Thursday, October 16, 2008

The 10 Most Dangerous Intersections in Minneapolis

By C.C.

As a shop that prides itself on it's support of those who ride their bikes for transportation, we like to make certain everyone can ride safely, and get to where they are going in one piece.

With the recent spike in cyclists being injured, and even killed, by automobile drivers in the Twin Cities, local media has finally come forward, recognizing cycling as an increasingly common mode of transportation, and a greater need for drivers to be aware of cyclists when driving.

This week, City Pages posted a story calling out the 10 most dangerous bike intersections in Minneapolis.

Fellow Hubsters and I went through them one by one, every time, at least one of the group was in full agreement on the sketchiness of each particular intersection.

A good friend of mine was just hit at the Cedar/Riverside intersection a couple months ago, less the a block from one of our locations.

I myself was involved at a hit and run at the Portland intersection.

Personally, I think the intersection at Lyndale/Hennepin and 15th Ave. is where a cyclist is always taking their life into their own hands. For years I successfully avoided it by taking the private serviceway of an adjacent church, but recent renovations to the facility have closed that off, and now I'm forced to once again roll the dice as I head north toward downtown.

Enjoy the article.

And be careful out there.

Live to ride another day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The first Critical Mass in Minneapolis

By The Chuff

I rode in the first Critical Mass in Minneapolis. Nobody is talking about Critical Mass right now, but when they were, the so called experts said they knew how it started, but they didn't have a clue. I first heard about Critical Mass in some cycling rag. The details are fuzzy. What I think the article that I read said, was that Critical mass started in Rio De Janero. Something about Masses of Cyclistas in Rio taking over the roads on the bay front every Friday afternoon. The enlightened Rio authorities gave in to the will of the Cyclistas and blocked off the bayfront roads to all but bikes. BOOYA!!!! Then the Mass moved to San Francisco. Hundreds, maybe thousands of riders participated. I don't know if it was before or after the first Mass in Minneapolis, but in Frisco they tried to ride the freeway. CHAOS, COPS, CRAPSTORM. Later we tried the freeway Critical Mass here, same results as Frisco. Back to the the original subject. Some time in the early 90's in January I was working in a millwork shop listening to Radio K, and someone announced "Critical Mass 5:30 Hennepin County government center" over the radio. BOOYA!!! The first Critical Mass in our town. You didn't have to tell be twice. Nine of us showed up for the first Minneapolis Mass. Hurl "freak in charge at carsrcoffins" was there, and some punk gurl named Justine who I haven't seen in years. The revolutionary 9 original Critcal Mass riders rode about 15 MPH in the slush, three to a lane. We rode a loop up 7th, and down 6th. We screamed at the striking Union Peoples outside the Ritz-Carlson. They screamed back at us. Lazy wet snow fell. It was a great buzz. The cars were annoyed, but not violently so. The 1st Mass in Snowtown rode a good clip and a few people just honked. That's what I know, and what's fuzzy. I guess my lack of certainty doesn't make me a quotable expert I can live with that. Go ask Hurl his story.

Reflections from BikeBike!

By Jason

Last week, I had the privilege to travel out to San Francisco, California for BikeBike – the national conference of community bicycle collectives and cooperatives. I was not there as a Hub representative – I was there mainly for Sibley Bike Depot (, a not-for-profit community bike program in St. Paul. However, the experience was insightful and relevant to our work here at the Hub as a worker-owned bicycle cooperative trying to promote bicycling within our community.

While at the conference in San Fran, I was able to take a tour of Box Dog Bikes, a worker-owned bike shop in the Mission district. Like the Hub, they are a fairly new shop – opening four years ago. They employ eight people: Five are worker-owners, two are on the path towards ownership, and one is only part-time. (Compare this to the Hub, where we have seven worker-owners and, during Spring/Summer, over 30 workers!) Their space is significantly smaller – roughly the size of our West Bank location. I think retail space is way more expensive in the dense, overpriced market of San Francisco.

Another interesting point: Box Dog Bikes formed with significant influence from people who were volunteer mechanics at the Bike Kitchen, San Francisco’s collectively run community bike shop. The Hub had a similar experience, with the original coop founders being mechanics at the Grease Pit who wanted to both receive monetary compensation for their work, as well as expand their ability to promote bicycling in our community.

