Springtime in Kato, Part Two: Strava and Scotch Eggs

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It happens every year. EVERY. YEAR.

There’s this fleeting rush of springtime warmth in March, a brief period where we Minnesotans can bask in sixty-degree weather for a couple days like normal humans. We’re lulled into a false sense of comfort, only to get smacked in the coccyx by more ice and more snow and more cold and more bullshit.

But that springwave could’ve been for good this year, right? Right? I mean, most people that aren’t chairmen of United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works yet funded by British Petroleum are kinda resigned to the fact that the planet is basically melting. It was at least feasible that we could’ve been gifted with an early spring. (And, yes, I know that climate and weather aren’t the same thing, but hope is blind. And deaf. And dumb. Very, very dumb.)

Anyway, this is the second (and final) post with the word “springtime” in the title, yet this morning’s commute was punctuated by mashing up an ice-glazed Lee Boulevard only to get freeze-spanked by a 17-degree windchill administered at 35 mph.

Want proof? Check my Strava profile, BRO.

For the uninitiated, Strava is basically the last.fm of cycling. Some people claim it’s the Facebook of cycling, but until it becomes the pulpit of choice for turncoat Gen X-ers with strident, not-really-racist-but-totally-racist opinions on Kanye West and state-deployed revenue generators, the last.fm comparison stands.

It works like this: Before you head out on a ride, you fire up the app (using One Tap Record, if you know what’s up) and your sweatshop-forged intelligent device will track your route, distance, and other precious statistics. Like how long it takes to get a six-pack of Lagunitas when you’re waiting for your girlfriend to finish an episode of the X-Files featuring Agent Doggett.

For some people, these things really matter. Personally, I find the idea of techifying an outdoor activity…gross-ish, at best

However, I’m a novice. I’ve only been pedaling daily for about 10 months. I ride a hybrid. And I try my damnedest to float in the neutral zone between insufferable hipster and insufferable Lycra sausage. I’m not the target market.

Put simply, I’m just a dude that rides a bike, same as I’m a dude that listens to grindcore and black metal. It’s just a thing that I like to do, not something that consumes my identity.

Strava is optimized for people that make cycling their identity. Take these nerds, for instance:

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You know who owns Lycra, dudes? The Koch brothers. I wonder how they feel about progressive infrastructure…?

They’re like a two-wheeled brutal death metal band. Clones to the bone.

So, while the majority of Strava users are wannabe racers and amateur triathletes puffed up with the baffling competitiveness of an “elite” beer-league softball squad, I’m using Strava solely to track my commuting mileage. I’ve been car-free for a few months now, and as we’re approaching bearable weather, my numbers are going to be skewed a bit with recreational rides. Thus, now is a good time to take a snapshot of practical mileage.

Including a small handful of 20 and 30 mile weekend excursions, my commuting numbers since late January look something like this:

Year-to-Date
Distance 579.5 mi
Time 54h 33m
Elev Gain 16,020 ft
Rides 112

 

Instead of being shocked at how much money I’m saving in gasoline expenses, the biggest revelation is how little time and distance is actually required to travel to crucial destinations in the Mankato area. While eliminating fossil fuel consumption is a huge bonus, in reality, the biggest money-dumps in Mankato car ownership are 1) monthly insurance payments, and 2) the inevitable yearly maintenance, regardless of your vehicle’s age.

Obviously, what is ideal for one individual isn’t universal. But is individual car ownership really worth the cost of convenience in a town that’s so accessible?

Until you detach yourself from the cultural norm of one-person-one-car culture (and this is a relatively new phenomenon, remember), it’s difficult to view this city’s adherence to car-centric transit as anything other than normal. But there’s nowhere in this town that can’t be accessed by bicycle in roughly half an hour.

Sure, you could save 10-ish minutes traveling by car. But you’ll spend that 20 bitching about other drivers and suffering through A Prairie Home Companion. It’ll suck.

"On the shores of the Minnesota River, Mankatooooooooozzzzzzzzzzzzzeeeee............"

“On the shores of the Minnesota-urm River-er-hm, Mankatooooooooozzzzzzzzzzzzz…………”

As I screamed previously, if our city’s leaders are going to field practical, forward-thinking approaches to infrastructure, they’re going to place a premium on data over anecdotes.

Thus, I’ll keep tracking my progress via Strava throughout 2015, plugging along at 12 mph in digital “competition” with people that insist on turning serene country roads into midlife-crisis racetracks.

That calorie-burn tracker will come in handy, though, ’cause at long last…THE SCOTCH EGG HAS RETURNED TO MANKATO.

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Now, this town lacks a lot of things: Tolerance. A dedicated music venue. Bike lanes. Italians that can cook. Criticism of our elected officials by the local press. But most egregiously, we couldn’t get a scotch egg around here for the better part of a decade.

Until now.

Nestled into a prime location behind Number 4 (which, despite an earlier observation, now sucks at brunch, too) and adjacent to a strip club, The Bicker Inn fills the glaring Irish pub void in Mankato’s bar/grill landscape.

Not only do they serve a pretty wicked scotch egg (though a tad lean on the sausage), but they also tap into an inexplicably ignored arena in Kato-area pub grub: The hot dog.

Every half-and-whole-assed kitchen in this town serves some combination of burgers, wings, chicken, burgers, and wings, yet somehow goes out of its way to avoid tubed meat. Not the Bicker Inn. Here, each specialty burger is also served as BACON-WRAPPED HOT DOG. And yes, you can get a scotch egg ON your bacon-wrapped hot dog, too.

Really, the only thing missing in this place is a shrine to “The Notorious” Conor McGregor, but I’m sure that’ll be on tap once he starches the heretofore unbeatable Jose Aldo and snatches the UFC featherweight championship.

".....aaaaaand NEW..."

“…..aaaaaand NEW…”

But I digress. Go to the Bicker Inn, and go there often. Sure, drink prices are semi-astronomical, but dammit, building a bar from scratch is tough business, and the BACON-WRAPPED HOT DOGS are only like eight bucks, side included.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to attempt to stave off this heart attack by riding my bicycle. See you in the streets, Mankato.

Merry springtime.