The Death of Truth

[We interrupt this mostly-bike-crazed personal blog for an important citizen's announcement]

Pence's Hamilton visit is a great (if disturbing) example of the dangers of the echo chamber that is both sides of the 'news'. The country is already divided, without an interest in listening to each other. And now it seems the truth is remade in this echo chamber instead of in the real-world of what happened. Click-bait economics rewrites the truth. I'm not just talking about the right - looking at you Huffington Post, too. But it's both sides.

This is made all the more disturbing by how easily the President-Elect is swayed by this noise enough to unleash a tweet-storm. But watch the video(s) of the event for yourself and decide - both are linked from Tim O'Reilly's excellent call-to-technical action.

At the top of the post - the cast address to Mike Pence and everyone. Actor Brandon Victor Dixon:

"Vice President-elect Pence, I see you're walking out, but I hope you will hear just a few more minutes. We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our friends, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, but we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.
We truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women of different colors, creeds and orientation. We don't have to agree, but we have to live here."

At the bottom - the video reaction of Pence entering. Quite a bit of clapping actually, and no more a divided reaction we'd expect anyways after this divisive season.

Two points here - find the real-world evidence (video, audio, quotes) in the news you are consuming. Give more credence to facts corroborated by multiple sources, or in video/photo/audio evidence itself.

And read Tim's entire post - it's short. About what could be done to improve this technically. If we can't achieve both of these steps, it's truth over folks.

Bikepacking 2016 Here We Come

This post should hold me over until then. Gear list for a winter-ready bikepacking kit:

After trekking through the snow last weekend on my bike, I thought I’d put together a new gear list for myself (and anybody else that cares to use it) as a reference for future rides in cold weather. However, instead of putting it into categories, I organized my gear into the corresponding bike bag I put it in...

via Pedals, Packs, and Pinots

FInding a route? Options include charting a northern MN path, north Wisconsin woods, or something more... exotic... but still a one-day drive. Black Hills Expedition looks promising.


Tilting at Windmills

My cover letter for HSA submissions. This is how I get them back. This is HOW I WIN.

"Enclosed please find evidence for claims submitted. The Claim Number for each claim has been painstakingly copied onto the top of the evidence with my best fountain pen, by candlelight. The finest in mimeograph technology has been used to render a suitable copy to allow me to retain the ability to resubmit should the descendents of the pony express fail to provide safe arrival for this documentation. Artisanal paper was hand-folded into a suitable enveloping container, sealed with glue from organic rubber trees curated in the last virgin rainforest on earth, with the most meticulous hand-application of 100% pure water melted from glacial waters carried down from the tallest Swiss alps.
I thought you’d appreciate this, as the online application you provide for a more efficient submission sees fit to chop the left side off all my PDF submissions. It is clearly designed by those who appreciate the buggy whip and still party like it's 1999."

Almanzo 2015

Almanzo #3 done. 102 miles, bested last year by 13 mins. 8 hours and 47 mins to finish. Not bad for a guy who had a chest cold all week. This race performance brought to you by the inventor of Z-pac antibiotics.

Best bike goes to Michelle and her pink'd out Cross-Check. Saw her and Bob at the Dickie Scramble as well, and she made the biketorialist.

Best performance goes to buddy John Hoch - seen riding up Oriole hill. The one mere mortals walk. John did the Royal - the 162 mile version. So he's hammering this hill after riding almost 150 miles!


Wheel Build: DT Swiss 350 to Velocity A23

Completed these beauties just in time for gravel season. I was looking for a high-value rim that would set-up tubeless, and the Velocity A23 bubbled to the top. Also - the A23 comes in an off-center version for rear wheels supporting a more even spoke tension between drive and non-drive side. For more nerdiness links see my previous post.

Paid much greater attention to spoke tension on this build and I believe I've got them dialed into the right range.

Technical Details:

  • DT Swiss 350 hubs. Mtn spacing for the rear (135) because Cross-Check
  • DT Swiss Comp Butted Spokes
  • Velocity A23 and A23 Off-Center (rear)

When in Nebraska... Monkey Wrench Cycles

Owner Nate Woodman giving us the run-down on vintage mountain bikes in the collection at the Monkey Wrench. If you're ever in Lincoln, Nebraska check out Nebraska's entry in the "50 best bikes shops in the US" for a personalized tour.

We had to hustle off before we could buy anything so I'm sending Nate a little Mpls Bike and Beer package. Support your LBS! (even when it's not L).

