May 2009


Yesterday I (Cody) left the shop in Steve’s capable hands around 5:30pm to check out the Critical Mass ride.  As Wikipedia will tell you CM has been going on for nearly two decades, and it isn’t without controversy.  Iowa City’s CM, as I’ve known it, has always been small enough to inspire only minor controversies, unlike rides in New York and other large cities.  However you feel about Critical Mass, it is without a doubt direct action by and for bicyclists.

Yesterday’s group of around a dozen riders (I mentioned small, right?) took off just before 6pm from the ped mall at the Dubuque St. intersection.    We tooled around town without much clamor, just good company and the joy of riding our bikes with more confidence and ease.  Safety in numbers?  Maybe.  Even if it just feels that way, it’s a fun way to ride.  We rode 45 minutes or so until our group had been slowly widdled down to five (sometimes due to being separated by traffic lights, sometimes due to people being conveniently near their next stop).

Pedalling away from Critical Mass I still had that feeling of ease and something more: empowerment.  Whether or not CM actually raises awareness of cyclists to the motoring public, I would say probably, but perhaps not.  But if cyclists can ride city streets without feeling in perpetual danger, even if just once a month, I’d say the power is in that.  At least, that’s how it felt for me.

Maybe Steve will be so kind as to let me slip away again on the last Friday of June to do it all again.  See you on Critical Mass!

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Tuning up a stylin’ TAKARA mixte today and I found this  in the bottom bracket shell:

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Pumpkin seed!

A couple of weeks ago we were asked if we would be interested in providing mechanical support for Iowa City’s coolest pedi cab company, Ecocabs.  After some discussion and research we said, sure – we can do it!  They started offering rides last weekend and already have been in for some maintenance.  One of the rickshaws broke a chain so Cody replaced it.

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That is Vik and Veena, the company owners and motors overseeing the work.  And how happy are we that our shop has an overhead door!  So with a fresh shiny new chain installed a quick test ride revealed that the cogset was also worn beyond use and would have to be replaced.

So yesterday we got after it.  Cody pulled the piece, I dunno what it is called, maybe the freewheel/driver interface?  Anyways, a freewheel is just threaded onto it so we figured it would just pop off with standard chain whip and wrench application.  Three broken chain whips, a bent vice cranker and many grumbles later we admitted defeat.  Our tools were not up to the task.

Lucky for us, Iowa City has a bike guru in a cave.  I can’t tell you who this guru is, or where to find him, because that is not how it is done.  Guru’s, as a general rule, don’t have anything to do with blogs.

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But they have BIG vices!  Not five minutes after I burst into the shop wild eyed and screaming for help the job was done.  Bike gurus in caves are handy to have around.

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Look for the Ecocabs downtown tonight and all weekend!

Sometimes I read a news story that gives me goosebumps.  Like this one, about New York City turning Times Square into a pedestrian mall.  Be sure and look at the photo slide show linked from the article, the progression of the street closing through the day is well captured.  Many of us here in Iowa City like to grumble that the ped mall needs to be expanded to include Washington St as well as Dubuque up to Iowa Ave.  Maybe one of these days we will get all organized and make a real push for it.

In local good news, a nice man brought a tandem into the shop to sell it and whaddaya know, it is just the right size for Cody and me.  He told us to give it a whirl and that is what we have been doing over the Memorial Day weekend.

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It is a very nice bike, and just about ready to go for a tour right as it sits.  We took it on the Lefler’s Wine Ride last night and had a good time with it.  Cody and I did a tandem tour in Oregon a couple of years ago with Ira and had a blast.  The potential of this bike is huge, so I ask you, should we buy it?

Bikes are way cool.  One of my favorite things about them is the multitude of simple custom modifications that can be made to them to meet a specific need or purpose.  This example came in for a tuneup this week.

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Kickstand not long enough?  Got a stick?  Hose clamp?  Done!

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A closer look of the craftspersonship.  The stickstand is super stable and is 100% compostable (except for the hose clamps) and biodegradable but is not sold in stores.  Over the years I have also seen panniers made out of trashcans, fenders made out of tires and hangers, barends out of vice grips (not a very cost effective solution) and aero bars made out of wood.  I can’t wait to see what comes in next.

Tomorrow marks one month since we opened our doors.  It has been a great experience so far and we are finding our rythmn and looking forward to the busy cycling months ahead.  Hope to see you in the shop or out riding!

Tomorrow, Wednesday night, May 20th.  Meet at 6:30 pm at the Old Capital, corner of Iowa and Clinton.  An 11 mile ride to remember those who have been injured or killed cycling on public roadways and to raise awareness of cyclists rights.  Hope to see you there.

Local event detailsGlobal event HQ.

Today is our shop day closed for sanity and it feels pretty good.  It is a beautiful day, the official Bike to Work Week is over (although we respectfully remind you it never really ends) and we had a busy weekend at the shop.  The University semester ended and the streets are quieter.  Wednesday will mark one month open – Exciting!

This place has changed so much already, we are excited about the summer ahead but I as don’t have any pictures from the future here are some from last weeks Mayor’s Ride and the Friday party /  prize give away.

Some folks met at the shop before the ride for carbo-loading , storytelling and laughs.

Even with the weather induced postponement it was a good turnout.

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We got our yearly photo by Donald, lookit all that hi-vis!

Cody is the best dressed shop owner in town you better believe it.

Here is our pile of stuff we gave away, except for that bike wheel and that Langster.

And then it was over.  Thanks for playing and remember, keep riding your bike where you need to go!

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