Friday, May 28, 2010

Milltown Cycles July of 4th Criterium

It's that time of year again folks. We are planning for our Milltown Cycles July 4th Criterium. This will be the 11th year of this race held in beautiful downtown Northfield. Last year's race went exceedingly well with interesting weather, great crowd and racer turn out, and a lot of volunteer support.

We are attempting to get our act together a little early this year in regards to lining up volunteers earlier, and having a few meetings before the race. This will be to discuss what we did well last year and what we can do this year to improve the race on all accounts.

The course for the race will be different this year than it has been in the past. This is because of the huge street project Northfield has undertaken for the summer. The course length will not be affected. If anything the course will be more technical, and should offer racers a few more places to attack from. I think the overall pace of the race will be faster as well. In any case it will be different, so we want to plan accordingly to insure things go smoothly.

If you are interested in volunteering, or if you have any questions about anything related to the race please give me a call or shoot me an email. I will be posting up a time and date for the before race meeting early next week for those interested as well.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gravel Wednesday

Yesterday I got a great ride in the Jason. He has been training for the Dirty Kanza 200 mile gravel race, so he's been putting in some serious miles. We met a Blue Monday at 7 am. He had already ridden about 30 miles down from his house at this point. After several baked goods and some coffee, we headed south towards Faribault on gravel.

The ride to Faribault is along some really pretty winding country roads. After discussing the plan for the day, we decided to keep the route fairly simple. The day's ride would be about nice paced riding, not necessarily hanging out and taking pictures and such. I am trying to get in shape for the upcoming Fargo Adventure Weekend, so that was all good by me. This is not to say that Jason didn't take any pictures, only that that would not be the focus of our day.

The roads down to Faribault were a mix of surface conditions ranging from asphalt hard, crazy fast to 2-3" deep, ridiculously ponderous, fresh laid rock. That combined with the sticky mud from the crazy amount of rain the night before. There was just no easy going to be found. Still, there was no wind, and the temperature was pleasant. That and great company made the ride awesome.

Once we made it down to Faribault we headed to River Bend. Tuesday night brought a huge storm front through the area. The wind and rain were so intense that it literally looked like waves washing down the street. I was told by a business owner a block down that he showed 1.5"s of rain in his rain gauge. That all fell in less than one hour. It was awesome. All of this rain had some pretty adverse affects on the trails in the nature center though. Trees were downed, water had eroded huge ruts in some trails, and new sand has washed everywhere. Even over 12 hours after the fact, the overhanging bushes and trees soaked us as we passed by.

In spite of the wet, slippery, sandy trails it was a nice little jaunt. The wildflowers blooming in the river bottoms have just peaked. Several of the trails lead right through fields of shoulder high purple flowers for as far as you can see. Though it's not a place for the allergic, it's a pretty spectacular sight. Here's one of the shot's Jason got yesterday. He said he will have more on his blog soon here. Thanks for making me look so good! Through with the usual loop we ate at the renovated Coffee Shop next door the bike shop. The new owners have greatly increased the quality of the coffee and food they sell. We dined on excellent turkey sausage egg bake and carrot cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. It was good. The foot traffic has increased exponentially from what it was, it seems as they are doing very well. Spot by and check them out. You won't be disappointed, though your diet may be!

After our early lunch we headed back to Northfield on the same roads that had brought us down. The wind had picked up over the course of the morning. That combined with the high sun had dried out the road surface pretty well. We were headed into the north wind at this point, so even with better roads it demanded close to the same effort as our ride south. The ride to Northfield was fairly quick, and uneventful. As we rolled on we talked about family and bikes under the warm mid morning sun.

We stopped in Northfield at Jerry's Monkey See Monkey read bookstore for a water fill up. Jerry's the go to man in the area for books of any kind, stop by and chat if you're in need. After a bit of a rest and conversation we headed out of Northfield along Highway 3. There is a lot of gravel north and east of town. I had to head back to the shop before 3, so Jason and I parted ways outside of town and I headed back towards Randolf, and the old iron bridge leading towards town.

It was a great day on the bike. I ended up with somewhere around 65 mile in with no ill effects. I think I'll be just fine on the Fargo ride coming up in 3 weeks. Thanks for the ride Jason, it was another good one!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shop bike.

Maiden voyage of the shop bike today. Sure, it's been to the grocery store, but this is what we built it for. We had a frame going out to a rather lucky individual in Illinois. Two minutes and three straps later and it's at UPS. Gotta love that.
New stickers on the Snapdeck as well. Sorry Eric.
Have a good one all. Hope you make it out to ride. Remember, it's only 93 degrees out. It could be worse.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trek/Fisher Demos This Weekend

Trek and Fsher will will have their factory demo fleet at local Twin Cities trails this weekend. Stop by and take a spin on some of the latest bikes they have to offer. They will have their WSD demo fleets for trial as well.

Here's the schedule.

Saturday, May 22 at the Freewheel Frolic – MNMBS Series Opener from 9:00 – 3:00

Sunday, May 23rd at Murphy Hanrehan from 10:00 – 3:00

Monday, May 24th at the Human Powered Trails (HPT) in La Crosse from 2:00 – 7:00

Hope you can make it.

Another reminder that the "How to break up with your car" forum is this evening at Just Food Coop. Call them at 507.650.0106 to register for FREE! You can also register with any cashier at the store.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How to break up with your car.

Just Food Coop in Northfield is hosting a panel discussion tomorrow night in their community meeting room. The purpose of this meeting is to help answer questions people have about practical, everyday cycling, commuting, and lifestyle.

