My day started at 3:30 a.m. I was asked to do the extra early start at work today. I’m not a morning person. Three-thirty I don’t even consider morning. That’s the middle of the night as far as I’m concerned. Here’s the flip-side. I finished work at 11:30 and was home before noon. AND, it was a gorgeous day. I napped and accomplished a few things around the house.
Around 7-ish in the evening I started to get a second wind. The dew point and temperatures were dropping, and the air was still. Frankly, it was a perfect evening. I felt a need to get out for another evening bike ride. The Brompton has become my favorite grab and go bike for these summer evenings jaunts around my neighborhood.
Def: Jaunt :to make a usually short journey for pleasure.
I had no route planned when I left the house. I ended up down by the St. Louis River on the Western Waterfront Trail. The Brompton made a suitable trail bike a a few miles of hard pack trail.
My timing was not intentional, but I arrived down by the river as the sun set for the day. It had already dropped over the hillside to the west, but I was there for the official sunset at 7:50 p.m.
I experienced the “Blue moment”, that time of day moments before last light where everything turns a shade of blue before slowly fading to black. I rode home in the dark. Thankfully the Brompton has front and rear hub generator powered lights.
It really was the most pleasant of endings for a very long day. I shall sleep good tonight.
I believe it would be Fall. That’s what’s in the air. The seasons follow a different calendar here. Winter lingers late into Spring. Fall and winter come early. The days are getting shorter. The green foliage is fading. It isn’t turning yet, but it’s definitely fading. The mornings are cooler. It takes longer for it to warm up. The warmth of the afternoon sun dissipates quickly at the end of the day. It’s all signs that Fall is coming. Sure, we may still get a hot spell or two. But it only lasts a day or two.
Today was one of those days were it started with a mix of clouds with foggy patches. Susan and I took a walk over to our neighborhood co-op for a bit of shopping in the late morning. The temps were still in the mid-60’s. With the cloud cover it felt like the temperature was going to stick there the rest of the day. I don’t mind. I’m not a fan of hot weather. And we don’t even get the super hot stuff here. I look forward to these cool days. In the past I tend to put more miles on the bikes in September and October then any other months.
Things changed around 2:00. Gaps in the clouds started to form. Then bigger gaps. And then this (above). You can’t see it in the picture, but there is still fog out on the horizon of the big lake. There’s also clouds behind me in the picture. I managed to get out at the perfect time of this day. A brief window where the clouds opened up and the temp struggled to pull itself up above the 70 degree mark. Only barely. The view of the lake always awes me. I took a circuitous route that had me riding high above the lake. On the return portion I rode along it’s shore for a close-up view.
I had to dodge the hordes Pokemon-go (SP?) players in Leif Erickson Park. It was my first exposure to this. At first I didn’t understand what was going on. Why were there people standing together in the middle of the trail looking at their phones. And people walking about in patterns looking at their phones in all corners of the park?. Patterns that didn’t register as normal in my brain. It was a bit bizarre. Oh well. It was the only place I encountered these game players on the entire ride.
The blue skies and blue lake made a great back drop to just about every picture I snapped today.
I’ve been to hundreds of concerts and have seen hundreds of bands playing in bars and nightclubs. Of course some of those performances stand-out in my memory. One in particular I can’t forget. It was at Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, Wisconsin. It happened 26 years ago last night, the 26th of August. My friend Mark and his wife Lisa were there with me for an amazing triple bill that included Robert Cray, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Eric Clapton. It was a night to remember. For more reasons than one. Stevie died in a helicopter crash after the concert not long after midnight on the 27th while leaving the venue.
The sadness still lingers 26 years later. Over the years I’ve watched many performances of his on YouTube. I’ll leave you with one of the better ones. Unfortunately it ends in the middle of a song. Here’s a link.
Update. I originally posted the above partial concert video. I have since found bits and pieces from the same concert and they are posted below here:
I own, try to maintain, and ride five bikes. I am limited to five by available storage space in our garageless house. My finances, income and willingness to maintain more than five bikes also limit me to five. I often wish I had fewer. Having said that, if I had more income and more storage space I’m guessing the number of bikes I was willing to own would increase. I love unique, handcrafted bicycles that are expertly engineered and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
All five of my bikes get used. Each has a purpose with not a lot of overlap between bikes. I go more in depth on this in the link to “My Bicycles” in the drop down menu or link above on this website.
I’m at a comfortable place with the bikes I currently own. I enjoy riding each of them when used for their intended purpose. Each one of them stands out when used like this.
