December 2009

The Holidays are upon us, and being as we have not had a break in about a year, we are going to take advantage.

We will close early tomorrow December 24th, at 3pm, and will not reopen until Tuesday, January 5th.

We will still be around, we must come in to take care of Otis, of course, so if you need something please do email us or call, contact info on the contact page, we can still help you, but are looking forward to a small vacation now so we can be recharged for 2010.


The cat is out of the bag, we have MK Fenders in stock.  These wood fenders are locally produced, fully shaped, and finished with a marine quality coating so they are well protected and shiny beautiful.  $200 a set.

We have them on the Xtracycle and they look and work great.  Mounting hardware will be coming from Velo Orange, unless you happen to have your own already, and everything needed to mount these comes to around $20.  The manufacturing team that is making the fenders are also hard at work with a machine shop in Cedar Rapids to produce their own hardware, but it is not there yet.  We have two sets of 700c, one 650b and one 26″ so come on in and take a look, we are sure you will be impressed!

Last Saturday was the event phenomenal What A Load Of Craft! part six.  I used our Bikes At Work trailer to haul my one tote out to the Johnson County Fairgrounds, but I shortened it!

Since it’s modular you can take an 8′ trailer and make a six footer or, in my case, the cute 4′ version.

Here’s what the rig looked like upon arrival to Building C, which some may remember as the hub of Jingle Cross activity last month.  All in all, the single speed winter machine pulled the trailer with ease.  A few folks at the fair expressed their awe at riding in the snow, but, really, I think it’s fun.  When it’s fun it doesn’t seem like such a difficult thing.

I shared a table with a friend.  Note my zines and some 30th Century merch there on the left.

And, as promised, Leslie Hall delivered.  She even played my favorite, Blame the Booty Remix, which you can listen to, too. Leslie hails from the land of Ames, just like the Bikes At Work trailer.  See how connected we all are?

But, it’s kinda my signature move.

Today, I (Cody) will be a vendor at Iowa City’s What A Load Of Craft! super-event.  Details are below on this snazzy poster by Cortnie Widen of White Rabbit.  Something of note not listed, though, Leslie Hall will be there with Mona Bones.  You get me hotter than a stick of hot glue!

I’ll be there with my zines, t-shirts, patches, stickers, etc.  “What does this have to do with bicycles?” you might ask.  Lots of my artwork is bike-y, and I’ll be haulin’ my wares with the lovely Bikes at Work trailer.  Photos will follow…

In effect!

Plenty of plowed spaces for your car, too.

Something about that cold North wind blowing gets people thinking of sturdy, steel Surlys.

First up, The Swobo-to-Surly switcheroo!  Chris decided he would like the feel of steel more than the aluminum bike he had been riding, so he came to us to get a Surly 1×1 frameset and switch everything over.  It was a pretty straight swap, a new bottom bracket was required but other than that we just chased, faced, frame savered, and switched.  Fun!

Next, shop favorite Doug is prepping for touring anytime, anywhere.  Enter the Surly LHT.  He already had the Jandd Standard rear rack, but added the Jandd Extreme front rack.  Which is, in a word, well – extreme!  The wood fenders set the bike off nicely, whether leaning on our bar stools, or an elevation sign at a mountain pass somewhere in Montana.

At the same time as these bikes were being built we also had a Surly Cross Check in for pre-winter maintenance and we built a new rear single speed wheel for it around the venerable Surly New Road hub laced to a sturdy Salsa Delgado rim.  SURLY-O-Rama!

In softer news, for those that don’t yet know, we have taken in a stray cat from the neighborhood and named him Otis.

He is a cute and curious little guy who likes to sleep on your lap and play with his catnip mouse.

He took an Xtracycle ride to the vet and seemed to enjoy the journey, if not the destination.

He has been with us for almost 3 weeks now and is settling in nicely, it is nice to have him here!

Way back in the day, when I (Cody) was a bright-eyed, full-time AmeriCorps VISTA Bike Library volunteer, my friend Haelan came to me with an idea.  While staying in New Orleans to help the hurricane clean-up effort, she had learned some wrenching skills at a community bike project called Plan B.  They offered shop time for women-identified folks only, and she found it to be a comfortable space where she could learn.  We talked a lot about the significant barriers that prevent women from being more involved in bicycle culture, including mechanicking.  Haelan asked me simply if the Bike Library could do something like Plan B’s open shop time for women.

Well, yes.  Why the hell not?  I named it “Ladies’ Night” after the Le Tigre line, “We got equal rights on ladies’ night.”  And, also for the fact that the so-called ladies’ night you see around town at bars is really to increase interest from men.  I often feel like things aimed at women are really in the interest of men, so the name seemed to be a good nose-thumb, even if it wasn’t obviously ironic.

Those early days of Ladies’ Night were about open shop time, so you could use the BL’s tools and equipment for free with some guidance from women volunteers and oftentimes other attendees.

We did all manner of work, from changing flats to overhauling bottom brackets.

And, laughing.  Lots of laughing.  My face would hurt by the end of many of these nights.  It was a much needed program.  After my AmeriCorps assignment was over, it was difficult to continue Ladies’ Night as an open shop program due to volunteers already putting in lots of hours.  It was shelved for some time.

This fall, however, something like Ladies’ Night blossomed.  Brad & Jen, two hard-working BL volunteers, helped me work out the details, and we set up a very structured, hands-on class for women-identified people.  (We never really struck upon a new name for it, although several were tried.)

Over the course of four weeks, we covered flat-changing, brake adjustment, brake pad cleaning & installment, derailleur adjustment, and chain replacement.

Some students brought their own bikes to use for class projects, sometimes with sad news…

a seized front derailleur!  Perhaps the bike is now a bigger project than originally anticipated, but that just makes for more learning opportunities, no?

Although we had less time for relaxed social chatting like in the previous incarnation of Ladies’ Night, I heard more than a few times that students walked out feeling empowered and closer to their bikes.  It was such an overwhelming success that plans are in the works to continue and even expand the class.

We don’t call it Ladies’ Night anymore, but the idea is the same.  I’m really excited to be a part of it, and I have to give huge thanks to Jen for being my lovely classroom assistant and to Brad for helping when needed and gracefully stepping back as the women stepped up.

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