The Golden Wrench

A blog about bicycle repair and maintenance by the mechanics at Freewheel Bike.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

North Side Glide Ride

Public events add an interesting twist to bike mechanichood. Early in the summer, I had the opportunity to sit in cold rain for National Trails Day down at the Hopkins Depot. I think I fixed one bike all day while I stomped and shivered, but I got to commiserate with some worthy folks and eat a worthy scone from the coffee shop.

A few weeks later, Nick from Freewheel Mobile and I did #1 tuneups all day, in the rain, in promotion of National Bike to Work Week at the Christopher and Banks corporate HQ down in Plymouth. In the rain, all day, having forgotten rags and towels. Happily, there was a Home Depot nearby where we could purchase some of those blue disposable shop rags, but they didn't do so hot in the rain. At least it was a warmer rain that day.

You may be sensing a theme here.

Scotty B and I got the nod to do the safety checks at the North Side Glide Ride last Saturday, and I packed my rain coat even though the forecast said "sunshine, chirping birds, and fat cherubs playing harps." The weather held strong however. We met up in a vacant parking lot on the corner of Penn and Broadway, and after some van parking theatrics (It was 7:00 in the morning and I was yet enjoying many of the benefits of sleep, so cut me some slack, OK?!?!), finally got the van set up.

I was really impressed with the focus of the BikeWalk Ambassadors: they want to see North Minneapolis get some bike lanes and paths, bikers to populate those lanes and paths, and increased awareness of cycling as a cheap way to get around town. Usually, when I hear the words "increased awareness," it usually turns out to be some bogus thing where so-and-so has always wanted to ride his bike from Portland, OR to Portland, ME, and realized that the only way he could get people to give him money to do it is if he said he was doing it to "increase awareness" for the Zebra Mussel Adoption Fund, or the Association of Manly Men Who Still Wear Tube Socks, or Comb-Overs Anonymous. Whatever.

The BikeWalk Ambassadors had their act together however. They handed out tons of maps to people which show you how to get just about anywhere on a bike. The maps are works of art: they are well-marked, easy to read, and compact enough to fit in your pocket (and we have them at both West Bank and Midtown locations for $0.00). The Ambassadors also led a group ride around town just to demonstrate the possibilities of actually using a bicycle for your alpha transportation. And many of the folks in this particular neighborhood never leave this particular neighborhood simply because transportation is such a hassle. Lots of folks were hanging around Freewheel Mobile brainstorming about how to get low-cost, sturdy bikes into the hands of people who could benefit from them.

The BikeWalk Ambassadors (blue shirts) with the Major Taylor Bicycle Club

But Scotty B and I were there to fix stuff, not save the world through bicycles. I think I may have saved one lady's life: there was a brown recluse spider (how I know my spiders is a long and tedious episode--ask me in person if you have some time to kill) which had taken up residence in the spokes of her rear wheel. I discovered it when I was preparing to adjust her hub, shrieked like a frightened girl, and shooed it away with a screwdriver. He shook his little fist at me and told me that he had his rights, and that I would be hearing from his attorney. I stepped on him, ending the discussion. That was, thankfully, the tensest moment of the whole morning.

*willies* This is Mister Brown Recluse, pre-shooing.

On the right, you can see the carcasses of his hapless victims.

Such events are a great way to get out into the world and a welcome change in the line of duty, as long as the poisonous spiders are not too plentiful.