Also, totally un-related, there’s a really interesting quote in this Kottke article. He says “America is a rich country that feels like a poor country”, based on the way individual wealth is valued over everything else. A few days living in a different part of the world is really bringing that idea home to me.
Well, this day isn’t as filled with naturalization accomplishments. I did, however, get the application filed at the tax office. That will get me my Swedish personnumer which is basically the ticket to everything. I also got the green-light to open a bank account – the visit yesterday was just to fill out the forms for the background check.
What was interesting is that we have a lot of wind today in Skåne – like 55mph gusts. So, it’s very blustery. The fun fact is that my hotel is right next to a construction site with one of those really tall, spindly cranes on it. That crane seems to be shut down, because that f*#%er is swaying in the wind like crazy. Super-hoping that, if it topples over, it doesn’t land on me!
Also interesting was the travel ban from EU countries to the US (but not the UK where there’s 400 confirmed cases). Not just because the reason given was literally the opposite of the truth (but that is par for this course – accusing others of his own failures), but also because it made it really complicated for me to get a flight home for some time to help out with getting the house on the market. All said and done, I have a flight booked for a week in April, and we’ll see how it holds up. I think it’s hilarious that the ban doesn’t apply to US citizens – as if that is somehow immunity to getting sick?
Finally, I’m not sure I’m clear on how they view bikes here. It seems like a lot of practical, sturdy bikes used all the time for all sorts of basic things – like shopping, getting to work, etc. – but surely I’m wrong. A car-centric society is better, right? That’s why we have that in the US, right? The first pic is in front of the grocery store …
I wasn’t wholly satisfied with Birchwoods morning pastries – they are more a restaurant. So I’m trying Blue Moon cafe. So far so good. The mocha is as I like (not too sweet with a decent feather instead of whip cream) and the pastries are pretty good.
Ever since I moved to St Paul, I’ve missed a key part of my routine – stopping at Canteen coffee on the way in to work on the bike. The new route is almost all trail, which is nice for the ride, but there’s basically no coffee along the way. So after a lot of google map searching, I decided to change the route to try Precision Grind Coffee.
I’m sitting there now. And it’s not as good as CG. :-(. The latte is just frothed and dumped in a paper cup. No feather. The coffee is scalding hot, and oddly flavorless. The scone was moist and doughy. Not what a scone should be.
So, no, not civilized. Simply barbaric.
And, yes, I know I’m being a HUGE snob. Canteen was just that good.
As I mentioned, I swapped the Soma for a Velo Orange Piolet. It’s been doing some winter duty with the riser bars and studded tires. But, climate change is happening, and it’s basically Spring here now. So, I swapped out the bars for drops and the suds for some Schwalbe Super Moto tires. Those tires are OMFG sweet. I LOVE the look of fat tires and drop bars. There’s probably a hashtag in there somewhere, but really, it could just be a Queen reference. Also, I have the Axiom 29-er rack on. Nice rack, slim profile, and burly rails. Just wish it was silver. The fork is set up for something like the Salsa Anything Cage, and I think I’m going that route.
I was inspired by Marcus’ Soma Wolverine to step up the frame game. So I went with a Velo Orange Piolet. Here it is mostly built-up with parts from the Soma Double-cross (which will shortly be for sale). The cassette was deeply gunked-up and required a deep cleaning with parts cleaner and a scraper. I’m not sure what lube produced that sticky sludge, but I’m suspecting the BoeShield. Maybe it’s not really suitable for real winter … In order to clear the chain stays, however, I needed a mountain crankset (73mm BB vs 68mm BB). That created weirdness with the chain line, so I ended up pulling a small (38t) chain ring from the parts bin and mounting it on the inside of the crank. Clears the chain stays, has a nice chain line, and allows the use of the Paul chain keeper. So, it looks a little weird, but seems to work like a champ. I went cheap and rugged for the fenders. The Planet Bike ones are just easier to work with than the VO fenders despite the VO ones being way better looking. I have the 42mm studs on for winter commuting, so there’s a lot of fender gap. That will disappear when I put Schwalbe Super Moto 29-er (2.3″) tires on. The steerer tube I left long (with a big stack of spacers) to see if a more upright riding position is easier on the back. That may come down in the future. I’m also digging the full length cable housing for the shifter. I was a foot-dragger for brake cables, but I came to like the “fully-contained-system-ness” of each component – and am liking that aspect with the shifting as well. It will make seasonal tear-down and clean sessions way easier! The cable clamp system on the underside of the down tube is cool too – nicer than the plastic clip approach.
My only gripe with the frame was that the geometry diagram on the VO website shows the seat tube measured from the center of the BB to the top of the TT. They actually measure to the top of the seat tube, a difference of 1.5″. So, the frame is a little smaller than I thought.
Update – sold the Madsen. My youngest cried when I told them I was selling it, cried when she found out that somebody was going to buy it, and cried when they came to pick it up. 🙁
Well, the kids are big enough that they ride their own bikes, and we’re not hauling anything big enough on bikes to warrant it in the garage, so I’m selling the robin’s egg blue Madsen. The bike is basically just like the one on Madsen’s site. You could have it now! This one was purchased in December of 2010 (it’s a v2 model) and despite having been well-ridden, is well-maintained and in good condition. There are some small rust spots on the fenders, but the frame is all good. The bike is basically original except for the following changes:
Cockpit has been re-configured to pull the rider forward and down a little more for better power. I have the original tall stem included with the bike if you want to raise-up the bars again. The original bar was tweaked in an attempted theft (they were foiled by the wheel lock!), so I’ve got a very similar replacement on there. I also added the Ergon grips.
I have 2 of the flat bed racks (black and cream – they were out of blue when I ordered it). One of the racks has a plywood deck on it. The kids liked riding on it with the deck better, but it handles groceries better in the bucket.
Both back seats are included, and the original 4 seat belts. I’ve had 4 kindergartners in there at once, and it’s do-able but squirmy. The stand is super stable and kids can climb in themselves. I added a water bottle cage for the passengers behind the saddle. 🙂
I have studded winter tires for both wheels as well that go with the bike. This is Minnesota, after all.
Here’s some pics. I’ll post on CL and NextDoor as well. Asking $1000 OBO. Respond in the comments if you’re in the Twin Cities and want to come get it.
As I might have mentioned, I had the Soma re-painted. Actually, I had the excellent dude Anthony Paints do a full media blast and powder-coat of this sweet creamy green color. Frame, fork, stem and rack all got the electro-static love. Additionally, I had tried a North Road bar, but it was a little narrow. I finally popped for the Nitto Albatross and fitted it the other day. Here are some pics. Pretty sweet looking bike, with the hammered VO fenders and the color-matched frame. It’s new personality matches my own aging – not so racer-y and aggressive a stance anymore. 😉