Guess what John has in the stand right now

It's a 17.5". There's only one. It's my size. You'd better hurry.

Also, Dan and I have been jazzed up on GoPills (just kidding) for the last week trying to get the shop caught up on repairs. Happy congratulations to everyone here: we're scheduling 2 days out. In June. Last year we were 2 weeks out at this point). Cookies and popsicles all around.



You may have gathered that John does a good job promoting helmet use by using his "Dad voice" with potential helmet users. (It's the same way he keeps wild children in check while working [please come back, John.]) I'm also a big fan of helmets--I've cracked at least 5 helmets in my day and am still able to blog about it. This makes me (and my mommy) happy. On the other hand, my libertarian side thinks that adults should be able to make their own decisions, even stupid ones. To reconcile this internal conflict, I present you with this video (movie? film?) to help you make an informed decision about wearing a crash hat:

Update from John:
Our luck with the weather ended today. 22 miles from the end of the day's ride and we could see the storm moving in behind us. We took off at a good pace with hope of reaching the cars before the storm caught us. We did not make it and rode the last five or so miles in the rainstorm. Even so it was a great ride. Mary upped her speed again and I was pushing 20+ to keep up with her and Brian. At some point near the finish, Brian gave Mary the front and she started pulling away from us!
We changed to dry clothes in a Dairy Queen restroom and warmed up with an ice cream cone. After some stops in a few tourist shops and the purchase of a Schwinn advertising sign we drove south to the Brainerd area. Tomorrow we ride to St. Cloud and the Lake Wobegon Bike Trail (where all the men are handsome, the women strong and the children are above average).
Thursday night we are going to the track races just north of the Twin Cities and I can relive my glory days as a young track racer.
Alex.... I have lots of "used jerseys" at this point in the trip. They do smell. I will check again for a hint of celery. I suspect I will detect the essence of pancakes and DQ and no celery.


I bet John's not sweating his ears off

Just returned from a race in St. Louis-land, where it was about 120 degrees. As an aside, I find really sweaty jerseys smell like celery after they dry--try it out. Now to our Fargo correspondent. How are the black flies, John?
We are within 100 miles of the Canadian border, camping for 3 nights on a lake with 140 miles of shoreline. Just got back to camp before the rains arrived. Second time we have dodged the rainin two days. To confirm, the Axiom panniers are rainproof, except for the ouside zipper pocket. The kept our jackets nice and drive during a tremendous thunderssorm sevral nights ago. Mary has regained her cycling form as the ride unfolds. Found myself pushing 18 mph to catch up with her today. We added an extra 15 miles today to get to a DQ! And, Dan I had some great donuts this morning and thought of you. See everyone at the shop next week. Speaking of shops I have not seen a good one since we left Minneapolis. Still looking for a road bike mirror to replace the one on Mary's bike that I broke. Oops.



...we all need fenders.

Here's another update from John.
So, the details of this bike tour in Minnesota are as follows. For a number of years a group of cycling friends have planned independent bike tours around the country. They have done rides in Alaska, the Rockies, Colorado, Nova Scotia, Minnepolis to New York City, etc. The group varies each year and it becomes a reunion each year to see old friends and make some new ones.
This year we are in Minnesota with about 25 people and are riding mainly on the bikes trails. we are here for 16 days and riding 14 days. Some days we are camping, some days we are in a hotel (like today), and we also stay twice in a friend's home. We are calling this ride the Minnesota Car Caravan Tour. The driving we do is usually less than an hour, either before or after a ride.
One neat detail that I want to share is what we call "Guard Out" ride routes. We do not use route sheets and when there are lots of turns, like riding in Minneapolis St. Paul or Duluth it could be hard to not get lost. With Guard Out that has not been a problem. We have several guards and when the ride leader says guard out one of them waits at a turn and directs all the riders through the turn. The guard then sprints back to the front of the group. Even with multiple turns, using several guards keeps everyone on route and gives the guards some interval training with lots of short sprints.
Today we are on the Mesabi bike trail and will ride by the huge open pit mines up here. The entire trail is paved and it is unique in that it does not follow an old railroad bed. It is an up and down trail with several climbs with 8% grades or better. I may get to use that low gearing on the Portland today. Cheers.
Now I have to go retake my place in the basement bucket brigade.


