The only people who haven't taken this week off are bike commuters and volunteers. I saw more bikes this morning than I have in the last month total, and of course our office is always full of volunteers.

At first glance you would think only the crazies bike in this kind of weather but the more I'm out in it, the less crazy it seems. Today was the same as yesterday, a great sunrise into a slightly cloudy sky with temps in the 30's. The only thing I have to worry about on a day like that is getting the gigantic hole in the crotch of my pants caught on my saddle if I shift around too much. It's no different than biking in October.

It's too bad though, b/c I was just thinking about spring and how it's going to bring out a lot more bikers than I've seen lately, and suddenly there's a whole group of them as I'm riding in. I like it so much more when I'm the only person out. I can't help it--I'm antisocial that way.

Current beer-scale: 3.3 after a handful of smithwicks last night.


And that's why you ride your bike.

A block after that, there's an opening by a park and the sun was absolutely fantastic. Winter isn't so bad sometimes.

Current beer-scale: 6.1


I think I'll stay inside thank you.

Ow. I got my first fall of the season in over the holiday, thankfully it wasn't on the bike. Friday was treacherously icy and it wasn't a question of 'if' but 'when.' So I've felt like an old man for the past two days b/c I apparently landed on my left shoulder, which has ached like hell ever since. But not too old to bike to work today. Gotta get back on the horse!

And I'll take days like today for the rest of winter, thank you. The bike lanes are full of all sorts of road debris and trash, but there's no ice and the sun is out so it's passable. Windy as hell to the point where I'm practically standing still at some parts, but after the last three days' worth of weather this is a picnic.

And true to form, a good bowl game from ND was enough to put me in a great mood regardless of weather, holidays, or family obligations. Here's to finishing 7-6, and to a slightly brighter spring.

Current beer-scale: 6.8


Yeah, endorphin rush or not, I doubt even the craziest excuse would get me on a bike if I was working today. Thankfully, an hour out there was enough to tire out the dog so now it's coffee and bike cleaning time. This maintenance thing is a bitch.

Current beer-scale: 3.3


There must be something wrong with me. True, I did get a perverse enjoyment out of biking home yesterday, even while fishtailing down lincoln waiting for a car to put an end to me. But I get up this morning, and any excuse I can think of, I'm biking instead of driving.

"Well, the temperature is already out of the teens..."

"If it's going to be freezing rain tomorrow I might as well bike if I can today..."

"I can stick to streets with bike lanes and should have enough room..."

I was still convincing myself as I took a few wobbly steps to push off on the bike on belmont. I was already on the bike!

What it comes down is, if I can make it through the snow last night I can make it in the next day. And it's still better than driving. Now let's just see how bad this ice storm everyone is talking about will be.

Current beer-scale: 6.6


Wow. I feel like I really conquered something today, controlling the fishtails and making it home in one piece today. Awesome.

Current beer-scale: 4.3
What a glorious day to bike commute. And I'm actually being kind of serious. The cold makes everything seem clearer on days like this. I was hyper-aware of my breathing, the noises the tires were making, the sound coming from my bottom bracket as it groaned about having to start from a full stop again. Through it all, my head was laughing at how much pain the rest of me was in. Singing christmas carols, even.Not the most pleasant day to get clear on though. The salt on the roads blurred into a gray that matches the sky as we get ready for more snow this afternoon. Even if the colors sucked I was happy to have the salt down. Once I had safely made it to the corner where it's time to walk the bike into the office I felt like laughing hysterically; I had beaten the odds and made it in on a bike one more time. I'd have to be insane to keep biking in this so it's a good thing I feel like I'm going a little nuts these days.

ETA: Ah, there's that snow we're expecting. I hate this time of year.

Current beer-scale: 2.1 after a handful at the department party last night.


Gah! The Saints just intercepted Orton again and now my ride home doesn't seem nearly as cool. Dammit.

There were other people crazy enough to bike today--it was like this insane fraternity of weirdos out in the cold. In the dark, breathing into my face mask, I had to wonder just what the hell I was doing out there. But now it's a weekend, and I'm not doing a damn thing until I have to go back to work Sunday. Here's to sleeping in.

Current beer-scale: high, but nowhere to go but down.


well holy crap

Wow. That was a simple ride. No flats, no screeching brakes; a slightly scary stretch on a side street but other than that nothing to write home about. Maybe winter biking won't be so bad.

Current beer-scale: 6.7


slow leak + fat man = rough ride home

The rain came just in time for me to realize this is why so few people bike in the winter. My fourth flat in three weeks, and 3 of them were holes along the valve stem which means sliming them would do little to no good. But instead of leaving the bike at work and walking or getting a ride, I decided to do what I could with some rubber bands and packing tape. It was enough to atleast stay inflated just sitting in the office, and even if my weight was enough to start a slow leak, I was willing to stop and pump some air in if I had to.

At diversy and cannon, I had to. Things were pretty nasty out, to the point where the entire episode was amusing enough that I took this shot with my phone.
It's even crappier today but rainy crappy, and not something I wanted to bike in even after fixing everything up last night. I have given up on the cross tires for now and put the skinny tires that I never had a single problem with back on. They might not be ideal for these conditions but the roads get clean pretty soon after a snow so unless I'm riding in a blizzard, I'm willing to chance it. I'm not riding in an ice storm though, and that's what today is starting to look like. Outstanding. I hate this time of year.

I'm biking to all my various christmas parties out of spite.

Current beer-scale: 6.7


Yes! One more fucking time!

So I missed two days at the end of last week and told myself not to feel too bad about things. Yes driving sucked but it was balls cold and I don't think I could have handled another flat. I worked late last night and used that as another excuse not to bike, running home instead. Which might have been an even worse idea but that's neither here nor there.

But I'm back on this morning, with a new tube that fits and ready to rock. I even switched back to an old wheel so the spokes wouldn't be a problem. Of course, I flatted in like 5 minutes. Awesome. But fuck it, I'm still riding home tonite and checking the tire out at home versus leaving it in the office again and driving in tomorrow. At least I've got beer at home.

Current beer-scale: 7.7


No, seriously, it's alright

Really, it is okay to miss a day every now and again. If you have three flats in two weeks and don't feel like taking care of things right away (or have no idea exactly how to take care of things) it's alright to commute different for a day or two. Of course, after a day and a half of driving, I feel like I'm going to claw my eyes out, but whatever.

I have some suburb time coming this weekend due to a party upstairs and some suit shopping for the wife, so maybe I can get something done in my spare time. If not, I guess I'll just drive for a while longer. Grrrrrrrrrr. Maybe I should take the "maybe" out of that equation.

Current beer-scale: 5.4


"muffled curse words"

Dammit dammit dammit. Another flat, and at this point I'm ready to just chuck the bike over a random fence in the neighborhood and walk away. This one was a little closer to work, so I just said "fuck it, I'm not turning around" and trudged my way in. Not the smartest thing in the world and definitely not the safest either, but I made it in.

I'm starting to get sick of this sight.

What's so aggravating is that switching everything seemed to go well last night. It was an easy fix, and everything seemed ready to go by the time I was done. Next thing I knew, I was trying not to lose it on some ice and I was bouncing around on a flat tire. Well fuck.

Ultimately, I think I've over-tightened some of the spokes to keep the wheel from rubbing to the point where they're sticking out of the inside of the rim and they're popping tubes everytime I go over a small bump in the road. Honestly though, fuck if I know what's causing it. All I know is that I'm probably driving to work for the rest of the week, and that's not really helping.

Current beer-scale: 8.4


that's why you always write a note

Well fuck. If that's not the price I pay for being lazy, I don't know what is. Frankenbike flatted yesterday just before I turned onto Belmont on the way home. After a long day, walking the last mile or so home didn't really put me in the mood to deal with replacing tubes and all that so I just decided to ride the Rush Hour in today. Ooops. The first real snow of the year was on the ground, if not the roads. But screw it, driving wasn't an option. And the ride wasn't awful. The roads were fairly clear, and I managed to stay up the entire time. That's still not something I want to put a new bike through on a daily basis though. At points I was wishing I had a pair of 30's on instead of the 23's. They were a little thin for some of the slush this morning. So tonite it's time to settle in and get some tires back together. Oh boy. It keeps getting whiter and whiter out there though, so my hopes for the ride back are not nearly as high as I would like them to be right now. I'm not quite done regretting not putting a new tube on last night.