Communities Need Heroes...

Communities need heroes, and heroes need legends.

We have a great bike community in the Twin Cities. We consistently rank as a great biking urban area despite our winters. We are great because the community is great, and one of the many things our community has, is heroes.

After extolling the virtues of Freespoke in a recent post, I was digging for contact information for it's creator Karl. And came across this. Karl is not only the creator of Freespoke, but he's also the hero who on his day off manufactured a fix for a hand-crank cycle - getting its owner 'cranking' again in time for a local marathon.




The One Wheelbuilding Tool You Must Use

Spoke wrenches, nipple driver, dishing tool, truing stand... key tools for wheelbuilding. But one of the best tools for wheelbuilding isn't at your bench, it's the online spoke calculator FreeSpoke.

Selecting wheel components can be tricky enough, but actually calculating the proper spoke length is an arcane black art. Freespoke is the best calculator I've found so far, and for each of my whopping four wheel builds it's proven informative and accurate. 

There are other calculators - why Freespoke?

  • It is accurate*
  • It has a decent rim and hub database (some calculators have none, or are brand-specific)
  • It is easy to enter data from your chosen components when they aren't in the database
  • It reports spoke tension and has a nice visual on spoke configuration.

The last item is more of an advanced topic, but worth noting. Rear wheels, and most disc wheels, result in a slight offset of the hub flange on one side. Look at the drive-side of your rear wheel sometime and you'll see those spokes are shorter than the non-drive side, to make room for the freehub.

This results in unequal tension of the spokes. It's natural and fully normal. It's also something rim manufacturers are starting to compensate for with off-center rims. Want to see improvements between a standard Velocity A23, or a Velocity Off-Center A23? Run them through the calculator.

Geeky? Sure. But if you are building your own wheels, you've already crossed far into geek territory. A great explanation of off-center physics can be found in this video explaining why the OC A23 is superior to standard. 

Freespoke is the creation of Karl Stoerzinger who wrenches for the great Freewheel bike shop in Minneapolis. Thanks Karl!


* Limited data: First two wheels I built, used multiple calculators with different answers, and bought the wrong spoke size. Next four wheels - built with Freespoke's help, and correct length each time.

Cold Hard Cash

Taking a look at the 50 best bike shops in the US, I was reminded that bike shops are truly a local, independent business phenomenon. There are no big box bike retailers (thank God) and if there were, they surely wouldn't make this list.

These are small businesses providing us the advice, great equipment, and great service that keeps us spending the majority of our biking time where we should - with two wheels under us. These small businesses typically pay credit card processing fees between 2-4%. It occurred to me that paying in cash is a small way to show a little extra support. So the next time you're at our local bike shop - bring cash. 





Virtuoso Velo Mag Rides Again

The pleasure of enjoying a magazine 'cover-to-cover' is rare these days, along with enough free time to do so. Thankfully Bunyan Velo #5 came out ahead of a big travel day.

Surly bikes calls it "the face-melting guitar solo of bicycle travel journals.Blisteringly good. Private biker journals of casual and epic adventure made public by the strong curation of Mpls-based Lucas Winzenburg. Sublime photography.

Finished, and now planning adventure and mayhem on my used Karate Monkey this season. To ride somewhere open-ended, sleep under the stars, get lost and found again.

Read it now online, or off in the mobile Issuu App. 


A Blueprint for All Future Race Reports

@tassava 's Arrowhead 135 race report is up. Detailed, personal, and insightful, his writing never disappoints. If you want to learn what makes for a great race (or a great race report)... read it.

There was a year back in the day, where as Chris's Resident Assistant at Macalester, I like to think I offered him wisdom and encouragement. Ok, hardly. What did I know? But he has been returning the favor ever since in the biking sense. First with advice that got me prepped and through my first gravel century, and more recently as I've followed his many massive bike achievements. 

His writing offers clues on prep, gear, and a general sense of what you find out there for yourself on a big race. That last thing is the essence of why we do this.

Arrowhead 135

This week marked another running of the Arrowhead 135 cold-weather endurance race. Bike, run, or ski. Good weather contributed to better times, but it's still an incredibly demanding, risky race, and an awesome achievement for finishers. Stayed up late to watch @tassava finish with an impressive time. Promised to crew for another friend who will do the race next year.

Race results, an article on the winner, and the sprint to the finish for the leading four bikers. 2016, can't wait to crew this.