Who are we? We are our stories.

Monday, November 30, 2009


This is also for Fritz. And for Cheri. And for Dorothy. And Debb. My sister. And all the others who have expressed indifference, distaste, hatred and outright contempt for all things bicycle.

Tough. I got a McLean fabric badge from Dale Brown today! Whoopee!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The West Bank

Through college my daughter lived in the Cedar Riverside or West Bank neighborhood of Minneapolis. It's arguably the hippest place in town, but the music bars are slipping away. When I was young I liked the Triangle with it's 4 foot square stage over the door. It was good enough for Bobby Zimmerman, but I frequented it because the bartender was David "Douche" McLeod, who would slip me drinks. It's gone now. Addy said she used to listen to the music coming out of the open door of the Viking Bar up the street from her apartment. It was THE blues bar for fifty years. The kind of place Bonnie Raitt would go play AFTER her show in some "better" place. It closed the summer Addy turned 21, so she could never go in there - legally anyway. They say the 400 Bar is about the last of the old stations still left. These guys are some of the regulars. Musicians who just never quite got around to making a business out of it like Bobby Dylan did. Every town's got'em. The Koerner, Ray and Glover is interesting. John Koerner played the Viking every Sunday for 20 years. Now he builds boats and does a little remodeling. (Note the tape measure on his pocket at the awards ceremony.) Dave Ray died about five years ago. Paul Metsa is a little younger. I posted it because in his opening jumble of musical stream of consciousness he threw in We're Goin' Win Twins. Reason enough. Go Twins. Willie Murphy used to front Willie and the Bees. This one is notable because he seems so out of place at a grand in a lounge, it's usually a guitar in a dive. Appears to be at ease at the keyboard though.

"...Koerner became a hapless victim of gravity"


One of my favorite songs. I have an LP with a killer version by Vassar Clements. Of these three, I'm giving my vote to Ella and Satch. Hard call - so different.

Reynolds 753 McLean?

Stuff that damn few people care about:

Reynolds 531 is tubing that was introduced in 1935 and still used occasionally even today for traditional bicycle frames. Reynolds 753 was introduced in 1980. It is essentially heat tempered 531 which allows for thinner walls. A lighter bike results, but it is more expensive and difficult to work with. So maybe there is a 753 McLean out there - certainly an ultimate bike. Dale Brown is the gate keeper for all things McLean. Following is part of a response to the posting of the Performance catalog.

I had forgotten (or not sure I even knew) that McLean agreed to be in the Performance catalog.

Also interesting is your mention of Reynolds 753. I remember him sending back the qualification kit. He shouldn't have had any problems there as he only used high (56%) silver brazing compound but I am not sure if he ever actually made a 753 frame! Again, I never saw one nor heard him talk about making one for anyone... But who knows? Be nice to see it if he made one.


If you are interested in vintage lightweight bicycles, join Dale as his guest at: http://www.classicrendezvous.com/

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rum and Bicycles

Lucky Lestrud was over a couple of days ago and we spent 5 hours getting in trouble. Lestie is a rum connoisseur and is sitting on 5 cases of a Barbados rum that is so obscure that it can only be purchased in one equally obscure liquor store in the world. And that is not hyperbole. Even with the aid of the internet and a credit card with a high limit, you cannot acquire this stuff. Sworn to secrecy, if I told you any more I would have to kill you... just let it be said that this is the Nectar of the Gods and after five hours we had not finished tasting it, nor finished discussing religion, bicycles, politics and family. The third passive aggressive phone call from his wife convinced us we were finished ...temporarily.