Switching tubes would have been a better way to spend Sunday night than watching the Bears blow one against the Vikings, but oh well. When you can't punch it in from the 2 in 4 tries and then let up a 99-yard TD pass the very next play you really don't deserve to win anyway. Between the flat, the Bears, and the tivo deciding it didn't want to work with our wireless network at home anymore, it was an aggravating night. Thankfully, that's all in the rearview. Eventually the tivo and I worked things out, and I still rode today so I'm taking it on faith that this week will get better as it goes along.

As long as I can get used to things looking like this. Crap.

Current beer-scale: 6.6


missed it by that much

Well, the fenders almost went on w/o a hitch. Of course the hitch that happened seemed to be a big one, but they're on at any rate. I went cheap, just like everything else for this bike so that means more clip-ons. Hooray!
And why would this simple add-on work since nothing else on the bike has? Eventually they were on in time for a ride to work this morning. If you see someone trudging by on this rolling POS give him a sympathetic wave.
Just in time for this snow that's supposed to hit at noon today and is making everyone jumpy. Let's at least wait until it's on the ground to freak out.

Which I will be happy to do as soon as the first flake hits, but that's just me. Frankenbike is a rough enough ride on pavement. I'm terrified to see what it'll be like with some snow on the ground. Sounds like I'll find out one way or the other today. Joy.
Really I'm surprised I could bike at all after all the beer I had last night trying to make it through another drubbing at the hands of USC. That was just depressing. I now pin all my seasonal affect disorder "good" feelings on the Bears and the odds they can beat the Vikings tonite. God save us all.
Current beer-scale: 6.8


great, now let's get them over with.

I may hate thanksgiving, but I still a lot to be thankful for like…

…being married to a fantastic woman who’s part of a marvelous family that I enjoy being around (vs my family, who are the main reason I hate this holiday to begin with).

…having a turd of a dog and a reason to smile whenever I see her picture at work.

…having a job I enjoy and can bike to. And for biking in general.

…for the way this year’s election played out.

…the idea I’m spending the weekend drinking and watching football.

Off the top of my head, that seems like a pretty decent list. Sure there’s more, but let’s not get too sappy. Beer in a few hours!

Current beer-scale: 8.5


Back on the saddle

With a Sunday off and a chance for an actual full-on weekend, I had some extra time to replace a tube and play with the old one. If this was a how-to blog I'd have pictures of snipping off the end of the presta valve and squeezing some slime in, then re-inflating a repaired tube. But it's not, so let's just say everything's back on (thank christ) and that even in the rain/snow I was happy to be biking again vs driving.

I was fairly anxious about doing any kind of maintenance outside of cleaning/lubing on the rush hour. I'm not the most handy and even though I retro-fitted Frankenbike, it's called Frankenbike for a reason. It's not pretty, and even though looks aren't really what I care about as far as my ride, things were running pretty smoothly pre-flat and I wanted it to stay that way. I lack a certain level of confidence when it comes to any kind of mechanical maintenance, and with good reason. Things seem to be running alright for now though.

So it was off into the rain/snow this morning that even the dog didn't want to be out in. Ah, fall.

Current beer-scale: 6.4


are you fucking kidding me?

Another flat? Seriously? And why does it have to be on the coldest morning of the week? I know the science behind why, and I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the pothole I wasn't paying attention to until it was too late to avoid, but seriously, why today? That really sucked.

Adding to my non-bike rage so far: forgetting to grab my coffee on the way out (both times, via bike and then 20 minutes later via car), having to drive to work in the first place, morning car traffic, stepping in dog poop with Payton this morning, and having to fix a printer some idiot broke in the office by not knowing how to remove a paper jam that resulted in tiny shreds of paper blocking the rollers in our 10-year old crappy HP laserjet. Dammit this is not my day.

Three day weekend, three day week. Thanksgiving also not very high on my favorite holiday list, but anytime I can stay home and drink vs going to work I'm all for it. As long as I've picked up a (ANOTHER FUCKING) spare tube and am riding by then, right on.

Current beer-scale: 8.9


Here's a fun game

I know, let's play "Who has the right of way?" If I'm riding w/the flow of traffic, and you're turning against traffic, who has the right of way? If I have to lock up my brakes into a skid while you're too busy talking on your phone to notice you're about to run someone over on your way into the parking lot, who has the right of way? That's right asshole, I do!

Go fuck yourself idiot!

Current beer-scale: 7.7

my mustache is frozen

Bring it on winter, bring it on. Every line of cars I pass makes me that much happier I'm freezing my ass off instead of sitting in a car with ESPN radio on. It was a glorious morning to bike in any temperature, and as long as nothing is falling on me I'm good to go.

Current beer-scale: 4.5



Welcome back, here's some 30 degree weather to go running in. Awesome. Falling was even better, skidding forward on hands and then an elbow. That was a great way to start the week.

Hey, all week I just wanted to get home and now I am so I'm not complaining too much. It has taken some minor adjustments though after getting used to sun and heat in Tampa for a week. There are palm trees outside of the hockey arena there. Palm trees. Those are pictures of Lightning players behind the tree on the building. We made it to Thursday night's game against the Wings, which considering the last-minute nature of the entire outing was pretty sweet.
I'm going to go have a third cup of coffee and hope I can wake up for the rest of the day. Here's to November being half over already.

Military night at the hockey game.

Current beer-scale: 7.6



The enormity of what just happened in America is starting to settle in. I admit, the Redeye cover with President-elect Obama (!!!!) brought tears to my eyes this morning. I didn't go to Grant Park last night, and except for the last moments of last night's victory speech I didn't regret it. Watching from home though, I don't think the impact of the election really hit me until I got up this morning and had proof that it was actually done. It was fun to hear the glee in Chris Matthews' voice, and a little sad to think about Tim Russert not being there, but there's something about watching election coverage that I think I would enjoy more at home.

Kind of like a football game. Is it great to go, to say you were there, to tailgate and be outside for a glorious fall football Saturday or Sunday? Absolutely. But there are also advantages to catching it at home, including tivo, being able to check other scores, cheaper beer, no bathroom lines, being able to sit with the dog vs some grandma who doesn't know what's going on, no traffic to battle on the way home. And it was the same way last night. I would have loved to have seen history made in person last night, but as soon as Obama had closed his speech that feeling passed. I was home, I was tired, and I wasn't plodding down Michigan Ave with a million other people wondering if I was better off just walking home vs. catching a train.

Having said that, I can't read enough news coverage this morning. The idea of someone like Barack Obama now having to figure out how he's going to transition to governing the entire country is exhilarating. There were times when I doubted it would actually happen, but I'll be grateful it did for a long time. Wow. What a night.
I've never been happier to say I was part of the process, and I cannot wait to see where we go from here.



Please still be rain, please still be rain...

Well, I guess you could call that a success. It's hard to feel positive about feeling so uncomfortable, but that had more to do with the environs than the bike. All the bike can do is roll, it's up to me to dress myself. And the rolling wasn't so bad. No major noises, no major hiccups. The gear-ratio might need tweaking, but that's my inner hypochondriac talking.

I think it might be time to move onto the path when winter really rolls around though. Whenever anyone asks me why I don't take the path, especially when my way home is parallel to the gravel path for almost the entire route, "b/c I have a road bike" is my standard response. But I don't think Frankenbike technically qualifies as a road bike anymore. But since there isn't a specific surface for mutated box-store road bikes w/amateurish upgrades and modifications, the gravel might have to do. Until that first snow fall though, it's back on the actual bike.

Current beer-scale: 6.6

fall is only good for football

I'm holding off counting this morning as a success 2nd test of Frankenbike but I have reasonable hopes for the return trip this afternoon. It doesn't look like we're getting the rain that was forecast for today so maybe I'll get lucky all the way around as the day ends.
Which would be a nice change of pace from yesterday. Not that yesterday was terrible. I made it to SB w/o any catastrophes this time, and managed to have at least a little fun once I got there for the game. Watching the longest overtime game in the history of the stadium, which ended up a loss, wasn't exactly my idea of a perfect afternoon though.

I admit, my attitude could have been better going into the whole trip. That drive isn't always the most pleasant, and when I'm going alone it's always hit or miss what the game experience is like. Sometimes I get lucky, yesterday wasn't one of those times. Still, I found myself enjoying the purity of a November home game in cloudy fall weather at a few points yesterday.

The sprinklers came on just as Pitt had run it's first play in overtime. Ah, fall.

