Monday, February 23, 2015

Frostbike 2015: A Frozen Walkathon

El Presidente' Speaks! Steve Flagg addresses the crowd Friday night
Frostbike 2015:

The Frostbike 2015 was.........interesting. Not in the way you might expect, nor in the way you've come to know if you've been reading here over the past several years when I have reported upon my experiences. No "Mike's Bikes" shenanigans, no gnarly weather happenings, and no car impoundments. (Really! That happened one time.)

Nope! This time it was something entirely different, but perhaps no less weird. It started Friday when we woke up here at Guitar Ted Laboratories spaciously rundown headquarters. None of us were staying home as the entire family was to make the trip to the "TC" to have various kinds of fun. The family needed a breakway since we've been mostly holed up here with sicknesses and weather not conducive to outdoor fun. Anyway, we all woke up feeling particularly rotten on Friday. Really rotten. In fact, we almost pulled the plug on going at all........twice! I decided finally that we didn't need to pile another disappointment on top of nearly two months of "the blahs" and we were going.

Mrs. Guitar Ted was particularly stricken and the getting going was slow. I was planning on meeting my partner, Ben, downtown and I was supposed to get there before 4:00pm, but as we were traveling it was increasingly apparent to me that getting there even by 5:00pm was going to be a challenge. So, I texted Ben and told him I would have my wife drop me directly off downtown, and then we'd meet up.

Downtown Minneapolis is a bee's hive of activity at anytime during the day, and Friday afternoon was no exception. We were able to find the Marriott City Center on 7th easily enough though and I jumped out curbside, waved goodbye to my family, and set off to find the front door to the joint. As I did, I got the weird feeling that I was "on my own" in a strange place. Not that this should be an odd feeling given the time and place, but it was a particularly strong feeling this time.

Waiting to get into something I wanted out!
So I find the door, where I was supposed to go, and saw a bunch of folks I know really busy with conversations packed into this tiny room. I decided not to add to the "cattle in a livestock truck" atmosphere and waited out in a spacious lobby room. There I spied an antique bicycle and struck up a conversation with a lovely young lady who was very sweet to me and explained the bike was a part of a hoped for museum and what not. She slipped me a business card and then I ended up talking to the owner of the bike shop that represented this proposed museum for a bit. After this, I ran into some other folks I knew and met a few new folks as well. Ben spied me and I went in the line for the evening meal along with Ben and Andy of Pedal of Littleton, a past Trans Iowa vet.

Okay, I don't know if it was a failure of logistics, or maybe that a bunch of party crashers showed up unexpected, but the lines to get something to eat were sloooooow! I got to the "taco station", grabbed two tacos and ate them standing up, since there was nowhere obvious for me to sit. I ditched off my dirty plate with a food service person, grabbed a plastic cup of Fat Tire, and headed for the exit. But just before I left, Jim Cummins grabbed me and said there was a seat at a table I could use where he was and that Ben was there as well. Okay then!

We sat and listened to some poorly amplified gab from the podium while 60% of the crowd brazenly ignored all that was going on. It was a bit disconcerting, and I wasn't sure this gig fit the pre-event billing, but ya know.....whatever. It was what it was. I still don't quite get what all the fuss was about.

Then it was off to the "All-City Party" which was being held upstairs in an old theatre building. We had to wait to be screened at the door. They checked our ID's even, which, ya know, if ya can't tell I am old, maybe you shouldn't be working at a bar. I thought it was all pomp and circumcision. I mean, it was a free party, and so, why all the "LA club scene hoopla"? Again......whatever. The joint was made up of some scant tables, a cement floor which was already sticky and stinky from spilled beer, and loud, poorly mixed music which made it nigh unto impossible to chat with anyone further than kissing distance from your face. Ben and the rest of us stayed too long there, but we did eventually bail.