When one bike gets neglected for a period of time I find it extremely refreshing to get back on it. My Ellis is a recent example of this. I call it my “go fast” bike because it has the skinniest tires (700c x 32mm) of any my large wheeled bikes (as compared to my small wheeled Brompton folder). The Ellis is my summer fair weather bike as well. I avoid riding this in wet conditions. We’ve been having an unusually wet summer. I’ve been riding my A-train with an all-weather belt drive/IGH drivetrain more lately because it requires no cleaning or lubing after wet weather rides. This past Sunday it was a deliciously cool, dry and low humidity day so I took the Ellis out for a ride. After a month without riding this bike it was like falling in love all over again. The ride of this custom frame built for me by Dave Wages back in 2008 is silky smooth and very responsive. It’s a joy to ride. The time away from this bike made it so very clear.
The wonderful thing is this happens with all my bikes. I miss them when I haven’t ridden them in awhile. I’m very lucky to have each one of these five bikes.
In August of 1978 I was 15 years old. My family had moved to the Northwestern suburbs of Chicago from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I left behind a supportive racing community in Pittsburgh and was struggling to find a replacement community in Chicago. Soon after arriving in the Chicago area I learned of a big race scheduled to take place on the streets of downtown Chicago and Grant Park on September 4th. My age placed me in the Intermediate Boys age group. At the time the United States Cycling Federation (U.S.C.F.) governed all racing in the U.S. This was amateur racing. All racing in the U.S. was amateur at the time. The age group you raced in was based on your age as of January 1st of the current year. Since I was 14 years old on that date I raced the entire year as an Intermediate Boy, ages 12-14. The Boul-Mich did not offer a race for my age group. In a case like this a person was allowed to move up in age groups. I was allowed to race in the Junior Men’s race. Junior men’s was for riders age 15-17 as of January 1st. Intermediate Boys and Junior Mens had restricted gears. Even though I was racing with the Juniors I had to use Intermediate Boys gearing. That was limited to a gear no larger than 89 gear inches.
My dad took a few pictures of the day. The picture above is at the start line. I am in the 2nd row middle wearing the red and white jersey and “hairnet” helmet. This race drew a huge field of big names. On the left of this picture is Jeff Bradley in the Kretschmer Wheat Germ jersey. He is a future 7-11 team member. He is the current U.S.C.F. Junior Men’s National Road Champion in this picture. I’m not sure why he’s not wearing the National Champion’s jersey. Back in July he had nipped Greg LeMond at the line to win the National Championship Race in Milwaukee, WI. Greg had been the defending National Champion and would win again the next year. I was in Milwaukee and got to see the Junior Mens race. Also in this race is future Giro d’Italia winner Andy Hampsten. He was lined up on the first row just out of this picture on the right.
The race started out fast. I was hanging on quite nicely. I had finished 13th in the final sprint in the Intermediate Boys National Championship Road Race back in July. So I had the speed to hang with the big boys. I ran into a small problem on this course. The roads were rough in down town Chicago. The potholed streets were causing me to drop my chain. I dropped it twice on the first lap. Both times I was able to reach down and put it back on and then chase back on to the back of the pack. What was causing my chain to come off so easily? Well, back then the five speed free-wheel was the available gear set-up. In 1978 the 6-speed freewheel was just around the corner. Imagine six gears on one hub? When setting up my bike with the restricted 89 gear inch sized gearing I noticed there was a lot of gear overlap on the traditional 10-speed set-up. I did something really radical for the time. I eliminated one of the front chain rings and ran my bike as a 5-speed. That’s right!! I was running a 1x drivetrain way back in 1978. The problem was a lack of any type of chain keeper on the front to keep my chains from dropping off the chain ring. Unbelievably I had not had a single issue with dropping a chain the entire season. Not until this race.
On lap 2 I lost the chain again. It was getting harder chasing back on. The pace at the front was high. I ended up eventually having to drop out of the race. The chain continued to come off and I was getting cooked having to constantly chase back on. It was very upsetting not finishing this race. Although I wouldn’t have finished high up in the race, I knew I had the speed to race with the Juniors. I was bummed.
After my disappointing race we stuck around to watch the main event. The Senior Men’s race. It featured a field of top racers in the U.S. I can’t remember all the names but I know Dale and Wayne Stetina were there. It was a thrill to watch them race. Dale was the reigning Senior Men’s National Road Champion and Wayne was a previous National Champion. They were very dominate on the national racing scene in that time period. And they were mega-stars to me. It was a thrill to watch them race in person. I had watched Dale win the National Championship title back in July in Milwaukee. It wasn’t my first time seeing them race.
I only raced from 1977 to 1980. That short time and all the experiences I had during my racing years really shaped much of who I am today. I lost the desire to train and race over the years since. I never had the competitive fire or genetic make-up needed to go much higher in the sport, but I’m grateful for the experience. To this day I love the sport of bicycle racing even with all its problems and issues. It’s a beautiful sport when it’s pure.
