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

Project Pink Jr: Candy Cup

Lately I’ve been trying to recover from being off the bike for about 7 weeks, there was a failed attempt at Fatbike Dirt Bagging last week, and then a trip out of town, then I return to a bunch of work things that have been piling up, so I decided to make the best of what time I have to ride.  I’ve spent my week getting re-aquainted with fixed gear bicycle riding.  It’s a great workout, no coasting = always pedaling.

The last three days have been a blast running errands (about 50 miles worth) on one of my favorite fun bikes, Candy Cup aka Project Pink Jr. Why the name “Candy Cup,” you ask?  I have no fucking clue, I was drunk one day and called her Candy Cup and *POOF* there it is.  It’s the same day I tried changing Bathory’s name to Cat Vegas, if I remember correctly, and thankfully that didn’t end up sticking.  Whiskey is a powerful drug.

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Candy in all its glory

Candy is a Leader Cure that I picked up in Chicago a few years ago when I had friends living there that we visited often enough to keep a bike at their place.  It was a great convenience, being able to travel without bikes on top of the car, or once I flew in from SFO and was able to get right on the bike and go.  Super convenient.  After Candy ended back in Des Moines, I found that the short riser bars and stock saddle needed some changing, and I had a set of pink Duro tires laying around the shop, so those went on. The stock crankset suffered what is a usual fate for my goddamn fixies, the left crank arm ended up being damaged and needed replaced.  I found this sick Sugino Messenger in pink and couldn’t really pass on the deal.  I’m finally comfortable enough to ditch the front brake, and I think the bars are going to get some pink tape when that happens.

It’s a great little whip for around town riding, and I’ll be taking it out on the road for a little thing I’m going to call “TrackPacking,” which you can read about in a future post. It’s probably exactly what you envision it is: another bad idea. Anyhoo, I need to go out and enjoy this sub-melting point weather and ride some more.

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

The New Ride Home

My old ride home was great, straight down the GWT to my country castle.  I enjoyed two years of that ride, in and out of DSM a few times a day.  My NEW ride home from down town includes riding up the MacRae park hill.  Many of my friends were all like “blah blah big hills blah blah.”

I love that hill, and about half way up it tonight I thought to myself, “self, this hill ain’t shit,” and then I hit the part where the grade goes straight up (those of you who ride this “loop” on the regular know what I am talking about).  The hill had its say and I had to actually stand up and do a little work.  Then I decided that one wasn’t enough and went around for another pass.  Second time was even better.  I forsee this new commute being a great time, especially with a few laps around the park thrown in for good measure. 

Me+MacRae Park=true love.  If only it was gravel.

Ready To Haul

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Short post tonight, just wanted to share a picture of my new acquisition, a Surly Trailer. I just picked this bad boy up from Rasmussen Bike Shop today and was unfortunately running late for work, so we didn’t get to play, not that hauling cargo in 40° pouring rain was at the top of my fun list…ok, it actually was. 

The trailer has a 300lb capacity, a 63″ x 24″ bed, and a bright future hauling tons of cargo. I can’t wait to put it to the test

It’s Spring Time: Time To Ride, Time To Write

I am back.  I mean, I wasn’t really too regularly here to begin with, but I am back to at least post once in a while.  I would really like to take time to share more of my cycling experiences with you, but it is a challenge to live the 365 Cyclist lifestyle, work three jobs, and still have time to write about what is going on.  Here are a few items of interest which will be expanded upon at another time:

-CIRREM was a fozen, miserable, great time.  I plan on riding the course again as soon as the weather dries up, and maybe this time I will finish the whole thing.

-I have been nominated for Des Moines Bicycle Collective Bike Commuter of the Year Award.  I think the official voting starts today or this weekend.

-The Renegade Gentlemen’s Race was a blast.  65 miles of gravel and pavement north of Ankeny, IA with a team of four other cycling homies, a chicken sandwich, a can of Four Loko, and some really bad service at two restaurants.   It don’t get any better than this.

-The Mullet’s To Mars Ride raised money to combat domestic violence.  A few brave souls ( and I really mean brave, it was below freezing and many of the participants didn’t have the benefit of expensive cold weather gear) rode from Mullet’s to The Royal Mile to Gusto Pizza ending up at Mars Cafe in what was definitely the most fun four miles anyone rode that weekend.  Thank you to all who attended.

Ok, so I need to get off my butt (or my bike) and write some ride recaps, reviews, and rants for your ocular pleasure.  Next Week.