I’m OVER IT.

Warning: I’m pissed.

Last night I took my first ride in a few weeks to check out the newly reopened Grand Ave Bridge.  The bridge, a main thoroughfare between the East Village and the Court Ave district, has been closed for over a year, and those of us with businesses or residences downtown have been patiently awaiting this opening day.  I mounted up on Pink and hopped a block south to the new Protected Bike Lanes that run down Grand Ave from Pennsylvania Ave to the bridge.  Beard pointed west, I was bridgeward bound.

It’s taken a while to get used to having the Protected Bike Lanes in my neighborhood.  Even though I’m (obviously) a cyclist, the adjustment to this new feature has been a little slow.  I spent the last three-plus months driving a giant box van through this, makes the car lanes seem a little anemic (they aren’t), and dealing with having total protection from cars feels weird.  I guess I’m so used to dodging giant metal weapons that to not have that worry is worrisome in its own right.  Kind of a sick way to think of it, and not in a DO THE DEW KORN SNOWBOARD PUKA SHELL kind of sick.  Like Stockholm Syndrome sick.  Now that I’ve had time to adjust, though, I’m in love with the PBL’s.  I’ve stopped jig jagging around on side streets to get to and from home, I can just ride up and down Grand, just like I would drive.  It’s nice.  Thank you to all who have made that happen.

The Bridge is only partially open, as the crews are still finishing up some curbs and edges, and they are putting in PBL’s in that run all the way to 2nd Ave.  This is really amazing.  I’m hoping that in the future the city decides to make these protected lanes run Grand Ave all the way west to 63rd in West Des Moines. That would be super cool. Wink. Hint. I crossed the bridge, then across 2nd Ave, on to the weird side switch the bike lane makes at 3rd (please fix this nonsense sometime), then down to 7th to swing around to Locust Ave and come back east towards the Grand Bridge again.

Cars were breathing down my neck on Locust, cyclists and motorists forced to coexist in the same space by “Sharrows,” and today to ill effect.  I rode the last block towards 2nd ave in the left turn lane, made the turn onto 2nd floating over to the far right so that I may make a right turn back onto Grand Ave, a car pulled up near me and yelled “GET THE FUCK OFF MY STREET MOTHERFUCKER!” then sped north on 2nd, the driver flipping me off, then the passenger joined in as I flipped the bird back and shouted a hearty and customary “FUCK YOU” to the two.  Judging by their intolerant nature and the vehicle graffiti’d up with 90’s Nu-Metal Band decals and Hot Topic/Spencer’s stickers my two verbal assailants and hobbyist bird keepers were probably in a hurry to get to their meth dealer or their job begrudgingly making pizzas at a convenience store , and could not be bothered to stop to SAY THAT SHIT TO MY FUCKING FACE.  Well played, gentlemen. Well played indeed.

Now, I would like to chalk this incident up as isolated and due to the current sociopolitical climate in which those with intolerant ideals feel emboldened by those in power to speak their mind, no matter how small that mind may be.  BUT, sadly, this is how it has always been for those of us who choose to travel by two wheels rather than four.  I have been called every derogatory name in the book, I have had people get out of their cars and attack me with weapons, I have been hit by cars, I have had death threats shouted at me from cars, I have had many friends struck by cars and A FEW OF THEM WERE KILLED.  Why?  Because people see “bike culture” as some sort of threat.  Cyclists “don’t follow the laws, they don’t pay taxes, they don’t buy gas, they aren’t American, THEY TOOK OUR LANES.”

I’M THROUGH WITH THE DEBATES AND THE IGNORANCE AND THE BACKWARD FUCKWADS WHO THINK THAT ATTACKING ME, OR ANYONE ELSE, ON A BIKE IS A GOOD IDEA.  If you don’t like bikes on the roads, FUCK YOU.  STAY HOME. If you don’t like to share the road, FUCK YOU. Take another road, asshole. IF YOU THINK THAT INTIMIDATING ME OR ANYONE ON A BIKE WITH YOUR 3 THOUSAND POUND WEAPON OF AN AUTOMOBILE IS A GOOD IDEA, be prepared for some fucking backlash. I’M OVER IT. If you can’t accept that there are laws in place, oh hell if you can’t have the COMMON DECENCY to treat others with respect or at least respect their right to breath air and exist, then FUCK YOU. YOU ARE FUCKING TRASH.