On the way home I was thinking about how badly I just wanted to get home. There were times when I would have felt just the opposite; that I would have been dying to get back to campus and would have hated leaving. I didn't hate going yesterday, but I'm definitely not approaching day trips like that with the same zeal I'm talking about here. And I realized that's b/c campus is no longer home for me, and hasn't been for some time. I'll always look back fondly on my time there, and I love who ND helped grow me into. But as an adult I've fully moved on now, and have my new place to call home. Not exactly the deepest moment of reflection I've ever had but it still surprised me at how hard that thought hit me. Probably partly b/c I just wanted to get home so bad, and still have a long night ahead of me. Oh well. It was still worth the trip out there and I'd do it again, especially if I had company next time. And beer. That would have really helped.

Current beer-scale: 5.4


A few more

Some oods & ends from San Francisco while I have time.

Bike lanes everywhere, even though that van is about to pull right into the lane and just about run me over for standing there to take a picture.

The sea lions at Pier 39 were a hilight for me. I could go there every day and just watch and listen. You could hear them over the sound of traffic from blocks away. It was great.

San Francisco was littered with bits of pop culture if you were looking for them. We passed Dasheil Hammet too and I'm bummed I didn't think to take a picture of that one too.

Ah, Nob Hill. The hills in this city pretty much ruined me for the rest of the trip. By the time we made it to Seattle, when we were climbing back up Pike street away from the market, I felt like a 50-year old.

Golden Gate from China Beach. This was in a pretty posh part of town, and even though I don't live in the dumpiest of neighborhoods, I still felt like a hick wandering around taking tourist pictures in someone else's yard. Totally worth it though.

Following up on that hickish feeling, I admit I'm a sucker for a tourist trap bar/restaurant as long as there's a surf theme. Plus, they had Kona Longboard on tap, always a plus in my book. Beer is your friend.

Current beer-scale: 2.1


Portland/Seattle, w/a subtle motif

Onwards and upwards, from San Fran to Portland and Seattle. This leg of the trip was literally awash in alcohol, from the moment we stepped off the plane.

We were greeted in the terminal by a fantastic wall display featuring locally built bikes of all makes and models. The single-speed cyclocross caught my eye.

I totally need one of these.

From the airport, it was downtown while we waited for a former roommate to finish up at the office. I had time to stop at Powell's, which is always fun. No pictures from there though. Once closing time hit, it was off to the roommate's place where I met my new best friend--his kegirator.

We hit it off immediately. The seemingly endless supply of frosty-cold delicious Full Sail Amber was easy to get used to. I could never be a fully functioning member of society with one of these in my house. But since I was on vacation, it was easy to put back 5 or 6 pints each night after we got back from going out. I ended up hiding the bottles of Full Sail we had at the tailgate later in the week so they didn't get instantly consumed. This is why my beer-scale scores have been so low lately, but I'm starting to perk back up. I'm going to have to start looking for it in Chicago while I have time.

Portland wasn't all drinking, even thought it was most of it. On a drive up the coast we stopped in Astoria and Seaside. I believe this is the beach where they filmed the car race at the start of Goonies.

Once it was time to head to Seattle the drinking started back up again, and included some bull-riding Friday night. Surprisingly, it took less drinking than you would think to get people up on that thing.

And as one last blowout, we decided to get up as early as possible to set up our tailgate Saturday. We ended up shopping at about 7:30 and getting to Husky Stadium at 8:00 AM to set up for a 5:00 PM game. Outstanding. We only had to move once, after the head of parking lot security told us his underlings had it wrong and we were in a reserved lot (PS-way to go guy. You're in charge of a parking lot. You've accomplished a lot, and of course that gives you every right to be a dick to people from opposing teams. Now if only your employees knew what the fuck they were doing too, you'd have something to be proud of).

Actually, the same thing happened 3 years ago at the same game, only that time it was other tailgaters suggesting we move b/c we were in this family's spot that's been there for 30 years. That was alright. Security, not so much. Anyway, once set up was done I could head back downtown on the bus and catch a nap before coming back and drinking more.

Our beer depositories on my way out.

5 hours later, but who the hell brought O'Douls?

I have to say it was a lovely tailgate. Especially once the Portland club sponsoring everything showed up and consumed every single remaining beer, liquor, and over 200 feet of sandwiches. I swear, it was like something straight out of the Bible.

The game itself was fantastic, a great way to end a great vacation. Getting up the next day at 4:30 AM to catch a 6:00 AM flight was not fun, but air travel basically sucks anyway so what the hell. It was a wonderful 10 days, and the further into the workweek I get the more I wish I was still out there. I guess that's why you take pictures.

Current beer-scale: 3.2


As much as it sucks to be cold, it's great to be back on a bike I'm comfortable with after spending a day on a crappy Trek. I'll admit I'm going to be snobby about this, but if I'm going to be climbing hills and bridges and then flying back down I'd like to be on a bike I trust. I just don't feel steady on a hybrid, especially one with flat bars and grip shifters. Still, it was a great ride even though I felt like I was going to fall over half the time.

These bikes sucked.

Still, what a great city. The rest of the trip only reinforced my view of Chicago as the best city in the world, but at least San Francisco didn't have me thinking about it everytime I looked around. Fascinating neighborhoods, ridiculous hills to climb, great climate, fresh ocean air, really a great place to spend a few days seeing the sights.

Hills like this

lead to shots like this

There were a few times I had my doubts, but they were rare. Climbing up to Nob Hill lugging the wife's 50 lbs suitcase. Making the 2 1/2 mile walk to Anchor Steam when we didn't really know where we were going. But even both of those worked out. The view from the top of Nob Hill was fantastic, and the Anchor Steam tour was great. The more I think about it, the harder it is to go back to work b/c that was such a fabulous vacation.

There are more pictures of more stories, but they can wait until I need cheering up as it gets colder. Portland/Seattle up next.

Current beer-scale: 1.3


boy that's brisk

Nothing like coming back from vacationing in shorts and maybe a chilly day for a tailgate to below-freezing temps for the ride into work. Outstanding. At least I got to bust out the winter helmet, if not the unprepared winter bike.

I'll post more on this eventually, but that was a great vacation. I found out: rental bikes suck, Seattle really is boring even when you already knew that going in, San Francisco is the home of great butts thanks to those insane hills, and no matter where you're tailgating security guards are always going to be assholes. And yes, there will be pictures. On the bright side, a keg of Full Sail Amber did do wonders for my soaring scores on the beer-scale.

Current beer-scale: 1.4 (I can at least think about starting to drink again)


Yeah, not quite

Yesterday's post about taking Frankenbike out for a test commute might have been a little hasty. The slight rubbing from the morning had become a louder kind of thumping noise by the time I made it home. Maybe the wheel's just out of true enough to really get noisy after a long ride, honestly I have no idea. I straightened it back out eventually last night but don't think I did anything more than how I had it before the test ride. This project really is starting to wear on me.

With vacation almost here (approx. 30 hours away, not that I'm counting) it looks like winter bike is back on hold for a while. There are plenty of things I could use a break from, we'll just add this to the list. I'll take another look at it when we're home again and take another test ride, this time on a Sunday.

In the meantime, I have to get my act together about this trip. Yes I always pack at the last minute anyway, but I have a dog to drop off in the 'burbs tonite and still haven't figured out how I'm getting to the airport tomorrow. Ah, the little things. It doesn't really compare to facebook updates from people on their honeymoon about running to catch trains, but it's still fun and my first vacation in over a year.

"Boo hoo! We had to run with all our luggage to catch a train in Venice! Life is so hard." Cry me a river.

Vacation vacation vacation vacation! Vacation!

Whoa, sorry about that. I think it's as good a place as any to stop for now.

Current beer-scale: 7.1


Well Frankenbike is officially rideable now. Today was a trial run with the winter set up and there were less problems than I expected. The rear tire was still rubbing in one spot and that was damn annoying to hear each time around, but I think that's fixable. We'll see how things go if it rains later today.

Fenders, maybe new reflectors, and that's it. Other than a front-pull lever. And whatever else pops up. Still, I can't help but be slightly surprised it's actually come together at all.

Unsurprisingly, after nearly two-days living the old bachelor life again, I'm on much less sleep and much worse food. The food part is great, the sleep, not so much. I hate the wife's annual conference, even when it gives me a chance to get out of town for a few days afterwards. This year is no different so far, even if it's the lead-in for the first vacation I've had in 11 months. Pathetic I know, but I miss my wife.

Current beer-scale: 5.7 (I'm almost convinced I can start drinking again after Saturday)


driver, bring me another bourbon

Not just un-car-lite, but limo-heavy. Ah the joys of mixing drinks at 50 mph. And then drinking them. If only the photo were a little blurrier, b/c that's how it felt at the time.

