Thursday, December 30, 2010

Past and Present

As I rode in this morning, sweating in the balmy December heat, I thought a lot about how much this last year has awed me.  From finalizing my divorce, to opening a new bicycle shop, to meeting all sorts of amazing people, reconnecting with others, and losing others still, it has been a year full of changes.

I've also come to realize that bicycles are something that can not only connect people but also keep people apart.  It's something I'd never thought of until recently. I don't know exactly how to explain it aside from looking at the people close to me that have been a part of my life for a few years now; the ones with staying power.  They all ride.  A lot.  And, I've met most of them through cycling.  I feel almost like we're a different breed.  We look at things differently, have different priorities, and really all in all, lead a different sort of lifestyle.  One that I'm proud of and happy to be living, but also one that can ostracize others and for that I am saddened. Alright, alright, enough already.  I'm sure this may all sound like sappy reminiscent banter that isn't usually found on this site, but I've been rather pensive the last few days and find that by writing at least I can attempt to get it off my chest. So, thanks for listening. Grateful for you all!!  Happy New Year!!!

Midtown Crossing all purdy-like.

Our trusty steeds locked up outside the Side Door.  Yup, it snowed. 
Made for a fun ride home.

I love this photo!!  All sorts of different tracks!

Snow + bike = radical fun.

2 people who hate having themselves photographed...but look
how cute they are! Vinny Haircut and Chuck.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Catch Up...

Hope everyone had a fun holiday weekend.  I ate entirely too much and now am even more driven to pedal than previously considering the sheer volume of cookies alone that were consumed in a matter of days.
I've also realized that I haven't posted for a few days and so will attempt to throw a few pics on here of the last several adventures I've seen from the saddle of my bike...

View of Downtown through the bat tree!

Bat tree again, with reflective Chrome bag!

Another bat tree shot.  We probably took 100 of these and none really show
just how creepy and full of hundreds of bats this tree was!!!

I took a detour through Hanscom Park the other
day on my commute.  It's a purdy place!

I was glad for studded tires down this icy path.

Off camber (sorta) and icy.  No problem for Bobby Bianchi!

 I liked this tree.

This poor guy!  I'm not sure what happened exactly but he was really
blocking 19th St. right off of Dodge.  Yikes.

While I was stopped taking pictures of the poor dump truck guy, I had to make it look like I was stopping for another reason. So, I took a photo up from the base of these tall buildings.

Anyway, just a few fun shots of random riding I've been doing lately.  Fun stuff!  And, apparently there's a heat wave headed our way.  Get out and ride while we still have sunshine and dry roads!!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Side Door Lounge = My New Home Away from Home

This is The Side Door Lounge. You will love it.

 I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Steve Jamrozy the other day when he came into the shop to look for a new bicycle.  Boy am I glad I did.  He just opened The Side Door Lounge on 35th and Leavenworth about a month ago and it is fantastic.  He is also the owner of The Flatiron Cafe and Espana and if you've ever been to either of these fine establishments you'll understand the caliber of The Side Door Lounge.
Bike sculpture out front. 
We rolled up and locked our bikes up out front.  I did come to find out (during our top to bottom personal tour from Mr. J.) that there are additional bike racks in the back as well.  Steve is all about the Bicycle Friendly Destination project that I'm working on and I'm happy to announce that The Side Door is now on the list!  If you ride in you get an 18oz pint (pint + really) for $3.00.  And we're not talking about Busch Light either.  I enjoyed a Hopluia for my first beverage and a Point Winter Ale for my second.  Ridiculously delicious and cheap!! 

Looking at the stage. Sooo much cool art inside!!

Once inside we were instantly impressed.  We were given the royal tour, from bathroom to basement and every square inch oozed with character.  There's live jazz there most nights it sounds like and we were treated to a saxophonist and keyboard duo that really added to the atmosphere.  We pushed some tables together and made ourselves at home, which Steve J. insists upon. He kept talking about how he wanted to create a place where bike geeks could hang, and folks, I think he's done it.  Help support the guy who wants to support us! I know I'll be there (probably too much).