Lestie had a bicycle shop at one time and he brought over some books, tapes, old Campagnolo catalogs and some 1982 Performance Bicycle catalogs. At that time Performance Bike was 28 pages of high end components, one of the places where guys in Jerkwater, Minnesota could get outfitted with Campagnolo gear or fine frames. On Page 6 of the Fall/Winter catalog, along with Pinarello and DeRosa, there were McLean framesets! One of the things that jumped out at me was that in 1982 you could buy a Pinarello frameset for $495, for $595 a DeRosa, and for $695 a McLean. If you wanted a McLean made from the new exotic Reynolds 753 it was $930! I don't know how much inflation there has been, but $930 had to be about as much as you could spend on a bicycle frame in 1982. My McLean is virtually identical to the photo, even in size and color, except my mine has fastback seat stays and the older Cinelli pressed steel lugs rather than the investment cast lugs advertised. Also, even though M05030 is apparently also a "Perfect Pleasure" model, it does not have the fender eyelets shown. It is kind of poignant, by the time the catalog was printed and distributed, McLean Fonvielle finally making the bigtime, he had died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 29.

Marking the Passing of Time

Years ago the beautiful young woman left her small rural village on a long journey. Out of the corner of her eye she probably caught blurred fleeting glimpses of the mile markers slipping by as she traveled through life. Today she arrived at Milestone 60.

Happy Birthday Lorna, from Gunnar and Addy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Ways To Feel Old

I just noticed something on my avatar photo to the left. Look at the cars over my shoulder. And the little girls playing in dresses. Things change I guess. I'm glad I haven't.

Monday, November 23, 2009

From Soup to Nuts

"Andy Warhol is everywhere. He's in Europe. He's in Asia. He's quoted in papers every day. He has energy still. He's just, you know, still alive".
The soup cans are from a 2004 Campbell's limited run. They aren't really slanted. They are shot at an artsy angle just to irritate the viewer.

The quote is from an article in ARTnews. As I was reading it, I was struck by the distance from New York City to Jerkwater Lake, Minnesota. Andy Warhol was never taken seriously as an artist out here. He was a odd P.T.Barnum blip on the evening news that soon vanished into the News of the Weird, to be forgotten forever. He is not "everywhere" nor "alive". In general, art here in the outback involves recognizable scenes that are populated by either children with oversized eyes, running horses or flying ducks...but not rows and rows of soup cans or Marilyn Monroes.

(Disclaimer: I was an art major. My daughter began life as an art major, only to switch later to philosophy, for better job opportunities.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

McLean Redux, Redux, Redux

No more pics? So I lied. I "found" some Cinelli toe clips. Also, I stuck domed Indian head nickels in the bar ends. Close up photography makes one see the lint and fuzz around old Iron Tail, and the fact that the bar ends should have had the saw marks buffed out a little. Eh? If Cino Cinelli thought they should be shiny, he'd have made them that way.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Addy in Disguse (With Glasses)

"This is gonna be great!"

I haven't seen my daughter Addy in a year. A week ago we bought a round trip ticket from Thailand to bring her back home for Christmas. Going to be the best ever.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Even More Trike Stuff

This is from Paul Patzkowsky, the rider on the earlier posted trike YouTube. Here it is from the horse's mouth:

"I have a little more time now to address some of the comments previously made. Most trikes that I have seen have two caliper brakes mounted on the front fork in front of the fork. This would often be a side pull or center pull paired with a cantilever brake. This arrangement works very well and is the simplest and lightest. I've also seen a disc brake on the front fork with a caliper brake. Of course, disc and drum brakes can be put on the rear axles.
The trike that you see in the video is 35 years old and the wheels have never been touched since they were built. They're still true and, as you can see in the video, they don't become pretzels in corners. Wheel failure is possible and axles have been known to break so there is some risk I suppose. There is a tendency for the inside wheel to lift when turning. This is opposed by leaning into the corner with the body as seen in the video and by twisting the handlebars toward the turn in some cases.
Is a trike practical? Some enthusiasts would say, "yes",, I would agree for some uses such as winter riding. The primary attraction for me in the trike is the differences. Why would anyone in their right mind want to own an antique car when they could drive a nice, reliable, new Whatever? Because they enjoy a varied experience in motoring perhaps. Riding a trike is very different from riding a bicycle. I enjoy collecting and riding old iron. Most of my bikes are 55-60 years old. My current best time for a century was on a 1951 Bates BAR.
When the trike was new and I was twenty-something I could cover 100 miles in well under 5 hours. Today I need 7 hours for the distance compared to 6 1/2 hours on a bicycle. There are trike riders that can do a century in under 4 hours. That's all, the Oldtrikerider."