This should be a fun event. I and several other community bikers will be there to answer questions, share stories, and to help people think about what your life can be by bike. Registration is FREE, but they are asking you to either call ahead, or to register with any cashier at the store. This will help us gauge numbers and to help the staff prepare the room and meeting.

Here is the press release from Just Food.

How to Break Up with Your Car

How to Break Up with Your Car: A panel discussion to support wannabe cyclists.
Wednesday, May 19, 7-8 p.m. in the Just Food Community Room
Cost: FREE. Please register by phone or with a cashier. 507.650.0106

Want to start driving less and biking more? Whether you want to bike to the grocery store and library on the weekends, or commute to work by bike every day, you’ll find inspiration and information at this excellent (and free!) event. Local bike enthusiasts will present a panel discussion and answer your questions on how to bike more and use your car less in support of Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 21. Panelists will address the nuts and bolts of getting from here to there on a bike, assessing what equipment you might need and how to do that on a budget, practical strategies for choosing routes, parking and locking, and safe biking practices. There will be door prizes and other giveaways as incentives to get you riding.

I hope that a lot of you can make it. It should be a fun time and a very informative evening. Take care, see you tomorrow night!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fat Front Enabled.

I had enough free time today to build the wheel for my eventual snow bike build. The set up uses the excellent new Enabler fork from Salsa. It is lighter than a Pug fork and features nicer tubing, forward facing stainless dropouts, symmetrical set up, and braze ons like a Fargo fork. I love the rear facing bottle or storage mounts. I use these all the time on my Fargo. They will likely hold the upcoming Salsa storage containers rather than water bottles.The slightly taller fork will slacken the Pugsley head angle a titch, as well as raise the bb and head tube slightly. These are all good things for how I want to set the bike up, so it's all good by me. The fork obviously has large tire/snow/mud clearance. As a fat front it will also fit one of the rear 29er wheels I have laying around for switch duties. As I have a Surly rear hubbed 29er wheel, it'll be a quick swap. The wheel build is standard Surly fodder. A QR Surly 1x1 disc hub laced to an original generation Large Marge XC. Spokes are DT competition laced with brass nipples. Nothing about it is terribly light or special. It's just a solid set up I should never have to touch.I am still ruminating on how to build the rest of the Pugsley. I am debating between running a Alfine or a traditional 2x9 set up with Woodchippers and Shimano bar cons. Riding this in the interim will give me a taste of fatness while I decide.

Happy Friday all.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Further shop changes underway.

On top of all of the standard springtime repairs and sales, we are in the middle of some pretty huge transitions here at the shop. While a bit frustrating in the short term, these changes will make a very noticeable difference in the appearance and function of the shop and sales floor.

The change that started this all off was our springtime construction of the new changing room. This is in anticipation of bringing in a stocking of standard bike clothing. We have been sorely lacking in the clothing department. It's a big step toward becoming what I consider to be a real bike shop. We have a plan in place for how and where the clothing will be displayed and retailed, but we need to have a new front checkout counter made first.

Our counter area has been a constantly evolving miss mash of bits of older counters thrown together with construction adhesive and wood screws. While it is functional in it's task, it's no beauty queen, and it will not work in the new position across the shop. The new counter will be slightly thinner and curved. The back of it will face out and will be parallel to the south wall of the shop. It will be in about the same position as the couch now.

This opens up the back corner adjacent to the changing room. After some minor finishing, the walls will be fitted with slat wall compatible grid racks. So, clothing will be next to the changing room. Huh, that makes sense.

Along with the counter swap to the other wall, the accessories will all be relocated to that wall on grid wall as well. This will not only condense the amount of space they take up, but it will look much more professional and be easier to shop as well. The couch and coffee table will make the move across the room as well. So basically the accessory portion of the floor will be flipped from it's current configuration.

By doing that this also allows for about 12' of free wall space. This is a huge amount of room in a smaller shop like ours. I have not quite decided what should fill the gap, but it will likely be some form of bike storage.

I'm really excited about these changes. The rate at which things are happening here is getting progressively faster. All of these changes will be occurring along with normal shop work, so the next month will bring changes almost all the time. These are all necessary changes that will allow us to serve our community better, and hopefully increase our sales.

The running joke, and theme of this year's projects is "Small steps towards legitimacy." One of these days we'll have a real bike shop. Stop in and see the changes for yourself.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shop Bike Preview

After riding and loving my Big Dummy last year, I decided that I wanted the same versatility in our shop bike. We often have larger packages that need to be shipped via UPS, we regularly run to the grocery store for several bags of food, and we do go into River Bend for cleanup trips every now and again. All of these pointed to a logical conclusion.There you go. I had an Xtracycle kit laying around the garage and finally put it to good use. The bike is a more or less stock Trek 3900. It's a perfect bike for an Xtracycle conversion. They come with solid, reliable 8 spd Shimano drive trains. The frame is plenty stiff for normal loads. The gearing is right for off road loaded riding. I did upgrade the wheels with some disc wheels we had laying around. This really was just because we had the stuff to do it here already.

For normal use as an around town cargo hauler, the stock wheels and v brakes would have been perfectly sufficient. I did swap the fork out for a Fargo rigid fork. The length is right to keep the handling correct. I really like the water bottle mounts on my Fargo, and I just prefer the way the rigid fork rides.

The especially cool part about this is the relatively low cost. The base model 3900 sells for $419.99. The Xtracycle kit is $489.99. The kit comes with everything necessary to add on to a standard bicycle. Even figuring in a little labor to do the swap, that's under $1000 for most of the capabilities of a Big Dummy. That's tough to beat.

Come in and check the bike out for yourself. You're more than welcome to ride it and see what you think. These kits can also be added to just about any bike, making your current bike much more useful.