Looking at the bar.

Yup, The Side Door
I really can't say enough good about this place.  In fact, I'm heading back there tonight and Greenstreet just planned our holiday party there with catering from Mother India which is right next door. Another aspect that I'm excited about is the green factor: he built the place with mostly re-used materials (about 80% if he were to guess) and is understandably proud of all of it.  It is heated using geothermal and was rather toasty! The basement has a sweet old tin ceiling that he tore out of the main floor when he replaced it with acoustic tiling top to bottom. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Summer in the City

Whew!  It's a heat wave out there today folks.  I'm glad for my full-wrap fenders, that's for certain. I rode in today in my swrve pants (thank goodness we're closed on Sundays so that I have a day to wash my pants!), a t-shirt, mid-weight wool jersey and fleece jacket over that.  I was toasty!! I scooped up a Lazer winter liner for my helmet which was just right for today (w/o a hat underneath it which I've needed on the really cold days) and as usual wore my lobster claws which were a bit overkill for today. 

Front and rear studded tires were definitely unnecessary today and I aimed for as much snow and ice as I could find along the way in today.  Not much out on this ride but I'll be ready when it is there!

Marja and Natalie:  I'm calling you out!!!  This week is supposed to be pretty dang balmy and I think we should all bike pool down to the Downtown area on Thursday.  I'll even go as early as 8:30a.m.  Yes, I'm that dedicated.  Ha!   Let me know your thoughts ladies.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Most Fun I've had on a Bike in a While

This past Friday stands out in my mind as one of the most enjoyable days I've had on a bicycle in at least weeks. (Riding off road at Lewis & Clark was purdy good too.)

They'll have a bike rack in the spring.


It started off with a trip to Q Consumables down in Little Italy for breakfast.  After having a nice chat with the server and owner (and trying to coerce them into becoming a Bicycle Friendly Destination, which is looking good) we headed off to find more snow covered roads to pedal.   Heading a bit further south we scouted out my favorite hill climb (which turns out to be nearly impossible to pedal up when it's snow packed if you don't have a rear studded tire).  Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.  Start at the base of Hickory Street by the train tracks down by the river and head west until your heart starts pounding so hard that you think it's attempting to flee your chest. Then try it in the snow.

The old Hickory St. hill. Of course the pic does it no justice.

Waiting at the top for Vince to try to climb the hill.

Bobby Bianchi in the snow where he's happiest.
After Hickory Street, we pedaled around a few other steep neighborhood streets before deciding to stop by Orsi's Bakery on 6th and Pacific to pick up some of their delicious bread.  We went in and looked at all of the old photos on the walls and picked up 2 loaves of bread and some cookies. At the counter when we were paying the guy, he asked how the riding was out there and we told him that it was awesome.  He then said, "Hold on, you have to try this" and turned around, reached in the cooler and handed us a free huge thing of garlic cheese bread!  Basically this made our day!  Thanks Orsi's!

After shoving all of our goods into our messenger bags we pedaled onward.  We headed towards the shop but decided to ride 10th to Capitol and check out the new restaurant/club that our buddy Jason is opening soon.  The timing was perfect because he was just looking out the window of the 2nd floor as we rode by and he ran down and asked us to come in for a tour of the place.  It is going to be incredible!  I'm particularly excited about their expansive vegetarian menu.  I can't wait for it to open; it will surely be a crazy new addition to Downtown Omaha. Good luck Jason!  I'm proud of you!!

Then we rode to the shop and I caught up with Carlos, our new City Bike/Ped Coordinator, for a bit.  2011 is going to be huge for cycling in Omaha!  Mark my words!

