Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava

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Life in and around Northfield, Minnesota.
Updated: 6 min 50 sec ago

Strep Day

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 2:51pm

The Tassava family has not fared well during Northfield’s current epidemic of strep, pneumonia, influenza, and the stomach flu. Today, Vivi is home with strep. Sick Vivi is lethargic, quiet, and bored – pretty much the opposite of Normal Vivi. At least she has a friend who’s supplying some good purring medicine.

Categories: Citizens

The Real Christmas Workshop

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 9:51am

Forget Santa’s workshop at the North Pole: Julia’s workshop at the kitchen table is where the real magic is happening. She’s made amazing presents here for Shannon and Genevieve. I can’t wait to see what she makes for me!

Categories: Citizens

Jingle Bell Runners (and Bikers)

Sat, 12/13/2014 - 12:15pm

Last year, the Northfield YMCA asked our local bike club if anyone would like to lead out the annual Jingle Bell Run downtown. Several of us fatbikers were interested, and had fun leading racers over the slick, cold course.

This year the Y asked us again, so again a bunch of us showed up, though the weather today was warm and gray and wet – not optimal fatbiking conditions. Still, it was fun to see the throng off and lead them along the courses. Shannon, Julia, and Genevieve were running the 2k race along with their BFFs, so I rode that course with my friend Michael and his son. Viewing conditions were perfect!

They all ran the entire course, which made me happy, since 1.25 miles is quite a long way for little kids!

After watching them finish, I looped back up the course to see the winner of the 5k zoom past

and admire the sight of the fatbikers cheering on other finishers as they rounded the last corner. We looked good, I think.

All in all, a great morning!

Categories: Citizens

Darkness Ride

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 7:42pm

The gang of gravel cyclists here in Northfield have, under the leadership of the indefatigable Bruce A., made a custom of rides on (or nearly on) nights with full moons. These "Full Moon Howl" rides are pretty great. This month, another of the gang’s leaders, Joe P., proposed the opposite – a "Darkness Ride" on the night of the new moon.

And so it came to pass on Saturday that nine of us went for a 25-mile roll to Randolph and back. I rode the Buffalo, loaded pretty well with my racing gear. The conditions were pretty good, and I was feeling strong, so I snuck in a few short full-gas efforts, but the companionship was the best part – even if it’s hard to get good photos of bike riders in the dark, whether they’re rolling

or stopped.

After the ride, we gathered at Joe’s house, where his girlfriend Julie put on a huge spread of food and drink and where we were all bitten by this ferocious beast.

What an amazing night.

Categories: Citizens

A Darkness Ride

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 5:10pm

The gang of gravel cyclists here in Northfield have, under the leadership of the indefatigable Bruce A., made a custom of rides on (or nearly on) nights with full moons. These “Full Moon Howl” rides are pretty great. This month, another of the gang’s leaders, Joe P., proposed the opposite – a “Darkness Ride” on the night of the new moon.

And so it came to pass on Saturday that nine of us went for a 25-mile roll to Randolph and back. I rode the Buffalo, loaded pretty well with my racing gear. The conditions were pretty good, and I was feeling strong, so I snuck in a few short full-gas efforts, but the companionship was the best part – even if it’s hard to get good photos of bike riders in the dark, whether they’re rolling

or stopped.

After the ride, we gathered at Joe’s house, where his girlfriend Julie put on a huge spread of food and drink and where we were all bitten by this ferocious beast.

What an amazing night.

Categories: Citizens

Not a Great Ride

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 10:25pm

Today’s ride did not live up to expectations, and yet the magic of bike riding ensured that it still didn’t suck. I fell short on both saddle time and total distance, crashed twice on the ice, experienced no lovely falling-snow moments, fought a heavy headwind, damaged various bits and pieces, and had to call for a rescue ride home from my great friend Michael. Yet! I was grinning as I rode into the garage.

By way of summary, here’s a rundown of damaged stuff and their current dispositions:

  • Front blinker light: cracked in crash #1; now junk
  • Right hip: bruised and scraped in crash #1; now healing in a purply way
  • Right elbow: jarred in crash #1; now aching nicely with a likely bruise tomorrow
  • Rear derailleur: slightly bent in crash #1; straightened by hand later and now functioning fine
  • Cranks and spindle: mysterious malfunction led to complete separation of cranks about 20 miles from home and a call to a friend for a rescue; repairers quickly and at no cost at the LBS.

Categories: Citizens

Jones Loop Handlebar: A Belated Review

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 8:34pm

When I sold the Beast in August to upgrade to a titanium Mukluk, I also decided to switch from traditional straight handlebars to the funny-looking but apparently quite comfortable "Loop" H-Bar made by Jones Bikes.

I had had problems with my hands going numb on many rides on the Muk with straight bars, but many riders on the Internet swore up and down that the unusual backwards sweep of the H-Bar helped relieve pressure on their hands and thus numbness. Mindful of the self-selection there, I figured that I could always sell the H-Bar if I found that my hands still fell asleep on them.

Having now done about 500 miles on the new (to me) ti Mukluk with the H-Bar, I can report that these funny-looking bars are in fact much more comfortable than my flat bars (even cushy flat carbon bars!).*

I spend most of any ride with my hands on the grips at the ends of the bars, where I’ve found the sweep to be very congenial to the way I ride. Bike control is excellent because of or despite my hands being fairly far out and quite far back, even in tight cornering situations like singletrack. The 710mm width seems to allow for more steering by leaning my hips and shoulders and less by actually turning the bars.

When I’m cruising, I can reach forward to the joints where the front loop meets the back bar or even all the way out to the front loop, creating a much more "aero" position that’s perfect for straight flat sections, on gentle uphills, and especially on steady downhills. I have much less control over the bike in these forward positions, but just enough that I can avoid bumps and potholes. And it’s very easy to pop back to the grips to resume full control over the machine.

In my use of the bars, I’ve only had one brief episode with numb hands, which I chalked up to wearing thicker-than-usual gloves and white-knuckling the grips on some long downhills. Lessons learned: relax and switch hand positions frequently.

In addition to excellent handling and comfort of the H-Bar, I have discovered that the bar is great for attaching all the junk needed for the kind of riding I’m doing right now: bar bags on the aft bar for food and stuff, sleeping pad/sleeping bag/drybag under the loop, cyclocomputer on the stem, light on the front of the loop… And the loop itself is a pretty handy spot for either stuffing clothing (at different points I’ve securely wedged my windshell and my vest between the bar and the drybag underneath it) or for carrying stuff:

All in all, the Jones H-Bar has been a great addition to my bike. I’m looking forward to racing on it this winter. That front spot should be a great place for number plates!

  • One note: I did switch from a 90mm stem to a 100mm stem after my knees started getting achy on long rides. My LBS guy guessed that the backsweep of the bars was keeping me a little too upright. By getting me forward more, the 100mm stem seems to have fixed the knee problems.

Categories: Citizens

I’m Such a Yankee

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:27pm

I’m such a Yankee.

Sadly, the countries-I’ve-visited map would have just two spots of color.

Categories: Citizens

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