22 Jul


Grease Rag NE is TONIGHT, July 22!


on July 22, 2014   comments 0

Hello friends,

Your GRNE Co-Facilitators are happy to invite you to this week's installment of Grease Rag NE. FYI, NO GROUP RIDE tonight.

Join us tonight at Recovery Bike Shop (2504 Central Ave NE) at 7pm for our discussion and open shop night.  In honor of the weather SHIFT from Spring to Summer, from 7pm – 730pm we’ll be talking about SHIFTING on your bike! Wondering the difference between the main types of shifting systems and what the pros and cons of each are? Swing on over! Janni promises not to talk as long as last time (though, can you blame her? Tires are easy to go on about!)  Open Shop starts up at 730p, so bring in your iron horse and your eager minds and let's get cranking.

Oh, and you know there will be coffee.

See you there!


Location: Northeast

21 Jul


Maiden Voyage of the Prairie Crow


on July 21, 2014   comments 0

New Bike Day came for me last week, and I have recently been getting acquainted with my Prairie Crow Bikeworks custom frame.  Alex did an amazing job working with me as he built the frame, from helping me visualize the final build, to listening to what I wanted, making measurements, and communicating with me about all the details I never thought to consider!  I would HIGHLY recommend him to anyone that has a steel frame that needs repair, or would like a custom frame.  The build process took about three months, but from conception to completion, with changes and how long it took me to get the parts I wanted together, this bike took about a year to complete.

I have been tinkering and adjusting and dialing in the fit and getting to know the bike over the last week.  This weekend I took the PCB to Willow River State Park in Wisconsin to see how it did when it was loaded down with my camping gear.

Willow River is a state park, and in Minnesota and Wisconsin there is an official policy that they will not turn you away if you arrive by bicycle, even if you show up and all of their sites are full.  This is handy, because when I checked the weather on Friday night and decided I wanted to go camping the next day, the campground was totally reserved.  So I packed my bags, threw some snacks into my bag, and rolled out the next morning!
I took the U of M Transitway to Como, then up Wheelock to the Gateway Trail.  I turned off toward Stillwater, crossed the lift bridge.  This is when the hills started.  Ten miles later, we rolled into Willow River!
Here are some of my favorite moments from the trip.
1. Drive-up high five! A friend pulled over and hopped out of their car to give out a high five as I biked by.  It made my day!
2. Deli sandwiches from Lens Family Foods in Stillwater.  Cheap and yummy, I like to eat half, and save the other half for later.
3. Walking through and exploring the Willow River Waterfall, including climbing up to the gorge outlook.
4. Watching a duck shred gnar, surfing and getting blasted by the waterfall current.  And then hopping out on the other side, shaking the water off its tail feathers, and waddling off.
5. Morning swim in cold water before packing up and heading out.
6. The weather was perfect.  Cloudy and warm the first day, and muggy and hot the second day, which necessitated a DQ stop!
7. Stopping at a German restaurant on the way home for beer and sausages
8. High fives after big hills: Celebrate successes!
9. Turtle sunning itself on the highway shoulder, neck stretched out.  The hot sun warming its reptilian blood.
10. Bombing hills!  My top speed was 32 mph!
The Prairie Crow performed wonderfully.  I can't put into words how happy I am to have a new hauling-stuff and camping bike!  Here's to a long and happy relationship, PCB.  

21 Jul


Fresh and Fancy Recap


on July 21, 2014   comments 0

Grease Rag members are a wealth of resources and knowledge about how to bike around town, as WTFs with places to be and people to see.  Spurred by a Facebook comment about sweating on our commutes, I organized a "Fresh and Fancy" event this past weekend, where we shared our tips and tricks for arriving at our destinations, Fresh, and Fancy.

Photo from Erik's camera, not all riders were present for the photo!

We discussed...

Favorite bike-friendly fashion accessory that kicks your outfit up a notch?

A product you swear by to make you feel beautiful or your ride more comfortable?

Favorite products or techniques for glamming up or cooling down, for your face?

Skirt flying up in the wind?  Try, "Penny in your pants."

1. Find a penny. Or you could use a pebble, a marble or other similar objects.
2. Find a rubber band. Better yet, use an old inner tube cut into rings. Super strong and super sustainable.
3. Now put on your favourite skirt.
4. Push the penny from the back to the front, through both layers.Watch our video if you need some extra help.
5. Form a button.
6. Wrap the band around the button so it’s secure.
7. Now and enjoy your new found freedom with your favourite skirt!

Best cool-down tricks?

How do you avoid helmet hair or a wind-whipped mess? Best bike friendly hair tips and tricks for showing up looking fly.