We then pedaled to the Copy Cat to get some printing stuff figured out and then headed up towards Cali Taco for some food.  On our way though, we rode up Farnam and swung by the The Grey Plume to say hello to a few folks that we know that were working there that night. Boy am I glad that we did! We locked up our bikes out front at their bike racks and headed inside to check the place out.  We got a fabulous tour from our buddies James and Laura.  If you don't know about this place yet, check it out! It is certified as the Greenest Restaurant in America. Wow. I'm excited to have this place in Omaha and can't wait to actually eat there and try it out.  I actually got a chance to meet and talk with Clayton, the Chef/Owner and we have a few plans up our sleeves as far as collaboration goes.  I'll keep you posted on that!

Our stomachs were growling as we headed north on 33rd to Cali Taco where I gorged myself on chips and salsa and guac and a taco and a margarita.  Delish!  Then pedaled home. Anyway, running errands and eating and smiling on a bike.  All day long.  Fun!!! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wintery Wonderland?

I wasn't happy. Cold toes!
I have actually been commuting pretty much daily; yes mom, even in the snow and ice.  What I've come to realize is that Vern (my Vaya) may not be cut out for the snow...actually it would be perfect but I have an old Bianchi Grizzly frameset that has been asking me to build it and ride it and I figured that all the snow and ice and crap that's out there these days would do less damage to a single speed.  So that's what I did. 
Today, much happier! On my  new ride to boot.

Meet Bobby Bianchi: 
Heck yes he has pink star grips.

And a studded front Nokian Extreme tire

What's that you say? An old skool Shimano Biopace front chainring? Yes, for now anyway.
38 x 16 for now...maybe gonna look for a 34 for up front. Surly Singleator as well keeping things in check.
Winter is a great time to look at building up projects.  I've had this frame for too long now and it's never really been built up the way I want it.  So, here goes...the next thing I'm definitely adding is full wrap fenders.  I had a little seatpost mount flipper style fender for this morning's ride in but still totally got covered.  I tasted the salty grime of the fine Omaha roads as bits of salt and ice and slush were flung at my face.  Mmmmm.  Tasty.

Yesterday I rode Vern in with Copper in her Burley behind me and didn't really feel 100% confident, particularly around snowy corners.  There was more than one occasion where I completely unclipped and had my feet sticking out preparing for a fall...which luckily didn't happen.  Today on my studded front (thinking about investing in a studded rear as well, but currently just let some air out of the Klein Death Grip that is mounted up on back) I felt a lot better!  It probably helped that I wasn't pulling a 75 pound dog behind me.  Sorry Copper, we've already had customers in asking where you are!!  I think Copper may be spending a lot of this winter at home...or I suppose I'll drive once in a while when I really start missing having her around.  She's taking one for the team today and hanging with Jonn on his day off.

Anyway, who else out there is riding and what do you find to be helpful?  My next entry is going to be on gear and what to wear to stay toasty in these conditions.  I do have to say that my super freaking radical new swrve wind and water resistant trousers are my new fave!!  I've actually worn them 3 days in a row now and they're still looking purdy good!  If you saw my pant legs this morning (w/o ful wrap fenders I was covered in grime and slush) and then took a look now you'd be impressed.  The crap that collects during the ride just beads up and brushes right off.  Definitely my best investment thus far.

See you out there!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bikes D'Lite Ride

I confess, I didn't ride today.  When I'm laying in bed and I can hear things getting blown around in the gale force winds outside my window, I wuss out.  Hey, it happens.  I did, however, ride last night and have been actually riding a bunch the last several days.  It has been beautiful out until today and I've been taking advantage of what I know to be waning warm (or at least not unbearably frigid) riding days.

Jolene and I.  She saved me the last cookie!

view from the ped bridge

All sorts of fun lights on bikes on the bridge
There was a pretty decent turn out for the ride.  Glad to see people out and about riding bikes!
on my ride home after it was all done, I stopped to snap a few photos of some lights along my route. 

My plan is to definitely continue commuting throughout the winter.  Who else is out there riding these days? See you out there!  Ring your bell and say hello.