It always strikes me as a little bittersweet the day after friends from all over the county have a chance to spend time together, only to scatter the following morning. True the newlyweds usually do anyway, but this time the wife was out to a conference and I'm on my own for a few days so I'm going to mope about it. I'm sure feeling slightly out of sorts after about 15 double jack & cokes isn't helping either.

I can't help but feel a little guilty about cramming 13 people into crazy-ghetto stretch limo and driving to different photo locals as I become more & more anti-car (actually, I feel guilty about a few things from yesterday. seriously, 15 jack & cokes? that's like a case of soda alone. no wonder I don't feel so hot). But hey, it wasn't my wedding and I was just along for the ride. It was fun, and I think I'm going to focus on that feeling over everything else.

Current beer-scale: 1.1 (burp)


I swear to god, sometimes it's like riding to work with a shortcut through an obnoxious asshole convention. Not a good vibe out there this morning. Other bikers running reds, cars jutting through stop signs just as I'm passing in front of them b/c there's a gap in (vehicular) traffic, just all-around unpleasant. Maybe it was the clouds, maybe it was the other Chicago baseball team losing. Whatever it is, I hope it's gone tomorrow. That sucked.

Current beer-scale: 5.1


It worked!

It actually fucking worked!

The winter-bike project had come about as far as it was going to; new tires, stripped down to single speed, even front-brake only with the tire squeezing on. The chain line was better than expected, so was the tension. One problem though, that tire was still rubbing a bit on one side. That's kind of a big problem to have. Technically it should have fit, but the wheel was so out of true it wouldn't spin properly with the bigger tires on.

So what to do? Well, the notches on the edge of the chain tool must be for something right? There are great on-line resources for bike maintenance, right? Why not have at it? If anything, a few twists could save me a trip to the shop or the rather daunting prospect of filing the drops a bit to move the wheel back.
And it actually worked. The wheel spins and stays spinning, since there's no brake anymore. I think I kind of scared the dog I was so surprised. Fingers crossed, this project might be nearly done. I keep moving the goalposts on that "done" part, but a winterbike really isn't any good w/o fenders so there's still at least one purchase left to make.

But for now, time to celebrate with some football and another big blue can of beer. Happy Monday.

Frankenbike votes Democrat.

Current beer-scale: 6.8



One more point in favor of bikes in "bikes vs cars," you can't have a blowout while going 70 mph on a tollroad on a bike. I will admit that was mildly terrifying, especially considering I couldn't get over to the shoulder before it was barricaded by a work zone. So instead I got to plod along at about 5 mph for a few minutes until I could pull over. Called AAA, resigned myself to missing the ND game I was on my way to see.

The tire wasn't just flat, the tread was practically off.
I have to admit AAA was great. Since I was on a freeway I was a "priority" commuter and a truck would be there within an hour. In the meantime, I was free to try and change the tire myself while I was waiting. Which I think I could have done, except for breaking the locked lugnut off the shredded tire. Whoops.

My father-in law showed up as I was trying to get the tire off. I already had the spare off, and had figured the jack out to the point where if we could get the bad tire off we'd be in great shape. I had 4 of the 5 lugnuts loose. The last one was the locked-lug, which I had already handled alright taking the spare off the back of the car. Of course, it broke almost as soon as we tried it.

AAA showed up to help, and broke it more. AAA was just a van at first, since it was called in as a flat even though I was under the impression a truck was coming. No big deal. It was actually less to wait for the truck to come than the van to show in the first place, and the we were on our way. Nothing worked on the busted lug. Pnuematic wrenches, chisels, only worked to break smaller pieces off the lock. Eventually the blowtorch came out, which honestly spooked me almost as much as the initial blowout. We were standing in a gas station parking lot, and all of a sudden behind me I hear this "whoosh" as he fires up the torch to cut the lock off. Fantastic.

But the blowtorch worked, and the bastard was off the car.
All in all, my little sidetrip only cost $50 for the labor taking the tire off. AAA covered the tow, and really the only casualty was a wasted opportunity to see ND beat Stanford. The final timeline:
9:25-blowout on 355 south near 75 st. exit
9:35-AAA called
9:40-10:20-attempted tire change
10:30-AAA shows, gives up, calls truck
10:45-IDOT truck shows up to ask if we're an accident or just flat
11:00-tow truck shows, head to 63rd & Cass
11:45-tire is finally off, spare is on, head back to 'burbs for beer & football
So basically, the slightly unsettling adventure of the morning took just about as much time as it would have to drive to South Bend. By the time I was done I didn't think I had time to make the game, so it was back to the in-laws' for some NBC.

And don't talk to me about how "the same thing could happen on a bike." I've flatted on a bike at full speed a couple of times and it's not even close to same thing. Once was even in the rain on the bike path and it wasn't anything to write home about. This was. The ride to work this morning was worlds calmer than any drive could have been. I keep leaning further and further to the no-car approach. I'm already car-lite, but that was something I would not want to experience again, thank you. So huge thumbs up to AAA, who made a terrible situation that much easier to get over. I did't miss a second of the game, even though it wasn't in person. So thank you, sincerely. AAA is awesome.
Current beer-scale: 4.3, although it's still pretty early.


Holy crap! That was cold.

I don't know how I couldn't have realized that Cubs traffic would be even worse considering the playoffs and the dumb 5:30 tv time. That was my fault. But does anyone think idiotic traffic cops not directing traffic, letting people run through yellow-turning-reds are helping and not hurting? I doubt it.

I can't blame the frenzied traffic pattern though. If I had tix I'd be going crazy right now too, and no one was outright obnoxious other than people caught in the intersection as traffic changed. It's only the first game, and the atmosphere around here is already insane. Lord help us all in a few more weeks.

Current beer-scale: 6.3


Walking out of work today, I wished I had pants. Fortunately by Diversy, I had forgotten all about it. I don't plan on warming up that fast tomorrow morning though. Fall is in the air my friends, and I think it's time to check out the algebra on wearing something other than shorts to ride in.

Current beer-scale: 4.5-(I'm talking myself out of having a few tonite)


Yeah, good morning to you too.

There are days when I just hate people. "Hate" may be too strong a word but there it is anyway. Days where the adrenaline rush of almost getting run over outweighs the pleasure and enjoyment of a simple bike ride into work. Again, people just don't seem to get the meaning behind a left arm stretched out coming up to an intersection. I can't even begin to imagine what this guy thought it meant today. Maybe he wanted to ask me a question about it b/c he didn't seem to grasp that I wanted to go into the left turn lane, so he should either pass me or let me go. I sped up, he matched. I braked, he seemed to think this was fun. No, it's not a game. I want to turn left fucker, and I can't do it with you staring at me open-mouthed. Move your ass.

I can only imagine how fun this is going to be once the weather turns. Which already has me gritting my teeth, after a horrible effort at finding some cross tires that would fit Frankenbike. After some effort, and much bargain hunting, I seem to have done it, but who knows. The test ride will hopefully be successful later this week.
The main problem:
Not nearly enough room to go from 25 to 32. Whoops! So time to test a smaller tire on both wheel sets. Frankenbike will be single speed eventually, but he might just stay 7-speed since that wheel worked better and is less out of true.
A few tire changes, and success! We have clearance! Well, clearance with some additional "minor" modifications.
The brake, she's gone.
Mission relatively accomplished, it was time to have some more beer and watch the Bears pull one out of the fire against the Eagles. Much better Mondays after both my teams win, so now I'm going to try and forget about the poor asshole in his car driving to his soul-crushing cubicle this morning. Ah, I feel better already. Cheers!

Current beer-scale: 5.7


on the road again

Caution: This post contains highly positive content about the University of Notre Dame.

The ironies of bringing a bike on a two-hour drive to South Bend in the hopes of saving a little time are not lost on me, but man was that a great idea. It gives whole new meaning to the bikes vs cars debate. With the bike, instead of an hour+ walk from a buddies house, it's a few minutes' ride and suddenly I'm at a tailgate. And when the game is (finally) over, hop back on and beat everyone to their cars, beat traffic out of the bend, and cruise home in time to run to Scooters. Awesome.

And it's always fun to play with the panoramic setting on the Kodak. I love this feature, maybe a little more than I should.