It was hard to find a picture of my Uncle John. He left a pretty small footprint in life. 

Through the generosity of friends and family he was able to buy a little house. He repaired and refinished furniture, tended his large vegetable garden and had a few flowers to brighten up the edges of his life. Children and dogs were always attracted to Jayberg and his neighborhood was filled with both. When we stopped by for a coffee there were often a few hanging around. I think children liked Jay because he talked to them like they were small adults and he was completely non-judgmental. And dogs? Dogs just know.

I was thinking of him today because Georgia O'Keefe's name came up. O'Keefe and Jayberg? O'Keefe lived a really pared down life and so did Jay. I didn't know how pared down until he died. A few days after we buried his ashes, we went over to clean out the house. There was nothing in the basement except a laundry. No cobwebs. You could have eaten off the floor. In his bedroom closet and dresser there were enough clothes to get through one week, everything clean, pressed and neatly folded. The kitchen had enough food for a week, no left-overs. There was no extras in his life. He had everything he needed, no more. This man had it together.

 Like most people, I live my life in semi-controlled chaos. I wish I had a little more of Jayberg in me, though I do like kids and dogs. Well, kids anyway.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Deep Into Fall

The leaves have finally all left the trees for the ground, trying to overwhelm us with the raking again this year. The trees themselves are standing around like weathered gray skeletons, looking innocent, aloof, as if they had no part in this whole damned mess. The plants that overwinter are pulling their life forces back down into the keep of their roots where it can be protected until the rebirth next Spring. The Summer birds are gone and the Winter birds are marking the feeder locations. The world in general, this gardener included, is battening down the hatches preparing to survive one more frigid Northland winter.
As I was walking down the brick path to the storage shed, putting away coiled hoses and stray garden tools, I noticed some last bits of persistent color. The low growing perennials, mostly Sedums, Pinks and Heucherellas, the various crosses between Heucheras and Tiarellas, are still showing signs of life and subtle color. We'll enjoy their company until they are either covered by snow or cut off at the ankles by a subzero scythe.

Add Image

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Zevon: The Other Shoe Drops

Warren Zevon on living and dying. This is for James. First of all, it includes Lawyers, Guns and Money in honor of Jim's previous life, then there is Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner (part 4), based on a true story. It captures the spirit of the Jimmy I know best. It is what he would have become if he hadn't become a lawyer, of the hired gun ilk. He had to slake his thirst for adventure by running guns to the occupiers at Pine Ridge (a charge which he publicly denies).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Warren Zevon

I assume most of you know the Warren died about five years ago. Ironically there doesn't seem to be a good tube of one of my favorite songs, Carmelita, The last two cuts are from his last album, which dealt with his dying. People seem to die when they chose to. Warren stayed alive long enough to hold his new twin grandchildren, then he let it go. Zevon rarely sang other people's songs, but the last is a cover. Maybe he just didn't have the energy left. He left us some wonderful songs and a few great quotes.


A Halloween picture taken this year by T.Chesterman.

Holy Spelunker!

Hang Son Doong cave, recently discovered in Vietnem, is 200 meters tall, twice the size of the previous "Biggest Cave in the World!!!".
Originally discovered in 1991 it had not been entered since due to the terrifying wind and noise from the large underground river.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tights Weather

Now that the weather has turned toward the cool, it's time to pack the cycling shorts and dig out the tights. I lifted this from the Rydjor Bike crew, who are more than a little quirky, especially Jens. It's for fun.

Schlumberg On Growing Old

I knew the "Old" Toad when we were both young and he was simply a "Toad". I received this from him today. I have no idea why he thought it would apply to us:
As we get older, we sometimes begin to doubt our ability to
'make a difference' in the world. It is at these times that our
hopes are boosted by the remarkable achievements of other
'seniors' who have found the courage to take on challenges that
would make many of us wither.
Harold Schlumberg is such a person.

