Who are we? We are our stories.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

1975 Moulton

...or Moulton vs Masi Throwdown.

This is just an old bicycle frame. It has chipped paint and a little rust here and there. It's reasonably attractive, but not spectacular. From a distance it looks look a hundred, even a thousand, other frames made in the mid 1970s. So why are looking at it?

We are looking at it because it's a Dave Moulton frame. Dave Moulton built bicycles have been ridden in the Tour de France, Olympics, and World Championships. He is also a musician and after he quit building bicycles he became a novelist.  This bicycle belongs to Silk Hope, who is "restoring" it. The restoring he is doing is really just cleaning it and stabilizing the finish by brushing the rust with a toothbrush and paste, applying neatsfoot oil and waxing it. Why isn't he  repainting it? From the builder:
I really think you leave the paint as is. Although it is very rough, it is the original paint done by me, and as it is a very early frame there will be few like it with original paint making it somewhat rare.
Dave Moulton
"Somewhat rare" is a bit of an undestatement; more likely, "one of a kind". And why I am posting this now? Because John Pergolizzi has recently listed a repainted restored Masi on eBay for $19,500, and every six months or so the boys on the Classic Rendezvous vintage bicycle chat group go ballast, and at times abusive, arguing about whether to leave things as they are or to strip, repaint and restore them. Below is the Masi in question.

The old framebuilders seem to feel the frame is the bike, the paint is just window dressing, and the components are merely things that clutter up the lines of their work. Others, apparently including Mr. Moulton, feel that the paint is part of the bike, especially if it has some historical value.

Before I go I must throw in this argument for "it's about the frame", by Mr. Billy
" After Helen of Troy was abducted by Paris, and after his death, passed on to his various brothers, Menelaus still wanted her back and didn't feel she was essentially altered by their time away."
Me? I think most of them are merely bicycles and we need to get things in perspective and ride them. I would not refinish that Dave Moulton under any circumstance and I'd rather have it than that restored Masi, no matter who built or rode it. My humble opinion. Yours?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Regional, Seasonal Music

We Minnesotans tend to be a dour, serious group. This is often reflected in the music. Perticularily our winter music. "Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline." Listen to The Pines, to Low. Low? How upbeat could a group be that is called Low? So we slog our way through the snow, collars up warding off the wind, our noses running - as we hum songs about snow storms and blizzards. I posted this before, but I'm giving it another run. My daughter works in a school teaching our children, my wife used to.

Right now parts of the Midwest are still digging out from a hellofa storm. So, this is for all the teachers. Our children. Our snowplow drivers. 


It's coming down
Snow lays on the chainfield
There's a blessing on the ground
It's coming down
If your lanes are crammed with children 
There's a blessing on your town
On a lucky Monday, Mrs. Braintree
All your lanes are waxen silver
And the stores are loot for vagabonds
It's coming down
Go home!
Go home and take a snow day, Mrs. Braintree!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Almozo 100

The young bucks in southern Minnesoat race their bicycles on gravel roads. This one is the Almozo 100, in Fillmore County, which has great roads.

Wheel Building

I don't build my own wheels. There are people who say that I'm not a real cyclist because I don't. Maybe so. I have had wheels built by a few people. There is a bit of skill involved. Some are better than others. Those I have that were built by Dan Lestrud, who was taught by the late Dan Ulwelling, have been true from the start and stay that way, so I don't screw around with it.

If you don't build your own wheels or have someone you trust, you might want to try Earle Young. http://earle3.blogspot.com/ 

Holiday Sing-Along

The headlines in the Lanesboro section of the Fillmore County News read:

Dan Chouinard to host the annual Old-Fashioned Holiday Sing-Along at St. Mane Theatre.

It seems this is a regular Lanesboro event and Mr. Chouinard is a repeat host. The name was familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. A quick google search refreshed my memory. He is an occasional guest on Minnesota Public Radio and the Prairie Home Companion, both as a story teller and musician. As the event is on December 21st, we won't be able to make it, as we will be hosting the first wave of our family Christmas. I'm not certain I'm a sing-along guy anyway, but the smalltown feeling of community is hard to resist. I found this particular intriguing quote on his website. http://www.danchouinard.com/
"When not working as a musician he travels the world by bicycle, with tent and accordion in tow, seeking out new repertoire and music making opportunities."