A perfect day for late September. I wouldn't really feel that way now if ND had gotten killed, but they didn't so I can reflect postively.
A vertical panoramic of Touchdown Jesus. I'm actually surprised at how well it turned out, seeing how I didn't think about lining up the elements in the mosaic for the two shots until I had already taken the first one and realized how dumb it was to line things up that way. Still, decent look at the library I spent a lot of time in.

The old reliable, the panoramic from the seats as I filed in. I was steady enough to hold the camera, so despite seats that get absolutely no shade until November I knew I'd be alright with enough water.
Unlike one of the guys infront of us, who immediately after coming in and trying to start some shit with the Purdue fans a few seats over, spent most of the game hunched over, hiding from the sun by putting his head in his shirt. At least he didn't puke, and at least we weren't sitting in front of him and worrying about it all day. Notice the class ring on the right hand. Truly, an inspirational example to alumni everywhere.
An action shot of Kyle Rudolph (#9) catching a 5-yard TD from Clausen. Nothing but luck on this shot, but you can see the ball on its way by the 5-yard line. I especially love the guy in the white shirt already giving the "touchdown" sign. I admit to being baffled by this offense. When they're clicking, watch out. When they're not, they make me want to puke. But they seem to go back and forth between the two for no discernable reason. I guess that's why good coaches get paid. Still, I refused to buy the wife a #7 jersey this weekend and opted for Maurice Crum Jr. instead. What the hell, she wasn't there. If I'm surprising her, I get to pick what I'm surprising her with.

All in all a great day, and thank god, b/c I get to do it all over again next Saturday, only an hour earlier thanks to the 1:30 cst start. Tremendous.

Current beer-scale: 8.5 (extremely high due to the nature of Sundays in the office and impending Sunday Night Football Bears action)


A little "meh" after Heroes last night. I have to admit when I came home with the dog with the first episode half-over, my enthusiasm for catching up was pretty low. But why tivo if you're not going to take advantage of not having to schedule things around tv? At least Elle was back in the second hour, even if her brief glance at Weevil did give me a momentary twinge of VM regret. Let's hope Chuck brings it next week.

One month and counting until vacation time. Unbelievably, I feel like I could use a break from the commute just as much as from work. I can't nail down a specific incident, but I've been getting a lot of bad vibes lately. Nasty looks from drivers rolling into traffic, buses who don't seem to care they're pulling over directly in front of a group of bikes, even other bikers who roll along blissfully ignoring calls of "on your left." I guess this is what people mean when they're talking about the lack of biking infrastructure on our roads.

I know it's alright to miss a day every now and then, but with such great weather I can't imagine not biking. Missing a day like today would be worse than having a crappy ride, and I would feel like an idiot stuck in traffic with the windows down. But the rides just have not been fun lately.

I'm still excited to take a bike tour in San Francisco, so I don't think it's the actual biking getting me down. The change of scenery will probably do me good. At least I hope so.

Current beer-scale: 7.6


Whew! Temps in the 80's the day before it's officially fall? Yes, please. Yes it gives seasonal bikers a bigger window to clog up bike lanes, but who really cares when it's this nice this late? I'll put up with having to slam on the brakes every once in a while if I can breeze home in a t-shirt. Give me as much time as possible to complete this cluster-fuck of a winter bike and keep things warm until vacation time next month.

I might feel differently if I was baking away in Soldier Field yesterday watching the Bears gag away a fourth quarter lead. Nevermind about that specific loss but that senario is one of the worst experiences I've ever had. Red from the sun, watching a football team flail away while the clock can't tick down fast enough. Add overtime to the mix and it's not something I'd want to put anyone through. A win makes it bearable, a loss makes it miserable.

My wife always gives me a hard time about this. Football isn't the only thing to look forward to in the fall, but for me it's what dictates the tone of the season. A good ND team, a good Bears team, and fall is a great time of year. Good football makes lousy weather a lot easier to deal with. I don't even want to think about bad football. The nicest apple donuts in the world can't make up for colder weather if your football teams are losing.

Current beer-scale: 6.5


"You're the man, Z!"

When you look in your rearview and see Carlos Zambrano behind you at a light, sometimes things just make sense. Long morning after a late night? There's Big Z behind you. Getting unreasonably pissed at this biker who you can't believe is still alive the way he's riding? Give Carlos a shout-out. That really made my morning. One of those things that happens if you manage to observe your surroundings rather than just pass through them.

On top of which, I got to feed a sting ray yesterday. Wasn't on my to-do list when I got up but it wasn't something I was going to pass up either. That was worth missing a great 9th inning comeback, or at least I'm telling myself that.

Current beer-scale: 4.3


Here's a tip sideburns; if you're trying a rolling semi-trackstand through a red light that other people have stopped at, you can't really get mad if someone's able to start up and pass you right off the bat. Especially if you're getting honked at and/or nearly run over as the light changes. It's a free country and all, but your right to be a douche ends where my right to ride home following the rules of the road and not get shit from idiots begins.

But rides like that are still better than driving. Each trip I take in a car convinces me I need to use my bike more. If I could have figured out a way to carry soup to go in a messenger bag, I wouldn't have bothered with the car but no go. Just add a rack to the project list. Awesome.

Current beer-scale: 7.6 & peaking during cubs/brewers


**grunting inaudibly**

Whoever thought up the idea for an all-day bachelor party was either a genius or a masochist. Probabaly both. Yes if I any sense I would have made today a sick day but I don't so here I am typing away at work, where even the sound of keys clacking is making little sparks go off behind my eyes. At least I smell like a drowned rat after riding in the rain and having my bag spring a leak right over the clothes I brought to change into. Awesome.

I can't complain though, b/c I brought this on myself and had a tivo'd ND game to watch as I tried not to pass out too early. Even if it wasn't at a tailgate, any day I've got an excuse to be drinking out of a flask at 9 AM is a good one.

Current beer-scale: 1.1 (all-time historic low)


Where the hell are my tights?

Now I know how Batman feels. At least I wasn't looking for hockey pants.

Seriously, it's not a good sign 50 degrees felt that cold, but at least I found pants to wear. Screw looking forward to the change in seasons. I'm such a totall wuss about this kind of thing. Fall and winter are inevitable. It's going to get cold eventually, and the only thing that helps is coming to grips with that and preparing adequately. The first time I saw arm sleeves I laughed at the thought of needing them. That was until this morning when I wished I had them.

Having said that, the later these changes come the better. I can laugh at biking in the cold when it's still novel. After a few rides that's worn off. I'd like the novelty to last until at least November.

Current beer-scale: 4.2 (the coronitas are keeping it in check nicely)


I need to learn how to pack.

Suitcase packing, piece of cake. Grocery shopping in a backpack, I'm a little rusty. I could not believe how packed my bag got with just a few items.

Three stops, only picking stuff up at two, and there's no room for any else. Embarassing.

See? Nothing too exciting, except for the tubes and new tire levers. And that, along with my travel pump, was all I could carry. Jeez.

The tubes and levers were for putting cross-tires on Frankenbike. No photos from that, but it went swimmingly. I think this project might actually work out. We'll see, once I can get my hands on another chain tool. Damn this "project on a budget" mentality.

Current beer-scale: 7.3


My enthusiasm for rain today decreases when I realize it's post-Labor Day and the dog beach will soon be an impossibility again. The first time you've had to pull your dog out of the frozen foam that forms at the snow drifts along the shore will be the last time. And as much as I'm curious to see what winter biking will actually lead to, I'd still much rather have some days of choppy beach weather to enjoy. Oh well. In a few hours I'll be having beers as pro football fires up, and not much beats that. Here's to fall.

Current beer-scale: 7.6


What I learned over Labor Day weekend.

1. If I'm flying alone, I'm forever destined to sit next to the fattest person on the same flight.

2. If not the fattest, then certainly the gassiest (which I admit, I more than made up for on the return flight, due to #8).

3. Olympia, WA is crazy bike-friendly, but I couldn't last more than a week there. Why? Because...

4. No more than one car can make a left turn at a light due to the "mellow" atmoshpere permiating the town.

5. Evidently Starbucks is "the man" and getting a coffee there in the morning "encourages oppression." Thanks for the knowledge, bearded-guy.

6. Few things in life are funnier than the words "Our celebration is ENDED" as said by a Nairobi priest after the quietest church wedding you've ever been to.

7. And few things in life are scarier than an airport men's room before a morning flight out of Seattle. Why? Because...

8. There's a limit to the quantity of Starbucks and micro-brew beer a human body was designed to process and still function properly.