"I've often been asked, 'What do you old folks do now that you're
retired'? Well, I'm fortunate to have a chemical engineering
background, and one of the things I enjoy most is turning beer,
wine, Scotch, and margaritas into urine."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rydjor Bike Shop Blog!

Chad Burma and the boys over at my LBS, Rydjor Bike Shop, have slipped in a new blog for us to monitor. So far, in it's infancy, it seems to be a mixture of bicycles and music. Eclectic. Where do they come up with this format? For those of you that are not familiar with the vintage lightweight collection at Rydjor, left to us by the late, great Dan Ulwelling, check it out. "The late, great..." gets thrown around pretty loosely these days. In this case I'm quite serious about it.

Smoke'em If You Gottem

I don't have anything to say about this. I just like the photo.

Boyle & Kahn

Grocery Baskets

One for the Pretty Bike People:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Cost of War

While Iraq may be a winnable situation, Afghanistan is a hellhole. Our government tries to paint us as liberators. We're not. The Afghans may not like the Taliban, but they are their Taliban. Not matter how noble our intentions and actions, in the eyes of the Afghans we will always be invaders.

This morning I stood in the street having this discussion with Terry F. He is a few years younger than I, but I've known him all his life. He's a little rough around the edges, unkempt beard and a long ponytail. He has spent his life as a carpenter and general handyman - a good man, skilled and honest - a good man to know.

We were talking about the army and war because earlier he had talked to his son and daughter-in-law. His son has been laid-off from Cargill for some time, there are no jobs in sight, and he needs to provide for his family. He made one of those hard life decisions. He is going back into the army and will soon be moving to Kentucky. Terry is really down. Not only is he worried about his son's safety, he won't be able to see his two grandchildren regularly.

Terry himself was drafted, went to Ft. Leonard Wood for training, then sent to Vietnam. Shortly after he arrived he was in a fierce, close-quarter fight, and in the smoke and the fire and the fear, he bayoneted a young Viet Cong. He got down and cradled the dying bloody boy in his arms. The soldier kept patting his pocket and signal blinking with this eyes. Terry opened the pocket and took out a packet. There were photos of the man's young wife and children. He nodded that he understood. "He didn't want to be there any more than I did." Shortly, the young man bled to death in his arms. When the smoke cleared they had a number of prisoners tied up. He agonized about it for hours and late that night he went to the prisoners one at a time and showed them the pictures. Finally one of them recognized the photos and called their names. A brother? A close friend? Terry said nobody was watching. He cut off the man's ropes and gave him the pictures. "He reached out and squeezed me like this," he said, softly touching my shoulder, "then he was gone". His hand still on my shoulder, Terry said, "I gotta go now before I start crying again". He turned away and got in his pickup. He didn't have to cry. I did it for him, for his family and for a family back in Vietnam.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mark Trail

I was sitting at the counter in Nancy's Cafe this morning drinking coffee, eating a late breakfast (one egg over-easy, links and hashbrowns - no toast), and reading the newspaper. The horror of this one jumped out at me.
Mark Trail is really straight-forward. Ol' Mark lives in a black and white world (except on Sundays). Mark Trail doesn't have any gray moral issues. Good guys are very good and bad guys, and when they are bad, they are very, very bad. These Bad Guys all tend to look like Trail himself, except for hair color and a propensity for long sideburns. They are his evil twins, with nicknames like "Butch" and "Lefty" and "Blackie".

Blackie? There hasn't been a Blackie outside of Lost Forest since Boston Blackie shaved off his pencil-thin mustache (an allusion to a long past Private Eye).

Using a puppy as alligator bait? Now that's a BAD MAN - a man to be dealt by likes of Boston Blackie not by some Mark Pussyfoot Trail.
Sorry for the rambling digressions, but if you were busy, you wouldn't be here anyway.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Stars and Watercarriers

Maybe the second best cycling movie made, possibly behind A Sunday in Hell. If you click on the "play all" on the right hand column in YouTube you can sit back and enjoy. (Note the doctor's yellow car. At that same time I was driving a similar Fiat 124 Spyder, only in a spiffy Italian red. Ah, youth.) So, enjoy:
It's hard to watch this and not get absorbed by the differences between yesterday and today. Those mountain roads were were just brutal - cyclocross anyone?. In spite of all the improved technology, training, and dare I mention drugs (?), I get the feeling that strong men were still strong men. Drop Eddy Merckx into today's peleton and he's still be a tough man to beat. Even riding his "primitive" bicycle. And it's hard not to love his tactics. There was none of this nursing an 8 second advantage for a week. He went out front himself and slowly ground them into submission. Then when they were dying, he attacked and just rode away.

