Tuesday, August 30, 2011

So these two green bikes meet at a bar...

I always liked the lush green of the 1988 Diamond Back Ascent EX, but never had one. A chance encounter with a nice survivor let me compare the hue with my trusty old Cross-Check.
The first line is all I've got. I'll leave the punch line up to you.

Even the most occasional visitor will notice that I've been a bit lacking as far as updates here as of recent. I assure you that I have a good reason. I've been pulling some long hours working on a big project. Apparently there was some sort of big bike racing thing in town over the weekend. Sounded cool. Didn't see it. Maybe next time.

Instead, I've spent about 20 out of every 24 hours in my basement office for the past few weeks. Worry not; I've been doing bike stuff, just not the kind of bike stuff that is usually featured here. It's a lot less Big Dummy oriented, instead more along the lines of p-value this and multicollinearity that. I'm in the zany netherworld of quantitative statistical analysis. I exist mostly in a cocoon of convenience food and clutter. My companions as of late are guys like him or him or him, and sometimes them or them.

If you guessed that I'm dissertating, you're right. I hope to be able to say more about it sometime soon. Until then, it's time for bed.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Encounter during an evening grocery run

Lost in contemplation of the snacky goodness we just purchased.
This evening we made a quick trip to the grocery store for a few items, which is not so consequential in itself. What was unusual about the trip was something that we experienced on the way home.
We were at a traffic light on a small street waiting to cross a large street. There was a large SUV in the left turn lane on the large street, positioned to turn onto the small street toward the side opposite of where we were. Then I noticed that although the driver had a green light and that the road was clear for the SUV to turn, it didn't, but rather stayed immobile in the turn lane.

After several seconds, the passenger side window rolled down and a woman yelled something at me. My years of riding in traffic has conditioned me to the occasional, often unintelligible message yelled in my general direction from a motor vehicle, which I mostly ignore or dismiss.

Tonight was a bit different. Following a couple of repetitions, I realized that the message was in the form of a question: "Who made your bike?"

I shouted back, "Surly. Surly Big Dummy." The passenger repeated "Surly" to the driver and yelled "Thanks" to me. With the exchange complete, off motored the SUV.

Perhaps the occupants went home to order their very own Big Dummy. Perhaps they left with more nefarious motives. Who knows. Only later did I realize the unfortunate positioning of the model name of the bike in my response, which may have been received as a personal epithet following the name of the manufacturer. If you were in a gold Suburban and think a guy on an oddly long bike called you a "Big Dummy," I assure you that's not the case.

This encounter was a bit puzzling for me, although in retrospect it probably shouldn't have been. Quite different from my personality preferences, the Big Dummy wants to get noticed. During the nearly three years that I've been riding this big distinctive bike around suburban Denver, I can recall only a handful of trips during which no one has eagerly asked me about it. Even just a few minutes earlier when leaving the grocery store, I had talked with a bicyclist who wanted to check out the Dummy and the load it was carrying. It stands to reason that some people who happen to be in cars may be just as curious.

This bike induces a stream of questions from nearly anyone within sight of it, and has forced me to become a bit more of an extravert by way of explanation. In fact, the people who have asked and received information from me about the Big Dummy, sometimes in depth and at length, easily number in the hundreds over the past few years.

I don't know what effect these sort of encounters have had on Big Dummy sales. However, in my mind's eye, the people in the Suburban are presently making plans to upgrade from a large capacity GM machine to a large capacity Surly machine. To them I say you've made a great decision and I look forward to meeting you on the trail to hear of the fun you will have had.

If anyone from Surly ever reads this, you're welcome. My commission can be set straight by hooking a Daddy up with an "I'm with Big Dummy" t-shirt, size large. Maybe one in size extra small too, for good measure.
We love you, you Big Dummy.

First day of school and she's already learning

Eager to learn and ready to ride.
This is the second year in a row that our girl has ridden on the first day of school, something that I hope will continue all the way through her career. Last year, I carried her on the Big Dummy until we crossed the big street, but this year she rode on her own bike the whole way, with parents by her side of course. I could tell that all the dirt riding we've done this summer has made her strong, because she had no trouble motoring up a long hill along the way.