Mr. John Goes to Minnesota

So the shop has been bouncing off the walls lately, and we've been working like hamsters to try to keep up. As such, I've been neglecting the website as well as my duties as Making Things Look Pretty in the Shop Coordinator in favor of getting my hands dirty with the mechanics. We're currently scheduling exactly 1 week out, much better than 2 weeks like last year at this time, but Dan and I are going to burn the midnight oil until we catch back up to our goal of 3 days out.

It's also been race season, so when we're not having more fun that a barrel of monkeys at the shop, we've been out training (Anona and I at least). She's been having a breakthrough season, tearing up every race she enters. I'm adjusting to the speed of the Pro/1/2 fields, and my results have been up (5th) and down (someone riding over my face). We're all excited for the upcoming heart of the season, especially the Champaign Criteriums!

John and Michael rode their bikes to Chicago a few weeks ago. I one upped them and rode to the near north suburbs, so Michael put his foot down, borrowed my rechargeable headlight (Stella 200N by Light and Motion), and did a crazy 16 hour 240-something mile ride. I won't be chasing that until I'm done racing and do 1000 miles in 3 days. Some day. Anyway, everyone at the shop (except Peter and Larry) just ordered some of the last available 200N, which is the NiMH version of the Stella 200L. It's a bit heavier, and doesn't have quite as good long term battery life, but it's a great deal. If anybody's interested in ordering light that will literally make oncoming traffic pull over and stop, the blog special price is $139 while supplies last. I really enjoy having a stupid-high-power headlight, as at night it gains me instant street cred with motorists. I also use it for longer rides into the country, usually alone, which is exciting in a somewhat scary way--I expect an ancient swamp monster to stretch its tentacles out of one of the flooded fields and gobble me up. We'll see. Last time I rode through the middle of a herd of deer crossing the road. That got the adrenaline flowing.

I don't think the bathtub-rollers is going to happen. I assign this project to any and all readers.

If anybody from Mahomet has been in looking for Dr. Alumbaugh, he is on vacation up nort':
We are enjoying the touring options that Minnesota has to offer. Frankly, we have been very surprised by the sheer number of people enjoying their biking options in the Minneapolis area. Lots of paved trails into and around the city.
After a brief ride on last Friday to the Coon Rapids dam we declared our bikes ready to tour through June 27th. The new Trek Portland is a lot of fun and the Axiom panniers have made my bike the "pack mule" for the three of us. If we think we might need it, we put it in the bags. Brian is riding his new Project One Trek Madone 5.2 and Mary has her Trek Pilot 5.2. My bike is the heavyweight in our group. I will send a photo of my truck with our bikes and gear loaded for the trip up here.
We filled the day on Saturday by riding into the city and back using mostly the paved trails and saw THOUSANDS of people riding. Sadly, too many were not wearing helmets. Interestingly enough, those on road bikes were much more likely to have a helmet on their head. I always knew that roadies were smarter! Sunday another day on trails with hundreds of others on the trail before heading north to an overnight in Hinckley, Minnesota in a hotel with a DQ next door!
Tomorrow we are on to Moose Lake and back in the tents.
BTW, we stopped in a Minneapolis bike shop and saw the new Trek single speed with the carbon fiber belt instead of a chain (The District--ed.). Very cool in gray paint, orange trim and wheels. $925 and I could have ridden it out the door. Champaign Cycle will love this bike. Is it there yet? (They're finally starting to ship, and we may have ours in less than 3 weeks! Ditto for the new Soho--ed.). More later on the logistics of travelling through a city without maps or cue sheets and how we are moving up to the Canadian border.
Finally, watch out for the right hook--when a car passes you and then turns right, cutting you off. I've avoided this one a couple times recently. This is also a very common type of accident when cyclists use the sidewalk or ride in the gutter, out of the normal path of auto traffic. Note that Illinois law says you must ride as far to the right as is practicable, which basically means you get to decide how far is far enough--there's a grey line between being in the way and being visible.

But don't wear lime green jerseys--a concerned motorist informed me they blend in with the grass in these parts...?