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Better Kvale Interview

When Cjell and I checked out the Minneapolis frame guys a month ago I really didn't take many pictures. A few days later a fellow named Mike Kelly also stopped by Kvale's shop for an interview/photo shoot. Good interview, captured Chris really well - nice photos, even got a shot of my ol' blood and ivory Kvale.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas 2012

On this day in 1990, Kirby Miles Berg, my youngest brother, died in a house fire, leaving a hole in  my life forever. He was 31 years old and left behind a young daughter to grow up without a father. Two days ago 20 innocent young children were gunned down. I cannot comprehend the pain of those families. All this seemed to tear the scab off of my memory and the pain is closer to the surface this year. It tends to temper the joy of Christmas a little. Nothing is permanent; nothing is forever. All life is transitory. I'm looking forward to seeing my daughter next week.

I like this song more than most Christmas music. It captures that sad longing, poignant happiness that the season can be. Have a good holiday.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bertin CLB Brakes

Tony Tambini sent me pictures of his frenchy built-up Bertin townie with the CLB brakes mounted. This gives me much pleasure. The brakes really were a little rough when I sent them to him. Almost embarasingly so. I doubt they had ever been cleaned or polished. Tony certainly didn't waste his good fortune. Jeez, those brakes look great! I wouldn't have believed it was possible. The whole bike looks good for that matter.

Dr. Alex Moulton

Alex Moulton died yesterday at the age of 92. He was an industrial designer involved in the suspensions of automobiles (Mini Cooper), airplanes and bicycles. These photos are of a folding bicycle at Rydjor Bike in Austin, Minnesota, my local bike shop.

And the nice part, actually signed and dated by Dr. Moulton himself. I know Dan told me the circumstances of this, but I can't remember.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Memory Lane

There was a time I felt that there was no point in having an artificial Christmas tree. Either it was a natural fresh killed tree or it was pointless piece of plastic. So we would go out to Paul Budd's farm and take our bow saw out into the trees and select a likely tree. We went through all of the cutting, hacking, trimming rituals. Then tie the victim to the car roof and ... well, you know - dirty, sappy, pine needles, bird nests. I have mellowed. Now I just take a fake tree out of a box, pop it open like a perverse arboreal umbrella and get the lights working. From then on it's pretty much Lorna's world. She wouldn't tolerate much help anyway. All the ornaments have to go in special places with particular neighbors - little themes and vignettes scattered in carefully placed 'random' locations about the tree.

Snowflake tatted by my grandmother, carved Danish ornament, counted cross-stitch girl made by Lorna, photo Lorna's mother Florence and Aunt Dorothy - State Fair 1935, icicle made by me, Grandma Adena's makeup compact, Lenox ornament from my sister. The whole tree is filled with mementos and the older we get the more crowded the tree gets. We fill the tree and we become someone else's memento down the line.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Things I Cannot Change

I like the high, lonesome banjo and the kid's raspy voice. I would like to take him aside and discuss his attire though. Just don't fit the package.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hard To Buy For

Tony Tambini had a need for some vintage French brake calipers. I happen to have a set knocking about in a bottom drawer. It was something I was not using and likely never would, so naturally I gave them to him, certainly not expecting anything in return. I came home yesterday and there was package by the door. My neighbor Christy and I adjourned to the Growlery this afternoon and smoked a couple of them. Excellent. Thanks Tony, not necessary, but appreciated.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lanesboro Community Party

I understand this may have originated as a fund raiser for something. Over the years it has evolved into a community gathering, just ... just because. There was a program, drawings for free "stuff", a formal dinner - bring your own beverage, then a band played while people sat and talked, or danced the night away.  

 Our table seating included Lorna and me, a bunch of Kiehnes, and John Davis. A good group.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Life Is Good

We are spending a few days at the cottage on Church Hill. I've been continuing to insulate the basement walls and generally tighten things up for winter. Tomorrow maybe I'll get to replacing the basement door threshold. Lorna has yoga early tomorrow morning. While she's burning off calories, I may sneak over to the Pastry Shop and see what Brett has in mind for my breakfast.