Summer evenings. The time between dinner and sunset. When the sun fades and the heat of the day lingers. A hint of cooler air appears in pockets of air as you move about. As a child this time of day was spent outdoors. Friends and neighborhood kids would be out too. We’d spend this precious time running around, playing, and riding our bikes. Burning off that last bit of kid energy before bed time. There was a sense of freedom and being totally in the moment.
Some how I lost that feeling, the ability to enjoy the moment. It was around age 13. I had started taking my bicycling to new levels. I was spending my summers training and road racing. Evenings became the time for recovery and sitting around. A week ago my wife and I were sitting on our porch enjoying the evening. A thought popped in my head. I looked at my wife and announced I was going for a bike ride around our neighborhood. I only had an hour before sunset and it was a beautiful evening. I didn’t change into “biking clothes”, I didn’t fill my water bottles, I didn’t put on cleated bicycle shoes. I didn’t put together a repair kit and pump to carry along in a bicycle bag. And here’s the big one, I didn’t grab my cell phone and shove it in my pocket. I simply got up, walked inside grabbed my Brompton and went.
I rolled away from my house with no destination in mind. I purposely tried to take the quieter streets, or streets I don’t normally take. As a top priority, I took any paths I came across. I’d go down paths just to see where they took me. Every neighborhood has hidden paths that connect streets to other streets. Some are dirt, some are paved trails. Paths can only be found and used when on a bike or foot. Growing up my neighborhoods didn’t have alleys. Alleys can be a great way to get around a neighborhood. My neighborhood I live in now has alleys.
I had so much fun that night I decided to do it again last evening. Although, I did take my phone so I could take some pictures this time. Here’s a link to the route I rode: //rwgps-embeds.com/trips/10542401/embed
There’s nothing better than a path through a wooded ravine with a creek next to it. I remember thinking as a kid that these kind of paths were secret. Only kids knew about them.
The Brompton is a great bike to bring back this kind of feeling. Although it’s an “adult” bike, the small wheels remind me of bikes I would have ridden as a kid.
Last evening I did something I never do as an adult. When I reached the main drag through West Duluth I rode on the sidewalk. I never ride on sidewalks. At this time of the evening I had the sidewalks all to myself. I looked into the windows of closed shops as I rode along. I rode with my eyes wide open. I noticed little businesses I didn’t even realize were there even though I’ve ridden down this street a thousand times on a bike and in cars.
I felt like a kid again. It’s a shame it took me 40 years to slow down and feel this way. I think I’ll try to do this more often.
It happens between one and three times every year. Susan and I get out and ride bikes together. Susan loves to bike. She just doesn’t make it her top priority like I do. She has many other interests that keep her busy. When she does get out on a bike it’s usually with me. Not always. But we always have fun when it is the two of us. We had a relaxing ride with a coffee stop in the middle. We headed down to the Canal Park area on the lakefront. I’ve become so good at avoiding crowds sometimes I forget that Duluth is a huge tourist destination. Canal Park is the main tourist attraction. A former industrial area that has been turned into shops, cafes, restaurants, and recently micro breweries. It is peak tourist season right now. And Canal Park was bustling.
Another purpose of this ride was to get some pictures of me with my Brompton. I’ve been asked to submit a guest blog post for possible use on another blog. A post about how I use my Brompton in Duluth.
Since I normally bike alone I don’t have any pictures of me and the Brompton. Only pictures of the Brompton. It all went good except we somehow lost my camera. We split the picture taking between my iPhone and my Sony Elph pocket camera. Fortunately we still had some of the pictures that were taken on the phone. The camera is lost for good. I even went back down to look for it after we got home and realized it was missing.
Despite the lost camera fun was had by all. It was fun to sit on the patio at the coffee shop on a beautiful Sunday morning and people watch. We just wouldn’t want to do it all the time.
Went out for ride on dirt today. I headed for the Brewers Park trails a mile from my house and this sight stopped me in my tracks. What the heck? That trail wasn’t there last time I rode by here. Couldn’t have been much more then a week ago. This is located in Western Duluth where Skyline Parkway crosses Keene Creek at the power line right of way.
The pace of new trail construction in Duluth is staggering. A ceremony was held this week to celebrate Duluth trail systems recognition as 1 of 6 trail systems worldwide to become a IMBA Gold Level Ride Center. More to come.
1979 was beginning of the end of my short lived amateur racing career. I was a first year Junior racing in the USCF. 1978 had been a great year. I had made it to National Championships in the Intermediate Boys age group. I finished 13th. I had big hopes for my first year as a Junior. A move from Pittsburgh in the late summer of 1978 to the Chicago suburbs changed the way I trained. I didn’t realize it till years later, but I never adjusted my training to make up for the loss of the high quality club racing I had done in Pittsburgh. I became frustrated and it was no longer fun. By time 1980 came around I decided to take a break from racing. I never went back.