Friday, March 27, 2009

Spin Street Bicycles

Spin Street Bicycles is Lansing's newest local bike shop. Its location on Turner Street puts it square in the middle of what is undeniably the hippest Lansing neighborhood, Old Town. If there are hipsters in Lansing outside of MSU, they're to be found at the Perspective2 Art Studio, the lofts along Turner street, and foodie breakfast heaven Golden Harvest, all of which lie within the bounds of Old Town. So they've got a bike shop in Old Town now. Messenger bags, fixed-gears, and pretentious music, right?

Well, it's much more than that. Chad Cottom, the owner of Spin Street Bicycles, told me that they get their fair share of MSU kids coming across town - just last week he sold a Pista, matter of fact. He had a couple fixies proudly displayed alongside the other bikes, and he deals in Bianchi and Fuji, both of which have great street cred in the urban cycling scene. There was even a Fuji OBEY fixed-gear, a flate-black bike with brassy accents, just dripping in cool.

But Old Town is situated in Lansing after all, which means Spin Street caters to a crowd far beyond the few fixie riders that live in the area. The shop certainly has a road bike bent to it, which is natural given the area. Bianchi and Fuji both have a full lineup from steel to carbon frames, and everything in between. Chad seems to have a couple of Randonneur customers as well, so if your cycling needs include long hauls through the countryside, Spin Street has you covered. They also have started carrying the Jamis line of bikes, which covers many areas and pricepoints Fuji and Bianchi do not. Thre was even a Rans Hammertruck there, an extracycle-like cargo bike capable of carrying a mammoth load in the hundreds of pounds.

The shop does both sales and service, and carries a full line of accessories from tools and locks to helmets and clothing. While there, I noticed a peculiar lack of the "holier-than-thou" attitude that pervades many other local bike shops, and I'd bet this would be a good shop for the cyclist tired of being talked down to, if the attitude of the owner is any indication. I may bug him about carrying the goods from my favorite online bike shop, Velo-Orange, as I think it would fit in well with the other items on hand. Come to think of it, I think Surly bikes would make a good fit too. Of course, there's only so much showroom space.

Spin Street Bicycles
1214 Turner St.

Other Bike Goodness

I had a pleasant surprise while riding to Old Town. I took the whole length of the Rivertrail, and was shocked to see that all the borken pavement along the path near Potter Park has been completely resurfaced! Anyone who had to skip that section and ride along the parking lot will know what a relief this is. Unfortunately the path northwest of the park is still broken in many places, with huge headset-loosening bumps caused by tree roots. Hopefully this section is next on the agenda for the city.

Photo-Related Surprise

Speaking of Potter Park, I was shocked to see a young woman lean out of a car and snap a photo of me riding. With a Diana! If you don't know, anyone who uses a Diana has a special place in my heart, so of course I had to have a short chat with her about crappy cameras. Apparently, MSU still had a real photography course, where pople use real cameras and get this - REAL FILM! She even mentioned 4x5. Awesome. Thanks for stopping, Caitlin!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Can't get comfortable

XO-3 Setup
Originally uploaded by Apocaplops
I bought a Bridgestone XO-3 off ebay, and was pretty happy with it when it arrived. It's got a ton of clearance for wide tires and fenders, it's a good size for me, has a good handlebar and stem setup, and was built up as a single speed bike for ease of use and maintenance.

And so for the last few weeks I've been commuting on it, and something is just off on it. For some reason, it just feels super slow. I don't know if it's the tires I have on it - thick knobbies, the heavy wheelset, the heavy frame, or just a geometry that's poorly suited for power.

I'm going to try a few easily replaced things, like swifter tires, and see if that gets rid of the slow bike blues. I don't expect it to ever overtake my Fuji in terms of speed and agility, but I don't want to sweat my butt off to go a reasonable speed, either.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shifting Focus

Zipping Along
Originally uploaded by Apocaplops
I have had a hard time keeping this blog constantly updated, and a big part of that is that my photography has been unfocused lately. I am trying to get that back into shape, concentrating on my artistic strengths and what I enjoy, not painting with such broad strokes, so to speak. Another part of that is my growing fondness for cycling. I have restrained myself from shouting about that here, but I am starting to believe that the two hobbies aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, judging by the number of people I've met who enjoy both.

Basically I intend to cover the local cycling and photo scene in equal measure here, and try to see just where and when the two might overlap. Lansing has some great cycling, and it certainly has some great opportunities for photography, and things seem to be getting better each season. Stay tuned.

Cycling through the Seasons

Spring finally feels close enough to touch, and I'm ready for some spring cycling, after a long cold winter of slushy commutes. A couple photographers locally have begun to meet up at a monthly meeting, watch this space for further details about upcoming events and projects.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sad News

Originally uploaded by Apocaplops
One of my personal favorite spots in Lansing suffered tragedy this winter. Over the course of the long cold spell we had, the Koi pond at LCC's Shigematsu Memorial Gardens froze down to unsustainable levels, and all of the beautiful Koi but 3 were killed. The College believes they had an insufficient number of bubblers working to sustain the fish through such a cold snap.

I'm happy that the college plans to implement a better cold-weather solution for next year, including perhaps another bubbler and a heater, and they also plan to restock the pond. But of course it's sad that so many beautiful fish had to die because the pond was poorly designed for this climate. I'm not sure the pond itself is deep enough to overwinter the Koi, so I plan on talking with a fish vet friend to get his opinion.

I still love the place, it's a great place of solitude and wonderful memories for me amidst the din and bustle of downtown, but I'm afraid the waters will always be tinged crimson with Koi blood in my mind from now on.