The weather was perfect and we had plenty of time to spare in getting to school on time. It's hard to believe that classes are back in session. This means that summer is unofficially over. However, no tears were shed, because she was more than happy to see her friends and meet her new teacher.
The trail was clear and perfect in the morning.
She picked out a nice shady spot to park, while striking a sassy pose.
After school, I picked her up and we rode home. I had to select a different bike for the task, as the front tire on the Big Dummy went flat sometime after I dropped her off in the morning, and I didn't notice it until I needed to leave. It's a good thing that I have an extra bike or two around to pick up the slack.
The color coordinated purple clothes, backpack and bike obviously play into her steely gaze of confidence.
After a snack and a rest, we decided to change the tire. The learning for the day was not yet finished, as she gained some hands on experience with changing a flat, including patching a tube with the patch kit that she won in the bike rodeo yesterday. She dove right into the task, and before long the Dummy was again ready to roll.
Tarik of the Moscaline blog calls the little silver item a 'dork nut.' As far as I know, there is no better name for it.
Prepping a brand new tube. We patched the old one to become a spare, as it already had a handful of patches on it.
Seating the bead like a pro. Daddy is proud.
How many mechanics do you know who are cool enough to sport a prancing unicorn on their shirt?
I thought so.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Viva Streets: a Denver ciclovia

The girl knows what she likes, and she likes car-free streets.
Ciclovia means bike path in Spanish. However, another meaning of ciclovia is an event that occurs due to the temporary closure of a street to motorized traffic, often between two parks, so that people can explore and celebrate their city a car-free manner. This definition of ciclovia manifested in Bogota, Colombia several years ago, and has spread to numerous cities around the world ever since. Today, Denver held its first ciclovia called "Viva Streets" along 23rd Avenue between City Park and Stapleton.
A couple of miles worth of people enjoying where they live under their own power.
Exploring new neighborhoods and public art is always fun.
It was terrific to see so many people out enjoying the Park Hill neighborhood. However, the festivities weren't limited to humans, as we saw dogs, cats, chickens and even a parrot out and about. A stretch of a couple of miles of 23rd Avenue was closed to cars, encompassing many restaurants and commercial districts, several food trucks, a few parks and impromptu stops of all types.
Dexter and 23rd was a very popular source for food, drink and people watching.
LiveWell Colorado and BikeDenver teamed up to bring the event to the city, and The Park Hill Bike Depot played a prominent role as neighborhood host. Each of these three organizations deserves all the accolades and support that you can muster.
The queen of the bike rodeo receives instructions.
Bikes of all shapes and sizes were constant fun to look at, especially for someone like me.
One of the few vehicles larger than the Big Dummy allowed on the street during Viva Streets.
We were fortunate enough to see many of our friends along the way. I met M of MandG, proprietors of the Biking and Baking blog, which covers one of the best combinations of two great things. We also met up with our friend and Park Hill denizen Tracy, aka Fixed Gal, of I Like Bikes fame. Tracy let my daughter try out her snazzy new Robin's Egg Blue  Surly Cross-Check for size. Unfortunately, it'll be a while before she's able to fit a Surly of any type, except for the back seat of the Big Dummy.
Testing out Tracy's fancy blue Cross-Check. Just a few more inches. Sure looks fast though.
The co-pilot's seat of the Big Dummy fits just right.
We hung out with Tracy on a playground, trying out some of the equipment, then she accompanied us for a second run through the bike rodeo at her request. Tracy is quicker than I am, and had coverage of the bike rodeo performance up before I did. Cool photos, Tracy!
The starting lineup for the snail race.
At the end of our Viva Streets experience, we stopped by the Denver B-cycle booth to see some more friends and to check out a couple of B-cycles of unfamiliar colors. We also enjoyed a little time with Ben and his canine pal Henry, a remarkably patient and mellow little dog.
Red, blue and gray, each from a different city. Personally, I'd also like to see a nice grassy green. Maybe a mustard yellow too.
Ben and Henry check out the Big Dummy.
We made a quick stop at the People for Bikes booth and she won a water bottle and some stickers. You should sign the people for bikes pledge if you haven't already.

Finally, we stopped off at the fountain at the southwest corner of City Park to stick our hot feet in some cool water, before heading for home.
A little slimy on the bottom, but nice and cool.
Celebratory dance at the fountain.
I'm not in a position to know, but if I had to guess, I'd say Denver's first ciclovia was a huge success. Hopefully this means there will be more like it in the future. Congratulations and thanks to all the organizations and volunteers who worked so hard to make it happen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tomato season

Within seconds of this photo, both tomatoes had disappeared.
Things have been quite busy around the old bike ranch as of late, largely with projects that are not directly relevant to this blog, hence the lack of recent posts. I'll fit in what I can when I'm able. In the mean time, dear reader, please make do with this for now.

After a summer weather pattern of rainy stretches followed by heat streaks, it's looking to be a good year for tomatoes, at least in our garden. The first couple of ripe cherry tomatoes popped up a few days back. Judging from the amount of ripening fruit on the vine, we're going to be flooded with them in a couple of weeks.

The first day of school is amazingly now less than a week away. The summer has just zoomed by, but it still seems as though they start school earlier every year.

We've been trying to fit in as much riding as we are able, but we still haven't done as much as we'd like. I'd especially like to hit Valmont Park in Boulder to check out the dirt offerings and pump track there. Denver now has its own smaller version at Barnum Park, which is another hopeful destination for the near future.
Classic Airstream camp trailer seen on a ride the other night.