairs are steadily coming in, and a few people have been purchasing new bikes. A lot of these have been kids bikes, something with which we struggled for sales last year in. So all good things.

Meg and I are planning on a trip this weekend up to Duluth. It is supposed to be pretty nice, despite what the weather looks like outside right now. I plan on bringing the fendered Fargo, and a bunch of clothing. I should be ready for about anything then. I want to spend some more time in and around the dock area of the harbor, and I plan to go the the Superior ore docks as well. I've not looked around that side of the harbor a lot, so it'll be nice to do some fresh exploring. I may look north for a longer ride up the shore on Saturday or Sunday as well.

All for now, have a great day.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Painful Tuesday.

It's been a trying day.

Last night Dad and I were finishing up grinding and polishing the last of tow heads for our engine project. Despite all protective safety measures, including good goggles, I somehow ended up with a large amount of ultra fine metal shavings in my left eye.

After trying all I could to flush out the stuff at home, and after feigning sleep until about 1 am, I had Meg take me into the ER. The doctor on staff took one look at my eye and said it was beyond his ability to deal with there. He sent me home with some Vicodin to let me sleep, and we made an appointment with the eye doctor for first thing in the morning.

With the help of the drugs I actually slept pretty well. 8 am rolled around pretty early after a 2 am bedtime. They were able to fit me in at the clinic right away, so I can't complain. The ophthalmologist said that I had two larger pieces of steel just stuck in the eye, and that she could see at least 20 smaller cuts where other's had been. So I was able to get the majority of the stuff out at home, just not all of it.

It was pretty interesting how they go about removing the metal. First they do all sorts of different numbing agents and dilation type drops to allow them to see what's going on. They then cut out the metal using a very small sharpened needle of sorts. Here's the interesting thing though; apparently the steel actually rusts, creating rust rings on the surface of the eye. These they actually burnish out with the smallest little grinder I've ever seen. Ironic I thought. The doctor was amazing. She was very thorough in describing what was going on, and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.

So it's all good. I'm rocking the big sunglasses and moving around a bit slower, but it's all good. No permanent damage, and I should be alright in a few days. We are in the process of making a pretty big change at the shop, so at least I'll be able to continue to work on that, albeit a bit slower than usual.

So, moral of the story, wear eye protection. Even when it fails, it could always have been much worse.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Good show.

Here's what happens with a few push ups over winter, a less than excellent quality tool, a rusted in BB, and a 1/2" breaker bar. Time to buy a Craftsman.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Pug Time

It's been a spring of Pugsleys here at the shop. With the introduction of the Larry tire from Surly, current Pug owners have a new tool to enjoy their bikes year round. A fresh redesign from Surly has made stand over much lower on their bikes, making them more accessible to shorter riders. Following our first real winter in many years we have been getting more interest in Pugs locally than I can ever remember.

This is an example of a new Pug we built for a gentleman from southern MN. This is just about how I will be building my bike later this year. Smartly speced components that will all last a good long time. We are waiting on the Middleburn cranks, so to get him running we've set it up as a 1x9 for the meantime. Really turned out to be a good looking bike! I love the new color. XT and BB7's keepin it real.
Paul Thumbies and SLX/XT ders handle shifting.
Larry goodness keeps the front end on line.
Wanna get in on the action? Most sizes of new Pugs are currently in stock, along with a full supply of wheel building parts and both Larry and Endomorph tires. We also have a used Pug in the shop for sale. This is a bike owned by one of our customers who bought the bike from us several years ago. For many reasons, the bike has been largely unridden. Here's your shot to get a good deal on a near perfect bike, the illusive Purple Pugsley!

The bike is an 18" frame.

$1200 as pictured here. Shipping would be extra. Give me a call, or shoot me an email if you have any questions.That's right, those are custom, handmade purple wooden fenders!!!
170mm spinning Isis Bonty cranks.
Man these are pretty.
20t White freewheel. This can be changed up to a 22t if desired.
There you have it. We like fat bikes. You like fat bikes. Give us a call and get one of these bad boys for yourself. You won't regret it.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Looking badass.

Jason and I got in a few awesome gravel miles yesterday morning. It was one of those perfect rides. This one started on a gorgeous road east into an amazing sunrise and ended with a great cup of coffee. For those of you who don't know him, Jason is an excellent photographer. If you are not already reading his Gnat Likes Blog, you should be. He took this awesome picture of me yesterday. It's one of my favorite pictures of myself. Check out his blog today for more ride photos and a recap. Happy Friday all.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

First commute of the year.

Yesterday was was marked by beautiful weather for my first ride to work of the season. I'll be the first one to admit that I'm a bit of a fair weather rider. There is a good reason why this is the first ride though, it's finally barely light enough to make it back to Northfield safely.I got a little gravel in. This early in the morning, the dirt is still frozen really hard.
The beast. While I am looking forward to the Epic bags, the combo of Fargo and the Trek rack/pannier set up works exceedingly well. The panniers have big yellow rain covers that I put out at night for extra visibility. Even loaded with clothes and a full bag's worth of heavy groceries, everything was just rock solid. You'd hardly have known they were back there.

Engine Progress.

Work is progressing steadily on the new hot rod engine. We are almost finished with the head grinding and polishing, and parts are arriving daily for the rest of the build. The Edelbrock carburetor arrived yesterday, with the intake due to arrive tomorrow. The engine block has been bored .060"s over stock, and new flat top pistons have been installed. We are awaiting the cam and lifters, and then the lower assembly can be completed. I'm getting excited, this should be a lot of fun. Up next for that car is a brake conversion to a dual master cylinder with power assist, along with a new top. These kind of projects are never really complete, but with these large things out of the way, this one is getting close.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

New features.

There will be some new pages coming on the blog here. These will be changes that should be up in the next week or so. Check them out as they appear. The first section is a sale page. This will be where we will post clearance items, overstocks, or just normal sales. This section will likely change often, so check it out for good deals on nice stuff!

Monday, March 01, 2010

At the other shop.

I'll be helping out at my father's auto shop, Witt Brothers today. Due largely to a death in one of the employee's family, he called me this morning a little short staffed. It's a lot of fun for me to hang out and do what I can at the shop. I started working at Witt Brothers when I was 12, back when my grandfather owned the garage.

My family has owned this business for well over 30 years now. It's truly an insight into how a small business should be run. This is where I learned that customer service, quality work and knowledgeable staff, are the key to running any successful business. It's a lot of fun to be back here, I have a lot of great memories from back then.

It's also a good time for me to research the changes Dad and I are planning to our Mercury Comet. The polishing work that we began a few weeks ago will be finished tonight. The last parts to build the new motor should be arriving later this week. Much like waiting on new parts for a bike build, both of us are anxious to start the real work on this project. This is the first time I've worked on a full up engine build, so I am especially excited to build this one from scratch.

Happy Monday. Hope you have a great week.