9. The only way to find that limit is to exceed it; repeatedly if necessary.

10. That as much as city life in Chicago might piss the hell out of me sometimes, I'm out of my element anywhere else and should appreciate things as they are more often.

But seriously, I would encourage politeness as a common courtesy but there is a tipping point people. When you've got a walk sign, it's not okay to wait and let a car turn in front of you. And don't stand there giving the stink-eye to people who actually do walk when they get a sign. But the flip side of that is, if you're in a car and turning left it's alright to roll a little into the intersection before the light turns yellow. And even if you don't it's alright to turn on a yellow as long as there aren't pedestrians around. Yeah, it's great that you can be so laid-back but for fuck's sake people, does no one have somewhere they're supposed to be? How about some get-up-and-go for Christ' sake.

There were a lot of positives in that trip though. Good coffee, decent beers, a little pre-wedding fun and even some post. It's good to be back though.

Current beer-scale: 2.1


Why aren't the pedals wobbly?

I should add that winterizing didn't just come out of the blue; I managed to get to lakeshore bike & tune after work yesterday for a pre-winter Frankenbike tune up. Good times, explaining just what my plans were and how it's possible that bike is still rideable. True to my post-BTD fears, the bottom bracket was completely shot. What really shocked me though, was that the original wasn't even a sealed bracket, it was open. The bike is 3-years old and it's got a bracket straight out of the 70's. Which is kind of poetic when you think about the amalgam of different parts it's got on right now. Had a good laugh over that one we did. Especially when I demonstrated just how much the cranks wobbled.

It would have had me kind of upset, if I didn't already realize what a piece of junk I had been riding. In retrospect, I shouldn't have even been surprised. Between the original components, stuff I salvaged, and things I bought second hand, it does have parts from 4 different bikes right now. The new cables and bracket are the first new components I've been able to afford to put on since I've had it. And it showed.

So with that replaced, I have the major mechanical issue facing the winter-ization process out of the way. The wife met me at the path with the dog to walk home so I didn't have a chance to ride it last night, but I have a feeling Frankenbike will be riding better than it ever has. Not that I'm looking foward to winter, but this year I say bring it on.

Current beer-scale: 2.2


Time to start a new project, winterizing Frankenbike. Some knobbier tires, flopped & chopped bars with new brake levers, a full set of fenders, cleaned bottom bracket & chain, and hopefully a second rideable bike by the time the seasons are done changing in the fall. Doesn't sound like a lot of work with it sketched out like that, until I realize just exactly how mechanically useless I really am. Some days I'm surprised I can manage to pedal a bike independently, let alone do some upkeep on one. If I can still type with both hands by November it'll be a good sign.

Current beer-scale: 6.4


Wow. One day without a bike commute is tough to handle, especially when that day is Sunday. Nevermind the fact I'm at work and dependent on factors outside my control concerning when I'll be able to head out. Everything seems that much more aggravating without a chance to focus on the day before I'm suddenly here.

**Edited to add**

No day is so bad that a 2-mile speed-walk to get home in time to drive to a concert you don't want to go to can't make it worse. I tried to enjoy that, I really did, but trying to get home just to turn around and get stuck on the Edens instead of being able to call it a day and relax did not make that easy. The walk itself wasn't that bad; in fact, it was reassuring to realize that if the winterbike project doesn't pan out, the most direct walk to work can be done in about 40 minutes. Not ideal when the temp dips into the teens but still an alternative to driving. Time to have more beer.

Current beer-scale: 7.8



Yeah, good morning to you too lady. And no, that wasn't me trying to take off on Lincoln using my left arm as a wing. I was not imagining myself to be a bullfighter and I most definitely did not plan on slaying your SUV with a sword as you passed, although I do occasionally wonder why I'm not carrying something similar. Nor was I attempting to hand you something like a marathon runner; it's not like you need an extra water or something while you drive your chubby ass wherever it is you're going. What both of those last ones should tell you is that was in no way an invitation to see how much farther left you could get in an attempt to get as close to me as possible. We weren't playing tag; I was trying to turn left onto Webster and you were just a retarded asshole. My hand is fine, btw.

My usual commute consists of three turns; a right and two lefts. If I take the path instead of Linclon, it's two rights and a left. So I haven't been able to come up with a route without lefts, unless I want to circle a block or something. Most days it's not a problem, I either get up to a green light and turn when I have a chance, or I wait a little longer. Occasionally though, someone sees a person standing on a bike with their left arm out and all hell breaks loose. I really don't see what's so difficult about it, but then again I have a higher IQ than a tapeworm. Seriously, we were making eye contact and everything, and she still was on the yellow line as she went by and almost took my hand with her. What the hell people?

Current beer-scale: 8.7


My imaginary penpal

Dear ponytail;

I'm glad you heard my "On your left" this morning. In fact, I think everyone heard me. Then again, I didn't want a repeat of last time so I was yelling pretty loud. Your bell-ring response did slightly annoy me but that's more my issue. I was half-tempted to not say anything this time and see if you'd yell again as I passed but thought better of it.

So thank you for helping me start my week off on the right note. With the last remaining weeks of really great hot weather upon us, whenever I'm stuck behind someone messing with their phone or ipod, I'll think back to our moment this morning and smile.

Current beer-scale: 5.1


"Rock you like a hurricane"

Sideshow Bob said it best. Who doesn't love the whizz-bang thrills of the Air & Water show. Happy summer everyone!

Current beer-scale: 7.8


Now that was a bike ride.

With a late meeting tonite and the morning off, I had a chance to extend my commute and visit some old downtown stomping grounds before heading into the office. It always surprises me how different the path crowd is at 11 vs during the morning rush hour. It was full of tourists families on rental bikes or groups of kids out by themselves. The "HI Guy" was even out, but I didn't say hi as I passed. True, you can't be sure that the rental bikers are tourists, but it's a good bet when they actually say "thank you" to your "on your left."

The light was changing in my favor just as I was coasting over the incline at Ohio st. beach, leaving me just high enough to see the mob of people crossing that I would have had to go around on the tiny strip of sidewalk that goes over the river. The original plan was to go as far south as Jackson but the immediate flashback of squeezing through there had me calling it a morning. As much as I was enjoying the ride, that stretch of path/sidewalk caused me enough grief when I rode it every day that the thought of doing it voluntarily didn't hold any appeal. I shook my head at the memories and turned back up the hill.

If I had been thinking I would have grabbed the camera on the way out and really made a morning of the ride, or at least had something to punch this up a little bit. Not that anything really happened, but stopping every once in a while to take a pic would've kept me out of the office for just that much longer. All in all a very pleasant morning though. Consider my faith in the pleasantness of biking restored. For the time being.

Current beer-scale: 3.6


Go right ahead.

Yeah, it doesn't really matter what epithets or curses you're using, when on-coming traffic has a turn arrow and I'm going straight, I'm not gonna move. Unless your horn can magically clear traffic, that's not doing any good either. So yell until you're red-faced, have your little freak out banging the steering wheel, and fucking deal with it. But the next person that comes that close to me with their car as they gun it into on-coming traffic gets my helmet thrown through their window.

Current beer-scale: 5.5
I guess my last bus encounter did enough to knock me off the blog, but not the bike. No other adrenaline rushes in between, no other pleasant conversations to be surprised at. Just business as usual, with the occasional longer loop commute thrown in. Remarkable in its unremarkableness, which is really what commutes should shoot for. It's not like I'm out there hoping for a bus to nearly flatten me, that's just what seems to happen with some regularity. Getting through the neighborhood in any form of transportation shouldn't be a matter of life or death. But it is a lot easier to notice on a bike vs a car.

Current beer-scale: 2.2


hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. After further thought, when I said "I'm going to go where I want to go," I meant "Actually, I'm allowed to ride in the street and you should know better." I wish I could have thought of a wittier response to a bus driver telling me to stay off the road, or even one that was more accurate than what I managed to blurt out. Unfortunately, the adrenaline of nearly getting crushed by a bus kind of got the better of me on that one. At least I managed to say something as I was shaking the urine off my leg.

Current beer-scale: 6.5 but dropping with each one.
Occasionally people will surprise you. Expecting the worst from a lycra-clad speedster approaching from the west at a three way stop yesterday, imagine my surprise when he signalled his left turn and then this right to work his way onto the path. I was almost too dumbstruck to give him a thumbs up and tell him "way to go" as I went by. That was some seriously law-abiding cycling and I hope he didn't think I was being sarcastic b/c that was cool to see.

Of course, almost getting run over this morning by someone dumb enough to try and back out of an alley doesn't really do anything for me, but they can't all be great rides. It was fun in the rain at least.

