Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Letter from Spring Training Camp

About  a month ago, it was proposed that the family should spend Spring Break in Minnesota, with the in-laws.  While a similar situation a couple years ago proved to be a decent chance to do some early season riding in slightly better weather than back home, it was still a week-and-a-half in Minnesota.  With the in-laws. 

At first, I demurred.  Maybe I'd stay home; I could finally get the living room painted, after all.  But if I really wanted to paint the living room, I'd have done it already.  And I didn't really want to spend a week alone at home.  And then I figured out how to turn a trip to the states into a new bike, n + 1, as it were.

I would bring a bunch of parts with me, order the rest online, and avoid all the cross-border shipping BS by having it all delivered to the in-laws' place.  I'd get to build up a new machine (always a good time) and then have something to ride for the rest of the week. 

The most obvious hole in the stable is a gravel race bike.  Usually, the cross bike would fill this role neatly, but my Ridley is such a thoroughbred that it lacks even a single set of water-bottle braze-ons, making it a bit of a one-trick pony, and useless for even a medium length ride.  A gravel race bike, in theory, combines all-road capability (tire clearance, appropriate gearing) and light randoneuring duties, so a cross frame is an ideal starting point (provided it isn't too pretentious for hydration attachment).  Hence the Blue Norcross frameset.

In honour of what is arguably the pre-eminent event of its kind, Challenge has started manufacturing a tire specifically for gravel racing, the Almanzo, named after the the 100 mile Minnesota gravel grinder race.  When I left Winnipeg, there was exactly one shop on the whole interweb with stock: Calhoun Cycle in Minneapolis.  On previous trips, I've visited One on One and Freewheel, among others, and they're great, but I'd never been to Calhoun.  It has an urban, utility-cycling vibe, with a lot of high-end saddle-bags and such on display, and is attached to a coffee shop.  But most importantly, they had Almanzos.  Score!

What they - and four other reputable shops in the greater Twin Cities area - did not have, were the particular straddle wire cables that my Shimano cantilevers needed (and which I didn't have).  Pictured below are some of the most difficult-to-find small parts in cycledom.

I finally found them in a very neat shop.  Flanders Bros. (that's really the family name, apparently), on Lyndale, specializes in all things cyclocross, and is definitely worth a visit, next time you're in Mpls.

With those two last-minute items tracked down, I was ready to start building up the ideal gravel racer. 

As far as I can tell, the Almanzos are basically Grifo XS treads glued to a slightly narrower 30mm casing.  Having never sprung for such fancy tires before, I have little to compare them to, but they seem to be as supple as they claim, and they roll on pavement as well as any slick I have ridden.  They're not slowing me down, that's for sure.  The rack under the seat is for the saddle-bag.  I hadn't used it much, as it always bounced against my thighs before; with the new support, I don't even notice it's there.

There's still plenty of snow down here, but by waiting until midday, I was able to ride in temps between 3 and 7 degrees most days.  It's not California or Arizona, but it's still a whole lot better than back home, according to Environment Canada.  This, Andrea, is fleece bib-knicker riding at its best, and the cold, moist conditions make for effortless, injury-free farmer blows.  You do need to keep the boys insulated from the wind on longer rides, though.

I've been seriously neglecting the bike this winter (I rode the rollers a grand total of once), but with Brad's race just around the corner, some "training" was required.  I got a few good rides in, including one long loop on rolling hills on Saturday, when I took these:

Apparently, those are the remains of a World War 2 bomb making facility or something.  The car in the trees is just straight-up redneckery, I think.

And finally, to inspire you all for what is sure to be the most gravelly year yet, isn't this a pretty colour for a road?  It must be all the clay.

PS - I don't think "strike" is quite the appropriate term to describe a situation where the boss is the only person refusing to work.  So, what did everyone else do over Spring Break?

Happy Easter Everyone

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

noted while reading...

Reading “The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies,” it’s hard not to recall some of the profound and not-so-goofy things the novelist Umberto Eco had to say about cult movies in his 1984 essay “ ‘Casablanca’: Cult Movies and Intertextual Collage.”
“What are the requirements for transforming a book or movie into a cult object?” Mr. Eco asked. “The work must be loved, obviously, but this is not enough. It must provide a completely furnished world so that its fans can quote characters and episodes as if they were aspects of the fan’s private sectarian world, a world about which one can make up quizzes and play trivia games so that the adepts of the sect recognize through each other a shared expertise.”
(If the phrases “Nice marmot,” or “You’re entering a world of pain,” or “I can get you a toe” mean anything to you, then “Lebowski” has entered your private sectarian world.) ...a cult movie must be “ramshackle, rickety, unhinged in itself.” He explained: “Only an unhinged movie survives as a disconnected series of images, of peaks, of visual icebergs. It should display not one central idea but many. It should not reveal a coherent philosophy of composition. It must live on, and because of, its glorious ricketiness.”
Garner, Dwight. "BOOKS; Dissertations On His Dudeness." The New York Times. The New York Times, 30 Dec. 2009. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.

Is this a bit like, "too much front!" or maybe more poignantly, "we are exactly what we are"?
I knew it wasn't nostalgia...

Monday, March 18, 2013

More Sunday Film Fest - DX 2012

Here's a DX 2012 video. Now the one person who seemed to care can relax. There may even be another one yet... following up the pre-ride! Where it's actually dark! But we'll see...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

On Strike

The Dark Side's home on the interwebs will be shut down until we receive the kick-ass DarkCross 2012 movie we've been waiting for from the Secretary.

Essential services--like vicarious racing results and snarky observations--will be available via the Twitter: @fgbcdark.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

DarkCross Goes to the Movies

Two movies in one day? Let's just say it was a day full of pleasant videographic surprises at the Death Star today. This movie is significant  because it features not one but two cameos of our very own DarkCross. You will no doubt also recognize a few others who have been chosen to represent the cycling scene here in Peg City. Thanks to the Spectator Tribune for sharing it.

Maybe this will tide us over until the Secretary delivers on the long awaited DarkCross 2012 film he's been working away at.

Letter from Armenia

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Strade Bianche Results

Prince Dan and the Halfrican rode into Sienna holding hands. They shared the win with 500 points each. KK was third with 440 points.

The CycleChick continues to lead the overall race. Dan has moved into second, bumping King Andy down one spot to third place.

Full results and overall standings here.

Internet Famous

We always knew it was only just a matter of time until he became a household name. But now that he's under suspicion for sleep doping, it'll be interesting to see how long he remains on the front page. More at Pure--which is apparently also where you should head if you need to get yourself fixed.

Monday, March 04, 2013

24 Hours of Coens Report

It's amazing how much fun it can be to hang out in a garage with a bike, some Scrapper, and a pile of movies. Brad the Impaler finished the most laps. But really, all of us were winners. 

Here are some photos.

Friday, March 01, 2013


Hipster and Big Frame sighting at 6:52. In slo-mo, no less.