I know, it sounds a little harsh and we should probably all work together to make things work for everyone and all that sharing is caring shit, but I don’t fucking care about it anymore.  I care about people staying alive. I care about people being safe I care about you.  Unless you are some douche that is against me riding a bike. Then I would still like you to be safe, but seriously FUCK YOU.

Gloves are OFF, and discussion is OVER.  You come at me with your cowardly drive by expletives, better hope I don’t catch up to you.  You want to threaten my life with your car, be prepared to either take me the fuck out or face some fierce backlash. It’s not going to end well for either of us. I promise.

Stay safe out there, and Happy Holidays

CNB

Hashtag Cult Membership Time

I did something very uncharacteristic of me today.  I obtained a motorized vehicle.  It’s very foreign to think of doing things that don’t require turning pedals, but after ridding myself of the “Deal Mobile” last week, and seeing as the venerable Gold Jetta Wagon (the Swagon) is all but sold, I thought that maybe I should start a new thing.  This thing I did gave me entry into a new-to-me hashtag subculture.  I already belong to a few of these groups (#vegancylist #cheflife #veganhashtagabuser #rifftober #rigsofdoom, the also-new-to-me #gravelfamily that I learned is now a thing as of this weekend, and many others), but this is one that I had never aspired to. I purchased a 2006 Dodge Sprinter today…

Enter the #VanLife

IMG_6029#VanLife is this thing where you live your life in, by, and for the Van. You buy a Van, you convert the van to a suitable mobile living quarters, then you go do shit in it.  You go camp, you drive to other places and meet new people, bike unfamiliar areas, explore.  You can save a ton on hotel rooms if you have either good enough facilities or can just make do with what you have brought with you.  As a bit of a cycling vagabond/traveller (and a person who has spent a little too much on air fare and hotel rooms the last few years) this has appealed to me since the day my friends Fresh Tank decided to ditch their living situation and travel the country living the #vanlife. It looks like they have been having fun.

 I had been dead set on a high top Sprinter, but the previous owners, Alex and Hanna, IMG_6028had done a lot of the conversion work like insulate and run power to the back area already, which made this a great base for what I was planning. Alex included a few cabinets he had made for their buildout, along with some helpful tips on the idiosyncrasies of this ole gal. She has some patina, and some quirks, but The Stoker and I are pretty stoked to have something that can accommodate bikes up to and including the Java Tandem, with some basic amenities for the trip to wherever that tandem is getting pedaled from.

Her name is Kira, after current day explorer Kira Salak, who has travelled solo to almost every continent.  My Kira will probably not leave this continent while under I captain her, but I do have some pretty major plans for her. I mean, one does not simply enter the realm of #vanlife without an adventure in their hearts and minds.  What’s my plan? Aside from making grocery runs for the restaurants and maybe doing some catering, you’re going to have to stay tuned to see what my #vanlife has in store.  I promise you it will be a journey into some unknown territory…

Sam

CNB

Loss Of A Legend: Mike Hall

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Mike Hall tucked in on the IPWR. Photo Credit: Facebook

Mike Hall is a legend in cycling. In his relatively short time at the forefront of ultra-endurance racing he has racked up wins/records in 24-hour mountain bike races, the Trans-Am Bike Race, World Cycle Race , Tour Divide, and founded the Trans-Continental Race in Europe. In addition to his racing, Mike participated in fundraising efforts for charity Newborns Vietnam. Mike was on his way to a second place finish behind three time Trans-Con Winner Kristof Allegaert in the inaugural Indian Pacific Wheel Race crossing Southern Australia when he was tragically killed by a motorist on March 31st, 2017. The collision occurred on the Monaro Highway on the outskirts of Canberra at approximately 6:20am.