South Vincent Ave @ 50th- 3:30am, 2-21-15
Then we went to a bar that had slightly less loud music and maybe a better sound system as well. Anyway, it was tolerable and the five of us could actually hold a conversation. I was past having a beer after one or so and switched to water, since I knew I had something big to do soon. What that was didn't become clear until a few hours later when closing time at the bar came.

I realized then that a plan to get me back to my family at the motel had not been clearly communicated, or maybe even formulated. I knew by the time the bar lights popped on, and we were to be getting out of there, that these fellows were way beyond being capable of passing a drunk driving test, so asking any of them for assistance was futile. On the way out of the bar, Ben made a hard right turn to check in with some visiting Canadians and never was seen again. I kinda figured he would eventually emerge from the bar, but he didn't. I grabbed my bag after everyone said goodnight and I hopped on an elevator to the lobby. Still no sight of Ben, but what could he have done anyway. So I found a restroom, did my business, and made for the exit. Once I got there, I was fumbling for something or another, and someone said, "Hey! Aren't you Guitar Ted?".

I acknowledged in the affirmative, and a Canadian fellow asked about my Tamland jacket and if I had helped in the design of that bike. Again, I affirmed the fellow, and then he and his two companions also professed their love for the bike, which was flattering and cool. After a few niceties, they bid me farewell and I burst onto the cold, snowy, Minneapolis streets. I had a plan, and I was about to execute it.

I set off to walk to my motel, since I wasn't exactly about to try to test the Minneapolis Minnesota public transpo system, out of pure ignorance of how it worked, and I was on an adventure! It was going to be a long walk, but hey! How bad could it be? The temperature was in the upper teens, the wind was nearly indistinguishable, and I had no gloves or mittens! Gah! Oh well. Off I went. (For those familiar with the city.) I followed my route Southward on Nicolette Mall to it's truncation and zigged around Eastward and South again to Lake Street, then West over to Lyndale, and Southward again all the way down to 50th. I went West on 50th through Lynnhurst and Fulton to Edina, then South on France Avenue all the way down to Highway 62. By the time I was approaching this part of the trek, I was feeling it in the hips and my feet! Past Highway 62 and down to 76th. Here I made a critical error. I should have went straight, but in my mind as I read my dimly lit and tiny iPhone map, it looked like going West was a better option, so I did and went over to 100th, crossed over a major road, which I thought was I 494, (and it was), and checked my map again. Only I became very confused.

I did eventually get there! Salsa's new Powderkeg tandem shown along with other goodies!
It had gotten colder, the wind had come up, and my wonderful iPhone was sputtering in such extremes. It wasn't tracking me correctly, and was randomly shutting down. I was poking around on foot, obviously, and trying to make sense of things, but unfortunately by this time my feet and legs were having none of it. The Sun had risen, or looked to have. At least I could see things much more clearly, and I decided to throw in the towel and call my wife if I could get the phone to work one more time. I ducked into a convenience store to warm it, and me, up. It worked, and she finally located me and fetched me back to where we were staying. Four hours, 12.2 miles and a short car ride later, I was where I belonged. By the way, she was NOT amused! Oh well, I made it almost all the way without pestering anyone at 2:00am and besides being wrecked from the effort, I was fine. I made it to a warm room, a soft bed, and slept for ten hours

Yes- I totally missed everything on Saturday, but what the heck. I got to see Minneapolis in a way I wouldn't have otherwise. Analog style, if you will, and on a beautiful, calm, snow covered Winter's night. It was super peaceful, and the city I saw was really nice. Ironically enough, I saw at least six different bicycles chained up to poles along the way, as if to taunt me. But I was okay. I resisted temptation and getting frustrated by it. In fact, I think I laughed out loud by the third one I saw. Irony not lost on this wandering soul.

Of course, I did go to the show. Sunday was short and sweet. I saw and spoke with many and missed out seeing more than a few, I am sure, but that's the way it goes. So yeah......Frostbike 2015- A Frozen Walkathon, new Warbirds, and NASCAR is bereft of both Busch brothers in a matter of two days. What? The last thing wasn't about Frostbike? Well.......anyway. 

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!


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