Archive for May, 2017

Bike to Work Day

Posted by Doug Shidell, May 29th , 2017.

Today was Bike-to-Work day at Quality Bicycle Products so the locker room was full. We shuffled gear around to accommodate the crowd and were covering the usual subjects; animal sightings in the park, wind direction, temperature and upcoming rides, when someone brought up the spec on a prototype Surly bike. The locker room is over-represented with bike engineers, marketing copywriters, brand managers and sales reps. Many use their daily commute for testing bikes and components that won’t be on the market for another year. Even mountain bikes get a work-out on the daily commute by test riders who drop into the bottomlands of the Minnesota River to weave through an occasionally flooded trail before emerging half a mile from work.

Aaron, from the next row of lockers, responded with an animated monologue about the bike. The rest of the locker room went quiet as he expounded on the subtle design points and ride feel of a prototype bike that had him excited. At first, there was nothing unusual. Engineering discussions are commonplace in the locker room. Most of it flies over my head, but I’ve observed enough to realize that the inane ramblings of bike reviewers in consumer bike magazines is nothing more than filling white space and making advertisers happy.

Aaron was still talking as he stripped down, grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his waist. He paused in front of our lockers to emphasize a point and continued talking as he shuffled to the showers. I caught a couple of arched eyebrows and knowing looks. We could hear the shower curtain slide to the side and a spray of water cascade off the walls. Aaron raised his voice so we could hear him over the shower noise.

“I want some of his coffee,” an engineer stage whispered. “I’ve got a long day ahead of me.”

Passing through “Spokes,” QBP’s lunch room, I overheard an auto-commuter discuss his drive to work. I can’t remember if he had a good day (traffic flowed smoothly and the lights were green) or a bad day (some idiot cut him off). The conversation is so predictable that I tune it out. Kim, the outgoing server behind the counter, greeted me by name as I passed by. She has an uncanny ability to remember everyone’s name and brightens our days with her greetings.

Several tables in the Atrium, beyond Spokes, were loaded with bagels, cream cheese, doughnuts and juice, the rewards for riding in on Bike-to-Work Day. I grabbed my share and passed through the doors to the near total silence of IT, stepped up to my computer and logged in to start the work day.

Filed under: Misc

Updated Mobile Twin Cities Bike Map

Posted by Doug Shidell, May 15th , 2017.

The latest update on the mobile 2017 Twin Cities Bike Map is now available on Avenza. If you’ve already downloaded the map since 2017, you can download the updated version for free and pick up numerous small road and trail changes. If you still haven’t downloaded the 2017 map, expect much bigger changes that reflect not only the newest changes, but older changes such as the extension of the Nine Mile Creek Trail across Hwy 100 and across a long, beautiful boardwalk near Bredesen Park in Edina.

2017 Mobile Twin Cities Bike Map

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

The Morning Commute

Posted by Doug Shidell, May 15th , 2017.

Burl walks with his shoulders high and rolled forward. His head leads his shoulders by a couple of inches, but otherwise his posture is upright, especially for an 80-year-old man. I first noticed him several years ago on my morning bike commute. He always looked to be hunched against the wind, even on a calm summer morning.

I waved and said “Good Morning.” It startled him, but he managed a “Hi!” in a voice too low to hear. Although I could read it on his lips. We repeat the routine whenever we pass each other. That simple exchange inevitably raises my spirits.

Others notice.The dog walker in Hyland Park, for example, picks up the vibe and says “Good Morning.” In early spring and late fall he walks the trails wearing a heavy jacket with wool hat, gloves …and shorts.

The runner doesn’t notice. He runs with a heavy shuffle. The balls of his feet land with a thud and shift forward with each step. He runs with a permanent grimace, eyes mostly closed and head down. I see him frequently. We pass within inches of each other each morning, but we’ve never exchanged a greeting.

For one glorious summer, I saw a young woman gliding the trails each evening. She skated with a sweeping exuberance unlike any other inline skater I’ve seen and it showed in a radiant smile that engulfed everything ahead of her. I didn’t see her for at least one season, then she returned with a male companion. I haven’t seen her since.

There are people who I don’t expect to see again. The elderly couple, for example, with squeaky bike chains. I saw them several times per week for a couple of seasons. They disappeared for a while, then one morning the man was on the trail alone. It was the last time I saw him.

It’s been many years since I’ve seen the older woman who walked the morning trails regularly in full sun protection: a large floppy-brimmed hat, long sleeves and a loose piece of material draped over her hands.

One morning I waved to Burl as I passed, then spontaneously slowed, circled back and introduced myself. That’s when I learned his name and his age. He worked in the warehouse at Super Valu and felt a lifelong gratitude for the way they treated him. His niece, a Physical Therapist, got him to start walking, something he does daily. In winter, he walks the mall. That’s all I know about him. I don’t know if I’ve spelled his name correctly and I can’t guarantee that the details of our conversation are accurate. It doesn’t matter.

I saw him again last week, after nearly a month. I felt a sense of relief, waved and said Good Morning. He said Hi and raised a hand. A few minutes later the dog walker said Good Morning and the runner passed by without a word.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News