No, we're not bankers. But, HC is one of the sponsors of Trans Iowa and Jim and Kevin have volunteered to man the first checkpoint. Consequently, we have to leave here early Friday southbound for Grinnell.
Mark will hold court at HC regular hours on Friday from 1-6 but will not be here Saturday.
SOLD!!!!Lightly used set of Surly Nice Racks -- Front and rear in black. $100 each or $190 for the set. That's way below retail. Get em for the upcoming touring season!!
We have a new part of HC devoted to used parts. Some of the stuff is unique, some just used, but all of it is too good to throw away. We will add stuff periodically so stop by and check it out.
We only have 2 HC posters left. Adam Turman did an amazing job creating an image that we think captures what we are all about. They are $25. If enough people pre-order, we'll get Adam to print a few more.
Finally, we have a great selection of bikes and accessories in stock. Gas prices are starting to creep back up so get out there.
Like most things in cycling, bicycle touring can seem overwhelmingly complicated or difficult to the novice. There seems to be an underlying fear among newbies and confirmed gear-geeks alike that some part of the trip will go NOT according to plan, particularly if every aspect of the bicycle and bicycle accessory package is not "dialed in" to perfection. And if the trip doesn't go according to plan, well, it would be really, really bad! Or worse! Right? We seem to forget that, at its core, bicycle touring is just riding a bike. Sure you're carrying the stuff that you'll need for a few days, but otherwise, it's still just bike-riding.
There is a lot of focus on gear. The internet forums are full of arguments about which bikes, which tires, which racks, which panniers are best. Analysis paralysis sets in, and then you spend so much time agonizing over which panniers to buy, and then worrying that some other part of the ensemble is sub-optimal, that you never quite get around to actually doing the bike trip that inspired all this angst in the first place.
Last year we had this windblown character come in on a really beat-up 1970s French bike (more racing bike than touring bike), loaded far in excess of what the bike was designed to handle. A quick glance at his bike revealed numerous areas of concern to bike mechanics. More glaringly bad, even, than all the worn/corroded/gunked-up parts, his tires were shredded, and he had numerous worn-out "spare" tires coiled up and strapped onto the heap of gear that was bungee-corded onto his rear rack. When I pointed out some of my concerns about his machine, he casually let me know that he had crossed the continent on his rig more than a few times, and was in the process of doing it again. I'm sure he had mechanical problems and other equipment difficulties from time to time, but he seemed to prefer to deal with those issues as needed, rather than worry about problems in advance. Clearly, this fellow is sort of the opposite of the guy who spends countless hours poring over internet forums analyzing and comparing specs of one high-zoot rack vs a similar high-zoot rack.
Then there's Nick Lubecki. You should click the link and read the 2005-ish article about him in the Dirt Rag archives. A lot of people can't get past the fact that Nick sometimes liberates his dinner from dumpsters behind pizza parlors. But beyond that cultural quirk, he's a guy who is having amazing and wonderful adventures on his bicycle without losing a lot of sleep over what people on the internet will think of his equipment.
This is the year to do it. You aren't getting any younger.
This past Sunday, some friends and I gathered in Red Wing for a circumnavigation of Lake Pepin. With the Almanzo 100 just six weeks out, the goal was to practice riding our bicycles long distances over hilly, gravel roads. We had six riders, all with interesting bicycles. One Curt Goodrich (mine), two Rivendells (Atlantis and Hillborne), one Rawland Sogn, one Surly Cross-Check, and one old Trek converted to a 3sp 650B machine. The Trek 3sp deserves special mention, as I built the wheel for it several days prior. The hub was vintage Sturmey-Archer (40h) and the rim was a modern Velocity Dyad (32h). It took some trial-and-error to get the 3x lacing to work out. When I saw the wheel turn up for this challenging ride, I started to panic that the oddball mismatched lacing would lead to some calamity, and I would be forever shamed and regarded as a failure in my chosen profession. Luckily, the wheel held...
Upon crossing into Wisconsin, we immediately modified the original route for reasons that seemed unclear at the time, and seem even more unclear now in hindsight. In any case, for the first few miles, we were riding pavement, which while hilly and pretty, was not the gravel we were craving. In my role as route planner, I was entrusted by my companions to design a gravel road route. I could sense the white-hot rage building and boiling under the surface of my outwardly jovial companions when mile after mile of blacktop rolled under our fat tires. Where's the gravel, MF!
Soon, we made yet another impromptu route change, and within a mile we were rolling through some freshly poured gravel that squirmed as we rode through it, rather than on it. Luckily, the fresh gravel covered only a short segment of road, and in no time we were rolling easily over a more manageable surface.
Out of Maiden Rock, we turned up a gravel road that I have ridden many times. Its most distinctive features are the water-crossings. The first was actually an ice-crossing, but the next two or three streams were fully liquid.
With soaked feet, we started the climbing in earnest.
We bombed back down into the valley for a lunch in Stockholm. I misunderstood the specials menu at the restaurant and inadvertently ordered two lunches. I ate both, and was more than full, and didn't realize what what I'd done until I saw that I owed $20 when everybody else was closer to $10. Live and learn. With two lunches in my belly, I didn't feel faster, for some reason.
Past Stockholm is a stretch of gravel called Bogus Rd. Bogus has a wonderful hill climb that had me in my granny gear for the first time since pulling two kids in a Burley out of Hidden Falls Park in St Paul. Definitely a good one if exercise is the goal.
We saw this interesting turn that seemed to be heading in the right direction.
After another lunch/snack in Nelson, we headed back into Minnesota. We opted to skip a big climb out of Wabasha and rode the highway as far as Lake City. We got off the main drag as soon as possible, and made our way on Lake City streets toward Territorial Rd. On the way, we had a mishap with a steel water bottle lodging itself between chainstay and spokes. An on-the-spot wheel-truing got us rolling again, and back on the gravel of Territorial and the appropriately named Hill Avenue out of Frontenac. The Hill Ave descent is really spectacular. We rolled back into Red Wing shortly after dark with 102 miles on the clock.
Hiawatha Cyclery is a small, independent shop in South Minneapolis. The bicycles and accessories we sell are geared toward the style-conscious commuter, tourist, and general bicycle lifestyle type. We also offer a wide variety of repair services, custom wheelbuilding, and highly personalized bicycle builds.