The pug is doing well. Greet all the folks back at home for me.

I should have hung the bicycle from the ceiling with monofilament.

Smalltown Food Picture no.42

As I have said before, if you want to eat really well, throw yourself at the mercy of the cook. This was what Brett wanted to fix for me this morning - called a "ah-h-h, it's sort of a capocollo scramble". It was sliced peppers and assorted veggies, and capocollo ham - scrambled with an egg and covered with grated parmesan and diced tomato. And some herbs. It sounds so simple, but it was just amazing. Very hot and spicy.
"In its production, capocollo is first lightly seasoned, often with red and sometimes white wine, garlic, and a variety of herbs and spices that differ depending on region. The meat is then salted (and was traditionally massaged) and stuffed into a .casing, and hung for up to six months to cure. Differences in flavor can also depend on what type of wood is used for smoking, as well as what breed of pig is selected. Capocollo is esteemed for its delicate flavor and tender, fatty texture, and is often more expensive than most other salumi. In many countries, it is often sold as a gourmet food item."
Lorna's omelet and hashbrowns
For those keeping track:
Two breakfast courses, coffee, one loaf of fresh baked bread and a bag of blueberry scones - $16 and change. Plus some for Hannah for keeping my cup full. ;-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Giuseppe Marinoni

Giuseppe Marinoni makes beautiful bicycles. He also rides them. The Hour Record has been the Gold Standard for bicycle manliness since Eddy Merckx threw down the gauntlet in 1972, riding 49.431 km in one hour. I had no idea there were age categories. On October 20th Marinoni rode 35.728 km in one hour to set the 74-79 age group record. I best get training, I only have seven years left before I'm due at the starting line.   

Friday, November 23, 2012

Nishiki Progress


Old back quill extender


We generally spend Thanksgiving with the Anderson's in Rochester. As is the tradition with her family, Lorna made a number of side dishes. (The day before she also roasted a whole turkey with dressing and all the sides, just to generate enough "leftovers".) My only real obligation was to show up at the door with a selection of wines. How could I screw that up? Forget to bring the wine. Thankfully some other guests had each brought a bottle. It still we were soon running low and it was not looking good, but one couple lived in the area and went back home to fetch more wine. At the last moment disaster was avoided. Thanksgiving? I was thankful for the generousity of the Lemkes for covering my ass.

I resisted taking pictures of food.

Kitchen pre-food talk

Post food talk

Football guys

A couple of families with children couldn't make it because of flus, etc, but there were still over 20 people, mostly family, a few friends. Good time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cjell and Gunnar's Great Adventure

It was late by the time I gathered up all my stuff and coffee so I got over to Zimmerman's at about 8:45 to pick up Cjell for the 100 mile trip to Minneapolis.

Our first stop was the home and shop of Mark and Jane Stonich, Mr. and Mrs. Bikesmith. Mark makes tools, 'bents, bikes and short crankarms. Jane makes homemade yogurt and tea among other things. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and pleasant, so we sat outside for a while talking smart and helping the cats soak up the sun. Later we went in to look at Mark's new baby, a silver vintage Holdsworth, a pretty and very well crafted bicycle. After I caught my breathe again, we went down into the shop where Cjell pumped Mark for everything he could about fillet brazing, listening intently about technique, brands and models of welding heads - taking copious notes in a little notebook. This must have taken more time than it seemed, because soon it was well into lunchtime, so we adjourned to a local Cuban cafe. Good choice.

Then Cjell and I went on to the complex where a number of the local bike builder boys work. First stop, Chris Kvale Cycles, for a little give and take with Chris before Vincent Dominguez came down. Vincent is one of the reasons for our trip. He is going to make some small, light racks for my Blood and Ivory Kvale. Vincent has been checking in on Chris the past few days. Vincent who can build pretty much any bicycle he wants, instead has choosen to pay Chris full price for a Kvale built frame, and his name has finally come up in the queue.

I was asked to take a lot of pictures. I did take a camera, but people were talking, I was talking. I was listening. We were laughing. Hard to step aside with a camera, but here's a shot of Chris Kvale working on Vincent's frame.