This is a great loss of a true Ultra Champion. Rest in peace, Mr. Hall.

Sam, CNB

 

Less Breathless

As the tens of you who have been reading along here know, I have recently hit a brick wall with my health.  I had been eating like a huge asshole, and I do mean huge, to the point where not even riding was helping out. I was the heaviest that I’ve even been in my life, a full 70 lbs more than when I was in “racing shape,” and I felt it.  My joints ached, my hips were really unhappy on long rides, I would get out of breath putting on my cycling shoes, and I realized I had been lying to myself about what was going on with my health.  It was time for a change.

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I’ve gone from milkshakes to smoothies.

This week I have hit another milestone. I put my Sidis on without having to gasp for air. This may not seem like something to brag about, but in my 18″ of space it is a reason to celebrate.  When I weighed in yesterday, I had gone from 302.8 to 288.2 lbs in one week. There was a full week prior to my initial weigh in that was undocumented, I would say that based on losing 14+ in the past week, my actual weight at the start was closer to 310-315 lbs. (my poor wheels). I’ve dropped about my first 20, and I am already feeling great. My shirts are fitting better, my mood is better, and I don’t feel as sluggish on the bike. I’m excited, as the weight loss has been from simply changing my diet and getting adjusted to eating Vegan again. I haven’t joined a gym, I have actually been riding less due to being fairly busy, I simply cut out meat, dairy, cheese, etc. This wasn’t an abrupt change, I had been planning this and purging my pantry and fridge for two months, and I have spent a few years eating Vegan in the past, so the groundwork was laid.  I just needed motivation like failing at a bike race that by all means I should have been able to finish.

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Tofu Scramble, Spinach, Tater Crowns, Home Made Vegan Biscuits w/Fig Preserves. Breakfast of Champions.

The Stoker is pleased that I’ve decided to actually look out for my health instead of plowing through life expecting things to just be ok, even though things were most decidedly NOT ok. We are looking forward to a summer of cycling, I’ve decided to cut back my “race” schedule a bit and focus on using 2017 as a recovery year from the past few years of just letting myself go.  It’s time to rebuild, have fun, and get things going the right direction again.

Sam, CNB

Ride Into Grocery Glory

Ride Into Grocery Glory

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THE NEW FOURTH & COURT HY VEE. Photo Courtesy BikeIowa.com

This is where I stop bitching about the new HyVee store at 4th & Court. At least for the moment. It’s not exactly what we were told they would build for us downtown folk. Ok, got it. They built what they wanted, now we move on and either shop there or not.  I’m choosing to shop there as I have really been wanting a full on grocery store that didn’t require travelling 8-10 miles by bike. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but having the ability to hop on a bike or walk to pick up spur-of-the-moment goods is what we were really missing in the area. They do have a few Vegan prepared food options amongst their vast multi-station food court, just in case I get a little hangry while shopping, and there is a little bike parking out front, making it just a few steps from checkout to packing your bike. Very nice. This is so much easier than shopping by car (which also seems pretty convenient  with the parking garage out back).

Opening day at lunch time was a shit show, to say the least.  It was simply a mission to scope out the selection and strategize my future trips.  I ended up buying a few things for dinner that night, running into a cousin of mine a few times, and being jammed up by customers of the store and every company food/product rep that ever walked the face of the earth seemed to have shown up.  It was jam packed, as expected on the opening day, but it really wasn’t too bad to do a little shopping. I suppose now I know what the aisles will be like when another snowpocalypse hits the city. This first trip softened my opinion of the spot.

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Parked out front, loaded up and ready for the mile-ish trip home.

My second trip was pretty casual.  It was early in the morning, and the place was near deserted save for the seemingly massive morning staff and a few other fellow scruffy, unkempt customers. This trip was my first time shopping Vegan at this location, and I was prepared for disappointment.  I was sorely disappointed to that end, as my shopping was easy, the selection of pre-made Vegan items was very good for the size of their grocery section, and the produce section carries everything I was looking for. Not bad, Hy Vee. Not bad at all. The gentleman cashing me out was super rad, the cheese department guy standing close was getting in on the positive vibes, and all was good.