Current beer-scale: 8.6


batman backlash


After seeing Dark Knight for a third time this weekend (my father-in law hadn't seen it yet & I was happy to oblige), I'm surprised at how much I still enjoyed it. The first time was to hear the story, see the plot play out in front of me in the IMAX experience. The second was to see if it held up on a normal screen, if I had missed anything the first time through, and to see certain things I loved again. This third time was a chance to sit back and savor the entire thing again, wait for the major points to play out and enjoy the transitions to each one. I was actually surprised that I didn't even notice the one thing that pulled me out of the movie the first two times (if you look closely, you'll see a Harris bank sign during one of the chase scenes); it felt like the third time was just to watch everything again, not to look for certain things and that was great. My only minor concern is that for the rest of my viewing-life, I'll wish it was on an IMAX screen instead of whatever I'm watching it on.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the current of Batman backlash that's starting up but I still am. I was never very good at interpreting actions for anything other than what they are, but there are some pretty crazy interpretations of this movie flying around the internets at this point. Yes any great work of fiction can be interpreted to match both current events and things going on in the audience's own life; that's what makes some fiction make the leap from good to great. Fantastic, even. And I would call this movie fantastic--I just took it very literally. I wasn't looking to read anything into what the movie's popularity says about sadomasochistic tendencies in today's movie audience or what the call to mayhem in the movie really stands for. Would this movie have been as interesting before 9/11? Are there obvious parallels to Batman's use of spying technology and a tele-com immunity debate in the Senate? Possibly. I just don't care to use the brain power necessary to make those connections. Sit back and enjoy the movie for christ's sake.

Beyond people bashing "Dark Knight" for what it says about the audience or pop culture or the government, really my major interest at this point is whether or not Nolan's 3 hour director's cut will be the first release of if I'll have to wait for a few releases to come out. Imagine an extra 30 minutes of pure awesome somehow crammed into this movie. Now that would be great fiction.

Current beer-scale: 4.6


The only common feature of your disfunctional relationships is you.

So maybe I'm the jerk, and not the guy running the light. When you're this pissy this often, maybe the only attitude to change is your own.

Current beer-scale: fucking high.


I think I'm more tired than even I realized this morning; my "on your left" at the fullerton light wasn't the friendliest coming in to work. Then again, if the guy rolls through the last light, what's he thinking stopping when the light's about to change and blocking the lane with people rolling up behind him?

That whole intersection pissed me off today, between that guy and the chick who passed me just to slow to a crawl as soon as she was directly in front of me. Who knows, maybe I'm too big to see around from behind and she just didn't realized there was a bottleneck coming up. Then again, if you've ridden that with any regularity you know that there's usually some people stopped and taking it slow might be a good idea. If she hadn't had the other guy in front of her I might not even have noticed but it was just that kind of morning.

Or maybe I'm just a dickhead too. When something that simple is bugging me that much, there's probably more to it than just being tired. And yeah, I feel pretty wore down this morning. But it's not like I'm sprinting into work and getting there exhausted. I'm trying to take it easy in the morning and enjoy myself to the point where I'm ready for a good day at work. There was some bike rage starting to form by the time I got there though, not a pleasant feeling. Some time away would probably do me good right about now.

Some place I'd rather be right now.

Current beer-scale: 6.5


Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, summer in Chicago. Where streets are opened back up after a music festival and smell like a toilet for days, where one-lane boulevards turn into two-lane highways of wrigleyville gridlock. Where if you go to the dog beach long enough, you're bound to see at least one mauling.

Seriously, it's my favorite time of year whether Lincoln smells like the French Quarter or not, but that was some scary shit. If you go to any dog park enough, chances are you'll see something unpleasant eventually. That was way beyond unpleasant though. People screaming, everyone else on the beach freezing, it was kind of like a reverse shark attack. I don't know what started it, but seeing someone have to grab their dog while it's still attached to another dog is not something I ever want to see. Eventually the dogs separated and everyone seemed to be more or less okay, but that seemed pretty hairy for a few minutes there.

Still, I love summer in Chicago to the point where I made the mistake of taking a longer ride home yesterday, through path and Cubs traffic that didn't end up being too bad. I forgot that Irving goes two lanes west-bound after games and found myself between them, since there wasn't any room to ride curbside. It reminded me of my very first ride home from work, where I was so freaked out about traffic on Diversy I didn't know if I would ever bike again. This was a piece of cake though, even having to stop a lot more down southport to get home. Weather and days like that totally make riding with the pelaton worth it. I made a note to savor rides like that so I have them stored in November and December.

Current beer-scale: 3.4


Relax. Just b/c he's driving a hummer doesn't mean the guy is a total knob.

Okay, so he seems to be in a big hurry and almost clipped that guy turning left. You haven't caught up to him yet. Don't freak out.

Well, he might block the bike lane for a second but don't worry, he's just passing really quickly on the right.

Oh, he's decided he might not have room for his ridiculously large inferiority complex, I mean SUV. So he's stopped...right...in...front...of...me...(slamming on my own brakes as I literally almost catch up to him face-first).

Ah yes, honking his horn to get the guy who can't turn out of his way. Brilliant. Then peeling away, through the yellow turning red that I was hoping to catch as well if his dumb ass hadn't taken up the bike lane. Thanks guy. Sometimes, you can judge an idiot by his hummer.

Current beer-scale: 6.7


Sigh. Not every day can be "Dark Knight" exciting, but hopefully this Thursday or Friday can be second-time exciting. Which, I admit, isn't quite as good but would still be a blast. Someone asked me how I liked it this morning, and all I could think to say was "I'm kind of sorry I can't see it again for the first time. It was a blast." Somehow I think the second time will live up to expectations though.

And if it doesn't, I can't complain. The wife actually suggested going again once we realized our Thursday dinner plans might not work out. Which just blows me away, b/c we were going to make that dinner our second anniversary dinner since we don't have to work the next day. But with other weekend plans shaping up and possibly giving us reasons to move dinner to the actual date, she made her suggestion. Just another sign I married the right woman, and now kind of feel pressure to make that extra clear when we do end up going to dinner.

What's a good second anniversary surprise? We actually already exchanged gifts, and by "exchanged gifts" I mean picked out something we thought we'd both enjoy and ordered them online. A blistered thumbs up to Guitar Hero III so far and Veronica Mars' third season. Now that I think about it, maybe we should have saved both of those for next year's anniversary, but oh well. Something to think about for next year. Whatever we end up getting, the process has worked so far.

This kind of thing is a lot easier to handle working downtown. The only thing I really miss about working directly downtown is being able to kill an hour or more (usually more) walking around looking for gift ideas. Or reading every graphic novel in borders. But when you can visit every conceivable type of store in a matter of minutes, shopping gets pretty easy. It's easy to surprise someone with something you've picked up at lunch. My surprise options are slightly more limited these days; it's hard to find that something special when all you really have a chance to stop at is walgreens.

One more random thought and I'll call it a day. Unbelievably, our anniversary is also the dog's birthday. Well, maybe not "unbelievably" b/c we arbitrary decided this two days before our wedding as we were getting ready to host a pre-rehearsal dinner casual bbq for people already in town. Anyway, that's her on the left. We adopted her on the 1st of October and she was about nine weeks old, which translates to around the end of July. So we decided what the hell, let's just make sure everyone gets presents on that day next year, and it's her birthday now too. I don't know what's harder to believe, that I've been married two years or that we've had that turd of a dog for nearly three. Amazing.

Current beer-scale: 6.8



I don't think I've stopped smiling since walking out of the IMAX last night, and that even included dealing with the horrendous Navy Pier crowds and waiting for the pathetic fireworks show. That was one of the most satisfying film experiences I've ever had; at times during the film I couldn't believe how note-perfect the dialogue and performances were. I was completely awe-struck at points, and that doesn't even include the IMAX-induced vertigo from people jumping off buildings or zip-lining through the neighborhood.

Even afterwards, having a beer and waiting for it to get late enough for the fireworks to start being able to sit back and go over the scenes that stuck out to people was fantastic. To have a (jeez this is sounding a little too AICN) communal experience like that about a film I was already excited about was fantastic. My expectations were pretty high going in, and I was not disappointed. I was still hearing the main theme in my head on the way to work this morning and loving the entire ride. The highest possible praise for this film, and if you love Chicago or just love film in general, see it on IMAX.