Because Chris was busy on his frame Vincent led us through the labyrinth of hallways and stairwells to a shared workspace where we first met Matt Appleman who was building a carbonfiber frame. Matt was the only person that Cjell didn't grill about welding. Vincent is reconfiguring his shop, but I still was able to get these shots of a couple of his personal frames, a rando that he had recently ridden in a bevet. He is a serious tourer, having ridden Paris-Brest-Paris, and is planning another run at it next time.

Vincent holding his single. This is not a hipster street bike. It has only been ridden at the Blaine velodrome. Check out the trick seatpost binder and stem that picks up the same design look. Gypy's color choice is ..... just inexplicable.  ;-)

Eventually Erik Noren and his lady friend showed up. I introduced him to Cjell and got out of the way, Erik is passionate about everything, even welding techique, and when he got really wound up verbally, I retreated back to the relative peace of Vincent's shop. On the way out of Erik's area I shot this pic of a vintage Alex Singer. Just to jack people around, Erik is spreading a rumor that he is going to install disc brakes on it.
Winter biking in Minnesota is sometimes extreme. Behold, a truck and trailer.
 It got to be 5:00 and we left becasue I had to fight the rush hour traffic and still get home by 7:00 before Lorna would be back from book club.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cjell Money

The Z-Man hit town and stopped by today for a afternoon of Growlery time. We looked over his Black Sheep and talked bicycle geometry theory. Envisioning a possible future in frame design and building. He already knows far, far more about mountain bikes than I ever will.

He is planning on riding the Tour Divide again next year, again south-to-north because, well, because he is Cjell. After living with it, he isn't quite as entralled with the Schlumpf kick-shifter because there is a lag similar to a cheap freewheel. He's not a member of the Church of the Single Speed, but he may join long enough to take a run at the singlespeed record. We must have talked about other things too because it took about four hours and a handful of beers to do it. Tuesday we're going on an outing to check in with some Minneapolis frame builders. I'll try to remember to take a camera.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Claudia Schmidt

The email I received yesterday began:
"Please join Frank and me for an evening of wonderful music, desserts and beverages at our home on Friday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. We will be entertained by singer-songwriter Claudia Schmidt."
Of course I responded immediately. The timing is wonderful - Lorna's birthday (What is it, 26, maybe 27 years?) Whatever. 7:30 gives us enough time to eat a nice meal at the Village Hall and walk or drive over to Peg and Frank's house for dessert. And a helping of Claudia. As Garrison Keillor said, "When Claudia sings a song, it stays sung."  Pretty sweet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Larry Bergo

Lorna's cousin Jean's husband, Larry Bergo hit the end of the road this week. He was fun. He and Lorna had a "relationship". When we lived in our other house we lived between Bergo and wherever he seemed to be going. Every time he turned on our street he would honk twice and Lorna would leap to the doorlight switch and flick it on/off twice. And she smiled. Bergo fought cancer for nine years, his bones slowly, painfully crumbling, until he was eventually released. 11:00 Thursday, flash your lights twice for Bergo.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

R.I.P. Old Fool

Internet friends and blog commenters come and go. From Old Fool's last blog entry on September 23rd it was obvious he was in very bad shape:
"When I got up from my nap Thursdays my mouth did not work right. Head seemed OK but what came out of my mouth was gibberish. It carried over to writing. I can't to seem to spell or touch type either. It seems a little better today although it has taken 40 forty minutes to type this so far. If it was not for spell checker you would not be able to read this."
I sent him emails inquiring about his well-being, which went unanswered. Today I really went looking and of course there was a blog comment to his last posting. Richard T. Swain-Herrington is gone. He died of a stroke the same day. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nishiki Ultimate

Yesterday I picked this one off eBay. It's not one of those rare, collectible things that makes some people get damp, but it's a very nice bike to bring down and ride in Texas. 

Some of the top end Nishikis for the European market were supposedly made by Colnago, but this one was built in Japan in the late 70s (?) by Kawamura. After the Japanese exchange rate got out of hand, Nishiki production moved to Giant in Taiwan and the brand became a bit more of a commodity. The Ultimate was the top of the line (though possibly not cataloged), original full Campagnolo equipped, even down to the Campy rear dropouts. On a Japanese bike!