This last trip, my third, was right before lunch.  It was a snowy, cold morning and the place was fairly quiet. I encountered no problems, aside from learning they do not have the Vegan “lunchmeat” I like (probably just need to request it), and they were out of LAVENDAR OIL (working on making my own beard oil), but these are definitely not complaints.  I picked up a bunch of produce, some canned goods for the pantry, and went on my merry snowy way.

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The Grocery Getter for Trip 3: The Mukluk w/Chrome XXL Messenger Bag for the groceries

Downtown residents finally have that grocery store we’ve all been wanting.  It’s walkable, bike able, and they have a B-Cycle kiosk out front for when you buy some things that you might want to throw in the basket of a bike and haul somewhere, or even an impromptu bike picnic. It’s a really nice touch. Overall, I feel that the place suits my grocery needs and I will continue shopping there in addition to Gateway Market, New Oriental Market, Jung’s, and La Tapatia. I’m really stoked to have such a solid produce section so close to home, and hell yeah, they have a great liquor and beer selection for when I’m feeling like it’s bag beer time. That still happens from time to time.

Sam, CNB

I Like Bikes.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life with bikes. Riding bikes, looking at bikes, working on bikes, cussing at bikes, modifying bikes, collecting bikes, racing bikes, shopping for bike parts, learning about bikes, talking about bikes, you know. Bikes. I like riding on roads, bike paths, gravel roads, dirt trails, beaches, river beds, snow, ice, wherever. I like frequenting businesses who are bike friendly. I hang out at bike shops. I help race organizers with rides. I’m guilty of putting people I’m hanging out in that situation where they have to excuse themselves because I’ve run in to a bike friend and we are talking in bike.  If you don’t talk bike, like technical bike, not “bikelish” then bike conversations are about the most eye glazing bore fests you can be privy to. I do that. Bikes.

Riding bikes with others is a really great time, but riding alone for me is one of my favorite things to do. It gives me time to clear my head, time to think through things, time to breath fresh air into my lungs and my mind. The sounds of tires crunching through gravel, the wind whistling through the fields, and the thrill of farm dog sprints are all things I long for daily.  Maybe not the dogs haha. I think after all this time I’ve cultivated a bit of a solitary bike life, but it suits me fine. It’s time away from the world while simultaneously exploring the world.

I was bike-only for a 4 years after I realized I didn’t really drive my car so I sold it to make room in my garage for more bikes.

I started Tacopocalypse by bike. It all started during talks on bike rides and after bike rides at the Cumming Tap. When we started doing tacos there was no car or van to transport things, I used giant coolers on a Surly Bill Trailer, or a smaller cooler on a BOB trailer, when it all started. I sometimes rode 40+ miles to gather the groceries needed to make tacos for Tuesday nights. I sometimes rode through blizzards to get to the Cumming Tap to serve tacos. It was pretty brutal. It kept me in decent shape. I am pretty sure it’s the only restaurant in Iowa that was started by bicycle. Woot.

I’m back to pretty much bike-only after a few years of intense business building involving catering, driving big vans to the farmers market, traveling to sell tacos on RAGBRAI, etc. It’s great to be at a spot that I can get back to my roots and do what I need to do on two wheels. I live downtown, a few blocks from one of my restaurants, about two miles from the other. It’s a quick ride to either. There is a grocery store downtown now, it’s really more of a food court/liquor store, but you can get some fresh produce and whatnot there.

Anyway, my point is that I like bikes. You probably like bikes, too, if you’re reading this. If you don’t, maybe reading this will help guide you towards liking bikes. Bikes are good.

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Here are some pictures of some of my bikes, except the purple Masi. That’s Mel’s in Philly that I was graciously allowed to use while visiting. Also that Powderkeg is owned by a great couple (and sometimes ridden by a Marco) who have put it to great use. 

RIDE BIKES.

SAM, CNB