We rode a long and wonderful route together, while looking fabulous.  I had such a wonderful time!  Grease Rag bought a round of treats, and we had some fancy cocktails at Jax Cafe in NE together, before we rode back to Sunrise.  Thank you to everyone for making it a special night.

At Jax, we informally discussed Fresh and Fancy tips, and I jotted down the top three that I overheard.

1. Wearing rompers seems like a good idea, but they are just as difficult as bibshorts when you have to use the bathroom.

2. Cornstarch is a great anti-chafe on inner thighs and under breasts.

3.  Cornstarch is a good "dry shampoo" for fair-hair, and cornstarch + cocoa powder is a good dry shampoo for dark-hair.  Bonus- If you use the cocoa powder, you'll smell like chocolate!

15 Jul


Loaning Out the LOTUS


on July 15, 2014   comments 0

I've written about my beloved Lotus before.  My winter bike is just how I like it- upright, sturdy, and easy to bail when conditions are sketchy.

Recently, my pal A. asked to borrow a bike for a short ride.  Of course I said, "Yes!" and knew the Lotus would be perfect.  A. doesn't ride much, and I wanted them to have a pleasant experience, so I set them up on my beginner-friendly Lotus, along with some photos and helpful hints.  Because, who knows?  Maybe A. would fall in love with biking around the city as much as I have, and then we could bike everywhere all the time forever!  Whee!

I dragged the Lotus into the shop, changed out the studded tires (which were hilarious to ride down the Greenway in July), recabled and replaced housing, and cleaned, lubed and adjusted everything.  Sparkly clean for A.'s bike debut.

Dear A.,

Meet the Low of the United States (LOTUS). LOTUS, meet A.

These bars are wide and cruise-y! You'll be upright and comfy. I just recabled and adjusted the brakes this morning. And the bell is for saying, "Howdy," and, "Coming by on your left!"

I did not mount lights, so be sure to get some if you'll be out past dark.

Nice wide platform pedals that won't bite your shins but will hang onto your shoes.

It's single speed: easy peasy lemon squeezy.

The right side of the bike is the drivetrain/ dirty side, so if you are walking the bike stay on the left side and don't forget to roll up your right pant leg. =]

I just changed the bike's shoes, for ALL TERRAIN. I'm not sure what that means.

Handy dandy rear rack. You can use that inner tube to tie things down, or BYOB. (Bring your own bungee.) I suggest a slip knot when using the inner tube.

If you end up not riding in the rain today, that is understandable, but this bike has full fenders to protect you from wet pants and the dreaded skunk butt.

Long skirt? No problem. Step-through mixte frame is easy to mount and dismount.

Short skirt? You can lean the bike over to make it even easier to get on.

Bon voyage!


Update!  Where we hear from the lovely A.

LOTUS and I had such a wonderful time!! It couldn't have been easier! After adjusting the saddle to a comfortable height, I was on my way. Lights, helmet, cute dress, and all! The  bike was so user-friendly I barely even had to think about it. To help calm my urban-traffic nerves, I asked some friends to go with me. Not only did it make me feel more safe and less stressed, it made the ride way more fun! Thanks for setting me up for a fantastic ride about the town!


The wheels are turning, a plan has been set in motion... I hope to go on a ride with A. very soon!  

If you have friends that are new to biking around town, my advice is to be patient and don't dismiss any fears or apprehensions.  They are real barriers that take time and practice to conquer.  Happy trails!

13 Jul


Happy Fifth Birthday!


on July 13, 2014   comments 0

It fills my heart with pride and joy to announce that Grease Rag turned 5 years old on July 7, 2014.

In honor of our collective birthday, we went on a bike ride!

Photo by bemused bystander

We stopped for snacks at Gold Medal Park.  What a beautiful group of people.  Not all of the people that started with us finished the ride, and not all of the people at the end of the night started the ride with us.  A perfect metaphor for the comings and goings of Grease Rag Friends.

We had a cargo bike with speakers bumping tunes by request, and a trailer with a cooler full of yummy treats!

Thank you for bringing the Coke, Andrew!  It made Tina's day.  =]

Photo by Bri

For PRIZES, we gave away 4 copies of PSI Cycling Journal, and 5 copies of Little People, Big Trees.  Both of those are projects created by Grease Rag friends.  They are super rad, and if you can't get a copy of your own, you are welcome to borrow mine!

We ended the night swimming, as the full moon rose over Cedar Lake, and BOOKING it to my house to try to escape the voracious blood-sucking mosquito beasts.


I can't wait to take another cycle around the sun with you, Friends!  Grease Rag, forever.

Support our fun and inviting group with a little scrilla in the tip cup: Annual Spare Change Round-Up Fundraiser

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