As someone observed, "The irony is, of course, if it were more common, more famous, but a less well built European bike, it'd going for twice as much." For instance, Silk Hope's reaction to my buying an old Japanese bike was, "WTF?" 

And if it was an expensive vintage European bike, I wouldn't have bought it. 

Check out the nice lug lining.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Outlier Minnesota

With politics all over the television recently, I've noticed something about the red/blue maps that has made me wonder. It's maybe an urban versus rural phenomenon, but in general, the East Coast and West Coasts are blue; the south, center and rural west are red. Minnesota is a blue island. I understand Iowa and the Dakotas; frankly Wisconsin is harder. It's all over the map politically, right now almost schizophrenic. Minnesota is consistently liberal. The last time Minnesota voted for a Republican for president was for Nixon over McGovern in 1972.  That's a long time to tilt to the left. 

Minnesota is not only a political island, it is a cultural outlier too. This is not a right or wrong thing, but we are very different than our neighbors. In many ways the states that Minnesota is most alike are probably Oregon, or maybe even Massachusetts, so I'm not sure which coast we drifted away from. In my opinion all this has made Minnesota a more livable place, but how the hell did it happen over time?

A quick addendum:
Minnesota does not have a Democratic Party. It has the DFL, the Democratic Farmer Labor Party. It is the results of mid 1940s merger of the Democrats with the progressive populist Farmer-Labor Party. I'm not certain how that figures into the above, if at all.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Greasy Spoon Cafe

You know those pain-in-the-ass guys who are forever posting pictures of food and beer? Me too. I borrowed Lorna's camera to take a shot of our breakfast this morning at the Pastry Shoppe. This is a Brett Special, which varies depending on what he has on hand and what he wants to cook, so it could vary from table to table. I am normally not a toast guy, but Brett  baked the bread this morning for the toast and the raspberry jam is homemade. I picked apart the omelet a little: bacon, sausage and ham - onion, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, with magic spices. Oofda, you betcha that's good, ya know.  Oh yeah, we split a fresh baked cinnamon roll for desert. Life is very good. ("Oofda" was rejected by spellcheck, but it gave no other options. How else would you spell it?)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Marie Marie

For my longtime friend, Maria Guadalupe de Reseda, who lost her mother three days ago.

I've posted this one before, maybe twice. No matter, if God played slide he would sound like Chris Miller. Maybe he is throwing in a little extra mourning because the song is for his lost friend.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fiorenzo Magni

A great champion and very tough man died today.

Collarbone broken in two places, Magni places second in the 1956 Giro,
 pulling with a wood plug clamped between his teeth. A hard man.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Urban Pedal

On the Blood and Ivory Kvale - White Industries pedals, MKS "deep" toe clips, Velo Orange leather covers.

To Tony,
See photo below of Lyotard Marcel Berthet M23 pedals. So, my choice was, spend mega bucks for the original, or merely big bucks for a knockoff which was probably better. I opted for the merely big.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Spud Boy Diner

Two of the neighbors at our cottage in Lanesboro are Gordon Tindall and his wife Valerie. It is hard not to admire a man who's only car is a 1951 Hudson Hornet.

Gordie is a cook and a...a...a restorer. He works on old houses, old cars, old things that need saving. He fell in love with vintage diners and has restored and operated three of them.  The first one, in Decorah, Iowa, he sold to a man who shipped it to France. The second one, the Red Rose Diner, is in Towanda, New Jersey. He ran that one during the day and at night he completely rebuilt another one that had been found in Ohio, stored in New York City and eventually shipped to Towanda. This one is special because of it's age - at least 1927, and the fact that it is the only one left with wheels. It was tentatively going to be the Yellow Rose Diner. When he completed the rebuild he dubbed it the Spud Boy Diner and he shipped it to Lanesboro, Minnesota.

Vintage bicycles? There are a number of blogs devoted to vintage diners, Here's one with a long pictorial history of what has become the Spud Boy diner in Lanesboro. Gordon had a friend in Towada who recorded a lot of Gordie's life, including the diners in YouTube videos. We should all have friends as caring as Gordie's. A YouTube search of Spud Boy or Gordon Tindall yields a lot of videos. Here is a couple of the videos. 

My brother and I will be having noon lunch at the Spud Boy tomorrow. :-)