And other exciting news: BikeBike 2009 is coming to Minneapolis! Keep an eye out around August/September for hundreds of community bike shop enthusiasts from around the country to descend upon our fair city to converse, share, and organize stories on how to better promote bicycling. The Hub hopes to have a role in discussing the ways that volunteer collectives and worker-owned shops can work together to promote bicycling as a sustainable means of transportation in our community!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Ice Man Cometh or Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Winter Riding But Were Afraid To Ask

Willis here to drop a bit of science as to how to keep your ride happy during those sloppy, salty months ahead.
First off there's a lot to go over but I'll try to keep it quick and dirty for you and stick to mechanical and set up stuff, we can pad your sartorial resume later.
The big evil that you are going to run into is salt, it's EVERYWHERE in the winter and will eat your bike alive. "But wait Will" you say, "MY bike is made of aluminum", it's a valid point and good thinking but your axles, chain, cogs, and most of the pivots and fasteners are still going to be steel and will be devoured by the ravenous monster unleashed by the DOT every year. Luckily for you and your bike there are quite a few ways around this.
First off, bring that bike inside. This will give your ride a chance to shed the days accumulation of crud and dramatically decreases the likelihood of this. It's best to toss some cardboard on the floor to catch the lovely mixture of salt, snow and exhaust soot that will drip off of her. If you feel really frisky, toss your bike in the shower for a minute and let the fresh water rinse the salt and slush off.
A good, if labor intensive, steel bike solution is frame saver which requires stripping the bike down to the bare frame and then spraying down the inside of all the tubes and then stopping them up with rags, rotating the frame every now and again to ensure an even coat. You'll have to let the frame cure overnight so plan ahead for this one.
Next up comes the drivetrain. My personal preference for winter riding is the fixed gear but single-speeds in general have a huge advantage over multi geared bikes for snowy, mucky, salty riding. There's just less to get mucked up, fewer moving parts and generally less parts that you'll have to replace if you don't get all the salt out of 'em. I don't change my gearing for the winter, some folks gear down a bit but regardless of your set-up the choice of lube is vital. NEVER use parrafin based lube in the winter, ever. I don't care how awesome white lightning has been for you during summer cruising, don't even think of putting it on your chain in the winter. There are two ways to go here folks, I like a light weight oil generally and triflow in particular because teflon isn't affected by cold and it doesn't pick up as much grit and salt but the drawback is that you'll have to apply it more often. The other way to go is a heavier weight synthetic oil like pedro's synlube, it's thick and hangs on really well but a heavier oil will attract more crud into your chain, no free lunch. Either way check your chain, wipe it down with a rag after sloppy rides and oil it about once a week for the average commuter and every 3 days or so for all of you long-haulers.
Speaking of triflow make sure to hit those spoke brake pivots and cantilever posts. During the corrosive season it's vitally important to keep all of those pivots, cables and housing well lubed but hey, they're your brakes do what you like, it's a free(ish) country.
And finally we come to the wheels, they're a big deal, they're what let you roll around the city as the picture of cool instead of standing astride a metal bar looking dumb. First off as a carry over from the last paragraph, hit those spoke nipples with some triflow. Put a drop at the base of the nipple where it goes through the rim and one at the top where it meets the spoke, do this all the way around the wheel starting at the tire valve (it's easier to keep track of where you've been this way) and then give the wheel a good spin. It's a good idea to let the tires dry out before you do this but hey, don't let me stop you from learning by doing. Next up let's talk hubs, sealed or cartridge bearings are ideal because the sealed bearings don't let as much, if any, crud into the moving parts and the cartidges are easily replaceable even if they do get crapped up.
Last but not least we've got tires, tires are a religious argument among winter cyclists but it breaks down into four main cases with a rider with basic bike handling skills in mind;
-Skinny, smooth tires will cut through snow to the pavement beneath and have the least rolling resistance but don't do as well on ice.
-Cyclocross tires are about as good on ice as skinnys, still get a good amount of "cut" and have a little knobbiness for extra traction but will cost you a bit of rolling resistance for the extra grab.
-Fat, knobby mountain bike tires have a lot of grab and will "float" you above the deeper snow but still aren't that great on ice and can get snow impacted into the treads which ends up with you rolling on some ice donuts.
-Studded tires have the best grip on ice bar none and usually have a tread pattern designed to shed snow but they are heavy, have serious rolling resistance on pavement, and cost about $45 to $70 a piece.
Personally I ride on 700x25 panaracer t-servs all year round because they rule and panaracer doesn't give me anything to say that, they're just that good. Like i said it's a religious argument. No matter what tires you ride slap some fenders or a mudguard on that sucker, your butt will thank you.
Next time we can go over that winter couture thing for you and maybe even toss out some snow and ice bike-handling tips. Cheers, -willis