Old Toad Crossing

Claw Hammer Banjo, etc

This about really listening, and more about musical style and structure than the songs played. As I watched Oxcyconton Blues it struck that Steve Earle very seldom picks notes, he chords everything. I like his mountain banjo. Haunting. Earl Scruggs was so good at finger-picking that we almost lost the claw hammer style. (Please, no technicians with the "this isn't true claw hammer" crap.) On Steve Earl's version of White Freightliner Blues he gets a really bluesy feeling out of both banjo and mandolin. I love it. I'll let someone else try to run down a copy to post. Let's dedicate the first one to Rush Limbaugh. Then we have Steve stoned on Close Your Eyes. The audio on Hometown Blues is good - the video really sucks. It's free...so we got our money's worth. Nevertheless, our normal Oakwood money back guarantee does not apply on this one.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Prisoners and Pretenders

John Cash and a number of other pretenders have written or sung "Prison Songs", like it's a romantic thing, like trains or cowboys. Steve Earle took another approach. He actually did prison time. He's all strung out on heroin in Billy Austin. A short time later he kicked his drug habit in jail. Ellis Unit One is later, after he got straightened out. It reflects his ongoing campaign against the death penalty, a belief I share with him.

Signs of the Times

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Blue Streak

Doug of the Northland, occasional commenter to this blog, is the owner of this custom beauty, an Ellis, made by David Ellis Wages of Waterford, Wisconsin. Take a gander at the full-wrap fender and particular it's perfect fenderline. This would seem to be an easy thing to do. Take my word for it, it ain't. The frame builder has to have everything perfect and then the bicycle builder has to have his act together too. Ellis Cycles "Since 2008", is a little misleading, as Dave Wages has been building frames for 15 years and has won a number of show awards since hanging out his own shingle. And just a word about Doug and his creds. He lives without an auto and commutes a fair distance year round...in Duluth; Duluth, the land of cold, snow, ice and HILLS! I've been to San Francisco. I've been to Duluth. San Francisco has gentle slopes. Duluth has hills. Also, he completed the 2008 Arrowhead Ultra 135. Enough said.

McLean Wrapped Up

I'll spare you more pictures of M05030 after these. It looks better the more fine-tuned it is. The blue fabric wraps I tried didn't look right. I'm not sure of these Cinelli cork wraps, as they are not as taupe a gray as the paint. They are probably as close as I can come in gray. The cables and housings are old Dura Ace, closer in color to the paint than they photograph. Virtually nothing on this bike is NOS. I cannibalized another bike and bought some nice, but not new components. For instance, the rear derailleur came from John Barron, maybe 10 years ago, and it's on it's third bike. Somehow avoided scrapes. It's a pat '82 which is technically too new, but very few people could tell without very close inspection. As I posted earlier, the brakes are the older Modolo Professionals with newer Modolo sintered pads, the hubs are vintage Phil Woods, and the shifters are Simplex Retrofriction. That's about it, I guess.

Father and Son

Billy Joe Shaver isn't much of a guitar player, because he is missing his primary picking fingers from a sawmill accident. Though he doesn't have flashy guitar skills himself, he taught his late son Eddy well. Eddy's best work is probably blues, but there isn't much of it recorded and none on YouTube. Shaver on Rhapsody #130 is an Eddy song dealing with the affair with heroin which killed him. #27 and #104 are a couple by Billy Joe on Eddy's death. Below is about as person and brutally honest a relationship song as has ever been written.
What the hell, if you're still with me, check out #149 too. (These all are written by BJ.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009