Current beer-scale: 3.1


Since today is my Friday I feel like I can start to get a little excited about "The Dark Knight" this weekend. It kept coming up this week and I kept trying to ignore it. Even at softball on Tuesday, everyone was comparing when they had tickets for and who got to see it first (someone with a preview show tonite actually won, very impressive). I was starting to feel like not-quite-such-a-nerd until I realized everyone comparing tickets was female and only cared about Christian Bale, while I only cared about Batman. Hey, you can't win them all. And actually, when Batman gets this much buzz, everyone wins.

Current beer-scale: 7.7


Nothing like a ride on your old bike to help you appreciate what you've moved on to. I already loved the new ride but today just reinforced that feeling. Frankenbike wasn't exactly a perfect bike, but it got the job done and there were moments where I was very fond of it. After about a week on the new ride though, jeez oh man does Frankenbike pale in comparison. It probably doesn't help that I didn't clean or lube after riding out to drinks in the rain last week, but I don't remember it feeling that bad just a few days ago. I guess I'm getting spoiled.

Current beer-scale: 2.5


An elegant (commute) for a more civilized age

Is it possible for something to be advocated for without becoming a political issue in the current climate? If it's not (and I'm thinking it might not be), then is it worth splitting the idea of cycling, commuting, or just bikes in general into left and right, blue state/red state?

People are funny, and probably have every reason imaginable for biking. The benefits are legion. Easier than owning a car. Faster, even, for the lucky few. Better health, more exercise, or even improved body image. IT'S FUN, way more fun than grinding your teeth stuck in traffic after a day at the office. I know people that bike just as a way to feel better about their carbon footprint in general. That last one though, sounds suspiciously close to making biking "an issue." And issues have a way of turning people off. That's an awfully fine line to walk, between advocacy and politicizing.

Bike culture is hard enough to get a novice into. When someone is cramming the idea of lessening dependence on foreign oil via riding your bike, your bike can lose even more of it's appeal sometimes. Which is really too bad, b/c more bikes would be good for just about everyone (including me and my often bad attitude).

I've heard the argument lately that bikes are a more elegant way of commuting, that if more people biked instead of drove there would be less congestion on the roads (debatable), leading to less road rage (also debatable) and a more relaxed society in general (unbelievable). All I can think about when someone brings this us is Obi-wan showing Luke his lightsaber for the first time, which for some reason makes me laugh. Now, it's amazingly easy to take that image and run with to a point where you're also seeing, say, the Bush Administration and their big-oil policy makers as Darth Vader and the Emperor, and biking advocates as lone idealists pining for a simpler time which could be brought about using their more elegant way of doing things. But the fact that it's so easy could suggest just how easy it would be for biking in general to become yet another issue that gets split up between the extremes of the two parties, something for liberals to rave breathlessly about and conservatives to get red-faced making fun of. And I don't think that's going to do anyone any good.

Does biking really need to get any more "holier than thou" at this point? Can arguing that biking is a more elegant way to commute do anything but increase the snob factor here? I sincerely doubt it. Boy I sure do complain a lot about something I claim can be fun and enjoyable. I'll try not to make a big issue out of it.

Current beer-scale: 3.6


hydrate Hydrate HYDRATE

Must...drink...more...water. Pub crawl tonite, cubs game tomorrow. Pedal slow, don't sweat, stay hydrated. Stay hydrated. Stay hydrated.

Don't barf.

Current beer-scale: 6.4, but working it's way up.


Dear ponytail;

My apologies for not yelling out my "on your left" this morning. I was enjoying my new bike and thought my chipper greeting would be loud enough but still friendly. Why be a jerk about it when I can spread some good vibes? Unfortunately I did not see your earbuds until I had already passed, before you started shouting.

Ah, the shouting. I understand it can be aggravating to get passed seemingly without warning, but not everyone chooses to wall off one of their senses while they're surrounded by thousands of pounds of machinery going much faster than they are, and in your case, much MUCH faster. In the meantime, I will delightedly scream my "on your left" at anyone I see with a ponytail for the near future, in the hopes that it's you. Please don't let it spook you.


Current beer-scale: 8.5


I have a new toy, and my commuting enjoyment has gone up several notches this week. I have yet to come up with a suitable name, or decide if I'm enough of a geek to even name a bike other than the painfully obvious Frankenbike. Outside of a long-ish first ride in the burbs on Saturday, I haven't really had time to get an impression other than "Woo hoo! This bike is fantastic! Green light! Pedal! MOVE!" Let's just say it's the smoothest fun I've ever had on two wheels and leave it at that.

The threat of more rain today seemed to keep some people off bikes and honestly, I'll never understand why more people don't bike in the rain. Yes it's wet and yes city rain isn't quite the cleanest thing you could get covered in, but it beats the heck out of temps in the high 80's with humidity to match. Which, if you think about it, is what you're going to get for Chicago summer anyway. Rain or sweat, you're soaked either way. After gritting my teeth through a Chicago winter, I can't really complain about 80's and humid mind you. The rain is just refreshing.

Current beer-scale: 8.4; seasonally high due to a lack of softball this week.


Seasonal-affect was in full swing this weekend, with a second beer brat on Friday enough to make me sit back and savor the entirety of summer and great weather. I'm just now starting to come out of my sausage and beer enduced coma, but let's just say I was in a happy place this holiday.

Current beer-scale: low


where'd everybody go?

What the hell people? There's a little rain in the forecast and you pack it up for the day?


You know what? I shouldn't say anything. Let's pretend this never happened and maybe it will happen again.

Current beer-scale: 3.2. A couple post-loss rounds at Castaways did wonders.


And you are?

Holy crap I had an entire peloton to get around this morning on Lincoln. I've been trying to take it easy and go a little slower when there's more people out, really I have. But when someone's fiddling with their ipod versus going through a green or passing on the right while they're pedaling their little legs off on the granniest gears they have, it's just too hard. In the end it's less aggravating to get to work slightly sweaty than to sit behind a line of people who have good intentions but seemingly have no earthly idea about how commuting actually works and fume about it. I applaud your efforts; now get out of my way.

That last bit really makes me sound like a snob but what the hell, sometimes I am. And as much as I enjoy biking, Monday mornings are not my finest or fairest hour. Add to that ANOTHER instance of nearly getting blindsided by someone running a red while other bikers (ME) have the right of way and you have someone a little on edge. In a perfect world I'd be able to shrug it off and be much healthier about it but that's not really happening today.

In a perfect world, I would have been happier with some of the bikes I tested this weekend too. I can live without the hit my wallet's going to take when I do find something but with so many options for bikes and stores I thought I would at least have some options after some rides. Nope. The funny thing about testing some new, nicer bikes is that they don't feel like my frankenbike, which is an absolute piece of junk but I'm on it everyday and the fit just feels right by now. I have at least one more option locally so I'm not ready to give up but after that it might be time to start thinking slightly out of the box on this.

I'm going to keep looking b/c I don't think I'm quite fed up enough to completely give up on the bike commuting. Yet. Days like today are pushing it, but in a few months it will be cold again and I'll be slogging along alone on the streets. In the meantime I'm going to pay extra attention to the good moments, and hope there are enough of them to loosen me up a bit.

Current beer-scale: 6.3


Jack Johnson has been known to work miracles in the eyes of my wife and I, but today just might be out of the realm of possibility. He's not really improving my mood, even with only a few hours left until a ride home and possible night out at a local establishment. What can I say, it's been a long week and it's very likely I won't unclench without a trip to the dog beach after a late morning of sleeping in tomorrow.

Current beer-scale: 8.9 (including the impact of imminent imbibing)


I love riding in the rain. As long as it's warm enough, there isn't a rain that really bothers me too much to ride. My bike's crap anyway, so it's not like it's doing any significant damage. It's even more fun sometimes to see rain clouds coming and try to race them home, but if the rain's already started it's almost as good. My favorite ride ever was one from downtown last spring. Clouds were forming over the lake and as soon as I left the office it started to thunder. Racing down the path by Oak Street beach, lightning was flashing. The rain started by the time I hit Fullerton, but that frantic race down the path was a blast. Nothing quite that exciting this morning, but still a good summer morning ride.

The apartment search is on hold, which is good b/c the bike test-riding can resume. In the end, it sounds a little easier to stay and put up with loud neighbors than spend the next month packing with our fingers crossed that we can find a suitable place in time. Plus, I didn't want to buy another bike just to have it add to the things we had to move. Now that we're not, maybe I can pick something up if I like the ride in the next few weeks.

Woo hoo.

Current beer-scale: 7.4