Grand Old Day is an annual event in our neighborhood that is happening this weekend. Their website is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, but the funniest one is on their main page, where they claim that "Monies colleted [sic] at the event go towards ... avenue beatification." Can an Ave. become a Saint? Maybe if it performs some miracles this year, then next year's revenue will go toward canonization! I guess it could be worse. "Saint Grand Avenue" would still be substantially less unwieldy than "Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard."
Owning a home means, to me, that I now have a "home base" for learning about science and nature! Will Wright's upcoming game Spore has reignited my interest in natural sciences, from cellular biology on up to astronomy. As I get older, I'm learning that the stuff I thought was cool when I was a kid is still awesome. I've always had a fondness for those misunderstood and unappreciated creatures, the bugs. I found this little fellow lurking beneath a decorative pond that I've left partially unfinished for a couple of weeks now. Before he scuttled away, I got a good look at him and ran inside to consult What's That Bug? dot com. There, I learned that he is "a Sow Bug Killer, Dysdera crocota. They are one of the few predators that will eat sow bugs which have an unleasant taste." What a useful spider!
The tour was a hoot. We did about 80 miles in two days and it sounds like a lot when you put it that way, but we biked slowly and stopped often. I got out of the weekend with nothing worse than a sore butt, although my dad felt a bit worse than that. Anyway, it was meant to be for fun, and we had our fun. Weather was superb; we got sprinkled a bit, but otherwise it was beautiful and sunny with a generous tailwind. Lots of big birds around there. I rode a '72 Raleigh Superbe, truly a deluxe model 3-speed bicycle. There was one other gentleman in attendance with the same bike in a '74 model, and they were really similar. Out of the other 47 people, there was an impressive array of different manufacturers and weird modifications for a vintage bike geek to drool over.
Here's my dad in proper "gentleman cyclist" period attire, before heading off on the route. We drove in to Red Wing, Minnesota to mass up and spent an hour or so admiring each other's bikes and making introductions. I recognized Matt from Two Cities Two Wheels but I didn't let on that I knew his secret identity. There's a photo of me having a good time in knickers here. Local bike industry legend Ron Storm was there, and hardcore Joanne who did the whole loop in a skirt and high heels. One participant was on an orange single-speed Bridgestone XO-1, which technically isn't a 3-speed at all, but still a very cool bike. Anyway, after announcements and giveaways, the group saddled up and crossed the bridge into Wisconsin, where we began our loop of Lake Pepin (a fat part of the Mississippi River). On Saturday we biked down the WI side and then crossed back into Wabasha, Minnesota for the night.
There was a strong showing from the Sibley Bike Depot contingent. Pictured here are President of the Board John Carlson and super-volunteer Terry Hanson. John was riding his nice Armstrong with custom leather seat & grips (done by Craftstravaganza vendor Nate of Nate's Custom Sewing!), and Terry rocked a homebrewed 3-speed monster with 700cc wheels. His bike required some moderate repairs later on, and I made some adjustments to my seat height, but otherwise it was a remarkably trouble-free weekend considering the age and condition of some of these worthy steeds. Volunteer Karl did blow out one of his skinny racing tires on a rough descent, but otherwise we coasted through the weekend with nary a breakdown.
The theme of the ride is, "we have all day to arrive at our destination so let's not spoil it by showing up early." Frequent rests were the order of the day. Besides historical markers and scenic overlooks, we made stops for drinks and treats at some cozy little places. I especially recommend the Smiling Pelican Bakery in Maiden Rock, WI. I ate a slice of Balinese Vanilla Bean Cheesecake and washed it down with Sprecher's root beer. That's energy food! The Wabasha Cycling Club feted us with free dinner on Saturday night, served with--what else?--English Ale. The lumpy motel mattress didn't do much to alleviate my saddle sores, but anything felt good compared to my vintage Brooks saddle. Maybe if I ride it throughout the year, it will be soft and broken-in in time for 3-Speed Tour 2007.
The second day was a bit more grueling than the first, but another rule of the Tour is "no complaining," so we maintained a stiff upper lip. I don't know if I'll really make it out to next year's ride, but it was a tremendous experience that reminded me how much fun it can be just to ride a bike. It's a lesson I forget easily, but I remember quickly every time I get back in the saddle. Hooray for cycling!
I haven't missed posting here that much, but my wife told me to update last night, and I always do what she says. To recap, we bought a house, I started a new job, and the Craftstravaganza is less than two months away. The past couple of weeks, we've been getting settled in our home. We have cable again, thus the blogging. Out-of-doors, there's a lovely garden that we are muddling with.
At the Depot, my new old 3-speed Raleigh is being repaired with the help of shop manager "downtown" Dave Blessing. It's a gorgeous bike with a dynohub on front, Sturmey-Archer '72 on rear, Brooks saddle, the works. I'll post photos for the vintage bike geeks when it's done. If all goes as planned, I will be riding this worthy steed at the Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour with my dad next weekend.
I guess that's what I am most excited about right now. The usual rash of weddings this summer, baby stuff, &c... I should point out for the sake of my tomodachi in Japan that there's new Spore footage from E3, so bideo o mite kudasai. Domo. (update: long video featuring Robin Williams)